Children’s Literature and Comics/Graphic Novels at MLA 2019

MLA 2019 logo

Going to the MLA Convention in Chicago? Here are all the sessions on children and YA literature, and on comics.  Or, at least, this is what I could find.  If I’ve missed anything, please let me know.  Thanks!


012: Comics Fandom in Transition

 12:00 PM–1:15 PM Thursday, Jan 3, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Roosevelt 3

Presentations

1: Fandom as Import and Export in the Digital Age: Dojinshi, Comiket, and Fujoshi around Latin American Boys’ Love

Camila Gutierrez, Penn State U, University Park

2: Hi-Diddly-Ho, Tetsuo! How Bartkira’s Fandom Reimagined and Remixed Akira and The Simpsons

Charles Acheson, U of Florida

3: ‘The Concrete Representation of Our Most Subtle Feelings’: Comics Fandom in the Digital Era

Jaime Weida, Borough of Manhattan Community C, City U of New York

4: The Hybrid Lettercol: Ms. Marvel and #KamalaKorps

Leah Misemer, Georgia Inst. of Tech.

Presider

Aaron Kashtan, U of North Carolina, Charlotte

Sponsored by the GS Forum on Comics and Graphic Narratives


029: Selling Childhood

 12:00 PM–1:15 PM Thursday, Jan 3, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Atlanta

Presentations

1: Pricing Black Girl Pain: The Cost of Black Girlhood in Street Lit

Jacinta Saffold, Assn. of American Colleges and Universities

2: Selling the Ferocious Child: Riot Grrrl’s Radicalization of Consumption

Katherine Kruger, U of Sussex

3: Teenage Writers, Marketplace Consciousness, and the Deregulation of Childhood in the Age of Neoliberalism

David Aitchison, North Central C

Presider

Michelle Ann Abate, Ohio State U, Columbus

Sponsored by the GS Forum on Children’s and Young Adult Literature


076: The Graphic Novel in Spain

 3:30 PM–4:45 PM Thursday, Jan 3, 2019

 Sheraton Grand – Ontario

Presentations

1: Picturing Peripheries: Basque Identities and Blackness in the Graphic Novel Black Is Beltza

N. Michelle Murray, Vanderbilt U

2: Espacios en blanco: Migration, Memory, and Oblivion in Contemporary Spanish Graphic Narrative

Lena Tahmassian, U of South Carolina, Columbia

3: ‘Nobody Expects the Spanish Revolution’: Forms of Politicization in Gran Hotel Abismo (2016), by Marcos Prior and David Rubín

Xavier Dapena, U of Pennsylvania

Presider

H. Rosi Song, Bryn Mawr C


150: Girlhood Teleologies: Age, Sexuality, and Development in the Long American Nineteenth Century

 7:00 PM–8:15 PM Thursday, Jan 3, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Michigan 3

Presentations

1: The Girl in the Contract: Slavery, Consent, and True Girlhood

Lucia Hodgson, Texas A&M U, College Station

2: Settler Discourses of Ability and Reform in The Scarlet Letter

Jessica Cowing, C of William and Mary

3: Perpetual Childhood: Cognitive Disability and the Representation of Childish Women

Allison Giffen, Western Washington U

Related Material: For related material, write to luciahodgson@tamu.edu after 17 Dec.

Presider

Nazera Wright, U of Kentucky

Respondent

Anna Mae Duane, U of Connecticut, Storrs


166: Archives of Images, Archives of Texts: Comics as Sources for Historical Research

 7:00 PM–8:15 PM Thursday, Jan 3, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Randolph 3

Description: Comics studies is a growing interdisciplinary field, largely (although not always) grounded in critical literary techniques. As comics scholarship grows, however, the potential of comics for researchers in other disciplines, history among them, is quickly becoming apparent. Panelists address the variety of ways that scholars can use comics as sources for historical research by showcasing projects that utilize sequential narratives in this way.

Presiders

Joshua Kopin, U of Texas, Austin

Patrick Jagoda, U of Chicago

Speakers

David Carlson, writer

Elizabeth “Biz” Nijdam, Whitman C

Margaret Galvan, U of Florida

Maryanne Rhett, Monmouth U

Rachel Miller, Ohio State U, Columbus


307: Image-Text Encounters in South Asian Graphic Narratives

 1:45 PM–3:00 PM Friday, Jan 4, 2019

 Sheraton Grand – Colorado

Presentations

1: Pulping India in Imperial Britain: Sarath Kumar Ghosh’s Short Fiction

Monika Bhagat-Kennedy, U of Mississippi

2: The Golden Age of Bangla Comics: Narayan Debnath’s Bantul the Great and Handa-Bhonda

Anwesha Maity, U of Wisconsin, Madison

3: Tracing the Creation of an Indigenous Visual Idiom in Amruta Patil’s Adi Parva and Sauptik

Anuja Madan, Kansas State U

4: Graphic Migrations: Stories about Refugees, Gender, and Citizenship

Kavita Daiya, George Washington U

Related Material: For related material, write to amadan@ksu.edu or kdaiya@gwu.edu

Presider

Kavita Daiya, George Washington U


322: Visual Translations of Early Japanese Literary Texts

 3:30 PM–4:45 PM Friday, Jan 4, 2019

 Sheraton Grand – Ohio

Presentations

1: Visualization as Participatory Reception: The Thirty-Six Immortal Waka Poets from Text to Image

Gian Piero Persiani, U of Illinois, Urbana

2: Filling the Empty Center: (Fe)Male Voices in the Manga Comics Afterlives of The Tale of Genji

Lynne Kimiko Miyake, Pomona C

3: Chihayafuru and the Future of the Classics

Lindsey Stirek, Ohio State U, Columbus

Related Material: For related material, visit mla.hcommons.org/groups/japanese-to-1900/after 1 Oct.

Presider

Naomi Fukumori, Ohio State U, Columbus


325: Climate Change and Contemporary Young Adult Fiction

 3:30 PM–4:45 PM Friday, Jan 4, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Atlanta

Presentations

2: Solarpunk: A Growing Trend in Young Adult Speculative Fiction

Jennifer Harrison, East Stroudsburg U

3: Growing Down: Coming of Age in a Time of Climate Crisis

Lauren Rizzuto, Simmons C

Presider

Clare Echterling, U of Kansas

Allied organization: Children’s Literature Association.


410: Fandom Spaces

 8:30 AM–9:45 AM Saturday, Jan 5, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Columbian

Presentations

1: The Leather Pants Phenomenon: Fan Affect and the Rise of Fandom Stars

Sarah Olutola, McMaster U

2: The Curriculum of Fandom: What Are Writers Learning on Wattpad?

Jen McConnel, Queen’s U

3: Professional Spaces for Fan Fiction: Prolonging the YA Series

Carrie Sickmann Han, Indiana U–Purdue U, Indianapolis

Presider

Susan M. Strayer, Ohio State U, Columbus

Sponsored by the GS Forum on Children’s and Young Adult Literature


438: Sesame Street at Fifty

 10:15 AM–11:30 AM Saturday, Jan 5, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Roosevelt 1

Presentations

1: ‘Culture Free’? The Adaptation and Demarcation of Sesame Street in 1970s Europe

Helle Strandgaard Jensen, Aarhus U

2: Tell Me How to Get to Sesa(meme) Street: The Lore and Language of Digitally Street Smart Internet Users

Bonnie Tulloch, U of British Columbia

3: How Sesame Street Saved My Life

Jeane Copenhaver-Johnson, Ithaca C

Presiders

Philip Nel, Kansas State U

Naomi Hamer, Ryerson U



528: Making Comics, Making Meaning

 1:45 PM–3:00 PM Saturday, Jan 5, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Randolph 3

Presentations

1: Epistemologies of Slowness: Teaching Visual Literacy Using Comics

Joshua Kopin, U of Texas, Austin

2: Panel/Page: A Research Drawing Jam

Leah Misemer, Georgia Inst. of Tech.

3: Drawn Words: The Significance of Lettering in the Pedagogy and Work of Kevin Huizenga

Alexander Ponomareff, U of Massachusetts, Amherst

Respondent

Susan E. Kirtley, Portland State U

Presider

Margaret Galvan, U of Florida

Sponsored by the GS Forum on Comics and Graphic Narratives


GS Children’s and Young Adult Literature Forum: Business Meeting

3:30–4:45 PM Saturday, Jan 5, 2019

Hyatt Regency – Burnham


615: Cash Bar Arranged by the Forum GS Comics and Graphic Narratives

 7:15 PM–8:30 PM Saturday, Jan 5, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Plaza Ballroom A


661: Visuality, Race, and Childhood in the Golden Age of American Print Culture

 10:15 AM–11:30 AM Sunday, Jan 6, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Columbus H

Presentations

1: Black Girls’ Nineteenth-Century Autograph Albums

Nazera Wright, U of Kentucky

2: Rainbow Work: Color Sense and Colonial Enchantment in Golden Age Picture Books

Erica Kanesaka Kalnay, U of Wisconsin, Madison

3: Performing Black Childhood: Leigh Richmond Miner’s Photographic Illustrations of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Poems

Katharine Capshaw, U of Connecticut, Storrs

4: A Black Modern Childhood: Illustration and Photography in W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Brownies’ Book

Shawna McDermott, U of Pittsburgh

Presider

Shawna McDermott, U of Pittsburgh


697: Graphic Narratives of Disability as Multisensory Transactions

 12:00 PM–1:15 PM Sunday, Jan 6, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Columbus G

Presentations

1: You Are Not Your Illness: Narrativizing Identity in Disability and Illness Memoirs

Sohini Kumar, Stony Brook U, State U of New York

2: A Visual Cure: Exploring the Role of Drawing in Marion Milner’s The Hands of the Living God: An Account of a Psycho-analytic Treatment

Emilia Halton-Hernandez, U of Sussex

3: Traumatic Narrative Drawing in Jacques Tardi’s ‘Basket Case’

Anthony Cooke, Georgia Southern U


704: Graphic Medicine’s Textual Transactions

 12:00 PM–1:15 PM Sunday, Jan 6, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Toronto

Presentations

1: Graphic Medicine and Patient Education: Using Graphic Narrative to Improve Patient Care

Brian Callender, U of Chicago

2: Subject to or Subject Of: Medicine, Subjectivity, and the Representation of Disability in Una posibilidad entre mil

Elizabeth Jones, U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

3: Multimodal Graphic Medicine and the Material Question of Spoons

Rachel Kunert-Graf, Antioch U

Respondent

Erin Lamb, Hiram C

Presider

Lan Dong, U of Illinois, Springfield

Sponsored by the GS Forum on Comics and Graphic Narratives


722: Aesthetics, Politics, and the Postcolonial Graphic Narrative

 1:45 PM–3:00 PM Sunday, Jan 6, 2019

 Hyatt Regency – Gold Coast

Presentations

1: Comic-Chronotope in Postcolonial Graphic Narratives: Contextualizing Clandestine Immigration

Susmitha Udayan, U of New Mexico, Albuquerque

2: Human Rights in the Postcolonial Islamic Graphic Novel

Esra Mirze Santesso, U of Georgia

3: Graphic Narrative and the Aesthetics of Complicity

Muhib Nabulsi, U of Queensland

4: Graphic Narratives, Transnational Aesthetics, and Political Critique in Singapore: Sonny Liew’s Frankie and Poo

Weihsin Gui, U of California, Riverside

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Children’s Literature and Comics/Graphic Novels at MLA 2018

MLA 2018 (convention logo)It is time again to gather ’round

in fluorescent rooms, adjust the sound

(“can you hear me?”), smile, and present

to all four or fifty-seven

who found the right room, the right day.

Coffee! Insecurity! MLA!

January 3rd through 7th is the Modern Language Association’s annual conference, held this year (2018) in New York City. (The year’s Presidential Theme is “States of Insecurity.”)  As I do each year, I’m posting here all panels devoted to children’s literature, young adult literature, and comics/graphic novels. There will be many other panels of interest, I’m sure. So, do peruse the program for full details. And if I’ve omitted a panel on any of these subjects, please let me know and I will add it ASAP.


18: Calling Dumbledore’s Army: Activist Children’s Literature

Thursday, January 04, 2018, 12:00 PM – 01:15 PM. Hilton: Clinton

Presider
Presentations
Keywords

34: Narrativizing Insecurity in Indian Comics

Thursday, January 04, 2018, 12:00 PM – 01:15 PM. Sheraton: Sutton Place

For Related Material: amadan@ksu.edu after 30 Nov.
Presider
Presentations
Keywords

122: Strips of Modernity: Affect, Labor, and Identity in Early Comics

Thursday, January 04, 2018, 05:15 PM – 06:30 PM. Hilton: Nassau East

Presider
Respondents
Presentations
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173: Connecting the Dots: Museums and Comics

Thursday, January 04, 2018, 07:00 PM – 08:15 PM. Hilton: Sutton Center

Presider
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190: Radical Sisterhood in Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Thursday, January 04, 2018, 07:00 PM – 08:15 PM. Sheraton: Sugar Hill

Presiders
Presentations
Keywords

298: 4H: History, Hamilton, and Hip-Hop in High School

Friday, January 05, 2018, 12:00 PM – 01:15 PM. Sheraton: Empire Ballroom West

Presider
Presentations
Keywords

Children’s and Young Adult Literature Forum: Business Meeting

Friday, January 05, 2018, 01:45 PM – 03:00 PM. Sheraton New York Times Square: Madison 4

The open meeting will begin shortly after Session 298 is completed. The assigned room for the business meeting is snug, but we will try to accommodate everyone who attends. One of the orders of business will be the selection of sessions to be sponsored by the Forum for next year’s MLA Conference in Chicago. It would be helpful for individuals who would like to propose a session to provide a short handout to be distributed during the business meeting. The proposed sessions handouts should include: 1. A working title 2. A short (at least a paragraph) description and 3. The name of a current MLA members willing to chair the session.

Individuals unable to attend this year’s MLA conference, or unable to attend the Forum’s business meeting, can still submit topics for sessions for the 2019 MLA Conference in Chicago.  Those proposals should be in the same format as the handouts for proposed sessions. The requirements are noted above. Session proposals for those unable to attend the business meeting should be submitted by email to Jan Susina (jcsusina@ilstu.edu) by December 21.


354: Graphic Resistance: Comics and Social Protest

Friday, January 05, 2018, 01:45 PM – 03:00 PM. Sheraton: New York Ballroom West

Description

This session investigates how and why comics have served as sites of resistance and explores how this history informs how comics are used—or could be used—for protest in our current moment. Participants explore genealogies of social protest that comics create in and across local, national, and international communities. How will this conversation open different future trajectories for exploring comics as micropolitical sites of resistance?

Presiders
Speakers
Keywords

413: Narrating Vulnerability: Re-seeing Asian American Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Friday, January 05, 2018, 05:15 PM – 06:30 PM. Sheraton: Chelsea

Presider
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439: Teaching Global Arab Comics in the United States

Friday, January 05, 2018, 05:15 PM – 06:30 PM. Hilton: Concourse G

Presider
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543: The Rise of Latinx Literature for Youth

Saturday, January 06, 2018, 12:00 PM – 01:15 PM. Hilton: Hudson

Presider
Presentations
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595: Graphic States of Insecurity

Saturday, January 06, 2018, 01:45 PM – 03:00 PM. Sheraton: Empire Ballroom East

For Related Material: joncn@bu.edu after 1 Dec.
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Respondent
Presentations
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618: From Gotham to Camazotz: Madeleine L’Engle at One Hundred and New York City

Saturday, January 06, 2018, 01:45 PM – 03:00 PM. Sheraton: Bowery

Presider
Presentations
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625: Queer Futurities in Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Saturday, January 06, 2018, 03:30 PM – 04:45 PM. Sheraton: Central Park West

Presider
Presentations
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650: Ignite Talk: Alison Bechdel on the Page, Onstage, and in Theory

Saturday, January 06, 2018. 03:30 PM – 04:45 PM. Hilton: Beekman

Description

Ten years after the conclusion of Dykes to Watch Out For, twelve years after the graphic memoir Fun Home, and five years after Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s theatrical adaptation of Fun Home, this ignite talk session offers a spectrum of voices, perspectives, and theoretical approaches to the works of Bechdel, demonstrating not just analysis of a single author across genres but the impact of such texts on wider fields of study.

Speakers
Keywords

729: Comics and the Culture Wars

Sunday, January 07, 2018, 08:30 AM – 09:45 AM. Sheraton: Central Park West

Presider
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810: Framing New York City in Comics

Sunday, January 07, 2018. 12:00 PM – 01:15 PM. Sheraton: Madison Square

Presider
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A dispatch from San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Yes, I was there again.  Read on for Jeff Smith, Congressman John Lewis, Sonny Liew, Thi Bui, Brigitte Findakly, Lewis Trondheim, Jennifer Holm, and more!

Cosplay

This was my fourth Comic-Con.  So, each day, I walked past the city’s homeless, and past lines of fans waiting to get into I-don’t-know-what. (There are events outside of the San Diego Convention Center as well as within it.) The nearer we get to the convention center, the more the crowds thicken, and we try to identify the costumes.  We’re not as caught up with popular culture as we should be, and the moment of identification is brief (once you pass the cosplayers by or they pass you by, it’s gone).  We recognized a group cosplaying as the kids from Stranger Things, but only after we had walked past.  A little girl — I would guess she was maybe 9 — was a great Princess Leia, clad in white, brown hair in symmetrical buns on either side of her head.  We saw many Wonder Women, though my favorites were the cross-dressed Wonder Women (which, alas, I failed to photograph).

