The online International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference 2020

One of the leading global conferences for the study of graphic novels and comics, the 11th International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference (IGNCC) took place online 1-3 July, hosted by the Comics Research Hub (CoRH!) at UAL’s London College of Communication, the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, and Studies in Comics. This virtual event welcomed a host of speakers and presenters and hundreds of visitors from all over the globe.
Titled ‘The resonance of comics: social impact and possible futures', it was a timely exploration of how graphic narratives and creators are powerfully engaging with the defining social issues of our times, and helping to visualise more hopeful futures around complex questions of identity, inequality, law and justice, medicine, education, health and politics. It also reflected on the developing narrative of comics and comics scholarship.
Thought-provoking keynotes
Dr Golnar Nabizadeh, Lecturer in Comics Studies at the University of Dundee: Building confident life stories: Bereavement and Comics Praxis Describing a project using comics to communicate the impact of bereavement on young people aged 12–18.
Dr Pen Mendonça, graphic facilitator and cartoonist: Echoing Inequalities and Picturing Possibilities: Values-Based Cartooning in the 21st Century
Discussing graphic facilitation, the process of engagement via cartooning - and how it can be used to promote understanding, possibility and hope for those working on contemporary social issues.
Stephan Packard, Professor for Popular Culture and Its Theories at Cologne University: Transnational Imagination and the Ideology of Fiction: Picturing Cultural Others in Intercultural Comic Publications: An in-depth talk about the ways in which we understand fictional realities when they deal with different national identities.
Roger Sabin Award
The Sabin Award for Comics Scholarship is awarded annually to the best paper presented by a postgraduate student during the IGNCC conference. It  recognises comics researchers at an early stage in their career and honours Roger Sabin’s work in the field of comics study. The 2020 Sabin Award winner will be announced at the start of next year.
The conference shared a recorded conversation with 2019 Sabin Award winner Shromona Das, whose paper ‘The Perfect Victim: Reading Victimhood in Rape Narratives of Indian Comics’ was presented at the 10th International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference in Manchester. Shromona discussed her paper with UAL’s Professor Roger Sabin and Dr Nina Mickwitz.
Values-based cartooning: an interview with Dr Penelope Mendonça
Independent graphic facilitator and cartoonist Dr. Pen Mendonça supports communities, organisations and leaders working on contemporary social issues here in the UK and beyond. This includes campaigns on disability rights, domestic abuse, South Asian Heritage Month, Banknotes Of Colour, and the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people of colour - see also the Majonzi Fund.
Her approach is defined by long and short-term partnerships, learning and co-production within a values-based cartooning process: an ethical framework, which combines visual method with dialogue and collaboration.
Pen's IGNCC keynote Echoing Inequalities and Picturing Possibilities: Values-Based Cartooning in the 21st Century references and intertwines with vital works by other artists and creators from communities impacted by inequalities, structural racism and discrimination, including the so-called Windrush Generation, British citizens who migrated from the Caribbean to Britain between 1948 and 1971 - Sharon Foster of Alicia Dean Artworks, whose work 'Trauma 1' shows the sacrifice of a mother leaving her children in the Caribbean to answer the call of employment in the motherland; Rachelle Romeo, whose work 'Identity, 2018' addresses the treatment of her father by the British government; and the campaign 'home wasn't built in a day' by Rianne Jones which represents the achievements and contributions of the Windrush generation to British culture. Also included is Sadiki Harris, whose portrait of musician Sean Rigg powerfully represents the young musician who died in police custody in London, 2008.
View the keynote presentation for references to these works and some of the many individuals, organisations and communities who are creating hope for a better future.
Here, Pen talks about her approach and the values that guide her when working on causes that are "haunted by ever-present echoes of inequality".

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