IRCPL has organized a panel conversation, titled Writing God(s): The Creation of Modern Mythologies and Post-Modern Theologies in Comics, to take place at New York Comic Con on October 6, 2017. This event is the first time that an Ivy League university has presented at a major comic book convention. The panel will be moderated by Professor Hussein Rashid, a member of the Barnard Religion Department, and opening remarks will be delivered by Zachary Hendrickson, IRCPL Program Assistant. The remaining panelists include Karen Green of Columbia University Libraries, and comic book creators, Marjorie Liu, Louise Simonson, and Simon Spurrier.
Due to the unique nature of this event as part of a ticketed convention, only those who have tickets to NYCC will be able to attend in person. However, we will be recording the event and will provide a link to the video once it has been uploaded to the IRCPL YouTube page.
Additional information on the panel, including bios for each panelist, can be found below. Be sure to check out the official event listing from New York Comic Con as well.
Superheroes are Gods.
We read stories of their glory and revel. We bear witness to their losses and mourn. We viciously defend the sanctity of their character against any who would misrepresent them. We attend gatherings with the fellow devoted. We pore over every word that has been written about them so that we may preserve an accurate account of our shared history. We look to their examples for guidance on living better lives.
Superheroes are Gods. And we worship them.
The intellectual value of comic books, and of superhero comics in particular, has been largely unexplored in academic circles. However, the Institute of Religion, Culture, and Public Life is dedicated to engaging with the comic book medium as something worthy of scholarly discourse. To do so we will bring together top creators in the field with scholars of religion and media for a panel conversation that will cut to the heart of why superhero comics have had such a tremendous impact on our world today.
We will examine how superhero comics have developed along socio-cultural lines, the role that superheroes have had on shaping a shared American imagination and mythology, the interplay between religious and secular themes in superhero stories, and whether comic books and their characters can perform a similar type of “work” (moral, communal, religious, spiritual, and philosophical) as traditional religious practices and figures.
Hussein Rashid, Ph.D., works on representations of Muslims in American popular culture. He teaches a course on religion and popular culture and works as a consultant on questions of religious literacy and cultural competency. He is a contributor to a new anthology called Muslim Superheroes, which looks at Muslims in comics. He thinks Cyclops was right.
Karen Green is the Curator for Comics and Cartoons at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and the creator of the graphic novels collection in Columbia’s Butler Library. She has been an Eisner Awards judge, a Pulitzer Prize juror, a co-producer of the documentary “She Makes Comics,” and has spoken about comics at universities and comic cons across the country and around the world.
Marjorie Liu is an attorney and New York Times Bestselling author of over seventeen novels. Her comic book work includes Han Solo, Black Widow, X-23, and Astonishing X-Men, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for its “outstanding representation of the LGBT Community”. Her current project is Hugo-award winning and Eisner-nominated Monstress, a dark steampunk fantasy that Entertainment Weekly named the “Best New Original Series of 2015”. She teaches a course on comic book writing at MIT and lives in Cambridge, MA.
Louise Simonson writes comics and books about monsters, science fiction, super-hero, and fantasy characters including the award-winning Power Pack, several best-selling X-Men titles, Web of Spiderman for Marvel Comics, and Superman: Man of Steel and Steel for DC Comics. She has also written many books for kids. She is married to comics artist and writer Walter Simonson and lives in the suburbs of New York City.
Simon Spurrier is a writer of actual words. Recent work in the comicky sphere includes Godshaper, Cry Havoc, Suicide Squad, The Power of the Dark Crystal and the Eisner nominated science-fantasy, The Spire. Latest prose novels are Contract and A Serpent Uncoiled, while his first digital-only project is the absurdist-noir novella Unusual Concentrations. He tweets as @sispurrier, lives near London, and worries a proper bio should end with a joke.