Today on the site: I had a back-and-forth with Hillary Chute about her new book, Outside the Box, among other things.
I wondered if you could, for the record, restate your response to the criticism of the Chicago symposium. I think your defense is important — do you worry about canonization and exclusion? It’s a function of any event that not everyone gets invited, but are the ramifications of such groupings of concern to you? It was, I think, the whiteness of the panel, omission of Hernandez Bros, and the idea that it was a conservative canon-making. And finally, what’s next?
About the whiteness of the conference (and it wasn’t entirely white, but largely so): I appreciated Keith Knight’s comments a lot, and I also appreciated, in the follow up, his thoughts on how diversity in the comics field is growing. The conference website (for which all of the editorial content was written by me) states that the conference “brings together 17 world-famous cartoonists whose work has defined contemporary comics.” That is a true statement, in my opinion, for everyone who was invited. But it doesn’t mean that I think they are the only cartoonists whose work has defined contemporary comics, by any means. It would have been fabulous to have more people up there, and more non-white faces up there. If I could have gotten the funding to pull off an even bigger conference and invite more people, I would have!! I asked people I knew, who I had worked with or interviewed or met before. It’s a pretty white crowd, but not intentionally so!
Here’s something I’ve rarely seen: An English-language profile of the French cartoonist Gotlib.
Richard Brody on screenwriting vs. writing over at The New Yorker.
And Craig Fischer is organizing a big panel for Heroes Con, and he’d like to tell you about. Link is here, and text is below:
Comics Regulation, Comics Censorship: Past and Present
For their 2014 mega-panel, cartoonist Ben Towle and writer Craig Fischer team up with a cadre of expert commentators to examine those moments when political and public outrage over the content of comic books disrupted the body politic. The panel begins with a discussion of the recent South Carolina Fun Home controversy, where legislators in the House of Representatives tried to reduce state funding to the College of Charleston as a penalty for using Alison Bechdel’s lesbian-themed graphic novel in a campus program. Present for the Fun Home discussion are Dr. Consuela Francis, a comics scholar and professor in the English Department at the College of Charleston, and Christopher Brook, the Legal Director of North Carolina’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Then we’ll reconsider one of the most controversial figures in comics history: Dr. Fredric Wertham, author of 1954’s Seduction of the Innocent (published 60 years ago) and outspoken critic of what he considered the negative effects of comics on children. We’ll be joined via video by Dr. Bart Beaty (the author of Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture ) and Dr. Carol Tilley (the author of an article about distortions in Wertham’s research) to chart the latest developments in “Wertham Studies.”
Finally, Craig will conduct a career-spanning interview with legendary industry figure Denis Kitchen. We’ll zero in on the censorship hassles Kitchen tackled as a publisher and distributor of underground comix, on his role in the founding of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in 1986, and on his involvement in the CBLDF’s highest profile case, the arrest and conviction of artist Mike Diana for obscenity in 1994 (20 years ago!). Join us for a thought-provoking exchange of ideas…and for a cake decorated to look like the seal of the Comics Code Authority!
This panel is sponsored by the ACLU of North Carolina.