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Blog: Confirmation

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As mentioned last time, I'm currently going through the process of 'Confirmation' for my PhD. This sort of thing apparently works differently at different universities, but at UAL it's basically the bit where I have to prove that what I'm doing is sensible, and that they should definitely let me do it as a PhD. This seems a bit over the top to me - is there anything MORE suitable for research than Doctor Doom between 1961 and 1987?!? - but I am HUMOURING them.

As part of this process you have to present an ASPECT of your research in front of your PEERS, so on Monday this week I rolled up at an all day SYMPOSIUM to do exactly that. I'd taken the day off work to do it, so it felt a bit of a let down to still turn up AT work on my day off (NB I work at UAL too), at the same time I usually get in, and then just go to a different room. Also, I know the people who RUN these events, as they only sit a few desks back from me (and excitingly have Access Databases which I know how to fix)!

Once it got going it was not entirely the same as my day job, as there were a lot more POWERPOINT presentations than in a usual day. There's a HUGE range of research topics being done at UAL, and so some of the talks were VERY interesting and some of them were Somewhat Less So (to me anyway), but I was constantly Mildly Distracted by the fact that I was on LAST, and so had to wait until the VERY END to do my bit.

When it was eventually my turn I went up and did a version of the paper I gave last November at the Transitions Conference, all about Doctor Doom's appearances in 'Not Brand Echh', Marvel's rip-off of 'Mad'. I made a few changes, like explaining the idea of the PhD a bit at the start, and cutting out some of the more esoteric gags (I guess not everybody finds J Michael Straczynski's run on 'Amazing Spider-Man' INHERENTLY AMUSING), but otherwise it was pretty similar and, actually, good fun to be doing it again.

Afterwards there was a panel discussion and, JUST like last time, everybody else got piercing questions about their research and MY first question was 'Who would win out of Magneto and Doctor Doom?' I don't know why, but pretty much EVERY time I do a comics presentation, no matter how HIGH FALUTIN' the event, people ask this sort of question. Luckily I knew the answer ("It's always Doom, except if he fights Squirrel Girl"), but the other questions were a bit trickier, notably when somebody asked me what the contribution to knowledge was and I went OFF ON ONE a bit about how studying comics is PRECISELY as viable as studying films or books.

Everyone seemed to think it went well, although my supervisor did warn about being TOO FUNNY (a constant trial!) as it gave people from Other (SNOOTIER) Fields an excuse to dismiss Comics Studies as Not Serious and Not Important. My initial response, which I expressed at the time, was "Screw Those Guys", but I guess that doesn't really work if you're trying to get Art Historians to give you funding.

Hang on a minute, is that what I never got funding for the PhD?!? WHY must I be so CONSTANTLY HILARIOUS?!? It's not fair!

posted 7/2/2019 by MJ Hibbett

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