Wednesday, October 03, 2012

CFP: Vancouver Comics Studies Workshop at Fan Expo (Nov. 30; Apr. 19-20)

Call for Participation:

Vancouver Comic Studies Workshop
at Fan Expo

We are seeking participants for four roundtable discussions to be held at Fan Expo Vancouver on Saturday, April 20, 2013. These sessions are an opportunity to share expertise with interested members of the general public. Participation will involve brief remarks(5–10 minutes), followed by moderated discussion and questions from the audience. The selection process will prioritize a diverse set of perspectives and voices and demonstrated ability to present to lay audiences.

The Vancouver Comic Studies Workshop at Fan Expo is a new series of public engagement and knowledge mobilization events held around Fan Expo Vancouver. Contributing scholars will also be invited to participate in a one-day workshop on Friday, April 19 for the purposes of developing works-in-progress (not neccessarily related to roundtable topics) for publication with peers.

Roundtable session themes follow:
  1. What's so Super About Comics?
    Comic conventions have become premiere events for studios and celebrities to generate buzz for upcoming blockbuster movies and TV shows, many of which started life on the comics page. Many have taken this as a sign of comics' growing cultural influence, but is a superhero movie necessarily a comic-book movie or have these characters taken on a life of their own? What is comics' niche in the evolving ecology of pop culture, and what are the consequences of the industry's increasing integration into Big Entertainment for comic readers and fans?
  2. The Superman Exists, and He's Canadian
    Superman's Canadian origins have been attested to by a Historica Heritage Minute and a postage stamp, and co-creator Joe Schuster has lent his name to an annual award for Canadian comics. Since then, Calgary and Vancouver have doubled as Metropolis in film and TV adaptations, and notable Canadian creators such as John Byrne and Stuart Immonen have chronicled his struggle for truth, justice, and the Canadian American way. But what makes Superman – or any Canadian comic, for that matter – meaningfully “Canadian”?
  3. Graphic Novels and Art's Work
    Art Spiegelman won his special Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Not only did Maus – and its Pulitzer – help promote the idea of serious stories being told in comics, but Spiegelman lent his weight to the effort to get “comics and graphic novels” adopted as a subject heading in the book industry. Although he hasn't produced a major new work sinceMaus, Spiegelman casts a long shadow over the last twenty years of comics history, and he is the subject of a major retrospective exhibition that will make its way to Vancouver in 2013. In reviewing his legacy, has the vision of the graphic novel as a legitimate art form been achieved, or is the term just a marketing strategy? What have comics gained or loss in this process?
  4. The Meaning of Mainstream
    There used to be a clear distinction between mainstream and independent, alternative or undeground comics/comix. The former label embraced superhero stories produced by the Big Two publishers, and the latter set of terms described everything else. Today, creators move back and forth between work-for-hire and creator-owned projects, many “independent” publishers produce comics that are stylistically similar to those of Marvel and DC, and webcomics and graphic novels have carved out spaces that can't be easily captured by the mainstream/alternative binary. How useful are these terms now? Do they still describe meaningful differences in genre or production model? And where do concerns for creators' rights fit in the status quo of comic-book publishing?
To apply, please indicate which panel you would like to be considered for and submit a brief summary of your position/argument (250 words or less) and current CV to Dr. Benjamin Woo ( by November 30, 2012.

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