80 Years and Beyond! A Virtual Symposium on Canadian Comics

Dominick Grace's picture
October 15, 2021 to October 16, 2021
Ontario, Canada
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Canadian History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Library and Information Science, Popular Culture Studies

We are seeking participants to make 10 minute presentations followed by a Q&A session. Conference dates are October 15 and 16 2021. The conference will be run virtually, via synchronous presentations on Zoom. Submission deadline: July 15 2021.

The Canadian Parliament passed the War Exchange Conservation Act late in 1940 to preserve its currency for the war effort by limiting the importation of nonessential goods. Periodicals, including popular American comic books, were one casualty. Within a few months, Canadian artists and entrepreneurs responded by launching a domestic comic book industry. This industry gave us four publishing companies and six years of original Canadian comics production.

The eightieth anniversary of the first comic books published in Canada celebrates one important milestone in a long history of comics production in this country. Taking this anniversary as a point of departure, 80 Years and Beyond is a two-day virtual symposium that will bring together scholars, creators, publishers, retailers, collectors, and fans for a series of focused conversations about the past, present, and future of comics and cartooning in Canada. It will be the first dedicated conference on Canadian comics, including cartoons, graphic novels, and web comics.

Thematic roundtables will place four to six participants in dialogue. Participants will give brief, prerecorded opening remarks to be followed by live, moderated discussion and audience Q&A. We invite contributions that critically consider and respond to the following questions:


  • How do we tell the story of Canadian comics from the early 20th century to now?
    • Topics you might consider include but are not limited to:
      • Do Canadian WWII comics have any relevance to today’s comics culture?
      • Which artists, genres, and formats has the dominant historical narrative of Canadian comics, including publications and exhibitions, hidden from visibility?
      • How have Canadian comics of the past stereotyped, excluded, obscured, or ignored certain Canadian voices and stories?
  • How does the current state of Canadian comics both reflect its past and direct its future?
    • Topics you might consider include but are not limited to:
      • Whether or not there is a “national tradition,” or specific regional styles and schools, within Canadian comics.
      • How contemporary Canadian comics can amplify the voices of Canadians and communities who were traditionally (and may still be) excluded from the conversation.
  • What might the future of Canadian comics and Canadian comics studies look like?
    • Topics you might consider include but are not limited to:
      • Who will be responsible for shaping the next 80 years of Canadian comics?
      • How should we be telling the story of Canadian comics?
      •  Will the future of Canadian comics, and Canadian comics studies, look different from the past or present?
      • What local/national/global factors will influence the future of Canadian comics?
  • How have Canadian comics gone “global”?
    • Topics you might consider include but are not limited to:
      • Transnational artistic influences and cross-border collaborations.
      • Canadian cartoonists working in the US and elsewhere outside Canada.
      • Global audiences and the critical popularity of Canadian comics, graphic novels, webcomics, and Quebec BDs outside Canada.

To submit for participation, please complete the following Google Form by July 15, 2021. Participants will be contacted about inclusion in the program by August 15, 2021.

Revised versions of presentations and further contributions on this topic will appear in a 2022 special issue of Canadian Literature co-edited by Dominick Grace and Zachary Rondinelli. Watch for that Call for Papers in June!

Beyond 80 Years: Canadian Comics Symposium 2021 is dedicated to equity, inclusion, and to representing and amplifying marginalized and traditionally under-represented voices in Canada. We especially encourage submissions from participants who identify as Indigenous, members of racialized communities, LGBTQ2S+, or persons with disabilities. Presentations will include live transcription.

Contact Info: 

Dominick Grace, Brescia University College, 1285 Western Rd, London ON N6G 1H2


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