1st Edition

Immigrants and Comics
Graphic Spaces of Remembrance, Transaction, and Mimesis

ISBN 9781138186156
Published March 10, 2021 by Routledge
268 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Immigrants and Comics is an interdisciplinary, themed anthology that focuses on how comics have played a crucial role in representing, constructing, and reifying the immigrant subject and the immigrant experience in popular global culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Nhora Lucía Serrano and a diverse group of contributors examine immigrant experience as they navigate new socio-political milieux in cartoons, comics, and graphic novels across cultures and time periods. They interrogate how immigration is portrayed in comics and how the ‘immigrant’ was an indispensable and vital trope to the development of the comics medium in the twentieth century. At the heart of the book‘s interdisciplinary nexus is a critical framework steeped in the ideas of remembrance and commemoration, what Pierre Nora calls lieux de mémoire.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars in Visual Studies, Comparative Literature, English, Ethnic Studies, Francophone Studies, American Studies, Hispanic Studies, art history, and museum studies.

Table of Contents

Foreword: "Comics as Movement; Comics as Planetary Healing" Frederick Luis Aldama

Introduction: In the Shadow of Liberty: Immigration and the Graphic Space

Nhora Lucía Serrano

Part I: Shaping Comic Traditions, Portraying Immigrants

Chapter One: Of Birds and Men: Metonymic and Symbolic Representations of Immigration in Shaun Tan’s The Arrival 

Fabrice Leroy

Chapter Two: "How Quickly We Forget": Immigration and Family Narrative in James Sturm's The Golem's Mighty Swing and Unstable Molecules

Brian Cremins

Chapter Three: Postcards from the Past: The 1893 Chicago World Fair and Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

Nhora Lucía Serrano

Chapter Four: From Immigrants to Filibusters: The Curious Case of R. F. Outcault's Yellow Kid

David M. Ball

Chapter Five: Naming the Place and Telling the Story in Demain, demain: Nanterre, bidonville de la Folie, 1962—1966 by Laurent Maffre

Mark McKinney

Chapter Six: More than a Cockroach: Dreaming and Surviving in Will Eisner's A Life Force

Susan Kirtley

Chapter Seven: Stranded by Empire: The Forced Migrants in Shirato Sanpei's Kieyuku sho-jo

Nicholas Theisen

Part II: Border Crossings, Immigrant Identity

Chapter Eight: Once Upon a Time on the Border: Immigration and Mexican Comic Book Westerns

Christopher Conway

Chapter Nine: Picturing the (Silent) History of Immigration in France and in French Bandes Dessinées

Michelle Bumatay

Chapter Ten: Brodeck’s Report (Manu Larcenet): A Study in Intermediality

Jan Baetens and Hugo Frey

Chapter Eleven: Migra Mouse: Satire and Hybridity as Latino/a Decolonial Acts

Mauricio Espinoza

Chapter Twelve: Tracing Trauma: Questioning Understanding of Clandestine Migration in Amazigh: itinéraire d’hommes libres

Catriona MacLeod

Chapter Thirteen: Immigration, Photography, and the Color Line in Lila Quintero Weaver’s Darkroom: A Memoir in Black & White

Candida Rifkind

Chapter Fourteen: African Diaspora and Black Bodies: X-Men’s Storm

Johnathan Flowers

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Nhora Lucía Serrano is the Associate Director for Digital Learning & Research at Hamilton College, New York. Originally from Colombia, and previously a Visiting Scholar of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, Dr. Serrano is a trained Medieval and Early Modern Visual Studies scholar, who was the recipient of a 2018 Mellon Press Diversity Fellowship at the MIT Press, a 2017 NEH Summer Institute fellowship at the Newberry Library, and a 2014 Smithsonian National Postal Museum fellowship. Dr. Serrano is a founding member and currently the Treasurer of the Comics Studies Society, and from 2014–2018, she served on the MLA Executive Forum on Comics and Graphic Narratives. Presently, Dr. Serrano is an MLA Delegate Assembly Member and she serves on the MLA Executive Discussion Group on Book History, Print Cultures, Lexicography.


"A vital collection for comics readers and scholars seeking sharp critical perspectives on an art form shaped and energised by migrants. A distinguished line-up of contributors shed light on the capacities of a spatial medium to explore displacement, layer memories and reframe experiences that are invisible within majority cultures."

-- Ann Miller, University of Leicester, UK

"I have been waiting for a book like this. Immigrants and Comics addresses one of the most salient, central issues of our times—immigration—with range, imagination, and necessary historical depth. The wide scope of comics it covers, along with distinct global locations, make this book dynamic and significant. It’s an ambitious—and indubitably important—addition to contemporary comics scholarship."

-- Hillary L. Chute, Northeastern University

"Serrano’s work is a valuable asset to comics studies as well as immigration studies. She has put together a fine collection of essays that analyze comics and immigration issues utilizing multidisciplinary theories while integrating examples from across the globe. Her treatment of comics incorporates a multifaceted approach in examining various aspects of the comics culture, including close readings of specific works, the artist/creator as immigrant and the impact some comics have had on immigration policy."

-- Jeff Williams, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina

"This timely collection shows how, from the very beginnings of newspaper comics in the U.S., the history of comics and immigration have been intertwined. From Richard Outcault’s "Yellow Kid" to post-colonial French autobiographies, readers are offered a masterful tour of how the verbal-visual power of the medium has been adapted to represent the immigrant experience from a variety of national perspectives. Engaging written by an international array of well-respected scholars in the field, this collection’s focus on immigration specifically will prove an invaluable addition to comics scholarship."

-- Martha Kuhlman, Bryant University, USA

"This collection makes a convincing case for the significant connection between comics and immigration. Topics range from the depiction of immigrants in American comics that are practically canonical (like Outcault’s "Yellow Kid" and Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan) to the essential ways in which comics have depicted migrant and immigrant experiences across decades, continents, and genres. This book explores comics telling private and public stories, from the past and the present, often showing how the personal is political. The contributors use a range of theoretical frameworks but the collection retains a beautiful coherence through the sustained attention to visual meaning making across the chapters, to reveal the complexities of issues of immigration as captured in comics."

-- Barbara Postema, Massey University, Aotearoa New Zealand