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comics and popular arts conference hosted by dr. sivana

With Dragon Con less than two weeks away, the schedule for Dragon Con’s academic side-con has been released and I thought I’d share it with you here. While some events certainly appeal to me more than others, I’ll likely attend as much of the comics programming as my volunteer schedule allows. Quick observations: The schedule is pretty dominated by gender studies stuff. There seem to be a lot more television based panels than last year and most of the comic book stuff is on Monday. Sunday has almost nothing.

Anyway, here’s the schedule:

Friday

11:30 AM Comics, Trauma, and Psychiatric Disorders  (Hanover F Hyatt)

  1. Austin Hendricks (Georgia Regents University), “Waiting for Heroes: An Examination of Psychological Disorders, Existentialism, and General Strain Theory in Superhero Films”
  2. Kari Storla (University of Southern California), “Superheroes, super trauma: Is trauma in superhero comics a human or superhuman experience?”

2:30 PM – Game of Thrones: The Dark Time – (M301-M302 – Marriott)

        CPAC Panelist: Matthew J. Brown (UT Dallas)

4:00 PM – The Wayfaring Gater and Other Traveling Metaphors  (Westin, Chastain FGH)

CPAC Panelist: Richard Scott Nokes (Troy University)

7:00 PM – Of Monsters and (Super)Men (Hanover F – Hyatt)

  1. Corey Goergen (Emory University), “’It’s [Not] Alive!’: Disability, Eugenics, Zombies, and Frankenstein’s Creature”
  2. Shanna Early (Emory University), “Are Superheroes Monsters: Of Monsters, Superheroes, and the Law”
  3. Stephanie Larson (Emory University), “Dial Meow for Murder: The Figure of the Feline in Horror Literature, Film, and Comics”

8:30 PM – Roundtable: History of Gender and Race in Comics (Hanover F – Hyatt)

Comics Scholars: Daniel Amrhein (Independent Scholar), Matthew J. Brown (UT Dallas), Kari Storla (University of Southern California)

8:30 PM – Anime, Manga, and Japanese History  (Location)

  1. Yasemin Davarcı (Ankara University), “1904 – 1905 Russo Japanese War in Historical Japanese Manga”

8:30 PM – Hannibal Fannibals– Horror Track (Peachtree 1-2 – Westin)

        CPAC Panelist: Damien Williams (Kennesaw State University

Saturday

10:00 AM – Wonder Woman and Greek Mythology (Hanover F – Hyatt)

  1. Daniel Amrhein (Independent Scholar), “Wonder Woman and the Reappropriation of Women Warriors of Greek Myth”
  2. Matthew J. Brown (University of Texas at Dallas), “Love and Strife, Aphrodite and Ares – Marston’s Manichean Reconfiguration of Greek Mythology and Philosophy in the Wonder Woman Comics.”

11:30 AM – Hannibal: Brunch (Peachtree 1-2 – Westin)

Aaron Abrams and Scott Thompson dissect Hannibal’s elegant take on the horror genre

CPAC Panelist: Damien Williams (Kennesaw State University)

5:30 PM – Virtual Reality in Japanese Anime

        Panelists: Damien Williams, Michael Bugajski, Carl Dull

8:30 PM – Roundtable: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary Comics – (Hanover F – Hyatt)

Professional Participants: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Amanda Conner, Laurenn McCubbin

Comics Scholars: Kari Storla, John Flowers, Tini Howard (Cape Fear Community College), Daniel Amrhein (Independent Scholar)

8:30 PM – Sense8 – Is this just another Cluster? (M301-M302 – Marriott)

 Panelists: Matthew J. Brown

Sunday

11:00 AM – CPAC Scholars Forum

Topic: Incorporating Comics and Pop Culture in the Classroom.

7:00 PM – Philosophical Perspectives on Japanese Anime

Scholars Carl Dull and Michael Bugajski discuss the philosophical themes in Madoka Magica and Cowboy Bebop.

