#NeMLA17 #S306: “Transformation Sequences in Comics,” Thu Mar 23, 4:30 PM in Dover A

On Thursday, March 23, 2017, at 4:30 PM, I will be chairing the session “Masks, Mutations, and Metamorphoses: Transformation Sequences in Comics,” at the 2017 Baltimore meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association, organized by my colleague Rafael Ponce-Cordero at Keene State College. I had helped Rafael with writing of the session description:

The transformation sequence is standard to comics: Clark Kent rushes out of the phone booth and is now Superman, Usagi Tsukino spins and lights up to transform into Sailor Moon, Kamala Khan experiences terrigenesis to become Ms. Marvel, and Bruce Banner hulks out into a giant green rage monster. This session welcomes submissions that look at transformations not only of characters but of the graphic narrative form, and how those alterations affect other narrative practices in the novel, film, and television.

I’m honored to chair on Rafael’s behalf.

Below is the lineup:

  • “The Interrelation of Transformation, Ethnicity, and Form in American Born Chinese
    Kom Kunyosying, Nashua Community College
  • “The Gay Superheroine As Filipino: A Postcolonial Queerying of ZsaZsa Zaturnnah
    Christian Ylagan, Western University
  • “Rejecting the Mainstream: Transformative Rage in Queer Comics”
    Tesla Cariani, Emory University

The session is in Dover A on the Third Floor of the Marriott Waterfront. If you can’t make it, message questions to me on Twitter @dereksmcgrath or at the hashtags #S306 #NeMLA17 between 4:30 PM and 6:30 PM.

Edgar Allan Poe Sessions at #NeMLA17 Baltimore, March 23-26

The Northeast Modern Language Association comes to Baltimore, one of Edgar Allan Poe’s homes, Thursday through Sunday. Below is a list of some of the sessions we have put together in examining his literature, criticism, and ongoing influence.

As well, the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum will be open during the convention.

Thanks to Susan Elizabeth Sweeney at College of the Holy Cross for compiling this list!


LokiCast 4: Sigurd ruins everything in “Agents of Asgard #4”

“Lets You & Him Fight!” Loki Agent of Asgard Issue #4. Written by Al Ewing. Art by Lee Garbett. Colors by Nolan Woodard. Lettering by VC’s Clayton Cowles. Cover art by Jenny Frison.

Spoilers for Issue #3 are not marked; spoilers for future issues of Agent of Asgard are covered. There are also spoilers for The Avengers and comics preceding Agent of Asgard.

Oh, and there is language below. Sorry, Cap.

Take a character. Sap from them anything that gives them dimension, depth, or anything entertaining. Now put them in a story by Marvel.

No, I’m not talking about Danny Rand–I’m talking about Sigurd, the Ever Boring! This is the fourth installment of the LokiCast, where my repetition of the word “anyway” can become its own drinking game. (No, seriously–count them up in this review. You’ll get at least a buzz.)


Conferences: Attending Them, Presenting at Them, Networking at Them

I have organized and chaired 11 conference sessions on literature, language, and culture between 2012 and 2017, and I have presented 19 papers at 9 different conventions, including six sessions at the Modern Language Association, between 2006 and 2017. I want to share advice for when you’re stuck with writing a conference paper, how to practice the presentation, how to prep for the gauntlet that can be the conference networking scene, and how to followup when a convention is over. This tutorial will be updated whenever possible, with the date of revisions at the top.


DC on TV for the Week of March 13, 2017: Don’t get into relationships, and let your parents die

“Into the Speed Force.” The Flash, Season 3, Episode 16. Directed by Gregory Smith. Written by Brooke Roberts and Judalina Neira.

“Moonshot.” Legends of Tomorrow, Season 2, Episode 14. Directed by Kevin Mock. Written by Grainne Godfree.

With Supergirl replaced with Howie Mandel so that the Music Meister two-parter can happen next week, this is a rare occurrence where, instead of having one key phrase per show, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow share the same key phrases: “Aromantic,” and “Orphaned.”


LokiCast 3: Loki murders a fish with a bazooka (“Agent of Asgard” #3)

“Your Life Is A Story Already Written,” Loki: Agent of Asgard, Issue #3. Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Lee Garbett, colored by Nolan Woodard, letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles, cover art by Jenny Frison, and a variant cover by Coipel & Garcia.

You like Dungeons and Dragons? You like ret-cons that enrich a story rather than destroy it? You like bazookas? Then I think you’re going to like Issue #3 of Agent of Asgard!

There has been an extended break between podcasts, so future episodes will be blog posts until I can find some assistance with editing. If you are interested in editing together audio, please email me.

Speaking of podcasts, I want to thank the Misty Knight’s Uninformed Afro Podcast. The staff was kind enough to give me a free month of Marvel Unlimited, a monthly subscription service featuring past issues for digital viewing, with thousands of back-issues–and all the more incentive for me to get out a podcast more frequently looking at the Norse god of lies and stories. So thank you to everyone at Misty Knight’s Uninformed Afro Podcast–you have helped me at a really necessary time in my work schedule! Please subscribe to this podcast with the awesome name: they are online at MKUAPodcast.com, Misty Knight’s Uninformed Afro Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud, and on Twitter @mistysafro. Thanks also to Ellak Roach for introducing me to the podcast.

Now, onto the review!


