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Author Archives: Comics Forum

Comics Forum 2020 Cancelled

Unfortunately, we have decided not to run a Comics Forum conference this year. The cancellation of Comics Forum, an event series that has run for ten instalments without interruption is not something we take lightly. In brief, the reasons we have made this decision are as follows:

  • The original theme proposal and CFP text were produced early in 2020, before a wide range of globally significant events took place. We are not confident that the focus of the event as written is adequate to respond to these events in a meaningful way. The questions were being asked in a very different context to that in which answers would have been given.
  • Recent events in the field of comics-scholarship specifically have compounded this problem and made clear that any attempt to respond to deep-rooted structural problems in the field would need to proceed from a broader base than was incorporated into the CFP as written.
  • Given that some of these recent events have highlighted the ways in which (in particular) more junior academics might be penalised for speaking out about structural inequalities, we have a responsibility to ensure that the spaces we create for discussion do not perpetuate such harms. Our plans for digital presentations do not do enough to ensure this type of safeguarding is possible, and we are not prepared to rush through an alternative approach.
  • Similarly, although the move to a digital context presents many opportunities, it also creates more general areas of risk around safeguarding and moderation. Given the theme of the conference and the possibility of harm coming from these areas, we are not confident that we could adequately protect participants from or prepare participants for adverse consequences arising from the event (we are including the organising team as participants here). To be clear: this is not an indication that we regard any of the proposals we received as particularly problematic, but we are aware that interpretations vary widely in online interactions and this presents some risk.

Comics Forum has always sought to offer an open and productive space to start and continue conversations on important topics, but its greatest impact has been outside the event itself in the relationships that persist. We have no doubt that these relationships will continue to prosper without an event this year.

Over the next year, we will be keeping a close eye on events both within Comics Studies and beyond and considering how we can best engage with the important work of developing the field in future.

The Comics Forum 2020 Organising Committee
Harriet Kennedy, Ian Hague, Maggie Gray, Olivia Hicks

 
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Posted by on 2020/09/14 in Comics Forum 2020, News

 

Comics Forum 2020: Call for Proposals – Pages of Whiteness

Comics Forum 2020: Pages of Whiteness
November 2020, Online
Conference Lead: Olivia Hicks

Call for Contributions

In White, Richard Dyer argues that race is something which is only applied to non-white people; and thus white people are allowed to speak from a non-racialised, normalised position of power.1 In Unstable Masks, Sean Guynes and Martin Lund state that whiteness is a set of malleable historical, geographical and cultural values, that is ‘one of the key historical formations of power, surveillance and control’ in the West.2 Drawing attention to whiteness is drawing attention to what is naturalised and/or normally invisible.

The title of this conference comes from Tracy D. Morgan’s essay ‘Pages of Whiteness’, which explores white supremacy in the erotic fantasies of the queer physical culture movement in the American post-war period.3 The essay title refers both to the white paper used to produce physical culture magazines, but also the overwhelming presence of white bodies within, and the suffocating racist fantasies which inform the rare appearances of Black or Latino models. The phrase suggests an intersection of identity, materiality and (comics) production. This essay is one of many exposing how whiteness shapes the media we create and consume. The idea of whiteness as a ‘norm’ and the backdrop against which all other identities are contrasted and controlled, filters into
every facet of the comics we read and study; from the over-abundance of white characters and storylines, the privileging of white editorial and creative voices, to the ‘whiteness’ of the comic’s pages, suggesting a white, blank default, to the inks which are used in production, which privilege white skin tones. As Zoe D. Smith notes in her essay ‘Four Color-ism’, ‘Brown skin in comics of this period fails in part because there’s too much ink. The layers of cyan, magenta, and yellow are unreliable and painfully noticeable. White skin, by contrast, is thoughtlessly stable.’4

Maintaining the status quo of Western society is a thoughtless action; challenging the structuring logic of our worlds is a task which requires engagement and action. This conference is calling for a critical examining of whiteness and the structuring systems of comics and comics scholarship. One could respond to this theme by exploring whiteness within comics and/or comics academia. One could also choose to examine those identities which are marginalised or excluded; exploring creators and characters with marginalised identities. This call also encourages work on the production and materiality of comics; submissions on colouring (which is an underappreciated part of comics production) and zine culture, where creators often deliberately choose colourful paper or a collage effect which disrupts the notion of the white page being the norm.

Some ways Pages of Whiteness could be interpreted are as follows:

  • Whiteness and Comics
  • Comics and Race
  • Comics and Identity
  • Comics and Activism/Protest
  • Queering Comics
  • Comics Production (including colouring)
  • Zine Culture
  • Colour and Comics
  • Comics scholarship; new approaches to studying comics
  • Comics Practice as research
  • Digital “Page-less” Comics

Formats

Comics Forum 2020 will take place online. We invite contributors to submit proposals in the following formats, but we are open to other suggestions if speakers are in a position to offer them:

Pre-recorded videos: This may be a single speaker talk of 10-15 minutes, or a 20-minute conversation between two or more speakers. These can be followed by live Q&As either in a video call and/or via Twitter (please specify which you wish to use when you submit your proposal).

