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.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Book Review - Strong Bonds: Child-animal Relationships in Comics

reviewed by Chris York

Maaheen Ahmed, ed. Strong Bonds: Child-animal Relationships in Comics. Presses Universitaires de Liege, 2020. 295 pp. ISBN 978-2-87562-259-4. (open access link to entire book)

  Maaheen Ahmed notes in her introduction to Strong Bonds that there is a disproportionately small amount of scholarship on the child-animal relationship in comics, despite its prevalence throughout comics history, across publication formats, and across cultures. Strong Bonds addresses this need with a collection of essays that are engaging and insightful, and show the range and complexity of the child-animal relationship in comics.

The book is structured around five sections: The Alternative Family, Queered Relationships, Childhood Under Threat, Politics, and Poetics. Each section consists of two or three chapters, which, at times, felt inadequate. The section Queered Relationships, for instance, consists of essays that focus on two runs of superhero comics, Supergirl in Action Comics, and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. While the chapters themselves are well-conceived, having only two essays focusing on comics from major American publishers, DC and Marvel, seemed inadequate for expressing the range of the theme across the spectrum of comics.

The essays throughout the volume find common ground in their assessment of the child-animal relationship’s ability to disrupt conventional dichotomies such as queer/straight, self/other, adult/child, and civilized/savage. Laura Pearson, a contributor of one of the more compelling chapters in the book, notes that dualisms “devalue” the side that is implied to be inferior. The child-animal relationship, as each of these essays attest, is an effective vehicle for exploring these dual conceptions because it is not really dichotomous at all; the adult/parent is always, either implicitly or explicitly, a third contributor to the relationship’s dynamic. Thus, the child-adult relationship is disrupted by the addition of the animal, and the human-animal relationship is disrupted by the child. It is in these fissures that the concepts of the family, gender, identity, and society, among others, are scrutinized and reformulated. The strength of this anthology is that it demonstrates the versatility of the child-animal-(adult) relationship in addressing social conventions.

It is almost inherent in the nature of the anthology that the quality of the chapters will be uneven. Strong Bonds is no exception. However, the majority of chapters in this volume are well-written, show a strong understanding of the field, and add to the conversation in interesting ways. While many of the chapters focus on narrative, I found that the most compelling contributions addressed how the formal elements of comics are able to uniquely represent the child-animal relationship. Pearson’s essay on Matt Forsythe’s Jinchalo, for instance, notes how the sparse use of language, in the form of onomatopoeia, inspires a sense of readerly curiosity and destabilizes a variety of boundaries (linguistic, cultural, generational, species). The instability of the text, Pearson concludes, encourages the reader to explore “[t]he idea of attempting to imagine another.” Elsewhere, the visual structure of comics informs Shiamin Kwa’s exploration of Brecht Evens’ Panther. The unsettling shifts in the illustration of the panther from panel to panel, Kwa notes, is integral to exposing the ambiguity and compounding the tension within the narrative. Both of these essays, and many more within this volume, are aided by attractive, high-quality color reproductions of their subjects.

As I suggest above, the primary critique of this collection is that it does not completely deliver on its intent to show the range of the child-animal relationship in comics. In her introduction, Ahmed states that the anthology covers “a historically and culturally diverse corpus”(10). The comics that are the focus of this collection do touch upon nearly every decade of the 20th and 21st centuries, from Little Orphan Annie to Jommeke to Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.  However, the collection does not venture beyond the western tradition. All of the chapters deal with comics by British, European or North American creators. The closest the book comes to engaging non-western traditions is the chapter on Matthew Forsythes Jinchalo. Forsythe is Canadian, but draws upon Korean culture and language in the narrative. His essay’s play with cultural borders is fascinating, but it left me all the more aware of the absence of other comics traditions in the volume. The child-animal relationship spans all traditions, and it would have been interesting to see non-Western comics in dialogue with the other essays in this collection. With that caveat in mind, Ahmed has assembled a valuable collection of essays for anyone interested in exploring child-animal relationships in comics.

