Friday, January 6, 2017

Call for Proposals on The Medieval in American Popular Culture: Reflections in Commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of Prince Valiant

The Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture is sponsoring a session on "The Medieval in American Popular Culture: Reflections in Commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of Prince Valiant." Complete details can be found at our main site at

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Web Links Updates

Please be advised, as neither The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain nor The Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture has funds for operating expenses, we will no longer be renewing our domain names effective January 2016.

The Arthur of the Comics Project can now only be accessed at, and The Medieval Comics Project accessed at

Please update your links.

Michael A. Torregrossa
Founder, The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain
Founder, The Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Berserker by Loverd and Haun

I'm still not ready to get back to work on this but did want to post on a series I just re-read:

Rick Loverd and Jeremy Haun's Berserker (Top Cow, 2009) presents a secret society composed of the descendants of Viking Berserkers at work in the world. There are two groups, one peaceful and the other not, which seeks to bring about Ragnarok. The series focuses on two young men and their discovery of their heritage and its curse. The comic is fairly bloody, with bodies torn apart (repeatedly) and dead loved ones--depicted rather graphically--returning to haunt their respective protagonist. The series can be accessed at comiXology at

A collected edition (978-1-60706-109-0) was released in 2010 with additional supplemental material, including the suggestion that the modern-day Berserkers are meant to represent (reincarnates?) members of the Norse pantheon. The book can be purchased at Amazon or other retailers. .

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Helvie at Plymouth State Medieval Forum

Sorry to have missed this:

Forrest C. Helvie recently presented on "When the Present Makes Contact with the Past: Comic Adaptations and Translations of Medieval and Early Modern Sources" at the 34th Annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum, Plymouth State University, on Saturday, 20 April. The essay is now on the website of Sequart Research & Literacy Organization at Apparently, this is an early (or alternate?) version of the essay Helvie published in The Once and Future Classroom (at, which I posted on earlier this summer.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lee on Robin Hood and Prince Valiant

With apologies for the multiple cross-postings:

Lee, Peter W. “Red Days, Black Knights: Medieval-themed Comic Books in American Containment Culture.”Corporate Medievalism II. Ed. Karl Fugelso. Studies in Medievalism 22. Cambridge, Eng.: D. S. Brewer-Boydell & Brewer, 2013. 181-200. Print.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Helvie on Teaching Comics

Came across the following by accident. It should be of value; Forrest does good, interesting work (both in Medieval Studies and Comics Studies).

Helvie, Forrest. "Teaching Comics in Medieval and Early Modern Classrooms." The Once and Future Classroom 11.1 (Spring 2013). Web. Available at

Medieval Comics News Updates

Two quick updates today, both related to blog posts.

Michael A. Johnson of UT Austin asks "Are Comics Medieval?" at the Pencil Panal Page blog and gives a heads up to the work of the Medieval Comics Project. includes the query "The first ever comic book?" over at Medieval News in reference to a tumblr posting by Damien Kempf highlighting "A medieval comic book", further evidence of sequential art in medieval manuscript illumination.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Update April 2013

A quick update.

Time and technology continue to conspire against me. Consequently, all activities and functions of The Medieval Comics Project have been cancelled for 2013 and 2014. No sessions will be run at PCA or any other venue.

I do, however, hope to have an update on the status of the Comics Get Medieval collections by the summer months.

Michael Torregrossa

Michael A. Torregrossa, Listserv Moderator/ Blog Editor The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages
Michael A Torregrossa and Carl James Grindley, Co-Founders

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Session Updates

A much belated notice:

The 2013 sessions of "The Comics Get Medieval" solicited for both the Popular Culture Association annual conference and the Plymouth State University Medieval and Renaissance Forum have been cancelled. Individuals who have submitted a proposal will receive an email later in the month and preference (if desired) for future sessions.

Contributors to "The Comics Get Medieval" collection should expect an update on the status of the project in the spring.

Michael Torregrossa

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wizard of Id Collected

Titan Books has begun reprinting Brant Parker and Johnny Hart's run on The Wizard of Id comic strip. Two volumes have appeared to date. Detail as follows.

