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Comics and the Midwest

deadline for submissions:
December 15, 2017

full name / name of organization:
SSML: Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature

contact email:

Seeking papers for a panel on “Comics and the Midwest” at the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature annual symposium, May 17-19, 2018 at the Kellogg Conference Center, East Lansing, MI.

While Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster may have come up with Superman in Cleveland, Ohio, contemporary superhero-themed comics have primarily been set in costal cities, real or imagined. At the same time, many daily comic strips including Crankshaft, Calvin and Hobbes, and Peanuts have been set in a sometimes undetermined but definitively Midwestern landscape. What place does the Midwest have in comics? Is it only a place for origin stories or flyover country for superheroes doing battle in exotic locales? Or is it the idyllic small-town landscape shown in daily newspaper comic strips? What does the way the Midwest is drawn in comics and comic books say about the way America sees the Midwest?

Possible paper topics include:

Cleveland’s Harvey Pekar and American Splendor
The midwestern aesthetic of Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft
Marvel Comic’s Great Lake Avengers dark-comic superhero team based in Milwaukee.
The midwestern landscapes of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes or Charles Schultz’s Peanuts
Superman and his Smallville, Kansas roots

Please send paper proposals of no more than 350 words to Jeff Swenson at by December 15, 2017.