San Diego Comic-Con Program 2014: Comics Arts Conference Schedule

Posted By on July 6, 2014

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The Comics Arts Conference, which celebrated its 20th year in 2012 as a staple of the Comic-Con International programming schedule, returns to San Diego Comic-Con International with a full slate of academic panels devoted to the wonderful world of comics.

THURSDAY, 7/24 10:30-3:30

10:30-12:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #1: Comics and NationsAerum Jeong (University of California, Los Angeles) examines how Lob and Rochette’s graphic novel trilogy Le Transperceneige and the filmic adaptation Snowpiercer use local cultural and political motifs to construct a space in which the readers/viewers can imagine themselves as part of a nation. Sam Cannon (University of Texas at Austin) analyzes how the creators of Detective Heredia use locations in Santiago, Chile to conjure violent places of memory that synthesize past, present, and future meanings of the city. Cathy Thomas (University of California, Santa Cruz) uses recent work in hemispheric American border studies to explain how the misread love missive, such as the brick thrown by a mouse named Ignatz that always “creases the bean” of a cat called Krazy, re-stages courtship and colonial imagination. Room 26AB

12:00-1:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #2: Clouds or Sunshine: Forecasting How Business and Law Will Affect Creativity in Comics—Law professor Marc H. Greenberg (Golden Gate University School of Law) and business professor and futurist Rob Salkowitz (University of Washington), authors of Comic Art, Creativity and the Law and Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, consider how changes such as derivative copyright law, digital delivery of comics, and transmediation will affect the creative process and the comics industry in the near and long-term future. Room 26AB

1:00-2:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #3: British Comics, Genre, and the Special Relationship with American ComicsChris Murray (University of Dundee) discusses the often overlooked and peculiar history of British Superheroes, arguing that they reflect the changing relationship between the two countries in the aftermath of World War II. Julia Round (Bournemouth University) investigates the use of gothic and horror tropes in British girls’ comics of the 1970s and 1980s, which, she argues, draw on some of the tropes of the previous generation of American horror comics. Phillip Vaughan (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design) analyses British Science Fiction comics in terms of the influence from American comics, and considering their relationship to British and American television and film. Room 26AB

2:30-3:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #4: Teaching Critical Comics in an Era of Standardization and the Common Core: The Pragmatics of a Transformative PedagogyAntero Garcia (Colorado State University) and Peter Carlson (Green Dot Public Schools) provide educators with specific planning and facilitation strategies for using graphic novels and comics in the classroom to enhance student participation, academic discourse, and achievement. Rubrics, lesson plan templates, and instructional questions will be provided for attendees. Room 26AB

FRIDAY, 7/25 10:30-3:30

10:30-11:30 Comics Arts Conference #5: Rescued by Batman: Finding Hope in Something Terrible—Superhero comic books are often dismissed or derided as “power fantasies” or “escapism,” but is that always a negative? Incongruous as it may seem for Dean Trippe’s Something Terrible to deal with childhood trauma, sexual abuse, and Batman, Trippe has used his comic to deal with his own past, which has then helped other people with difficult backgrounds. Tommy Cash (The Comic Arts Council) and Dean Trippe (Something Terrible) examine misconceptions regarding victims of sexual abuse and the potential value in identifying with superheroes as a coping mechanism. Room 26AB

11:30-1:00 Comics Arts Conference #6: Comics and Form—Storytelling in comic books and graphic novels relies on an array of diverse and powerful techniques that engage readers and construct a sense of time and space in fictional “realities,” to varying degrees of success. Keegan Lannon (Aberystwyth University) and Aaron Poppleton examine how color influences emotions and how color (or lack thereof as in Art Spiegelman’s Maus) may immerse readers and create an artistic ideology. Michael J. Muniz (Broward College) exposes how the breaking of the fourth wall in comics prevents the reader from properly engaging the depicted reality, and explores the philosophical nature of the fourth wall itself. Poe Johnson (University of Texas at Dallas) and Amal Shafek (University of Texas at Dallas) use Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis as a case study for analyzing how comics and films construct time and space. Specific creative techniques do more than just reflect aesthetic goals; they also impact the way each medium constructs meaning. Room 26AB

