The 307th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  May 4, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

Comics as Life, Not-Comics as Life: Jason Lee on His Current Work

My zine and creative output slowed dramatically in 2019 after some particularly frustrating experiences at festivals and on social media left me largely discouraged about the possibility of finding a community in comics. At the time, there was also a growing sense of frustration about the viability of the festival model. When COVID-19 put the world on lockdown, it seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity to sit down and create; but to my surprise, comics and illustration became even less of a priority. I wonder why, and about what I have learned from the social uprisings and movement building efforts that took center stage in 2020–about how these experiences and ideas can inform our reimagining of how we function in the world of comics, and the way that comics function in the world.

Jason Lee is a bartender and organizer who writes and draws and often combines these pursuits to varying degrees. He works primarily through the medium of illustrated essays and zines, collected under the umbrella/series title “Nothing Left to Learn.” His work was included in Best American Comics in 2017 and 2018.

In-progress zine tentatively titled Chemtrail Crucifix, made up largely of drawings, observations and writing from 2020.

The 306th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  April 27, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

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Anders Nilsen: The Genealogy of a Story

Anders will discuss his current graphic-novel-in-progress Tongues, and how it has evolved out of several previous projects spanning his career, as well as its ancient roots in the lost plays of Aeschylus from the 5th century BCE. Until recently, most of Nilsen’s work has grown organically out of experiments and observations in his sketchbooks. Tongues, in contrast, is a culmination of elements and themes of several previous works from twenty years drawing pictures and telling stories. In his talk Anders will discuss his work process, the genesis of ideas, stealing characters from oneself, and the peculiar fact that every story has its own particular life history.

Anders Nilsen is the artist and author of ten books including Big Questions, The End, and Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow. His work has been featured in the New York Times, The Believer, Mome, Kramer’s Ergot and elsewhere. His books have been translated into several languages overseas and his painting and drawing have been exhibited internationally. Nilsen’s work has received three Ignatz awards as well as the Lynd Ward Prize for the Graphic Novel, and Big Questions was listed as a New York Times Notable Book. Nilsen has also been both a participant and organizer of Pierre Feuille Ciseaux, an experimental collaborative comics residency based in France. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

The 305th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  April 20, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

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Frank J. Korom  on Bengali Narrative Scroll Painters and their Struggle with Modernity

The Patuas of West Bengal have a long history of surviving the vicissitudes of their ever-changing social and cultural environment, dealing with everything from caste discrimination to multiple religious conversion. Yet, despite all of the hurdles they have had to jump in the negotiation of their marginal identity, one thing has remained fairly constant; namely, their occupation of painting narrative scrolls (pats) about which they sing. Their repertoire originally included mostly religious themes focusing on Hindu mythology, even after they converted en masse to Islam in the thirteenth century. Even though they still paint and sing about religious themes, they have gravitated more and more toward social (samajik) themes, especially since the postcolonial period of India’s history began in 1947. This strategic shift in performance style is a major key to their ongoing negotiations with India’s own trajectory for becoming “modern.” Moreover, now that globalization has been occurring in the region since the economic reforms of the late 1980s and early 1990s, they are also confronting and coping with new markets and international audiences. This talk will provide an overview of the Patuas, then survey the variety of themes in their painted narratives to conclude that this talented community has managed to cope with modernity to survive, even though many romantic nationalists predicted their demise back at the turn of the 19th century.

Frank J. Korom is a professor of religion and anthropology at Boston University and an associate of the Folklore and Mythology Program at Harvard. He is the author and/or editor of ten books that pertain to the religions and cultures of South Asia and its diasporas. He was formerly the curator of Asian & Middle Eastern collections at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, where he later guest curated an exhibition on the art and lives of the Patuas in 2006 titled Village of Painters: Narrative Scrolls from West Bengal. The Museum of New Mexico Press published his accompanying book with the same title. He is currently the co-editor of Asian Ethnology, a biannual journal based at Nanzan University in Japan, where he is also a research associate of the Anthropological Institute.

