In the Spotlight: Digital Comics – Practice & Theory

We are particularly happy to be featuring a special panel on Thinking about Digital Comics through Practice which will bring together four speakers who navigate the traditionnally wide spectrum between practice and theory – ranging from a researcher practising comics as scholarship, to two hybrid practicioners who co-mingle theory and practice in a feedback loop, to a graphic artist with a keen eye for self-theorizing.

  • Nicolas Labarre is Associate Professor at the Université Bordeaux-Montaigne and he has been interested in how to make comics as scholarship, that is how to produce scientific discourse in the form of comics. Through his research blog Picturing it!, he is publishing his own reflections on the process and stakes of drawing an ‘academic comics.’ At the conference, he won’t so much present his own production as much as analyze various cases of ‘comics as scholarship’ and how these are framed in terms of genre, users and interpretative communities. His blog features an interview about the University of Florida’s Sequentials project, which will feed into the presentation.


  •  Anthony Rageul‘s approach to digital comics was, from scratch, weaved in with an academic framework: for his master thesis, he designed the digital comic Prise de tête, which received a large echo in the comics world, marking a significant point in the development of French digital comics. While completing a PhD thesis on digital comics at the Université Rennes 2, he simultaneously realized several works hosted on various platforms. Often subtitled “bande dessinée interactive,” his comics aim at fully taking advantage of the interactivity of digital comics. In his talk, he will highlight the relationship between coding and interface in the creation of digital comics and the importance of the stage of designing the interface in shaping up the narrative told.


  • Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, comics artist and new media lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, is undoubtedly the British counterpart of Rageul. A prolific and innovative comic creator, Goodbrey has gained international recognition as a leading expert in the field of experimental digital comics. His hypercomic work received the International Clickburg Webcomic Award in Holland in 2006 while his work in print was awarded with the Isotope Award for Excellence In Comics in San Francisco in 2005. His smartphone app, A Duck Has an Adventure was shortlisted in the 2012 New Media Writing Prize. Academic-wise he wrote numerous articles on digital comics and co-edited a special issue of MeCCSA on digital comics.


  • Yannis LaMacchia is a Swiss comics artist living in Lyon. He has been particularly involved with the Hécatombe publishing collective, which distinctively pursues alternate ways of making books exploring their materiality in a way that brings comics close to the field of artists’ books. Following these ideas, LaMacchia has come up with the idea of a “Fanzine carré” that literally is a cube of equal proportions, which led him to rethink the whole production process because of the challenges posed by its feasibility. With his Racontars project, he has been experimenting with new ways of narrative and seriality that is partly based on reader feedback and suggestions. Readers are indeed invited to post their own “racontars” (French for gossip) with which LaMacchia then improvises his fragmented stories.


Image credit: Yannis LaMacchia, Racontars

In the Spotlight: Ilan Manouach

Greek (comics) artist Ilan Manouach will be our first keynote speaker at the Poetics of the Algorithm conference, where he will present his ‘Shapereader’ project (see, which explores a ground-breaking form of tactile storytelling. Throughout his varied projects, which include Situationist-like détournements of popular comics from Maus to The Black Smurfs, Ilan Manouach’s work has continuously raised the core issues of the digital and ‘unidentified’ media that the conference seeks to map out.

As Bill Kartalopoulos wrote in World Literature Today, “Externalization, improvisation, systems, and collaboration: these ideas and more inform the decentered approach that runs through Manouach’s mature work. In all their diverse manifestations, Manouach’s comics undercut both the protagonist-based model of classical narrative and the author-expression mode of traditional creative production.” While not working in digital media proper, Manouach’s work, with its relentless defamiliarization and reliance on collaborative creative processes, foregrounds approaches to art and narrative that are clearly in tune with this changed media ecology.

Most of Manouach’s comics have been put out by Belgian publisher La Cinquième Couche.

Conference Programme

Images (c) Richard McGuire. Used with permission. 

The conference does not require advance registration (except the WREKshop). It is a free event and completely open to the public. 