1:00-2:30 Comics Arts Conference #7: Comics and Gender—How sexist are superhero comic books? How fairly do comic book creators depict females and femininity, and how do we view the creators who attempt to introduce feminist values? Rebecca Sader (University of Texas at Dallas) looks at how well Birds of Prey fares in light of methodology like the Bechdel test. Matthew J. Brown (University of Texas at Dallas) delves into the psychology and (unorthodox) feminist values of psychologist William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman and a pioneer in the invention of the lie detector. Annamarie O’Brien (Bowling Green State University) looks at mommy issues in Jack Kirby’s Fourth World saga, from idealized Mother Box to the monstrous depiction of mothering gone awry via the villainous Granny Goodness. Room 26AB

2:30-3:30 Comics Arts Conference #8: Who Created Batman?—Who really created Batman? Was it the Caped Crusader’s officially credited creator, Bob Kane, or was it his secret collaborator, Bill Finger? What did editor Vince Sullivan, artist Jerry Robinson, writer Gardner Fox, and others contribute when first shaping Batman mythos from the Dark Knight’s debut in 1939 until he gained a young crime-fighting partner, a clownish arch-foe, and a feline femme fatale one year later? Pulling from interviews, biographies, personal communications, and external evidence, experts conduct a forensic investigation into this question of historical, cultural, and ethical importance. Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight) asks Tom Andrae (Batman & Me), Athena Finger (The Cape Creator: A Tribute to Bill Finger), Marc Tyler Nobleman (Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman), Denny O’Neil (Batman), Brad Ricca (Super Boys), Jens Robinson (CartoonArts International), Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art), Michael Uslan (The Dark Knight films), and Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson (granddaughter of DC Comics’ founder) the basic question: Who built the bat? Room 26AB

SATURDAY, 7/26 10:30-3:30

10:30-12:00 Comics Arts Conference #9: Queering ComicsAyanna Dozier (New York University Steinhardt) examines the transformative properties of the pornokitsch aesthetic featured in golden age comics, tracing the sociological-historical narratives that link pornokitsch to mainstream and erotic comics and questioning their use of gender, race, and sexuality. Cameron C. McKee (Northwestern University) and Shane Duncan (San Francisco State University) engage with various gay comics series to argue that the tongue-and-cheek humor of camp was (and remains) a central strategy for the construction of queer identity against the oppression of heteronormativity. And using psychological and sociological research, Benjamin Varosky (California State University, Fullerton) looks at Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye, a single story told through the separate lenses of the masculine and feminine qualities that every superhero secretly—or not so secretly—embodies, to explore how the successes and failures of Clint and Kate individually pale in comparison to those that they share as the unified Hawkeye. Room 26AB

12:00-1:00 Comics Arts Conference #10: Brain and Body by Batman: The Art and Science of the Dark Knight—What motivations sustain Bruce Wayne? What was needed to prepare him for his career as Batman? What has this career done to his psyche, his brain, his body? Join psychology professor and superherologist Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight), neuroscience and kinesiology professor Dr. E. Paul Zehr (Becoming Batman), health and exercise science expert Eric Bruce (Western Oregon University), and CAC special guest Dennis O’Neil (Batman) as they discuss, dissect, and demystify the Dark Knight on his 75th diamond jubilee anniversary, providing an evaluation of the psychology, kinesiology, and neuroscience of Batman and discussing the physical and psychological realities of becoming and then having a career as Gotham’s Dark Knight avenger. Room 26AB

1:00-2:00 Comics Arts Conference #11: Focus on Dennis O’Neil—After the 1960s’ campier stories nearly ended Batman comics, CAC special guest Dennis O’Neil (Batman) became the writer who took the Dark Knight back to his dark roots. Working with an astounding array of fellow creators down through his years as writer and editor, he robbed Wonder Woman of her powers, sent Green Arrow’s sidekick off to rehab, put the demon back in Iron Man’s bottle, pulled Professor X out of one grave and oversaw planting Batman’s sidekick in another, and named Optimus Prime. In addition to countless comics, Denny has written and edited scholarly works like the book Batman Unauthorized. Join Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight) as he asks Denny about his career as writer, editor, scholar, and educator. Yes, Dennis O’Neil teaches, too! Come learn from this grand master of comic book heroes. Room 26AB

