Why Comix? Drawing the World You Want to See

Presentation, Symposium

Why Comix? Drawing the World You Want to See

Thu, Jan 14, 2016 9:30 am-3:00 pm Curry Ballroom Free
Presentation, Symposium Thu, Jan 14, 2016
9:30 am-3:00 pm Curry Ballroom Free

postcardwhycomixWhy Comix? Drawing the World You Want to See” is a day-long conversation about the politics of race and identity representation in comics.

Co-presented by the Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion and the Northeastern Center for the Arts.

This symposium is in conjunction with the exhibition Visible Noize: The Art of John Jennings in Gallery360. Free & open to all. Drop by for one session, or stay all day.  For those who cannot join us, we will live stream video of the event at http://www.northeastern.edu/videostream

Participants (bios below) Marjorie Liu, John Jennings, Moya Bailey, Stacey Robinson, Keith Chow, Barrington Edwards, Nettrice Gaskins, Whit Taylor, Terry Marshall

All sessions will take place in the Northeastern Curry Student Center.

This event

Schedule of the day

Session 1: 9:30AM

Welcome by artist John Jennings
Why Comix? Drawing the World You Want to See
Participants: Marjorie Liu, Keith Chow and Stacey Robinson

Session 2: 11:00AM
Local Vibes – Boston Independent Artists Speak
Participants: Whit Taylor and Barrington Edwards

Break: 12:15PM

Session 3: 1:30PM
Afrofuturism and the Black Imagination
Participants: Moya Bailey, John Jennings, Nettrice Gaskins, Terry Marshall
Closing remarks by artist Stacey Robinson

Exhibition reception for Visible Noize: The Art of John Jennings in Gallery 360

Session Descriptions

Why Comix? Drawing the World You Want to See
At a moment when the mainstream industry seems to be recognizing the advantages of creating diverse characters whose identities reflect those found in their readership, what do the experts say about this trend? This panel will engage questions of identity, race and the politics of representation in comic books and graphic novels with scholars/creators whose own work shifts mainstream narratives and reimagines representation.

Local Vibes – Boston Independent Artists Speak
Two accomplished artists discuss the evolution of their body of work, new characters, and their passion for keeping it homegrown. Learn more about underground networks for artists and writers looking to break into the industry, and the value added by being an independent creator.

Afrofuturism and the Black Imagination
Often discussed in relationship to science fiction and technology, Afrofuturism has been described as a black perspective on politics, culture and art and much more. As such, artists and writers use Afrofuturism to re-imagine realities, space, place and concepts of time from a black perspective.  This dialogue will engage renown contributors to the Afrofuturist landscape to discuss their art, creation, and community activism to create new narratives that go beyond any predetermined limits. Session topic and title inspired by the current exhibition curated by John Jennings and Reynaldo at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture entitled “Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination.”


Click on the photos for the full bios

Video, Why Comix? Drawing the World You Want to See

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 1.52.12 PM


Curry Ballroom

360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Marjorie Liu

New York Times bestselling and award-winning writer Marjorie Liu is best known for her fiction and comic books. She teaches comic book writing at MIT, and she leads a class on Popular Fiction at the Voices of Our Nation (VONA) workshop.

Ms. Liu is a highly celebrated comic book writer. Her extensive work with Marvel includes the bestselling Dark Wolverine series, NYX:  No Way Home, X-23, and Black Widow: The Name of the Rose. She received national media attention for Astonishing X-Men, which featured the gay wedding of X-Man Northstar and was subsequently nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding media images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Ms. Liu also wrote the story for the animated film, Avengers Confidential:  Black Widow and Punisher, which was produced by Marvel, Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan) Inc., and Madhouse Inc.

Her newest work is MONSTRESS, an original, creator-owned comic book series with Japanese artist (and X-23 collaborator) Sana Takeda. Published by Image in Fall 2015, MONSTRESS is set in an alternate, matriarchal 1920’s Asia and follows a girl’s struggle to survive the trauma of war. With a cast of girls and monsters and set against a richly imagined aesthetic of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS #1 debuted to critical praise. The Hollywood Reporter remarked that the longer than typical first issue was “world-building on a scale rare in mainstream comics.”

Ms. Liu is also the author of more than 19 novels, most notably the urban fantasy series, Hunter Kiss, and the paranormal romance series, Dirk & Steele. Her novels have also been bestsellers on USA Today, which described Liu “as imaginative as she is prolific.” Her critically praised fiction has twice received the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, for THE MORTAL BONE (Hunter Kiss #6), and TIGER EYE (Dirk & Steele #1). TIGER EYE was the basis for a bestselling paranormal romance video game called Tiger Eye:  Curse of the Riddle Box.

Liu has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, MTV, and been profiled in the Wall Street Journal.com, Hollywood Reporter, and USA Today. She is a frequent lecturer and guest speaker, appearing on panels at San Diego Comic Con, the Tokyo Literary Festival, the New York Times Public Lecture series, Geeks Out; and the Asian American Writers Workshop. Her work has been published internationally, including Germany, France, Japan, Poland, and the United Kingdom.Ms. Liu was born in Philadelphia, and has lived in numerous cities in the Midwest and Beijing. Prior to writing full-time, she was a lawyer.  She currently resides in Boston.