Here are a few cosplayers. You could spend all con just photographing the cosplayers. I didn’t. So, this is but a brief and unrepresentative sample.

cosplayer (Mad Hatter, via Tim Burton): Comic-Con 2017

cosplayers (Guardians of the Galaxy): Comic-Con 2017

cosplayer (Handmaid): Comic-Con 2017

cosplayer (Beaker): Comic-Con 2017

cosplayer (Wonder Woman): Comic-Con 2017

cosplayer: Comic-Con 2017


Conspicuous Consumption

The exhibit hall is the largest I’ve seen and Comic-Con uses every corner of it. Merchandise and people as far as the eye can see. If crowds give you claustrophobia, you wouldn’t care for it. But if you don’t mind the shoulder-to-shoulder experience, you may enjoy seeing the toys, video screens, books, and occasional celebrities.

Comic-Con: conspicuous consumption

Comic-Con: conspicuous consumption

Comic-Con: conspicuous consumption


Books!

Predictably, I gravitate towards the books. (Although Comic-Con is mostly an entertainment industry juggernaut, there are still books!)  Here’s what I bought this year.

books bought at SDCC 2017

Little Nemo in Slumberland Vol. 1 (Sunday Press) Krazy Kat (Sunday Press)

I did not buy as much as in previous years because, well, in some cases I already owned them and in other cases (such as Emil Ferris’ My Favorite Thing Is Monsters), I decided to order it and have it shipped — as I did for the two gigantic Sunday Press books included above.  (Sunday Press reprints the comics at roughly their original size — so, a much larger … and heavier … book!)


The Art of Signing Books

I love it when artists draw a picture along with their signature!

Findakly and Trondheim draw and paint

Lewis Trondheim and Brigitte Findakly create a watercolor painting in the book itself!  Specifically, Trondhiem draws, and Findakly (who also did the coloring for the book) paints.  Just so we’re clear, that entire right page was blank: they created the art while we waited.

Poppies of Iraq (signed)

Poppies of Iraq is a beautiful book — an episodic memoir of growing up in Iraq, punctuated by destructions of the present. I saw the authors on a couple of panels, and they were great. Trondheim (who also speaks English) had a nice sense of humor, which both served as a counterpoint to Findakly (who was more serious, and spoke only in French) and seemed to me emblematic of their warm relationship with one another.  The story is Findakly’s, though Trondheim (also her husband) helped her write it.


Everyone says “Hi”

I failed to take photos with all folks I spent time with (notably, Susan Kirtley and her sister Kathy).  But here are a few!

Nel, Westman, Hatfield, Tisserand

Left to right: Me, Karin, Charles Hatfield, and Michael Tisserand.  (Credit: photographer at the restaurant… who gave us the option of either black and white or color.  We liked this one because it seems to suggest that we this dinner occurred some time ago.)  Great to meet the author of Krazy, and to hang out with both him and Charles!

Nel, Westman, Thomas

The second annual Comic-Con breakfast with Ebony Elizabeth Thomas!

Reynolds & Nel

Hey, look — it’s the co-editors of Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby Volume Three (and Barnaby Volume TwoBarnaby Volume One, and the forthcoming Barnaby Volume Four…)!  And they’re wearing matching Barnaby t-shirts!


Eisner Awards: and the winner is…

Eisner Awards centerpiece

Very excited that Michael Tisserand won for his biography of George Herriman — which (if you haven’t done so already) you should read.  Delighted to see Los Bros Hernandez win, and Sonny Liew get three awards for The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye.

Crockett Johnson, Barnaby Vol. Three (1946-1947), ed. Philip Nel & Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics, 2016)Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby Volume Three: 1946-1947 — edited by me and Eric Reynolds — lost… making me a three-time Eisner loser. And that’s the way of awards.  Sometimes we win, but usually we lose. (Statistically, the odds are against you — as one of 5 nominees, our book had a 1 in 5 chance.) But the work is what matters. And I think we did a darn good job on this book, if I do say so myself.  (Hint: I do!)

Also, Johnson — who died 42 years ago this month — never won a major award. So, we are proud to help continue his losing streak (and mine)!

I went to a number of panels, and took notes.  I don’t have time to do proper write-ups for all, but here are photos and extracts from my notes.


Code-Switch: Diversity Behind the Scenes

Code-Switch panel

Thursday, 20 July 2017, 10-11 am

Program description: “Jimmy Diggs (writer, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Voyager) and Gigi Edgley (Chiana on Farscape) lead a diverse panel of science fiction, fantasy, and gaming industry leaders as they share their perspectives from behind the scenes of your favorite franchises. African American, veteran, LGBTQ, and female creatives discuss diversity of background and thought. Learn how obstacles overcome, stereotypes broken, and glass ceilings shattered have fueled creative magic! Panelists to include Dan Evans (VP of creative affairs, DC Comics), Rebekah Ganiere (author, Dead Awakenings), Alison Haislip (actor, host, gamer), Mark O’Bannon (author, The Dream Crystal), and Morgan Romine (director of initiatives, anykey.org).”

Mark O’Bannon: “I never discriminate for race, creed or color because there are so many real reasons to hate people.”

Alison Haislip (hosts a podcast called the Half-Hour Happy Hour: “I got my start on the G4 Network, Attack of the Show.  I never knew that I could be a host.  I’m an actress.  I did not know hosting was something I could do.  …A lot of people identify as a girl gamer — ‘I’m a girl gamer.’   I just say ‘I’m a gamer.’  But it’s important to realize that ‘girl gamer’ is important because we need people to identify.  Did anyone else cry when they found out that the next Dr. Who is a woman?”

Dan Evans III: “I don’t like the term ‘diversity.’ I’m with Shonda Rhimes: It’s all about normalization. I’m interested in doing the diversity subtly.  I’ve worked in TV for 30 years.  At the level I’m at, there’s not a lot of black people.  I’ve had to depend upon others to get here — and a lot of those people have been women.  So, I’m interested in representation of women — and not just the chick in the bikini.  …I think of myself as a girl gamer because I play a lot of games as girl characters.”


Spotlight on Jeff Smith

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Jeff Smith, interviewed by Larry Marder

Larry Marder: “We called ourselves alternative comics, but … we were independent because we had no alternative.”

Getting Bone serialized in Disney Adventures [c. 1998] was a turning point for Jeff because — as Larry says — “you were in the checkout line of the supermarket.”  Its audience took off.  Disney Adventures‘ circulation was 6 million.

Bone is now in 33 languages, and one of the first was German.

Will there be a Bone movie?  Jeff says, “Something’s finally happening: producer of Lego movies and Mark Osborne (director of Kung Fu Panda) are working on a Bone film adaptation.  However,” Jeff notes, “we’ve been here before…”  In other words, this isn’t the first time that a film has been in the works… but never materialized.

The panel provided some history of self-publishing, and how times have changed.  Writers and artists didn’t typically have their names on the cover of a comic book.  When Jeff Smith put his name on his books, some people thought that was really egotistical — but Jeff Smith thought, well, Bill Watterson put his name on the cover of his Calvin and Hobbes books.

Audience member asks of Jeff’s books: Why are all the titles four-letter words?  Coincidence?  OCD?

Jeff’s answer: “It was a coincidence with Bone and Rasl.  But Tuki was originally spelled Tookie.  The designer who did the Tuki logo spelled it that way.”  Jeff asked why?  Designer said, referencing Jeff’s earlier books: “well, it has to be 4 letters.”


CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

Program description: “Get a global look at comics censorship from CBLDF! See how the new political climate is affecting free speech in the U.S., with increased scrutiny at the border and an abundance of local challenges to comics addressing diversity and equality. Explore how cartoonists are being prosecuted, threatened, and intimidated by authorities around the globe for making art. Learn how you can participate with CBLDF in making a difference and standing up for free expression! CBLDF executive director Charles Brownstein and editorial director Betsy Gomez lead the conversation.”

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

Musa Kart in Turkey.  President Erdoğan has cracked down on free expression.  Musa Kart was held for 5 months.  Still no charges filed against him. Erdoğan is accusing journalists and artists of supporting those who organized the coup.

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

Zunar.  Malaysia.  Currently facing 9 charges of sedition for some Tweets suggesting that the country’s courts have been bought out.  He’s facing at least 43 years in prison for these charges.  The sedition act he’s being charged under predates the country’s constitution — and is in fact illegal under current constitution.

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

Most important case of past few years is Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani who was jailed for depicting legislature as farm animals. Since incident, Farghadani was charged under rarely enforced law of contact with opposite sex who is not a family member — because she shook her lawyer’s hand.

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

We’ve seen a lot of “manga is a code word for porn” at customs & immigration enforcement.  [Note: it is not anything of the kind.]

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

Beyond the violation of privacy, this policy may prompt other governments to prompt US travelers to hand over their passwords.

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

A cartoonist like Atena Farghadani would be affected: if she is arrested and needs to escape to US, she would have trouble traveling.  Or if Satrapi had to come to the US, say, for a film festival, could she come under the travel ban?

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

Black Butler: these books were actually burned or removed from library so no one else could access them.

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

A common complaint against LGBTQ books is that the book doesn’t show negative effects of this lifestyle.  (Charles Brownstein makes this comment in context of Drama, where two boys share a kiss.). Kids who are most affected by these challenges are those who need to see themselves represented.

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

“We’ve signed onto 15 letters of support this year, so far.”

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

We’re seeing a larger trend of parental notification bills — and the language is always vague.

The result of such bills is that it affects what teachers are ultimately going to assign.

Charles Brownstein: “We’re in a cold civil war on the culture on that front. There’s a lot more stuff happening on the cultural level, things like the filtering bill that I’ve just described, like the anti-science bill…. using the legislatures to affect speech.”

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

CBLDF: State of Censorship 2017

Visit CBLDF’s Education Resources!


CBLDF: She Changed Comics

Thursday, 20 July 2017

She Changed Comics panelists (left to right: Betsy Gomez, Jenni Holm, Thi Bui, Caitlin McCabe, Joyce Farmer)

Program description: “Meet the women who changed free expression in comics! From the turn of the 20th century to today, women have overcome censorship and more to make comics, inspiring today’s landscape of increasingly diverse and empowering comics storytelling. Join Joyce Farmer (Special Exits, Tits & Clits), Thi Bui (The Best We Could Do), Jennifer L Holm (Babymouse, Sunny Side Up), CBLDF editorial director Betsy Gomez (She Changed Comics), and more for a discussion about the women who changed the format.”

She Changed Comics title slide

She Changed Comics started as a project during Women’s History Month.

Book She Changed Comics profiles 60 women.  Great survey and intro. to women creators in comics.

Betsy: How did you come to comics?

Joyce: started reading ’em at age 1.

Caitlin McCabe: I come from an unusual family. My dad introduced me (as a child) to works of R. Crumb. I grew up reading a lot of things I didn’t realize were controversial.

Thi Bui: I didn’t read a lot of comics as a kid, but when I was a child especially those written by women. Elf Quest.  As a grown-up, Marjan Satrapi’s Persepolis was a huge inspiration.

Jenni Holm: I’m one of five children. Our father loved comics. We had collected volumes of Prince Valiant and Flash Gordon.

Joyce Farmer: When I was a kid, I liked Little Lulu.  I was sort of androgynous. I read superheroes and Donald Duck.  My mother died when I was 11, and my father gave me an allowance, and I’d buy five candy bars and five c

Jenni Holm: I wanted the girl version of Peter Parker, but those were few and far between.

Betsy Gomez: I was once asked which female comics artists influenced me, I said Terry Moore (who is not a women), but wrote Strangers in Paradise, which has two main female characters.  I also read a lot of Vertigo, an imprint which was run by women.

Joyce Farmer: Wrote Abortion Eve, post Roe v. Wade, because had been working as a counselor for women considering abortion.

Joyce Farmer: For Tits & Clits, I actually had to hide copies of the work, and records of having sold it.  This made her change the works she was doing — did mediocre stuff.  “Censorship damages the creativeness of the people who are working.”

Joyce Farmer: “When you’re responsible for two older people who don’t want you to help them, and they don’t want you doing it, they …”  Dad had a sarcastic Danish sense of humor.  Book is Special Exits: A Memoir.    

Thi Bui, The Best We Could DoThi Bui: I started this in my 20s, and was angry about the misrepresentation of Vietnamese people and the Vietnam War.  I wanted them not to be allegory, but to be real people.  I had access to those stories through my family.  I was also trying to figure out my own origin story at the same time.  It took me about 15 years total to write it, and I became a parent in the meantime, which unlocked a lot of empathy for my parents….  and that’s how the title changed from Refugee to The Best We Could Do.

Thi Bui: It’s comics because it’s revenge against Hollywood. I didn’t have a Hollywood budget, but I could draw.

Thi Bui: My book is not the first to come out about Vietnam American stories. GB Tran’s book came out in 2011.  And when I found that out, I was discouraged, but then I realized that we need more stories — this, as we know, is the danger of a single story.

Jenni Holm: The comics you read as a kid stay with you your whole life.  Also, I remember everything from elementary school.

Betsy: Do you prefer prose or comics?

Jenni Holm: I prefer comics because I collaborate with my brother.  He does the majority of the art, and I do the writing.  I also do the layout.  I like the collaboration.

Betsy: A lot of women work in kids comics.  Why?

Jenni Holm: More opportunity for women.  I think we will look back at this period and see this as a renaissance for kids’ comics.  My latest series is called Sunny Side Up.  The elevator pitch is this is a girl in 1976 who goes to Florida and spends the summer with her grandparents in a retirement community.  Would DC or Marvel ever publish this?  No. But children’s publishers are willing to take risks.

Betsy: Women are overrepresented as far as censored books go.  Why is that happening?

Joyce Farmer: Because women see thing differently.

Jenni Holm: A lot of the books are getting attention because they’re New York Times best-sellers. They’re big shiny targets.

Betsy: Books by (or co-written) by women that have been challenged: This One Summer, Drama, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Fun Home, Persepolis, Saga, Stuck in the Middle.

Thi Bui: Censorship being used as a weapon.  It seems to come with the territory of getting a bigger voiec — people trying to shut you down.

Betsy: How will women continue to affect comics in the future?

Jenni Holm: We’re raising a new generation of comics readers, girls and boys.  This generation is growing up known that there are women creators, and that is normal.

Thi Bui: And that there’s more than one way to do it.  There’s more than one way of being a feminist, and more than one ways of telling a story.

Betsy: What are you working on? Where can we find you at the convention?

Nancy Farmer: Special Exits in translation in 5 languages.

Thi Bui: Best We Could Do is at the Abrams booth. I’m working on a PEN America comic on refugees.

My next project is on climate change & Vietnam, which is the country in world with largest percentage of population at risk of coastal flooding.  Only other country with higher percentage of population at risk is the Netherlands.


Writing from Life: Turning Personal Experience Into Relatable Stories

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Writing from Life panel

Program description: “Poignant stories often come from a place of truth, but once you’ve lived through something, how do you turn it into a piece of art that you can share with the wider world? Moderator Jessica Tseang (comic book historian) aims to find out with panelists Sonny Liew (The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye), Eduardo Risso (Dark Night: A True Batman Story), Gemma Correll (The Worrier’s Guide to Life), Lewis Trondheim (Poppies of Iraq), Brigitte Findakly (Poppies of Iraq), and Tillie Walden (I Love This Part).”

Note: Tillie Walden was not here.  And, left to right, Jessica Tseang (moderator), translator, Eduardo Risso, Sonny Liew, Gemma Correll, Lewis Trondheim, translator, Brigitte Findakly.

Another note: I loved that the panel had people who speak French as native language and Spanish as native language, and translators for both, and even people asking questions in French.  This was the most international panel I attended at this year’s Comic-Con.

Gemma Correll: The book is a collection of comics made over several years, some of which were made for herself.  I can see the ridiculousness of a lot of the anxieties I have.

Jessica Tseang: Did you find it relatable to make it relatable to everyone?

Gemma Correll: It’s all personal.  But the overall theme of anxiety you can relate to.  Modern life is anxiety-provoking.

Jessica Tseang: Did you have anyone personally talk to you about the book?

Gemma Correll: Yes. I wish it were a book that had existed when I was younger.

Sonny Liew, Art of Charlie Chan Hock ChyeSonny Liew [re The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye]: It’s a book that’s about Singapore’s history, done in form of real art book ostensibly done by Charlie Chan Hock Chye (fictional character) — and is derived from a Wayne Wang film.  This book is a different perspective on Singapore’s history.  I wrote the book mainly for Singaporeans at first.  Singapore is a unique country, and has had one ruling party since its independence in 1965.  Imagine if the US had been ruled by Republicans for all its history: think about how that affects what gets told, and what gets left out.

Lewis Trondheim: The book is about my wife Brigitte Findakly’s experience; she was born in Iraq in 1959.

Brigitte Findakly: I wrote the book when I realized I would not be returning.

Lewis Trondheim: But it’s also funny.

Brigitte: I wanted to talk about the good times I had there.  Iraq is a different country than what it is perceived today.

Jessica Tseang: How did you make it relatable to others not form Iraq?

Findakly and Trondheim, Poppies of IraqBrigitte Findakly: People can better understand when it is an autobiography.  Several people said they learned more about the Iraq reading the book because it’s an autobiography than from the other theoretical books they read about Iraq.

