News about the premier academic journal devoted to all aspects of cartooning and comics -- the International Journal of Comic Art (ISSN 1531-6793) published and edited by John Lent.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Memories of Tom Inge, part 4 by Marc Singer


Marc Singer

Howard University

It’s rare that a single scholar can be said to shape an entire field, but I can think of no other way to describe the profound impact that Tom Inge had on comics studies. Indeed, “impact” seems grossly inadequate to describe the scope of his contributions, in that it implies there was a field to be impacted before he came along.

More than just a writer or researcher, Tom was an institution builder, to the extent that it’s impossible to imagine the discipline or my own career without him. I presented my first paper on comics at the Popular Culture Association conference, which he helped found, and my first book was published as part of a series he edited for the University Press of Mississippi, which he made into a home for comics studies.

But he was so much more than the list of his accomplishments, impressive as they are. Tom was incredibly generous with his time and patient with younger scholars. Even his moments of reproach—there were a few—were delivered with a gentle encouragement that motivated you to do better. He was a model scholar and his influence will be felt in ways great and small for decades to come.

I last saw Tom at the first Comics Studies Society conference in 2018. That meeting felt like a singular moment in the history of comics studies, an inflection point in the development of the field, and it was entirely appropriate that Tom was there to usher it in. I’m glad I got to see him there. I wish I’d seen him since. Rest in peace, Tom.


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