First Annual Atlanta Comics Symposium

On Saturday, April 9, Georgia Tech’s Writing and Communication Program, The University of Florida English Department, ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies, and Xerographics Print and Copy Center present the First Annual Atlanta Comics Symposium. The symposium will feature Brittain Fellows, faculty from Georgia State University and the University of Florida, Georgia Tech undergrads and Atlanta comic artists.

The overarching theme of the first comics symposium is multimodality. Comics have always been considered a multimodal genre, combining as they do the “sequential” visual language of comic panels with written forms of communication. In the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, comics are also becoming more and more enmeshed in an increasingly multimedia world. Both Marvel and DC are now run by multimedia corporations: Disney and Time-Warner respectively. Furthermore, dwindling sales are forcing comic artists to adopt digital mediums to distribute their work more widely. This first symposium will ask how changes in technology have and are impacting the identity of comics and graphic novels. Presenters discuss how comics relate to film, video games, radio, photojournalism, writing, and medieval illuminated printing.


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8:00-9:15 Comics and Other Media
Brandy Blake (Georgia Tech) – “How Media Changes the Monster: V for Vendetta from Text to Film”
Ted Friedman (Georgia State University) – “Comics as Myth: How Warren Ellis Rewrites Pulp Archetypes”
Aaron Kashtan (University of Florida) – “Okamiden”

9:30-10:45 “We Don’t Kill the Living”: A Roundtable on Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead
L. Andrew Cooper (Georgia Tech)
Thomas Lolis (Georgia Tech)
Jesse Stommel (Georgia Tech)

11:00-12:00 Lunch (On Your Own)

12:15-1:30 Creating Comics in the Writing Classroom (Roger Whitson, Chair)
Justis Blasco and Erin McPherson – “The Adventures of Captain Victorious Across Time and Space”
Alex Kessler and Danny Ji – “Fighting Fate”
Heather Yutko – “The Little Siren”

1:45-3:00 Atlanta Comics Creators: “Supervillains, Poverty, and the Perils of a Career in Comics”
Van Jensen – Writer of Pinocchio The Vampire Slayer
Andy Runton – Writer and Aritst of Owly

3:15-4:30 Comics and War
Anthony Coman (University of Florida) – “Framing Perspective in the Art of WAR FIX
Kellie Meyer (Georgia Tech) – “Medieval Nostalgia: The Warrior Code in Northlanders and Early Medieval Poetry and Prose”
Nirmal Trivedi (Georgia Tech) – “A Reluctant Foreign Correspondent No More: The Case of Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza

5:00-7:00 Keynote Speaker – Tony Harris, artist of Starman, Ex Machina, War Heroes, and Spiderman: With Great Power

Google Map of DM Smith Building (685 Cherry Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30313) on the Georgia Tech Campus: Zoom in to See the Building.
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  1. One of the most rewarding experiences at Georgia Tech! Thanks Roger for spearheading the effort. I’ve got an article underway and a whole new way of thinking of text and image. Thanks!!

  2. I still need to attend Comic-Con but I have to say I definitely got my fill (or maybe appetite whetted is a more apt description) for of comic congregations in the ATL this past spring. (MomoCon was better than I imagined.)

    It was interesting to see the fresh angle Roger Whitson’s 1101 class brought to the rubric and staid archetypes of comic culture.

    According to Tony Harris, this kind of refreshing and revitalizing vision for the rather staid industry is necessary, as “superheroes just don’t cut it anymore.”

    I actually gained appreciation for Harris through his artwork/covers for projects like Dr. Strange and The Legion of Superheroes and, of course, his Spiderman contributions before I took the time to look into his Eisner winning Starman and Ex Machina series’.

    I agree with his view on the video game industry being the a sort of proxy for the changes in the comic industry and need for the comic industry to stop resisting these if it is going to relive its former glory (and profitability).

    As ironic as his appearance at a comic symposium where the “overarching theme” is multimodality seems to be, I really have a new appreciation for the power of visual story-telling after taking a look at Andy Runton’s Owly. Loved the story he relayed about growing up watching programs on mute, which lead to his discovery of certain distinctive qualities possessed by those he could still follow.

  3. Agree Nirmal – great stuff Roger! As a long-time comic fan and a rabid “digital media” guy, I have particular interest in intersection of the traditional comic with digital mediums (web, social media, and mobile devices).

  4. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend @the Comiccon this year but as far as cover artists working in comics today, Adam Hughes is among the very best in my eyes but also Tony Harris made a name for himself as the artist and co-creator of DC Comics’ Starman.

  5. We mustn’t forget what an important effect comic art has had on the gaming industry: gaming graphics bring together comic characters and action to forge a virtual world of fantasy for the avid comic fan!

  6. In respect of the occasion, the major comic syndicates have rallied their cartoonists to dedicate their strips on that day to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.

  7. Nice article Roger.! You can’t envision how long it required me to locate your blog post and this very useful information and facts. Looking forward to come across more articles like this.
    Have a great day.

  8. You can now even get/buy comics on your smartphone – I installed an app recently on my htc that currently sells close on 6000 comics with about 300 being free. How cool is that?

  9. Great article and initiative. I would love to see more comic books available for Kindle readers, e.g.! Going digital and building specific online channels for comic books would also be a good opportunity for illustrators to diversify. Imagine having mobile illustrated dictionaries for kids, or math books… The possibilities are endless.

  10. Given the way technology has been advancing, pretty soon, comics will morph into videos. Just think about it, why should the comics stay static on an ipad or kindle. There’s nothing to stop it from being animated. When that happens, it’ll be really cool to watch full-length cartoons instead of static comics… 🙂

  11. Just like the music industry the comic industry has to adjust to the the new technology.

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