Current PhD Research

Comics And Transmedia: Doctor Doom In The Marvel Age
Mark Hibbett
My research seeks to show that the shared universe of Marvel comics in the period 1961-1987 was an early example of the shared-world multiple author storytelling which has become the source material for the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe of the 21st century, and that Doctor Doom’s largely unsupervised transmedial and transtextual wandering through this storyworld make him an early example of what Jan-Noel Thon has described as a “Global Transmedia Character Network” – a linkage of all versions of a character collected from single and serial works across media types.

The Third Hand in Creating Comics: A Practice-Based Study of Writer-Artist Collaboration
Ahmed Mauroof Jameel
My PhD project, titled ‘The Third Hand in Creating Comics: A Practice-Based Study of Writer-Artist Collaboration’, investigates whether collaboration in comics effectuates renegotiations of artistic identity, and is an intervention to deeply ingrained auteurist views and practices in comics cultures. I explore the social reasons behind the prevalence of auteurism and relate this to the politics of avant-garde art movements through modernism and postmodernism. Avant-garde collaborative experiments in artistic identity crystallised in results and behaviour incongruous to the rest of the individual artists’ oeuvres and histories, conceptualised as a ‘Third Hand’ in these creative relationships. After identifying where the ontological boundaries and affects of creative partnership are occluded enough to facilitate ‘the Third Hand’s’ occurrence, I use autoethnography to examine collaborative experience from within to illuminate this area and generate insight into the possibilities of meta-authorship.

Comics in the age of mechanical colour separation
Guy Lawley
A text-based thesis, looking at the emergence of the US comic strip as a new mass medium (1890s), the creation of the comic book (1930s), and its mid-1950s decline; focused on printing and colour separation technologies. Comics printing during this time has been understood as the continuation of a uniform practice; four-colour letterpress printing on newsprint paper. I demonstrate that it can be divided into three periods, when different colour separation methods were predominantly used: Ben Day (1890s-1930s), Craftint (1930s-1950s) and acetate (1950s-1980s). I use diagrammatic reconstructions to explicate these ‘lost’ technologies in detail. Examples from the archive demonstrate their distinctive contributions to the appearance of the printed image. Whether this technology was incidental to the development of comics, or of more fundamental importance, is considered using cultural sociologist Richard A. Peterson’s ‘production of culture perspective’.

Pen Mendonça
Pen’s practice-based research developed the new mode of Values-Based Cartooning for accessing and representing contemporary social issues. She experimented with this approach through a case study: ‘single mothers storying the absent biological father or sperm donor’. Graphically facilitated interviews and workshops were undertaken with twenty single women aged between sixteen and fifty-two, all pregnant, or first-time mothers of babies. Participant responses were filtered and condensed in to creative non-fiction graphic narratives. The thesis identified the benefits and limitations of Values-Based Cartooning in the researcher-artist’s professional context, and highlighted the politics of creative decision making when applied within a research context. This research may be of interest to visual practitioners, motherhood and comics scholars, research teams, public and voluntary sector leaders, authors and artists.

Tobias J. Yu-Kiener
Tobias J. Yu-Kiener’s PhD research is concerned with the current boom in biographical graphic novels about iconic visual artists, their supporting national, international and transnational networks, and their connections to established art museums. In drawing from Art History, Comics Studies, and Cultural Studies, and looking at theories of political economy, (trans)national identity, museology, and (museum) branding and marketing, the project aims to determine where museum-backed graphic novels about iconic painters are to be located between serious artists’ biographies, comic books, history books, merchandise products, public relations and marketing strategies, and state, city and museum branding. The main methods of the project include semi-structured interviews, archival research, textual and visual analysis based on the close reading of a carefully chosen corpus of graphic novels.