San Diego Comic Con and the Comic Arts Convention

San Diego is the premier pop culture arts convention in the United States. Preview night is tonight. Everyone attends San Diego Comic Con for different reasons. For me it’s because of the Comic Arts Convention that runs concurrently with the rest of the convention. The CAC brings some of the country’s foremost experts on Pop Culture Education to share their insights. I’m looking forward to meeting some great minds and hopefully to cultivate a few guest bloggers for Pop Goes the Classroom. Here is the schedule for the CAC at San Diego Comic Con.

2011 Comics Arts Conference Schedule


10:30-12:00: Comics Arts Conference Session #1: Fan Studies—Scott Daniel Boras (Arizona State University) relates his experiences as “Ethnography Man” researching the world of cosplay at Comic-Con and investigating how cosplay both subverts and reinforces codes of conduct, and in the end is more about transcendence than escape.  Beverly Taylor (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) presents her research into how the culture of physique athletes—body builders, figure, and fitness athletes—is influenced and inspired by superheroes, even to the point of considering their lives outside the gym to be their secret identities.  Lincoln Geraghty (University of Portsmouth) looks at the culture of collectables, focusing specifically on Comic-Con, to argue that these lunchboxes, toys, video games, and websites are such a part of the meaning-making process that they becomes texts to study in their own right. Room 26AB



12:00-1:00: Comics Arts Conference Session #2: Graphic Representations of Otherness—Authors such as Scott McCloud and W.J.T. Mitchell have argued for the ways in which graphic narratives manipulate ideas through both image and language, highlighting the way that these elements may work cooperatively or in disjunction to present robust depictions of subjectivity.  Anne Cong-huyen (University of California, Santa Barbara), Caroline Kyungah Hong (Queens College), Kim Knight (University of Texas at Dallas), Amanda Phillips (University of California, Santa Barbara), Melissa Stevenson (Stanford University), Elizabeth Swanstrom (Florida Atlantic University), and Candace West (University of California, Santa Cruz) examine representations of Otherness in graphic media, including comics, television, and video games, focusing on the ways in which representations of otherness in graphic narratives and other media can either solidify stereotypes or undermine cultural assumptions—or both.  The roundtable will consider a variety of forms of “Otherness” including gender, race, and sexuality, as well as metaphors of Otherness, including the animal, the monstrous, and the heroic. Room 26AB


1:00-2:30: Comics Arts Conference Session #3: Digital Comics—Nick Langley and Ron Richards (Graphicaly) ask whether the move to digital comics will doom paper or help comics reach a new audience. Thomas Thrash (National Park Community College) and Tommy Cash (Henderson State University) discusses the balance that digital comics strike between being a necessity to continued publication of comics and an existential threat to comic book stores. Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (University of Hertfordshire) considers the different directions potential explorers of digital comics—locative, sonic, generative, game, architectural, and AR comics—might pursue. Room 26AB

2:30-3:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #4: Inventing Iron Man—Author E. Paul Zehr (University of Victoria) discusses his book Inventing Iron Man, physically deconstructing Iron Man to find out how we could use modern-day technology to create a suit of armor similar to Stark’s.  Examining contemporary brain-machine interfaces and the meeting of neurology and neural plasticity, Zehr finds that science is nearing the point where such a suit is possible, but observes that “superherodom is not just about technology.”  He also considers our own physical limitations to ask whether a living human could truly become Iron Man. Room 26AB



10:30-11:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #5Critical Approaches to Comics: An Introduction to Theories and Methods—Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan (, co-editors of the forthcoming textbook Critical Approaches to Comics (Routledge 2011), moderate a panel of contributors: David A. Berona (Plymouth State University), Andrei Molotiu (Indiana University), Stanford Carpenter (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Jennifer K. Stuller (, Peter M. Coogan (Washington University), and Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California) explain methodologies that can be employed to analyze meanings in comics and comics culture, and engage in an interactive exchange with the audience members about how they can incorporate these approaches into their teaching of comics. Room 26AB