Live Events: These may be workshops, reading groups, demonstrations of practice or research methods etc. Events will be hosted on relevant openly-accessible platforms suitable for large-scale live video calls – if you would like to use a particular platform please specify this, otherwise make clear in your proposal what the format of your proposed event is so we can ensure we have access to a platform that will support it. Please note that time-zones mean that live events can be geographically exclusive, so if you can run your event in a way that includes some asynchronous content this will enable more people to participate.

Digital Zines: Zines on the conference theme can be submitted in PDF format for inclusion in the event via Issuu.

Proposals of up to 250 words in length for contributions in the formats detailed above are now being accepted at the following linkhttps://tiny.cc/comicsforum20The deadline for submissions is the 1st of September 2020 and you will be notified of acceptance by or before the 14th of September 2020. Please include a short (100 word) biography with your proposal.

Comics Forum 2020 is part of the Thought Bubble Sequential Art Festival. Find out more about Thought Bubble at: https://www.thoughtbubblefestival.com/.


Note: The Comics Forum organising committee asked Olivia Hicks to be a co-organiser for the 2020 conference in 2019. In January 2020, Olivia proposed the call ‘Pages of Whiteness’ which as accepted by the team immediately. The call was an urgent call to action in comics scholarship in January, and recent events have only served to further highlight how necessary this work is.


1: Richard Dyer, White, (London: Routledge, 1997), p.2.

2: Sean Guynes and Martin Lund, ‘Introduction’ in: Unstable Masks: Whiteness and American Superhero Comics (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2019), p.2.

3: Tracy D. Morgan, ‘Pages of Whiteness: Race, Physique Magazines, and the Emergence of Gay Culture’ in Queer Studies: A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Anthology, edited by Brett Beemyn and Mickey Eliason (New York and London: New York University Press, 1996), pp.280-297.

4: Zoe D. Smith, ‘4 Colorism, or, the Ashiness of it all’, Women Write About Comics (24 May 2019), <https://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2019/05/4-colorism-or-the-ashiness-of-it-all/>

 
 

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Comics Forum 2019 Registration Open

Registration for Comics Forum 2019 is now open.

Leeds Central Library (UK), 7-8 November 2019

Comics Forum 2019 will explore new approaches to comics scholarship, both in terms of examining comics from art and design perspectives, and experimenting with new ways to design the conference format itself, through a range of different events running in two parallel streams.

Stream A will comprise conference papers of 25 minutes.

Stream B will comprise a selection of alternative formats.

Programme

Click here to download the Comics Forum 2019 programme (draft; subject to changes).

Registration

Click here to register for Comics Forum 2019.

Tickets are priced as follows:

1 day (7th or 8th): £12

2 days (7th and 8th): £24

4 days (7th-10th, includes Thought Bubble convention pass): £48 (save £4 overall)

 
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Posted by on 2019/10/23 in Comics Forum 2019, News

 

Comics Forum 2019: Call for Contributions

Download a PDF of this Call for Contributions here.

Leeds Central Library (UK), 7-8 November 2019

Comics Forum 2019 will explore new approaches to comics scholarship, both in terms of examining comics from art and design perspectives, and experimenting with new ways to design the conference format itself, through a range of different events running in two parallel streams.

Stream A will comprise conference papers of 25 minutes.

Stream B will comprise a selection of alternative formats.

We are now seeking contributors for both streams, as detailed below.

‘Available spaces’ indicates the number of speakers/session leads we are seeking, not overall number of attendees. Joint submissions are welcome (e.g. two speakers can give one paper). You may submit for multiple formats, but please submit a separate proposal for each. Comics Forum welcomes speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds, ranging from students to senior academics, practitioners and beyond. No particular academic disciplines are preferred.

Proposals of up to 250 words in length are now being accepted at the following link: https://bit.ly/2wYNqYM. The deadline for submissions is the 16th of August 2019 and you will be notified of acceptance by or before the 30th of August 2019. Please include a short (100 word) biography with your proposal.

STREAM A: Art and Design in Comics

Conference Paper (25 mins)
Available Spaces: 21
While literary approaches and methodologies have tended to dominate the study of comics and related forms, in recent years art and design perspectives have been of growing interest to scholars, with research on narrative drawing, visual metaphor, book design, graphic design and materiality becoming increasingly prominent. Comics Forum 2019 will develop and extend these themes, through panels that consider visual, material and multisensory art and design as they relate to comics.
Subjects for discussion may include, but are not limited to:

  • Artistic canons of comics as distinct from literary canons
  • Art historical approaches to comics (e.g. periodisation, style,)
  • Typography and graphic design in comics
  • Artistic and/or technical production and practices (e.g. drawing, lettering, colouring,)
  • Labour in the creative industries
  • Non-linguistic aspects of comics
  • Comics and book design
  • Comics and moving image
  • Comics and curation
  • Comics as/against art
  • Interaction
  • Visual abstraction
  • Comics and participatory design/social design/community arts
  • The relationships between comics and other art forms

STREAM B: Redesigning the Comics Conference

Mini presentations – Teaching and Learning/Knowledge Exchange
Available Spaces: 10
For this session we are seeking 5 presentations on teaching and learning with comics, and 5 presentations on knowledge exchange practices (interpreted broadly) involving comics. Presentations in this session will be in the 20×20 format: this requires you to have 20 slides that run for 20 seconds each. Talks should ideally focus on case studies that can be used to develop good practice in these areas more generally.