The Wizard of Id: The Dailies & Sundays - 1971
Product Details
ISBN: 9781848566835
Dimensions: 8 1/2” x 6 1/8”
Hardback: 224pp
Publication date: September 27 2011
Illustration detail: Black and white newspaper strip

Oppressed, dank, shabby and miserable. No, not a night out in Sunderland, but the Kingdom of Id. A one-horse kingdom ruled by a wretched, pint-sized tyrannical despot. This is a collection of Brant Parker and Johnny Hart’s award-winning newspaper strip, featuring a cast of wise-cracking wizards and rotten rulers, drunken has-been jesters and cowardly knights. If this doesn’t make you laugh, you’re better off in Sunderland.
The Wizard of Id has been running continuously for over 45 years since its launch in 1964, making it one of the longest running newspaper strips in history. This collection includes strips from 1971, when the strip won the first of its five National Cartoonist Society Best Humour Strip awards.

The Wizard of Id: The Dailies & Sundays - 1972

 Product Details
ISBN: 9781848566842
Dimensions: 8 1/2” x 6 1/8”
Hardback: 224pp
Publication date: October 9 2012
Illustration detail: B/w newspaper strip

Welcome to the Kingdom of Id, a one-horse kingdom ruled by a wretched, pint-sized tyrannical despot known only as The King. This is a collection of Brant Parker and Johnny Hart’s award-winning newspaper strip, featuring a cast of wise-cracking wizards and rotten rulers, drunken has-been jesters and cowardly knights. This volume collects the daily and Sunday strips from 1972 for the very first time, as well as new background feature material and family photographs, never-before-seen!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hagar the Horrible Reprints Again

Further catching up:

New/Recent from Titan Books--

The Epic Chronicles of Hagar the Horrible continue in Volume 3 (dalies from January 1976 to June 1977), with a foreword by comic book artist/writer Walter Simonson (himself no stranger to the Vikings, as one of the definitive artists on M arvel's Thor during the 1980s), and Volume 4 (dailies from July 1977 to December 1978), with a foreword by cartoonist Cathy Guisewite.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Comics Get Medieval Collections Update

To those who have submitted proposals for the Comics Get Medieval collection(s), decisions have been delayed until the fall, but we do hope to get back to everyone as soon as possible with formal acceptance notice and formatting issues.

Further interested parties may submit proposals as part of our current call for papers at


Comics Get Medieval 2013 (Updated CFP)

Final call for papers
The Comics Get Medieval 2013:
A continuing Celebration of Medieval-themed Comics

PCA at Washington Marriott Wardman Park, 3/27-30/13
Special Sessions of the Comic Art & Comics Area
Organized By Michael A. Torregrossa and Jason Tondro
Proposals Due to Organizers by 1 September 2012

Celebrating our seventh year in 2013, proposals are now being considered for inclusion at “The Comics Get Medieval 2013,” a series of panels and roundtables sponsored by The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages and to be hosted by the Comic Art & Comics Area of the Popular Culture Association (PCA) for the 2013 Joint Conference of the National Popular Culture and American Culture Associations to be held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park from 27 to 30 March 2013 in Washington, DC.  

The goal of these sessions is to foster communication between medievalists, comics scholars, and specialists in popular culture studies in general. The organizers define “medieval comics” as any aspect of the comics medium (panel cartoons, comic strips, comics books, comics albums, band dessinée, graphic novels, manga, webcomics, comics to film/film to comics, etc.) that feature medieval themes either in stories set during the Middle Ages or in stories presenting some element of the medieval in anachronistic settings (pre-medieval or post-medieval eras or medieval-inspired secondary worlds). We are also interested in papers looking at medieval-themed comics from a pedagogical perspective.

Completed papers should be delivered in 15-20 minutes (depending on the number of presenters). All proposals will also be considered for inclusion in an essay collection to be edited by the panel organizers during the early part of 2013. (Individuals only interested in submitting for the collection should also send proposals by 30 November 2012 and indicate their preference in the email.)

In addition, a select list of potential topics and a bibliographic guide to medieval comics will appear as part of The Medieval Comics Project web site available at <> and The Arthur of the Comics Project web site available at <>, both organized by The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages.  

No later than 30 November 2012, interested individuals (who must be members of PCA or ACA or join for 2013) should submit full contact information (name, address, phone/cell, and email), titles, abstracts of 300-500 words, and a brief resume to the session’s organizers, who will then forward them to the area chair. Address all inquiries and proposals to the organizers at the following address: <> and include “Comics Get Medieval 2013” in the subject line.

