Among other things I learned from my excursion to the Golden State, really good coffee and really nice weather can make people more pleasant and attentive. At least, that’s the effect the conditions had on me. This level of attentiveness was valuable, since I found myself scheduled for major intellection in the space of a week. First, Queers & Comics! Then, the Working Group in Critical Theory at Stanford! Special thanks to Philz Coffee for being delicious, and shoutout to the Clipper card–it’s really cool to be able to travel on multiple transit systems in multiple cities within a region. Public transit is my jam. This post is part 1 of 2.
Friday & Saturday April 14th and 15th saw the second successful (yeah I said it) Queers & Comics international conference at California College of the Arts. Whereas, last time, as a Board member of CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies, I was involved in every aspect of the planning, this time, my role was basically backup. It’s pretty awesome to see something you worked to bring about go on existing autonomously, in the world! I did some initial vetting of proposals, consulted with the Program Committee, and helmed the Twitter account for the conference this time around. You’ll see from the tweets that this involved a whole lot of hype and celebration, because the accomplishments of everyone who pulled this off are truly impressive. Rather than recap the conference here, I can say with some confidence that the @QueersComics timeline from those dates represents things well. The good people behind San Francisco’s own Queer Comics Expo covered a lot of ground at the conference, too.
I shared some ideas I’ve been working to articulate about interdisciplinarity and comics studies during my part of the presentation. I’ve been assessing what the place of queer theory/queer studies will be in my writing going forward. I imagine this will come in handy next time I teach LGBT Lit or Comics & Graphic Novels. It’s also been helpful to take stock of this conversation as I work on a chapter for an edited collection, After Queer Studies, for which I’m writing about comics! I’ve also been wondering about the viability of this book, Queer: A Graphic History, for either of those courses. I may or may not have made up my mind about it by the time the next opportunity to teach with it comes around.
In addition to panelist duties, I had the honor of introducing one of the keynote speakers: Mariko Tamaki! You guys, this was so cool. I had read some of her work before, but I bought and read a couple more books she’s authored in order to have a stronger sense of her writerly qualities. This helped a great deal, as the least I could do was provide a warm welcome to a distinguished thinker and unique storyteller.
Among the panels I attended and livetweeted were a) an awesome conversation on autobiographical comics and b) a panel on creating trans & nonbinary characters in comics. I so value the breadth of the conference for including many people who have approached comics in different ways, and I love how peculiar every single person who comes to the intersection of Queers & Comics is–it really goes to show that “Queer” and “Comics” mean a lot, and mean differently, across our diverse experiences.
The rest of the story is out there in reviews and reports (including this one in comics form by Maeve MacLysaght!) from other attendees/participants. There’s more to come! One reason I’m not posting more photos is that attendees signed release forms for photo and video documentation; video will be released after the good people at CCA have edited everything. For now, I can say that Queers & Comics is a sight to behold, and I can’t wait to move it forward.
My dear friend and former roommate (who is now something of a San Francisco institution) was kind enough to put me up at his place in the Castro. I visited the GLBT Historical Society Museum, which is small but a-mazing. I also made it out to Oakland to hang out and scope out birds at Lake Merritt. I think I’ll do a whole separate post on birds from this trip. Coming soon, in Part 2 of this Cali post, I’ll talk about Palo Alto birds and, of course, Stanford.