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Academic Symposium: Histories & Futures of Comics Communities

The TCAF Academic Symposium, "Histories & Futures of Comics Communities," presents scholarship on comics in a publicly accessible forum.

The symposium will be held on Friday, June 17th, from 9am-5pm, at the Courtyard Marriott hotel in downtown Toronto. Comics scholars, fans, creators, and newcomers are welcome. FREE (registration required, masks encouraged)


The first-ever TCAF Academic Symposium is a one-day, in-person event spotlighting scholarly research on comics in a publicly accessible forum. The symposium features leading voices in Comics Studies presenting original research in the form of conference papers and posters and engaging in scholarly roundtables on major topics in the field. The theme of the symposium is “Histories and Futures of Comics Communities.” Comics are communities, and communities are comics; the strength of one is the strength of the other. The symposium’s presenters will consider what comics communicate and how and where they might communicate better to make comics communities more inclusive, accessible, and dynamic. Each panel includes space for audience questions and discussion.

Click here to download the full symposium schedule with abstracts. 



9:30AM - 10AM

KEYNOTE: Looking for Community in Comic Book Memories

Featuring Dr. Benjamin Woo (Carlton University)

We all have our own paths into (and sometimes out of) the comics world, but sometimes those paths run in parallel. This talk will share some early findings from the Comic Book Memories project, a series of interviews with regular, occasional, and former comic book and graphic novel readers of different ages about how their relationship with comics has changed over time. 

Dr. Benjamin Woo is an Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University. He researches popular media industries and audiences with a focus on those oriented to the contemporary "geek" or "nerd" subculture. He is the author of Getting a Life: The Social Worlds of Geek Culture and co-author (with Bart Beaty) of The Greatest Comic Book of All Time: Symbolic Capital and the Field of American Comic Books.

10:15AM - 11:15AM

Panel 1: Comics/Culture/Fandom

Moderator: Benjamin Woo (Carlton University)


  • Kathryn Hemmann (University of Pennsylvania), “The Role of Dōjinshi in Comic Fanzine Discourse”

  • Christopher Sperandio (Rice University), “(UN)ORIGINAL SIN: Comics and the Copy/Paste Communities”

  • Chelsea Russell (York University/Toronto Metropolitan University) and Steven Hicks (University of Toronto), “The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Reflattening”: Minority Audiences and Identity as Figured via Approbation”

11:15AM - 12:15PM

Panel 2: Formal Connections

Moderator: Kathyn Hemmann (University of Pennsylvania)


  • Alexander Ponomareff (Roanoke College), “To Be Clear: The Ames Lettering Guide and the Naturalization of Clarity”

  • Daniel Marrone (Independent Researcher), “Canons, Collaborations, and Canadian Psychedooolia”

  • Jonathan Bass (Rutgers University), “Conversation in Comics: A Skills-Based Approach”

12:15PM - 1:15PM

Lunch Break

1:15PM - 2:15PM

Panel 3 (roundtable): Canadian Comics Past, Present, and Future: The Role of GLAM Institutions in the Preservation, Creation of, and Advocacy for Canadian Comics

Moderator: Lucia Cedeira Serantes (Western University)

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Western University


  • Ivan Kocmarek (Independent Researcher), Independent researcher of comics produced in Canada during WWII 

  • Joe Ollmann (Cartoonist and Curator), Canadian cartoonist and co-curator of the exhibit “This is Serious: Canadian Indie Comics,” hosted at the Art Gallery of Hamilton

  • Dan Sich (Western University), Teaching and Learning Librarian, E-Learning at Western University

  • Olivia Wong (Toronto Metropolitan University), Special Collections Curatorial Specialist at Toronto Metropolitan University

  • Alison Skyrme (Toronto Metropolitan University), Special Collections Librarian at Toronto Metropolitan University

2:15PM - 3:15PM

Panel 4: Comics and Cultural Exchange

Moderator: Zachary J.A. Rondinelli (Brock University)


  • Fredrik Strömberg (Independent Researcher), “The Vocal Influences of Silent Sam–Transnational Visual Genealogies Attributed to Sweden’s Greatest Comics Export”

  • Mimi Okabe (University of Alberta), “The Visual Culture of Japanese Diaspora: Drawing Race, Identity and Home in Three Canadian Graphic Novels”

  • Q. Jane Zhao and Shelley Wall (University of Toronto): “Comics for Science Translation: Policy, Research, Story”

3:30PM - 5PM

Panel 5 (roundtable): New Frontiers in Comics Scholarship: Public and Personal Approaches

Moderator: Anna F. Peppard (Sheridan College)


  • Zachary J.A. Rondinelli (Brock University), “Talking About Com(I)cs: Where I Belong in the Comics Conversation”

  • Jessica Baldanzi (Goshen College), “Creating a Commons for Comics: Blogging and Public Scholarship”

  • J. Andrew Deman (St. Jerome’s University), “@ClaremontRun: Comics Scholarship in 280 Characters or Less”

  • Martha Newbigging (Seneca College), “Drawing Comics: An Architecture of Self to Materialize Queerness in Childhood”

  • Dale Jacobs (University of Windsor), “Comics, Grief, and the 1976 Project: When Scholarship Becomes Personal”


Poster Presentations (available all day within the hotel lobby):

  • Dawn K. Wing, “Comics, Diversity, Engagement”

  • Brit Carter, “An Engineer’s Perspective on Comics”

  • Jason Larsen, “Change or Die?—The Future of Academic Comic Collections Post Pandemic and Pre-Population Decline

  • Christina Pasqua, “Bible Comics and Translation”

  • Max Barnewitz, “Following the Sequential Animal: What’s Next for (Queer) Animal Comics?” 

  • Katie Turcotte, “A History of Women’s Nonsense in Comics”

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