Call for papers for a non-guaranteed session at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention on January 5-8, 2023, in San Francisco, California. This panel is sponsored by the Comics and Graphic Narrative Forum.
San Francisco, the site of next year’s convention, has figured prominently in both queer and comic book history, and has been one important site where these histories have intersected. Bay Area comics and cartoonists have been active in LGBTQ activism. Strip AIDS USA (1988) raised money for the Shanti Project in support of people with AIDS. Cartoonist Leslie Ewing organized with the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and the 1993 March on Washington and later served as the executive director of the Pacific Center, an LGBTQ community center in Berkeley, CA. Furthermore, key series in queer comics like Gay Comix (1980-1998) and Meatmen (1986-2004) have been published by gay presses in San Francisco, and the city also served as a center of queercore zines in the 1990s, home to comics-friendly titles like Girljock (1990-1997), Brat Attack (1991-1994), and A La Brava (1996-1997) and host of Larry-bob Roberts’ Queer Zine Explosion (1990-2010), which documented the scene through zine reviews.
This history invites us to think about the various places where comics have contributed to the formation of queer communities. These places could be geographical, but could also be centered on particular publications and anthologies or events like conferences and exhibits. Queer cartoonists were prominent at the SPEW queer zine and Outwrite queer writers conferences in the 1990s and have gathered in recent years at the Queers & Comics and Flamecon conferences, not to mention at countless local comics and zines festivals. While anthologies have always been an important way to gather together far-flung queer cartoonists and increase their visibility, there have been an explosion of anthologies in recent years—Juicy Mother (2005), Juicy Mother 2 (2007), Gay Genius (2011), No Straight Lines (2013), Anything that Loves (2013), QU33R (2014), Alphabet (2015), Being True (2018), We’re Still Here (2018), Rainbow Reflections (2019), When I Was Me (2021)—paralleling a boom in queer comics publishing and the rise of publishers and imprints dedicated to queer comics. This panel thus asks us to think about the circulation and production of queer comics as well as their content: how they not only imagine community but also produce it.
Among the topics that might be addressed are:
- current, burgeoning wave of queer and trans cartoonists and comics as well as dedicated publishers/imprints
- the role of race, intersectionality, BIPOC creators and readers in queer comics
- how comics have maintained continuities or revealed ruptures between queer generations
- archival, pedagogical, and critical projects aimed at recovering queer comics pioneers
- the role of zines and self-publishing in queer comics
- how the precarity and ephemerality of queer comics affect the communities they index and the ways we excavate queer histories
- how new digital platforms for self-publishing are reshaping queer communities and articulating new relationships to the past
- how queer cartoonists have built communities in comics outside of mainstream norms—through events, exhibits, conferences, anthologies, etc.
Please submit a 250-word abstract and short bio to Margaret Galvan (firstname.lastname@example.org) and William Orchard (William.Orchard@qc.cuny.edu) by March 15th. Questions before the deadline are also welcome. Responses to individual submissions will be sent out by the beginning of April. All prospective presenters must be current MLA members by no later than April 2022.