Remembering Tom Inge
By Seetha Srinivasan
In the late 80’s, I called M. Thomas Inge at Randolph Macon College and asked if he would be the editor for a series in popular culture. I explained my reasons: to publish in an area that was key to understanding American culture but one that got virtually no attention from scholars; to focus on a field that would allow UPM to have a niche and help crystalize its identity; and to publish books that would appeal alike to scholars and lay audiences. Tom Inge was the dean of studies in American popular culture, and I believed that a relationship with UPM would be mutually beneficial.
Without hesitation, Tom agreed. He wanted a home for his publishing interests, and said that my timing was almost providential. And thus began a most fruitful and harmonious association that lasted until Tom Inge’s death in May 2021.
Tom’s reputation and broad interests ensured that Studies in Popular Culture got off to the brisk start that it maintains to this day. Scholars wanted their work to appear in a series edited by Tom, and it was exhilarating to be at meetings where he was followed with respect and admiration by colleagues. He was a pioneer in comics studies, and UPM’s stellar reputation in this area is due to Tom’s leadership. He knew leaders in the industry, which proved invaluable when UPM and its authors sought permissions for a whole range of things. Whether it was DC comics, the Disney Archive, or the Schulz Estate, the name of Tom Inge caused doors to swing wide open.
I will always remember Tom Inge with great affection and will always be grateful for the phone call that I made. His contributions to scholarship in popular culture, and particularly in comics studies, made UPM a leader in the field, a position that it will forever hold. Tom Inge’s legacy as the founding editor of UPM’s Studies in Popular Culture is rich and it will endure.