German-language Comics and Graphic Novels by Minority Authors


German / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Julia Ludewig (Allegheny College)

Lynn Kutch (Kutztown University)

Graphic narratives including comics and graphic novels continue to garner attention by researchers and instructors across the modern languages. German Studies is no exception as the last decade has seen comics studies contributions about themes as widespread as history, manga, journalism, and foreign-language pedagogy. Lately, graphic narratives about the experience of migrants have been particularly pertinent in publications and academic panels. Comics and graphic novels have thus tackled the experience of migrants who came to a German-speaking country decades ago (as was the case for the Mozambican guest workers at the center of Birgit Weyhe’s Madgermanes) as well as the stories of those who only recently arrived in Germany (as thematized, for example, in Paula Bulling’s Im Land der Frühaufsteher). These two recent and well-publicized examples indicate that historically marginalized groups of people are increasingly more visible in German-language comics and graphic novels.

Nevertheless, the authors of these two and other narratives about marginalized people are not themselves affiliated with a minority population. Consequently, their stories and drawing styles do not give a full voice to marginalized identities. Our panel is a space to address this gap. By inviting papers that discuss comics and graphic novels created by authors from ethnic, linguistic, gender, sexual, or otherwise marginalized populations, we seek to add a new line of inquiry to the growing body of German-language comics research. In this spirit, we call for papers on graphic narratives that may or may not specifically address themes of marginalization, but because of their authorship represent the hitherto neglected community of non-majority comics and graphic novel creators.

Questions may include, but are not limited to, the following: How do graphic narratives by minority authors differ narratively, thematically, and/or visually from those by majority authors? What national and transnational influences do they draw on? What is the (publishing) history of works by minority authors? Which platforms and networks do they frequent? And how are these works advertised and received? We explicitly encourage contributions about works from all German-speaking communities including artistic production from Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Namibia etc.

This panel focuses on German-language comics and graphic novels produced by non-majority artists. This is to say, we want to introduce and discuss graphic sequential art by authors who identify as affiliates of an ethnic, linguistic, gender, sexual, or otherwise marginalized population within the German-speaking world. Individual papers discuss, for example, thematic and stylistic characteristics of any given work, apply a comparative viewpoint (vis-à-vis majority or other minority production), and contextualize the ways hitherto neglected graphic artists publish their works.