MSU hosts 11th annual comic book conference

Posted at 10:39 AM, Feb 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-08 10:39:52-05

The 2018 Michigan State University Comics Forum is rapidly approaching. The Forum continues its mission to bring influential and groundbreaking voices in comics to East Lansing, and part of our exciting growth entering our 11th year is a venue change. The Comics Forum moves to MSU’s Main Library where we continue to offer an environment that brings together scholars, creators, and fans to celebrate and critically examine the comics medium. An annual event since 2008, this year’s Comics Forum hosts two keynote speakers: comics creator Lucy Knisley and comics scholar Diana Schutz. Both keynote attendees are respected and critically praised for their contributors to the comics field. Knisley and Schutz are amazing additions as keynote speakers for the Forum as we proudly continue our mission beyond our first decade. Taking place on the campus of Michigan State University, this year’s Comics Forum will be held February 22, 23 and 24, with events to include keynote addresses by both Knisley and Schutz, artist and academic presentations, an MSU Library comics exhibition, a comic graphic memoir discussion, as well as an Artist Alley where attendees can meet dozens of comic creators. All events associated with the Comics Forum are free and open to the public.

Each year, the Comics Forum hosts major comics contributors and the 2018 keynote speakers continue that proud tradition. Lucy Knisley is a critically acclaimed and award-winning comic creator who specializes in personal, confessional graphic novels and travelogues. She has created celebrated comics work such as her book Relish, which is a New York Times best-seller, Goodreads top book of the year, and an American Library Association award winner in the YA category. Her book Displacement was featured in an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air. The book follows Lucy on an elderly tour aboard a cruise ship with her aging grandparents and explores the flip side of being a young adult; family, responsibility and aging. Diana Schutz is a comic book editor who was the editor in chief of Comico comics, and had a long and award winning tenure at Dark Horse Comics, for whom she worked for 25 years. She was the editor on many critically acclaimed and award winning comic works such as Frank Miller’s Sin City and 300, Matt Wagner’s Grendel, Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, and Paul Chadwick's Concrete to name just a few. Schutz received a Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies from the University of Portland, writing her M.A. thesis on female cartoonists Julie Doucet, Roberta Gregory, and Aline Kominsky-Crumb. While retiring from Dark Horse Comics in 2015, she is an adjunct instructor of comics history and criticism at Portland Community College. Knisley will be delivering her Keynote Address at 7:00 PM on Friday, February 23, while Schutz will deliver her keynote address at 12:15 PM on Saturday, February 24. Both Keynote Speakers will be a part of the Forum’s Artist Alley throughout the day on Saturday, February 24

“Comics are huge part of who I am as an artist and an educator,” says Ryan Claytor, the Comics Forum’s Director. “The Comics Forum has consistently strived to further the critical examination of comics and cartoon art, but we’ve tried to set ourselves apart by bringing together a range of voices from diverse perspectives that reflects not just what’s happening in the scholarly community but the creative community as well.” A writer and artist himself, Claytor is both an award winning cartoonist and a professor in Michigan State’s Department of Art, Art History, and Design.

In addition to the diverse range of voices that Claytor and the Comics Forum committee have assembled, the Comics Forum is offering events during the lead up to the 2018 conference that include a gallery exhibition, a comic memoir discussion, and a limited private tour of the MSU Special Collections Library, the largest public collection of comics in the world. This year’s gallery event is at the MSU Main Library and runs from February 19 to March 2.

The history of comics scholarship is deeply rooted at Michigan State, and MSU is also the home to the internationally renowned Journal of Popular Culture. Dr. Ann Larabee is the editor of the Journal of Popular Culture, and she notes that MSU’s library coupled with the comics scholarship published through the journal makes MSU “a leader in the study of comics.”

More information regarding the Michigan State University Comics Forum, our discussions panel schedule, guest list, and additional events can be found at All events associated with the MSU Comics Forum are free and open to the public.

The Michigan State University Comics Forum is generously supported by: The MSU Department of Art, Art History and Design, The Journal of Popular Culture, The Department of English, Gary Hoppenstand, The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, The MSU Libraries Special Collections, MSU Muslim Studies, MATRIX: The Center for the Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, and BRD Printing.

Contact: Ryan Claytor – Director: Jay Jacot – Artist Alley Coordinator:

Zack Kruse – Panel Coordinator: Jason Larsen – Promotions Coordinator:

Twitter: @MSUComicsForum