I am a comics historian, studying the social and cultural history of comics readers and reading. I am especially interested in the vast networks of young comics readers in the United States during mid-20th century, a time when comics were the most popular form print culture. I enjoy sharing the results of my research with both scholarly and general audiences.
My overarching project is Comics and Youth: How a Mass Medium Transformed a Generation. For this, I’m using extensive archival sources, readers’ recollections, historical studies (many of which have for too-long been overlooked), and other relevant materials to understand young people’s comics readership, their participation in early comics fan cultures, and how adult gatekeepers of children’s reading—including librarians, teachers, and comics creators—understood young people’s relationships with comics.
Recent publications include :
- a chapter titled “Never Any Dirty Ones”: Comics Readership Among African American Youth in the Mid-Twentieth Century, which you can find in Desegregating Comics: Debating Blackness in the Golden Age of American Comics (edited by Qiana Whitted, Rutgers UP, 2023);
- a chapter titled “Print” in Keywords for Comics Studies (edited by Ramzi Fawaz, Deborah Whaley, and Shelley Streeby, NYU Press, 2021);
- an illustrated article titled On the Road to the Big Time: The Open Road for Boys Cartooning Contest (in Hogan’s Alley #19, 2019 & generously shared on the magazine’s website)
My 2012 research that documented falsified and distorted evidence in the writings of anti-comics psychiatrist Fredric Wertham (Seduction of the Innocent, 1954) brought me and my work international attention. If you’re curious, check out the article by Dave Itzkoff about it in the New York Times or the Annalee Newitz article on i09 or even the short documentary for the BIG10 network, Carol Tilley: Comic Book Crusader.
You can learn more about my published research (including the work I do in areas such as education for librarianship and information seeking and use) by visiting my Google Scholar profile.