Welcome to the first issue of ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies. This publishing project has gone through many transformations and mutations over the past eight years or so since I first conceived it. One of the major factors in the materialization of the journal has been support from the University of Florida—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Neil Sullivan, Dean of the College, and Jack Sabin, Director of Information Resources & Technological Programs; the Department of English and John P. Leavey, Jr., Chair of the Department; and the University’s nascent Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere. Funding from these sources, as well as other private and local business contributions, made possible the 2002 and 2003 conferences on Comics and Graphic Novels at the University of Florida, and this first issue of ImageText gathers some of the key presentations by the artists and scholars who participated in those first two annual conferences. The second issue will contain additional proceedings of the conferences and will also include other peer-reviewed articles on the study of comics.
The first of these conferences—“The Will Eisner Symposium”—was held in honor of Eisner, whose idea, “dream” really, it was to see the day come when an entire multi-day conference focusing entirely on comics would be sponsored under the funding and auspices of a major research university. M. Thomas (Tom) Inge, Blackwell Professor of the Humanities at Randolph-Macon College, first told me of Eisner’s “dream” at the “Re-Thinking Disney” Conference in late 2000, and I was fortunate enough not only to have found the University open to funding such an event and to continue funding it for a second year, but also to have found gathered around me groups of some of the most energetic, enthusiastic, and committed graduate and undergraduate students I’ve ever worked with. These students’ efforts—spearheaded both years by the seemingly inexhaustible energy, knowledge, and persistence of PhD candidate John F. Ronan and the organizational and management skills of Stephanie Kartalopoulos—created an atmosphere of excitement that allowed remarkable things to fall into place rapidly and smoothly—almost magically, especially the first year, when initial funding was threatened by fallout from the 9-11 disaster.
The first two issues of ImageTexT, are made possible via a space dedicated by the College and the Department of English, which also provided funding for my Research Assistant and webmaster Zach Whalen. His efforts in designing this issue and participating in every aspect of its production have been nothing short of stunning. Laurie Taylor, whose web savvy and uncanny ability to get me to do things I thought I didn’t have time for spurred the early stages of this journal into its current state, and other members of the “comics-coordinator” graduate student work group, specifically Trena Houp, Cathlena Martin, Michael Sansone, and Roger Whitson, have provided invaluable service.
It was also my good fortune to have tapped into the enthusiasm and expertise of scholars outside the field of comics studies per se—Fredric Jameson, Jerome McGann, and W.J.T. Mitchell—whose reputations in the analysis of visual textuality are without equal, and found them eager to serve on the Editorial Advisory Board. I was equally fortunate to have been encouraged by a group of scholars from different fields who have published widely on comics and related media studies who agreed to serve on the editorial review board. The faith of these scholars in my own dream of a university-based, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the theory, history, and critical analysis of comics but keeps itself open to the intersection of comics with other media, genres, and physical formats such as animation, video games, and film, has helped make that dream a reality in this first issue of ImageTexT.
A Note on Contents
The ImageTexT staff and writers are pleased to release this first issue, but we felt a note as to some ‘missing’ material was needed. As Donald Ault has noted, this first issue of ImageTexT has been many years in the making. As such, it includes several presentations selected from the first two University of Florida Comics Conferences with academic articles. Other presentations from the conferences will appear in subsequent issues; however, several of these have been delayed for technical needs like image gathering and copyright approval. These delays were, in fact, largely due to the other delays that led to misplaced materials, lost email addresses, and the like. We hope to have many more of the presentations available in the second issue of ImageTexT, along with other articles submitted to the journal, but the presentations may still take a few more issues. In the meantime, we look forward to more submissions both for our subsequent issues and for our third upcoming conference.
We thank your patience with us in this process and we look forward to releasing our next issue this fall.