Comics Arts Conference

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The Comics Arts Conference (CAC),[1] also known as the Comic Arts Conference,[2] is an academic conference held in conjunction with both the annual Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, and WonderCon in San Francisco.[3] Founded in 1992 by Henderson State University communications professor Randy Duncan and Michigan State University graduate student Peter Coogan (author of the book Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre), the Comic(s) Arts Conference brings together scholars, professionals, critics, industry professionals, and historians who study comics seriously as a medium.[4]


The Comic(s) Arts Conference first convened on August 12, 1992, at the Marriott Hotel and Marina in San Diego as part of that year's Comic-Con International.[5] CAC's inaugural programming featured presentations on Tijuana bibles, The Role of the Indian in the Western Comic Book, and Coogan's opinion of The Present State of Comics Scholarship.[3] Highlights included Duncan's lecture on Applying Rhetorical Methodologies to the Study of Comics with highly acclaimed comics professional Will Eisner and noted comics scholar Scott McCloud as respondents. Comics creator Leonard Rifas presented a talk on Fredric Wertham, to which Steve Bissette and Robert C. Harvey responded.[3]

Over time, CAC has evolved and expanded, introducing seminars, poster sessions, and roundtable discussions on topics ranging from the superhero genre as a whole to specific stories or characters. CAC's location originally alternated between San Diego's Comic-Con International (1992, 1993, and 1996) and the Chicago Comicon (later known as Wizard World Chicago Comic Con) in 1994 and 1995 before a 1997 hiatus, then becoming permanently attached to the San Diego Comic-Con as an official part of the international convention in 1998.[6] The Comics Arts Conference expanded in 2007 when it began to meet twice annually, adding sessions at February's WonderCon in San Francisco in addition to July's Comic-Con.[7] The WonderCon conference was repeated in February, 2008, and is intended as a move toward permanently running the conference semi-annually.[8]


To addition to invited speakers, the conference accepts submissions from anyone in the form of on a wide variety of topics. CAC organizers seek proposals from a broad range of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives, welcoming the participation of academic, independent, and fan scholars. They welcome professionals from all areas of the comics industry, including creators, editors, publishers, retailers, distributors, and journalists.[9] Presentations include academic papers as well as less formal panels, poster sessions, and slide talks. CAC encourages professional debate by inviting scholars and professionals to participate as respondents to presentations.[9] Papers and respondents come from a range of backgrounds, perspectives, and disciplines taking either a critical or historical perspective on any aspects of comics. Even university students, both undergraduates and graduate students supervised by their professors, have collected data on Comic-Con and WonderCon fan behaviors in order to present their findings at CAC[10][11] and presented their efforts in comics creation.[12][13]

Past participants[edit]

The open conference includes academically minded historians and chroniclers as well as noted writers, artists and other professionals from within the comics industry. In The first conference, in 1992, featured contributions from the Will Eisner and a presentation by noted professional Steve Bissette entitled Journey into Fear: The History and Heritage of the Horror Comic. It also saw a preview by Scott McCloud of his then-up-coming masterwork Understanding Comics.[14]

Scholars talk after a Comics Arts Conference panel session. July 2007.

Eisner and McCloud became semi-regular attendees in subsequent years, including 2002 when they joined Robert C. Harvey for the tenth-anniversary Comic Arts Conference in a wide-ranging discussion entitled Eisner, Harvey, and McCloud Ten Years Later: The Dialogue Continues.[15] Over the years, other noted industry professionals who have taken part include Jessica Abel, Scott Allie, Donna Barr, Amber Benson, Kurt Busiek, Adrianne Curry, Steve Englehart, Jane Espenson, Michael Eury, Danny Fingeroth, Christos Gage, Rick Geary, Katrina Hill, Phil Jiminez, Michael William Kaluta, Arie Kaplan, Barbara Kesel, Chip Kidd, Matt Kindt, Clare Kramer, Alex Langley, Nick Langley, Hope Larson, Tom Lenk, Paul Levitz, Steve Lieber, Marjorie Liu, Jean-Marc Lofficier, David Lloyd, Jay Lynch, Heidi MacDonald, Lee Meriwether, Cindy Morgan, Dennis O'Neil, David Peterson, Jerry Robinson, Trina Robbins, Peter Sanderson, Seth, Gail Simone, J. Michael Straczynski, Michael Uslan, Rick Veitch, Mark Waid, Len Wein, Adam West, Bill Willingham, and E. Paul Zehr.[16][17][18][19][20] The conference is held concurrently with the international comic book convention in order to facilitate comic book professionals' involvement.


  1. ^ Comic-Con 2007 Programming List. Accessed January 28, 2008.
  2. ^ Comic Arts Conference homepage.Accessed January 28, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Comic-Con 2008 Accessed January 29, 2008.
  4. ^ Remit from the Comic Arts Conference 2004 call for participants. Accessed January 27, 2008.
  5. ^ Inaugural Comic Arts Conference Program. Accessed January 29, 2008
  6. ^ The Purpose of the Comics Art Conference. Accessed January 27, 2008.
  7. ^ Update 2006 Accessed January 29, 2008.
  8. ^ Steve Higgins' & Chad Nevett's GraphiContent blog post on WonderCon. Accessed January 27, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Call for Papers for WonderCon, 2007. Accessed January 27, 2008.
  10. ^ Comic-Con: A Field Study in Pop Culture Accessed January 29, 2008.
  11. ^ The ERIICA Project: Empirical Research on the Interpretation and Influence of the Comic Arts Accessed January 29, 2008.
  12. ^ Langley, N. (2008, July). "The Workday Comic: Not Just One Third of a 24-hour comic." In "Capes and Tights, Caps and Gowns," panel by R. Duncan & T. Langley with D. Fingeroth. Comics Arts Conference, Comic-Con International. San Diego, California.
  13. ^ The Workday Comic. Accessed August 12, 2008.
  14. ^ Past Presentations list at the CAC website. Accessed January 27, 2008.
  15. ^ Tenth Annual Comic Arts Conference, 2002 Program. Accessed January 27, 2008.
  16. ^ History Accessed January 27, 2008.
  17. ^ Comic-Con Joker Panel Was Wild: Recap and Reflections. Accessed March 9, 2010.
  18. ^ Lieber at San Diego. Accessed March 9, 2010.
  19. ^ Academics Assemble! Comics Arts Conference Programming at San Diego Comic-Con International 2010. Access July 29, 2010.
  20. ^ The Comics Arts Conference and Public Humanities. Accessed April 22, 2014.

External links[edit]