North Texas Daily

Free conference attracts comic book lovers from all over the nation

Free conference attracts comic book lovers from all over the nation

Free conference attracts comic book lovers from all over the nation
February 28
00:05 2014

Steven James // Staff Writer

Comic book and graphic novel lovers have the chance to show their enthusiasm at UNT’s free Comic Studies Conference Saturday, March 1.

As part of UNT’s GeeKon week, the conference invites people from all over the U.S. to show their love for comics, graphic novels and superheroes, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Events at the conference will start with signing panels at the Business Leadership Building.  Keynote address “The Geek Grrrl’s Guide to Making Your Own Webcomics” from LGBTQ and women’s rights activist and comic book creator Kate Leth will be at 4 p.m., and a documentary screening of “Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines” will be at the Willis Library Forum at 5 p.m. A reception and merchandise signing will follow at More Fun Comics and Games at 7 p.m.

Many professors and scholars from UNT and surrounding schools are expected to attend, including conference director and communication studies professor Shaun Treat. Treat has been using comic books for his lessons since 2008. His course, “Mythic Rhetoric of the American Superhero,” has been popular with UNT students for the past six years.

“Students love [comic books],” Treat said. “It’s not like we’re replacing Shakespeare or anything like that. We read the same theory as most English and philosophy programs; we just use the superheroes as tropes so the students will have a better time learning.”

Treat’s ideas and philosophies about teaching with comic books have attracted the attention of many news organizations, including the Denton Record-Chronicle and the BBC.

“It shows different ways to think about American ideology and issues,” Treat said. “Comic books have resonance and timeliness. It’s a fun way to survey the humanities.”

Another faculty member attending the event is English senior lecturer Marshall Armintor, who teaches comic book-themed classes focused on visual storytelling, the Jewish graphic novel, and analysis and interpretation.

“It used to be a more important part of American culture,” Armintor said. “People who drew them got paid like rock stars. In 1912, the average salary for an artist of a newspaper comic was $100,000.”

Some of Armintor’s lectures discuss Jewish themes and history found in comic books, which he will speak about at the conference.

“What most people don’t know is that almost all of the comic book innovators from the 20th century were Jewish,” he said. “Stan Lee was born Stanley Lieber, Jack Kirby was born Jacob Kurtzberg and Bob Kane, who created Batman, was born Robert Khan. Even Superman’s creators were Jewish, which is probably why they gave him a Hebrew name, Kal-El.”

Residence life coordinator Eugene Frier is helping with GeeKon and looks forward to the it getting started. He said geek culture is relatable because everyone has a topic they can talk about nonstop, whether it’s comic books or something else.

“Students come in with interests in stereotypical geeky stuff,” he said. “They think that they’re going off to college and nobody has the same interests they do. I’m really into relationship building, and I hope that students will find other people in the Denton community that have the same interests as them so they can raise their geek flag high.”

Feature photo: UNT Comic Studies Conference poster. Graphic courtesy of UNT Comic Studies Conference’s Facebook Page. 

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