Wednesday 15 June

Conference opening event: WREKshop by Olivier Deprez & Miles O’Shea
9h-17h, organized by Paul Mahoux, Académie des Beaux-Arts de Liège   (registrations closed)

20h – WREKshop Projection: Après la mort, après la vie and other ‘cinématogravures’, with comments by Olivier Deprez and Aarnoud Rommens – Salle Lumière, Université de Liège

Thursday 16 June

8h30-9h – Welcome and registration

9h-9h30 – Introduction by Aarnoud Rommens, Björn-Olav Dozo & Benoît Crucifix

9h30 – 11h30 – Thinking about Digital Comics through Practice

  • Nicolas Labarre (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne), “The Users of Comics as Scholarship”
  • Anthony Rageul (Université Rennes 2, artist), “De la jubilation de concevoir des ‘récits-interfaces’”
  • Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (University of Hertfordshire), “Choose the Format of the Destructor: Design Choices for Comic Creators in Print and Digital Media”
  • Yannis La Macchia (graphic artist), “Narration par fragments”

Coffee break

Ilan Manouach
“Shapereader: Tactile Storytelling for the Visually Impaired”

Lunch (room A2/5/6)

14h-15h30 – Bande dessinée numérique : esthétique et lecture

  • Julien Baudry (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne), “Les paradoxes de l’innovation esthétique dans la création numérique en bande dessinée”
  • Magali Boudissa (Université Paris 8), “De l’album à l’écran : enjeux narratifs et esthétiques de la bande dessinée numérique”
  • Jean-Bernard Cheymol (CMI – Université Paris 3), “La vitesse dans 3″ de Marc-Antoine Mathieu”

Coffee break

15h45-17h15 – Comics, Technology and Here

  • Côme Martin (Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV), “Contre ou au-delà de l’imprimé? La bande dessinée numérique à la recherche d’un statut spécifique”
  • Ernesto Priego (City University of London) and Peter Wilkins (Douglas College), “The Question Concerning Comics as Technology: Gestell and Grid”
  • Aarnoud Rommens (Université de Liège), “Weird Media”

Richard McGuire & Stephen Betts
“Digitizing Here

Friday 17 June

9h-9h45 – Digital Practices

  • Loraine Furter (Hybrid Publishing Group), “Hidden Histories, Public Libraries”
  • Robert Rapoport (Leuphana University), “The Poetics of the AI Video Edit: Projection, Synch, Phase”

9h45-11h15 – Networks/Circulation

  • Estelle Dalleu (Université de Strasbourg), “D’un algorithme en résistance : le GIF. À propos de Zac’s Haunted House et Zac’s Control Panel de Dennis Cooper”
  • Dinu Gabriel Munteanu (Nottingham Trent University), “Indeterminate Media and the Poetics of Loss: Architecture, Colour and Mood on Tumblr Microblogs”
  • Vendela Grundell (Stockholm University), “Interfacing Poetics: Glitch Art Transforming Spectatorship”

Coffee break

Johnny Golding (CFAR-Birmingham City University)
“Exquisite Matter: Sensoria, Entanglement and the Roll of the Code (Encountering the Strange Case of 3D Printing)”

Lunch (room A2/5/6)

13h30-14h30 – The Music of Code and Software

  • Jonathan Impett (Orpheus Institute & Middlesex University), “Building with the Unnamable: Code, Music and Operational Discourse”
  • Raffaele Pavoni (Università degli Studi di Firenze), “From Music Videos to Music Algorithms. The Convergence of Software Houses and Record Labels in Chrome Experiments Interactive Music Videos”

Sarah Kember (Goldsmiths, University of London)
“iMedia: What or Where is the i in iMedia?”

Coffee break

15h45-16h45 – Rethinking Interfaces

  • Sylvie Fabre (Université d’Artois), “Du lecteur à l’utilisateur: l’expérience de la lecture sur écran, entre raison graphique et raison numérique”
  • Dane Watkins (Falmouth University), “Smudging the Interface: How Can the Aesthetics of Comics Enhance the Usability of User Interfaces?”

