I’ve been going to the New York Comic Con since its inception in 2006. To me, NYCC weekend is as exciting as my birthday or Christmas – it’s fun, special, and (the nerd in me drools over this) jam packed full of learning experiences! The panels at NYCC are always enlightening to me, but last year was the first time I ever had the privilege of sitting in on a discussion between Comics Scholars. It was the end of the day and, looking for a place to sit and absorb, I stumbled into a panel room that was not on my schedule. I was in a room full of people who study comic books as literature and delve into the nitty-gritty of the genre. I was mesmerized by the intellectual conversation taking place and decided I would make sure to seek out the scholars this year! Lucky me, the schedule was just e-mailed to me this week!
This year The Institute of Comics Studies set aside a block of time entitled the “Comics Studies Conference” which includes three different panels discussing the nature of the superhero, power and sexuality in comics, and the origins of American Comics. The Institute is described by its director, Peter Coogan, in the following way:
The Institute for Comics Studies (ICS), a “think tank” for comics studies, is a non-profit organization designed to promote the study, understanding, recognition, and cultural legitimacy of comics, and to coordinate communication within and about the medium. The Institute will undertake this mission through communication with the general public and within the scholarly, professional, and fan communities.
I wanted to share this schedule with my fellow nerds so those of you heading to NYCC on Thursday could plan accordingly, and I also wanted to give everyone else a perspective of some of the non-Hollywood infused events taking place at this media-crazed convention. Here’s the schedule for Thursday, October 11th:
Comics Studies Conference NYCC 2012 Schedule
Date: Thursday, October 11
4:00-5:00 pm: The Origins of Leaping Tall Buildings: Finding New Ways to Document the Creators Behind the Comics. Hannah Means-Shannon (Georgian Court University) leads a discussion with the creators of Leaping Tall Buildings: the Origins of American Comics artist Christopher Irving, photographer Seth Kushner and designer Eric Skillman on the strategies they developed to create this unique and significant book on American comics for scholars and fans. Moderator: Stanford Carpenter.
5:15-6:15 pm: Power and Sexuality in Comics. Cameron McKee (UC-Berkeley) argues that Tom of Finland’s subversion of heterosexual spaces in Kake constructs an iconic gay identity. Sam Cannon (UT-Austin) shows how the sequential artistry in Los Penitentes intersects with (homo)sexuality and political power. Evan Johnson (UT-Dallas) explores the sublimination of female power in the Marvel Universe. Moderator: Stanford Carpenter.
6:30-7:30 pm: Constructing and Reconstructing the Superhero. Forrest Helvie (Norwalk CC) discusses how the conventional hero of Transcendentalists and Gothic writers contributed to superheroes like Batman. David Lewis (Boston University) explains why superheroes never really die and the “superhero afterlife subgenre.” Rachelanne Smith (CSU-Sacramento) discusses how South Park’s Coon character clarifies society’s need for the altruistic hero. Moderator: Travis Langley.
You may recognize the name of that last moderator, Dr. Travis Langley (@Superherologist), as the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Night. Dr. Langley is not only the co-organizer of the “Comics Studies Conference”, he is one of NYCC 2012’s Special Guests in the literary category shared by Spotlight Guests, Anne Rice and Kim Harrison. According to the NYCC website, Dr. Travis Langley will be appearing at the convention the entire weekend.
So, while we all know the weekend will be serving up enough brain candy to last throughout the year, you can rest assured that, when you need it, neurological nourishment can also be found.