Sunday, December 10, 2017

Of Interest: Echoes of Valhalla

Echoes of Valhalla: The Afterlife of the Eddas and Sagas

Jón Karl Helgason; Translated by Jane Appleton
Distributed for Reaktion Books

256 pages | 50 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Cloth $24.95
ISBN: 9781780237152
Published June 2017
For sale in North and South America only

Tolkien’s wizard Gandalf, Wagner’s Valkyrie Brünnhilde, Marvel’s superhero the Mighty Thor, the warrior heading for Valhalla in Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” and Donald Crisp’s portrayal of Leif Eriksson in the classic film The Viking—these are just a few examples of how Icelandic medieval literature has shaped human imagination during the past 150 years. Echoes of Valhalla is a unique look at modern adaptations of the Icelandic eddas (poems of Norse mythology) and sagas (ancient prose accounts of Viking history, voyages, and battles) across an astonishing breadth of art forms.

Jón Karl Helgason looks at comic books, plays, travel books, music, and films in order to explore the reincarnations of a range of legendary characters, from the Nordic gods Thor and Odin to the saga characters Hallgerd Long-legs, Gunnar of Hlidarendi, and Leif the Lucky. Roaming the globe, Helgason unearths echoes of Nordic lore in Scandinavia, Britain, America, Germany, Italy, and Japan. He examines the comic work of Jack Kirby and cartoon work of Peter Madsen; reads the plays of Henrik Ibsen and Gordon Bottomley; engages thought travelogues by Frederick Metcalfe and Poul Vad; listens to the music of Richard Wagner, Edward Elgar, and the metal band Manowar; and watches films by directors such as Roy William Neill and Richard Fleischer, outlining the presence of the eddas and sagas in these nineteenth- and twentieth-century works.

Altogether, Echoes of Valhalla tells the remarkable story of how disparate, age-old poetry and prose originally recorded in remote areas of medieval Iceland have come to be a part of our shared cultural experience today—how Nordic gods and saga heroes have survived and how their colorful cast of characters and adventures they went on are as vibrant as ever.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Bishop's Medievalist Comics and the American Century

With apologies to the author for the long delay:

Medievalist Comics and the American Century
By Chris Bishop 

University Press of Mississippi
224 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, bibliography, index

9781496808509 Printed casebinding $65.00S


The comic book has become an essential icon of the American Century, an era defined by optimism in the face of change and by recognition of the intrinsic value of democracy and modernization. For many, the Middle Ages stand as an antithesis to these ideals, and yet medievalist comics have emerged and endured, even thrived alongside their superhero counterparts. Chris Bishop presents a reception history of medievalist comics, setting them against a greater backdrop of modern American history.

From its genesis in the 1930s to the present, Bishop surveys the medievalist comic, its stories, characters, settings, and themes drawn from the European Middle Ages. Hal Foster's Prince Valiant emerged from an America at odds with monarchy, but still in love with King Arthur. Green Arrow remains the continuation of a long fascination with Robin Hood that has become as central to the American identity as it was to the British. The Mighty Thor re ects the legacy of Germanic migration into the United States. The rugged individualism of Conan the Barbarian owes more to the western cowboy than it does to the continental knight-errant. In the narrative of Red Sonja, we can trace a parallel history of feminism. Bishop regards these comics as not merely happenchance, but each success (Prince Valiant and The Mighty Thor) or failure (Beowulf: Dragon Slayer) as a result and an indicator of certain American preoccupations amid a larger cultural context.

Intrinsically modernist paragons of pop-culture ephemera, American comics have ironically continued to engage with the European Middle Ages. Bishop illuminates some of the ways in which we use an imagined past to navigate the present and plots some possible futures as we valiantly shape a new century.

CHRIS BISHOP, Canberra, Australia, teaches classics at the Australian National University. He has published widely on the history of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, as well as comic book studies. In 2012 Bishop was awarded a Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress for his research.


Utz Reviews Bishop

The latest number (Vol. 27, No. 2) of Arthuriana has a review by Richard Utz on Chris Bishop's book Medievialist Comics and the American Century (more on this to follow).

You can read the review on Project MUSE (or preview you it if,like myself,you have no access to the site) at

Update 6/24/17

Sorry to not have kept things up to date this past year.

Our session in honor of the eightieth anniversary of Prince Valiant on American medievalisms was not accepted for the 2017 ALA conference.

Michael Torregrossa
Founder and Blog Editor

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.