Attack of the New B Movies: Essays on SYFY Original Films (2022)

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 2020.

Bill Watterson: Conversations, under contract with University Press of Mississippi. Forthcoming, 2024.

Throughout Calvin and Hobbes’ 10-year-run from 1985-1995, creator Bill Watterson gave a few dozen interviews, interacted with fans, even was invited to give a keynote at Kenyon College in 1990. After the comic strip ended Watterson famously left the comic industry, shifted artistic interests from commercial comics to landscape painting at home, and effectively retired at the height of popular for Calvin and Hobbes. To date, Watterson’s writings are understudied; publicly lauded and notable, but understudied. Moreover, what correspondences, interviews, and speeches do exist are haphazardly published and uncollected. Taken together with later interviews and in the context of his earlier writings, a nuanced sketch of the creator emerges, one who emerged to write about a book on a comics hero that moved him, who saw something significant enough in Campanelli to speak with a reporter working in Watterson’s own hometown stomping grounds.

This book builds a catalogue of Bill Watterson’s conversations in order to shed light on the life and work of a landmark comics creator whose seminal literary contribution not only still holds significance, but seems to gain more importance over time. The collection begins with a chronology of Watterson’s life and offer a critical introduction into the creator’s work with a particular eye towards his public writings. More importantly, this collection includes archival photographs of Watterson’s correspondences with fans – some of which include original art – along with key speeches, interviews, and Watterson’s own writings.


“Transmedial Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Play: An Examination of Dinosaurs as Transmedial Ludemes in the Jurassic Park Games and Films.” Accepted in Cinergie: Il Cinema e le altre Arti, special issue on ‘Franchising Jurassic Park,’ Forthcoming 2023.

“Now THIS is Podracing! Ludic and Narrative Friction in Star Wars Episode 1: Racer.” Accepted in Unbound: A Journal of Digital Scholarship, proceedings from Realizing Resistance II, forthcoming 2023.

“From the Classroom: Critical-Making with Comics in ENG 325 at Michigan State University.” Written with MSU ENG 325 students Zaria Cannon and Claudia Kramer. Accepted in ImageText, forthcoming 2023.

“Days of Future Past: Why Race Matters in Metadata.” Written with Julian Chambliss, Kate Topham, and Nicole Huff. Genealogy. 6(47): 1-11. 2022. DOI:

“The Marmaduke Problem: A Case Study of Comics as Linked Open (Meta)data).” Written with Julian Chambliss, Kate Topham, and Nicole Huff. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 6 (3):1-8. 2022. DOI:

“‘The Fearless Spaceman Spiff, Interplanetary Explorer Extraordinaire’: Parodic Imagination and The Pulp Aesthetic in Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.” INKS: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society 5(2), 2021. Awarded Honorable Mention for the Comics Studies Society Best Article Prize, 2021.

“‘Once Uploaded, This Cannot Be Undone:’ Osmotic Studios’ Orwell as Dystopian Simulation of Participatory Surveillance.” In Meaningful Play Proceedings 2018, ETC Press. 2019.


“Pulp Heroism.” In Encyclopedia of Heroism Studies, edited by Scott Allison, James Beggan, and Al Goethals, Springer, 2024.

“Unfurling the Disciplines: Comics-Making Pedagogy as a Bridge Between the Sciences and the Humanities.” Written with Megan Halpern. In Unfurling Unflattening, edited by Amanda Latz and Janine Utell, MIT Press, 2024.

“Unflattening.” In Keywords/Images in Graphic Medicine, edited by Lisa Diedrich and Briana Martino. Forthcoming, NYU Press, 2024.

“Ludic Dissertations: Level 101 and Video Games as Playable Scholarship.” In Historiographies of Game Studies: What It Has Been, What It Could Be, edited by Alisha Karabinus, Carly Kocurek, Cody Mejeur, and Emma Vossen. Forthcoming, Punctum Press, 2023.

“From Comic to Cartoon to Capcom: Ludic Afterlives of Animated Mutants.” In Futures of Cartoons Past: The Cultural Politics of X-Men: The Animated Series, edited by Nicholas Miller, Margaret Galvan, and Jeremy Carnes. Forthcoming, University Press of Mississippi, 2023.

“Ecofuturism in Subnautica.” The Deep: A Companion, edited by Simon Bacon, Peter Lang, Oxford. 2023.

“Kwame Alexander.” In Dictionary Literary Biography 391: Young Adult Novelists, Second Series, edited by Anne Hiebert Alton, Gale. 2022.

“John Rowe Townsend.” In Dictionary Literary Biography 389: Young Adult Novelists, First Series, edited by Anne Hiebert Alton, Gale. 2022.