8:30 PM – Diversity and Sexuality in Comics (Hanover F – Hyatt)

        CPAC Panelists: Johnathan Flowers (SIU Carbondale), Daniel Amrhein (Independent Scholar)

10:00 PM – Con Culture and the changing face of Fandom (Hanover F – Hyatt)

CPAC Panelists: Molly Dilts (Pennsylvania State University), Kari Storla (University of Southern California)

Monday

10:00 AM – Comics and Feminism (Hanover F – Hyatt)

  1. Molly Dilts (Pennsylvania State University), “The “Fake Geek Girl”: Female-Occupied Space and Masculinity in Geek Culture”
  2. Tini Howard (Cape Fear Community College), “Thinking Outside the Fridge – Changing Comics with the Subject/Object Problem”

11:30 AM – Kelly Sue DeConnick in Focus

  1. Ahmed Younis (Chapman University), “Comic Feminism: Re-Imagining Traditional Perceptions of Heroism”
  2. John Flowers (SIU Carbondale), “Captain Marvel and John Dewey’s Theory of Imagination”

Response: Kelly Sue DeConnick

1:00 PM – Comics in the Classroom Hanover F – Hyatt)

  1. Elizabeth Perkins (Morehead State University), “Teaching Critical Thinking Skills to College Freshman Utilizing the Portrayal of Crime & Justice in Superhero Movies and Comics”

2:30 PM – DC Comics and Cultural Studies  (Hanover F – Hyatt)

  1. Durf Humphries (Independent Scholar), “Discipline and Punish: Foucault and the Suicide Squad”
  2. Jessica Dambruch (Old Dominion University), “Rev Up Your Harley: Cultural Constructions of Gender In The Batman Universe”

supergirlschoolin

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bolt goggles

Here’s a drawing of my nephew, gazing a gazeless stare. Somebody should give me a grant to make a Ziggy Stardust claymation…

 

batmancollagebybabynightsoil

One day our consciousnesses or rather those of our descendants will be able to perceive the multi-verse, defy space and time, and engage in a logic beyond the childish way you and I have been thinking. As our cells ready the coming mutations and our technologies reflect our peculiar ambitions, we grasp for examples that can anchor us in the blurred existential hurricane that is surely multi-versal living. One Virgil to our Dante in this exciting stage of development is the Batman. We are living in an age where people are living in multiple Batman universes. A noticeable portion of the world population coexists with multiple Batmans. While Batman is not unique in this and certainly not among other comic heroes, Batman is special. His multiple universes are more fully developed than any other superhero.

Look at some of the universes that continue to expand:

New 52 Batman (This universe is the same (sort of) as the Justice League War animated movie universe, but not necessarily the Son of Batman animated movie universe. Batman of the New 52 is complicated because he and Green Lantern have a lot more history than Superman and other heroes, making this particular universe great exercise for our evolving brains. All of which has been twisted even more strangely with the all whole Zero Year timing and whatever Jonah Hex and Dr. Arkham get into in the past. Of all the characters in the New 52, Batman holds the distinction of appearing in the most titles with no serious competition for the honor. At any given time, well over 10 creators at DC Comics are working on Batman stories.)

New 52 Batman Earth-2 (where he is notably the father of Huntress/Robin)

Lil Gotham (Here we find familiar characters celebrating familiar holidays)

Batman ’66 (A reflection of the old Batman TV Show universe, itself a reflection of the Silver Age Batman universe and the Warholian utopia/dystopia of the Swinging Sixties- it’s not inception, it’s not an Alanis Morrissette song, it’s more like Medeski Martin & Wood playing their own arrangement of an American jazz song about French people impersonating Chinese porcelain work)

Batman Earth One (Remember this gem from a few years ago? Will there be a Volume 2?)

