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CMNS 488 guest lecture

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Guest lecture on comics and nerd culture for CMNS 488 Special Topics: Art Worlds (Jan Marontate, instructor), School of Communication, SFU

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CMNS 488 guest lecture

  1. 1. Popular Art Words?:Comic Books and theNerd-culture SceneBenjamin WooPhD candidateSchool of CommunicationCMNS 48826 October 2011
  2. 2. Popular Art Words?:Comic Books & theNerd-culture SceneBenjamin WooPhD candidateSchool of Communication26 October 2011
  3. 3. Defining Nerd Culture
  4. 4. The World(s) of Comics• Mainstream comic books • Production oligopoly (two major publishers, owned by Time-Warner and Disney, and a handful of “indies”) • Distribution monopoly (Diamond Comics Distributors) • With development of fast courier services and internet, geographically dispersed creative workforce • Increased integration—major publishers as IP farms, many indies reliant on licensed IP
  5. 5. The World(s) of Comics• Alternative comics • Artist model (vs. work-for- hire on corporate IP) • A few prominent comics publishers (e.g., Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly) but increasing participation by major book publishers and more indie/alternative creators working in mainstream comics • Minicomics/zines at lower levels
  6. 6. The World(s) of Comics• Webcomics • Still emerging field • New creator/reader bases, new genres (e.g., gamer comics) • Mainly hobbyist— supported by ads and merchandise sales • Some integration (talent development) with mainstream and alternative comics
  7. 7. Conclusions• Importance of cultural intermediaries: • “Gatekeepers” shaping/ configuring scene • Providing venues for interaction btwn participants • Art galleries and
  8. 8. Conclusions• Importance of cultural intermediaries: • “Gatekeepers” shaping/configuring scene • Providing venues for interaction btwn participants • Art galleries and dealers not sui generis institutions—compare/ contrast with specialty retailers in popular arts
  9. 9. Conclusions• Social basis of aesthetics • Niche media generate small worlds—most people working in comics started as fans • Connections with other worlds/ communities within scene • Internalization of “aesthetic reason”
  10. 10. www.benjaminwoo.net

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