#GeekGuide: Comics, Video Game, and Fan Culture Panels at #NeMLA17

Each year, the Northeast Modern Language Association’s (NeMLA) annual convention features presentations on comics and graphic novels, already long accepted as media worthy of critical analysis. And this year’s convention at the Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore, Maryland, March 23 to 26, also features sessions on related topics in anime, manga, video games, and fan culture.

And I would know–I’ve been proofreading this program repeatedly as part of my job at NeMLA.

I’ve compiled as many comics, video game, and fan culture presentations that I could find in the online schedule. I encourage you, if you are attending the convention, to check out these sessions and share your thoughts on social media. And check out the program online for more sessions!


My Presentations at #NeMLA17: Poe’s Pop Culture Afterlife, Disability in My Hero Academia, Batmanga and Spider-Man Sentai

Yeah, the only Poe image I could find that fits here was from Bungo Stray Dogs–don’t blame me, it’s a fun series!

I’ll be presenting (and working the registration table) at the upcoming Baltimore meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association, March 23 to 26, at the Marriott Waterfront. The full schedule of presentations is available to search or download, and if you have any questions about the convention, feel free to tweet at me, email me at derekmcg@buffalo.edu, or approach me at the convention (my name badge will have “Staff” on it).

The Pop Culture Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is a zombie: his themes, tropes, stories, tone, and arguments persist long after his death, not only in subsequent poetry, short stories, and criticism but also in film, television, music, and new media. This session looks at approaches to reading Poe’s influence forward into later popular culture, in particular strategies for incorporating works of current popular culture in the classroom when teaching Poe. Presentations look at Poe’s influence on The Following, Richard Corben, Fight Club, and Black Swan. Friday, March 24, 8:30-9:45 AM, Grand Ballroom 2

Batmanga and Captain America Ramen: DC vs Marvel in Japan

Shifting from comics publishers to multimedia content-branding enterprises, DC Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment have enlarged their markets overseas. While their fictional accounts are set largely in the United States, their film productions have sought to appeal to a wider global audience, especially in marketing towards Japan. Starting in the 1960s, DC licensed Batman for a 50-chapter manga series that proved popular in Japan. However, as this Batmanga series only recently has been translated and distributed to United States audiences, the potential bidirectional partnership between DC and Japanese publishers has been far less obvious compared that same partnership opportunity for Marvel. The list of Japanese properties featuring Marvel characters is extensive: ramen shops produce Captain America and Iron Man-themed meals; studios such as Sony and Madhouse produce anime based on Blade, Black Widow, the Punisher, and the X-Men; and Marvel has partnered with manga publishers for transpacific crossovers, such as between its Avengers and Kodansha’s Attack on Titan. Even the live-action Spider-Man series in Japan in the late 1970s allowed its local producer, Toei, to develop the tropes, special effects, sets, and costumes that would give birth to the ubiquitous brand Super Sentai, known in the United States as Power Rangers.

While Marvel is more visible, this competition between it and Marvel has not necessarily translated into more cinematic success in Japan: both Batman vs Superman and Captain America: Civil War opened much later than they did in other parts of the world, and sold far fewer tickets than Japanese films in the same opening weekends. This presentation will consider how economic, cultural, and media differences between DC and Marvel’s United States and Japanese distribution networks have led to innovations for both companies, while also increasing Marvel’s presence in Japan compared to DC. Friday, March 24, 11:45 AM-1 PM, Heron Room

The Quirkiness of a Superpower: Normalizing (Dis)abilities in Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia

Superpowered individuals are commonly treated in popular culture as the outsiders, their abilities making them stand out as othered. Japanese mangaka Kōhei Horikoshi reverses that idea in his comic My Hero Academia, recently adapted as an ongoing animated series. In his story, superpowers are the norm: 80 percent of the Earth’s population possesses such abilities, known as Quirks. This fictional world has adjusted considerably well to suit the needs of these superpowered individuals, who vary in size, ability, and shape: entrances serve persons both short and gargantuan, clothing stores make on-site adjustment to attire for multi-limbed or tailed individuals, and the government sanctions schools and agencies to allow for training of superheroes. In such a setting, My Hero Academia raises complicated questions about how othering can still persist, treating non-powered individuals as if they are analogous to persons with disabilities. For example, series protagonist Izuku Midoriya, who admires popular superhero All Might, is in that 20 percent of humans without a Quirk and is bullied by a superpowered classmate who mocks him with the nickname “Deku” (“Weakling”). A chance meeting with All Might reveals to Izuku that his superhero mentor has been living with an injury that is slowly sapping him of his Quirk, leaving the usually buff and tall superhero emaciated and bleeding. All Might’s injury is treated in-series as analogous to enervating conditions experienced by many people, showing how he lives with his condition while striving to maintain his previous and still arduous schedule of superheroing. My Hero Academia also prompts disconcerting questions regarding All Might giving his superpower to his new mentee Izuku, as this ability inheritance is treated as a way to normalize his supposed disabled body, prompting careful consideration about how this series reinforces and subverts representations of disabilities in superhero stories. Friday, March 24, 4:45-6:15 PM, Grand Ballroom 8

“Fire Force” Volume 1 starts strong, burns out at the end

Fire Force. Written and illustrated by Atsushi Ohkubo. Translated into English by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley. Kodansha, 2016.

Shinra Kusakabe wants to be a hero. Having lost his mother and infant brother in a fire, he has joined a fire department to save others from similar fates.

But this fire department doesn’t just put out fires. They also fight fire monsters that plague Tokyo.

And Shinra himself has fire abilities similar to these demons.

Fire Force Volume 1 - World on Fire.png

Oh, and everything’s on fire.