Interview: Frank Quitely and the Vertigo years

This is an edited transcript of the interview given by Frank Quitely at the 25 Years of Vertigo conference in Dijon, France, on 9 November 2018. Any mistakes are my own.

Many thanks to Frank Quitely for being with us on that occasion, and living up to his reputation as the Nicest Man in Glasgow.

Special thanks also to Rita de Pinna who did backup recordings of the interview and was kind enough to share them with us when our own recorder expired in the middle of the afternoon.

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Lucifer and the legacy of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman

This text was originally presented at the International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference in Bournemouth last June. In keeping with the conference’s interest in memory and nostalgia, this paper analyses the long-lasting influence that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman had on the Vertigo imprint. Over the last 25 years, Sandman has inspired countless spinoffs and rewritings, and played an important part in Vertigo’s editorial identity. Through an analysis of Lucifer, one of Sandman‘s most important spinoffs, I suggest  that Gaiman’s work is treated with reverence, but also sometimes questioned, subverted and used as a support for the writers to develop in new directions.

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Girl Power : Quand la BD libère les femmes (ou pas)

Cette analyse de dix albums de bande dessinée contemporaine réalisés par des femmes et centrés sur des personnages féminins a pour but de faire connaître et de valoriser la production des autrices de BD contemporaines à l’occasion de la journée du droit des femmes. Plus précisément, il s’agit de s’interroger sur la façon dont les femmes sont représentées au sein de cette production, en demandant en particulier dans quelle mesure ces représentations sont des stéréotypes – c’est-à-dire à des clichés, des images toutes faites qui réduisent les femmes à certains rôles bien définis. Les autrices du corpus utilisent-elles ces clichés, et si oui, est-ce pour les renforcer ou pour les tourner en ridicule ? D’ailleurs, dans quelle mesure est-il vraiment possible de se libérer de ces représentations stéréotypiques ?

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Afterthoughts on an Elfquest article

Don’t show this panel in an academic presentation without proper context (from Elfquest: Hidden Years #9 1/2, Wendy & Richard Pini)

A little while ago, I published an article on Elfquest, Wendy and Richard Pini’s long-running fantasy comic. It began as something very small, but it was, to my knowledge, the first published article on the topic, and it seems to have attracted the attention of some fans and scholars. Since I am now gathering material for something bigger, and as an early celebration for the upcoming final issue of the series, here are some follow-up thoughts on Elfquest as a power fantasy for readers of all ages and genders. Before continuing to read this, I’d advise you to go and have a look at the article, which I will be discussing in detail.

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[Hors-série 1/2] : Tout ce que vous avez toujours voulu savoir sur le doctorat…


From Sex Criminals #10 p. 3 (M. Fraction and C. Zdarsky)- detail

J’ai décidé d’écrire ces deux billets suite à une formation doctorale organisée le 20 novembre 2017 à l’Université Bordeaux Montaigne par une équipe de doctorantes. L’idée était de rassembler des témoignages de doctorant‧e‧s proches de la soutenance, de façon un peu informelle, pour permettre aux étudiante‧s moins avancé‧es de bénéficier de conseils et d’expériences, notamment autour de la façon dont se gère le « temps de la thèse », ces trois années ou plus de travail solitaire et souvent incertain. Les organisatrices voulaient aborder les problèmes concrets que l’on passe habituellement sous silence : « travailler efficacement », mais aussi « combiner travail et vie privée » ou « lutter contre la culpabilité ».

J’étais parmi les intervenants, et c’était la première fois que j’évoquais ma vie privée devant un parterre de parfaits inconnus ; je l’ai fait parce que j’aurais aimé, moi, entendre un témoignage de ce genre avant mon entrée en thèse. A la fin de la présentation, au moins 5 personnes (sur la vingtaine de présents) m’ont explicitement remerciée d’avoir abordé ces questions qui relèvent du non-dit. Ce sont elles qui m’ont convaincue de l’utilité de partager plus largement mon expérience.

Continue reading [Hors-série 1/2] : Tout ce que vous avez toujours voulu savoir sur le doctorat…

Sneak comics into your dissertation with this one weird trick

Comics scholars recently have been dedicating much time to the consideration of comics as scientific discourse: not just writing essays about comics, but writing essays in comics form (regardless of their subject). More and more, I’ve seen some brilliant people use pictures in conferences, as a visual support to their presentation. These efforts to start a discussion on comics as an academic practice culminated a few months ago with the foundation of Sequentials, a platform for comics-as-scholarship. I’m convinced that the ability to express ourselves in drawing as well as writing would change the way we academics think, research, and teach what we’re leaned.

Therefore, this post is about my own very humble attempt at bringing comics into my doctoral dissertation, not in the analysis itself (that would have been impossible in the context of the degree I’m taking) but in the thank-you section of the volume. For those of us who cannot craft an entire comics dissertation (see Nick Sousanis’ Unflattening), be it because of their limited abilities or because of academic conservatism, this may be an easy way to get started and perhaps push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable in scholarly documents.

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It’s time to talk about Peter Milligan

Panel from New Romancer #1 (P. Milligan & B. Parson) – edited to read “Milligan” instead of “Millingen”

Actually, it has been time to talk about him for about 20 years. Milligan began his career on the British comics scene at the end of the 1980s, where he worked with Brendan McCarthy on Rogan Gosh, Paradax! and Skin; he was then recruited by DC and contributed to the emergence of the Vertigo imprint, penning notably Shade, The Changing Man (1990-1996) and the miniseries Enigma with Duncan Fegredo (1993).

In 1994, in the letter column of Shade, The Changing Man #54, a reader named Stephen J. Townsend wrote : “Peter Milligan’s one of the best writers in comics today even though I don’t hear a lot of hype on him.” Well, not that much has changed since then: Peter Milligan’s still one of the best writers in comics, and we still don’t hear a lot about him – at least compared to other superstar writers of the British Invasion like Neil Gaiman or Grant Morrison. Maybe it’s time to change that. Continue reading It’s time to talk about Peter Milligan

“We’re Living in a Vertigo World” – An interview with Karen Berger

This interview was conducted through Skype on April 20th 2017. I would like to thank Karen Berger for her time at such a busy time in her professional life. 

Karen Berger by Dave McKean – image edited by I.L.G.

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The Armadillo

This blog deals with comics studies and US-American visual culture. It is curated by Isabelle Licari-Guillaume, a PhD candidate in Anglophone studies in Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France, who is also a member of La Brèche, a francophone association of junior researchers in the comics field. This blog should be seen as a complement to traditional academic activities (articles, conferences etc.). It aims at providing access to documents that possess academic value but are not publishable in their current states, such as interviews with comics creators, critical pieces dealing with a specific issue, popularization essays, or even practice-based projects exploring the value of comics as a scientific discourse. From the point of view of the researcher herself, the blog helps encourage and develop enquiry into new topics,while also providing a simple way to archive past works. This blog is not intended to serve as a platform for conference announcements, book reviews, bibliograpies or calls for papers. Such information is available on the website of the association La Brèche (, which should migrate to Hypotheses by the end of the year.