Lewis Trondheim: You don’t need to have a traumatic childhood to write a memoir.  You have to find a way to write it, get a point of view that’s interesting — with humor or not.

Jessica Tseang: From an artist’s point of view, how did you get involved in the story?

Eduardo Risso: For me, it was a difficult subject to draw, because he’s not used to drawing along these kinds of themes. I was creating the art and trying to experience Paul’s attack as Paul experineced the attack himself. [Dark Knight: A True Batman Story was inspired by writer Paul Dinello’s mugging]

You as the readers will probably the best judges to tell if he did a good job with the art, but it is Paul’s gift to be the storyteller, and all he could do was do his best to draw the art.

Sonny Liew: If we only wrote about what we know, we live to 68 and maybe have two books in us.  Because we are all human beings, we can all relate to others’ experience.

Brigitte: I wanted to keep my memories because Isis was destroying everything over there.


Moonlight and Magic: Black LGBTQ Contributions to Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comics, and Genre

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Moonlight and Magic panel

Program description: “The Black LGBTQ experience has brought unique and significant intersectional perspectives to our society and popular media: Black Lives Matter was founded by three black queer women; Black LGBT authors Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany created legendary works; bisexual writer Roxane Gay brought Marvel’s Black Panther to deep critical acclaim; and Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture. Join Prism Comics with moderator Faith Cheltenham (BiNet USA VP, Tor.com co-creator) and panelists Viktor Kerney (Prism board member, GayMediaSoWhite creator), Ajuan Mance (8-rock.com), Sean Z. Maker (Bent-Con), Monica Roberts (TransGriot, National Transgender Advocacy Coaltion), William O. Tyler a.k.a. WOT (Queerbait), and Eliot Sutler, Esq. (BiWoCC) as they discuss the power of the Black LGBTQ experience and its positive effect not only on popular media but on society and the world at large.”

Faith Cheltenham asks the panel: What are some tips?

Monica Roberts: I’ve been me for 25 years, but only recently I’ve had the gender marker that matches my gender. One tactic I’ve used to combat that. Flipping the gender script. If person is female, and let’s say her name is Jacuqeline, I’ll say “OK, Jack” or call them “sir.”

Victor Kerney: As a creator, in my long life I’ve learned (I’m in my 40s), I’ve learned you can’t ask for permission — just do what you want to do.  Growing up, Lamar Latrell — black gay character from Revenge of the Nerds — was a role model to me.  Still is.  I created my web comic because I wanted to see a black queer person in the lead…..  Don’t ask.  Just do it.  We have always waited and asked, and have always had to wait for our turn.  My tip is don’t wait, don’t ask, just do it.

WOT: To add to that, be unapologetic about it.

Ajuan Mance: I want to give a shout-out to Essence magazine.  That said, my way into doing art and illustration is just what ….  Essence celebrates well-dressd black men — and it’s OK to celebrate Idris Elba….   But I wanted to draw black men just as they are, and show all other black media how it’s done.  In the process, I learned a lot about my own biases.

Sean Z. Maker: Ramonah Rising — black Cinderella sci-fi story.  Was trying to develop it, but studio said “urban markets weren’t interested in science fiction.”  [So, he’s instead published them as comics]

A few notes from later in panel —

Viktor Kerney: I want to get back to your point of how we are limited to certain things. We’re not in fantasy unless it’s voodoo. … We should be able to do all types of things.

WOT is working on a comic about seeing Moonlight for the first time. “In Moonlight I saw a black gay person who like me was shy, very interior.  The experience of seeing yourself on the screen for the first time… is indescribable.”

Faith is creating a site called Yes, Black People.  We’re bringing The Green Book back.  A non-profit social experience.


Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender, and the Comic Book Medium

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Program description: “The Women in Comics Collective (WinC, pronounced “Wink”) is an international organization that highlights the merit and craft work of women working in the comic book and multimedia industries. Their membership is made up of artists, writers, educators, filmmakers, show producers, art gallery directors, cosplayers, game developers, bloggers, and toy makers. Focusing on female and racial representation in comics, fandom, and the industry, panelists include moderator Regine L. Sawyer (writer, publisher, WinC founder), Jewels Smith ([H]afrocentric writer and creator, activist), Vanee Smith-Matsalia (writer, educator), Jay Justice (cosplayer, activist), Alice Meichi Li (comic book artist, illustrator), Leen Isabel (cosplayer, artist, creator of Pole Dancing Adventures), Jazmine Joyner (comic book store owner), and Jules Rivera (comic book artist).”

Encouraged by the moderator — who provided the hashtag #WinCpanel — I decided to Tweet this one, which means that I took fewer notes.


Biographical and Autobiographical Comics

Friday, 21 July 2017

Biographical and Autobiographical Comics panel

Program description: “Charles Hatfield (comics professor, CSU Northridge) leads a spirited conversation about the spaces between fiction and nonfiction with cartoonists who have worked in fictionalized memoir (Mimi Pond, The Customer Is Always Wrong), fictionalized biography (Sonny Liew, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye), biography (Box Brown, Andre the Giant), and memoir (Sarah Glidden, Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq).”

Charles asks what does it mean to talk about non-fiction in comics, since they are all drawn?

Mimi Pond on her book’s disclaimer: episodes in The Customer Are Always Wrong are true, but they’ve been assigned to characters to whom they did not necessarily happen.

“You can’t capture reality. You have to shape it” — Jules Buck, quoted by Mimi Pond.

Sarah Glidden: “I think about this a lot.  You’re forming a narrative, even of your own life.  Whether you’re telling a story of someone else, or your own life — of how I missed the bus this morning. … Storytelling is a very human way of understanding the world.  Because there is lots of chaotic things happening.”

quotation from Sacco's Journalism

Box Brown on his forthcoming Andy Kaufman book… and the research.  He prefers talking to sources because of affect – hearing the emphasis, the nuances conveyed by the source.

Sonny Liew: “This book was tricky because a history of Singapore had to be factual….” “I did a timeline of Signapore history and a timeline of comics history, and tried to figure out where they match up.”  What comics were popular at a certain time?

Sonny Liew faked the children’s drawing by drawing with his left hand.

Sarah Glidden: “I was always recording, whenever someone was talking.  I transcribed everything, which maybe is not the most effective use of my time. Maybe that’s why it took 5 years. But it was really important to me for this to be as close as reality as possible.”

Charles asks if, for writing non-fiction, the medium of comics is advantageous or a curse.

Sarah Glidden: “Comics the way that I figured out how to tell stories best.”

Mimi Pond: “The great thing about being a cartoonist is that you’re the screenwriter, production designer, casting director…. You have complete control.”

Sonny Liew: “I was going to make the book a coffee table book, but then I realized that I would only dip into a book like that.  I wanted people to read the story, and that’s where comics came in.”

Singapore’s National Arts Council withdrew its grant for Sonny Liew’s book, on the day it was published.

Sonny Liew, on the creative process: “You walk around with all these narrative structural knots in your head,” and wait for them to work themselves out


Diversity in Comics

Friday, 21 July 2017

Diversity in Comics panel

Program description: “Brian Buccellato (Detective Comics, The Flash), Elena Salcedo (editor-in-chief, Top Cow Productions), Joe Illidge (senior editorial manager, Lion Forge), Ani-Mia (international cosplayer), Blake Northcott (Michael Turner’s Fathom), Hannibal Tabu (CBR’s The Buy Pile), Marcus To (Joyride, Red Robin), and Khary Randolph (Mosaic, The Amazing Spider-Man) discuss the shifting landscape of diversity in modern comics. Moderated by Vince Hernandez (VP/editor-in-chief, Aspen Comics).”

Joe Illidge: “People think diversity is anti-white, and that’s pretty ridiculous…. To me, the fictional universes that you’re spending your time and money on should reflect the world. And if it doesn’t, then that’s the failing.”

“Part of a panel about diversity is about making the term ‘diversity’ obsolete.”

Hannibal Tabu tells a story of going to an invitation-only reception at a major comics company he declines to name — he accompanied a charismatic white-guy friend (who talked their way into the reception).  While there, an exec asks Hannibal: Were you invited? Hannibal says: No. The exec says: Well, you know, you have to build an audience before blah blah blah.  Hannibal realizes that this guy is going out of its way to tell him that the door is closed — and he hasn’t even asked Marvel for anything….  In the process of telling the story, he accidentally names the comics company (Marvel).

Khary Randolph notes that black artists get asked to do black characters — and only black characters. “But I like drawing Spider-Man, too.”

Joe Illidge: “It’s progressive segregation. It’s putting all the black people into Wakanda.”

Joe Illidge: “You can’t just look out for yourself.  We have to look out for each other…. If anything, being black has given me more empathy for others” — specifically other underrepresented groups.


Behind the Music: Fantasy, Fiction, and Fandom

Friday, 21 July 2017

Behind the Music panel

Program description: “Fantasy Fanatic or Composer Connoisseur? Come join CW3PR and Impact24 PR to hear about what makes your favorite fiction stories so FANTASTIC. Some of the top composers around will give insight on how they contribute to many of the most popular fantasy/fiction titles in the TV and film worlds. This will be a can’t-miss, colorful, fascinating journey into the minds of the industry’s most imaginative! Panelists include Jeff Russo (composer, Legion, Fargo), Sean Callery (composer, Jessica Jones, Homeland, 24), Mac Quayle (composer, Mr. Robot, American Horror Story, Feud), Kris Bowers (composer, Dear White People), Siddhartha Khosla (composer, This Is Us, The Runaways), Joseph LoDuca (composer, The Evil Dead series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand), and Blake Neely (composer, The Flash, Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale) with celebrity moderators Rachel Keller (Legion, Fargo) and Jeremie Harris (Legion, The Get Down).”

On how they compose music for film & TV —

Jeff Russo (Legion): “I start with a good healthy dose of self-doubt. I then move on to self-loathing. Then I move on to my instinct — how does it make me feel?”

Mac Quayle (joking): “I haven’t mentioned this anywhere before, but Mr. Robot is basically just Feud played backwards, and pitched down a little.”

Advice for aspiring film/TV composers (advice which, I think, works well for many other professions)

Jeff Russo: Never say no.

Mac Quayle: It’s not necessarily about what you can do, but it’s about how fast you can do it.

Sean Callery: I think when you’re playing back your music for a showrunner and they say “I don’t know about this,” you say, “Oh, cool” — even though your night is just beginning.

Siddhartha Khosla: The most important thing is investing in the relationships you have with the people you work with.

Kris Bowers: Being a good person. Most of the work I’ve got has been through a friend.

Blake Neely: Trust your instincts.

Joseph LoDuca: I agree with the “never say no” part. Everyone who is here is here because they said “yes” no matter how anxious they were when they said it.


Comics as a Force for Social Change

Friday, 21 July 2017

Program description: “Panelists discuss the importance of comics in today’s turbulent political landscape and how comics authors and illustrators can foster social change both by creating work that gives underrepresented communities a voice and bring new diverse talent into the spotlight as well as by using their influence to shake up the culture and norms of the literary world. Thi Bui (The Best We Could Do), John Jennings and Damian Duffy (Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation), Rachel Ignotofsky (Women in Science), Kate Schatz (Rad Women Worldwide), and Miriam Klein Stahl (Rad Women Worldwide) share their ideals with Dr. Travis Langley (Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth).”

This panel featured great panelists and a moderator who seemed unaware of the panel’s topic.  Rather than ask his panelists about the subject, Dr. Travis Langley instead genially lobbed them very general questions.  To their credit, the panelists managed to steer us back towards the panel’s ostensible topic.

Damian Duffy: Comics allow you to take control of images, as a reader, in a private space.

Thi Bui: We have a problem in the US with forgetting history.  My son is 11 and I can have deep conversations about history with him because he’s read Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa series about 20 times, and Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales.

John Jennings: Literacy is not just reading and writing.  It’s multimodal.  Political literacy, social literacy.  …. It’s very empowering because anyone can make a comic.  You can draw it, take it to a copy shop and make a comic.  It’s subversive that way.

Thi Bui: One of the reasons that I gravitated toward comics is because I was making sculpture, and no one I knew could afford to buy them.  But if I make comics, and I make them cheap, then everyone can get in on that and buy it.

John Jennings: Comics are real.  They’re sequential images.

Rachel Ignotofsky: Comics are fun. And they represent who people are or who they want to become. And because comics represent who you are, it’s important to tell different kinds of stories.

Damian Duffy: There’s a deeper honesty to comics because of presence of author/artist — sense that they’re there telling you a story.

Thi Bui: I made my comic in response to movies about Vietnam — but for really cheap.  Comics are helpful for revisiting familiar narratives.  You become callous when you think you know something, and comics can give you a different perspective.

John Jennings: I think comics are inherently surreal, and I think that’s an advantage.  Comics speak symbolically.  Because everything in a comic is a picture, comics can…

Kate Sanchez: The community of comic-book makers.  Comic-Con was a place for socially awkward comics creators to interact…. Comics are an intense craft.

John Jennings on comics: Insiders see content; outsiders see form.  And form is a lot easier to push than content.

Man in audience from UN [who also has a panel on Sunday]: The UN in 2015 launched 17 sustainable development goals — gender equality, climate action, ….  And we’ve created a website called Comics Uniting Nations.  We’re doing one on Syrian refugees.  If there’s a way we could connect with you on these…?


Spotlight on March creators Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Saturday, 22 July 2017

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

Program description: “The record-breaking success of the March trilogy by Civil Rights icon John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell has pushed the comics medium to incredible new heights. March is the first graphic novel to win the National Book Award, Coretta Scott King Book Award, or Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the first graphic novel since Maus to reach the New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller list, and the first book in history to receive four simultaneous awards from the American Library Association. Now, join the authors for an emotional look back at their stunning accomplishment-and the way it’s inspiring new generations to speak up, speak out, and move their feet.”

This was the best panel that I saw.  They spoke the truth, and they did so eloquently, passionately.  Congressman Lewis spoke with clarity, compassion, and the conviction that comes from having faced violence for his beliefs. Both Aydin and Powell spoke with an emotional vulnerability that was very moving.

John Lewis: “We’re three southerners — we grew up in the deep south.  But we’ve been touched by the spirit of history.”

John Lewis: “I come here today because I’m very hopeful and very optimisitc about the future.   In spite of it all, we must never ever give up.  We must never ever lose that sense of hope — that we can overcome, that we can prevail, and that we can win a victory for all humanity”

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell: March Book OneJohn Lewis: “Dr. King inspired me to get in trouble — what I call ‘good trouble,’ necessary trouble.  And now more than ever before, we need to get in trouble.  When you see something that is not right, not just, we have a moral and mission and a mandate to speak up — and get in trouble.  And come to that point when you will not let anything turn you around.”

John Lewis: “I meet a lot of people who come up to me and they say ‘Congressman Lewis, I need a hug,’ and I say ‘well, we all need a hug.'”

John Lewis: “We are never too young, too old to March”

John Lewis: “I got arrested 40 times in the ’60s, and another 5 times since I’ve been in Congress.”

Audience applause followed this statement.

Andrew Aydin, whose mother died a few weeks ago, speaks of the people who aren’t on the stage, but who enabled them to be up on the stage.

Andrew Aydin: “We need a new generation who will stand up and will not follow this leader [Trump].”

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell: March Book TwoAndrew Aydin says of John Lewis he “showed me that the Civil Rights Movement was filled with nerds.”

Andrew Aydin: “Today is a celebration of all the outsiders.  Today is a celebration of what can be done with no power, no money, no ideas.  Just a piece of paper and some ink.”

“The last thing I said to my mother was that I promise to do good with my life.”

“When you see something like March happen, you know it is because of someone’s love.”

Not a dry eye in the house after — and during — Andrew Aydin’s speech.

Nate Powell is grateful for librarians and teachers who have made March part of the curriculum.

Nate Powell: “Young people hunger for what is just out of reach.  Young people hunger for a map to get there.”

Nate Powell: “It’s been a weird year to be a parent… .  Seeing social and legal progress get undone.”

Nate Powell: “It’s not that March works despite being a comic.  It works because it’s a comic.  We’ve all had our lives transformed by comics.  It’s an honor to be able to contribute.”

Nate Powell: “As we were dong March, we realized that the story we were telling was less about 1964 1965 and more about 2016, 2017, 2018….”

“We are amidst an information war.  … No matter what happens, remember what you know is true in life.  There are things called facts.  I did not anticipate that we would have to rekindle a fight for the legitimacy of these accounts.”

Nate Powell: “If you have been inspired by March, now is the time to take that forward, now is the time to remember that you are far from alone.  This is not a drill.  Thank you for doing everything you do to stay loud, to stay vocal, to show up.  Thanks.”

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

They emphasize that they’d like questions from young people and educators.

First question is from a Bernie bro, who asks: why did you support Hillary Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders?

Crowd grumbles audibly. Andrew Aydin offers brief answer, noting that Sanders poached some of Congressman Lewis’s staff and, upon seeing Lewis one day, shouts down the hall at him, “Any more staff that I can steal?” He doesn’t elaborate. Bernie bro wants to ask another question, but he is asked to stand aside.

Q: how can we move hearts and minds now?

John Lewis: “It is very important that we tell the truth…. make it plain, make it clear.”

John Lewis: “During the Civil Rights movement, before they would beat us and jail us, they would beat the reporters, beat the photograpehrs.”

