Recap on #ComicsUnconf15

Last weekend I went to the Comics Unconference in Glasgow. Initially I was very nervous because 1) I’ve never been to Scotland before and I’m terrible with directions 2) I’ve never been to a conference/unconference before and 3) There is a lot of people more intelligent than me and I had no idea what I was going to say.

Despite all my initial worries, I had such a good time and I really enjoyed it!

I finally have the time to do a recap of all the discussions I was involved in during the day before I forget them in the long run:

Comics in Academia/Education

  • Using comics to teach and educate children about science and health issues
    • Strict guidelines on how to represent scientists, ensure to empower children with the idea they can do science rather than rely on a scientist
    • While the comics were targeted towards 8-12 year olds, they can be and are read by people of all ages
  • How to get comics accepted as a scientific output by showing them the impact it has on the public
  • Using comics to teach people languages/train people e.g. in India where there is a large culture with showing stories through drawings
  • Unflattening: How to change the way people think using comics
  • Sharad Sharma’s World Comics Network: ABCD – ‘Anybody Can Draw’
  • How comics allowed people new mediums to express things they couldn’t otherwise: Someone showed a comic that a student did about their mother’s death which was heart-wrenching…


  • History of zines: dates back before the punk era, possibly during the 30s! They had roots in sci-fi/fantasy zines
  • Defining a zine: Cost? How it’s published? How it’s made?
  • Crossover between boutique zines and art books: Are those zines?
  • Alter-ego by Roy Thomas: an example of a zine used as a resume
  • How would you categorise zines? (Afterthought: Can you catalog all zines?)
  • Can digital publications be considered zines? How does digital sphere reshape the market for comic creators?

Digital Comics

  • Comixology presentation by David Sweeney: an in-depth presentation on guided views and how to translate the experience of reading print comics on a digital platform
  • Scanned comics – comics made in print and scanned for online reading
  • Digital first comics – comics published online but made for being read in a print format
  • Digital native comics – comics published online and made for being read online
  • Using web/digital technology to provide a new reading experience e.g. Oculus Rift, VNs, Flash, etc.
  • (Afterthought: How would we preserve digital comics in the future? Advancement in technology + online sphere making it easier for people to create and publish could make it a difficult project. Is it worth compiling and preserving? How do we know what to preserve? Same goes for zines)

How Comics Work

  • Gasoline Alley: Used as an example to show different ways you can use the comic’s format to tell a story
  • Dave McKean: Interactive exhibition which guides the person to read a series of art in  sequence
  • A lot of ‘is this a comic?’ questioning. Answer: Everything is a comic
  • Woodrow Phoenix: Giant comic book made to slow down a person’s reading speed, silent comic
  • (Afterthought: In the education discussion, there seems to be a consensus that anything that combines pictures and text could be considered a comic, in this panel the definition of a comic extends to purely visual pieces with an element of story telling and focuses on the fact they are sequential, but then someone brought up comics where they don’t have to be read in a sequence? Would that be a comic?)
  • History of speech/thought bubbles: dates back to Pompeii
  • Grayson Perry: an example of historical methods of creating sequential art used in a contemporary setting

‘Diversity’/Social issues

  • ‘Diversity – the new buzz word’ – Ari Silvera
  • Kelly Kaneyama: did a presentation on stereotyped female/non-white characters in superhero comics
  • poor examples of minority representation
  • In autobiographical comics it doesn’t seem to be a big problem, most likely because it’s a story from experience. Does representation and interpretation vary from genre to genre?
  • (Afterthought: Lydia Wysocki (super good blog post) brought up some issues with the diversity panel which I’m inclined to agree with. I feel as only some people contributed a lot to the conversation and those people will only focus on their interests/backgrounds rather than open it up to a wide variety of social issues and situations. I feel like the problem may be with the topic at hand which is very broad and possibly it’s hard to feel like people have the knowledge or standing to talk about the issues? Or at least that is why I chose not to bring up certain topics. Furthermore it’s not so specific to comics in my opinion but storytelling in general)

Other things that happened

  • Lunch with Ernesto, Lucy and Hope at a Chinese Malaysian Restaurant ‘Banana Leaf’. I had pan mien and I cried on the inside. There was also a lot of talk about my second favourite topic: food.
  • DeeCap: Performances with comics featuring stories about: 1) a teabag, 2) a cat fairytale, 3) the dreaded question ‘what do you do’, 4) author’s rights rap, 5) martians, 6) cats + music
  • Drinks at the CCA: beautiful building
  • Italian food for dinner, I was really tired at this point but I found out a lot about Scotland and England’s history thanks to Stoo!

One thought on “Recap on #ComicsUnconf15

  1. Pingback: Unconference! | Reflective Process

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