Comics and Graphic Novels Programming

In 2009, the Worldcon for the first time included a Hugo category for Best Graphic Story. This recognized the fact that comics and graphic novels are an important part of our field and that the science fiction and fantasy of creators like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Bill Willingham, and Brian K. Vaughan are major works within the genre as a whole. The Renovation program will not only discuss and recommend comics that may be of interest to SF fans, but will also take a deeper look at comics and the themes and movements within the media, especially those of a science fictional and speculative nature.

Our program will explore the wide scope of graphic novels, from mainstream imprints like DC, Marvel and Dark Horse through to smaller niche publishers, and from traditional publishing to Web comics. We'll explore the breadth of the field, from superhero comics through to major fantasy works like Sandman and Fables. But while we will look closely at this unique form of the science fiction and fantasy genre, we won't look at it in isolation. We'll also explore how graphic story ties into other forms: how Sandman influences written fantasy and vice versa, or the way in which SF and fantasy artists like Kelly Freas, Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo have shaped art in comics. And we'll look at how comics like Girl Genius relate to other Steampunk works.

Girl Genius
Some of our sessions will focus on what's new in the field. Where are the DC and Marvel universes going now? How are Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. doing? Others will explore the rich history of the form, from Superman, Batman and the Spirit (how can a program on comics and graphic novels not discuss Will Eisner?) to modern classics such as Watchmen and Sandman. And we'll look at graphic works worldwide and in many formats, from newspaper strips to manga and from Captain America to Captain Britain.

Captain Britain
Many well known books have now been adapted into comics, and the trend is accelerating, whether it be Stephen King's The Stand and The Dark Tower, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and Red Prophet, George RR Martin's Wild Cards (which has two incarnations as comics), Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, or any of many less well known works. The interest in cross overs and visualising stories is apparent - but we will wonder if the stories are the same or their nature is inherently changed along with their representation.

Comics have also become fodder for the movie industry, not only for superhero comics but for graphic works ranging from Iron Man to The Road to Perdition to V for Vendetta. Graphic works seem to make a better starting point in many cases than novels or short stories. But what is it about the format that allows the movie industry to easily visualize what is needed? And of course, it isn't a one-way street. Notable film and TV creators such as Joss Whedon, J. Michael Straczynski, and Kevin Smith have been successful in both media.

Comics, went from Newstands to specialty shops, and many comic retailers have embraced the internet. In a similar way, the internet has created a freedom of expression for comic creators, with web comics being hugely popular, and award winning. As well as looking at what is current, we will be considering the positives and pitfalls of online publication.

In addition to exploring the field, we'll also have some sessions on creating comics. We'll have how to items and demos and a chance for you to hear more from those with insight into how comics and graphic novels actually come to be.

There is so much we want to look at, and we'll try to touch on much of it at Renovation. We'll look at, buying and collecting comic art, children's books being adapted into comics from works of Shan, Colfer and Horowitz, and at comic strip characters such as Opus, Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury and Snoopy and how they compare with today's comic strip characters.

And of course we'll have a number of items involving our special guest Bill Willingham, including not only his groundbreaking work on Fables but the whole scope of his career, including such recent work as Justice Society of America and Angel.

Further Reading and Useful Links