School of Art, Media, and Technology

NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium: Gabrielle Bell and Jonathan W. Gray

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Gabrielle Bell will discuss her recent work
Gabrielle Bell was born in England and raised in California. Her work has been selected for the 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 Houghton-Mifflin Best American Comics and the Yale Anthology of Graphic Fiction. Her work has also been featured in The Guardian,The Big Issue,Vice Magazine, McSweeney’s, Bookforum, The Believer, and Flare. The title story of Bell’s book, Cecil and Jordan in New York, (2009) has been adapted for the film anthology Tokyo! by Michel Gondry. Her most recent book,The Voyeurs, was released in 2012 by Uncivilized Books. Truth is Fragmentary: Travelogues & Diaries is scheduled to be released in May 2014, also by Uncivilized Books.

Jonathan W. Gray on Machine-Men: Race and Technology in American Superhero Comics.
Jonathan W. Gray will discuss why Black superheroes are so often also cybernetic hybrids, as with characters like the newly relevant Deathlok, Cyborg, Misty Knight and War Machine. Given that people of African descent were often linked to primitivism in the cultural imagination in general and in comic strips and early comic books in particular, do these post-human Black heroes induce us to understand both race and heroism differently? Is the incorporation of technology into the Black body simply a plot device in superhero comics, or is it an innovative way to visually represent the divided and conflicted racial subject? Is post-human the same as post-racial?

Jonathan W. Gray, associate professor, John Jay College–CUNY, works on post-WWII American culture, specifically the various ways that the Civil Rights movement continues to shape cultural production. He is the author of Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination: Innocence by Association (University Press of Mississippi, 2013) and has contributed articles on comics and popular culture to Entertainment Weekly and Salon. He is currently co-editing Feats of Clay: Disability and Graphic Narrative, which applies the insights of disability studies to contemporary graphic narratives.

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