A scene from Svarna Chitrakar’s Titanic scroll (Photo courtesy of the Museum of International Folk Art)

The 304th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  April 13, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

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Manga 4.5: Building Comics with Mats and Stones – a talk by Ryan Holmberg

In the late 1950s, one Japanese cartoonist after another began sticking their protagonists in cramped rooms with cracked windows and tattered walls. There might be a heated table with a quilt or a kettle, a spread of seedy bedding, but little else. There were always tatami mats, usually four and one-half of them, arranged concentrically around the half, or stacked with the half in the corner, their geometry forming a variable grid upon which the characters live and act (or brood or snore) inside a medium likewise defined by a variable grid of panel frames. This talk by historian and translator Ryan Holmberg focuses on the intersection of comics, architecture, and tropes of bohemian poverty in Japan between the ‘50s and ‘80s. Spotlighting recently-translated stories by alt-manga legend Tsuge Yoshiharu published by New York Review Comics and Drawn & Quarterly, it also explores how this 4.5 tatami-sized world connects to ideals of rustication, impermanence, and asceticism within traditional Japanese aesthetics. This talk supports a mixed media installation and exhibition of the same name, created in collaboration with printmaker Bill Fick, to be held in Durham, NC, in the spring of 2021.

Ryan Holmberg is a freelance arts and comics historian and translator. He has taught at Duke University and the University of Tokyo, among other schools. As an editor and translator of manga, he has worked with Breakdown Press, Drawn & Quarterly, Retrofit Comics, New York Review Comics, and PictureBox on over two dozen different books. His edition of Tezuka Osamu’s The Mysterious Underground Men (PictureBox) won the 2014 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material: Asia. A frequent contributor to The Comics Journal,he is also the author of The Translator Without Talent (Bubbles, 2020) and Garo Manga: The First Decade, 1964-1973 (Center for Book Arts, 2010).

Tsuge Yoshiharu, The Wake (1967)

The 303rd meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  April 6, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

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John Hankiewicz on Comics as Collage

Comics can productively be regarded as a collage medium that allows for intuitive juxtaposition, digression, and disjuncture.  I have embraced this principle in the spirit of freedom, seeking to explore emotions and ideas that don’t readily lend themselves to conventional comics narrative.  In that light, I will discuss some of the ideas and influences behind my comics and share excerpts from the comics themselves.

John Hankiewicz is a cartoonist and printmaker.  His work has appeared in many self-published comics and zines, as well as in anthologies such as Kramers Ergot, Mome, and Ink BrickAsthma, a collection of his selected short comics, was published by Sparkplug in 2006, and his book-length comic Education was published by Fantagraphics Underground in 2017.   His prints have been featured in several juried shows.  Since 2011, he has taught drawing at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

The 302nd meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  March 30, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

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Deb Sokolow on Mr. Kim Jong-un Attempts to Kidnap Mr. Michael Jordan and the Blurry Line Between Fact and Fiction

Sokolow will discuss the freedoms and problems in working with the blurry line between fact and fiction in her drawings and artist’s books, starting with the 2005 call she received from a Chicago Tribune reporter about her 48 foot-long drawing on pirates, mob bribe money and (then) Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Deb Sokolow is a Chicago-based artist whose drawings and artist’s books speculate both comically and critically on a number of subjects including institutional architecture, organizational brainwashing and the foibles of heads of state. Sokolow has exhibited at the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands, the Drawing Center in New York City, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and in a MATRIX exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford. Her works are included in permanent collections such as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and Los Angeles County Museum of Art and have been reviewed in the New York Times, Washington Post,, Hyperallergic and Brooklyn Rail. Sokolow is Associate Professor of Instruction in the department of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University and is represented by Western Exhibitions in Chicago.

Mr. Kim Jong-un Attempts to Kidnap Mr. Michael Jordan, graphite, colored pencil, pastel, crayon, ink and collage on paper, 11 x 18 inches

The 301st meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  March 23, 2021 at 7pm. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

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Masha Krasnova – Shabaeva: Still on My Way to Somewhere.

