The International Graphic Novel & Comics Conference


Time, Memory, Nostalgia

The Ninth International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference 2018

Wednesday 27th June – Friday 29th June 2018

Venue: BU Executive Business Centre, 89 Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth BH8 8EB

Keynote speakers:

Wednesday 27 June

Rozi Hathaway (Cosmos, Njálla – Breakout Talent Award Winner, Broken Frontier Awards 2016) speaking on ‘Retrospective Storytelling: From Childhood to Characterisation’

Anne Digby (writer for School Friend, Girl, Tammy, Jinty and the Trebizon children’s books), in conversation with Mel Gibson (University of Northumbria) (Remembered Reading) on ‘British Girls’ Comics’

Thursday 28 June

Ian Gordon (National University of Singapore) (Superman: the Persistence of an American Icon; Kid Comic Strips: A Genre Across Four Countries; and Comic Strips and Consumer Culture 1890—1945) speaking on ‘Nostalgia and the Materiality of Comics’

Woodrow Phoenix (Rumble Strip, The Sumo Family, Sugar Buzz, She Lives) speaking on ‘Retro and Art [tbc]’ and exhibiting She Lives (2014)

Friday 29 June

David Roach (2000AD, Masters of Spanish Comic Book Art) speaking on ‘The Spanish Masters’

Catherine Anyango Grünewald (Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Sweden) (Heart of Darkness – Observer Graphic Novel of the Month 2010) speaking on ‘Committed to Memory: Remembering and Responsibility in Visual Storytelling’

Conference themes:

Retro – a looking to the past – is everywhere in contemporary culture. Cultural critics like Frederic Jameson argue that retro and nostalgia are symptoms of postmodernism – that we can pick and choose various items and cultural phenomena from different eras and place them together in a pastiche that means little and decontextualizes their historicity. However, as Henri Bergson argues in Memory and Matter, the senses evoke memories, and products of popular culture, like comics, can bring the past to life in many ways. The smell and feel of old paper can trigger memories just as easily as revisiting an old haunt or hearing a piece of music from one’s youth.

As fans and academics we often look to the past to tell us about the present. We may argue about the supposed “golden age” of comics. Our collecting habits may even define our lifestyles and who we are. But nostalgia has its dark side and this continuous looking to the past is regarded by some as a negative emotion in which we aim to restore a lost adolescence. In Mediated Nostalgia, Ryan Lizardi argues that the contemporary media fosters narcissistic nostalgia ‘to develop individualized pasts that are defined by idealized versions of beloved lost media texts’ (2). This argument suggests that fans are media dupes lost in a reverie of nostalgic melancholia; but is belied by the diverse responses of fandom to media texts. Moreover, ‘retro’ can be taken to imply an ironic appropriation. Whereas nostalgia suggests that we take comfort in an illusionary past, retro can suggest performance and an active use of the past to comment on the present. The Ninth International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference will investigate the complex relationship between time, memory, nostalgia and retro. We invite papers themed around, but not limited to, the following:

·       Preserving, restoring and reprinting old comics

·       The materiality of comics

·       The role of nostalgia in comics histories

·       Collecting and archiving comics

·       Comics exhibitions or museum exhibits

·       Recovered histories, forgotten voices (e.g. minority creators/audiences, overlooked roles)

·       Reboots and reworkings of old characters

·       Evoking older styles and printing methods

·       Envisaging characters in different eras (e.g. Marvel 1602, Elseworlds)

·       Biographies, autobiographies, histories

·       Uses of memory in comics genres (e.g. graphic medicine, dementia studies)

·       Playing with time, time travel themes, parallel universes,

·       Fan practices: collecting, creating, restoring

·       Lost or endangered spaces: comics studios, the newsstand, comics shops