Eva Van de Wiele | Sugar, Spice, and the Not So Nice

13th February, 2023 in Author’s corner


I am sure readers will remember many of the girls in the comics and hope that these girls contradict stereotypes about girls that readers had previously accepted.

Sugar, Spice, and the Not So Nice offers an innovative, wide-ranging and geographically diverse book-length treatment of girlhood in comics. A short Q&A with one of the editors, Eva Van de Wiele, postdoctoral researcher on the ERC project “Children in Comics”.

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.
This book explores girlhood in comics through traditional chapters, interviews, and artists using comics to explore their ideas.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?
Dona and I were lucky to meet Mel Gibson and Julia Round, two scholars who have done groundbreaking work on girlhood in comics. Our conversations and the realisation that there was very little work available on the topic inspired us to propose a conference and then a book.

Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, …) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?
I would suggest reading Mel Gibson’s Remembered Reading in the same series, Julia Round’s work on girls and the gothic genre and her blog (, Joan Ormrod’s articles on the representation of the female body in comics magazines (e.g. she edited the latest issue of the journal Film, Fashion and Consumption), and check out all the issues of the journal Girlhood Studies. In French scholarship I would advise to follow the work of Les Bréchoises, Jessica Kohn and Marie-Ève Thérenty. Check out the Exeter network on popular media and Italian girlhood: A Girls’ Eye View.

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?
The writing process was different from writing a monograph, and different from editing a standard edited volume, as we were aware from the start of the strengths and diversity of the various chapters, since they are based on papers presented at our conference. Furthermore, it is  extremely rewarding to be able to publish graphic essays that touch upon weighty themes and personal experiences. I am most thankful to Martha, JoAnn and Sébastien for their willingness to provide insight into their art practices and personal lives.

What would you like readers to remember about your book?
I am sure readers will remember many of the girls in the comics and hope that these girls contradict stereotypes about girls that readers had previously accepted. Perhaps some readers will be motivated to promote or participate in further interdisciplinary and international research on girls.

Your book is published open access thanks to the partial support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access. How did the open access publication process go? What makes open access so attractive for you/your book? Have you thus far noticed that your book reaches a wider audience?
The open access publication process went flawlessly. It is of the utmost importance that research generated through a funded project is accessible to the widest possible audience. I am looking forward to circulating the book amongst research groups that I am part of, such as A Girls’ Eye View, and I am sure this will connect us to other scholars working in a similar field. The book is already generating interest: Dona and I have already been approached by a children’s literature association to blog about our volume.

Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about? Would you consider publishing the book open access?
Yes, I am currently reworking my PhD dissertation on the transnational spread of comics in children’s comics magazines from Italy and Spain before 1932 and will try to publish that book open access too. I am also keen to continue working on girlhood in comics, editing a special issue on the topic.

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