2:00-3:30 Comics Arts Conference #12: Poster Session—The CAC’s poster session gives attendees the opportunity to interact directly with presenters. Come talk one-on-one with these scholars about their projects! Marisa Brandt (University of California, San Diego), Erika Cheng (University of California, San Diego), and Emily York (University of California, San Diego) investigate instrumental applications of comics in domains where they are being used not only to entertain but to accomplish a goal and show that comics and their creation can have transformative effects on those who create and consume them. Andrei Molotiu (Indiana University, Bloomington) begins Alex Toth’s scholarly re-evaluation with an examination of the sophisticated narrative techniques and page design he employed in his comics of the 1950s and ‘60s. Allen Thomas (University of Central Arkansas) and Mara Whiteside (University of Central Arkansas) examine the relationship between readers and minority comic book characters, namely the connection a reader feels to a particular character, and discuss the future direction of comic books in regards to minority representation. Neil Granitz (California State University, Fullerton) and Steven Chen (California State University, Fullerton) investigate what factors compel a consumer to seek out more elements of a story across different media and present strategies to increase consumers’ consumption of transmedia storytelling. Michael L. Kersulov (Indiana University) addresses data collected from a research project focused on classes in which gifted high school students created their own autobiographical comics, presenting examples of student-created comics and discussing how they worked to authenticate the students’ personal narratives. William Kuskin (University of Colorado Boulder) presents an overview of UC Boulder’s MOOC “Comic Books and Graphic Novels,” suggesting that when coupled with online technology, comics offer a transformative energy for humanities disciplines. J Scott McKinnon (Henderson State University) identifies the factors that contribute to ethnic minority characters either succeeding or failing, examining online discussions, reviews, and published articles. Drew Morton (Texas A&M University—Texarkana) argues that the majority of motion comics are less an ontologically unique medium and more a cheaply-produced synergistic text that primarily exist as a marketing tool. Rich Shivener (Northern Kentucky University) continues critical discussions on the implications of adaptation and transmedia storytelling, especially as they relate to comics. Hannah Diaz (California State University, Fullerton) examines how superhero comics can use greater variation in costume design and body type to distinguish characters and personalities more effectively. Nami Hatfield (University of California, Los Angeles) documents the initial development and eventually buyout of Studio Proteus, a United States manga translation company active from 1986-2004. P. Andrew Miller (Northern Kentucky University) presents how he and others pair poetry and graphic art to create lyric comics. Matt Yockey (University of Toledo) considers how the “retro” qualities of Batman ’66 exploit both a nostalgic appeal for the Adam West television series and demonstrate a progressive sensibility that moves beyond regressive nostalgia. Pamela Jackson, Anna Culbertson, Michael Lapins, Katie Stapko, Markel Tumlin, and Wil Weston, members of the San Diego State University Library Comic Arts Committee, discuss SDSU’s strategic “Arts Alive” initiative and highlight activities sponsored by the committee that expose students to the rich and vibrant world of comics and popular arts. Jake Talley (San Diego State University) compares the female and minority populations in the Marvel and DC universes at various points in their histories to illustrate how their race and gender makeups have evolved over time, and compares the big two with younger publishers to see if the lack of decades of continuity produces a more representative character population. Barbara Glaeser (California State University, Fullerton) and Amanda Francis (Crafton Hills College) present the rubric they designed to evaluate the level of sexuality in comics in their search for “safe” titles to use in school-based research, as well as discussing the results of their project to use those comics to teach reluctant readers. Shawn Sellers (Western Oregon University) and Eric Bruce (Western Oregon University) investigate public health concepts found in Y: The Last Man, and discuss bioethics, occupational health, and women’s sexual & gender health issues in the comic. Thomas Speelman (Calvin College) analyzes the work and career of Carl Barks, who wrote and illustrated over 500 stories for Western Publishing featuring Walt Disney characters such as Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck. Joyce C. Havstad (University of California, San Diego) explores what it means to be a major feminist work in order to evaluate whether Y: The Last Man ought rightfully to be considered one—and if so, whether it is a successful one. Jeff Brain (San Francisco State University) discusses how to create a curriculum blending digital citizenship objectives, Common Core standards and super-heroic storytelling into a course of study for middle school students. Damien Tomaselli (University of KwaZulu-Natal) analyzes how the visual rhetoric of comic books continues to develop, with specific reference to digitally manipulated comic books, primarily Madefire’s motion books. Room 26AB

