The impetus for what has become Mix 2012 was a rather simple observation about comics (if not all the arts): there are not enough cross-disciplinary discussions between academics and artists, between scholars, critics, creators, students and fans, especially the sorts that put everyone in the same room at the same tables.
Such conversations are rare in general, but the perceived and admittedly anecdotal story about the increased study of comics in academic settings seems to be this: when combined with the rise of the graphic novel, it encourages the general snob-ification of comics, creating or at least contributing to a falsely progressive “project” to mature the art form of comics.
A certain amount of inevitability is ascribed to this process, as if, once you press the button, the elevator can only rise and can only stop at the top floor. In this there seems, to me anyway, an enormous amount of bad faith. A fair amount of fear, too. And territorialism.
And so, maybe naively, or maybe just to see what would happen, I suggested that we hold such an event at Columbus College of Art and Design, where for years I’ve been lucky enough to work in the English Department. We would put together an annual symposium about comics, one that would invite scholars and artists into a territory of mutual exchange. No landscape is completely blank, of course; hosting the event at an art college grounds the discussion in the play between practice and theory, and highlights a sometimes overlooked perspective on education and art.
Have a look at the Mix 2012 Comics Symposium event schedule and registration information here.
We’re thrilled to have Chris Ware as our keynote guest during the week of the publication of his new comic, Building Stories. Before Mix begins, we’ll open an exhibition of his original artwork from Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.
That exhibit will be joined, in miraculous fashion, by an exhibition of the winners of a 24-hour comics marathon for students. The marathon begins Wednesday October 3; the exhibition opens two days late on the night of the keynote event, Friday October 5. Someone should buy our exhibitions staff a stiff drink.
A final exhibit (yes, three!) is Beyond Words: The Art of the Graphic Novel, which features a selection of works from a Belgian private collection of international graphic novel artists that includes Bilal, Jae Lee, Dave McKean, Alex Ross, Bill Sienkiewicz, Barron Storey, Ben Templesmith, and Carol Tyler.
When we sent out the call for papers and proposals in May, we couldn’t quite anticipate what this first-time event would receive. I’m pleased with the results; we’ve brought together a wide range of academics and artists, and of course, many who play both roles. In this climate and culture, working in multiple disciplines and cultures is a reality which is often overlooked.
Toward that end, Robert Algeo, maker of webcomics and publisher of in absentia press, will present a paper about All-Star Superman on a panel with Craig Fischer and Charles Hatfield, who’ll preview a bit of their upcoming work on the cartoonist Eddie Campbell. James Moore, a local cartoonist at 2-Headed Monster Comics, will talk about comics and authorship on a panel with, among others, Douglas Wolk, author of Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. Anthony Baker and I will each present a paper on Chris Ware’s work, with Mr. Ware joining us.
This event also gives us an opportunity to embrace Columbus’ excellent local comics community. Our Indie Comix Spotlight brings together a number of local creators for a round table hosted by Caitlin McGurk, Visiting Curator at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum up the road at Ohio State. A few of those creators—Max Ink (Blink), James Moore and Joel Jackson (2-Headed Monster Comics), and Ken Eppstein (Nix Comics)—are conducting workshops open to students and to the public. The museum is hosting a concurrent open house on Thursday, October 4.
My thanks to Ernesto Priego and The Comics Grid for this opportunity to share our event with you. Already we’re having discussions about next year’s iteration, so keep us in mind for 2013, and of course, we’d love to see you this year.
Mix 2012 is sponsored by State Auto Insurance Companies with an additional media sponsorship courtesy of our local NPR station, WCBE 90.5.