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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Filtering by Tag: graphic novels

Call for Papers: Graphic Justice Discussions 2018, Keynote Ann Nocenti

Nickie Phillips

Graphic Justice Discussions - 20 October 2018 - St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY

Graphic Justice Discussions - 20 October 2018 - St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY

The Graphic Justice Research Alliance (GJRA) is delighted to announce a call for papers for its annual conference at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY to be held October 20, 2018. The theme for this year’s Graphic Justice Discussions is ‘Law, Comics, Justice’, and promises to be an exciting event that will be accessible and relevant to scholars, artists, practitioners, policy-makers, writers, and the general public alike.

We are gratified to announce that legendary comic writer and editor Ann Nocenti will join us as this event’s keynote speaker. Nocenti has lent her distinctive voice to numerous beloved comic book runs, including her writings for Marvel’s Daredevil and DC’s Catwoman, Katana, and Green Arrow. We very much look forward to hearing her observations about the industry, as well as reflections on her latest project, the forthcoming The Seeds, a new four-issue series in collaboration with artist David Aja. The series, part of a new line of Berger Books published by Dark Horse Comics, is described as “An eco-fiction tech-thriller … a story of love beyond race and gender, and of the resilience of both human and animal kind.”

Please join us for what promises to be a stimulating and inclusive occasion! Send 250-word abstracts to Nickie Phillips at nphillips@sfc.edu.

Stay tuned for more details to follow...

The GJRA is a multidisciplinary research network exploring the crossover between law and justice and comics of all kinds.

Graphic Futures: Imagining Law's Potential in Comics and Graphic Novels - Call for Participants

Nickie Phillips

Graphic Futures

Imagining Law’s Potential in Comics and Graphic Novels

Call for papers and comics creators

Many jurisprudential texts tell the history of legal philosophy and moral thought—from Classical Greece and the medieval period, through the Enlightenment to modernity, and today’s uncertain epoch of ‘late modernity’. In such texts, it is hoped that by recounting this history—this tale of development, progression and change—our current jurisprudential state is uncovered and we are enlightened as to the issues at play in determining the nature of what law both is and should be.

So much for jurisprudential past; but what of jurisprudential future? What challenges and laws await us as we emerge from the throes of modernity? What awaits our nature as humanity integrates with advancing technology? What form will morality take in a world where official systems of order and control, or the modes of thought that created the modern state, have dissipated? What of justice without law? What of law after the human? What of knowledge and judgment after the reification of modernism has been undone? What is the next jurisprudence? It is these, and related, questions that the proposed network addresses, through innovative engagement with the medium of graphic fiction.

Comics and graphic fiction have been an under-utilised resource in the history of legal studies. Yet their unique epistemological grounding (at the borders of the visual, the linguistic, the aesthetic, and the rational), and their capacity for futuristic imagination, arguably make them an apt tool for exploring worlds, laws and ideas beyond the boundaries of the present. Engaging with futuristic visions in graphic fiction and comics, this project aims to imagine (or challenge our ability to imagine) the landscape(s) of jurisprudence in the emerging world(s) as modernity recedes.

The aim of the project is to imagine the potential future(s) of law and justice. The overarching problematic will be addressed through a series of international workshops in US, Australia and USE across 2015-2018, with each participant contributing their own perspective and particular critical ‘take’ on the issue of comics and legal futurity. There will be 8 workshops, feeding into a series of edited collections and graphic novels (funding is being sought to cover participants' expenses). These workshops will tackle four main sub-themes of the central problematic of legal futurity:

  1. Approaching Graphic Futures—focusing on the project’s epistemological issues, such as: the limits of legal language in relation to the language of comics; the particular value of the comics medium in tackling the project’s core problematic; and, how can such imaginative speculation help inform our world today.
  2. Criminal Futures—focusing on issues relating to crime and criminal justice, such as: what problems future criminal law enforcement might face; concerns of pre-emptive justice; and, the dominant ideals of ‘justice’ (e.g. retribution, deterrence, something else) that might prevail as modernity recedes.
  3. Legal Futures of Technology—focusing on issues relating to advancing technology, such as: the legal challenges of human-machine integration; the advent of artificial intelligence; and, how technology might change the face of legal institutions and regulation.
  4. Law after the State—focusing on issues relating to rights and political theory, such as: how might human relations be regulated if the modern state fails; what shape might rights take in the future; and, concerns of trans-temporal responsibility (for example, our responsibility to the future, or the future’s responsibility to the past).

Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words, 3 keywords, and an indication of which theme your work would ‘fit’ under, to thomas.giddens@smuc.ac.uk no later than 14 November 2014.

The project is also seeking comics creators (writers and/or artists): email thomas.giddens@smuc.ac.uk if you are interested in being involved in a creative capacity.

