Drawing the Line: Comics and the Art of Social Transformation

October 21–25, 2009

Organized by Theresa Tensuan and Filmmaker Mary Dilullo

Cartoonists Lynda Barry, Eric Drooker, and John Jennings will be joining cultural critics Jared Gardner, Jeet Heer, and Sharon Mizota and members of the Haverford College community for Drawing the Line: Comics and the Art of Social Transformation, a symposium focusing on comics as a medium for social commentary as well as means of political intervention.

Drawing the Line brings together groundbreaking artists who draw their influences from sources as varied as Frans Masereel's woodcut novels to Bil Keane's Family Circus with scholars and critics who are exploring how models of subjectivity and modes of political agency are created in relation to visual and textual forms of representation.

Members of the public are invited to take part in the workshops, master classes, lectures, and panel presentations on the role of comics in movements for social change that will be taking place on Haverford's campus from October 21-25, 2009.

Drawing of group marching toward tanks blasting horns

Eric Drooker, People vs Military


Speakers

Drawings by K-Fai Steele

Lynda Barry
Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry's recent book What it Is (2008) is based on her writing workshop "Writing the Unthinkable," through which the playwright, novelist, and cartoonist has sparked the creative processes of artists ranging from beginning writers to the creators of the Broadway production [title of show]. Barry's other works include The Good Times Are Killing Me (1988), Cruddy (1999), One! Thousand! Demons! (2002); her critically acclaimed strip Ernie Pook's Comeek ran from 1984 to 2008.

Mary DiLullo
Mary DiLullo

Mary DiLullo has been making films in the area for over fifteen years while holding down a position as buyer for Haverford College Bookstore. Her short films Christmas at the Cemetery and A Hat Like That! have screened in multiple film festivals, on cable TV and WHYY. She has also completed two feature length films, Dollface and Helen Back – Under the Music. Mary is currently working with Theresa Tensuan on the Documentary A Cartoonist in the Classroom, funded by the PA Council on the Arts. The production coincides with Drawing the Line and will explore the effects of Lynda Barry's workshop Writing the Unthinkable! on a diverse group of participants from the region, including teachers, ESL students, and inmates at a Philadelphia correctional facility.

Eric Drooker
Eric Drooker

Eric Drooker is the author of numerous books, including Flood! A Novel in Pictures (1992), Street Posters & Ballads (1998), Blood Song: A Silent Ballad (2002), and Slingshot (2008). He has worked alongside poet Allen Ginsberg to produce Illuminated Poems (1996), a combination of Ginsberg's poetry and Drooker's artwork. A native New Yorker, Drooker's artwork often reflects his roots, and many of his paintings have appeared on the cover of The New Yorker. His novel Flood! won the American Book Award and was named The New York Times notable book of the year. Drooker is currently working on paintings for an upcoming book.

Jared Gardner
Jared Gardner

Jared Gardner is Associate Professor of English at Ohio State University (home of the Cartoon Research Library). His research focuses on American literature, film, and popular culture, and he is the author of Master Plots: Race and the Founding of an American Literature, 1787-1845 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1998) and articles and reviews on identity, citizenship and media in American literature and culture. He is currently working on studies of early American magazines, myths of origins in popular culture of the 1920s and 30s, and the intersections between film and comics at the turn of the 20th century. Strands from these various ongoing projects are converging into a book tentatively entitled Serial Citizenship.

Jeet Heer
Jeet Heer

Jeet Heer is a Toronto-based journalist focusing on arts and culture. His articles can be found in The National Post, The Boston Globe, The Literary Review of Canada, and several other publications. He is the co-editor, along with Kent Worcester, of Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium (2004). The winner of a Fulbright Fellowship (2000-2001) and the Thomas Inge Award (2002), Heer is currently pursuing his doctorate at York University, writing his thesis on "the cultural politics of Little Orphan Annie."