11:30-1:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #6Wordless ComicsAndrei Molotiu (Indiana University) makes the case that the sequential dynamics of abstract comics echo complex self-organizing systems such as occur in biological, mathematical, and sociological processes, and that the same trans-media values underlie more traditional, storytelling comics.  Dietrich Grünewald (Universität Koblenz-Landau) examines the picture story principle and why it is not advisable to refer to what Rodolphe Töpffer called “literature in pictures” with a fixed general term.  David A. Berona (Plymouth State University) investigates social, personal, and literary themes in contemporary woodcut novels. Room 26AB


1:00-2:00: Comics Arts Conference Session #7: Focus on David Lloyd—Guest of the Comic-Con David Lloyd (V for Vendetta, Kickback) discusses the nature of sequential art and the methods of its production, considering his own methods, and how those methods have changed over time, as well as the creation of comics more generally in various genres and national and historical traditions.  He will also look at the teaching of sequential art, both to practitioners and to audiences, discussing his time at the London Cartoon Centre and the Cartoon Classroom project.  Kathleen McClancy (Wake Forest University) moderates. Room 26AB


2:00-3:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #8Transmedia, Comics Form, and Contemporary AdaptationsPatrick Jagoda (University of Chicago) considers what implications the co-mingling of comics and digital games might have for the future of transmedia storytelling in what Henry Jenkins has called our contemporary “convergence culture.”  Hillary Chute (University of Chicago) examines how recent adaptations of independent comics provoke and stage conversations among forms from film to live performance.  Liam Burke (Huston School of Film & Digital Media) explores what impact the unprecedented period of modern comic book film adaptation has had on mainstream American comic books, from diminishing the specificity of their form to publishers making comics more amenable to film adaptation.  Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California) responds. Room 26AB


7:30-8:30 Comics Arts Conference Session: Comics Studies Forum

The Comics Studies Forum is an annual gathering of comics scholars to discuss the current and future state of the field.  This year the topic is teaching comics with guest of the Comic-Con David Lloyd (Cartoon Classroom).  The CSF is open to all Comics Arts Conference presenters, and includes scholars specifically attending the Forum: Scholars specifically attending the Forum include: Andrew Friedenthal (University of Texas at Austin), Kevin Degnan (Southwestern College), Andrew Rempt (Southwestern College), Jeffrey Martin (Southwestern College), Matt Yockey (University of Toledo), Richard Harrison (Mount Royal University), Jeff Brain (San Francisco State University), Christina Blanch (Ball State University), Schuyler Kerby (University of Central Florida), Jeff Barbanell (Arizona State University), Lesley Farmer (California State University Long Beach), Alec Hosterman (Indiana University South Bend), Benjamin Villarreal (New Mexico Highlands University), and Gina Misiroglu (Visible Ink Press). Come prepared to discuss David Lloyd’s career and the Cartoon Classroom ( Room 26AB


8:30-    Graphic Novel Reporter After Dinner

John Hogan at Graphic Novel Reporter has invited CAC participants to attend a dinner (which starts at 7:30) at Buca di Beppo, 705 Sixth Ave. (at G Street).  We’ll head over after the forum (If you want to attend the dinner, email him at  The deadline was Friday July 15, but ask him).



10:30-12:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #9: Sequential ArtistryKeegan Lannon (Southern Illinois University) uses Craig Thompson’s Blankets as a case study to analyze how the relationship between the frame and the gutter, and individual frames themselves, can suggest duration and create the passage of time.  Fabio Luiz Carneiro Mourilhe Silva (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro) applies Gaston Bachelard’s concept of rupture to comics, showing the evolution of comics along with their evaluation in terms of the instant and the articulation of time.  Tof Eklund (Full Sail University) turns the work of Thierry Groensteen, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, and Donald Ault onto Alex Robinson’s Too Cool to be Forgotten, revealing a narrative that is by turns eerie, enlightening, and wrenching, and, most of all, illustrative of the function and potential of time in comics.  Martin Schuewer (German Society for Comics Research) explores how the graphic construction of space contributes to the narrative in comics, looking particularly at perspective drawing and at how spatial fragments are linked to form a coherent narrative in the work of such experimental artists as Windsor McCay and in more conventionally narrative comics. Room 26AB