Andrew Aydin: “If we don’t have a shared understanding of truth, if we don’t have a shared understanding of how we got here,… if we let the lies stands, then we’re ceding the first battle.  And that’s the big one.”

Question from Ebony Elizabeth Thomas: “The barrage of fake news and lies, that divide us from one another.  One of my mother’s points is that fake news is not new.  How can we help young people distinguish fake news from real?”

John Lewis: “We have to make truth available to young people, but also to their parents.  We need to have people tune in and not tune out.”

Heidi Tandy captured Lewis’s full answer:

Student asks for way to make difference on college campuses.

John Lewis: “We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about love, and say ‘I love you.’  I see members of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, and I say ‘I love you brother,’ ‘I love you sister.’ ‘How was your break?’ We shouldn’t be afraid to be more human — we all need to be a little more human.”

College student asks how we can transform people from slacktivists into activists.

Nate Powell: “Use that [sharing on social media] as a stepping stone to show up in real life.  ….There is value in spreading things on social media, but that’s only the first step.”

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell: March Book ThreeAndrew Aydin: “It takes about 300-500 votes to get elected to most municipal posts.  It’s easy to get that many likes on Facebook.  Imagine if people put that energy into organizing races.”

Q: “I’m a high school student and I have two questions for you guys.  What do you like about your jobs?”

John Lewis: “I love my job. I love meeting people. I love trying to make things happen.  I love speaking up for health care.  I happen to believe that health care is a right.

Q: “My second question: in September, can you come to my school to tell my classmates how we can change the world together?”

Andrew: “We can work something out.”

Student says “In case you’re wondering, I go to Gabrolina [? I didn’t catch the name] High School.”

John Lewis: “We have a right to know what is in the water we drink, what is in the air we breathe, what is in the food we eat.”

Nate Powell: “Activism works because people are thinking creatively and nimbly and doing things that folks don’t anticipate…. What is going to work is almost always the thing that has not been considered yet.”

African American woman in audience, standing next to her son (who is tall): “I worry every day that my son is not going to come home, that some barbarian in a uniform is going to mistake my son for a 20-year-old or a 30-year-old….”

Journalist from Mexico asks for encouraging words.

John Lewis responds: “People who make sacrifices for justice will be remembered.  Their story will be told.”

John Lewis: “You must never ever give up — never lose that sense of hope. You must believe deep within that you will have that victory.  …Some people may be murdered.  That happened during the civil rights movement.  Build a strong movement, and you will overcome.”


Spotlight on Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Spotlight on Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim: title slide

Program description: “Legendary French cartooning couple Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim are the duo behind Poppies of Iraq, a nuanced and tender chronicle of Findakly’s relationship with her homeland, Iraq. Trondheim brings Findakly’s memories to life in a poignant family portrait that covers loss, tragedy, love, and the loneliness of exile. Join Findakly and Trondheim for their spotlight session, moderated by Karen Green (curator for comics and cartoons and librarian for ancient and medieval history at Columbia University).”

Lewis Trondheim, Karen Green, Brigitte Findakly, and translator

Karen Green: Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Zeina Abirached’s A Game of Swallows.  Why is it women who are telling these stories?

Lewis & Brigitte both mention Riad Sattouf (who is male, and thus a counter-example).

Brigitte: There’s something about these kinds of stories where you’re not necessarily ready to tell them immediately.  You need the chance to digest and to crystallize, and for the story to become clearer.  For me, it was what was going on in Iraq in the past few years that made it necessary to tell these stories.

Lewis: Sometimes people say, “Is there a need for any more books about the middle east?”  I say “Is there any need for R. Crumb if Art Spiegelman is also doing autobiography?”

Karen: Why the photographs?

Lewis: The photos were on the website of Le Monde; it was never our intention to include them in the book.

Brigitte: I felt like putting the photos in made it feel like the person was sitting next tom me, I like I was showing them a family album or something along those lines.

Brigitte: You’ll notice that most of the photos that are in the book are from an older time. It didn’t feel right to put the more recent photos in the book.

Karen: scattered throughout the book, you have these “In Iraq,” you have these little interludes”

Lewis: A spotlight.

Karen: A spotlight.

Karen: There is this breakneck contrast between memory and the present.  There’s almost like a constant punctuation of destruction.  Was this an attempt to unsettle the reader?

Lewis: It was not our intent.  We started to do the story for Le Monde.  And then things happened in the news.  I wanted to link the past and the present together.

They started to work on the book when Isis invaded Mosul.

Lewis: One of the things that happened was when the Paris attacks happened is that everyone called to see that we were OK.

Lewis: Even if we are living in the south of France, they are worried.

Brigitte: Only when I came to France did I learn how dangerous Iraq was — both because of news and because my parents could talk openly.

Brigitte: As a child in Iraq, there were many coup d’etats.  And the consequence — as a child — was that there was no school the next day.

Karen: What country do you think of as home, when you think of home?

Brigitte: I don’t think of myself as Iraqi or as French.  I don’t have that sense of home with either place.

Lewis [joking]: We’ve lived in the same place for 17 years, and one reason is she doesn’t like the house very much.  I think she likes nothing.

[Audience laughs, as does Brigitte.]

Brigitte: I do like change, I like travel.  Whenever I go somewhere, I like to learn about it.


Unconventional Comics

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Unconventional Comics panel

Left to right: Andrew Farago, R. Sikoryak, Melanie Gillman, Gemma Correll, Simon Hanselmann

Panel description: “Comics are all about super powers and saving the world, right? Discover the rich and growing market for comics that may lack super-powered heroes but are super all the same. Moderator Andrew Farago (Cartoon Art Museum) discusses with panelists R. Sikoryak (Terms and Conditions), Simon Hanselmann (Megg & Mogg), Gemma Correll (The Worrier’s Guide to Life), and Melanie Gillman (As the Crow Flies) how they were inspired to write their unconventional books and why the comics format was right for their work.”

Andrew Farago: Do you consider yourselves to be unconventional comics? 

R. Sikoryak: All comics are unconventional.

Melanie Gillman: The word “unconventional” often gets applied to experiences that don’t get represented in “mainstream” circles — non-binary, queer people, people of color — maybe that’s what we’re talking about.

Gemma Correll: That word offers a narrow definition of what comics are.

Simon Hanselmann: I think I’m on the wrong panel. I was supposed to be on meat-and-potatoes comics. [On his comics:] It’s essentially just The Simpsons with more drugs.  Should I go?

Andrew Farago: Did you all grow up as comics readers?  And were they conventional?

R. Sikoryak: I grew up with mass-market mainstream comics.  I grew up reading Peanuts, newspaper comics, superhero comics, Marvel comics.  But I was a weirdo.  Maybe the comics were conventional but I wasn’t.

Melanie Gillman: My household we didn’t have comics.  So for me, early comics were comics sold and marketed as picturebooks.  The Raymond Briggs books, some Maurice Sendak books were comics.

Gemma Correll: Raymond Briggs, Posy Simmonds, Beano, Bunty.  But I read more history.

Simon Hanselmann: I grew up with Asterix, Tintin, Garfield, Punch, lots of manga.  I went through a Marvel trash period.  Then I found Black Hole and Eightball….

Andrew Farago: [question on influences]

R. Sikoryak: Things are different than they were in the early ’80s.  There were definitely trailblazers for me.  I was lucky to work with Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly when they were putting out RAW magazine, and they were pushing boundaries.

Melanie Gillman: I was indebted early on to queer women web cartoonists.  Lucy Knisley

Gemma Correll: Julie Doucet.

Simon Hanselmann: Self-publishing since the ’80s, and smoke a lot of weed.  So,… pffff.

Audience

R. Sikoryak says his audience includes “people who like to waste their time on the internet.”  Melanie Gillman agrees, and notes that lack of gatekeepers have helped them get their work out there.

On-line audience

Simon Hanselmann: I’ve gotten a couple of death threats.

Gemma Correll: Me, too.  My friend actually went to the trouble of finding the mothers of the teen-age boys making the death threats.

Andrew Farago: reason that people made death threats?

Gemma Correll: Feminism.

Simon Hanselmann: cross-dressing.

“Fetishism is keeping the book industry alive” — Simon Hanselmann


Spotlight on Sonny Liew

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Sonny Liew and Paul Levitz

Panel description: “Sonny Liew discusses his Eisner-nominated The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, his three-continent journey to find sources of creativity, the comics culture in Singapore, and his collaborations with Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Superman) and Paul Levitz (former DC publisher), who will moderate the conversation.”

Sonny Liew: My first big comic was with a Singapore newspaper, a daily tabloid. I was a philosophy student at Cambridge, and on holiday, when I sent my strip to the paper.

By the time I was 19, we had email. (Sonny Liew is in his early ’40s.  )

Sonny came to RISD to learn to draw to paint.  Didn’t take art courses at Cambridge.

Sonny Liew: My parents were always very supportive of what I wanted to do.

The Flight anthology helped established me here in the U.S.  A popular anthology.

I had done Frankie, … [and others] that all featured female protagonists.  So, I ended up doing Jane Austen adaptations at one point.

My heroes at the time were Chester Brown, Dan Clowes.

Paul Levitz compares Charlie Chan to Chris Ware’s Building Stories in its scope and ambition.

Initially, Sonny Liew had thought that other friends would illustrate parts of the book [The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye] in different styles, but he couldn’t explain it in a way that would convince them.  He couldn’t initially interest a publisher in it.

Paul Levitz: So… how do you do it?  You get a grant from the government to insult them?

Sonny Liew initially thought he could finish in a year, but he couldn’t.  So, the Singaporean publisher redrew the grant — applied for a new grant.

Paul Levitz: Which artist’s style you had Charlie work in at different times?  Carl Barks, Walt Kelly, who else?

Sonny Liew:

  • Frank Miller
  • Kurtzman, Kirby, and Tatsumi (combined)
  • Herge
  • [others I failed to note]

Audience question on use of humor.  Why Liew used humor — why silliness –?

Sonny Liew: I don’t think about adding humor in a conscious way. So, humor and comics seems to me very much part of its language.

Paul Levitz: What’s next?  You should be positioned to do anything you want at this moment in your career.

Sonny Liew: I want to do a book on capitalism, but it’s a lot of research.  I’m maybe three months into the research, and it’s a lot of research.  [Thomas] Piketty — I’m reading around in the book.

The next project isn’t quite concrete yet, and so he’s not sure which publisher.

Audience question: What would you like other artists to take away from your work?  What would you like them to be inspired?

Sonny Liew: Comic art in Singapore — showing people in Singapore that they can get published and create comics.


That’s all.  Apologies for errata — I did edit my notes, but only lightly.  If you spot errors, feel free to point them out and I’ll make corrections.


My previous years’ reports from Comic-Con:

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Children’s Literature and Comics/Graphic Novels at MLA 2017

MLA 2017 in Philadelphia (logo)In January, before the kleptocracy,

In Philly, mourning an ailing democracy,

Find comfort, anxiety, knowledge, and despair!

(When academics gather, these tend to be there.)

January fifth through eighth, at the MLA,

We’ll meet and think. We’ll eat and drink. What do you say?

Ahem. Here are all the sessions on children’s literature and/or comics/graphic novels at the 2017 MLA in Philadelphia. What do I mean by “all”?  Well, I did not count sessions with a single paper on comics/graphic novels. To be included here, at least 50% of the session must be devoted to children’s/YA literature, comics/graphic novels, or cultures of childhood more generally.  If I wasn’t sure, I erred on the side of inclusion.

Note: Clicking on the session number will take you directly to the MLA’s on-line program, which is my source for all of this information.


9. Reimagining Adolescence: Where Are We Going, Where Have We Been?

Thursday, 5 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 102B, Pennsylvania Convention Center

A special session

Presiding: Nancy C. Backes, Cardinal Stritch Univ.

  1. “Austen and Adolescence,” Shawn Lisa Maurer, Coll. of the Holy Cross
  2. “Adultescents, Kidults, and Rejuveniles: Children’s Literature for Adults and Remapping the Boundaries of Age and Audience,” Michelle Ann Abate, Ohio State Univ., Columbus
  3. “The Inertia of Male Adolescence,” David Bleich, Univ. of Rochester

Subject:

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27. Getting Religion: Children’s Literature as Sacred Text

Thursday, 5 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 111B, Pennsylvania Convention Center

Program arranged by the forums GS Children’s and Young Adult Literature and TC Religion and Literature

Presiding: Lisa M. Gordis, Barnard Coll.; Karin E. Westman, Kansas State Univ.

  1. “Intertwining Histories: Catechisms and the Emergence of Eighteenth-Century Children’s Literature,”Gabrielle Owen, Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln
  2. “Christian Science Children’s Fiction, 1900–10,” Anne Stiles, St. Louis Univ.
  3. “Nazi Children’s Literature and the Formation of the Holy Reich,” Michael Lackey, Univ. of Minnesota, Morris
  4. “Characterizing Religion: The Lives and Afterlives of Stock Religious Characters in Japanese Picturebooks from the 1950s to the Present,” Heather Blair, Indiana Univ., Bloomington

Subject:

Keywords:


189. Reading and Seeing Modernism and Graphic Narrative: Form, Medium, Aesthetics

Friday, 6 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., 111B, Pennsylvania Convention Center

A special session

Presiding: Andrew Hoberek, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia

Speakers: Olivia Badoi, Fordham Univ.; Sheila Liming, Univ. of North Dakota; Ben Novotny Owen, Ohio State Univ., Columbus; John Paul Riquelme, Boston Univ.; Janine M. Utell, Widener Univ.

Responding: David M. Ball, Dickinson Coll.

Session Description:

Participants examine graphic narrative and modernism from a critical stance shaped by emphasis on comics as formal container for responses to modernity. We pay attention to narrative and its devices; print technology, artistic medium, and their relation to aesthetics; and memory and the conceptual.

Subjects:


210. Graphic Narratives

Friday, 6 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., 410, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the forum LLC Luso-Brazilian

Presiding: Cesar Braga-Pinto, Northwestern Univ.

  1. “Superbacana: Songs, Graphic Narratives, and Social Tension in the Late 1960s in Brazil,” Carlos Pires, Universidade de São Paulo
  2. “Comics Poetry and Poema/Processo,” Jonathan R. Bass, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick
  3. “Brazilian Quadrinistas and the Franco-Belgian Market of Science Fiction and Fantasy Graphic Novels: A Marriage of Convenience,” Henri-Simon Blanc-Hoang, Defense Language Inst.
  4. “Graphic Spaces of Rights,” Leila Maria Lehnen, Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque

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244. Remediating Boundaries between Children’s Print and Digital Media

Friday, 6 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., 305-306, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the forum GS Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Presiding: Peter Kunze, Univ. of Texas, Austin

  1. “Pat, Press, and Spot: Translating Tactility between Traditional and Technological Books,” Emily Brooks, Univ. of Florida
  2. “Young Adult Literature and the Queer Politics of Artistic Fan Production,” Angel Matos, Bowdoin Coll.
  3. “The Hero of Time: Shigeru Miyamoto’s The Legend of Zelda as Children’s Literature,” Chamutal Noimann, Borough of Manhattan Community Coll., City Univ. of New York

Subject:

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281. “Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound”: Psychoanalysis, Comics, and Architecture

Friday, 6 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 112A, Pennsylvania Convention Center

Program arranged by the American Psychoanalytic Association

Presiding: Vera J. Camden, Kent State Univ., Kent

Speakers: Frederik Byrn Køhlert, Univ. of Calgary; Jimenez Lai, Univ. of California, Los Angeles; Nick Sousanis, San Francisco State Univ.; Jon Yoder, Kent State Univ., Kent

Session Description:

Once considered pure pulp, comics now prevail in architecture studios, psychoanalytic institutes, and university classrooms, as well as in myriad public spaces. This session represents architecture, psychoanalysis, educational psychology, and literature to consider the ways that comics “bound” over disciplinary silos to capture buildings, bodies, and minds in lived environments.

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282. “I Die Daily”: Police Brutality, Black Bodies, and the Force of Children’s Literature

Friday, 6 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 106B, Pennsylvania Convention Center

Program arranged by the Children’s Literature Association

Presiding: Michelle Hite, Spelman Coll.

  1. “Postracial, but Not Postracism: The Romanticization of the Plantation South and the Whitewashing of History in Raina Telgemeier’s Drama,” Michelle Ann Abate, Ohio State Univ., Columbus
  2. “The Promise and Challenge of History: Reckoning with Racism in Out of Darkness,” Ashley Pérez, Ohio State Univ., Columbus
  3. “Runoff: Young African Americans with Disabilities in Landscapes of Sacrifice,” Elizabeth Anne Wheeler, Univ. of Oregon
  4. “Brown Girls Dreaming: Violence, Narrative, and the Politics of the Interior,” Samira Abdur-Rahman, Univ. of Rochester

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298. Race, Science, Speculation

Friday, 6 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 203B, Pennsylvania Convention Center

A special session

Presiding: David Kazanjian, Univ. of Pennsylvania

  1. “The Scientific Roots/Routes of Black Speculative Fiction,” Britt Rusert, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst
  2. “The Little Bushman, New York City’s Colored Orphan Asylum, and the Logic of the Specimen,” Anna Mae Duane, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs
  3. “Apes, Children, Race, and Kinship in Du Chaillu’s Gorilla Country,” Brigitte Fielder, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison
  4. “Flights toward Social Life: Afro-Speculation as Genre and Modality in post-1965 Black American Literature,” Michelle Commander, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville

For abstracts, write to amduane1@gmail.com after 30 Nov.

