Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thoughts on PCA

As promised, I'm taking a minute away from grading to offer some observations on the PCA National Conference in St. Louis, MO, this past weekend.
Meeting and chatting with Kim Munson, whose body of knowledge on comics art exhibition and legal matters is formidable. She's also great fun to hang out with. Her paper on the NY show was quite revealing! Here's Kim with Trina Robbins from last year's San Diego con!

Photo credit goes to Micheal Dooley!
A bit sad that this was the same weekend as WonderCon. I have much more fun at WonderCon than I do at San Diego, but it's better for my career to attend and present at PCA, so if it remains a scheduling and monetary choice, there's my mandate. It may be better in other ways too- see below.
I also rather enjoyed getting to know Jacque Nodell a bit better. Like Kim's, her blog is linked on this blog. I was quite embarrassed as a comics scholar to not have made the connection to her name, and that her grandfather was the creator of the original Green Lantern! Jaque's paper on the romantic aspects of 70s Supergirl, Wonder Woman and Lois Lane comics was quite engaging.
Here's Jacque at San Diego last year. Not the best vid I've ever seen, but it does give a sense of her energy.

Of course, my old and dear friend Frenchy Lunning made the whole thing possible for me, both by offering an affordable (to say the least) room share and by being a constant support for my career, my work and my ideas. I have such a blast hanging out with her, but I get it that her time is at a premium, so I'm always grateful for what I can get.
Frenchy always finds a different approach to the material, and her view of Ranma 1/2 as a horror text was certainly no exception!
I mean, really. It takes a very flexible mind to see this as a horror story. But Frenchy made a very compelling case!

Here's Frenchy in her milieu at the Picto-Plasma conference, one of dozens she routinely attends and at which she offers presentations. In addition, she is the editor and spearhead of the academic journal Mechademia.

Also a pleasure to meet fat studies scholar and performance artist Cindy Baker, whose piece I was sorry to miss.
Some great papers on aspects of Grecian legend in Watchmen, issues of identity in Persepolis, Wendy Goldberg's delightful paper on The Rabbi's Cat, contemporary noir comics, superhero musicals and their failure, the usual spate of papers on MAUS, and Randy Duncan's excellent piece on 17th century Ethiopian manuscript as comic form.
My own piece on hypermasculinity in superheroes as a catalyst for relationship failure and Concrete as a repudiation of that notion was fairly well-received, though I think I could have fleshed out my ideas quite a bit more.
However, I will have the opportunity to do so if my conversation with the rep from U Mississippi press bears fruit and I am able to do an analytical tome on Concrete!
There's much talk about how academic conferences like PCA are more about professionalism and career advancement, and fan-oriented conventions like WonderCon and SDCC are more about fun and industry schmoozing.  But not only did I feel like I advanced my career more at PCA, but I think overall I had more fun than I usually do at comic cons to which I travel (as opposed to our local one, which I quite like).
But possibly the venue is not as important as the opportunity to, in the words of the Wizard, "confer, converse and otherwise hobnob with my fellow Wizards."