The iSchool at Kent State University and the Reinberger Children’s Library Center (RCLC) hosted its second bi-annual Marantz Picturebook Research Symposium, Comics and the Graphic Narrative: The Future of the Movement, on Sunday, August 5, 2018 through Tuesday, August 7, 2018.
Scholars, librarians, educators, creators, artists, illustrators, and fans gathered on Sunday evening to hear Eisner award-winning comics creator, P. Craig Russell kick off the symposium with a fascinating perspective on the use of panels in comics. On Monday, talented storyboard artist, Rafael Rosado delivered another interesting perspective on the comics creator’s process, followed by a day packed full of breakouts sessions and panels. Scholars presented their research on topics such as using comics in the classroom, cultural aspects of comics, and reaching diverse readers.
One of the main attractions of the symposium was the eye-catching exhibits. Two glass exhibit cases were set in the Marantz Picturebook Collection space, which displayed original drawings from Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book by P. Craig Russell and Galen Showman. Two panels, both front and back, were covered with original storyboarding sketches and drawings from Giants Beware by Rafael Rosado. And, a very special exhibit was the Mike Curtis Collection of Superman Memorabilia from the Ohio Center for the Book. This exhibit was displayed in two places: the main gallery glass exhibit on the 3rd floor of the library in the iSchool space and two glass floor exhibits on the 1st floor of the Kent State University library. Each exhibit was filled with nostalgic items, dating back to 1939, of comics, toys, photographs, lunchboxes, clothing, posters and more.
On Monday evening, a special event, a Comics Extravaganza, was held for symposium attendees and the general public. The event attracted 150 comics fans and aficionados who gathered to take part in cosplay fun, play games, shop vendor tables, enjoy delicious dessert, watch live drawings and meet P. Craig Russell, Galen Showman, Rafael Rosado, Will Hillenbrand, Cody Allen, Wayne Allen Harold and Ted Sikora.
On Tuesday, the symposium started with a keynote by renowned comics researcher Dr. Carol Tilley and wrapped up with a closing keynote by iSchool director, Dr. Kendra Albright and researcher Dr. Karen Gavigan.
The iSchool offers research fellowships connected to the Reinberger Children’s Library Center. This year the Marantz and Albers fellowship recipients either presented or conducted their research in conjunction with the symposium.
The purpose of the Marantz Fellowship (supported by Dr. Kenneth and Sylvia Marantz) is to encourage scholars from the United States and around the world to use the resources of the Marantz Picturebook Collection for the Study of Picturebook Art in their research on the study of picture books. Marantz fellow, Dr. Wendy Stephens, Assistant Professor at Jacksonville State University, researched teenage attitudes towards the graphic narrative.
The Albers Fellowship was created by iSchool alumna Jacqueline M. Albers, M.L.S. ’94, to establish an endowment for a guest scholar to study children’s literature using the collections in the Reinberger center. This year, two Albers fellows attended the symposium. Dr. Jennifer Luetkemeyer from Appalachian State University, performed a comparison study on the representation of diverse characters using picturebooks and graphic novels, and Dr. Karen W. Gavigan, Associate Professor for University of South Carolina and co-author of the graphic novel, AIDS in the End Zone (co-authored by iSchool Director, Dr. Kendra Albright/Young Palmetto Press, 2014) presented her research project, “Visualizing Change through Multicultural and Social Justice Graphic Novels in the U.S. and Australia.”
The Marantz Picturebook Research Symposium is made possible in part through the generous donation of the late Dr. Ken and Sylvia Marantz, who believed that this event could “bring scholars and researchers in to spend some time in the collection, to uncover insights that [they] hadn’t seen, perhaps, to bring to light talent and so forth, and also to support research-based presentations and publications around the topic.” The iSchool and the RCLC will host the next symposium in 2020 with the theme of picturebooks in K-12 education.