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Comic Book Studies

by Shelby Willis

Dr. Samuel Cannon, the assistant professor of Spanish at LSUS, recently made a major contribution to a book that addresses current cultural struggles with the LBGTQ+ community. He examined these struggles as illustrated through Chilean comic books.

“There are so many nerdy things about comics that I love, and I am so happy to get to spend my time as a scholar taking comics and the stories they tell seriously,” Dr. Cannon said. “Comics can help us see the world through another person's eyes. The more connections we can make with other humans, across borders and languages, the more we will be able to create a better world.”

Dr. Cannon has a variety of projects in the works, and his most recent chapter in the book named The Routledge Companion to Gender and Sexuality in Comic Book Studies is a huge success. The editor of the book, Frederick Luis Aldama, reached out to Dr. Cannon and asked if he would write a chapter on LGBTQ+ comics from Latin America.

Dr. Cannon said, “It was an honor to be asked by Frederick Luis Aldama to work on this project. He is an extremely important figure in the world of comic studies.”

The 2018 feminist protests in Chile inspired Dr. Cannon to highlight the oppression of women's and LGBTQ+ rights in Latin America and how Chilean comics help illustrate how to challenge the oppressive culture around them. Dr. Cannon analyzed each comic in his chapter to paint a bigger picture of the social unrest concerning issues of gender and sexuality.

Dr. Cannon said, “Art, including comics, gives us a way to see the world from another perspective, and these comics can allow us the artistic space to see the struggles and hopes and dreams of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Dr. Cannon began studying comics at the University of Arkansas in 2008. One of the first assignments that drew his fascination was a literary analysis on how the adaptation from a comic to a television series affected the story that was being told. He continued his studies as he pursued his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Cannon said, “In 2016 I had the opportunity to organize a panel of Chilean comic artists for San Diego Comic-Con. This was the first time a group of Chilean comic creators had attended San Diego Comic-Con, arguably the most important comics event in the world.”

From this point forward, Dr. Cannon stayed in contact with the Chilean government and they invited him to travel to Chile and meet with comic creators and publishers. In 2019, the Chilean government reached out to Dr. Cannon with a collection of Chilean comics they wanted to donate to the Noel Memorial Library at LSUS.

Dr. Cannon feels lucky to study Latin American comics, and he carries his passion for comic book studies into his teaching career at LSUS. As a professor, he said he must reflect the work of comic creators respectfully and wholeheartedly. Dr. Cannon brings in the different issues he encounters and the human experience that he discovers through comics into the classroom, and his scholarly work helps spread the university’s name internationally.