Research Methods Demonstration
Available Spaces: 6
We are seeking up to 6 speakers for this session, which will apply different research methods to the same comic. Each speaker should propose one research method or approach they would like to take and give a brief (10-15 minute) overview of how it works or what it is concerned with. The comic to be analysed will be negotiated by the speakers once they have been confirmed, in advance of the event.

Live Practice Demonstration
Available Spaces: Negotiable
This 90-minute session aims to give an insight into one or a range of image making practices to explore how production can be foregrounded and explored in comics scholarship, and how we might develop better understandings of technical processes in the field. We are therefore open to submissions from one or more creative practitioners who are able to demonstrate and narrate a creation and production workflow/process to an audience. This could mean a digital workflow, or an analogue pencilling, inking, colouring and lettering sequence, or something completely different! If you are submitting to this session, please indicate which practices you would be prepared to demonstrate, any equipment you would require (beyond a standard data projector/screen) and the approach you would take. This session could accommodate multiple practitioners, so you may submit a programme for the full 90 minutes or a shorter demonstration that could be grouped with other practitioners.

Debate
Available Spaces: 4
We are seeking 4 speakers to debate the motion “Comics are middle class”. This will be a chaired formal debate with 2 speakers for the motion, and 2 against. Please indicate in your proposal whether you wish to speak for or against the motion or would be prepared to debate either side.
The debate will proceed as follows (timings indicated below will be observed strictly):

  • 10 mins: First speaker for the motion (to put the case for)
  • 10 mins: First speaker against the motion (to put the case against)
  • 10 mins: Second speaker for the motion (to respond to arguments against)
  • 10 mins Second speaker against the motion (to respond to arguments for)
  • 5 mins: Final summary for
  • 5 mins: Final summary against
  • 5 mins: Audience vote on the motion

Reading Group (Leads)
Available Spaces: 3
We are seeking 3 speakers to lead 3 x 30-minute reading group discussions of individual texts (to be circulated and read prior to the event). Although led by named speakers, these sessions are intended to be interactive and discursive, so the role is more one of a host or chair – this is not a conference paper. Speakers should propose the text they wish to discuss, along with a short rationale for that choice. Please note that priority will be given to texts that represent current and diverse approaches to comics scholarship.

Archives and (Special) Collections Showcase
Available Spaces: 6
We invite collectors, librarians and archivists to present their collections in a 90 minute “collector fair” format event, which will give attendees the opportunity to circulate around six tables of material and speak about that material to the collection holders or custodians. In your proposal, please indicate the range and type of material you would like to showcase, and how it might enhance our understanding of the field and/or offer opportunities for research and teaching.

Practice Based Research Demonstration
Available Spaces: 3
We are seeking up to three practice-based or practice-led researchers to give an overview of their methods and approaches in undertaking research, in talks of 20-30 minutes. Speakers should foreground the ways in which their practice informs understandings of comics and comics scholarship, and how it might be taken up more broadly in the field. Speakers may, but are not required to, present a demonstration of practice if appropriate. In your proposal, please indicate whether you would require any special equipment or materials for your talk.

 
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Posted by on 2019/06/25 in Comics Forum 2019, General, News

 

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Registration now open for Comics Forum 2018

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Click here to register for Comics Forum 2018 through Eventbrite.

Comics Forum 2018 is the tenth anniversary of the annual conference series. To celebrate this milestone, scholars are invited from around the world to join us for a two-day series of talks looking back at the subjects Comics Forum has focused on over the past decade and considering how they have changed and developed. We would love for you to join us!

At the Eventbrite link you can buy tickets for 1 Day, 2 Days or a special offer that gets you 2 days of Comics Forum followed by a 2 Day Convention Pass for Thought Bubble on the 22nd and 23rd September. This will save you £4 on the price of the convention pass (RRP £28)!

We’re also delighted to be hosting Seriously Into Comics: A Workshop for Comics Studies Graduate Students and Early Career Researchers on Wednesday 19th September. Tickets for this are £6 and can be added to your order through Eventbrite.

Seriously Into Comics will include the following events:

1230: Welcome (Hattie Kennedy)
1245: Before a PhD (Speakers TBC)
1345: Break
1400: During a PhD (Ian Horton and Ian Hague)
1500: After a PhD (Joan Ormrod and Maggie Gray)
1600: Networking & Refreshments

Each of the the three main sessions will include around 30 mins discussion by the session leads, and 30 mins opportunity for discussion and questions. Sessions will look at how you might get started in PhD research, network and develop contacts, build a publishing record, get involved with conferences and look for a job and early career researcher (ECR) opportunities.

We look forward to seeing you in Leeds!

 
 
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