1st Edition

Urban Comics Infrastructure and the Global City in Contemporary Graphic Narratives

By Dominic Davies Copyright 2019
    288 Pages
    by Routledge

    288 Pages 56 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Urban Comics: Infrastructure and the Global City in Contemporary Graphic Narratives makes an important and timely contribution both to comics studies and urban studies, offering a decolonisation and reconfiguration of both of these already interdisciplinary fields. With chapter-length discussions of comics from cities such as Cairo, Cape Town, New Orleans, Delhi and Beirut, this book shows how artistic collectives and urban social movements working across the global South are producing some of the most exciting and formally innovative graphic narratives of the contemporary moment.

    Throughout, the author reads an expansive range of graphic narratives through the vocabulary of urban studies to argue that these formal innovations should be thought of as a kind of infrastructure. This ‘infrastructural form’ allows urban comics to reveal that the built environments of our cities are not static, banal, or depoliticised, but rather highly charged material spaces that allow some forms of social life to exist while also prohibiting others. Built from a formal infrastructure of grids, gutters and panels, and capable of volumetric, multi-scalar perspectives, this book shows how urban comics are able to represent, repair and even rebuild contemporary global cities toward more socially just and sustainable ends.

    Operating at the intersection of comics studies and urban studies, and offering large global surveys alongside close textual and visual analyses, this book explores and opens up the fascinating relationship between comics and graphic narratives, on the one hand, and cities and urban spaces, on the other.


    Introduction. Urban Comics: Infrastructure and the Global City in Contemporary Graphic Narratives

    Introduction: The Camp and the City

    Form and Infrastructure

    Infrastructural Form

    Comics Collectives as Networked Urban Social Movements

    The Image of the Global City

    New York, New York: A Brief History of Comics and the City

    Five Southern City Case Studies

    Chapter 1. Drawing Public Space: Revolutionary Visual Cultures and the Right to the City in Cairo

    Introduction: Revolutionary Visual Cultures and Gendered Public Spaces

    Egyptian ‘Comix’, Online and Offline

    Urban Cairo in Text and Image

    Vision and Visibility in Magdy El Shafee’s Metro (2008)

    Volume and Verticality in Deena Mohamed’s Qahera, the Webcomic, Not the City (2013-2015) Building Comics, Building Cities

    Chapter 2. Image-Making in the Global City: Eco-Speculative Fictions and Urban Social Movements in Cape Town

    Introduction: South African Cartoons, Comix and Co-mixed Visual Cultures

    Privatisation, Segregation and Image-Making in the Global City

    Afrofuturism, Solarpunk and Water Politics

    Flooding the Cape Town ‘Utopia’

    Turning to Townships: Urban Social Movements in Cape Town

    Chapter 3. Graphic Katrina: Disaster Capitalism and Tourism Gentrification in New Orleans

    Introduction: ‘There’s No Such Thing As A Natural Disaster’

    Voyeurism and Voluntourism in the ‘Drowned City’

    Vertical Perspectives in Josh Neufeld’s A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge (2009)

    Comics and Zines in New Orleans: Gentrifying Forms, DIY Cities

    Autographics, Art and Activism in Erin Wilson’s Snowbird (2013)

    Chapter 4. Comics, Collectives, Collaborations: Engineering Pedestrian and Public Spaces in Delhi

    Introduction: The City-as-Circuitboard

    ‘Engineering’ Comics: Orijit Sen and the Pao Collective

    World Class Delhi: Politics in the City ‘Inside-Out’

    Pedestrianism and Penmanship in Sarnath Banerjee’s Graphic Narratives

    Histories of the Neoliberal Present in Vishwajyoti Ghosh’s Delhi Calm (2010)

    Gendering the Right to the City: Women’s Maps, Women’s Lines

    Chapter 5. Comics as Infrastructure: Public Space and Post-war Reconstruction in Beirut

    Introduction: Post-war Reconstruction in the Neoliberal Era

    Weaponised Infrastructure in Wartime Beirut

    Rebuilding the City in Zeina Abirached’s Graphic Memoirs

    Lamia Ziadé’s Bye Bye Babylon: The City as Witness

    Urban Warfare and Civilian Life in Text and Image

    New Geographies of Beirut: Samandal as Urban Social Movement

    Conclusion. Bordered Forms, Bordered Worlds



    Dominic Davies is a Lecturer in English at City, University of London. In 2018 he finished a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Oxford, where he also completed his DPhil and established the TORCH Network, ‘Comics and Graphic Novels: The Politics of Form’. He is the author of Imperial Infrastructure and Spatial Resistance in Colonial Literature, 1880-1930 (2017), along with a number of articles and book chapters exploring the relationship between urban infrastructure, the built environment and artistic and literary cultures. He is the co-editor of Fighting Words: Fifteen Books that Shaped the Postcolonial World (2017) and Planned Violence: Post/Colonial Urban Infrastructure, Literature & Culture (2018). He is also the editor of a collection of essays and comics entitled Documenting Trauma in Comics: Traumatic Pasts, Embodied Histories & Graphic Reportage (2019).

    "An outstanding book about the relevance of comics in contemporary urban struggles." --Jörn Ahrens, University of Giessen, Germany