Subjects:

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353. What Next? Adventures in Episodic and Serial Form

Friday, 6 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Franklin 11, Philadelphia Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Katherine Fusco, Univ. of Nevada, Reno

Speakers:Jacquelyn Ardam, Colby Coll.; Katherine Fusco; Donal Harris, Univ. of Memphis; Andrew Hoberek, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia; Heather A. Love, Univ. of South Dakota; Carter Neal, Indiana Univ., Bloomington

Responding: David M. Ball, Dickinson Coll.

Session Description:

The presentations query how historical moments give rise to the episodic or serial forms they need (or deserve?). With topics including modernist drama, Dada art exhibitions, children’s films, comic books, and the realist novel, the panelists use a PechaKucha format of automatically advancing slides—an innovative style fitting for a session on series and episodes.

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475. Graphic Style and Big Data

Saturday, 7 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., 104A, Pennsylvania Convention Center

Program arranged by the forum LLC 20th- and 21st-Century American

Presiding: Amy Hungerford, Yale Univ.

  1. “Illusions of Progress: Visualization and the Politics of Stylized Time,” Ed Finn, Arizona State Univ.
  2. “Excavating the Present: Richard McGuire’s Here and the Wayback Machine,” Alexander Manshel, Stanford Univ.
  3. “Chris Ware and R. Crumb: From Data to Disgust,” Rebecca Clark, Univ. of California, Berkeley
  4. “The Visual Universalism of Bing Xu’s Book from the Ground,” Lee Konstantinou, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

Subject:

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524. The Life of the Child’s Mind: Rethinking Education and Intellect in Literature for Young People

Saturday, 7 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 106B, Pennsylvania Convention Center

Program arranged by the Children’s Literature Association

Presiding: David Aitchison, North Central Coll.

  1. “Adolescent Fiction as a Boundary Condition: Exploring the Meaning of Reading in a Transitional Genre,”Elisabeth Rose Gruner, Univ. of Richmond
  2. “Smart Equals Queer: The Intellectual Child in Sex Is a Funny Word,” Gabrielle Owen, Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln
  3. “Unbounded Time, Unbounded Intellect: A Teenage ‘Song of Myself’ in John Green’s Paper Towns,” Susan Leary, Univ. of Miami

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539. Adoption in Contemporary Drama and Performance

Saturday, 7 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 110B, Pennsylvania Convention Center

Program arranged by the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture

Presiding: Marina Fedosik, Princeton Univ.

  1. “Adoption Drama in Drama; or, Why Theater Is Adoption’s Most Congenial Genre,” Peggy Phelan, Stanford Univ.
  2. “Psyches Going Solo: Transnational Adoption in Recent Plays from the Twin Cities,” Josephine Lee, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  3. “Seeing into Being: Dis-affiliated Children in Naomi Wallace’s English Plays,” Beth Cleary, Macalester Coll.
  4. “A Cyborg That Explodes Adoption Dualities: Rolin Jones’s Most Intelligent Design,” Martha G. Satz, Southern Methodist Univ.

For abstracts, write to mfedosik@princeton.edu.

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564. Border Conflicts: Migration, Refugees, and Diaspora in Children’s Literature

Saturday, 7 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Franklin 13, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the forum GS Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Presiding: Nina Christensen, Aarhus Univ.; Philip Nel, Kansas State Univ.

  1. “Child Migrants of Another Sort: The Dark Side of British World War II Evacuation Literature,” Lee A. Talley, Rowan Univ.
  2. “Andrij Chaikivsij’s Za Sestroyu, The Ukrainian Weekly, and the Role of Children’s Literature in Negotiations of Diasporic Identity,” Anastasia Ulanowicz, Univ. of Florida
  3. “Hawai‘i’s Unbecoming Children,” Carmen Nolte-Odhiambo, Univ. of Hawai’i, West O’ahu

Subject:

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581. Alien Lines: Science Fiction Comics

Saturday, 7 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., 401-403, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the forums GS Comics and Graphic Narratives and GS Speculative Fiction

Presiding: Aaron Kashtan, Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte

  1. “Don’t Let Them Touch and Despair You: World Construction in the World of The Wrenchies and It Will All Hurt,” Phoebe Salzman-Cohen, Penn State Univ., University Park
  2. “‘This Is How an Idea Becomes Real’: Bodies in Saga,” Daniel John Pinti, Niagara Univ.
  3. “‘I’m Getting Too Good to Ignore’: The Feminist Politics of Sharon Ruhdal’s Dystopian Comics,” Margaret Galvan, New York Univ.
  4. “Feeling The Puma Blues: The Dilution of Science Fiction and the Decline of the Creator within Independent Comics’ Golden Age,” Keith McCleary, Univ. of California, San Diego

For abstracts, visit graphicnarratives.org after 15 Dec.

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594. Narratives of Childhood

Saturday, 7 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Franklin 12, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the forum LLC Luso-Brazilian

Presiding: Leila Maria Lehnen, Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque

  1. “Imagining Another Subjectivity: Childhood and Disability in Cristóvão Tezza’s O filho eterno,” Emanuelle K. F. Oliveira-Monte, Vanderbilt Univ.
  2. “We Are the Children: Youth and Social Criticism in Contemporary Brazilian Cinema,” Antonio Luciano Tosta, Univ. of Kansas
  3. “A infância fragmentada em Dois Irmãos de Milton Hatoum: Searching for an Answer to the Question ‘Se Deus é brasileiro, todos somos brasileiros?,'” Mónica Ayala-Martinez, Denison Univ.

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646. Placing Gender in the Graphic Novel

Saturday, 7 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Independence Ballroom Salon III, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the forum TC Women’s and Gender Studies

Presiding: Pamela Brown, Univ. of Connecticut, Stamford

  1. Cuba My Revolution: Una novela gráfica e histórica para mejor cumplir las políticas del mercado,” Mabel Cuesta, Univ. of Houston, University Park
  2. “The Latent Image: Biopolitics and Diegetic Levels in Lila Quintero-Weaver’s Graphic Novel Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White, in an Aesthetics and Human Rights Course,” Karina Elizabeth Vázquez, Univ. of Richmond
  3. “Transnational Bodies and Gendered Representations in Operación Bolívar, by Edgar Clément, and La perdida, by Jessica Abel,” Tania Pérez-Cano, Univ. of Pittsburgh

For abstracts, write to pambrown12@gmail.com.

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650. Invisible Made Visible: Comics and Mental Illness

Saturday, 7 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salon I, Philadelphia Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Jessica Gross, St. Louis Coll. of Pharmacy; Leah Misemer, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

Speakers: Jeanine Ashforth, Univ. of South Florida; Elizabeth J. Donaldson, New York Inst. of Tech., Old Westbury; Keegan Lannon, Dominican Univ.; Claire Latxague, Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier 3

Session Description:

Panelists explore how the visual medium of comics paradoxically explores invisible mental illnesses by depicting internal emotional and mental states. They also consider the historical relation between comics and mental illness and discuss how comics can create communities of people who feel—or are—invisible within society at large.

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663. Barely Legal: Erotic Innocence at Nineteen

Saturday, 7 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 203B, Pennsylvania Convention Center

Program arranged by the forum GS Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Presiding: Marah Gubar, Massachusetts Inst. of Tech.

Speakers: Ellis Hanson, Cornell Univ.; Natasha Hurley, Univ. of Alberta; Kenneth Byron Kidd, Univ. of Florida; Derritt Mason, Univ. of Calgary; Carol Mavor, Univ. of Manchester

Responding: James R. Kincaid, Univ. of Southern California

Session Description:

Scholars working in Victorian studies, art history, queer theory, film studies, and children’s literature and childhood studies discuss how the controversial work of James R. Kincaid has transformed their fields.

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676. Cash Bar Arranged by the Forum GS Comics and Graphic Narratives

Saturday, 7 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Franklin 4, Philadelphia Marriott


783. The Nonhuman Turn in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century British Children’s Literature

Sunday, 8 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., 102B, Pennsylvania Convention Center

A special session

Presiding: Shun Kiang, Stetson Univ.

  1. “Soulless Innocents: Dolls and Their Girls,” Amy Murray Twyning, Univ. of Pittsburgh
  2. “Good Neighbours, Beasties, and Bogles: Celebrating Nonhumans in Scottish Children’s Literature,”Maureen Farrell, Univ. of Glasgow
  3. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Medieval Bestiary and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,”Kathryn Walton, York Univ., Keele

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787. Graphic Narrative, Comics, and Temporality

Sunday, 8 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Franklin 13, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the forum GS Comics and Graphic Narratives

Presiding: Martha B. Kuhlman, Bryant Univ.

  1. “Past and Present Colors: Drawing Style as Temporal Framework in Comics,” Rikke Platz Cortsen, Univ. of Texas, Austin
  2. “‘Paradise Now’: Messianic Time in the Iranian Graphic Protest Novel,” Charlotta Salmi, Univ. of Birmingham
  3. “Drawing the Anthropocene? Intimacy and Antihuman ‘Deep Time,'” Aarnoud Rommens, Univ. of Liege
  4. “Reading in the Deep: Time and the Z-Axis in Richard McGuire’s Here and Dan Clowes’s Patience,” Joshua Kopin, Univ. of Texas, Austin

For abstracts, visit graphicnarratives.org after 15 Dec.

Subject:

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Dancing on the Manhole Cover: The Genius of Richard Thompson (at The Comics Journal)

Richard Thompson, The Complete Cul de SacThe great Richard Thompson, creator of the best comic strip of the 21st century (so far), passed away last week.  If you don’t know his Cul de Sac, you really should.  The easiest way to acquaint yourself with its (and his) genius is to pick up a copy of The Complete Cul de Sac — two volumes, covering all 5 years, with an introduction by Art Spiegelman.

In case you need further persuasion, you might take a look at my brief essay in today’s issue of The Comics Journal.  Here’s a little excerpt:

Its ability to generate joy in each rereading is one reason that Cul de Sac will endure, even though its creator has left us. Richard Thompson lives on in his work precisely because his work is so alive. His line is loose but solid, scribbly yet calligraphic, energetic but focused. Each panel of Cul de Sac — heck, each corner of each panel — is full of art, humor, and character.

And here’s a Cul de Sac:

Richard Thompson, Cul de Sac, Feb 2011

Many other great tributes and essays:

More Cul de Sac posts on this blog:

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A Report from Comic-Con 2016

Designated Survivor ad, side of building, downtown San Diego, 20 July 2016[Taps microphone.] Greetings, fellow nerds, fans, and affiliated wanderers! If I may interrupt the daily (hourly?) reports of chaos and pain that saturate your newsfeed, I’ll bring you what I hope is a satisfying report from this year’s Comic-Con. Yes, while the Republican National Convention was busy opening a hellmouth in Cleveland, I was in San Diego, learning and talking about comics. In some wonderful ways, Comic-Con is the opposite of our contemporary dystopian moment.  In other ways, it’s also symptom of that same moment.

Sure, I’m aware that Comic-Con is now an entertainment-industry promotion-palooza (also featuring comics). I know that every available surface entices us to consume (watch the new show, buy the action figure, get the Lego set, etc.). And I’d love it if it comics were more of a central focus than they now are.

But to accentuate the positive for a moment, Comic-Con is a community of nice people — whether they’re comics people or TV-and-film people, whether they’re immersed in a fandom or not, whether they’re cosplaying or dressed as civilians. (I cosplay as a middle-aged English professor. This is my third Comic-Con, and my, er, costume is getting more convincing every year, if I do say so myself.)

So, read on for G. Willow Wilson, Jeff Smith, Kate Beaton, tips on teaching with comics, random observations from yours truly, and more!


WEDNESDAY

Temperatures Rising

Walking Dead: ID for ComicCon 2016Situated on the coast of southern California, San Diego’s weather is predictably pleasant. Usually. After landing midday on Wednesday, I took the bus to several blocks from my hotel, and walked… getting hotter and hotter. Daily, temperatures edged into the upper 80s Fº (above 30º C), a trend that will become normal as the climate changes. In response to more imminent existential threats, this is the first year that Comic-Con no longer uses paper badges in a plastic sleeve. Each person’s badge has a unique ID card that must be scanned every time she or he enters or leaves the convention center. Conference sponsor The Walking Dead was on this year’s badge. Enjoy that metaphor because it will return.

Teaching with Comics

Teaching With Comics panel

I started my Comic-Con by drawing pictures. From 4 to 6 pm, at the San Diego Central Library, Peter Carlson (Green Dot Public Schools), Antero Garcia (Colorado State University), and Susan Kirtley (Portland State University) led a workshop featuring classroom educators Samantha Diego, James Kelley, and Jenn Anya Prosser.

Susan Kirtley (a 2013 Eisner-winner for her book on Lynda Barry) asked us what comics are, which is always great because there are so many different definitions. After people offered some answers, she highlighted the answers of Will Eisner, Scott McCloud, Dylan Horrocks, though of course we could bring in others (as I expect she would have, had she more time) such as Thierry Groensteen, Charles Hatfield, or Hillary Chute.

Her comments reminded me, also, that some people face resistance to teaching classes on comics.  She told us that if people are skeptical of why you’re teaching comics, to tell them you’re “teaching graphic narratives as a way to promote multimodal literacy.” Resistance to studying comics interests me because it’s one of the most complex narrative media ever invented. There is so much to say about it.

She also took us through a few exercises.  One was this, which is inspired by Ivan Brunetti’s single-panel comic exercise in Cartooning Philosophy and Practice.

Kirtley (inspired by Brunetti) slide

We had 1-2 minutes to do this.  Here’s what I came up with for Guus Kuijer’s The Book of Everything.

Nel, The Book of Everything, in 4 panels (created in 1-2 mins.)

She then had us all do a one-panel version.  In Cartooning Philosophy and Practice, Brunetti does a single-panel Catcher in the Rye.  It’s brilliant.

Ivan Brunetti, Catcher in the Rye

Mine — done in 1 minute — for The Book of Everything is not brilliant. Obviously.

Nel, The Book of Everything, in 1 panel (created in 1-2 mins.)

But this brings me to another key part of her pedagogy. She does these exercises with her students. “I do it when they do it,” she says, because that levels the critical plain.  She also encourages us teachers to reward students’ risk-taking at moment of assessment: “Make it OK for students to fail — and don’t penalize them for that.” Susan builds in rubrics that take into account the entire process. I like this.

Peter Carlson and Samantha Diego spoke on “Engaging Readers, Empowering Writers, Creating Communities: Civic Superheroes,” via the idea of the superhero.  They asked us:

What superpowers do you want?

Why?

Those questions elicit an array of profound responses. One grade-school student had told them invisibility to prevent the other kids from making fun of her appearance.  In our older crowd, answers included persuasion, and healing.  I and at least one other audience member chose healing as our superpower.  When I talked with Susan afterwards, she said that this superpower — healing — really appealed to her, too.  This makes sense. As we age, mortality looms larger. In the Dallas airport, en route to Comic-Con, I read a 43-year-old friend’s (likely) final column for her local paper. Aided by an unrelenting brain tumor, death will likely claim her before the year is out. As I’ve written elsewhere on this blog, we all must face the inevitability of our own deaths. I don’t conceive of the healing superpower as an end-run around death, but a way to alleviate suffering on that journey towards the moment when our time finally runs out. For her, perhaps the superpower could buy her more time or at least enable her to retain her cognitive abilities. Even superpowers have limits, I know.

G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel: No NormalReturning to the exercise, some follow-up questions from Carlson and Diego:

What would you do with those powers?

Where would you go?

Who would you become?

They also suggested that the first issue of a comic — say, Ms. Marvel or Storm — can be a good way into these discussions.

Jenn Anya Prosser had us close-read some panels, but I failed to take notes on that (since it’s something I already do). Antero Garcia and James Kelly addressed why we should teach science and English together, and suggested that comics can be a great way to have these conversations.  Comics ask big questions:

What does it mean to be human?

What does it mean to be mutant?

What does it mean to be other?

What does it mean to be?

Science addresses these questions, too. They can also help students think about genetics, viz:

Garcia & Kelly's slide

Preview Night

Afterwards, it was Preview Night!  Though we could have gone to watch previews of not-yet-released shows, Susan Kirtley and I instead zeroed in on the comics sections of the exhibit hall, where I squandered aimlessly — well, not entirely aimlessly. As usual, I bought more than I should — both that night and on subsequent days. But accumulating books is an occupational affliction.  And, hey, it’s good to give your spine a workout, right?

ComicCon 2016: Phil's books and swag

Also, on Preview Night, the crowds are not as thick as they become on subsequent days.  But the hall is always something of a sensory overload.  I sometimes think that Comic-Con should have strategically placed sensory deprivation chambers where Con-goers could sit and decompress for five-to-ten minutes at a time.  There’s a lot to take in.

SDCC exhibit hall floor 21 July 2016

Wonder Woman at 75

From the MAD magazine booth:

MAD: Make America Dumb Again

I chatted with some of my Fantagraphics pals, as well as folks I didn’t know at other booths. Susan and I also met Snoopy — who, to my delight and surprise, did not attempt to sell us any insurance. Then we went off to dinner & had a great chat! (By “we,” I mean Susan and me. Snoopy declined our invitation. Presumably, that round-headed kid had already fed him.)