A version of this review will appear in print in IJOCA 23-2 (Fall/Winter 2021).


Table of Contents

Maaheen Ahmed
Child-animal Relationships in Comics: A First Mapping ................................... 9

Alternative Families
Peter W.Y. Lee
The Maternal Arf!: Raising Canines in the Roaring Twenties in Harold Gray’s
Little Orphan Annie .............................................................................................. 29
Gert Meesters and Pascal Lefèvre
Towards an Unexpected Equivalence: Animals, Children and Adults
in the Popular Flemish Strip Jommeke ............................................................... 51
Jennifer Marchant
Hergé’s Animal Sidekicks: The Adventures of Snowy and Jocko ....................... 71

Queered Relationships
Olivia Hicks
(Super) Horsing Around: The Significance of Comet in Supergirl ................... 91
Nicole Eschen Solis
A Girl and Her Dinosaur: The Queerness of Childhood in Moon Girl
and Devil Dinosaur ............................................................................................. 109

Childhood under Threat
José Alaniz
“Winner Take All!”: Children, Animals and Mourning in Kirby’s
Kamandi ............................................................................................................... 129
Mel Gibson
“Once upon a time, there was a very bad rat…”:
Constructions of Childhood, Young People, Vermin and Comics .................. 149
Shiamin Kwa
The Panther, the Girl, and the Wardrobe: Borderlessness and Domestic Terror
in Panther ............................................................................................................. 165

Michael Chaney and Sara Biggs Chaney
Animal-child Dyad and Neurodivergence in Peanuts ..................................... 183
Fabiana Loparco
The Most Loyal of Friends, the Most Lethal of Enemies: Child-animal
Relationships in Corriere dei Piccoli during the First World War ................ 195

Emmanuelle Rougé
A Poetics of Anti-authorianism: Child-animal Relationships in Peanuts
and Calvin and Hobbes ...................................................................................... 225
Benoît Glaude
Child-animal Interactions in Yakari’s Early Adventures:
A Zoonarratological Reading ............................................................................. 239
Laura A. Pearson
Graphic Cross-pollinations and Shapeshifting Fables in Matthew Forsythe’s
Jinchalo ................................................................................................................. 257

Philippe Capart
Boule & Bill: Unwrapped .................................................................................... 279

List of contributors ........................................................................................... 287
Index ............................................................................................................................ 291

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Comics Research Bibliography 2020 ebook edition available now

For many years, John Lent and Mike Rhode have been collecting citations for comic art, and putting them out in various ways, most recently through a Facebook page. For 2020, they have decided to try to begin bi-annual electronic updated versions.

Over 1200 pages long with more than 1200 new entries, this is a bibliography of articles and books on all aspects of comic and cartoon art including comic books, comic strips, cartoons, animation, editorial cartoons, newly updated as of the end of 2018. The electronic book, a non DRM PDF, includes tens of thousands of citations with links to information on comic book movies, the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Danish Islam cartoon controversy and other topical matters (but not COVID-19 which will be in the next edition). Many citations are hot-linked to the web publication for ease of use.

To order, please Paypal $12 to and be sure to include your email, and a link to download the pdf will be emailed to you. For students or others, email Rhode directly if you need to request a reduced price.

Sample entries -

                        Benton, Gregory

  Arrant, Chris. 2014. Gregory Benton talks art, universal narratives and 'B+F'. Comic Book Resources (January 2):

  Benton, Gregory. 2013. B+F. Richmond, VA: Adhouse Books

  Rhode, Mike. 2015. Hang Dai Studios at Baltimore Comic-Con: Gregory Benton speaks. ComicsDC blog (September 23):

                        Berg, Dave

  Fischer, Craig. 2013. My Friend Dave. (October 25):

Table of Contents -

Introduction                                                                                                                   v

