OH – 7th Annual Comics Symposium

Denny O’Neil, Marc Sumerak, and more speak at Lakeland Community College’s 7th Annual Comics Symposium on April 1-3, 2010.

Master of Ceremonies:

Dr. Peter M. Coogan is the director of the St. Louis-based Institute for Comics Studies. He is cofounder and co-chair of the Comic Arts Conference, held during the San Diego Comic-Con International and the San Francisco WonderCon.

Special Guests:

Brooke Keesling is an award-winning filmmaker, animator, educator, and overall lover of life. She has worked in visual effects for nearly a decade and is currently the Director of Development at New Deal Studios, a full-service visual effects commercial and film production studio, located in Los Angeles, CA, best known for their work on feature films such as The Dark Knight, The Aviator, Iron Man, I Am Legend, The Departed, Watchmen, Alice in Wonderland, and Shutter Island

Dennis O’Neil began as Stan Lee’s editorial assistant in the mid-1960s. He wrote comic stories for Batman starting in the 1970s, and was one of the guiding forces behind returning the Batman character to its dark roots from the campiness of the 60s. O’Neil has also written several novels, comics, short stories, reviews and teleplays, including the novelization of the movie Batman Begins.

Some of his best-known works include Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman with Neal Adams, The Shadow with Mike Kaluta, and The Question with Denys Cowan, all of which were hailed for their sophisticated stories that expanded the artistic potential of the mainstream portion of the medium. As an editor, he is principally known for editing the various Batman titles. Today, he sits on the board of directors of the charity, The Hero Initiative.

Cleveland-based writer Marc Sumerak has worked professionally in the comic book industry for over a decade. What started as an editorial internship during his Junior year at Bowling Green State University soon transformed into an Assistant Editor position at Marvel Comics in NYC. Four years and five hundred publications later, Sumerak left Marvel’s editorial staff to pursue a freelance writing career. As both an editor and a writer, Sumerak has helped chart the course for a number of today’s most popular characters, including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, and many more.

Some of Sumerak’s recent writing work includes Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man, Hulk Team-Up, Weapon X: First Class, and a highly-publicized story starring Iron Man and fashion icon Tim Gunn. In 2005, Sumerak helmed the successful relaunch of Marvel’s Power Pack franchise. His work as co-writer on Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius earned him an Eisner Award nomination (2006) and two Harvey Award nominations (2006 & 2008). Sumerak has also written material for DC Comics, American Greetings, the Elks, SAMHSA, PBS Kids, Pepperidge Farm, Tyson Foods, Triple-A Baseball, SEGA, and the U.S. Army.

Discussion Session Facilitators:

Matthew J. Smith teaches courses in media studies at Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH, including “Graphic Storytelling: Comic Books as Culture,” “The Graphic Novels of Alan Moore,” and a week-long field study at Comic-Con International each summer (details of the latter may be found at www.powerofcomics.com/fieldstudy). In 2009, Wittenberg University’s Alumni Association recognized him with its Distinguished Teaching Award. Along with Randy Duncan, he is co-author of The Power of Comics: History, Form & Culture (Continuum, 2009), a textbook for college-level comics arts studies courses (www.powerofcomics.com). The two are also editing the forthcoming Comics Criticism: Methods and Applications. 

Mervi Miettinen is a Ph.D. student at the University of Tampere, Finland. Her dissertation focuses on superhero comics and their political and ideological dimensions, especially the status of the superhero as a liminal character existing both outside and inside the juridical order. Watchmen remains one of her all-time favorite comic books, and the movie isn’t that bad, either.

She is currently working on her dissertation as an ASLA/Fulbright Scholar at Bowling Green State University.

Mark Bernard is a Ph.D. Candidate in the American Culture Studies program at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. He is currently working on his dissertation, tentatively titled, “Selling the Splat Pack: The DVD Revolution and the American Horror Film.” His work has appeared in Scope: An Online Journal of Film and TV Studies, The Projector: Film and Media Journal, and Contemporary Literary Criticism. 

Charles Coletta earned both his BA and MA in Literature from John Carroll University and his doctorate in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University.  He has taught in the Department of Popular Culture at BGSU since 2000. In 2008 he co-chaired the “Comic Books in Popular Culture” conference at BGSU.  In 2006, he assisted Eva Marie Saint in her preparing for her role as “Ma Kent” in Superman Returns.  He most recently served as a contributing writer for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Comic Books & Graphic Novels.

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