Kirtley, Snoopy, & Nel


THURSDAY

The Jogging Dead

Balboa Park is a few blocks east of the Holiday Inn Express I stayed in. So, first thing Thursday morning, I thought: great, I’ll just jog east, find my way into the park, and have a good run! A helpful person at the hotel’s front desk assured me that there were many ways into the park, and pointed me in the right direction.

However, and unlike New York City, San Diego’s streets and signs offer guidance to cars, not pedestrians or runners.  Though Park Boulevard runs along the edge of the park, it offers few points of access to the park itself, and then (when you finally get in) the park has signs promising trails that turn out to dissipate suddenly. As a result, for part of my journey back, I ended up running in the bike lane along Route 5. Like all places in downtown San Diego, I was never far from the city’s robust homeless population — encamped at the edges of city sidewalks, against a fence in the shade of trees on Park Boulevard, and just off the edge of the highway. Luckily for me, they (and other walkers) had beaten a path from Route 5 back to the city streets I sought.

Part of the Comic-Con experience is always the contrast between the shiny abundance promised within the event and the privation of those who live on the streets outside. Whether silently holding a sign asking for help or sound asleep on the ground, San Diego’s homeless are both politely invisible and a vivid reminder of how America actively neglects its most vulnerable.

At first, I thought our Walking Dead ID cards an apt metaphor for the homeless among us, but now I think them a better metaphor for the conference-goer — walking past suffering, declining to admit that we are seeing what we know we’re seeing. I gave one sign-bearing man $5. I think, in future, I should carry small denominations and just give them to each person begging. I honestly don’t know. But I do know that we do need investment in mental health facilities, affordable housing, and job retraining for those down on their luck.  OK, getting off my soapbox and back to the con….

G. Willow Wilson; or, Ms. Marvel Fans Embiggen

G. Willow Wilson panel

To a full room that included at least nine people dressed as Ms. Marvel, Ms. Wilson introduced herself: “I’m Willow Wilson. I tell people: ‘the G is silent.’” Interviewed by her friend Josh (I didn’t get his last name), she told us about herself — which was great because, though I know her Ms. Marvel comics, I did not otherwise know much about her.

Wilson was born in New Jersey, but grew up in Colorado. As for religion, she said, “I was raised an atheist, but I was never very good at it. When I was a teenager, I realized that I was a particular kind of monotheist, but I was embarrassed about it.”  Indeed, when she did convert to Islam, she did so in secret — not telling anyone until later.

She studied Arabic for two years at university, and then at the age of 19 left for Cairo, where she would live for the next five years. Upon arriving, she realized that the Arabic she had learned was classical Arabic, which, she says, “would be like learning how Shakespeare speaks.” So, she had to learn modern Arabic. Which she did. While working there as a journalist, she met her future husband Omar.  They and their two children now live in Seattle.

G. Willow Wilson, Air #1She and Sherman Alexie share a publisher, and live about 12 blocks from each other. When she was starting out (having published, I think, Air, and Cairo), she was headed to a conference. Her publicist advised her: when you get on the plane, look for Sherman Alexie and share a cab after you get there. So, she’s walking through First Class on her way to coach, and Alexie spots her.

Alexie: Are you G. Willow Wilson?

Wilson: Yes.

Alexie: I loved Air!

G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel: Generation WhyOf all that she said during her conversation, this struck me as the most profound: “You are sometimes able to get to people through fiction what you cannot get through to them through the nightly news.”  Her Ms. Marvel is, I think, the embodiment of this very idea.

When Marvel asked her to do Ms. Marvel, Wilson says her “first thought was ‘no’ because there’ll be all kinds of blowback.” She figured she would get lots of hate mail, just as she had gotten for previous work. But, she said, “when Marvel comes to you and says they’ll put their weight behind a project like this, you have to say ‘yes.’ I said ‘yes.’”  Writing the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel comics were “a cool opportunity to shed positive light on a community that does not get a lot of positive attention.”  When the first one was published, she thought: “Brace for impact!” But the impact she expected never really materialized. Sure, there was a little hate mail, but response was mostly positive. She concludes, “It was one of the most life-affirming things I have ever done.”

She concluded her session by reading Chapter One of The Bird King, a new novel set in 1491. As she said before she began, “You guys will be the very first people to hear it who are not paid to like it”

There was only time for two questions at the end.  Here they are.

First question was: Advice for women creators who want to get into the industry? Wilson: “The good news is this is now a discussion we can have without people losing their jobs. People are now taking subjects like harassment, equal access to corridors of power more seriously. But there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Second questioner referenced the fact that there are no black women comics writers (at Marvel or DC), and asked “How does that make you feel when you’re writing one of the most nuanced and awesome [characters of color]”?  Wilson replied, “We need to be in the business of recruiting more people.  I love Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Sitting in the Marvel writers’ room, with him across from me, was one of the highlights of my career. But you shouldn’t need to have a MacArthur Genius grant to get hired to write comics.”

Note: The very next day, Roxane Gay tweeted that she has been hired by Marvel to co-write a comic with Ta-Nehisi Coates.

But the greatest thing about this panel were all the people who dressed as the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel. After the panel was over, they all gathered with Wilson to embiggen!

Ms. Marvels Embiggen!

Cushlamochree! Or, The Kindness of Strangers

GhirardelliAfter lunch, I stopped into the Ghirardelli shop because, well, chocolate.  I had a chocolate ice cream, and reviewed the notes I’d made that morning. In a few hours, I would be appearing on a panel devoted to Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby (1942-1952), which I’m co-editing and Fantagraphics is publishing. (The third volume just came out.)  Typically, I tend to perform a script, or to at least consider the possible questions in advance. But this panel was mostly unscripted, and so I was a little anxious.

A young couple walked past my table, and then walked back, and the young man asked if he could use the plug next to me. I said of course! And I moved over so that he could sit where I had been sitting, and his girlfriend could sit opposite him. He asked what I was doing. I told him. He said: OK, pitch it to me. And… I did. This person who I have never met before listened, offered a little feedback, and helped me talk through the presentation.

I learned a little about him, too. He said, “Not to brag, but I’m the nerdier of us two.” I love that “nerd” is now a term of approbation. When I was his age (a phrase I never used while talking with him), one would not brag about being a nerd! He and his girlfriend are both seniors at San Diego State University: he’s a music major (jazz drummer, in particular). She’s a graphic design major. They were both working for Comic-Con because it grants them a free pass to the conference, and it’s fun to go to Comic-Con. I think her name is Morgan; his name has, unfortunately wandered away from me. If you two happen upon this blog post, thank you!

Encounters like this are what make Comic-Con a welcome respite from the news. There is kindness and generosity in the world. Not enough, but it is out there. It’s our job to make more of it. To quote Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

After that, it was back to the exhibit hall, a quick coffee and a chat with Eric Reynolds, and then…

Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby: What Makes a Great Comic Strip.

Barnaby panel: Tom Spurgeon, Eric Reynolds, Philip Nel, Jeff Smith

This was why I came to Comic Con — to be on this panel!  In the photo, from left to right, that’s The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon, Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds (my pal, and co-editor on the Barnaby books), yours truly, and… Jeff Smith!

Whatever anxiety I’d had vanished instantly. The panel was a delight. As you may already know, Smith is as nice a guy as you would expect the creator of Bone to be. I’m also grateful to him for lending his celebrity to our quixotic endeavor. I’m sure that half of the small audience appeared simply to see him. (There were only about 25 people in a room that seats more like 300.) I hope our conversation — led by Tom Spurgeon — helped move a few copies of Barnaby.

Johnson, Barnaby Vol. 1: Chris Ware blurbYou see, Barnaby is the last great comic strip that has never been collected in full. Its admirers include Charles Schulz, Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Jules Feiffer, Seth, and Daniel Clowes (who designed the books, and would have been on the panel if he’d been on an earlier flight). Told in Johnson’s elegant clear line, Barnaby tells the adventures of its five-year-old title character and Mr. O’Malley, his loquacious, bumbling, endearing con-artist of a fairy godfather. O’Malley is a great character of possibility, allowing Johnson many opportunities to satirize politics, business, or (coming in volume 4) the emerging medium of television. The strip is both topical and a Calvin-and-Hobbes-esque fantasy. Just as only Calvin sees the reality of Hobbes, the children of Barnaby all see the fairy-world characters, but — also like Calvin and HobbesBarnaby’s adults fail to perceive the reality of fantasy. We readers, however, know that O’Malley and friends are real. Barnaby is a beautiful and influential strip, but — like Krazy Kat — it was never a popular strip. At its height, Barnaby was syndicated in a mere 52 papers. By contrast, at the same time, Chic Young’s Blondie was running in 850 newspapers.

Crockett Johnson, Barnaby Vol. Three (1946-1947), ed. Philip Nel & Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics, 2016)

Fantagraphics is committed to bringing out all five volumes of Barnaby, and I love them for that. I also wish we could help find a larger audience. So, if you’re reading this, why not pick up a copy? Encourage your local or college library to pick up these, too, along with Fantagraphics’ many beautiful editions of classic comics (notably Krazy Kat and Peanuts).


FRIDAY

Breakfast with Ebony

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas & Philip Nel at the Broken Yolk, in San Diego, 22 July 2016Friday began at the Broken Yolk, where I had breakfast with Ebony Thomas — whose book The Dark Fantastic should see print in (I am hoping) the next year or two. It’s a really smart way of thinking about how the dark other functions in fantasy. (Make a note of it now, and pick it up when it comes out!)

I actually met Ebony at my very first fan conference — Nimbus 2003, in Florida, thirteen years ago.  I’d written a small book on the Harry Potter series, and they invited me to give a keynote. In this respect, I think our aca-fan (Henry Jenkins’ term for “academic fan”) trajectories are opposite. I went to academic conferences before ever appearing at a fan one, whereas my sense is that she had more fan conference experience prior to becoming an academic.

Part of the fun of conferences — whether academic or fan — is seeing friends, and making new ones.  So, good to see you, Ebony!  Hope you enjoyed the rest of the con!

Keeping It Short

Keeping It Short panel: Abraham Riesman, Kate Beaton, Lisa Hanawalt, Emily Carroll

Moderated by Abraham Riesman, this panel featured Kate Beaton, Lisa Hanawalt, and Emily Carroll.  Though the panel was on short comics, my notes are actually, um, a bit longer than expected.

Abraham Riesman: What short form comics did you read growing up?

Kate Beaton: Sherman’s Lagoon

Lisa Hanawalt: Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes, adult cartoonist B. Kliban

ArchieEmily Carroll: All newspaper strips. I read every one every morning, even if I didn’t like it — I read Rex Morgan every morning. I read a lot of Archie comics, which at the time had no continuity.

AR: What spoke to you about Archie?

Emily: The only comic that had really pretty girls in it.

Lisa: Me, too.  Did you like Betty or Veronica?

A discussion ensued on who preferred Betty, and who Veronica, but I didn’t note it all down.

AR: What does an average workday look like?

Kate: Some cartoonists work 9-5 with lunch breaks, but…

Lisa: I fuck around until 3 every day at least. But usually until 7.

Kate: It might take all day to get into that, until something is actually working.  [Kate then recalled 2 aunts coming to visit at around lunchtime, thinking she’d have a lunch break. That led her to imagine herself saying the following sentence to her aunts.] I just stare at the wall all day until something comes and you ruin my flow?

Emily [adding to Kate’s imagined comment]: Now I have to start wasting time all over again?  I try to start before the afternoon or else I feel bad. But early afternoon is when I start.

AR: How much planning before you draw the finished product?

Emily: I start drawing right away.  Whether it’s the beginning or end — just because I need to see it materializing.

Lisa: For me, it depends. If there’s a narrative, then I have to plan that out. But I also do improv comics. I did some corporate slogans, and the first draft is what got published because it was funniest. Because if I try to make it neater, it’ll be less so.

AR: I love “just fucking do it”

Kate: I write a lot in my head. So, especially, if it’s a three or four panel gag, I have it all in my head.  So, you get a nugget — that’s the angle I’m going to use. And you sort of tumble it around, until you get the right combination of things. If you work too hard on the drawing, it ruins it. I try to go for the energy that comes in the first few lines.

AR: How do you keep the emotion in the artwork?

Emily: My first thought is I only have a few emotions anyway. I either feel angry or guilty or I’m Ok.  …But my general thought is what [I failed to note the rest of her answer]

Kate: You’re not telling people how to feel. You’re showing them how you feel.

AR, to Kate: Any jokes you had to abandon?

Kate: Sure. Not all history is hilarious. You try to bring in a topic that isn’t funny, but should be shared.

AR, to Lisa: what’s funny about birds?

Lisa: What isn’t funny about birds? I just like looking at them — they’re hilarious.

AR: What’s the funniest thing about birds?

Lisa: When a toucan eats a bunch of fruit it [Lisa mimes action of toucan eating fruit, throwing it up into the air, gulping it down. Everyone laughs. She then adds an additional funny bird behavior:] When they sit on their nests.

Lisa Hanawalt, from Hot Dog Taste Test

Kate then offered a short discourse on fecal sacks. The young birds, who cannot yet leave the nest, poop in sacks. This allows the adults to throw their young’s waste out of the nest.  She recalled a grackle who lived near her, and used to decorate her car with these fecal sacks. Her car was blue, the grackles assumed that since it was blue, it must also be water.  Lisa found this story fascinating.  (I did, too.)

AR to Emily [re: earlier question on emotions]: You didn’t mention fear?

Emily: Oh yeah, that’s true.

AR: ‘Cause you write horror. How often are you afraid?

Emily: All the time. Every day.

AR: How much of Anne Herron is true?

Frontier #6: Anne by the Bed

Emily: Anne by the bed?

AR: Yes.

Emily: None of it.  I made it all up.  But it turns out there is an unsolved mystery of an Anne Heron (with one r).

AR: When I interviewed you a few months ago, Kate, you said that cartoonists are horrible to be significant others with at a party because they’re always there drawing.  Is that true for the two of you?

Lisa: I hardly do it anymore. But I used to because I was shy, and I thought it would be an ice breaker.

Emily: I don’t really go to social gatherings. [Laughter from audience.] So, that’s not an issue. I draw less now than I did before.

AR: How much does doodling influence your work?

Kate: Less and less.  Now, you’re like: I really need a different hobby.

All panelists agree that they now do less drawing for fun.

AR: How do you know how to represent time?

Led by Emily’s response, all panelists agree that they go by instinct, and then go back and edit — if it reads too fast, they’ll go back and put in something else to slow it down (says Emily).

All panelists addressed unpublished or unfinished work. All have work that they’ve decided not to publish, nor to continue.

AR: How often to you look at your finished old work?

Lisa: I look at it every couple of years. I go back, and think oh, hey, this is actually pretty funny.

At this point, Kate mentioned she wasn’t feeling well.  She apologized, and left for the washroom.

AR: Is your work ever misunderstood?

The answer to this question (which I failed to record) led to the next one.

AR: How often do you check Twitter, look at comments, or avoid them?

Lisa: I look at everything.  I really should stop.  I even read the Goodreads reviews.

AR: Oh, you shouldn’t do that.

Emily: Oh, I can’t look at those. I do, sometimes.

Did you ever read that Guardian essay about the person who gave bad reviews?

Lisa: Totally obsessed with that. Totally understand. Once I was at a convention, and a lady picked up one of my books, and threw it back down on the desk and ran away. I think about that all the time.

Emily: A few months ago, I just deleted all of my follows except for my wife and the library. So, that way, I couldn’t go and check all my follows. I’m becoming increasingly reclusive, I guess.

Lisa: That [not being on Twitter] sounds nice.

Emily: I realize that even the nice comments didn’t make me feel good!

At this point, Kate returns!

Kate: I’m doing much better.  I had my hair tied back, all ready to rumble.  But it was just poop.

Kate apologizes for including those bodily details.

AR: You’re sitting next to Lisa.

Lisa: I’m like in love with you right now.

Kate [explaining]: I’ve moved to the country, recently, and I don’t drink much any more….

Kate Beaton, Wuthering Heights 1

Kate Beaton, Wuthering Heights 2

AR: How often do you think about Wuthering Heights?

Branwell Brontë's painting of his three sisters, after he painted himself outKate: A lot. I never finished that comic.  I need to.  Anyone ever been to the Bronte parsonage?  I feel like haunted by Branwell [brother of Charlotte, Emily, Anne].  In a family portrait, there’s a weird person-shaped hole because he painted himself out.

AR: Don’t we all feel like a person-shaped hole?

Kate: I did just a few minutes ago.  [Kate then comments on Branwell, who was alcoholic…]  In these [Bronte] books, characters like these brooding frustrated men — like Heathcliff — make me think of Branwell.

In the Q+A, I asked Kate how her process of her picture book The Princess and Pony was different than comics.

Kate said that working closely with an editor was a big difference.  The book is much more polished than her cartoons.  Also, she said, it’s not just a gag. It has a story, and that had to make sense.

In response to a question about (I think) favorite horror narratives, Emily responded, “I like horror that’s really long and boring and nothing happens, and then something maybe happens and then it’s done.”

Questioner asked if they had a reader they trusted who they could turn to for feedback.

Lisa: For me, it’s my partner Adam. But also guys like these — I have a lot. Of cartoonist friends.

Emily: My wife will read over my work. She’ll say it’s too fast or too slow, and I’ll say you don’t understand my process and vision! And then I fix it.

Kate: Don’t read Amazon or Goodreads. [Quoting reviews] “I think there are secret gay people in the book.”  Or “I don’t want to expose my children to farts.”

