I was introduced to both Caitlín Kiernan and the miniseries Alabaster: Wolves by Capeless Crusader’s Jeff Hayes (see his article, originally titled “Refashioning the Gothic through Female Creators in Comics: Another Step Towards Choice”). His concise, effective commentary informed and influenced the initial direction of my research. While gathering background information, I noticed that Hayes is one of the only writers to identify Kiernan as working within the Gothic mode. Kiernan resents the generic title of horror bestowed upon her by many reviewers; horror—as brought to my attention during the conference—merely reinforces norms. In other words, horror identifies which boundaries one ought not cross in order to survive. Contrarily, the Gothic reacts to society subversively (even if historically Gothic texts were not always progressive). Kiernan blurs boundaries and challenges ideologies, bringing her prose character Dancy Flammarion into the comics medium.
Not one person in the audience at WisCon had heard of Kiernan, and almost no criticism on Kiernan’s work exists. As the output of Gothic and comics scholarship grows, these texts could emerge as a new area of interest. Hopefully there will be Kiernan graphic novels in the future.
In lieu of video, my article and other materials are available below.
CLICK HERE to view “Caitlín Kiernan Revitalizes and Reinvents the Subversive Gothic Heroine.”
CLICK HERE to view a helpful little pamphlet.
I aim to further revise and improve upon this material in the future. Please sound off in the comments: am I missing an important angle? Does anything need further clarification? Do I misuse or oversimplify any terminology or comics concepts?
NOTE: The paper has been edited since the WisCon presentation of May 26. For this draft, I’ve removed a few pages and footnotes that seemed unnecessary for the site. Also, this paper remains a draft for future revision; it could use subheadings for organization, some work on language and syntax, and rethinking of the use of Foucault’s theories. Since this paper, Kiernan’s involvement with the comics industry has evolved in ways that could be included in a future revision. Video clips and more from Josh Epstein’s presentation on Gail Simone are available here.