COMICS/POLITICS at Ryerson this weekend!

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This weekend (Thursday, July 25-Saturday, July 27) Mich and I will be traveling to Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada for COMICS/POLITICS, the 2nd Annual Conference of the Comics Studies Society. Man, I can hardly wait!

I served as Founding President of CSS from 2014 to Spring 2018, and continue to serve happily on the Society’s Executive Board. Brainstorming CSS with colleagues and helping the Society get started has been one of the most rewarding projects of my career — and now I get to go to a CSS conference and present a paper on Jack Kirby. My worlds are colliding. 🙂

This Friday, as part of Panel 7.4, War and Conflict Comics, I’ll be giving my paper, “Kirby’s Visions of War, Early and Late,” an outgrowth of my work at the Université de Lorraine symposium in 2017 and my ongoing interest in Kirby’s kid gang comics. Joining me on that panel will be fellow presenters Kaleb Knoblauch and Shawn Gilmore and moderator Martha Kuhlman—I expect to learn a lot! And ours is but one of many panels, roundtables, plenaries, and other gatherings that altogether will make up a jam-packed conference program. So many scholars, so many exciting perspectives on the art and culture of comics: a panel on indigenous comics with Tara Audibert, Camille Callison, Cole Paul, moderator Amy Dejarlais, and graphic recorder Sam Hester; a conversation with Fiona Smyth, Jillian Tamaki, and Qiana Whitted; a Canadian WW2 comics exhibition opening at the Ryerson Library, with guest speaker Hope Nicholson; a mixer at The Beguiling and Little Island Comics (just hanging out in one of the world’s greatest comics shops, no big deal); tons of papers, talks, and opportunities to interact and learn — yow, this is going to be something, a worthy continuation of the tradition begun last year in Champaign.

Plus, a pre-conference documentary film screening on Wednesday night (Drawn Together: Comics, Diversity, and Stereotypes, dir. Harleen Singh, 2018); a charitable comics drive in partnership with the Canada Comics Open Library; book signings with our plenary artists (and Michael DeForge! and Chester Brown!), thanks to exhibitors Drawn & Quarterly and Bedside Press; and, on Friday, a free and public Artists’ Alley featuring indy creators and publishers! PLUS, on Sunday, after the official close of the conference, a number of us will be making a field trip to the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario, to see the acclaimed exhibition, THIS IS SERIOUS: Canadian Indie Comics!

See why CSS has become one of my yearly “mountaintop” experiences?

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If you’re curious about CSS or comics studies, and close enough to get to Toronto, remember that our first day, Thursday, July 25, is Community Day, meaning that the morning events are free and open to the public. Plus, there will be single-day passes on Friday and Saturday for non-CSS members. Come check out what we’re doing!

All credit for the great program, its creativity, richness, accessibility, and relevance, goes to this year’s Conference Organizing Committee, helmed by co-chairs Candida Rifkind, who is CSS President, and Andrew O’Malley, and including Blair Davis, Biz Nijdam (representing the CSS Graduate Student Caucus), Nhora Lucia Serrano, Matt Smith, and past President Carol Tilley—a tireless team that has blended the best of the traditional conference model with new public-facing and creative elements. Looking forward to experiencing the results of their hard work!

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