|Judge Dredd by Rob Davis|
"Comics, cartoons, graphic novels, and other visual narratives, have had a considerable impact on cinema, books, and the internet," he says. "They form a significant-and growing-element of popular culture, yet the intersection between comics and the concerns of law and justice is one that has received little critical attention."
In response, Giddens, who is a Law Lecturer, has just set up the Graphic Justice blog which he hopes will enable researchers, practitioners, and other interested parties from around the world to express and discuss issues relating to the intersection of comics with law and justice.
The blog forms part of his ongoing research, which focuses upon the use of various forms of popular culture (such as TV, film, and literary fiction) as alternative discourses on issues in the interdisciplinary field of criminal justice, and has particular interests in criminal responsibility, criminology and the medium of comics.
"The aim [of the blog] is to bring together people from across the globe and enable the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and research," he explains in his initial post.
"Themes of public protection, justice, and punishment are widespread in mainstream superhero narratives (think Justice League of America, Superman, or Spider-Man)," he notes, "but there is also a wealth of graphic literature beyond the spandex-wearing mainstream that, like other artistic media, deals with all walks of human life (the work of the Hernandez Brothers, for instance, or Ghost World, or the Pulitzer prize winning Maus). Indeed, from the mainstream western comics that inspire Hollywood films, to the diverse and multi-layered world of Japanese manga, or the rich history of French-language bandes dessinées, comics have permeated our global culture (consider the huge cultural impact, for example, of Batman or Tintin)."
"Moreover, the blending of words and images in the very form of the comics medium itself may pose important questions about the limitations and interpretation of textual language-fundamental issues for the highly text-dependent discipline of law. Add to all this the complex intellectual property issues involved in this collaborative and methodologically varied medium, and the lack of interest seems clearly to be one that is in need of a remedy.
"The remedy is this: Graphic Justice."
Gidden has now put a call to academics and other interested parties for anyone interested in the intersection of justice and graphic fiction. Whether you work in legal studies, philosophy, cultural studies, penology, law enforcement, art, criminology, sociology, imprisonment/corrections, or literary studies, if you're interested in comics and the concerns of justice, he says this call is for you.
" An international and collaborative space has been set up where interested parties can submit ideas and post articles, where contacts can be made and networks built up, understanding can be nurtured, and the intersection of comics and justice can be mined, examined, questioned, and developed.
"Depending upon levels of interest, the project may include seminars or dedicated conference streams, or even a full Graphic Justice conference," he enthuses.
"The aim is to gather together academics and practitioners, interested parties and artists, and to promote discourse and engagement on this expansive and under-researched area.
• The international and collaborative space can be found at graphicjustice.blogspot.com