As we prepare for the first read and design presentations of BODY AWARENESS, our official start to the 2012-2013 season, I realize that I’ve been remiss in tying up some loose ends.
July was a hot month, and also a hotbed of activity–here at Theater J, and beyond (as evidenced by the CapFringe update below). During the final two weeks of THE HISTORY OF INVULNERABILITY, we welcomed to the stage several important members of the Washington, DC comic community for panel discussions.
On Sunday, July 1 at 5:15pm we hosted the conversation: Why Comics Matter: The Social Relevance of Comic Books with
- Matt Dembicki (editor and contributing writer/artist to District Comics; co-founder of the D.C. Conspiracy, a comics creators collective)
- Ulysses E. Campbell (Producer: The Comic, Science Fiction & Fantasy fan’s FANTASTIC FORUM)
- Andy Hershberger (Associate Curator/Registrar at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, Baltimore, MD)
- Esther Kim (District of Geeks blogger)
- Jared Smith (Owner, Big Planet Comics in Vienna)
We were so pleased to have this group, and while I am sorry to say we had a big technology fail in which none of our video clips came out with actual sound, I want to thank them all for being enthusiastic but not exclusive in their sharing of this world with us. Comics can feel pretty insider to those on the outside, but this was a welcoming and personable bunch, fielding questions about the way gender is portrayed in comics; the evolution of story-telling throughout the history of comic books; the ways in which technology has changed the industry; and their hopes for the future of comics.
Please follow each of their respective links. They’re all involved in awesome projects and work with excellent organizations.
On Sunday, July 8 we discussed Comics in the District: A Discussion with Local Creators; a big thank you to Matt Dembicki, who both participated in, and curated this panel. The group included:
- Moderated by Mike Rhode (Coauthor of Comics Research Bibliography, Editor of Exhibition and Media Reviews of the International Journal of Comic Art, and a contributing writer for Hogan’s Alley and for the Comics Journal)
- Carolyn Belefski (Founder of Curls Studio which creates and self-publishes original comics, designs and illustrations; including the comic strip Curls)
- Steve Conley (Award-winning designer, illustrator and cartoonist; writer and artist of Bloop Comic)
- Evan Keeling (Illustrator, Designer & Comic Book Artist, co-founder of the DC Conspiracy)
- Andrew Cohen (a small-press comic-book creator; www.howzitfunnies.blogspot.com)
- Matt Dembicki (editor and contributing writer/artist to DC Comics; co-founder of the D.C. Conspiracy, a comics creators collective)
The group started by talking about their personal projects (including District Comics, an anthology of stories specifically linked to the District of Columbia, told in comics–how cool is that?); also the history of self-publishing, and how it has changed with evolving technology (“we used to fold and tape the comics ourselves”) was explained; as was the importance of events like the Small Press Expo. Audience members asked about the difference between telling a story in a full book, as opposed to a single strip–which the artists explained was all determined by the needs of the story (sounds kinda like theater, doesn’t it?)
Can comics be used as tools to fight illiteracy and to encourage reading in young people? Our panelists thought there was great potential in this, especially since people have (mostly) overcome the stigma about comic books that would stand in the way of this. We talked again about the way changing technology has affected this world, the up-side being increasing opportunities and vitality, the down-side being an overall movement away from expecting to pay for cultural work and content–art and writing alike.
One of the coolest components to come out of our connection with the DC-based Comic community, was the art that three creators contributed to our special iteration of 5×5, in which local artists were asked to respond to the themes and story of THE HISTORY OF INVULNERABILITY through a strip. The next post will share the three fantastic responses we received to that question!