  Deaths in the comic arts field 2019-2020                                                                       

United States

1.    Comic Books and Strips                                                                                

2.    Comic Books                                                                                                 

·         BUSINESS ASPECTS - Publishers, Companies                               

·         BUSINESS ASPECTS -  Distribution, Sales                                      

·         COMIC BOOK MAKERS AND THEIR WORKS                                     

·         CHARACTERS AND TITLES                                                                

3.    Comic Strips                                                                                                  

·         CHARACTERS AND TITLES                                                                

·         Cartoonists                                                                                        

3a. Web Comics, webcomics                                                                        

4.     Animation, Caricature, and Gag and Political Cartoons                          

4a. Comic Art                                                                                            

4b. Gag, Illustrative, Magazine Cartoons                                                   

·         New Yorker magazine                                                                

4c. Animation                                                                                                

·         Animators and Their Works                                                       

·         Characters and Titles                                                                 

·         Companies, Networks, and Studios                                          

4d. Caricature            

4e. Political Cartoons            

·         Feiffer, Jules                                                                         


Global & Europe                                                                                                        

·         Danish Islamic Cartoons - Religion & Censorship Controversy          

·         Charlie Hebdo massacre                                                                         

·         Belgium                                                                                                   

·         France                                                                                                      

·         Great Britain                                                                                           


Middle East                                                                                                                


·         India                                                                                                        

·         Japan                                                                                                       

Australia and Oceania                                                                                             

Central and South America                                                                                


 Deaths in the comic arts field 2010-2018                                                            


An explanatory note about the project from the book's introduction -

The Comics Research Bibliography began as an online resource in 1996. John Bullough, struck by the success of the Grand Comics Database crowd-sourcing project, proposed a companion project of a compilation of works about comics. Michael Rhode was the only member to join him in compiling an online Comics Research Bibliography. Bullough selected a citation format and created a web interface hosted on his school's server. We both contributed citations, from our local newspapers and collections, especially from Rhode's books and magazines. In the early days of the Internet, we were unaware of John Lent's similar project which he had started for an academic publisher. Both online library catalogues and booksellers have made it less necessary to have an author's books listed, but it seemed silly to have reviews of the books and not the citation for the book itself, so collections of comics were added fairly early in the project. Since updates to the online version have stopped, Rhode has decided to produce a semi-annual print and electronic version to fill the gap. He and Lent began working together on the International Journal of Comic Art over a decade ago, and at the conclusion of Lent's publishing contract, began sharing bibliographic data. Three previous print editions appeared as Volume 11, Number 3 of International Journal of Comic Art (626 pages), Comics Research Bibliography, 2012 (two volumes, 832 pp.) and CRB, 2018 (two volumes, 1253 pp.). This bibliography is a continual work in progress – the authors literally have thousands of additional citations waiting to be formatted and included. Many new articles have appeared due to the growing acceptance of comic art as a subject of interest at the same time the Internet has become a mass publishing media. As the years passed, and the Internet expanded, online citations grew far more rapidly than print ones. We are trying to be a quality filter by only grabbing substantive articles, or interviews off the web. If one types 'Fantagraphics' into Google's search engine, one million results are returned, but if you look at the Fantagraphics entry here, hopefully we will have some substantive pieces on the company that will be useful for research. A word of caution – this bibliography is best used in conjunction with Lent's 10-volume set of Comic Art Bibliography, Rhode & Bullough's online Comics Research Bibliography at (for not all citations there have been added here yet), Joachim Trinkwitz's Bonn Online Bibliography of Comics Research at , and Randy Scott's Index to and List of the Comic Art Collection at . It is neither feasible nor possible to duplicate efforts, and it would not be desirable either, as we all work together and have helped each other.       


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Book Review - Drawing Fire: The Editorial Cartoons of Bill Mauldin.

reviewed by Lizzy Walker, Wichita State University Libraries

 DePastino, Todd (ed.) (2020). Drawing Fire: The Editorial Cartoons of Bill Mauldin. Chicago: Pritzker Military Museum & Library. 250 pages; $35.00. ISBN 9780998968940.

