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About the 2021 GCO Conference: Comics in Community

2024 conference flyer. A group of colorfully draw people talk to each other. All information written in text below.

The Graduate Comics Organization at the University of Florida’s 17th annual conference centers its focus on “Comics in Community.”

Comics are a particularly rich site to imagine community both on and off the page. Our conference hopes to foreground relationships realized through Image/Texts and their circulation. Forms of community including, but not limited to, zine fests, cartoonist unions, letter columns, comics shops, art scenes and conferences have shown how form and content are reciprocally determined between comics and communities. This spirit of community throughout comics and comics scholarship prompts questions about the “representation” of communities, whether marginalized identities or subcultural affinities, on the page and in person. Creators, scholars, and readers have used comics to develop new communities, explore utopian feeling, imagine alternative communities, and encourage queer theoretical modes.

Deep and abiding histories of racism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, including moments like Comicsgate, have shown how “community” and identity in comics can be weaponized against marginalized people. And cultural heritage sites, such as archives, develop their comics collections from community resources and collector communities, provoking questions about the legitimization and exclusion of different communities in and around comics. How, then, is “community” in comics navigated, celebrated, weaponized, and canonized, and by whom? How has this conception changed over time, with the emergence of comics studies as an academic field, and within different eras of comics creation? How do geographies form, enable, and transform communities in comics, and how has this shaped comics history?

The conference targets these questions and others raised by our speakers and presenters. This year’s conference has brought together scholars from within and outside the academy, including creative and community practitioners. We will also be hosting a special panel on Don Ault, whose overall impact on comics scholarship as a community, and the comics community at UF especially, is enduringly meaningful.

For more information about the conference’s speakers and workshops and links to register, visit our conference page: https://comics.english.ufl.edu/2021/04/27/2021/

For information about GCO’s past conferences, visit our archive: https://comics.english.ufl.edu/conferences/

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