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Australian Comics Symposium at PCAF (Perth Comic Arts Festival)

by Stuart Medley

 

PCAF A4 poster by Soolagna MajumdarArt by Soolagna Majumdar

 

The Australian Comics Symposium was a one-day conference held at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, on Friday 29 June 2018, as part of the inaugural Perth Comic Arts Festival (29-30 June 2018).

 

This event was the first comics-focused festival in Western Australia. For many years Perth has been on the annual circuit of two major Australian pop culture events: Supanova and Oz Comic-Con. Both events have provided paid-for opportunities for local comics makers to show their portfolios and sell comics and comics-related art. However, both have a modus operandi similar to San Diego Comic-Con, in that they feature TV and film celebrity appearances and foreground the sale of pop culture merchandise. It was a stated aim of the PCAF organisers to have the focus on comics and to see what appetite there was in Perth for such an event. The inaugural PCAF was a big success with most of the visiting artists and scholars declaring it the best comics event they had been to in Australia. The market day attracted hundreds of visitors. Vendors all reported having done more business than at the big pop culture conventions. PCAF was covered by the national broadcaster (ABC) on its television news and reported in the state newspaper, The West Australian.

 

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A report on the BCCS Comics Day and Tea Party by Paul Fisher Davies

The British Consortium of Comics Scholars emerged from an initially nameless reading group founded in 2012, in which a group of scholars in the South-East, mostly engaged in part-time PhD studies, gathered to discuss graphic narrative theory every few weeks, circulating venues between Brighton University, Sussex University and Central St Martins. What we shared was an interest in the practical nature of comics creation, its station in the world of discourse; and most of us were pursuing practice-based PhDs, or we ourselves created comics as well as being scholars of the medium.

Nicola Streeten was a key driver in moving forward this first BCCS symposium, which sought to celebrate those two strands of our interests — scholarship and creation of comics — by structuring a day, Saturday 30 May 2015, which would progress from research-led in the morning, through to creator-led in the later afternoon, and which would bring together comics scholars and creators, as well as being open to interested members of the public. All attendees were encouraged to draw (and write, and photograph) their notes and reactions to the day, and pages were left blank in the programmes for this very purpose.

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