Comics Unmasked, Mannequins Masked

Nickie Phillips

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By Staci Strobl. Crimcast Co-Founder Review of the British Library's exhibit "Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK," May 2 - August 19, 2014

Comics often get tagged as being more ideologically subversive than they actually are-- at least this is the case with mainstream American comic books. But “Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK” is a must-see for anyone who appreciates the subversive in popular graphic art forms, and the subversive is probably more at the forefront of the British experience with this art form than the American. In fact, British independent and underground comics are ripe with depictions of social deviance which go on to influence mainstream works. Any criminologist with their eye on popular culture will find it fascinating to see so many works from a wide variety of writers, artists, publishers, in one exhibition.

Putting aside the superhero section of the exhibition, which appropriately nods its head to the quintessentially American genre while celebrating such home-grown successes as Judge Dredd— but also takes the exhibition too far afield from its primary purpose— the exhibition’s thematic arrangement of material spanning two centuries invokes interesting connections in the world of graphics across the ages. I was particularly taken by the juxtaposition of pages from Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell (1999) and the Illustrated Police News (13 October, 1888) “coverage” of the Ripper murders under the exhibition’s “violence and gore” thematic grouping. We see how the use of black-and-white ink, shadows, small spaces, and flailing arms in the more contemporary work was a brilliantly stylized representation of the Victorian illustrations and also a testament to the enduring fascination with serial killing. People in the West just can’t get enough of these tales of murderous mayhem and transgression, and comics are a perfect medium to deliver such gruesome content.

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Occasionally a juxtaposition left me scratching my head, such as the inclusion of London Illustrated News’ 1883 Christmas supplement featuring ladies looking for suitors in romantic dress, dancing, telling ghost stories, with descriptive, but not remotely subversive, captions. Here, the exhibition has us considering the theme of “social ladder” (perhaps a polite British way of saying “class”) and certainly the supplement is depicting a very uncritical 19th century notion of ladies of high class. This is placed next to “Lord Snooty and His Pals” (1960, Dudley D. Watkins), a comic strip featuring a young Lord Snooty who prefers to ditch his class trappings and hang out with the poor kids. The connection between the two, other than depicting class in Britain, appears unconnected across time and cultural niche. The culture of boys’ education in the 20th century and ladies’ follies in the 19th are distinct and each world has its own version of illustrated hegemony and counter-hegemony. All I learned from putting them near each other is that it is fun to make fun of class, especially in the U.K., but I didn’t learn much about how class operates in these texts across time, nor did the artistic styles seem to inform each other. And, further, who is making fun of whom? Do the texts need to have an obvious critique to be subversive, or am I the subversive, laughing at the class arrogance of marriage-seeking in days gone by? All of this is followed by the overt Class War Comix (Clifford Harper, 1974) in which a long-haired hippie tells us in black and white, “I used to be in politics—but it began to hang me up… You can’t lay a trip on people,” rounding out a graphic tale of a class-free utopia. I was more confused than ever.

Regardless, there are gems not to miss and of course, the V for Vendettafan does not go away unsatisfied. The iconic British tale of renewed anarchy on Guy Fawkes’ Day is the centerpiece. Fans will delight in original scripts for the graphic novel (with edits!) on display. “Good evening London...This is the voice of fate” artwork still packs an emotional punch. And, mannequins in V masks literally people the exhibit in life-size bunches which seem to grow bigger and bigger as the display weaves its path. The exhibition may be conveying that as comics marched forward so did the enthusiasm for them and their counter-cultural messages. At the same time, I found myself irritated by the mannequins, the first one wearing the exhibition’s souvenir T-shirt which struck me as a tad too commercial for an exhibition on art and anarchy. And, the mannequins were mostly men, wearing a kind of urban uniform of T-shirt, jacket, jeans, sneakers, and of course, mask. They looked rather ominously conformist and seem to dampen the quirky creativity of the work on display.

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With the marching mannequins theme, I didn’t need the additional staging of random objects of apocalyptic modernity (gas masks, phones, grainy photos, shattered glass, and redacted documents, oh my!). It will take all of us to prevent the impending crisis was the message I was getting, and yet the best works were idiosyncratic and goofy graphic experiences from rather unique perspectives from within a cultural milieu, playing on mainstream culture, not wearing the same jeans and T-shirt. I marveled at a William S. Burroughs and Malcolm McNeill's comic strip, “The Unspeakable Mr. Hart” (1970, Cyclops), that I had never seen or heard of before, and in Burroughs style was a drug-induced non-linear comment on police brutality, imperial Britain, and colonial desperation. I got the message even as I could also make no sense of it. I also learned, and saw in vivid comparison, that Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum (DC, 1989) took a nod from the mystical artistic meanderings of Aleister Crowley and his Thoth tarot deck. Neil Gaiman’s introductory comments to a 1989 Sandman script seemed to be as self-congratulating and self-important as I would have expected— and yet what a treat to read it myself, I must admit.

Overall, this exhibition is a must-see for anyone from the popular culture and criminology crowd in range of London between now and its close on August 19, 2014. Though the overall exhibit may not tell a cohesive story, the work on display is truly fascinating in its own right and does give the viewer the sense of Britain’s rich and critically acclaimed comics history.