MSU Comic Forum friends and family: it is with a heavy heart we share the news of the passing of Michigan comic artist Nick Melanshek, and his six-year-old daughter Riley. Nick appeared in Artist Alley at the 2019 MSU Comics Forum, which was his first time doing so. Nick and Riley sadly lost their lives as the result of a car accident. Being a smaller, creator focused show means Comics Forum attendees and staff get to spend more time with artists, and we felt we needed to share this information. Nick is survived by his wife, Jessica, and there is a Go Fund Me page set up for her if anyone would like to contribute. https://www.gofundme.com/f/m59-family-loss-riley-and-nick
In light of the global pandemic and resulting health and financial strain on many of our scholars, artists, and attendees, the 2021 MSU Comics Forum will be conducted online. We are still accepting submissions from artists and scholars for our 2021 online event. Scholarly panel discussions will be held via invited Zoom rooms, Artist Alley will take place in a virtual setting on our website, and our special guests will deliver their keynote addresses at their regularly scheduled times. More information forthcoming as the event draws closer. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff via the contact page.
Stay safe, Ryan Claytor MSU Comics Forum – Director
Deborah Elizabeth Whaley is an artist, curator, writer, Senior Scholar for Digital Arts and Humanities for DSPS, director of the Digital Humanities graduate certificate, and Professor of American Studies and African American Studies at the University of Iowa. In her recent book, Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime, Whaley explores graphic novel production and comic book fandom, looking in particular at African, African American, and multiethnic women as deployed in television, film, animation, gaming, and print representations of comic book and graphic novel characters. Whaley was a Resident Visiting Scholar at the Center for Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and was a recipient of a grant from the Monroe Trotter Institute for Black Culture for her research on responses to 9/11 in Black expressive art and in the public sphere.
The events of the 2020 MSU Comics Forum started with an exhibition of comics from our Michigan State University Special Collections Library called “Comics and the City” which began in January 2020 and ran through the ending days of the Forum. The exhibiton was currated by Co-Panel Coordinators, Zack Kruse and Julian Chambliss.
On Tuesday, Feb 18th of the 2020 MSU Comics Forum, MSU Muslim Studies co-sponsored a lecture and comic book discussion on the comic, Yes, I’m Hot in This: The Hilarious Truth about Life in a Hijab, by Huda Fahmy.
On Friday, Feb 21, the academic panel discussions began to spill over into a second day this year (traditionally only held on Saturday of the event). The round table discussions started just after lunch and covered a number of topics such as, Comics in Translation, Comics and the Digital Humanities, and Comics and the Archive.
Later that evening, our 2020 MSU Comics Forum Creator Keynote Speaker, Emil Ferris, took the stage to deliver her lecture to a packed house.
The keynote address concluded with a question and answer period, but not before a standing ovation from the audience:
The following morning, Saturday, Feb. 22, the event began with two limited engagement tours of the Special Collections Library, home of the largest public collection of comic books in the world, led by Randy Scott, the MSU Special Collections Comic Bibliographer who built the collection.
Throughout the day on Saturday, there was a whirlwind of activity in Artist Alley:
Concurrent to the Artist Alley, several sessions of academic panel discussions were taking place throughout the day.
At 1pm, all academic panel discussions stopped, save for the 2020 MSU Comics Forum Scholar Keynote Address from Nick Sousanis.
Nick spoke about his work in comics, using drawing as a mode of thinking, showed his process for creating innovative page layouts, as well as his pedagogical approach when teaching his comics courses at San Francisco State University.
After Nick Sousanis spoke to a packed room, the panel discussions and artist alley continued until the close of the day at 5:30pm.
Keynote speakers, Emil Ferris and Nick Sousanis, also signed their work in Artist Alley between various engagements.
In closing, the MSU Comics Forum Committee and I would like to thank the 2020 MSU Comics Forum sponsors for allowing all the events associated with the MSU Comics Forum to remain free and open to the public, the many comics artists and scholars who have helped create our most ambitious programming roster to date, the attendees who continue to tell their friends about the event and arrive open-minded and ready to experience new ideas, and our 2020 keynote speakers, Emil Ferris and Nick Sousanis, for being such thoughtful, intelligent, and gracious guests.
Finally, I would personally like to thank my dream team of committee members who not only help to make this show possible, but also help make it better every year; Zack Kruse, Julian Chamblis, James Curtis, Anthony Robinson, Jonah Magar, and Sherief AbouElSeoud, I couldn’t do this without you.
Sincerely, Ryan Claytor MSU Comics Forum – Director
The 2020 Comics Forum poster is now available in both digital (click above image for full size) and 18″x24″ printed versions. Our Creator Keynote Speaker, Emil Ferris, illustrated the image you see above. If you are a business or academic institution who is interested in helping us promote the MSU Comics Forum by hanging these in a public location, please contact MSU Comics Forum Director, Ryan Claytor, via the CONTACT page of this website and we will send several free of charge.
WLNS Channel 6 News’ Veronica Gabriel paid a visit to the Michigan State University Special Collections Library, the largest public collection of comic books in the world, and put together a great segment about the library and comics studies at MSU:
Emil Ferrisis an American writer, cartoonist, and designer. Ferris debuted in publishing with her 2017 graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, a coming-of-age story of Karen Reyes, a girl growing up in 1960s Chicago. The book is written and drawn in the form of the character’s notebook. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters was heralded as a “masterpiece” by Forbes and The AV Club, among others and has garnered numerous awards, including:
2017 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel for My Favorite Thing Is Monsters
2017 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Artist
2018 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Graphic Novel for My Favorite Thing Is Monsters