Everyone who is anyone in the world of comics scholarship has gathered in Columbus, OH for the confluence of two events: the once every three years Billy Ireland comics scholarship conference and the once in a lifetime opening of the new—and by all accounts amazingly spectacular—facilities for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, now surely the most important dedicated comics scholarship center in the US.
Events are still rolling out although I think many are sold out. Here’s the rest of the weekend’s activities:
In Conversation: Paul Pope and Jeff Smith
Friday, November 15, 2013
7:30 PM, Mershon Auditorium
An Evening with the Hernandez Brothers: An Office of Diversity and Inclusion Distinguished Lecture Series Event
Saturday, November 16, 2013
7:30 PM, Mershon Auditorium
Pulitzer Prize nominated cartoon journalist Matt Bors: Buy tickets
From Hell artist Eddie Campbell: Buy tickets
Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis: Sold Out
Screening of Stripped: Sold Out
Red and Rover creator Brian Basset: Buy tickets
Flight creator Kazu Kibuishi: Buy tickets
A Looney Tunes Afternoon with Jeff Smith: Buy tickets
Related Event: The Art of Spiegelman: Buy tickets
Museum galleries: special Grand Opening hours
Saturday + Sunday, November 16 -17, 2013
10 am to 5 pm
Free and open to the public
If you are anywhere near Columbus, please go check it out.
I visited the Museum almost exactly one year ago in their old facility, and I was summarily impressed. And I’ve been following their postings and pictures as the new facility has been taking shape, so I had to stop a moment and smile on my way in initially as I saw ‘Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum’ carved in stone on the face of their new home. This has been a long time in coming, and comics research just leveled up. Multiple times. From what little I’ve really seen of the place so far (basically, just the lobby and the auditorium) it’s super impressive. I can’t wait until the tours to see the full breadth of the place!
The first two days here, though, are focused on academic presentations. Papers and lectures from people doing academic work on comics. Subjects ranged from the Yellow Kid and the Armory Show of 1913 to Walt Kelly and Charles Schulz to Ariel Schrag and Alison Bechdel. I don’t know that I can summarize all the presentations here; some were better presented than others, but they were all deeply fascinating, well-researched and very enlightening. I was exposed to a number of comics creators and works I had never heard of before, and a number of conceptual ideas that presented old works in startlingly new contexts. My head is swimming with ideas right now, and it’s frankly hard to process everything that was presented by the sheer volume of great work shown.
All props to Lucy Caswell, Jenny Robb, Caitlin McGurk, and the many other dedicated lovers of the comics medium who have made this truly great event more than a some day dream.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.