Injustice (The storyline constitutes multiple universes itself and features multiple Batmans)

Batman Arkham (This universe has its fair share of continuity problems, especially when it dabbled in the prequel arts with Arkham Origins)

Zack Snyder Universe (where the Dark Knight is portrayed by the kid on Voyage of the Mimi)

LEGO Batman (and arguably LEGO Movie Batman is a separate universe; the missus and I recently assembled a LEGO batmobile tumbler, the ride from the Nolanverse, which would be a separate universe from the LEGO Batman universe as it exists in most of the sets, the video games, and the LEGO Batman movie (and, again, the LEGO Movie))

The upcoming Gotham TV series (This universe, much like other universes, rearranges chronology without causing major rifts to meaning. This phenomenon is one of the more popular Elseworlds literary devices- it relies on the familiar to give its new universe strength and recognizes time as a variable, not a constant.)

DCU Online/Infinite Crisis (The online playable universes of the DC multi-verse are (or have the potential to be) some of the highest functioning universes outside of the metanarrative (and what, dear readers, is the Batman metanarrative?))

JL8 (Yale Stewart’s charming running comic of Justice League members as kids is one of many amazing fan-created universes out there. Don’t we all have our own Batman universes that we’ve created? When kids play with Batman toys, they create narratives and become architects of our practice multiverse. Also there’s a bit of perverted Bat-fiction, even pornographic productions of the highest quality. I think Lexi Belle makes a more convincing batgirl than Sunny Lane, but it’s amazing that the modern Batman reader even has a choice in selecting their adult film Barbara Gordon.)

Meanwhile, many Batman universes that we accept as being closed continue to remain alive in our consciousnesses:

The Nolanverse (A self-contained universe spanning three films, the Dark Knight trilogy has solidified itself as my generation’s  onscreen Batman, forcing me to face all the issues surrounding my own mortality as a new Batman, Batfleck, appears in the near future. A glitch in this universe transforms Batman’s love interest into a more talented actress between films.)

Batman: The Animated Series (Hardly the only time the Dark Knight has been animated, but one that resonates so strongly and featured the work of true legends like Marv Wolfman and Denny O’Neil. The show also introduced Harley Quinn who quickly transuniversed across the multiverse into established Batman universes.)

The Dark Knight Returns universe (Frank Miller’s classic Elseworlds story had new life breathed into it with last year’s animated film. This story, closely tied to the zeitgeist (equal parts apathy and fascism) of the 1980s, continues to help readers, and now viewers, transport to a time when Batman was disappointed in both the hippies and the conservatives.)

Jeph Loeb has provided two separate Batman universes. With Tim Sale, he created the Long Halloween universe, which is not much of a departure from Frank Miller’s Year One universe. Later Loeb launches the Superman/Batman series, which brings Supergirl back to the DC universe in a form I believe far superior to the Supergirl that died back in Crisis on Infinite Earths- itself being a primer on balancing an overwhelming multi-verse with an accessible story (with varying degrees of success)

Year 100, DC One Million (Paul Pope and Grant Morrisson probably walk with each foot in a different universe at all times.)

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (This very short yet poignant set of mixed up eulogies for the Dark Knight delivered by his closest friends and enemies provides multiple alternate histories for the Dark Knight. One of the very few Batman stories that Neil Gaiman has written.)

This list could really go on and on as Batman has been featured in an overwhelming amount of material and a good chunk of that remains relevant to the modern Batman reader. When humanity is confronted with what will surely be the greatest existential crisis we will face collectively up to that point, I believe the modern Batman readers will have contributed to the evolutionary process that will enable our collective consciousness to navigate an open multiverse. Also net neutrality will prove to be even more important than even Tim Wu currently anticipates, but he deserves some credit too- not as much as Batman, but some.

 

bw

I first met Blake McConnell about twenty years ago. We worked on many projects together- chiefly Godzilla Vs Lenin; Quaaludas Iscariot; and collaborations as dr. cockroach & the jellyfish hypnotist. We haven’t collaborated on any project or seen in each other much since parting ways around the time of the great Y2K disaster of 2002. Since then, he’s been busy, chasing something that bellows, something that twitches, some ambiance that perpetually deliver its own death. His quest has taken him many places. Most recently, he’s set himself up in Wayne Newton’s hometown of Phoenix, Arizona where he does this kind of stuff . I encourage you to check out his page and press play on all the videos at your pleasure for a Zaireeka effect. Blake always had a fondness for the atmospheric, hypnotic, and accidental. He’s more  Music For Airports than Here Comes The Warm Jets, but he’s also the sky and the act of flight itself.

blakeywakeywithheadphones

Here’s Wayne Xiaolong‘s exclusive interview with Blake McConnell:

WAYNE XIAOLONG: Are you now or have you ever been a musician? What are you?