All images and their captions in this review are courtesy of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library

            William Henry "Bill" Mauldin (1921-2003) had a lengthy career spanning 50 years as a popular and award-winning cartoonist. Drawing Fire: The Editorial Cartoons of Bill Mauldin, collects essays and selections of his wartime and political cartoons from Chicago's Pritzker Military Museum & Library, which boasts over 4,500 cartoons by Mauldin in its collection. The publication of this important volume will include a spring 2021 exhibition at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Chicago and will then travel to the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas later in 2021.

            The book opens with a brief preface by Tom Hanks. It is the perfect opening to this poignant book. He states, "If a picture is worth a thousand words, Bill Mauldin drew hundreds of novels" (6). Hanks describes how Mauldin's works depicted the everyday soldier, and discusses two of Mauldin's pieces that resonated with Hanks the most.

            In her foreword, Colonel (RET.) Jennifer N. Pritzker, founder of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, describes how Mauldin's work affected her interest in following in her family's legacy of joining the military, and how seeing his work helped her in her own journey, down to her attitude and how she treated those above and below her station. She mentions that Mauldin's ability to communicate through different sociopolitical climates showed how his work still presents valuable history lessons in each short cartoon. She sums up nicely, writing "you can take out the print date or the caption and still see contemporary issues and subjects in his drawings. There is a Bill Mauldin cartoon for every situation, for every topic" (10). History marches on, but it also recurs.

            Mauldin's biographer Todd DePastino provides the introduction to Drawing Fire, discussing Mauldin's life and fifty-year career. He joined the Arizona National Guard in 1940 and then transferred into the 45th Infantry. During World War II, Mauldin's cartoons featuring Willie and Joe, two American GI grunts on the front lines in Europe, earned him a position on Stars and Stripes, the Army newspaper. DePastino discusses Mauldin's success at having his characters depicting the less-than-glamourous aspects of wartime while acting as a platform for criticism of the military hierarchy. The characters quickly became favorites of both soldiers in the trenches and civilians on the home front. Mauldin won a Pulitzer at the age of 23, before he even arrived back stateside. DePastino then explains Mauldin's return home, his difficulty re-acclimating to civilian life, the divorce from his first wife Jean, and other topics of his personal life.

            DePastino continues by looking at the subject matter Mauldin started addressing in his cartoons upon his return, such as the rampant discrimination against Japanese-Americans, free speech, civil rights, public housing, and more, which made certain editors request that he censor himself, lest they do it for him by canceling their subscription for his syndicated cartoons. Mauldin's pushing of boundaries throughout his career earned the ire of high-ranking political and military figures, such as J. Edgar Hoover and General George S. Patton. Mauldin retired in 1991 after an injury to his drawing hand. Further tragedy struck as he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and he lived in an assisted living facility in Orange County before his death in 2003.
"Thank you, Mr. Mauldin," Tom Brokaw, one of the most recognized names in news broadcasting, weaves a beautiful essay about growing up as a military child during World War II and how Mauldin's Up Front was an influence in shaping his career as a journalist. Brokaw discusses themes of Up Front, as well as other works that Mauldin published all the way through Desert Storm in 1990.

            "Bill Mauldin, Thunderbird" by Denise Neil provides a brief discussion of Mauldin's time with the 45th Infantry Division (also known as the Thunderbird Division), his regular feature in the 45th Division News called Star Spangled Banter, and Up Front published in Stars and Stripes. Neil asserts Mauldin blended humor with the realism of the "exhaustion and fear endured by the dogfaces" (48), which explains Mauldin's popularity among soldiers, past and present.

