Upcoming presentations on comics: NeMLA and Dartmouth College

The last few weeks have been busy for me in considering comics and the superhero genre: I’m slowly working through a response to Netflix’s Daredevil (and the frustrating responses I have read regarding its representation of gender, and my frustration with a seeming lack of attention to its representations of race). And the next two weeks will be busy for me as well—not only because of Age of Ultron on Friday and Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, but also because I am presenting at two conferences on consecutive weekends.

I’m in Toronto this week for the 46th annual meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association. In addition to marketing the conference, including through our Facebook and Twitter pages, I have co-organized with Rafael Ponce-Cordero and Keith McCleary two sessions on “Comedy and Comics.” I also will present at one panel on my research of—and participation in—online satire centered around the superhero genre. “Comedy and Comics” begins Friday, May 1, at 3:00 PM. I have included the panels’ schedule and my abstract below.

The next weekend, I present on using Japanese animation and comics in the classroom at Dartmouth College’s Illustration, Comics, and Animation Conference. I’m excited to share my experiences as a fan and a teacher of popular culture towards creating lesson plans, course web pages, and other content to more effectively teach about and teach with anime and manga. The conference’s schedule is available here, and my abstract is below as well.

Northeast Modern Language Association

Friday, May 1, 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

8.12 Comedy and Comics: Parody, Satire, and Humor in Superhero Narratives

Chair: Keith McCleary, University of California-San Diego

“Sex, Satire, and the Single Green Female: The Ongoing Transformations of Marvel’s She-Hulk” Anna Peppard, York University

“Gennaro’s Queertonite. (Be)Coming Out Superman in 7½ Moves” Donatella Lanzarotta, Liceo Artistico Statale di Treviso

“Fierce Reads: Gay Comics, Superhero Parodies, and AIDS Humor” Sarah Panuska, Michigan State University

“For the LOLz: Comedic Reinterpretations of the Superhero in Online Fan Communities” Derek McGrath, SUNY Stony Brook

4:45 PM to 6:15 PM

9.12 Comedy and Comics: Parody, Satire, and Humor in Superhero Narratives II

Chair: Derek McGrath, SUNY Stony Brook

“Marvel’s Slice of Life Superheroism: Outlining a Sub-genre” Keith Friedlander, University of Ottawa

“Learning from the Heckler: The Comic and Comedic Innovations of Keith Giffen” Keith McCleary, University of California-San Diego

“The Quixotification of Superheroes” Austin Miller, University of British Columbia

“De-centering Kal-El: Superlópez and the Politics of Peripheral Parody in Comic” Rafael Ponce-Cordero, Keene State College

“For the LOLz: Comedic Reinterpretations of the Superhero in Online Fan Communities” Derek McGrath

Abstract: Whereas the superhero emerges as a figure of exaggerated potential—broad in personality, –the practice of legitimizing this figure, especially in cinema, has been to ground them into a reality so less fantastic than the worlds presented in their original comics. As Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder adapt Batman and Superman for film by grounding these extraordinary characters in humorless, depressing settings, Marvel Comics has embraced the humor inherent to its heroes and villains, culminating with the recent release of Guardians of the Galaxy, an outer space opera starring a talking plant and a homicidal raccoon-like extraterrestrial. Marvel’s films, much more than DC Comics’, have garnered considerable attention in online fan communities, not only in celebrating the absurdity of the superhero genre but taking an active critical approach to identify persistent flaws in its stories, particularly in representations of gender. In addition to the Hawkeye Initiative–an online artistic movement that re-presents the unrealistic poses and figures of female superheroes, only now as Jeremy Renner’s character from The Avengers–online communities have reclaimed the images of comics through fan art, fan fiction, and other social interaction to identify problems and solutions through parodic models. These opportunities are especially prevalent on social media web sites such as Tumblr, Twitter, and WordPress, which benefit from re-blogging options that produce truly collaborative satire. In this presentation, I will trace a few comedic strands present in online fan communities, based on my critical research of and active participation in these same communities.

Illustration, Comics, and Animation Conference at Dartmouth College

Saturday, May 9, 10:25 AM to 11:55 AM

Session: Crossing Comics Cultures

Annabelle Cone (Dartmouth) “Belgianness, the Post-Colonial and the Exotic in Jijé’s Jerry Spring”

Derek S. McGrath (Stony Brook University) “Teaching Manga in the Classroom, at Fan Conventions, and Online”

Forrest C. Helvie (Norwalk Community College) “Who Gets to be Super?”

Annie Wang (Pittsburg State University) “Double Consciousness in American Born Chinese: Inspiration from the Monkey King”

“Reading Right to Left: Teaching Manga in the Classroom, at Fan Conventions, and Online”

Abstract: In this presentation, I will show how to incorporate a variety of Japanese comics (manga) and associated Japanese animation (anime) into syllabi on comics, literature, and composition. By adding manga to courses in comics appreciation and creation, students trace the comparatively recent influence of Japanese art and culture on comics in the Americas and Europe in order to read comics within a larger international history. I will focus predominantly on the pedagogical practices I have developed in teaching Japanese comics with attention to fans’ engagement with this content. By treating such comics as writerly texts that have been refashioned through fan participation in cosplay, fan art, fan fiction, and online roleplaying,manga gains resonance through engagement with, and therefore awareness of, differences in culture, illustration, and language. By engaging students in the classroom, through Internet discussions, and even at anime conventions as part of larger fan communities, students can recognize how their own enjoyment ofmanga is similar to and different from the analytical, interpretative, and creative practices we learn in our courses.

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