Call for Papers

The University of Florida's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the nascent Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, are pleased to announce the 2003 UF Conference on Comics: Underground(s). This second annual conference on the art and literature of sequential pictorial narratives will be held in Gainesville, Florida, on February 7th and 8th, 2003.

Participating artists for this year's conference will be Bill Griffith, Kim Deitch, Diane Noomin, Art Spiegelman, and Robert Williams.

During the 1960s a new chapter began in the historical development of the comics medium, one whose visual and material progress is still being written. The emergence of American Underground Comix, as an aesthetic movement and as a radically new space for the production and distribution of graphic narratives, changed almost every single aspect of a mighty medium that at that point in time had largely been reduced to producing genre material for adolescents. The underground artists, freed from the editorial constraints of the mainstream, and the work-for-hire contracts the commercial publishers utilized, creatively expanded the visual vocabulary and narrative potential of comics, to a degree not seen since the emergence of the newspaper strips at the start of the twentieth century. Using humor, satire, and parody, and with topics spanning from sex and drugs and rock and roll, to social critique, to anti-war criticism, to feminist critiques of the patriarchy, to challenges of dominant forms of racism and homophobia, the undergrounds spawned a generation of artists whose works (in solo publications and in anthologies) in the college humor magazines, in the radical press, and ultimately in comic book formats, renewed the power and popularity of this cultural form. Political, social, sexual, and humorous, often all at the same time, comics produced within the undergrounds of the 1960s and 1970s, in America and in Europe, vibrate with a trenchant vitality and visual virtuosity to this day.

This Conference will focus on the material history, contemporary production, and critical reception of underground comics. Artists and academic critics will explore what underground comix were, what material and technological changes they created within the medium, and what avenues of narrative and visual expression they opened up for artists following in their wake. The Conference hopes to engage with some of the critical and commercial issues these texts produced within the medium of comics, as well as examine the relationship of underground to other, more mainstream, forms of art and entertainment. Particular topics and concerns may include, but not be limited to:

*Language(s) of visual narrative in the Undergrounds
*Poetics, Semiotics, Play: theoretical approaches to Underground comics
*Left/Right/Center: Undergrounds as Journalism, Advocacy, or History
*Anthologies: Collaboration, Editorial Control, Thematic Unity
*Great Books by Great Authors: ownership, copyright, and creator control
*Gender, Sexuality, and Identity Formation in the undergrounds
*Caricature, Critique, Dissent: The New Left and underground comix
*Matter and Mode: textual production and distribution of the undergrounds *Collusion, Conflict, and Influence: the pre- and post-history of Underground Comix

Papers that address the theme of the Conference are welcome, but those relating to any aspect of the undergrounds, from any period or country of origin, will also be considered for panels. Submitted papers should be no longer than 2000 words or an approximate reading time of 20 minutes. Abstracts of up to 250 words are requested for inclusion in the conference program and the forthcoming Conference web page. Publication-quality presentations may also be included in a planned anthology.

Deadline for submissions is the 15th of December, 2002. We require that you have abstracts submitted by this date in order to give us time to review them and draft responses. Acceptance notifications will be delivered no later than December 20th, 2002. Submissions are acceptable by email, or by Postal Mail sent to

UF Comics Conference 2003: Underground(s)
Department of English
PO Box 117310
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-7310


The 2nd Annual Conference on Comics is sponsored by the nascent Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida, along with the UF Department of English.