            "Back Home" by G. Kurt Piehler addresses the challenge of reintegration of soldiers back into civilian life and Mauldin's hand in assisting with the effort via his post-war cartoons, reprinting some of them in Back Home in 1947. He had to face his own problems head on when he returned as well. Mauldin was witness to many traumatic events, and many of his friends, both members of the infantry and journalists, did not make it home at all. As he was during the war, Mauldin continued to be an advocate of free speech and exercised his right as much as possible in his cartoons. For example, he used his medium to speak out against anti-Semitism and the Ku Klux Klan. Piehler writes of Mauldin's cartoons that "American veterans, if given access to housing and decent jobs, would be able to readjust to civilian life and that the nation as a whole might emerge from the greatest war in history a wiser, more tolerant, more generous power" (69).

            In "Bill Mauldin Goes to Korea" by Cord A. Scott mentions that Mauldin was highly sought after by publishers during the Korean War and reviews his process for creating his new book Bill Mauldin in Korea. Scott states that the "one aspect that distinguishes Mauldin's work on Korea from the illustrations of other cartoonists is that his are consistently realistic even if they do not appear as finished as his other pieces for the book. None of the characters, especially those of enemy combatants, relied on stereotypical cartoon features" (75-76). He also retained his military humor while still making his work accessible to the layman as well as soldiers, presenting the struggles of "sacrifices and conditions in which ordinary people serve. It presents the unique perspective of a famous WWII enlisted veteran on a different, more complicated conflict" (81). Scott writes that Bill Mauldin in Korea is "a reflection of how Mauldin as a person was evolving in his worldview, relaying those views not through his own thoughts so much, but through his character" (81). Scott's follow-up essay, "Korean War Cartoonists," presents a great discussion of Mauldin's contemporaries, including those who were clearly influenced by the artist himself.

            "Bill Mauldin's Legacy in Military Cartooning" by Christina M. Knopf opens with discussion of a Peanuts comic strip conversation between Linus and Snoopy that was a memorial for Mauldin upon his death. Knopf states of military humor that it "helps to strengthen community, buoy morale, teach valuable—even life-saving—lessons, make sense of war, and express universal concerns about daily life" (89). Knopf shows other military cartoonists, including Vernon Grant, John Holmes, W. C. Pope, and others who are what she calls "modern Mauldins," who may use the web to disseminate their work. A particularly amusing section of this chapter, titled "Grumbling in the Ranks," discusses Mauldin and an earlier wartime cartoonist, Captain Bruce Bairnfather from World War I England, and their ability to ruffle the feathers of the military "brass." Knopf then reviews the role and benefits of military cartoons and satire, providing a thoughtful comparison between Mauldin's realistically-styled comics to the more “heroic” war comic books of the time.

            "Sparky and Bill Mauldin" by Jean Schulz is a touching end to the narrative portion of the book. Jean Schulz, the widow of Sparky, better known as Charles M. Schulz of previously mentioned Peanuts fame, briefly but poignantly tells a moving story about the friendship of two major figures in cartoon strips and how they became friends and colleagues.

            "A Selection of Bill Mauldin's Cartoon from the Pritzker Military Museum and Library Collections" takes up a bulk of the book and images cover a wide range of topics, such as post-World War II soldiers returning to civilian life, commentary on his perception of the ridiculousness of bipartisan politics, and civil rights issues, up until commentary on the Gulf War.

            Drawing Fire is a worthy tribute to the soldier, artist, and free speech advocate Bill Mauldin. The first time I came across his work was while I was doing some cataloguing for Wichita State University Special Collections and University Archives. I picked up the well-worn copy of Up Front from the book cart, carefully flipping through the yellowed pages, and was immediately struck by Mauldin’s artwork, and then his captions. It is easy to see why each of the contributors to Drawing Fire included how Mauldin influenced their chosen professions, as well as how he helped shape their ethics, in their essays. The glimpses into Mauldin's life and career, paired with the inclusion of 150 of his military and political cartoons, provides the reader with an historical portrait of the artist, as well as fifty decades of sociopolitical history and wartime coverage.

Versions of this review will appear online and in print in IJOCA 22:2.



