Current Projects

Applied Comics
Dr Ian Horton
Continuing research via the Applied Comics Network (with Lydia Wysocki and John Swogger) by studying comics that seek to inform as well as entertain. Ongoing events examining applied comics and a website launch in 2019.

Broken Frontier
Andy Oliver
The ongoing running of Broken Frontier and management of its team of comics commentators as well as the site’s annual ‘Six Creators to Watch’ initiative. This involves extensive coverage for selected up-and-coming comics artists alongside an annual programme of mentorship and support with a view to bringing them to the attention of publishers. A significant number of the featured artists over the years have been UAL graduates who have gone on to publication and awards recognition.

Comics and Art History
Dr Maggie Gray and Dr Ian Horton
This book project aims to determine what art history can do for comics (and vice-versa), by uncovering the history of art historical approaches to the form, analysing areas of current scholarship drawing on art historical methods, and identifying various areas where distinctive strands of art historical practice could enhance comics studies.

Comics and Design
Dr Ian Hague and Dr Ian Horton
This project examines the ways in which comics engage with design, as a broadly understood field, and considers how a design-based approach to comics research might change the ways we view comics. It also looks at the difficulties of applying design principles to comics, and asks why/how comics might complicate notions of design, and vice-versa.

Comics & Performance: Fringe Theatre and Underground Cartooning
Dr Maggie Gray

This project looks at the intersection of UK fringe theatre and underground cartooning in the late 1960s and 1970s. It explores how experimental theatre groups drew on the design and iconography of comics, and how comix and the underground/alternative press drew on performative modes, to transform relationships between artists and audiences and make politically radical work. What does looking at comics in relation to practices of stage, prop and costume design, acting and choreography, sound and music tell us about their aesthetics and politics? And what does looking at its visual design tell us about theatre?

Comics and Sound Research Network
Dr Maggie Gray and Dr Ian Hague

This project aims to bring together researchers and practitioners across fields of comics, sound design, performance, curation, art and design to interrogate the diverse ways comics and sound interconnect, and provide a foundation for future collaborative, interdisciplinary work in this area.

Creating Heroines
Dr Nicola Streeten
Development of 2018 British Council project “Creating Heroines” in association with British Council and Positive Negatives working with South Asian women comics artists.

Digital Comics
Dr Ian Hague
Dr Ian Hague’s current research expands on the work he undertook in Comics and the Senses (Routledge, 2014), but turns the focus more particularly to digital comics. Digital works are considered in terms of their materiality, economics, histories and geographies. As in Comics and the Senses, the aim of the project is to develop a general theory of digital comics that can be used to consider a wide range of forms and formats.

Dr Nicola Streeten
Streeten is currently in receipt of an Arts Council England and British Council’s International Development Fund Award to develop “Expectations” a collaborative project, with Kokaachi in Kerala, India and Indian illustrator Priya Kuriyan.

The Golden Thread Project
Geoffrey Coupland
With the Golden Thread Project website. With Exhibitions like our recent collaboration with the English Folk Dance and Song Society at Cecil Sharp House. With educational workshops at schools, arts festivals and comics conventions (Kendal International Comics Festival). With events and publishing through our Bugboar Pressimprint. We engage in a progressive way with a range of interesting related sub-topics and a widening pool of contributors sharing fascinations with world folksong and folklore, principally using the visual mediums of illustration, printmaking and comics, but also via craft, writing, music and moving image.

Into/Out of the Box
Dr Ian Horton, Dr Ian Hague, Dr Nina Mickwitz, Dr John Miers, Juliet Sugg, Vanessa Spiridellis, Prof. Roger Sabin, Sarah Mahurter, Georgina Orgill, Robin Sampson
This exhibition, which will take place as part of London Design Festival 2018, and series of inter-related events examines the critical potential of underground and alternative comic books to act as active agents for change. It will question geopolitical, socio-cultural, and disciplinary boundaries, as exemplified by Justin Green’s Binky Brown meets the Holy Virgin Mary and Art Spiegelman’s Maus. In addition it will consider the role that the UAL Archives and Special Collections Centre plays in preserving ephemeral objects such as Mini-comics and the curatorial decisions they make when disseminating information about their collections to a wider public.