Monday, April 23, 2012

PCA Update

My thanks again to the presenters Nathan Breen, Michelle Braun, and Hannah Means-Shannon; special guests Nicole Freim and Jason Tondro; and audience members for making our sixth (and tenth anniversary) session of the Comics Get Medieval at PCA a rousing success.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

PCA Sessions Info

As a further aid to our session this week, I include the abstracts of the three papers and biographies of the presenters and additional panelists for the concluding round table:

3286 Fri. 4/13 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
The Comics Get Medieval 2012: A Celebration of Medieval-Themed Comics in Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Prince Valiant

Chair: Michael A. Torregrossa, The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages

“Integrating Ideologies: Monarchy and Democracy in Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant
Nathan A. Breen, College of Lake County

Nathan Breen is associate professor of English at the College of Lake County, in Grayslake, Illinois, where he teaches composition, British and world literature. Trained as a medievalist, Nathan has taught graduate and undergraduate courses and published several articles on Old English poetry and Anglo-Saxon culture, and he is currently researching twentieth-century adaptations of Beowulf in comics and graphic novels. His interest in medieval studies stems from a lifelong love of Prince Valiant, which was introduced to him at age six. 
As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, we cannot help but marvel at the consistent beauty of the illustrations, the brilliance of its creators, and the complexity of its storylines. In this paper, I argue that one of the  key elements in the success of Prince Valiant is the way that Foster nearly seamlessly integrated the vastly disparate political ideologies of monarchy and democracy. On one hand, readers are enticed with the aristocratic  hierarchy of Arthur’s court; on the other, they are intrigued by the democratic meritocracy among Arthur’s knights. As an analysis of some of the strips that were published in the first year (1937-38) shows, Hal Foster incorporated this blend of monarchy and democracy from the very beginning, juxtaposing Valiant’s rise in stature within Arthur’s court – based on his inherent nobility and his early acts of valor –with the rigid structure of obeisance to the authority of the king.

The complexity of the storylines allowed Foster to interpret the Arthur legend in a manner that simultaneously satisfies a desire for the otherness and awe inspired by Camelot and the competing, yet conflicting, desire for familiarity manifest in witnessing characters who seem contemporary in the way that they succeed and rise in stature according to their heroic deeds. While Foster researched his topic extensively and made sustained and serious attempts to adhere to his perception of the of early medieval Britain (which gives Valiant a sense of historical and monarchical grandeur), he simultaneously conceded, at times, to his audience’s preconceptions and to the legend of Arthur (including their desire to see the character of Val as someone identifiable – a husband, a father, a knight – who is valued and promoted because of his work ethic). This is not to say that Foster compromised his material; to the contrary, his ability to merge these divergent approaches to history is what made Prince Valiant so popular with audiences.

In short, Foster satisfies the dual urges toward antiquity and modernity in the complex reaction that 20th and 21st century audience have toward medieval topics. From the very first strip published, Foster develops Arthur’s knights (and especially Val) as the stuff of legends, but also as very identifiable and believable characters. In the strips published between 1937-38, we see this most notably in the way young Valiant himself, the descendent of beleaguered royalty, initially struggles to conform to the social structure of Camelot (in fact, he is nearly exiled for fighting with other page boys while drunk), yet eventually rises to become one of Arthur’s most trusted knights. It is Val’s royal lineage that distinguishes him from the modern audience and makes him seem medieval, yet it is his quest for recognition according to his merit and service that makes him seem modern and identifiable, and endears him to audiences. By appealing to these divergent expectations in his audience, Foster ensured the enduring success of Prince Valiant.

“Excalibur as Science Object: Democratizing the Power behind the Arthurian Throne in Camelot 3000” Michelle Braun, Mount Royal University

Michele Braun teaches in the English and General Education departments at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. She is also the Vice-President of the Popular Culture Association of Canada, which will be holding its second conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario, this May. Her paper demonstrates Michelle’s ongoing consideration of the representation of technology in contemporary literature as well as her interest in Arthuriana.
Magical objects frequently appear in Arthurian narratives and the object that appears most frequently in stories about King Arthur is his sword, Excalibur.  In medieval and other Arthurian texts, Excalibur is a magical object, but in some contemporary iterations of the legend, Excalibur becomes a technological object, whose function can be explained by scientific principles. This paper will describe the use of science and technology as a means for explaining the king-making events involving Excalibur in Camelot 3000. It will draw upon observations about the relationship between magical and scientific explanations of phenomena, including the relationship between the practitioners of science and magic: Merlin and Morgan and the magical and scientific sources of their power. The personal relationship to power that Merlin and Morgan possess in their manipulation of magic and science is countered by the power that Arthur and Mordred wield, which is located in the artefacts they possess, namely the sword Excalibur and the Holy Grail. Thus power in some instances is understood to be diffuse and complex in the novel, but in others, it inheres in particular artefacts, including Arthur’s sword.

