In 2004 Donald Ault welcomed readers to the first issue of ImageTexT, describing the new journal as the product of nearly of eight years’ planning, the collective effort of a dedicated team of graduate students and scholars from many disciplines, and the realization of his long-held vision “of a university-based, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the theory, history, and critical analysis of comics.” In the eight years since that first issue, ImageTexT has remained at the forefront of comics and image-text studies, publishing pathbreaking essays and reviews by emerging and established scholars in these fields, and sponsoring a series of annual international conferences on a wide range of comics-related themes. Thanks to Don’s initiative, tireless commitment, and scrupulous interventions, the journal and the conferences have measurably advanced the recognition of comics studies as an important, increasingly an essential, field of academic inquiry. His recent retirement from the editorship of this journal and his position as Professor of English at the University of Florida places into relief his extraordinary legacy in comics studies, image-text studies more generally, and British Romanticism. It is a sign of the critical insight and intellectual breadth of this journal’s founder that our foremost scholar of the Duck is also one of our most original and influential scholars of the poetry and imagery of William Blake.
As the new editors of ImageTexT, we pledge our commitment to Don’s vision of the journal and the conferences, and to the high scholarly standards that he established. We will preserve the production model of a university-based editorial collective, which has proven its strengths time and again in superb editorial work by graduate students and the members of our review board. The journal will continue as an open-source, digital publication, available free of charge to anyone with Internet access. The University of Florida and the Department of English remain committed to ImageTexT, the conferences, and to comics studies as an emphasis of our undergraduate and graduate teaching and research.
We will make some changes, in keeping with what the editorial collective agrees is a natural evolution. Comics studies will remain the primary emphasis of ImageTexT, even as we widen its scholarly mandate into other areas of image-text research—several mentioned by Don in that first editorial: “animation, videogames, and film,”—as well as illustrated fiction, children’s picture books, digital-concrete poetics, and visual rhetoric. Beginning with this first issue of volume 8, we move from a tradition of alternating “general” and “special” issues centered on a prescribed topic, to regular issues that always include articles of general interest and guest-edited article “forums” on a theme. (“Special” issues may still be released when this is warranted by the pool of accepted articles ready for publication.) This change will streamline our production schedule and insure that essays accepted and prepared for publication can be released when the next issue is ready. Issue 8.1 illustrates this approach. The first three essays—Michelle E. Bloom’s study of Orientalism in Franco-Asian graphic narratives, Cristina Delgado-García’s analysis of national identity and statehood in Joe Sacco’s Palestine, and Andréa Gilroy’s discussion of queer identities in the Batwoman superhero series—treat unrelated issues of contemporary comics even as each addresses overlapping questions of space in transnational cultural artifacts. The remaining six essays, inspired by talks originally given at the 2012 conference sponsored by ImageTexT, are gathered in a forum, “Monsters in the Margins,” curated by guest editors Katherine Shaeffer and Spencer Chalifour. The final third of this issue comprises book reviews edited by Anuja Madan.
Talk of torch-passing tends to elicit clumsy, over-literal metaphors of tradition and novelty. We prefer to think of the next phase of ImageTexT‘s publication in terms of continuity and progress. Don has set us on an original and worthwhile path. We follow his lead.
Terry Harpold, Editor, ImageTexT
Anastasia Ulanowicz, Associate Editor, ImageTexT