The Middle Spaces, the blog on comics, music and culture invites submissions for an academic roundtable on the subject of sound in comics to be published in early 2019 and co-edited by Osvaldo Oyola and Joshua Abraham Kopin.
The suggestion of sound pervades comics, perhaps most obviously through the ubiquity of the world balloon. Writing in The Aesthetics of Comics (2000), David Carrier explains that “Awareness not just of what the words balloons contain but also their purely visual qualities is part of our experience of comics. We treat balloons neither purely as holes in the picture nor as things depicted” (29). The nebulous space of the word balloon is certainly a site for inquiry in regarding the synergy of the visual and the textual, but assuming it is a speech balloon (as opposed to interiority of the thought-bubble – though we might also ask ourselves what thinking “sounds” like in our heads), then the balloon is a representation of sound which only coheres into something sensical because of is relationship to time – a relationship co-editor, Osvaldo Oyola explored in thinking about closure across panels in his 2011 post for Sounding Out! The Sound Studies Blog, “This is Not a Sound: The Treachery of Sound in Comic Books.” And yet, notions of sound are present throughout comics and not limited to word balloons or even the cosmic clangor of a Jack Kirby sound effect, it surrounds and permeates every movement and every setting, waiting to be identified and interrogated.
While many scholars have separately considered how both comics and sound relate to conveying varied notions of space and time, the intersection of the visual and sonic in the comics medium seems a rich and under-theorized site for considering how they represent ideas and experiences and are put to use in structuring narratives.
Modeled on our successful roundtable in March 2018 on Kelly Sue DeConnik and Valentine De Landro’s Bitch Planet, we are seeking out scholars of all stripes—from aca-fans to graduate students to tenured faculty—to contribute short essays on the subject of sound in comics, theorizing the role and use of sound in what is ostensibly a silent medium through a variety of lenses: cultural, formal, political, and so on.
The roundtable will focus on questions developed by contributors examining some aspect of the relationship of sound and comics (or sound in comics) with their short essay exploring possible answers to the question for further scholarly inquiry. Final essays will be around 750 to 1000 words long each and thematically grouped into posts of three to four contributions by the editors. The essays will be developed through one or two rounds of edits and should include visual examples or references (links to YouTube, soundcloud or other similar sites for possible sonic examples are also encouraged).
Those interested in contributing should email a clearly articulated question they seek to explore in their post and the title of a comics text they plan to use as an example or subject for their contribution. In addition, please include a copy of your CV and a brief bio. Send contributions to email@example.com).
Possible Topics Include:
- Theorizing the word balloon/caption
- Sounds, effects, and affects
- Power Books Comic Book and Record sets
- Music in comics/comics in music (Dazzler, A-Ha, Love and Rockets, etc. . )
- Drawing sound effects
- The word balloon and the visual sound effect outside comics
- “Hearing” race, ethnicity and class in comics dialog
- Comics as an audiovisual stage
- Silence in comics (Marvel’s “Nuff Said” issues, Mind MGMT’s all thought-balloon issue)
Please submit proposals by Friday, November 16, and contributors will be notified by or on Monday, December 17. We hope to publish the roundtable in the first quarter of 2019. You can download a PDF version of this CFP to share here.