An account of my journey so far. Here I mean a literal geographical journey: I moved around quiet a lot and every time it had a profound influence on my work. As well as a metaphorical one: from becoming an illustrator by pure chance to transforming into huge fan of everything connected to illustration.

I was born in Ufa, Russia in 1981. Currently I’m based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. I was trained as a painter, but since 2004 I’ve been working a lot as a commercial illustrator for clients  around the world. My clients include: The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Vrij Nederland, Esquire, Elle, GQ, Rolling Stone and many others. Represented worldwide by Heart agency. Purely commercial work was never the most interesting for me, so parallel to this I’ve always been involved in a lot of art projects for museums and galleries, as well as self-publishing. Exhibited in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Uppsala Konstmuseum, Uppsala, Sweden; Rotopol, Kassel, Germany and other venues. Teaching at Artez academy in Zwolle and WdKA in Rotterdam. Website:



The 300th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  March 9, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

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Kathryn Desplanque on Art-world satire in print during 18th and 19th centuries.

Our ideological investment in a narrative that aligns the story of modern art with the story of the artist’s liberation has a dark underbelly. Whom or what does this narrative serve and what does it obscure? Is not the visual artist liberated also another way of molding artistic work to the ethos of competitive individualism?

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries artists demonstrated a nuanced awareness of these transitions, and criticized their impact on the artist, art object, and the art world prolifically and vociferously. But their protests have escaped our notice, having been conducted in a medium marginalized or overlooked in the field of art history: the satirical image. This talk surveys the genre of art-world graphic satire—a corpus of 530 images that satirize Paris’ art-world and range from eighteenth-century loose-leaf etchings and engravings, to Revolutionary and early nineteenth-century satirical image albums in etching and lithography, to the lithographic satirical periodical press established around 1830.

Art-world satire’s protagonist is the starving or inglorious artist, which served as a vehicle to visibilize invisible structural changes in Paris’ art world. Through the inglorious artist and other figures, art-world satire explores the shift in the status of the artist, the organization of the art world from a corporate model to a free market, the emergence of a bourgeois market for art, and the unresolved debate on art’s status as a mechanical or liberal art.

Kathryn Desplanque, PhD, is an art historian, artist, and activist. She is a specialist in 18th and 19th European visual culture currently on a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at Carleton University (Ottawa, ON), and will take up a position as Assistant Professor of 18th and 19th century European Art at UNC Chapel Hill in 2021. Kathryn approaches visual culture studies through the lens of material culture studies and the sociology of art to examine the tensions and contradictions elicited by financial capitalism’s impact on the art world. Her scholarship can be found in Eighteenth-Century Studies, The Mediatization of the Artist, and RACAR: Canadian Art Review. Kathryn is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for Ottawa’s Digital Arts Resource Centre and on the Research Advisory Board to the qualitative data analysis company, QSR International.

Published by Basset. Early 19th century. Le Grand Diable Mammon d’Argent. Etching and engraving. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. 

The 299th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  March 2, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

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WILL EISNER’S NEW YORK: The City In The Master’s Work

A 2021 Will Eisner Week Event

From the Golden Age of Comics through the modern graphic novel – a form that Will Eisner was instrumental in popularizing—you will find New York City at the heart of Will Eisner’s work. Whether thinly disguised as “Central City” in the pages of his legendary creation, The Spirit, or more directly presented in his graphic novels such as A Contract with God, New York: The Big City and City People Notebook, New York City was portrayed by Eisner as only he could show it. In this slideshow, presentation, and discussion, Dean Haspiel (The Red Hook; American Splendor), Karen Green (Columbia University Graphic Novel Librarian), N. C. Christopher Couch (UMass Amherst; The Will Eisner Companion) and Danny Fingeroth (A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee; chair of Will Eisner Week) reflect on the relationship between the artist, his work, and his city. 