SUNDAY, 7/27 10:30-3:30

10:30-12:00 Comics Arts Conference #13: Comics and Global ConcernsKenneth Hough (University of California, Santa Barbara) examines comic book speculations on drone warfare in the 1940s and 1950s, comparing these early images with modern debates about the use of unmanned weapons. Melissa Colleen Stevenson (Stanford University) compares Fables’ Fabletown Compact with the Truth and Reconciliation commissions instituted in South Africa after apartheid and the Ley de Punto Final passed in Argentina after the fall of dictatorship there, examining how Willingham’s work approaches real world philosophical questions about the nature of forgiveness, the demands of justice, and the very human desire for vengeance. Hadas Marcus (Tel Aviv University) reviews how various environmental themes are depicted in comics, from classic examples that only touch upon somewhat vague ecological topics, to contemporary works that explore looming environmental and sustainability issues in a much more detailed and often darkly apocalyptic manner. Room 26AB

12:00-1:30 Comics Arts Conference #14: Strips and Pin-Ups, Race and PoliticsRobert C. Harvey (Meanwhile: A Biography of Milton Caniff, Creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon) reviews the career of Bill Hume: sculptor, artist, actor, playwright, magician, ventriloquist, author, clown, newspaper man, photographer, animator, television and film producer, corporate art director and cartoonist, and artist of pretty girl cartoons featuring the friendly relations between American GIs and the female population of Japan. Melissa Loucks (University of Florida) reminds us of the work comic strips do toward thwarting the distortions and suppressions of the dominant civil rights narrative, looking at the work of Oliver Harrington, George Herriman, and Jackie Ormes. And Dwain C. Pruitt (University of Louisville) considers the roles that Matt Baker’s race and sexual orientation may have played in his work and in his most celebrated contribution, the “Baker Girl,” asserting that Baker’s work was shaped by the unique African-American expressive and visual culture of 1930s-1950s Harlem. Room 26AB

1:30-2:30 Comics Arts Conference #15: Comics of Future/Past: Constructing Race, Space and Identity Through the Visualization of the EthnoSurreal—Recently, Afrofuturism has been making a global resurgence. Creators in all media forms have been producing speculative narratives that challenge the status quo, remix historical perceptions, and situate the black body as subject. John Jennings (University at Buffalo, SUNY), Stanford Carpenter (Institute for Comics Studies), Regina Bradley (Kennesaw State University), and Jeremy Love (Bayou) ask if the term Afrofuturism still remains the proper designation for invoking ideas of race and cultural production, examining the new notion of the “EthnoSurreal” and how it is comprised of the EthnoGothic and EthnoFuturism. This panel will also tackle the articulation of how these designations are defined and how they can possibly challenge and reimagine ideas around socially constructed ideas regarding racial identity, its visualization, and its consumption through the comics medium. Room 26AB

2:30-3:30 Comics Arts Conference #16: The Culture of Comic-Con: Field Studies of Fans and Marketing—Comic-Con offers students of popular culture an amazing venue to study how culture is marketed to and practiced by its fans. Rahni Argo-Bryant (University of Alabama), Johnathan Butler (Florida State University), Kelsey Cute (Lynchburg College), Katherine Deck (Wittenberg University), Judith Gallegos (Lynchburg College), Madeline Geiger (Wittenberg University), Christopher McDaniel (Wittenberg University), Alora Slak (Otterbein University), Desiree Smith (Lynchburg College), and Amy Williams (State University of New York at Albany) present initial findings from a week-long ethnographic field study of the intersection of fan practice at the nexus of cultural marketing and fan culture that is Comic-Con 2013. Matthew J. Smith (Wittenberg University) moderates. Room 26AB

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About the Author

Dr. Travis Langley
Superherologist Travis Langley, author of the book Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight (Wiley & Sons Publishing), is a psychology professor who teaches on the psychology of crime, mental illness, social behavior, and media, including courses titled "Batman" and "Stan Lee's Heroes." He has been a child abuse investigator, expert courtoom witness, and undefeated champion on the Wheel of Fortune game show. He regularly presents panels on the psychology of heroes at conventions like San Diego Comic-Con, New York Comic Con, WonderCon, and Wizard World, to name a few. Psychology Today runs his professional column, "Beyond Heroes and Villains." Follow him as @Superherologist on Twitter or visit him on Facebook in Batman's Belfry.