30 Minutes to Go; brief conversations with Beaton & Sousanis

Kate Beaton's inscribed & illustrated title page for my copy of Step Aside, PopsAfter the panel, I had only 30 minutes before I had to leave. So, I dashed down stairs to the convention hall, where I hoped to meet up with Eisner nominee Nick Sousanis — who’d just arrived earlier that morning — and to say goodbye to the Fantagraphics gang.  Said my farewells to all but Eric (who was moderating a panel), texted back-and-forth with Nick, and decided, well, yes, I could buy just one more book. So, over at the Drawn & Quarterly I bought Kate Beaton’s latest, Step Aside, Pops, which she inscribed and decorated.

I also thanked her for The Princess and the Pony because it’s great to be able to give my princess-obsessed niece a book about a warrior princess. Kate recommended Cherie Priest’s I Am Princess X (2015) and Jeremy Whitley’s Princeless (2012-). I said “Emily’s 5. Would these…?” She said that they’d be for when she’s a bit older. Looking at them on-line, now, I see that I Am Princess X is a YA hybrid comics/text, and that Princeless is marketed to kids from ages nine to 12, which (I think) means that Princeless could be something she’s interested in sooner than that.

Nick arrived when only had about 5 minutes left. I stayed for 10, we chatted, parted, and — along the way back — I realized that, yeah, I really did need the full half hour to walk back to my hotel. Jogging a bit of the way, I narrowly made noon check-out and the shuttle to the airport.  (I had to leave because I’m scheduled to give a keynote at a picture books conference at Kent State on Monday. I’m leaving for that first thing tomorrow morning. Update: American Airlines cancelled my flight. So, I’m now scheduled to leave first thing tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed!)

The End?

So, I still worry that America is slouching towards fascism, that state-sanctioned murder threatens people of color every day, that extremism festers and erupts here (Make America White Again!) and abroad (most recently: Nice, Turkey, Munich, Kabul).  But, for a few days in San Diego, glimpses of a different possible future emerged — a future where people do not fear each other, but care for each other. A future where our interests bring us together. Yes, despair lingered at the edges of the Comic-Con experience, as it always does. However, the con was mostly a respite from the violence and hopelessness that afflicts us. And I’m grateful for that.

My previous years’ reports from Comic-Con:

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Children’s Literature and Comics/Graphic Novels at MLA 2016

MLA Convention: Austin, Texas, Jan. 2016

Attending MLA in Austin, Texas this January? These are all MLA sessions devoted* to children’s literature, children’s culture, or comics/graphic novels. There are other panels with individual papers on these subjects, but (to the best of my knowledge) these are the sole panels with a central focus on these areas of inquiry. If I’ve missed any panels, let me know!

_________

* N.B.: For the purposes of this document, “devoted” means that 50% or more of the panel addresses the subject matter. I assembled this via keyword searches of the conference program.


39. The Anxious Publics of Literature for Young People

Thursday, 7 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 406, JW Marriott

Program arranged by the forum GS Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Presiding: Derritt Mason, Univ. of Alberta

  1. “Against the Assumption of Guilty Pleasure: Excavating Adult Readers’ Ethically Engaged Encounters with YA Fiction,” Ashley Pérez, Ohio State Univ., Columbus
  2. “Growth, Freedom, and Anxiety: The Displacement of Education in Contemporary School Stories for Young People,” David Aitchison, North Central Coll.
  3. “Young Readers, Young Heroes, and Dime Novel Hysteria,” Martin Woodside, Rutgers Univ., Camden

125. The Counterpublics of Underground Comix

Thursday, 7 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 10B, ACC

A special session

Presiding: Margaret Galvan, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York; Leah Misemer, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

Speakers: Ian Blechschmidt, Northwestern Univ.; Jonathan W. Gray, John Jay Coll. of Criminal Justice, City Univ. of New York; Aaron Kashtan, Miami Univ., Oxford; Joshua Kopin, Univ. of Texas, Austin; Samantha Meier, independent scholar; Lara Saguisag, Coll. of Staten Island, City Univ. of New York

Session Description:

In the 1970s and 1980s, underground comics provided an opportunity for less dominant groups to form communities by representing alternative kinds of experience. Panelists aim to open up the conversation on underground comics to include the ignored voices, such as those of women, minorities, and LGBT communities in San Francisco and elsewhere in the United States.

137. Race, Ethnicity, and Culture in Jewish Children’s Literature

Thursday, 7 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 308, JW Marriott

Program arranged by the Children’s Literature Association and the forum LLC Sephardic

Presiding: Meira Levinson, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

  1. “Jewish-American Young Adult Literature and the Missing Global Jew,” June S. Cummins, San Diego State Univ.
  2. “American Novels of the Beta Israel: Narrating Exodus Abroad to Shape Alliances at Home,” Naomi Lesley, Holyoke Community Coll., MA
  3. HaMelech Artus: Concepts of Childhood in a Medieval Hebrew-Italian Arthurian Romance,” Esther Bernstein, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

Responding: Tahneer Oksman, Marymount Manhattan Coll.

180. Print, Materiality, Narrative

Thursday, 7 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., 4BC, ACC

A special session

Presiding: Jeannine DeLombard, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara

  1. “The Politics of Format in Early Black Print Culture,” Joseph Rezek, Boston Univ.
  2. “Personifying Periodicals: Big Magazines and Modernist Form,” Donal Harris, Univ. of Memphis
  3. “‘Something to Hold Onto’: Materiality and the Graphic Novel,” Hillary L. Chute, Univ. of Chicago

222. Developments in Comics Pedagogy

Friday, 8 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., 8A, ACC

A special session

Presiding: Keith McCleary, Univ. of California, San Diego; Derek McGrath, Stony Brook Univ., State Univ. of New York

Speakers: Maria Elsy Cardona, Saint Louis Univ.; Susan E. Kirtley, Portland State Univ.; Elizabeth Mathews Losh, Coll. of William and Mary; Elizabeth Nijdam, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Joe Sutliff Sanders, Kansas State Univ.; Nick Sousanis, Univ. of Calgary

For abstracts and biographies, visit www.dereksmcgrath.wordpress.com.

Session Description:

Participants discuss how they have used comics and graphic novels to design unique courses in composition, language, literature, and new media, offering overlapping perspectives in program creation, multimodal integration, gender and cultural studies, and project-based learning. The session welcomes audience participation to discuss new approaches in teaching comics.

248. The Afterlife of Popular Children’s Culture Icons

Friday, 8 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., 203, JW Marriott

Program arranged by the Children’s Literature Association

Presiding: Paul Cote, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

  1. “From Madcap to Mourning: The Muppets after Henson,” Paul Cote
  2. “The Afterlife of the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up,” Carrie Sickmann Han, Indiana Univ.–Purdue Univ., Indianapolis
  3. “How Do You Solve a Problem like Mickey Mouse?” Peter Kunze, Univ. of Texas, Austin
  4. “‘His Active Little Crutch’: The Adaptations and Influence of Tiny Tim,” Alexandra Valint, Univ. of Southern Mississippi

297. Children’s Literature Scholarship and Its Publics

Friday, 8 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 303, JW Marriott

Program arranged by the forum GS Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Presiding: Philip Nel, Kansas State Univ.

Speakers: Julie Danielson, Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast; Marah Gubar, Massachusetts Inst. of Tech.; Don Tate, Artist and Author; Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Univ. of Pennsylvania

Session Description:

Because children’s literature is so popular, and children’s literature studies is an interdisciplinary field, scholars of young people’s literature have always addressed multiple publics—work continued today through social media. What are the risks and rewards of this more expansive, inclusive kind of work? Who does it? How is it valued? Should it be valued more, and—if so—why?

314. New Work in Language Theory

Friday, 8 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 305, JW Marriott

Program arranged by the forum TM Language Theory

Presiding: Thomas F. Shannon, Univ. of California, Berkeley

  1. “Creating and Translating Ideophones in Italian Disney Comics: A Linguistic and Historical Inquiry,” Pier Pischedda, Univ. of Leeds
  2. “An Aspect of Interdigitations: Lexical Blending in Language Contact,” Keumsil Kim Yoon, William Paterson Univ.

318. Fables, Folktales, Games, and Comics: Folklore and Visual Media

Friday, 8 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 407, JW Marriott

Program arranged by the American Folklore Society

  1. “Representing Black Folk: Jeremy Love’s Bayou and African American Folk Culture,” Jonathan W. Gray, John Jay Coll. of Criminal Justice, City Univ. of New York
  2. “Animal Terrorism: Adam Hines and the Crisis of the Animal Fable,” Christopher Pizzino, Univ. of Georgia
  3. “Slippers, Pumpkins, and Branches: Resisting Walt Disney in Disney’s Cinderella (2015),” Katie Kapurch, Texas State Univ.

Responding: Alexandria Gray, Univ. of Washington, Seattle

421. Satire and the Editorial Cartoon

Friday, 8 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 311, JW Marriott

Program arranged by the forum GS Comics and Graphic Narratives

Presiding: Nhora Lucia Serrano, Harvard Univ.

  1. “The Radical Genealogy of the Editorial Cartoon,” Frank A. Palmeri, Univ. of Miami
  2. “Between Words and Pictures: Telling the Graphic Story of United States Slavery in Abolitionist Satirical Cartoons,” Martha J. Cutter, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs
  3. Punch, Counter-Punch: Mimicry, Parody, and Critique in the Colonial Public Sphere,” Tanya Agathocleous, Hunter Coll., City Univ. of New York
  4. “Pulling John Chinaman’s Queue to Get Him in Line: Domesticating Gestures in Nineteenth-CenturyPunch Cartoons,” Joe Sample, Univ. of Houston, Downtown

443. Cash Bar Arranged by the Forum GS Comics and Graphic Narratives

Friday, 8 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., JW Grand 1, JW Marriott


489. Keep Children’s Literature Weird

Saturday, 9 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., 306, JW Marriott

Program arranged by the Children’s Literature Association

Presiding: Karen Coats, Illinois State Univ.

  1. “Will the Real Author Please Stand Up? Issues of Ownership and Agency in Chloe and the Lion,” Tharini Viswanath, Illinois State Univ.
  2. “The Weird, the Wild, the Wonderful: A Cross-Cultural Look at Normality in Children’s Literature,” Nina Christensen, Univ. of Aarhus; Philip Nel, Kansas State Univ.
  3. “Wild and Weird: Delineations in Duhême dessine Deleuze: L’oiseau philosophie,” Markus Bohlmann, Seneca Coll.

494. Latina/o Comics

Saturday, 9 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., Lone Star C, JW Marriott

Program arranged by the forums GS Comics and Graphic Narratives and CLCS 20th- and 21st-Century

Presiding: Christopher Pizzino, Univ. of Georgia

  1. “Super-politics: Relámpago and Chicanismo,” José Alaniz, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
  2. “Prepotencia por impotencia: El Santo versus El Santos and the Struggle for Identity,” Christopher RayAlexander, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD
  3. “The Tragic in the Comic: The Use of Childhood Flashbacks in the Work of Jaime Hernandez,” Melissa Coss Aquino, Bronx Community Coll., City Univ. of New York

521. Dystopia and Race in Contemporary American Literature

Saturday, 9 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., 4A, ACC

Program arranged by the College English Association

Presiding: Francisco Delgado, Stony Brook Univ., State Univ. of New York

  1. “The Direction from Which the People Will Come: Shifting International Borders in Leslie Marmon Silko and Karen Tei Yamashita,” Francisco Delgado
  2. “Sickness and Cities: Octavia Butler, Speculative Fiction, and the Rise of Neoliberalism,” Myka Tucker-Abramson, Univ. of Warwick
  3. “Redrawing Race Relations: The Use of the Graphic Novel to Rewrite American History,” Scott Zukowski, Stony Brook Univ., State Univ. of New York
  4. “Which Faction Are You? The (Dis)Abled Coding of Race in Divergent,” Jennifer Polish, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

543. Gender in Young Adult Dystopias

Saturday, 9 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 10A, ACC

Program arranged by the forums GS Speculative Fiction and TC Women’s and Gender Studies

Presiding: Madelyn Detloff, Miami Univ., Oxford; Ian MacDonald, Wittenberg Univ.

  1. “‘Black and Fat’: Deviant Gendered Bodies in Patrick Ness’s More Than This,” Erin Michelle Kingsley, King Univ.
  2. “‘A New History’: Alternate Constructions of Gender and Kinship in Queer Dystopian Literature,” Angel Matos, Univ. of Notre Dame
  3. “Mother of Revolution: The Failure of Self-Sacrifice in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games,” Bethany Jacobs, Univ. of Oregon
  4. “Dystopian Feelings: Disciplining Affect in The Hunger Games and Divergent,” Sarah Sillin, Gettysburg Coll.

574. The Verse Novel for Young Readers

Saturday, 9 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., 4BC, ACC

Program arranged by the forum GS Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Presiding: Michelle Ann Abate, Ohio State Univ., Columbus

  1. “Drawing In and Pushing Back: The Verse Novel and the Problem of Distance,” Mike Cadden, Missouri Western State Univ.
  2. “Why Aesthetics Matter: Discovering Poetry in the Verse Memoirs of Marilyn Nelson and Jacqueline Woodson,” Richard McDonnell Flynn, Georgia Southern Univ.
  3. “What Can Verse Novels Tell Us about the Aesthetics of Poetry for Young Readers?” Karen Coats, Illinois State Univ.

741. Charlie Hebdo and Its Publics

Sunday, 10 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., Lone Star C, JW Marriott

Program arranged by the forum GS Comics and Graphic Narratives

Presiding: Martha B. Kuhlman, Bryant Univ.

  1. “‘Jeg er Charlie’: Charlie Hebdo and the Danish Mohammed Cartoons,” Frederik Byrn Kohlert, Univ. of Montreal
  2. “The Other Charlie Hebdo,” Mark Burde, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  3. “‘Comment sucer la droite sans trahir la gauche?’: Charlie Hebdo in Its Contexts,” Bart Beaty, Univ. of Calgary

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Children’s Literature and Comics/Graphic Novels at MLA 2015

MLA 2015: Vancouver, BCHeading to the MLA in Vancouver next month? Well, thanks to Lee Talley (for the children’s lit panels), here’s a list of all the children’s literature and comics/graphic novels panels. If we’ve missed any, then please let me know and I’ll add them!


35. The Graphic South

Thursday, 8 January12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 114, VCC West

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Southern Literature

Presiding: Katherine Renee Henninger, Louisiana State Univ., Baton Rouge

  1. “The Contested Topography of the Reconstructed South: Visual Poetics in the Works of Jedediah Hotchkiss and Nathaniel Southgate Shaler,” Robert Arbour, Indiana Univ., Bloomington
  2. Stuck Rubber Baby and the Intersections of Civil Rights Historical Memory,” Julie Buckner Armstrong, Univ. of South Florida
  3. “How to Draw an Animal in the Sensible South: William Bartram’s Natural History of Compassion,” Thomas Doran, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
  4. “Graphic (Un)Being: Swamping the Deleuzian Body without Organs in Contemporary Comics (Swamp ThingSwamp Preacher, and Bayou),” Taylor Hagood, Florida Atlantic Univ.; Daniel Cross Turner, Coastal Carolina Univ.

41. The Comics of Joe Sacco: Journalism in a Visual World

Thursday, 8 January1:45–3:00 p.m., 202, VCC West

A special session

Presiding: Daniel W. Worden, Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Speakers: Lan Dong, Univ. of Illinois, Springfield; Ann D’Orazio, Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Jared Gardner, Ohio State Univ., Columbus; Maureen Shay, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

Responding: David M. Ball, Princeton Univ.

Session Description:

The roundtable brings together established and emerging scholars in comics studies to discuss an acclaimed contemporary comics artist, Joe Sacco. The discussion focuses on Sacco’s significance to both literary and comics studies, as well as the challenges that his “comics journalism” poses to the categories and methods of analysis in comics studies.


76. The Endurance of Alice: Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at 150

Thursday, 8 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., 120, VCC West

A special session

Presiding: Jan Christopher Susina, Illinois State Univ.

  1. “‘Off with Their Heads!’: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the Antigallows Movement,” Michelle Ann Abate, Ohio State Univ., Columbus
  2. “The Education of Alice,” Kelly Hager, Simmons Coll.
  3. “‘You’ve Brought Us the Wrong Alice’: Tim Burton’s Dystopic Alice in Wonderland,” Jan Christopher Susina

139. Sites of Memory in Children’s Literature

Thursday, 8 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 8, VCC East

Program arranged by the Division on Children’s Literature

Presiding: Karin E. Westman, Kansas State Univ.

  1. “‘I Forgot You Were Away’: The Importance of Children’s Voices and Memories in World War II Evacuation Literature,” Lee A. Talley, Rowan Univ.
  2. “The Kozak as a Site of Memory in Postindependence-Era Ukrainian Children’s Literature,” Anastasia Ulanowicz, Univ. of Florida
  3. “Participating in Future Histories: Young-Adult Dystopian Fiction, Agency, and Temporality,” Jasmine Lee, Univ. of California, Irvine
  4. “Why Does Lia Hate History? Laurie Halse Anderson’s Construction of Trauma,” Adrienne E. Kertzer, Univ. of Calgary

178. Writing the Future: Children’s Literature in East Asia

Thursday, 8 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., 9, VCC East

Program arranged by the Division on East Asian Languages and Literatures to 1900 and the Division on East Asian Languages and Literatures after 1900

Presiding: Charlotte Eubanks, Penn State Univ., University Park

  1. “Angelic Rebels of Colonial Korea: The Proletarian Child Fights Back,” Dafna Zur, Stanford Univ.
  2. “Satirizing Colonialism and Diaspora in Singapore: Lao She’s Children’s Novella Little Po’s Birthday,” Brian Bernards, Univ. of Southern California
  3. “Beyond Realism: The Social Significance of Children’s Literature in Republican China,” Christopher Tong, Washington Univ. in St. Louis
  4. “Futurism and the Machine Age: Miyazawa Kenji’s Electric Poles in the Moonlit Night,” Maria Elena Tisi, Università di Bologna

For abstracts, write to cde13@psu.edu.


