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Critical Directions in Comics Studies$
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Thomas Giddens

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496828996

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2021

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496828996.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM Mississippi SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mississippi.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Mississippi, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

The Freedom of the Press

The Freedom of the Press

Comics, Labor, and Value in the Birmingham Arts Lab

(p.107) 5 The Freedom of the Press
Critical Directions in Comics Studies

Maggie Gray

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter engages with important strands of scholarship on comics work, arguing for a critical comics studies that attends to the political economy, social relations, and material processes of production. It examines the relationship between struggles over the organization of cultural labor and the forms of value inscribed in comics, via the case study of a specific site of British comics production that reimagined how comics work could be organized and the artistic value comics could have– the cooperative Birmingham Arts Lab Press (1969-1982) and its Ar:Zak imprint. Bringing together archival inquiry and participant interviews, wider historical research into the arts lab, alternative press, community arts and underground/alternative comics movements, and Marxist political and aesthetic theory, this chapter analyzes how struggles for an autonomous, democratized, participatory creative practice that took place within this context of comics production were embodied in the material and visual form of the comics made.

Keywords:   Birmingham Arts Lab, British comics, Alternative comics, Work, Value

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