Comics Conference at UF

2015 UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels
"Comics Read but Seldom Seen"

On April 10th-12th, 2015, UF will be hosting its 12th annual Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels, "Comics Read but Seldom Seen: Diversity and Representation in Comics and Related Media."


Schedule of Panel and Presentations for "Comics Read but Seldom Seen"

Downloadable pdf of the Conference Program


Downloadable pdf of the Conference Poster, with artwork by Leela Corman


José Alaniz

José Alaniz, associate professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Department of Comparative Literature (adjunct) at the University of Washington, Seattle, has published two books, Komiks: Comic Art in Russia (University Press of Mississippi, 2010) and Death, Disability and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond (UPM, 2014). His articles have appeared in the International Journal of Comic Art, the Comics Journal, Ulbandus, Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema, the Slavic and East European Journal, Comics Forum and Kinokultura, as well as such anthologies as The Ages of Superman: Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times (McFarland, 2012), The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov (I.B. Tauris, 2011) and Russian Children's Literature and Culture (Routledge, 2007). Since 2011 he has served as Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF), the leading comics studies conference in the US. In 2014 he assumed the directorship of the University of Washington's Disability Studies Program. His research interests include Death and Dying, Disability Studies, Film Studies, Eco-criticism and Comics Studies. His current projects include Disability in Alternative Comics and a study on the representation of history in Czech graphic narrative.

Sheena Howard

Dr. Sheena C. Howard is Chair of the Black Caucus (NCA) and Assistant Professor of Communication at Rider University. Howard is an award-winning author, including a 2014 Eisner Award winner for her first book, Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation (2013). She is also the author of Black Queer Identity Matrix (2014) and Critical Articulations of Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation (2014). Howard has appeared on NPR (National Public Radio), 900 am WURD, Philadelphia Weekly and CCP-TV as well as other networks and documentaries as an expert on popular culture, race, politics and sexual identity negotiation. She is also a Huffington Post contributor.

Leela Corman

Leela Corman is an illustrator, cartoonist, and Middle Eastern dancer. She studied painting, printmaking, and illustration at Massachusetts College of Art. She began her career in comics as an undergraduate, self-publishing three issues of her minicomic, Flimflam. This caught the eye of many readers and small press fans, and she went on to win a Xeric Grant in Fall 1999 for the publication of her first graphic novel, Queen's Day. She went on to publish her second, Subway Series, with Alternative Books, and has also published numerous shorter pieces in anthologies in the US, Portugal, Spain, and France. Her latest book, Unterzakhn, a graphic novel set in the tenements, brothels, and vaudeville houses of the Lower East Side at the turn of the last century, was published by Schocken/Pantheon in the spring of 2012, and has been nominated for the L.A. Times Book Award, the Eisner Award, and Le Prix Artemisia in France. Portions of Unterzakhn were serialized in 2008 in the Forward, a prominent Yiddish newspaper, and other excerpts ran in HEEB Magazine and Lilith Magazine. Unterzakhn has been translated into French, Spanish, Swedish, and Dutch. Her short comics have run in Tablet Magazine, Symbolia, and The OC Weekly. In 2014, her comic "Yahrzeit" won a silver medal from the Society Of Illustrators. She has illustrated books on topics that range from urban gardening to sex for the very busy to the history of the skirt, and has worked for a diverse array of editorial clients ranging from PBS and The New York Times to BUST Magazine and more.

Call For Papers

The Graduate Comics Organization at the University of Florida invites applicants to submit proposals to the 12th UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels, "Comics Read but Seldom Seen: Diversity and Representation in Comics and Related Media." The conference will be held from Friday, April 10th, 2015 to Sunday, April 12th, 2015. DEADLINE EXTENSION: The proposal deadline has been extended to January 27, 2015.

The analysis of diversity and representation in comic books is an integral and growing part of Comics Studies. For example, in only the past few years, Adilifu Nama published Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes (2011), which provides a historical overview of black comic-book superheroes and racial dynamics in superhero comics; Sheena C. Howard and Ronald L. Jackson II edited Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation (2013), an essay collection which explores representations of race in both comic books and comic strips; and Joseph J. Darowski came out with X-Men and the Mutant Metaphor: Race and Gender in the Comic Books, which examines and tracks race and gender identity in the Uncanny X-Men roster of heroes and villains (2014).

Mainstream comics have been increasingly open to experimenting with diversity in sexuality, race, gender, and disability. Marvel has a new Muslim woman superhero; "traditionally" straight superheroes have been coming out in new universes/continuities; and disability often crosses over into hyperability (as in the cases of Daredevil and Echo, Professor X, Cyborg, and Batgirl/Oracle). However, many of these experiments in diversity have been limited or problematic, and have at times generated controversy (for example, Batwoman's infamously canceled wedding). Alternative and independent comics, from the underground comix scene on, have long been a space for writers and artists to depict diverse characters who do not fit into the narrow mold of the straight, white, cissexual, neurotypical, and able-bodied male hero.

