Graphic Brighton returns in May: Michael Rosen, Hannah Berry, Woodrow Phoenix among speakers discussing comics for younger audiences

Graphic Brighton

Graphic Brighton – a popular academic comics conference open to the public – returns to the British southern city in May. There’s still time for comic researchers to submit papers for possible discussion at this year’s in person event, which will focus on the state of comics for younger audiences in the 21st century.

Speakers at Graphic Brighton 2022, discussing comics for younger audiences, including Michael Rosen, Hannah Berry, Woodrow Phoenix and more
Speakers at Graphic Brighton 2022, discussing comics for younger audiences, including Michael Rosen, Hannah Berry, Woodrow Phoenix and more

Speakers include children’s author and poet Michael Rosen, talking about adapting his work for comics; Matt Baxter (The Phoenix); award-winning graphic novelist, comics creator, writer, illustrator and campaigner Hannah Berry, discussing her podcast and comic book series about kindness and resilience for children; Richy Chandler (Wallace and Gromit comic strip); Sally Kindberg (The Cartoon History of the World); Coco Kirkland (Project: Immortality); Bob Molesworth (Star Wars Lego comic); Woodrow Phoenix, talking about the return of Donny Digits; and Zoom Rockman, talking The Beano.

Graphic Brighton is curated by Alex Fitch and Barbara Chamberlin.

The public are invited to come along to any of the talks.

Call For Papers

The deadline for the Call for Papers is 1st April 2022, this aspect of Graphic Brighton aimed at comics researchers on the theme of the state of comics for younger audiences in the 21st Century.

“Compared to fifty years ago the number of children’s comics easily available has dwindled, with only titles used to promote toys and cartoons on most newsagent shelves,” the organisers feel.

“However, with new anthologies aimed at children arriving in recent years, such as The Phoenix, 2000AD Regened, and Monster Fun, it seems that new comics are now coming on to the market and appealing to new readers. In addition, manga and graphic novels aimed at younger readers are rapidly finding new audiences. Illustrated books for children have often flirted with the language of comics with Brighton’s own Raymond Briggs a pioneer for this crossover audience, and recent series such as Dave Pilkey’s Dog Man and Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid showing a large demand for such titles.

“Also, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s award-winning books for children show the same creativity and comic book stylistics found in their graphic novels for adults.

“This, alongside increasing scholarship that indicates that comics reading aids literacy and educational development, suggests that comics for children and younger readers are once again gaining traction. This symposium hopes to explore these areas further.

“As an event which aims to be interdisciplinary, we invite speakers and contributors from academic and creator-based backgrounds in comics, visual cultures and education, so as to open discussion across the disciplines.

“We invite 20-minute papers themed around, but not limited to, the following:

  • YA manga, readership and translation
  • Younger creators and their work
  • Comics and agency – enabling younger voices and perspectives
  • Comics creation, youth wellbeing and social engagement
  • Adapting adult narratives for younger readership
  • Adaptation and transmedia children’s comics and texts / Comics with cross-media presence (for example work that is a comic, podcast and animated series)
  • Comics and literacy
  • Comics and pedagogy in the classroom
  • Educational comics
  • The language of comics in illustrated books / crossovers between illustrated children’s books and comics
  • Comics, memory and nostalgia
  • Collectables and memorabilia
  • Creativity in licensed comics
  • Kids’ comics paratexts
  • Relaunching old titles for new audiences
  • New publishers for younger audiences

Please submit your abstract (300 words) and brief biography (100 words) to A.R.Fitch [at] brighton.ac.uk and B.J.Chamberlin [at] brighton.ac.uk no later than Friday 1st April 2022.

“Comic book creators and children’s book illustrators will be attending the event,” the organisers note, “to talk about their work in panel discussions, so this is a unique opportunity for academics undertaking research in this area to meet practitioners and discuss their work in this medium.”

This event is funded by the Centre for Arts and Wellbeing, plus the Widening Participation and Outreach Department at the University of Brighton.

• Graphic Brighton | Friday 27th – Saturday 28th May 2022, the Edward Street Building, University of Brighton City Campus | For more information about the symposium and previous Graphic Brighton events, visit www.graphicbrighton.com

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.



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