Marie Duval
Dr Simon Grennan, Prof. Roger
Ongoing research into the Victorian cartoonist whose most famous work was on the comic character Ally Sloper, but whose career spanned a wide range of other works as well. Previous outputs have included Marie Duval (Myriad Editions, 2017, Grennan, Sabin and Waite) and Drawing in Drag (Bookworks, 2018, Grennan). Ongoing and future outputs include an extensive, AHRC funded, digital archive of Duval’s work (, a co-authored book entitled Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian Cartoonist (Grennan, Sabin and Waite, Manchester University Press, 2019) and an exhibition touring to New York.

Post-Western Frontiers: Investigating the Inheritance of the Mythic West in Late-Twentieth Century British Comics
Dr Will Grady
For much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Western genre remained a dominant fixture in U.S. popular culture, serving to naturalise the policies of westward expansion and Manifest Destiny. However, outside the U.S., the Western served other imperial imperatives. For example, in British popular culture, Far West adventure stories of triumphal white heroics in contested frontier landscapes had long functioned as a narrative source to promote the national colonising missions in Africa and Asia, whilst engaging in associated discourses surrounding politics, imperialism and power. Nevertheless, amidst a wider global context of changing values and critical alliances associated with post-colonialism, the New Left, and post-modernism in the later decades of the 20th century, various cultural critics identified the death of a genre that ceased to function in its current guise. In its stead, the Western found renewed life across alternate genres. My research within UAL’s Archives and Special Collections investigates this shift through analysis of a wealth of British genre comics: from science fiction titles which graft the familiar iconographies, themes, and motifs of the Western onto post-apocalyptic wastelands, to alternative small-press comics which defamiliarise the mythic properties of the genre through subversive humour. By way of examining the transcultural repurposing of the Western in British comics, this research project seeks to reflect upon the inherited tropes of the American Western, interrogate its afterlife, and question its persistence in British popular culture.

Researcher in the Archives
Dr John Miers
I am currently working as a postdoctoral “Researcher in the Archives” at LCC, using the Archives and Special Collections Centre to explore ways in which artists and students use visual and imagistic metaphors to communicate experiences of illness and disability. As well as developing the ideas presented in my doctoral research, this project contributes to conceptualising my own experiences of living with multiple sclerosis. The process and results will be documented primarily in comics form. I am also working with UAL colleagues to develop an exhibition of mini-comics from the Les Coleman collection, part of the LCC archive, for London Design Festival 2018.

Science Fiction/Speculative Design in Comics
Dr Dan Smith
My current comics based research includes developing a book proposal on science fiction comics and the idea of speculative design. Potential chapters have been explored in a number of conference papers over the past few years. Comics are also an area of investigation in my role as the Horniman Museum Art, Design and Natural History Fellow, which began in October 2017 and is currently ongoing. A forthcoming chapter on science fiction comics has just been completed and will be published in A Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Jack Fennell (Peter Lang 2018).

Untitled Graphic Novel Project
Vanessa Milu Spiridellis
Vanessa is currently developing a graphic novel series surrounding the reincarnation of two sisters that spans from the primordial era of the past into the future. The story explores the philosophical dynamics of good and evil while approaching the past from a feminist and mystical perspective. The series acts as a counter to the patriarchal and monotheistic rhetoric responsible for dictating the historic societal roles that perpetually suppresses the autonomy of unapologetically wild and intelligent women. The series explores the concepts of love, the power behind sexual expression, the fluidity of war – both within an individual and with others – and the instability of peace.

Violence in Comics
Dr Ian Hague, Dr Ian Horton, Dr Nina Mickwitz
In 2019, Routledge will publish two volumes on violence in comics edited by CoRH members Ian Hague, Ian Horton and Nina Mickwitz. The project, which grew out of Comics Forum 2014, brings together twenty-three chapters across a wide range of topics, including history and memory; war and peace; urban conflict; law, justice and censorship; depiction; embodiment; humour, and gendered and sexual violence. Contributors include Richard Reynolds and Jamie Brassett, along with Maggie Gray, Nicola Streeten and John Miers. Each of the volumes takes a different approach to violence, as indicated by their respective titles: Contexts of Violence in Comics and Representing Acts of Violence in Comics.