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.
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.