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Reading: Two Distant Soils: Colleen Doran’s Authorial Journey


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Research article

Two Distant Soils: Colleen Doran’s Authorial Journey


Isabelle Licari-Guillaume

Université Côte d’Azur, Nice, FR
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This article considers the publication history of Colleen Doran’s sci-fi series A Distant Soil (ADS), which first appeared at WaRP Graphics and was discontinued after nine issues. Instead of taking her work to another publisher, Doran discarded her promising but amateurish pages and went on to redraw the entire story, thus creating the definitive version of ADS. In the eight years separating the two iterations, Doran’s vision crystallized, and the story’s journey in time was paralleled by Doran’s own journey as she honed her artistic and editorial vision. The first version of ADS documents Doran’s artistic growth and constitutes an overlooked landmark in the history of manga reception in the United States. As it showcases Doran’s progressive mastery of ink, tone sheets, decorative backgrounds, complex layouts, and decompressed storytelling, ADS provides evidence for the possibility of a comics style which is both indigenous to the USA and similar to manga in form and intent. Furthermore, the process of redrawing and retelling one’s own work allowed Doran to truly appropriate a series whose crafting had been largely shaped by external forces. That Doran’s unique artistic voice was hindered, rather than helped, by her small independent publisher is also testament to the reality behind idealized perceptions of the small press movement in the 1980s.

How to Cite: Licari-Guillaume, I. “Two Distant Soils: Colleen Doran’s Authorial Journey”. New Readings, vol. 18, 2022, pp. 14–29. DOI:
Published on 24 Mar 2022.
Peer Reviewed


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