The goal of "Comics Read but Seldom Seen” is to celebrate and interrogate the representation of marginalized groups in comics and related media. "Related media” can include film and TV comic-book adaptations (as well as their promotional tie-ins), illustrated blogs, video games, news stories with accompanying photographs, street art, museum exhibits, advertisements, and all other cultural objects which juxtapose image and text to create new meaning. We are looking not only for critiques of those instances where imagetexts fall short in their representations of the marginalized, but also for thoughtful examinations of how and when comics and related media "get it right."

Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Race, Space and Place in the Comics (The work of the Hernandez Brothers; Jessica Abel's La Perdida; the work of Marjane Satrapi; Joann Sfar's The Rabbi's Cat)
  • Representing Disability and Disorder (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home; autism in Keiko Tobe's With the Light; epilepsy in David B.'s Epileptic)
  • Milestone Media and its history with DC
  • Queering the Supercommunity (LGBTQ representations in mainstream comics; "traditionally" straight superheroes coming out in new universes/continuities; conversations and backlash surrounding queer representation in mainstream comics; Northstar's highly-publicized wedding; Batwoman's canceled wedding)
  • Rethinking Race in 'Mainstream' Comics (Robert Morales and Kyle Baker's The Truth: Red, White & Black)
  • Where Disability Meets Hyperability (Daredevil and Echo; Professor X; Cyborg; Batgirl/Oracle)
  • Manga and LGBTQ issues (Trans in Moto Hagio's Wandering Son; representations of homosexuality in shounen-ai, shoujo-ai, yaoi, yuri, bara and BL)
  • Physical Disability in Manga (Inoue Takahiko's REAL)
  • Diversity and Representation in Imagetextual News Media (the visual rhetoric of diversity in photojournalism)
  • Diversity and Representation in Video Games (female leads in games [Portal, Beyond Good and Evil]; gaming characters of color [The Walking Dead]; the visual rhetoric of the Lara Croft reboot; the expansion of "queer" options dictated by player choice in Bioware RPGs)
  • Diversity and Representation in Cartoons and Anime (non-white leads in cartoons [anything from kids' superhero fare like Generator Rex to satire like The Boondocks]; gender and sexuality in anime [Revolutionary Girl Utena, anime adaptations of LGBTQ manga]; "girl power" or female-led cartoons [Powerpuff Girls, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, The Legend of Korra])

In addition to traditional, 15-20 minute presentations, "Comics Read but Seldom Seen" will also consider discussion panels from multiple presenters coordinating around a central topic or theme.

Proposals should be between 200 and 300 words, and are due January 27, 2015. All proposals should be submitted to Najwa Al-Tabaa at

Hotels and Travel

Air Travel

We recommend flying into Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV), but bus service may be available to and from Orlando International (MCO). Please confirm availability before booking flights to or from MCO.

Ground Transportation

Gainesville is served by the Regional Transit System, which provides bus service to and from the Gainesville Regional Airport Monday through Friday, and throughout the city daily. Routes, schedules, and fares are available at

Several taxi cab services are also available:
Gainesville Cab Co.: (352) 371-1515
Cab 24HR: (352) 374-8484
Gatorland Taxi: (352) 359-7142


Some rooms in the area have been set aside for conference attendees. However, individuals are responsible for making their own reservations within these blocks. We recomend making your reservations well in advance of your anticipated arrival date.

Reitz Union Hotel: (352) 392-2151

The GCO has reserved a limited number of rooms at the Reitz Union Hotel on the UF campus. Guests may reserve their room(s) online at or call the hotel directly. The group code for both methods of reservation is COMICS2015. Remember the group code when you make your reservation!

Standard Rooms priced $89 (group rate) and $99 per night; Deluxe Rooms priced at $99 (group rate) and $109 per night

Monday, March 16th was the last day to reserve a Reitz Hotel room through our group block. The rooms were released Tuesday, March 17.

Holday Inn: (352) 376-1661

The CGO has set aside aside a block of rooms at the Holiday Inn Gainesville - University Center. Individual guests are responsible for reserving their own rooms, by phone, well in advance of the event, as the Holiday Inn will begin releasing the held rooms as the conference approaches, starting 45 days before the event. By March 9 (29 days before the event), the Holiday Inn will relase all the rooms in the block that have not been reserved. Reservations within this block must be guaranteed with a credit card, and each individual reservation will be automatically billed for one room night and tax deposit seven days prior to the arrival date, unless the reservation is cancelled at least seven days prior top arrival. Reservations cancelled within those seven days forfeit their deposit. The group code for this block of rooms is EG1.

The Holiday Inn prices vary by night, so keep that in mind when you make your reservations. See the below table for details.


Remember that Holiday Inn reservations require a credit card guarantee and a deposit (one room night plus tax), which is forfeited if you cancel a room within seven days prior to the event.

Days Inn Gainesville University: (352) 376-2222

A block of rooms is being held for the conference at Days Inn Gainesville University. When you call to reserve an individual room with your credit card, include your arrival and departure dates and make sure to mention your affiliation with the "UF Comics Conference." Room rates TBA.

Getting Around Campus

Here is a link to the UF Campus Map.

Conference Organizers

  • Najwa Al-tabaa, GCO President
  • Najwa Al-tabaa
  • Spencer Chalifour
  • Melissa Loucks
  • Anuja Madan
  • Katie Shaeffer
  • Kayley Thomas