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
The MSU Comics Forum wrapped at 5:35pm, at which point our 2020 event was announced, complete with dates, venue, keynote speakers, event artwork, and availability of artist and scholar submission forms.
On the following day (Sunday), each of our keynote speakers were interviewed in our recording studio. The discussion will be aired on a future episode of the MSU Comic Art and Graphic Novel Podcast. Pictured below from left to right are Zack Kruse (MSU Comics Forum Panel Coordinator), Qiana Whitted (2019 MSU Comics Forum Scholar Keynote Speaker), and Julian Chambliss (MSU Comics Forum Incoming Panel Coordinator).
Friday evening of the 2019 MSU Comics Forum saw the headlining event of the weekend, a keynote address by Canadian Cartoonist, Seth.
MSU Comics Forum Director, Ryan Claytor, introduced Seth after thanking the 2019 MSU Comics Forum sponsors and introducing the audience to the Comics Forum committee.
Thanks to @ranti for the above image.
Seth took the stage for his keynote address.
A photo-op at the end of the evening. From left to right, Ryan Claytor (MSU Comics Forum – Director), Qiana Whitted (2019 MSU Comics Forum – Scholar Keynote Speaker), Seth (2019 MSU Comics Forum – Creator Keynote Speaker), Julian Chambliss (MSU Comics Forum – Incoming Panel Coordinator).
There was an unlisted event on Thursday evening of the MSU Comics Forum. Our MSU Special Collections Comics Bibliographer, Randy Scott, was honored with a lifetime achievement award at a surprise, invitation-only, ceremony this evening.
He was unexpectedly welcomed by collegues, friends, and out-of-state family.
Randy Scott with family:
After remarks from Comics Forum Director, Ryan Claytor, MSU English PhD Candidate, Zack Kruse, and University Librarian, Joe Salem, a video was shown with testimonials from comics scholars, creators, and librarians from around the globe:
Randy was then presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award, a sand-blasted, crystal, trophy in recognition for his unparalleled accomplishment in the field of comics studies:
…and received a standing ovation on the way back to his seat.
The audience then had a chance to approach a microphone to tell randy what his accomplishment, service, and friendship meant to them. Pictured below, standing, is John Shaw, co-worker at the MSU Main Library for more than 30 years:
Once audience remarks came to a close, refreshments and cake were served:
Thanks for your decades of dedication to comics studies, Randy. Your life’s work will affect scholars, creators, and readers for generations to come.
One final point of clarification, this was decidedly nota retirement ceremony. Randy is still employed and incredibly active. At the age of 71, Randy has not announced a retirement date.