John Jennings
John Jennings

Artist/illustrator John Jennings is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Jennings frequently lectures on visual literacy, popular culture, and the visual communication found in Hip Hop culture. Jennings is also the co-author of the graphic novel The Hole: Consumer Culture and a co-founder of Eye Trauma, a web based collective of sequential artists, activists, and curators who seek to expand the public's perception of the comics medium. He recently co-curated OUT OF SEQUENCE: UNDERREPRESENTED VOICES IN AMERICAN COMICS with Damian Duffy. By focusing on work by women and minority artists; experimental and small press comic creators; webcomics creators; and the contributions of comic book writers, inkers, colorists, and letterers, OUT OF SEQUENCE seeks to explore alternate histories of American comics and explicate the limitless possibilities for the medium in the 21st century; from early newspaper comic strips to the internet to virtual narratives in simulated three dimensional space.

Sharon Mizota
Sharon Mizota

Sharon Mizota is a writer and designer based in Los Angeles. A journalist with a visual arts background and many years of experience with interactive design, Mizota writes on architecture, design, visual art, film, and food. She is the co-author of Fresh Talk, Daring Gazes: Conversations on Asian American Art (2003). She also received the Creative Capitol, Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant in 2007. Her articles can be found in The Los Angeles Times, Artforum, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, and several other publications.

Theresa Tensuan
Theresa Tensuan

Theresa Tensuan is Assistant Professor of English and Coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Haverford College. The focus of her work, both inside and outside of the classroom, is on feminist theory, race, autobiography, and the connection between art and culture and social transformation. After taking a year to study visual culture under the Rockefeller Fellowship and the Penn Humanities Center Fellowship, Tensuan began a project focusing on comic books and social change. Recent articles include "Crossing the Lines: Graphic (Life) Narratives and Co-laborative Political Transformations" (2009). Her upcoming book Breaking the Frame: Comics and the Art of Social Transformations centers on the work of David B., Lynda Barry, Jaime Cortez, Phoebe Gloeckner, and Joe Sacco.


Schedule

October 21, 2009

Revisiting Identity: Observations on Race and Contemporary Art - talk by Sharon Mizota
Center For Visual Culture, Thomas Library 224, Bryn Mawr College

October 22, 2009

"Street Art and Graphic Novels" — Keynote Talk by Eric Drooker
Sharpless Auditorium, Koshland Integrated Natural Science Center, Haverford College

October 23, 2009

Master Class with Eric Drooker
James House, Haverford College

Panel Discussion with Jeet Heer, John Jennings, and Jared Gardner, moderated by Sharon Mizota
Chase Auditorium, Chase Hall, Haverford College

Reception / Finley + Muse Gallery Opening
Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Whitehead Campus Center, Haverford College

"What it Is" — Talk by Lynda Barry
Sharpless Auditorium, Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center, Haverford College

October 24, 2009

"Writing the Unthinkable" pt. 1 — Master Class with Lynda Barry
Sharpless Auditorium, Koshland Integrated Natural Science Center, Haverford College

"Writing the Unthinkable" pt. 2 — Master Class with Lynda Barry
Sharpless Auditorium, Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center, Haverford College

Book Party with the Artists
Showcase Comics: 874 W Lancaster Ave, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-3222

October 25, 2009

"Writing the Unthinkable" pt. 3 — Master Class with Lynda Barry
Sharpless Auditorium, Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center, Haverford College

"Writing the Unthinkable" pt. 4 — Master Class with Lynda Barry
Sharpless Auditorium, Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center, Haverford College


Sponsors

The symposium Drawing the Line is part of Professor Theresa Tensuan's English 386 seminar: Comics and the Art of Social Transformation, supported by The Doris Stevens Lecture Fund, the Gender & Sexuality Studies Program; and the John B. Hurford '60 Humanities Center's Tuttle Fund for the Development of Visual Culture Across the Curriculum.

Lynda Barry's visit is supported by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Eric Drooker's visit is made possible by the Hurford Humanities Center, the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, James House, and the Distinguished Visitors Office.

Special thanks to Showcase Comics of Bryn Mawr, PA.