Gregory Ulmer (University of Florida)
“Electracy: the Digital Apparatus”

Saturday 18 June

9h-10h30 – Mediality in the Digital Age

  • Simon Grennan (University of Chester) and Ian Hague (London College of Communications), “Medium, knowledge, structure: capacities for choice and the contradiction of medium-specificity in games and comics”
  • Olivier Crépin (Université Paris 8), “Walking Dead : de l’adaptation à la transmédialité, transformations du rythme du récit et implications”
  • Gert Meesters (Université de Lille), “Bob and Bobette and Digital Enthusiasm. How a Big Comics Publisher in Flanders Put a Lot of Effort into Discrediting His Own Books”

Coffee break

Markku Eskelinen (independent researcher)
“Cybertextuality in 3D: a historical-theoretical-practical framework for re-reading literature”

Lunch (room: A2/5/6)

13h30-14h45 – Game Design and Narratology

  • Victor Cayres, Lynn Alves, Cristhyane Ribeiro (State University of Bahia), “A Game Narrative Development Framework Based on Dramaturgical Analysis Tools”
  • Mark R. Johnson & Darren J. Reed (University of York), “Towards Participatory Game Design”
  • David Myers (Loyola University New Orleans), “Possible Stories and Literal Games”

Gregory Steirer (Dickinson College)
“God from the Machine: Constructing Authorship in Twenty-First Century Interactive Fiction”

Coffee break

16h-17h – Reprocessing Literature Through the Algorithm

  • Martin Zeilinger (Anglia Ruskin University), “Machine-Readable Beckett: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Reading and Performing Quad as Algorithmic Theatre”
  • Philipp Sack (Braunschweig University of Art), “Commodity and thought forms. On ‘Poetry for Robots’”

17h-18h – Oulipo and Digital Avant-Gardes

  • Natalie Berkman (Princeton University), “L’Oulipo numérique”
  • Catherine Lenoble and An Mertens (Algolit), “Exercices de style with algorithms #Digital avant-gardes”

18h-18h30 – Concluding Remarks


Reminder: Submission of Proposals Ends Jan 11

datapoetics photocopy

There is still time to send a proposal for the conference Poetics of the Algorithm. Deadline is 11 Jan.

  • You can find the CFP with submission instructions here.
  • Be sure to take a look at the great lineup of Guest Speakers and Artists here.

We are greatly looking forward to your proposals and hope to see you in Liège in June.

Update: Confirmed Speakers

We are very pleased to announce the following confirmed speakers:
  • Richard McGuire. Comic book artist, graphic designer, illustrator, animator, children’s book author, musician, and toy designer.
  • Gregory Ulmer. Professor in the Department of English at the University of Florida and professor of Electronic Languages and Cybermedia at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
  • Johnny (Sue) Golding. Director, Centre for Fine Art Research (CFAR). Birmingham School of Arts, Design and Media, Birmingham City University.
  • Sarah Kember. Professor of New Technologies of Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.
  • Markku Eskelinen. Independent scholar and experimental writer of ergodic prose and critical essays. Founding editor of Game Studies, the international journal of computer game research, and Cybertext Yearbook.
  • WREK (Olivier Deprez, Adolpho Avril, Miles O’Shea). Experimental artistic collective merging woodcut, installation art, performance, film, and comics.
  • Ilan Manouach. Artist, writer, and musician.
  • Daniel Merlin Goodbrey. Artist, lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire in narrative and interactive design.
  • Yannis La Macchia. Comic book artist and publisher.
  • Gregory Steirer. Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA.

We will be posting regular updates as they become available.

Extension of Deadline for Abstract Submissions


Due to numerous requests for an extension for submissions to the Poetics of the Algorithm conference, the organizing committee decided to extend the deadline for the submission of abstracts until January 11, 2016.

We invite you to send proposals for workshops, roundtables, panels, performances, sessions, and paper presentations touching on aspects of the original Call for Papers. 

The process of evaluation is ongoing, and you can expect notification of acceptance by the end of February 2016.

Very much looking forward to receiving your proposals and meeting you in Liège!

Best wishes,
The ACME Research Group <mail> <web>