John Jennings

John Jennings is a nationally recognized cartoonist, designer, graphic novelist, and Associate Professor of Visual Studies at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), John Jennings’ art and teaching focuses on African American stereotypes in popular visual media. He is an accomplished designer, curator, illustrator, cartoonist, and award-winning graphic novelist. His creative practice is concerned with the topics of representation and authenticity, visual culture, visual literacy, social justice, and design pedagogy.

Moya Bailey

Moya Bailey is a scholar of critical race, feminist, and disability studies. Her current work focuses on constructs of health and normativity within a U.S. context. She is interested in how race, gender, and sexuality are represented in media and medicine.

Moya Bailey is a graduate of the Emory University Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department. She is interested in how race, gender, and sexuality are represented in media and medicine. She is the founder and co-conspirator of Quirky Black Girls, a network for strange and different black girls and now serves at the digital alchemist for the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network.

She attended Spelman College where she initially endeavored to become a physician. She fell in love with Women’s Studies and activism, ultimately driving her to graduate school in lieu of medicine. As an undergrad she received national attention for her involvement in the “Nelly Protest” at Spelman, a moment that solidified her deep commitment to examining representations of Black women in popular culture.

You can see more on her personal website here.

Stacey Robinson

Stacey Robinson is an artist and illustrator whose subject matter examines the African-American experience, more specifically the future. Making many African-American private conversations and concerns public, his Afro-Futurist works consist of reoccurring motifs, which are symbols of technology and rebirth. Juxtaposing flesh with mechanical objects, the works comment on newness of life beyond the struggles of the past.

Barrington Edwards

Barrington Edwards graduated from Boston Latin Academy in 1990. He attended Hampton University in Virginia for one year then transferred to the Massachusetts College of Art where he earned both a BFA in Communication Design and a MSAE in Art Education.  He has since worked in the worlds of art and design, education and community development. Barrington has worked with organizations in Dorchester and Roxbury for years. Barrington is currently a member of the Visual Arts faculty at the Boston Arts Academy where he teaches visual art. He is a Surdna fellow, an Expressing Boston fellow, a publisher of comics and graphic media and works as a freelance artist and consultant.

Nettrice Gaskins

Nettrice Gaskins’ topic is African cosmology and techno-vernacular creativity and innovation in Afrofuturism, specifically the relationship between African representational and spiritual space, mapping, sound and data visualization. Nettrice Gaskins, Ph.D. majored in Visual Art at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, KY. She earned a BFA in Computer Graphics with Honors from Pratt Institute in 1992 and a MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994. She received a doctorate in Digital Media from Georgia Tech in 2014. Her model for ‘techno-vernacular creativity’ is an area of practice that investigates the characteristics of this production and its application in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics).

Further readings include:

Future Texts
Me at the Fair



Whit Taylor

Whit Taylor is a cartoonist, editor, and writer from New Jersey. She received a Glyph Award and two nominations for her autobiographical comics Watermelon (2012) and Boxes (2014), as well as an Ignatz nomination for her miniseries Madtown High (2013). Some of her latest works include The Anthropologists (Sparkplug Books), which was selected as a Notable Comic for Best American Comics 2015, Ghost (self-published), and SubCultures: A Comics Anthology (editor, Ninth Art Press). Whit has also written about small press comics for Panel Patter, The Comics Journal, The Tiny Report, Nat Brut, and Comics Workbook Magazine.

Terry Marshall

Terry Marshall has been involved in youth and social justice struggles for over 15 years and founded Boston-based organization Intelligent Mischief in 2013.

In 2008 Terry became the Lead Youth Organizer of the Healthcare Education Project, an initiative of 1199 SEIU in New York City. While there he led the innovative “Young Voices For Healthcare” campaign to involve young people in the healthcare reform struggle.

Terry is superstar facilitator that serves for several  national social justice organizations: Center for Story-based Strategy (CSS), Beautiful Trouble, and co-founder of The BlackOut Collective. He also serves on the board for Center for Artistic Activism and Boston-area Youth Organizing Project (BYOP).

Keith Chow

Anthology and a co-editor (also with Shen, Yang, and Ma) of Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology, both published by The New Press. Keith’s love for comics likely began as a small boy in the kitchen of Luray, Virginia’s Brown’s Chinese American Restaurant. There, his father Kenny read to him the classic Hong Kong humor strip, Lo Fu Ji (pinyin: Lao Fu Zi; English: Old Master Q). Unfortunately, once Keith started school, he forgot how to read Chinese, but never forgot the impact sequential art had on his young mind.

Later, Keith graduated to other comics like Captain Carrot and G.I. Joe. The one constant, though, was always the World’s Finest: Batman & Superman. According to his mother, the first picture Keith ever drew was a highly detailed rendering of Bats and Supes taking on giant robots. But, much like his Chinese, Keith’s skills as an artist quickly diminished as well.

As an undergraduate at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, Keith founded the still-thriving Asian Pacific American Student Union (APASU) and was named Multicultural Student Services’ Innovator of the Year in 2000. College was also the first time Keith’s knowledge of comics paid off when his poem A Lonely Night in Gotham Cityearned the school’s Sigma Tau Delta prize for poetry in 1996. His poetry has also appeared in the Asian Pacific American Journal and the Powhatan Review.

For several years, Keith was a high school English teacher and freelance writer for Wizard Entertainment’s ToyFareMagazine. From 2004 until just recently, he was the Education Specialist at Diamond Comic Distributors; he recently returned to freelance writing after the birth of his lovely daughter Keina Kojima Chow on July 3 of this year to his equally lovely wife, Natsuko.