Mauldin drew this cartoon on June 6, 1968. In the early hours of that day, forty-two-year-old Senator Robert F. Kennedy died in the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles after being shot on June 5 at the Ambassador Hotel by assassin Sirhan Sirhan. Following on the heels of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination tow months earlier, RFK’s assassination triggered national soul-searching about the role of violence in American history and society. (Originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times, 1968.)

A strong proponent of civil rights and social justice campaigns throughout his lifetime, Mauldin illustrated here that those who advance reforms or policies are often the most unqualified to do so. (Originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times, 1974.)

“We won!”

The U.S. Victory in the First Gulf War left Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in power and raised a number of questions about the United States’ role in the region. Mauldin saw that despite President Bush’s proclamation of victory, the Middle East was far from won. (Originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times, 1991).

“Yer a Menace to the People. It’s me duty to sink your end of the boat.”

(Originally published by United Features Syndicate, Inc., 1947)

“Good gosh! Willie struck oil!”

In the summer of 1941, the War Department held the Louisiana Maneuvers, a massive exercise designed to test the underfunded Army’s readiness for war. Bill accompanied the 45th Division to Louisiana, where soldiers still clad in World War I -vintage uniforms often wielded two-by-fours instead of actual machine guns. Two men in seersucker suits and a big Oldsmobile approached Bill and convinced him to produced a souvenir book of cartoons to sell to the troops. Bill drew fifteen cartoons and twenty-five drawings in forty-eight hours for a book he called Star Spangled Banter. It cost twenty-five cents and was a hit with the 45th Division, though Bill never saw any royalties or the two men again. (Originally published in Star Spangled Banter, 1941.)

“This damn teepee leaks.” 

This cartoon from 1973 plays on Mauldin’s well-known wartime cartoon and GI comic book titled, This Damn Tree Leaks from almost thirty years earlier. At a time when the Nixon administration was trying to diffuse the situation at Wounded Knee over Native rights, Mauldin not so subtly reminds his readers of the deceit and dishonor that characterized the history of U.S. federal relations with Native American tribes. (Originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times, 1973.)

“I got a hangover. Does it show?”

This cartoon from January 1945 plays on ordinary civilian concerns about self-presentation in public to highlight both Willie and Joe’s disheveled and grimy appearance and their dependence on alcohol to cope with the trauma of war. It was precisely this kind of cartoon that rankled the spit-and-polish General Patton. (Originally published in Stars and Stripes, 1945.)

“It’s either enemy or off limits.”

American infantrymen in World War II encountered devastation wherever they went. The Germans demolished towns as they retreated, while the Allies did the same as they advanced. It was a war of brute force that left Italy looking, in Bill’s words, “as if a giant rake had gone over it from end to end.” Occasionally, a town escaped ruin. In that case, it would be placed off-limits to dogfaces and reserved for rear-echelon soldiers and high-ranking officers to enjoy. (Originally published in Stars and Stripes, 1944.)

“Come on in – the quicksand’s fine.”

During the Salvadorian Civil War of 1979 to 1992, the Reagan administration increased U.S. support for the military junta government fighting a left-wing insurgency. Observers like Mauldin feared a quagmire akin to the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. Mauldin references (or, perhaps, simply copies) a chilling cartoon by M.A. Kempf that appeared in The Masses in June 1917 during WWII. It shows the great powers of Europe dancing with death in a pool of blood. The caption reads, “Come on in, America, the blood’s fine.” (Originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times, 1982.)

 “Ain’t you gonna buy a war hero a drink?”

Bill Mauldin returned home before V-J Day. His reluctance to wear his uniform or talk about his wartime experiences led many strangers to assume that, because of his youth and civilian clothes, he had avoided military service, and he was subjected to much bravado from home front GI’s. (Originally published in United Feature Syndicate, Inc., 1945.)

“Investigate them? Heck, that’s mah posse.”

(Originally published by United Feature Syndicate, Inc., 1947.)