Minecraft and Worldbuilding.” In Pop Culture for Beginners, Broadview Press. 2021.

Black Panther and Afrofuturism.” In Pop Culture for Beginners, Broadview Press. 2021.

“Roll20, Access, and Rhetorical Agency in Digital Game Spaces.” Written with Daniel Lawson.

In Roleplaying Games in the Digital Age: Essays on Transmedia Storytelling, Tabletop RPGs and Fandom. McFarland Press. 2021.

“‘Pull Up Your Big-Girl Pants, and Own Your Power’: Feminist Anger and the Working Woman in The CW’s Supergirl.” In Girl of Steel: Essays on Television’s Supergirl and FourthWave Feminism, McFarland Press. 2020.

“Monochromatic Teats, Teeth, And Tentacles: Monstrous Visual Rhetoric in Stephen L. Stern’s Beowulf: The Graphic Novel.” In Monstrous Women in Comics, University Press of Mississippi. 2020.

“Rags to Riches to Murder: Cozy Mysteries and Class in Hallmark’s Garage Sale Mystery Film Series.” Written with Mitch Ploskonka. In The Hallmark Channel: Essays on Faith, Race and Feminism, McFarland Press. 2020.

Ultimate! Atomic! Buster!: Street Fighter Video Games as Professional Wrestling

Convergence” Written with Ted Troxell. In Convergent Wrestling: Participatory Culture, Transmedia Storytelling, and Intertextuality in the Squared Circle, Routledge. 2019.

“‘Evil Witch! I’m Not Scared!’: Monstrous Visualizations of the Other Mother in Multimodal Adaptations of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.” In The Artistry of Neil Gaiman: Finding Light in the Shadows, University Press of Mississippi. 2019.

“Is That Real or Is It Just In My Head?” “Both”: Chronotopal Representations of Patriarchal Villainy and the Feminist Antihero in Marvel’s Jessica Jones.” In Jessica Jones, Scarred Superhero: Essays on Gender, Trauma, and Addiction in the Netflix Series, McFarland Press. 2018.

“Guess what I majored in. Hint, not the secretarial arts!”: Sexism, Heroism, and Morality in The CW’s Arrow and DC Comics’ Green Arrow,” Written with Katherine E. Whaley. In Arrow and Superhero Television: Essays on Themes and Characters of the Series, McFarland Press. 2017.

“Harlequin, Nurse, Street Tough: The Visual Evolution from Traditional Harlequin to Sexualized Villain to Subversive Antihero.” The Ascendance of Harley Quinn: Essays on DC’s Enigmatic Villain. McFarland Press. 2017.

“Biographical Sketch of Neil Gaiman.” Critical Insights: Neil Gaiman, Salem House. 2016.

“‘We Have an Obligation to Imagine’ – Critical Reception of the Work of Neil Gaiman.” Written with Kyle Eveleth. Critical Insights: Neil Gaiman, Salem House. 2016.

“Waiting for Wonder Woman: The Problematic History of Comic Book Women and Their Cinematic Doubles.” Written with Katherine E. Whaley. Critical Insights: The American Comic Book, Salem House. 2014.

PUBLICATIONS – Public Scholarship

“‘They Know It Could Happen To Anyone!’: The Promise Of Nuclear Holocaust And Vaccination Fallout In The Werewolf (1956).” Written with Zack Kruse. Horror Homeroom, no. 6, “Classic Horror.” 2022.

“Ludocomics: Play and Interactivity in Comics, Games, and You Are Deadpool (2018)” Vault of Culture. 2021.


When Stars Are Scattered by Oma Mohamed, Victoria Jamieson, and Iman Geddy. Graphic Medicine. 2021.

Understanding Genres in Comics by Nicholas Labarre. INKS: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, 5(3), 2021. 

Role-Playing Game Studies: A Transmedia Approach. ed. by José P. Zagal and Sebastian Deterding. 2019. Science Fiction Foundation.

Jurassic Park & Philosophy. ed. by Nicolas Michaud and Jessica Watkins. Extrapolation. 59.1. 2018.

Stephen King’s Modern Macabre: Essays on the Later Works. Eds. Patrick McAleer and Michael A. Perry. The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, 29.3. 2018.

Adventure Time & Philosophy. Ed. Nicolas Michaud. The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. 27.2. 2016

“(Re)Imagining the World: Children’s Literature’s Response to Changing Times. Eds. Yan Wu, Kerry Mallan, and Roderick McGillis.” The Lion & The Unicorn, 38.3. 2014.

“Second Reaction: Academically Adrift in the World—Pedagogical Applications of Ichiro.” First Opinions/Second Reactions. 2013.