Comics Arts Conference Session #1: Introduction to Graphic Medicine
"Graphic Medicine" is a term coined in 2009 by UK physician and artist Ian Williams to refer to the intersection between the medium of comics and the discourse on health care. Since then, a diverse group of scholars, comic artists, patients, and health-care providers have been engaged in dialogue about how comics might further our understanding of the health-care system and those who interact with it. Dr. Michael Green (Penn State Hershey College and Medicine) and M. K. Czerwiec (Northwestern Feinberg Medical School), two of the pioneers of the field and the organizers of five international conferences on graphic medicine, will describe and share some of the rich body of work that now exists at the intersection of comics and medicine, exploring the rationale for the use of comics in medicine, ways comics have been integrated into medical education, and how that intersection might benefit health-care providers and patients alike.
Comics Arts Conference Session #2: Beyond the Page
The influence of comics extends far beyond their paper. Victoria Minnich explores the value of comics as a research and education tool to visualize and personalize the operations of the southern California spiny lobster fishery, providing a case study of the possibilities for new media to generate collective meaning for a diverse and broad suite of audiences. Jeremy Johnson (University of Minnesota) explores the possibilities and limitations of graphic novels for the visually impaired and discusses the journey to create an "accessible" graphic narrative. In the process, he highlights the benefits of collaboration in the creation of narrative visualizations while raising an awareness of the accessibility of graphic novels. Renee Krusemark (Creighton University) builds on theories that reading graphic narratives involves both leadership and critical thinking, and uses The Walking Dead as a case study to explore how readers perceive leadership in comics and to discuss the potential of using comic books in the college classroom to address student critical thinking and leadership perceptions.
Comics Arts Conference Session #3: Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom: A Roundtable Discussion
Whether using graphic novels or comics to explain cultural differences, history, or art, there are many educational factors that sequential art can teach, in classes from the high school to the college level. Christina Angel (Metropolitan State University of Denver), Robert Weiner (Texas Tech University), Hannah Means-Shannon (Georgian Court University), Carrye Kay Syma (Texas Tech University), and James Bucky Carter (Washington State University)-the editors and authors of Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom: Essays on the Educational Power of Sequential Art-offer a lively discussion of the value of sequential art in and for education. This roundtable will focus on both the methodological and pedagogical approaches from the book, discussing the process involved in putting together the volume. The book's contributors will give their unique perspectives on the educational potential of using comics in the classroom.
Comics Arts Conference Session #4: Spotlight on Gail Simone
From her early work on the "Women In Refrigerators" website to her present work for DC, WonderCon Anaheim special guest Gail Simone (Batgirl) has been and continues to be one of the most influential comics writers in the industry. She has also been one of the most influential commentators on gender and sexuality in the medium. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight) moderates a discussion of Simone's past, present, and future career, writing characters from Wonder Woman to Red Sonja to Wolverine.
Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Comics and Women
Do women in spy thrillers have to be Miss Moneypenny? Do superheroines have to be sexualized? And do femme fatales have to have hearts of gold? Michele Brittany (Spyfi & Superspies) discusses how Ed Brubaker's Velvet breaks the stereotypical spy story by leading with a strong female protagonist. Deanna Rodriguez (Texas State University) examines the letter pages of Captain Marvel to show that changing Carol Danvers' costume removes the power of the male gaze and empowers female readers. And Christine Ferguson explains why Catwoman's history as a sex worker doesn't mean, and shouldn't mean, she has to lose her edge.
Comics Arts Conference Session #6: Comics and Transnationality
Brittany Tullis (St. Ambrose University) discusses how Jaime Hernandez's characters model "alternative femininities," a range of identities that shatters the boundaries of contemporary constructions of Latina femininity and patriarchal power. Grace D. Gipson (University of California, Berkeley) examines the evolution of the X-Men's Storm from African Goddess to Punk Rock Queen, and how that evolution reflects the dilemma of becoming a modern, global woman. Arturo Meijide Lapido (St. Ambrose University) explores how the Atlantic Ocean functions in Miguelanxo Prado's work as a geopolitical space to display Galician transnational identity as an intersection between Spain and America.
Comics Arts Conference Session #7: The Cognition of Comics
What happens in people's minds and brains when they read and create comics? Neil Cohn (University of California, San Diego) will present an overview of his new book, The Visual Language of Comics: An Introduction to the Structure and Cognition of Comics, which provides an extensive introduction to the cognitive science of comics comprehension. This discussion will cover the systematic components that make up unique and different panels, the grammar of sequential images and page layouts, cross-cultural differences in structure, and the newest neuroscience research on what the brain is doing while comprehending comics.
Comics Arts Conference Session #9: Batgirl Begins Again
Barbara Gordon ranks among the world's most famous superheroines, first as Batgirl (1967-1988) until rendered paraplegic in The Killing Joke, and then as Oracle, supreme computer hacker and Birds of Prey leader (1989-2011) until DC Comics's New 52 relaunch made her ambulatory and Batgirl once again. Renowned Birds of Prey/Batgirl writer and WonderCon Anaheim special guest Gail Simone discusses this character's real-world popularity and fictional trauma recovery with psychologists Dr. Andrea Letamendi (Under the Mask Online), the model for Barbara Gordon's therapist, and Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight).
Comics Arts Conference Session #10: Comics and War
Captain America isn't just a symbol of the United States; he's a symbol of the United States's relationship with war and the military. Nicole Rehnberg analyzes issues of Captain America comics that reference the Vietnam War to discuss how the actions and words of Captain America show America's changing relationship toward the Vietnam War from wartime to present-day. Kathleen McClancy (Texas State University) argues that the conflict between Iron Man and Captain America in Marvel Civil War replicates the battle over nostalgic framing narratives for the War on Terror.
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