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Category: Comics

“Understanding comics is serious business,” Scott McCloud writes in Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (197). Published in 1993, McCloud’s groundbreaking “comic book about comics” was one of the first attempts to create a cohesive theoretical approach to studying comics. Since the book’s publication, the field of comics studies has grown rapidly. Many universities now offer courses and even graduate degree programs on comics, and scholarly articles about the medium are published regularly in peer-reviewed journals like the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. Several comics scholars have even composed dissertations and monographs in the form of comics, including Nick Sousanis’s Unflattening and Jason Helms’s open-access book, Rhizcomics

The University of Florida’s English Department features one of the largest comics studies and visual rhetoric programs in North America. Many of the department’s graduate students and professors regularly research, teach, and even create comics, graphic novels, and zines. Their work is aided by the University of Florida Smathers Library’s extensive comics collections. The department also houses the ImageTexT Journal and annually hosts the UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels. 

The rapid growth of comics studies at the University of Florida and other institutions in the last twenty years has undoubtedly been fueled by the rising popularity of the medium in mainstream American culture. Sales of print and digital comics exceeded $1 billion in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Superheroes have also gained prominence in popular culture, with blockbuster films like The Avengers and Black Panther earning over $1 billion at the global box office. And the superhero trend won’t end anytime soon – over 30 superhero films are scheduled to be released between 2018 and 2022. 

– Brianna Anderson 

Two Yellow Kids

It’s a wonderful coincidence that one of the early practitioners of the comic strip, Richard Felton Outcault, should have been born on the same day, today, in 1863, on which The Simpsons animated television show would premiere, over a century later, in 1990.