The graphic novel, Camelot 3000 (1988), follows the traditional presentation of Excalibur as symbol of Arthur’s right to rule, but it also reimagines Excalibur as a nuclear powered weapon. Introducing a potential scientific or technical component to the power of the sword introduces complexity into the relationship between Excalibur and power. In translating Excalibur as a technical object, the reader is invited to share in the understanding of its power and democratize the process of king-making by revealing it to potentially be facilitated by science. By re-imagining Excalibur as a technological, rather than a magical or symbolic object, the graphic novel reflects the tastes and interests of its twentieth century readers. 

“The Myth of the Death of the Hero: Eternal Return in Arthurian Literature and Neil Gaiman’s Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
Hannah Means-Shannon, Georgian Court University

Hannah Means-Shannon teaches English at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, New Jersey. She, too, is a medievalist by background and has published articles on the works of both Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman  in the International Journal of Comic Art, The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics and Studies in Comics. She is currently writing on a book about Gaiman’s early works.
This study will investigate the ways in which the poetry of Wace, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regnum Brittaniae, and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur present the concept of the hero’s miraculous return from death in comparison to Neil Gaiman’s recent Batman story arc Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (2009). Rebirth itself will be examined in terms of Carl Jung’s consideration of the “child-hero” archetype, both a “beginning and an end” to the heroic process, and in terms of Jung’s archetype of “rebirth” following specific psychologically significant patterns in the elucidation of developing “immortal” selfhood in the heroic role.  Jung’s interpretation of Buddhist reincarnation present in Psychology and the East (2008) will also be considered in terms of its psychological impact on modern heroic mythology.

Major factors concerning the death of the hero in Arthurian texts and Gaiman’s narrative will be explored, including the role of betrayal, and fundamental flaws in characterization that make a “cyclical” pattern necessary. Celtic mythological motifs that may inform the “eternal return” concept in Arthurian Literature will be examined, including the mythology of Taliesin and Merlin, as well as varying Buddhist-inspired concepts of reincarnation present in Gaiman’s text. Rebirth itself will be considered in terms of a concern for multiple versions of the death/resurrection motif, and degree of uncertainty concerning the exact process whereby a hero will be reborn to “return”. Within this ambiguous narrative, accompanying, guiding figures play a significant role in suggesting the positive nature of the “rebirth” outcome, including Merlin, the “queens” of Avalon, Alfred and Bruce Wayne’s parents. Application of key Jungian concepts of the “child-hero” archetype and “rebirth” will highlight the manner in which both Arthurian texts and Neil Gaiman’s Batman narrative represent a concern for the development of the heroic role in psychological terms, culminating in an affirmation of the “return” motif as an expression of the development of empowered unified selfhood in the central hero.

Additional panelists for the round table:

Nicole Freim, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Nicole is the current chair of the Comic Art & Comics Area, a position she has now held for nine years. She is also on the editorial board of the International Journal of Comic Art and is currently in the process of finishing her dissertation.

Jason Tondro, University of California Riverside

Jason Tondro is the author of Superheroes of the Round Table: Comics Connections to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, published last October from McFarland. For years, he has taught comics, composition, and Arthurian literature at University of California Riverside and neighboring city colleges, but this fall Jason will begin work as an Assistant Professor at the College of Coastal Georgia. He is also an avid blogger and can be followed at Doctor Comics at

Michael A. Torregrossa, The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages

Michael A. Torregrossa is a graduate of the Medieval Studies program at the University of Connecticut (Storrs). His research interests include adaptation, Arthuriana, comics and comic art, medievalism, vampires, and wizards. Michael is currently Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Legend Area Chair for the Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association. He is also founder of The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Villains of the Matter of Britain, founder of The Institute for the Advancement of Scholarship on the Magic-Wielding Figures of Visual Electronic Multimedia, and co-founder, with Carl James Grindley, of The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages; he also serves as editor for these organizations various blogs. Michael has presented his research at regional, national, and international conferences and has been published in Adapting the Arthurian Legends for Children: Essays on Arthurian Juvenilia, Arthuriana, The Arthuriana / Camelot Project Bibliographies, Cinema Arthuriana: Twenty Essays, Film & History, The 1999 Film & History CD-Rom Annual, The Medieval Hero on Screen: Representations from Beowulf to Buffy, and the three most recent supplements to The Arthurian Encyclopedia.