MSU Comics Forum brings keynote speakers, guests to discuss comics
Finally, a place where comic book lovers can unite.
The MSU Comics Forum started its events in Snyder-Phillips Hall on Feb. 20 and events will end on March. 3. The forum is an annual events for scholars, creators and fans of comic books.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary, forum coordinators brought in two notable key speakers, creator James Sturm and scholar Charles Hatfield, who have been flown in from opposites sides of the U.S.
Panel coordinator for the forum Zack Kruse is a doctoral student in comic studies at MSU. He said he started reading comics at a young age and that inspired him to make comics of his own.
“My parents started giving me comics as a kid and they taught me to read in really interesting and complicated ways that I wasn’t getting from my pre-school picture books,” Kruse said. “The language of comics is so different and subtle and asks young readers to think through difficult narrative moves.”
Kruse said one of his most successful comics includes a strip called "Mystery Solved." The comic started as a webcomic but was picked up by the nationally distributed magazine, Skeptical Inquirer.
“MSU is sort of the beacon of comic studies,” Kruse said. “This is where I had to be to do the work I wanted to do.”
The power of comics is something Kruse said he highly believes in. He encouraged students to come to forum events.
“Many of their peers are going to be showcasing their comics and their art at the forum. ... It is also a really incredible opportunity to explore the medium and meet people that are doing really interesting things,” Kruse said. “When I was an undergrad, there was no such thing as comic studies. There was no such thing as this notion that you can study comics and study them seriously and do important work in it."
Director of the MSU Comics Forum Ryan Claytor has made about a dozen comics so far and has his own series titled "And Then One Day." Claytor said the forum is focused on bring people together through comics.
“Comics as a medium is an incredible mode of expression, it is art and words combined together and for some reason people start to think that comics are less than the sum of their parts,” Claytor said. “I want to create a community within Michigan that appreciates comics and pushes them out to the wider audience.”
The Ms. Marvel Public Lecture and Book Discussion with Morgan Shipley is one of the many lectures going on as part of the forum. Ms. Marvel is a fictional superheroine who appeared in the comic books published by Marvel comics.
History education freshman Riley Schelhaas said she considers it one of her favorite comics for its alternative look at current events.
“I liked that I got to see the character I enjoy reading and how the existence of her comics allows Islam to be represented in a positive light that is not usual in pop culture,” Schelhaas said.
Human medicine sophomore Lucia Rodriguez said she has been reading comics for about a year and encouraged other students to attend the forum events.
“When a lot of people think of comics they kind of think maybe it’s just superheroes, very cut and dry, white and black, but I think there is a lot of different stories to be told, lots of different humanities and it is just as about as rich and complex as movies or books," Rodriguez said.