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Justin Wigard, PhD (pronounced “Why-Guard”) is an Assistant Professor of English at University of North Dakota, where he works in 20th and 21st century American literature, comics studies, popular culture, and digital humanities. His current work focuses on comics as crucial sites of multiethnic identity and storytelling through

He is co-editor of Attack of the New B Movies: Essays on SYFY Original Films (McFarland Press, 2023), the first academic treatment of SYFY Channel’s original films, including Sharknado (2013), 2 Lava 2 Lantula (2016), Frankenfish (2004), and more.

Since its inception in 1992, the Sci-Fi Channel (later rebranded as SYFY) has aired more than 500 network-produced or commissioned films. Campy and prolific, the network churned out one low-budget film after another, finally finding its zenith in the 2013 release of Sharknado. With unpretentious charm and a hearty helping of commodified nostalgia, the Sharknado franchise briefly ruled the cultural consciousness and temporarily transformed SYFY’s original films from cult fringe to appointment television. Naturally, the network followed up with a steady stream of sequels and spin-offs, including Lavalantula and its sequel, 2 Lava 2 Lantula!

This collection of essays is the first to devote critical attention to SYFY’s original film canon, both pre- and post-Sharknado. In addition to unpacking the cultural, historical and critical underpinnings of the monsters at the heart of SYFY’s classic creature features, the contributors offer a variety of approaches to understanding and interrogating these films within the broader contexts of ecocriticism, monster theory, post-9/11 criticism, and neocolonialism. Providing a further entry point for future scholarship, an appendix details a thorough filmography of SYFY’s original films from 1992 to 2022.

He can be reached at:

email: justin.wigard@und.edu

twitter: @justinwigard

Image: Typical Wigard attire — red flannel, messy hair, shaggy beard, thick black glasses.

Recent Publications:

“Gamified Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Play: The Jurassic Park Ludo Mix.” Cinergie: Il Cinema e le altre Arti, 12(24), 53–70. 2023. https://cinergie.unibo.it/article/view/16747

“Visual Afrofuturism and Dieselfunk in the works of Tim Fielder.” Third Stone Journal vol. 3, 2023. https://repository.rit.edu/thirdstone/vol3/iss1/2/

“Understanding Peanuts and Schulzian Symmetry: Panel Detection, Caption Detection, and Gag Panels in 17,897 Comic Strips Through Distant Viewing.” Written with Taylor Arnold and Lauren Tilton. Journal of Cultural Analytics, vol. 8, no. 1, 2023, https://doi.org/10.22148/001c.87560.