BLAKE MCCONNELL: ok, self identification time.   let’s do get that out of the way.  with all due pretense, I will describe myself as an artist that uses sound as a medium.  that’s not the only medium I use, and I don’t only use it musically.  my alter ego Miss Pixel is much more musically inclined.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: Besides me, which living artist most influences yr. work?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: hmm, that’s a tough one.  I will say Genesis P-Orridge because they have influenced me for the longest, and so much ground is covered in one career.  They are basically the heir of the Burroughs/Gysin mantle of queer mysticism, early transgressive performance artist, inventor of more musical subgenres than the internet, and generally an uber-freak.  I saw The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye recently.  It really cemented for me that the Genesis persona is not a performance, or maybe its a never-ending performance that I could watch forever without getting bored.  I so admire that level of commitment.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: What did you find in Mexico?
BLAKE MCCONNELL:Encontré muchas cosas magnificas en D.F.  Creo que la gente es mi favorita.   Los chilangos tiene una resistencia muy fuerte.  Hay tanto pobreza, sin embargo la gente parecen mas orgullosa que cualquiera.  Los chavos son muy politicos.  Fuimos a un demostración contra la empresa de televisión Televisa que fue dando mucho apoyar a Enrique Peña Nieto, ahora el presidente de Mexico.  ¡Fue bastante emocionante para ver tanto energia en la calle!
(I found many great things in D.F.  I believe that the people are my favorite.   The people of Mexico City have a really strong resilience.  There is so much poverty, yet the people appear prouder than any.  The kids are very political.  We went to a demonstration against the television company Televisa that was giving a lot of support to Enrique Peña Nieto, now the president of Mexico.  It was very exiting to see so much energy in the street!)
WAYNE XIAOLONG: What’s your favorite sound?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: Another tough one.  Right now I’m really into space, so less the sound itself but how it manifests.  I’ve been playing around with convolution reverb which can transform anything!  I mean, you take crinkling paper or something kind of mundane and you throw it into a cathedral or a canyon and it becomes, just, sublime.  You have to watch out, though, because the room you are listening to the sound in shapes the sound too.  Right now I’m getting ready to move out of my little adobe studio so every sharp noise sounds like glitch music–very wet, snappy reflections.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: What do you perceive to be our greatest threat and what have you been doing recently to thwart it?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: One could write a whole PhD dissertation parsing those words, “our greatest threat.”  Who is the “we” implied by “our?”  I think my reflexive response would be to say that shifting the discourse away from “perceiving threats” would itself eliminate threats?
WAYNE XIAOLONG: You have virtually no social media presence and yet your world is somewhat driven by communications technology. How do you reconcile this contradiction?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: I don’t.  There are a lot of contradictions at play in my life, in all our lives.  Without them, without tension, life would be incredibly boring.   I like to tell my students, when talking about work (I teach the “media arts”) that you don’t have to resolve the tension–or anything–in your work.  I find, especially at that level, they feel like there should be a “punchline” or something that makes the meaning of the work really obvious.   I don’t think that’s necessary, just as I don’t think it’s necessary to Facebook.  Again, I’ll defer to Miss Pixel for all things Twitter.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: Describe your ideal twelve person ensemble, instruments only not which beasts will play them.
BLAKE MCCONNELL: canyon, tornado, deluge, lazer, ice, lfo modulated vacuum, jumbo magnetic tape, reclaimed power line, grain silo, bones, amplified viral replication, dust
WAYNE XIAOLONG: Which contemporary pop figure makes you feel most uncomfortable?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: Tough questions!  Probably Farrah Abraham because she’s both internet hipster famous and tabloid famous in this authentically tragic way.  She’s either completely clueless or super calculated–another contradiction.
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