Comics: Not just academic

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For the second year in a row Comic-Con International San Diego suspended its in-person event, an event that pumps an estimated $166 million impact to the regional economy, however, the online Comic-Con@Home returns this weekend July 23-25.

In hopes that COVID-19 conditions improve, it is currently planning a smaller supplemental event on Nov. 28, Comic-Con Special Edition. With hundreds of workshops and panels available this year, SDSU has embraced the history and present of comics in history, integrated into its curriculum and has collected more than 100,000 in the library’s Comic Art Collection.

Professor of History Elizabeth Pollard is the co-founder of the Comics@SDSU working group, working in developing curriculum at SDSU, utilizing comics as historical sources and catalysts for historical change, and has first had experience on how students are responding to the growth of comics in curriculum.

Pollard began Comics@SDSU with her colleague Pamela Jackson, Popular Culture librarian and Comic Arts Collection curator in 2019.

“Comics@SDSU is a grassroots college faculty led initiative and what we are trying to do is developing curriculum, research and community interactions focused on comics, and the ability of comics to make a difference in the world to bring social change,” she said.

Comics@SDSU meets three times a semester and talk about ways it is integrating comics into its courses. Faculty is working together to develop a comics study certificate, spearheading the development of brand new courses.

Pollard just began teaching a course History 157 Comics and History this past year, a course that is a baseline for the certificate program they want to develop. It looks at how comics have developed over time, going back to paleolithic cave paintings and how they were designed the same way as modern day comics. There is a new comic class that is going through the curriculum process this year, Graphic History.

“There is a big move in history in making comic retellings of historical events and historical argumentations,” she said.

Pollard said there are many comic courses in the works. A Religion and Comics course under development, an Afro-futurism course, a Chicano comic course being developed, Monga and Japanese history, comics for teachers’ course. Pollard said Art 296 is comics and sequential media and Art 343, both of which are about creating comics.

Pollard said Comics@SDSU has people that can talk authoritatively about comics about the things that are happening at Comic-Con@Home, Comic-Con International’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This gives people a chance to attend panels virtually that normally they would have stood in line for hours and hours,” she said. “Last year was pretty terrific. This year, it seems to be even better because they knew what was coming for a year. It is a very well organized series of virtual panels. Some are pre-recorded, some live. They have a host of different topics that they dig into ranging from pop culture, game playing, cosplay, comic creations, television shows.”

Pollard said since SDSU has comics and social justice, she said they were extremely excited about the panels that focus on teaching and learning with comics, comics for justice, Afro-futurism, diversity in comics, and “March,” focused on John Lewis’ career.

For more information about Comic-Con@ home visit www.comic-con.org and for more information about Comics@SDSU visit https://bit.ly/3Bln96V.

Comics: Not just academic