Henry Jenkins


On his book Comics and Stuff

Cover Interview of May 06, 2020

The wide angle

I wrote this book because on a good day, I see myself as a collector or a pack rat and on a bad day, as a hoarder. I am increasingly overwhelmed by my stuff, possessed by my own possessions. I am sure I am not alone in this ambivalence towards my stuff.

I also find myself drawn to comics that speak to me through my expertise as a collector who is fascinated with “paper” (newspaper clippings, posters, promotional materials, old books), records, toys, monster models, family memorabilia, and so much more. While I have written often about various forms of fan practices through the years, I have avoided until now writing about collecting, per se, because it seemed so directly linked to the commercialization and overconsumption of our current moment. Yet, in this book, I found a way to talk about collecting as a form of grassroots curation, as part of how we construct our identities and make meaning of the world around us.

I was also intrigued by the interdisciplinary shifts in research regarding our relationships to material culture. So far, these new approaches from anthropology, sociology, art history, literary studies, etc., have focused on everyday life or high culture but not so much on popular culture, which has provided both the objects of our collecting and a space where readers, artists, and writers sort through our conflicting feelings in regard to our possessions.

Put these all together, and you get Comics and Stuff.

Although each of the artists I discuss are well known to many comics fans and scholars, many of them have not gathered much critical response so far. Part of my pleasure is opening readers to a wide array of books they might not know about otherwise. Soon, your apartment will be as cluttered with comics as mine is.