12:00-1:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #10: The Wit, Whimsy, & Wisdom Of Weisinger—Comic book historian and illustrator Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art) presents the work of Mort Weisinger, editor of the Superman line for 30 years (1940-70), told in Weisinger’s own words and artist Curt Swan’s images. Room 26AB


1:00-2:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #11: Psychology of the Dark Knight: How Trauma Formed the Batman and Why He’s Got a Thing for “Bad Girls”—How realistic is it that a young Bruce Wayne would vow to spend the rest of his life avenging his parents’ murders and “warring on all criminals”? How did these seminal events shape the man Wayne becomes? And why is he attracted to “bad girls?” For answers to these and other questions, psychologists Travis Langley (Henderson State University) and Robin Rosenberg (Psychology of Superheroes) ask Batman writers Dennis O’Neil and Grant Morrison, one-time Catwoman Lee Meriwether (Batman: The Movie), journalist Jill Pantozzi (Newsarama), and executive producer Michael Uslan (The Dark Knight Rises). Room 26AB


2:00-3:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #12: Poster Session—Want to go in depth with a comics scholar? Or a whole room of comics scholars?  Rather than presenting from the stage, the Poster Session scholars will be ranged around the room to discuss their presentations in small-group and one-on-one discussions.  Marko Head and Nicole Smith (Henderson State University) present “The Workday Comic,” an 8-hour student-project variation on Scott McCloud’s 24-Hour Comic, including the daunting task of painting original art drawn by special guest contributor Kabuki artist David Mack. Real-World Consequences Poster GroupKalani Largusa (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) explores the significance of Kato in his role as the Green Hornet’s sidekick and the shaping of Asian identity; Nathan Wilson (Graphic Novel Reporter) looks at the real-world consequences of the representation of Native Americans in comics.  Adriana Estrada (University of Houston) uses moral panic theory and labeling theory to investigate the social construction of deviance that became associated with comic books in the anti-comics crusade of the 1940s and 1950s.  Medical Issues Poster Group—Erica Ash (Henderson State University) traces the history of addiction and drug use in comics in the context of the Comics Code; Brian Lott (Henderson State University) outlines how Harvey Dent/Two-Face changed to meet criteria for dissociative identity when he became The Judge. Adaptation Poster GroupJoyce Havstad (University of California, San Diego) charts the role of comics as a hybrid medium in facilitating adaptation to and from other media; David Mitchell (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) critically reads Enki Bilal’s epic Nikopol Trilogy and its film adaptation Immortal to consider how the comic seamlessly integrates the unreal with the real, whereas the film separates the real and unreal between live-action and CGI.  Superheroes Poster GroupLauren Penick (Henderson State University) surveyed college students, prison inmates, and fan convention attendees to examine correlations between respondents’ self concepts and their character preferences; Evan Moreno-Davis (University of Southern California) examines the assumptions of the genre that drive role-playing game designers; Dana Anderson (Maine Maritime Academy) defines the superhero phenomenologically through the visceral experience of “superheroness” in the world. Queer Poster GroupCourtney Schneider (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) compares the treatment of homosexuality in mainstream and nonmainstream serialized media; Ashley Pitcock (Henderson State University) asks whether Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s movement into bisexuality was a sign of the times or a gimmick to sell Season Eight comics; Michael Harrison (Monmouth College) investigates how Spanish comics authors La Penya in Mondo Lirondo and Ivan Garcia in Capitan Eclipse use fantasy in distinct ways to communicate a 21st century queer Spanish identity.  Gender Poster GroupApril Murphy (University of North Texas) seeks to examine how fears of female power, depicted in the new Batwoman and the relaunched Wonder Woman, are tied to a pattern of historical uneasiness with same-sex bonding; Independent scholar Ariel Schudson argues that the figure of Hit-Girl in Kick Ass maintains more positive iconography than negative and is really only behaving in a kind of “teen super hero normalcy,” even if it does seem a bit violent.  Manga Poster GroupGeorge Tsouris (Touro College) examines shared features of Yokoyama’s manga and interviews to imagine what his manifesto for neomanga might look like; Kotaro Nakagaki (Daito Bunka University) focuses on the viewpoints of shojo in Sirato Sanpei’s A Vanishing Girl and Kono Fumiyo At the Corner of This World to examine war representations, reconstruction and economic growth, and racial/social minorities and discriminations in war manga. Room 26AB