212. Geography, Memory, and Childhood

Friday, 9 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., 1, VCC East

Program arranged by the Division on Children’s Literature

Presiding: Katharine Slater, Rowan Univ.; Gwen Tarbox, Western Michigan Univ.

  1. “Arresting Images: Childhood, Apocalypse, Miyazaki,” John Grayson Nichols, Christopher Newport Univ.
  2. “Fording the Platte, Shooting a Buffalo, Dying of Cholera: Negotiating Sites of Imagination and Sites of History in The Oregon Trail Video Game,” Jennifer Kraemer, Univ. of Texas, Dallas
  3. “Children’s Mapping as Projective Place,” Laura D’Aveta, Penn State Univ., University Park
  4. “Book, Screen, and Space in the Spaces of the Sylvie Cycle,” Keith Dorwick, Univ. of Louisiana, Lafayette

348. Not an Exit but a Shift: Changing Children’s Literature

Friday, 9 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., 114, VCC West

Program arranged by the Children’s Literature Association

Presiding: Ramona Anne Caponegro, Eastern Michigan Univ.; Abbie Ventura, Univ. of Tennessee, Chattanooga

  1. “Changing Childhood, Changing Children’s Literature,” Ramona Anne Caponegro; Abbie Ventura
  2. “Not an Exit but a Bang: Posthumanism and Polyphony in the Young-Adult Novel,” Amanda Hollander, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
  3. “Both an Overhaul and an Augmentation: Toward a ‘Child-Centered’ Critical Metaframe for Children’s Literature,” Michelle Superle, Univ. of the Fraser Valley
  4. “Literature for Beginners,” Kenneth Byron Kidd, Univ. of Florida

459. Visual Cultures and Young People’s Texts in Canada

Saturday, 10 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., 113, VCC West

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Canadian Literature in English and the Division on Children’s Literature

Presiding: Jennifer Blair, Univ. of Ottawa; Catherine Tosenberger, Univ. of Winnipeg

  1. “Everybody Calls Me Roch: Harvey, The Hockey Sweater, and the Invisible Québécois Child,” Cheryl Cowdy, York Univ., Keele
  2. “Daughters of a Single Parent: ‘Lives of Girls and Women’ in Quebec Cinema Today,” Miléna Santoro, Georgetown Univ.
  3. “Marie-Louise Gay’s Stella and Sam: A Canadian Case Study of Transmedia Storytelling with Picture Book Narratives,” Naomi Hamer, Univ. of Winnipeg

For abstracts, visit commons.mla.org/groups/canadian-literature-in-english/.


565. Writing Home: Memories of Battlefront and Home Front in Children’s Literature of the First World War

Saturday, 10 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., 224, VCC West

Program arranged by the Division on Children’s Literature

Presiding: Lissa Paul, Brock Univ.

  1. “‘Stop Talking and Go Home’: Endless War in Kate Seredy’s The Singing Tree,” A. Robin Hoffman, Yale Univ.
  2. “Here and Over There: L. M. Montgomery’s War Geographies,” Katharine Slater, Rowan Univ.
  3. “The Orphans of Poetry: War and Childhood in the Poetry of Robert Graves,” Michael Joseph, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick
  4. “‘I’m Goin’ ‘Ome’: The Linguistics of Loyalty in Robert W. Service’s Rhymes of a Red Cross Man,” Jacquilyn Weeks, Indiana Univ.–Purdue Univ., Indianapolis

For abstracts, visit http://research.ncl.ac.uk/fww-child/.


624. Immigration and Comics

Saturday, 10 January5:15–6:30 p.m., 16, VCC East

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives and the Division on European Literary Relations

Presiding: Sandra L. Bermann, Princeton Univ.; Nhora Lucia Serrano, Harvard Univ.

  1. “‘Home of the Cannibals’: Interracial Contact and Immigration in Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth,” Timothy Paul Caron, California State Univ., Long Beach
  2. “Aya in the Ivory Coast and Abouet in France: Immigration in Aya de Yopougon,” Michelle Bumatay, Willamette Univ.
  3. “From Immigrants to Privateers: The Curious Case of Hogan’s Alley and the Yellow Kid,” David M. Ball, Princeton Univ.
  4. “Comedy of Errors: Lessons of Identity and Agency in American Born Chinese,” Judy Schaaf, Univ. of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

For abstracts, visit graphicnarratives.org/ after 1 Dec.


643. A Creative Conversation with the Canadian Poet JonArno Lawson

Saturday, 10 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., 118, VCC West

Presiding: Craig Svonkin, Metropolitan State Univ.; Joseph Terry Thomas, San Diego State Univ.

Speaker:JonArno Lawson, Toronto, ON

Session Description:

A creative conversation about avant-garde children’s poetry, Canadian poetry, and Canadian children’s poetry with the award-winning poet JonArno Lawson. Lawson is a three-time winner of the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry.


644. Cash Bar Arranged by the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives


654. Virtual Women: Webcomics

Sunday, 11 January8:30–9:45 a.m., 3, VCC East

A special session

Presiding: Leah Misemer, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

  1. “‘Straw Feminists’: Webcomics, Parody, and Intertextuality,” Sarah Sillin, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
  2. Ménage à 3: Gender and Sexual Diversity through Women’s Perspectives,” Nicole Slipp, Queen’s Univ.
  3. “One Click Wonder: How Female Comics Creators Leapt from Private to Public in a Single Bound,” Aimee Valentine, Western Michigan Univ.

Responding: Hillary L. Chute, Univ. of Chicago


712. Why Dystopian Young-Adult Literature? Why Now?

Sunday, 11 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., 114, VCC West

Program arranged by the Children’s Literature Association

Presiding: June S. Cummins, San Diego State Univ.

  1. “Reclaiming Adolescent Power in Young-Adult Dystopia,” Jessica Seymour, Southern Cross Univ.
  2. “The Dystopian Present: Recolonizing America in Paolo Bacigalupi’s Shipbreaker and The Drowned Cities,” John David Schwetman, Univ. of Minnesota, Duluth
  3. “Power Play: The Seduction of Games in Young-Adult Dystopian Fiction,” Jonathan Hollister, Florida State Univ.; Don Latham, Florida State Univ.
  4. “The Emancipatory Power of Hopelessness: Discourses of Political Failure in Recent Young-Adult Literature,” Oona Eisenstadt, Pomona Coll.

720. Comics Theory Roundtable

Sunday, 11 January12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 214, VCC West

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives

Presiding: Martha B. Kuhlman, Bryant Univ.

Speakers: Michael A. Chaney, Dartmouth Coll.; Hugo Frey, Univ. of Chichester; Jared Gardner, Ohio State Univ., Columbus; Fabrice Leroy, Univ. of Louisiana, Lafayette; Barbara Postema, Ryerson Univ.

Session Description:

This roundtable analyzes interdisciplinary approaches to studying comics. Comics theory includes semiotics, film theory, linguistics, visual studies, and narrative theory, among other disciplines. The scholars examine to what extent these discourses are in conversation with one another and seek connections among them.

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Superman Was a Refugee, Too

… Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

— Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus” (the poem on the Statue of Liberty)

As alleged patriots devise ways to deny the humanity of young Central American refugees seeking asylum in the United States, it’s worth remembering not only Emma Lazarus‘ famous poem, but this PSA from Superman — that all-American refugee from the planet Krypton.

Superman says... "Lend a friendly hand!"

We should judge a country according to how it treats the most vulnerable of its residents — be they citizens or refugees. Though some Americans have reached out to these latest immigrants, others have shouted racist slurs, demanded their deportation, or threatened to kill them.

The United States prides itself on being “a nation of immigrants,” a claim that is (at best) dubious, given that (a) Native Americans have lived here before Europeans arrived and (b) many African “immigrants” were in fact kidnapped and enslaved. However, the noble idea of embracing people from different cultural and national backgrounds is supposed to be part of what defines America. It’s supposed to be a core American value. I’m posting this comic page as a reminder of that (sometimes) shared ethos.


Hat tip to Jonathan Beecher Field for the Superman PSA. The slightly lower-res version he shared (on Facebook) includes, at the bottom: “Published as a public service in cooperation with the National Social Welfare Assembly, coordinating organization for National Health, Welfare, and Recreation Agencies of the U.S.” My source for the above image is Dial B for Blog.

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Comic-Con 2014: San Diego, July 27

And now, my final daily report from the 2014 Comic-Con!  (Earlier reports: Sat.Fri.Thurs., & Weds.)  Today, Trina Robbins, Paul Pope, Dav Pilkey, Rachel Renée Russell, and some Outlander photos (by special request)!


Chatting with Trina Robbins

Trina Robbins and Philip Nel, at the Fantagraphics table, on Sunday morning

Trina Robbins, Pretty in InkFor this morning’s signing, I was with Trina Robbins, who — I am pleased to report — sold all copies of her latest book, Pretty in Ink.  (I bought a copy myself, on Thursday.)  Had a good chat with her about the memoir she’s writing: Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Comics. We mostly talked about the rock ‘n’ roll part.  In the ’60s in San Francisco, she and her (now ex-) husband knew lots of musicians: Donovan, Mama Cass, David Crosby, & others.  I don’t want to spoil the book by divulging details here, but she’s led an interesting life.  (I knew about some of the comics part, but none of the rock ‘n’ roll part.)  So, look for that book in… I’m guessing… a couple of years or so?


Middle-Grade Readers

Moderator David Mariotte, Rachel Renee Russell, E. J. Altbacker, Brandon Mull, Paul Pope,P. Craig Russell, Pseudonymous Bosch, and Dav Pilkey.

Left to right: Moderator David Mariotte, Rachel Renee Russell (The Dork Diaries), E. J. Altbacker (Shark Wars), Brandon Mull (Sky Raiders), Paul Pope (Battling BoyThe Rise of Aurora West), P. Craig Russell (The Graveyard Book graphic novel), Pseudonymous Bosch (The Secret Series, Bad Magic), and Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants).

I arrived at this session late because, well, it’s impossible to conclude your signing in the exhibit hall at 11 and then suddenly materialize in a panel session also at 11. I walk briskly, but I cannot levitate over the crowds of people. (Maybe if I’d dressed as a costumed superhero,…?)

The moderator asked about using other media in conjunction with the print books. Rachel Renee Russell noted that her main character has a blog. E. J. Altbacker’s series has an app where player would need to know first few books in order to play it successfully.  P. Craig Russell (who adapted The Graveyard Book as a graphic novel) said that “a graphic novel also brings in more readers, and is sometimes as long as the novel itself.”  The two-volume Graveyard Book is one such work. Pseudonymous Bosch said that he wrote his first novel via the postal service — though I didn’t quite understand what he meant. I assume he mailed the manuscript in that way? Or maybe I misheard? (I’ve not read his Secret Series). But, he said “kids now expect a much more interactive experience with their reading material.” When he was a kid, “it would not have occurred to him to write to the author.”

Dav Pilkey, The Adventures of Captain UnderpantsThe moderator ended his questions early, and moved to audience questions.

First questioner (to Dav Pilkey): Captain Underpants Cosplay: wonderful or kinda scary?

Dav Pilkey: Definitely scary.  There’s a motion picture that’s going to be made of Captain Underpants.  I was afriad it would be live action, but it’s going to be animated by DreamWorks Animation.

Most of the rest of the questions were from young readers.

Comic-Con 2014: Middle-grade readers at Middle-Grade Readers panel

Young reader (to Dav Pilkey): Did you have a mean principal?  Did it inspire you?

Dav Pilkey: Mr. Krupps was inspired by a mean principal.  I had a mean principal. He was verbally abusive, and physically abusive. I told my mom about him — though not the physically abusive part.  She used to say “everything happens for a reason.  Maybe something good will come out of it.”  She had no idea….

Paul Pope, Battling BoyAnother young reader: Is it hard to write books for young readers?

Paul Pope: You have to maintain a connection to your innocence. You have to write for yourself as a 12-year-old.

Pseudonymous Bosch: It helps if you stopped maturing at age 12.

Rachel Renée Russell: I’m always worried whether people will like it.

Paul Pope: When I was writing violent scenes, I thought “I’m going to write this for the 12-year-old editor in my head.” No blood, no gore. But I worked it out in my head. There were no rules.

Young reader #3 (to Paul Pope): how did you get the idea for Battling Boy?

Paul: Most of my books were for adults. But my nephews wanted to see my work. I realized that most of the comics I was reading — those comics weren’t written with young people in mind.  I just felt like there weren’t good books for kids of your age group, so they don’t keep having going back to Batman, who is 75 years old, or Spiderman.

Rachel Renée Russell, Dork Diaries 5: Tales from a Not-so-Smart Miss Know-itYoung reader #4 (to Rachel Renee Russell): What inspired you to write the Dork Diaries?

Rachel Renee Russell: My two daughters were so dorky. I felt sorry for them. Kids picked on them. They were bullied. They didn’t get invited to birthday parties. They had a really hard time. But they grew up to be really smart, intelligent young ladies. So, dorks rule!

As the conversation turns to bullying, Brandon Mull says that the bullied are often “good nice people. Good nice people in middle school have a hard time.”

Paul Pope says, “I don’t want to give advice to young people. But you do not want to look back on your teenage years as your best years. You want to look back on those as your worst years.”

Young reader #5: Is Pseudonymous Bosch your real name?

Pseudonymous Bosch: Pseudonymous is an old family name. Bosch, however, I named after my toaster.

Young reader #6: What do you do for fun?

Rachel Renee Russell: I read other middle-grade readers.

Brandon Mull: Narnia turned me into a reader…. Harry Potter taught me that you could write a young protagonist and make it fun for young and old readers.

Paul Pope: I like to read artists’ journals. There’s a very different way you processed your life, then. You weren’t expected to interact via social media…. I like to talk to people.

Adult question #2: When you see fan art or kid art of your characters, I wonder if you could have a conversation about that….

Paul Pope: It’s cool…. There is kind of a rite of passage where you see people dressed as your characters because it means they really love the characters. It’s very humbling…. It’s fun to branch out and maybe not make any money, but reach an audience who has been under-served by comics.

Young reader #7 (to Brandon Mull): When you’re writing books with magic, do you have to worry about maybe magic solving it all?

Brandon Mull: [Laughs] That’s such a good question! You should become a writer! … If the magic can solve everything, then nothing matters…. So, we try to put limits on what the magic can do. Think about the consequences. Sort of like, 100 years ago, a good science fiction writer might think that we’ll have cars.  But a great science fiction writer might think that we’ll have traffic jams.

And… that’s the only panel I attended on Sunday.  Had to catch flights home!


Outlander: Photos

Outlander at Comic-Con

Starz is making a TV show of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

To promote the new television program, its sponsors had a great big castle with video clips mounted on the sides. One could walk through the edifice, too. (I didn’t.) However, I was asked to post photos; so, I am.

Outlander at Comic-Con

There was even an entire panel devoted to (promoting) the new series. It’s already on YouTube.

Here is another photo showing a front view of the ersatz castle-thingy.

Outlander at Comic-Con

There were also people (employed by the promoters of Outlander) parading through the streets, hollering. Karin took this photo:

Outlander in the streets beyond Comic-Con


Comics!

March: Book One, The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists, Moomin and the Golden Tail, Moomin's Desert Island, The Timid Cabbage, Pretty in Ink, Lumberjanes, Rainy Day Recess, Tuki, Smoke Signal


Three final thoughts…

  1. Of the conferences I attend, Comic-Con is the one where I am the most anonymous. The down side, of course, is that my “signings” are, er, rather sparsely attended. The up side (or sides?) is that it’s great to wander about anonymously.  You can easily disappear into the crowd (and the crowds here are huge!). I like being able to disappear.
  2. Should I attend a future Comic-Con, I’d like to chair or participate in a panel, probably on one of the “Comic Arts Conference” sessions (this is the academic wing of Comic-Con), though would be glad to appear in other ways. (This is my second Comic-Con, and both times I was attending as an Eisner nominee.)
  3. I remain open to the idea of cosplay. If I’d had the time, I would have gotten together a Mr. O’Malley costume for this year. Two reasons. First, I think it would be a fun way to promote the Barnaby books. Second, I think it would be hilarious to dress up as a character (O’Malley) whom virtually no one at Comic-Con would recognize. When I spoke of donning the costume of Barnaby’s Fairy Godfather, Eric Reynolds joked, “People would think you were dressed as Seth!” To which I replied: “Yeah, and they’d be asking: Why does Seth now have wings?” (For those unfamiliar with Barnaby or the artist, both wear a 1940s hat and overcoat. O’Malley even wears spats.)
Crockett Johnson's Mr. O'Malley Seth

 


Comic-Con 2014:

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