About Will Eisner:

WILL EISNER (1917-2005) innovated and pioneered comics in three different eras: Eisner helped invent the comics industry in the 1930s and created The Spirit in the 40’s as a heroic crime-fighting figure who appeared in the Sunday newspapers. The Spirit walked through a world of noir-inflected urban drama, one suffused with humor and insight into the human condition, a world not afraid to essay the occasional Yiddish in-joke or Bronx social drama vignette. In the 60’s and 70’s, Eisner adapted comics for training and education. And in 1978, at an age many others were retiring, he re-invented himself again—as well as the comics medium—with his first graphic novel, A Contract with God. That was followed with many acclaimed graphic novels and textbooks until his death in 2005.

About the panelists:

Emmy and Ringo award winner, DEAN HASPIEL created Billy Dogma, The Red Hook, illustrated for HBO’s “Bored To Death,” was a Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, is a Yaddo fellow, a playwright, and helped pioneer personal webcomics via ACT-I-VATE. Dino has written and drawn many comix for Marvel, DC, Image, Archie, IDW, Dark Horse, Heavy Metal, and LINE Webtoon and has collaborated on comics with Harvey Pekar, Jonathan Ames, Inverna Lockpez, Jonathan Lethem, Stoya, and Stan Lee.

KAREN GREEN founded the graphic novels collection in the Columbia University Libraries, while working as the Ancient and Medieval History librarian. She is Columbia’s first-ever Curator for Comics and Cartoons. Karen has acquired the papers of Chris Claremont, Wendy and Richard Pini, Al Jaffee, and the Kitchen Sink Press for Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, as well as items from the estate of Jerry Robinson and research materials from Larry Tye’s history of Superman.

N. C. CHRISTOPHER COUCH holds a PhD in art history from Columbia University. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Latin American art and on graphic novels and comic art, including The Will Eisner Companion: The Pioneering Spirit of the Father of the Graphic Novel (with Stephen Weiner), Will Eisner: A Retrospective (with Peter Myer). He was senior editor at Kitchen Sink Press (Northampton), where he worked with Will Eisner, and editor in chief at CPM Manga (New York), and has taught at Amherst, Columbia, Hampshire, Haverford, Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges, and the School of Visual Arts.

DANNY FINGEROTH is the Chair of Will Eisner Week and is an author and historian whose latest book is A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee, currently out in paperback from St. Martin’s Press. Legendary cartoonist/screenwriter (and Eisner collaborator) Jules Feiffer has said of the book: “Danny Fingeroth gives us, page after page, rapid and cogent insights into the Marvel world, the comics universe, and Stan Lee as innovator, ring master, high-stakes gambler, con man, and an indefatigable charmer. And visionary, as well.”  Fingeroth was a longtime writer and editor at Marvel, and is the author of Superman on the Couchand Disguised as Clark Kent.  For more info:

You can find out more about WILL EISNER WEEK at

The 298th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  February 23, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

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Marlene Villalobos Hennessy on “Book Miracles in the Middle Ages”

Medieval exempla and saints’ lives recount numerous stories in which the codex plays a central role.  The arm of a saint glows in the dark with a numinous light so that he may copy manuscripts well into the night.  The Virgin Mary appears to point out errors in a text, or supplies parchment to a scribe.  Books fall into a river, only to emerge miraculously unscathed, or they leap from the flames to avoid burning.  One doubting priest near Hailes Abbey finds the letters in his service book dripping with blood.  This essay will survey a range of medieval narratives and images from painting and manuscript art that demonstrate how books were often believed to be alive and endowed with indwelling personality. 

Marlene Villalobos Hennessy is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Hunter College, City University of New York, where she teaches classes on Medieval Literature and the History of the Book.  She has published numerous articles on late medieval British manuscripts and religious culture and is the editor of English Medieval Manuscripts:  Readers, Makers and Illuminators (London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2009).  She has a forthcoming reference work entitled An Index of Images in English and Scottish Manuscripts from the Time of Chaucer to Henry VIII, c. 1380 – c. 1509. Scottish Manuscripts & English Manuscripts in Scotland. Fascicle I: National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh (Turnhout: Brepols/Harvey Miller Publishers, 2021). She is also working on a book-length project, Blood Writing: Manuscripts and Metaphors in the Late Middle Ages.  

Saint Dominic and the Albigensians.