7:00-9:00 Comics Arts Conference 10th Panel Dinner

Join us for the annual Comics Arts Conference 10th Panel Dinner at Hennessey’s Tavern (708 4th Avenue). It’s a chance to get together with the other conference participants outside of the conference.  Show up, eat, drink, talk.



10:30-12:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #13Monsters, Somnambulism, and Anarchy:  Romantic Vertigo in the Modern AgeKristy Boney (University of Central Missouri) delves into the influence of German Romanticism on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.  Alex Boney ( explores the Romantic themes and central worldview that guide the works of Grant Morrison, from The Invisibles to Seven Soldiers, to his Batman run. Allison DuShane (University of Arizona) considers how Grant Morrison, in We3, employs formal elements unique to the medium of comics to critique the ways in which animals have been appropriated by culture to serve human interests. Room 26AB



12:00-1:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #14: Manga CensorshipYukari Fujimoto (City University of New York) discusses the regulations concerning the specific characteristics of Japanese comics.  Attorney Takashi Yamaguchi addresses the problem of these regulations from a legal point of view.  Makoto Daniel Kanemitsu ( examines the issue of censorship by comparing Japanese manga and American comics. Shige (CJ) Suzuki (City University of New York) investigates how the avant-garde gekiga comics appearing the in the 1960s alternative magazine Garo created a space not only for experimental artistic expression, but also for social criticism.  Room 26AB



1:30-2:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #15: The Comic Book Project: Creativity, Comics, and Academic Success in the Imperial Valley—Over the past three years, students in grades K-12 from Imperial County, California, have been creating comics in their social studies, science, English, and math classrooms as part of a US Department of Education grant.  They are using the Comic Book Project to boost academic skills, test scores, and individual success. This presentation features the work of participating students alongside demos from students, teachers, and coordinators.  Lori Campos (Imperial County, CA Office of Education), Anthony Arevalo (Imperial County, CA Office of Education), Juan Campos (The Comic Book Project), Imperial County student Hallie Campos, and Shaila Mulholland (San Diego State University) will introduce the process and products of this unique educational model, and provide tools and strategies for replication in any other school. Michael Bitz (Center for Educational Pathways), founder of the Comic Book Project, will be present to introduce the program and describe the successes and challenges of comics in school classrooms. Room 26AB


2:30-3:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #16The Culture of Comic-Con: Field Studies of Fans and MarketingMatthew J. Smith (Wittenberg University) moderates a panel of graduate and undergraduate students—Kane Anderson (University of California Santa Barbara), Alissa Armstrong (Wittenberg University), Austin Bragg (Wittenberg University), David Erickson (Wittenberg University), Jonathan Judy (Kent State University), Kamuela Kaneshiro (Hawaii Pacific University), Leah Michaels (Hawaii Pacific University), Melissa Miller (Georgia State University), Jonathan Rupert (Wittenberg University)—who present initial findings of a week-long field study of the intersection of fan practice at the nexus of cultural marketing and fan culture at Comic-Con. Discussion with the audience follows the presentations. Room 26AB


6:30- Movie Night

It’s Sunday night after the Con, it’s time for a superhero movie.  This year Captain America: The First Avenger.  Gather in the lobby of the Westin Gaslamp (next to the Horton Plaza Mall) at 6:30-7, then we’ll get some dinner, and see a 9-something showing.  No showtimes yet, but it’ll be showing in one of the two Gaslamps movie theaters (the United Artists Horton Plaza and the Pacific Gaslamp on 5th).


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