TWC Releases No. 13 (Appropriating, Interpreting, and Transforming Comic Books)

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) today released issue No. 13, “Appropriating, Interpreting, and Transforming Comic Books,” guest edited by Matthew J. Costello, Saint Xavier University, Chicago. Both comic books and films based on comic book properties are addressed in this issue. Following its regular format, this Open Access Gold online multimedia journal has collected scholarly essays, personal essays, book reviews, and interviews that seek to bridge fan and academic writers and readers. TWC is published under the umbrella of the nonprofit fan advocacy group Organization for Transformative Works

Guest editor Costello sees comic books as transitioning in a moment of change. Comics are stereotypically created and read by white boys and men, and as an art form, the genre of comics has been slow to respond to women and people of color. Yet change is undoubtedly occurring, affecting both fandom and the industry. “I see this change as marking a big transformation in comic books,” Costello remarked. “One thing that is implicit in this issue, taken as a whole, is that transformation is a political act.”

Several writers contend with the fraught topic of gender. Suzanne Scott addresses the “Fangirls in Refrigerators,” and Rebecca Lucy Busker revisits and revises her “Fandom and Male Privilege” meta piece seven years after its original posting. Lyndsay Brown discusses pornographic comics written by and for women. Kate Roddy, Carlen Lavigne, and Suzanne Scott interview Will Brooker, Sarah Zaidan, and Suze Shore in their efforts “Toward a Feminist Superhero,” in which they discuss building a better Batgirl. Finally, both book reviews, by Drew Morton and Daniel Stein, of recent critical books about comic books and cultural history, note the comics gender divide. Nor is gender the only fraught topic addressed: Ora C. McWilliams wonders “Who Is Afraid of a Black Spider(-Man)?”

Although the fandom for comic books dates from the early 1960s and is among the first modern fandoms, the fandoms for films based on comic books are strong and growing, particularly in the ongoing Avengers movieverse releases. Catherine Coker discusses “The Creation and Evolution of the Avengers and Captain America/Iron Man Fandom,” Kayley Thomas discusses the filmic Loki on Tumblr, and Babak Zarin discusses a Steve Rogers/Tony Stark (Captain America/Iron Man) Avengers movieverse slash story by hetrez in terms of advocacy. The topic of advocacy is also addressed by Forrest Phillips, who discusses the use of the figure of Captain America as a spokesman for both the Tea Party and Occupy movements.

Specific comics texts and artists are analyzed as well. Amanda Odom analyzes Garth Ennis’s The Pro in terms of the ways the text plays with and subverts comic book conventions, and Tim Bavlnka discusses fans’ attempt to organize Grant Morrison’s work for DC Comics into a single sweeping continuity known as the Hypercrisis. Editor Costello’s interview with comics artist Lee Weeks discusses not only Weeks’s career, but also current trends in the comics industry.

Founded in 2007, The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), is a nonprofit established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fan works and fan culture in its myriad forms. Advocating on behalf of fans, the OTW believes that fan works are transformative and that transformative works are legitimate.

No. 14 is slated to be a general nonthemed issue and will appear September 15, 2013. The topics of the first two issues of 2014 are “Fandom and/as Labor” (guest edited by Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis) and “Materiality and Object-Oriented Fandom” (guest edited by Bob Rehak).