With Russian readers' increasing acceptance of comics - for decades
derogated as a "foreign" and half-literate medium - the amount of graphic
narrative work by marginalized groups has grown as well, in particular
since Putin's 2012 return to the presidency. The accessibility (especially
for the young), visceral impact and easy dissemination of comics
(especially through the internet) has made them an attractive vehicle for
voices and imagery otherwise occluded in contemporary life. This talk
discusses comics by or about the disabled - themselves a population too
long ignored by mainstream Russia. How do young artists like Tayana
Faskhutdinova, Lyonya Rodin, Roman Sokolov and Ner-Tamin (Yulia Nikitina)
represent the disabled body as site of contention and human dignity? How
do their visions coincide with and complicate the rhetoric of disability
rights movements in Russia? How do the visual-verbal strategies of comic
art communicate the experiences of lives too often lived in the shadows?
Finally, how does the 2017 publication of and national press devoted to
Vladimir Rudak and Lena Uzhinova's graphic novel "I Am an Elephant" signal
a new phase in disability representation in Russia?
José Alaniz, associate professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and
Literatures and the Department of Comparative Literature (adjunct) at the
University of Washington, Seattle, has published two books, Komiks: Comic
Art in Russia (University Press of Mississippi, 2010) and Death,
Disability and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond (UPM, 2014). His
articles have appeared in the International Journal of Comic Art, Studies
in Russian and Soviet Cinema, The Slavic and East European Journal and
such anthologies as Disability in Comic Books and Graphic Narratives
(2016) and Russian Children's Literature and Culture (Routledge, 2007).
Since 2011 he has served as Chair of the Executive Committee of the
International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF), the leading comics studies
conference in the US. His research interests include Death and Dying,
Disability Studies, Eco-criticism and Comics Studies. Current book
projects include Resurrection: Comics in Post-Soviet Russia and Beautiful
Monsters: Disability in Alternative Comics.