Inkers and Thinkers 2015: Keynote Speech by Pat Grant

As well as presenting a phenomenal Keynote Speech, Pat Grant also sketched throughout the day of the conference, creating a mosaic out of moments, themes and topics. We recorded various presentations from Inkers and Thinkers 2015, and have embedded them in the posts below, as well as publishing the original abstracts. Please listen and enjoy!

int sketch

Inkers and Thinkers 2015: Queer Lines from Straight Guys: Turkish Comics with LGBTQ Themes by Can Yalcinkaya

Modern Turkish culture has had an ambivalent relationship with the LGBTQ community. Despite the ever-growing presence of LGBTQ groups who engage in crowded public activities, same-sex relationships and queer lifestyles are still seen as taboo subjects by a large percentage of the population, and often lead to life threatening situations. On the other hand, two of the most respected singers the country has seen, Zeki Müren and Bülent Ersoy, are a drag queen and a trans woman respectively. Comics and cartoons have long engaged with LGBTQ themes in Turkey, particularly in the pages of weekly humour magazines. While these publications – a significant presence in print media in the country – are often discussed as bearing a progressive, subversive and left-wing attitude, their portrayal of LGBTQ figures have been, for the most part, resonant with common public discourses of prejudice and ridicule.

This paper presents a survey of common trends towards the LGBTQ community in cartoons and comics in Turkey since the 1950s, during which time male politicians were caricaturised as women to be emasculated and stripped of their political power in the public eye. Works that ridicule gay men and trans women in stereotypical depictions in the 1980s and 1990s will be under critical scrutiny. A few comics series, which present alternative perspectives to LGBTQ themes, and issues of gender and sexuality will be highlighted. These include Travesti Sevgilim (My Transvestite Lover) by Nuri Kurtcebe, and Eylül by Rewhat, both of which feature trans women as their protagonists. The paper will emphasise the lack of self-representation and autobiographical works by LGBTQ artists in Turkey, and argue that even the most seemingly progressive comics with LGBTQ lead characters betray homophobic tendencies upon close reading.

Inkers and Thinkers 2015: Alternative Ireland: How the Emergence of a Local Comic Book Industry Challenged Traditional Depictions of Ireland in Comics by Liam Burke

In the late 1800s Irish efforts to gain autonomy from Britain were gathering pace. Undermining these endeavours were cartoons in satirical magazines like Punch that depicted Irish people as “Paddy the peasant” – a foolish and combative type ill-suited to home rule. As part of a wider move towards cultural nationalism, Irish playwrights, poets, and musicians challenged these stereotypes, but there were few cartoons and comics from Irish creators. Moving into the 20th century depictions of Ireland in comics continued to be dominated by international creators who often perpetuated long-standing prejudices. However, in the late 1980s Irish creators, such as Garth Ennis (Troubled Souls, Preacher, and Judge Dredd), used their position within the mainstream comic book industry to subvert these stereotypes.

In recent years Ireland has enjoyed its first sustained period of local comic production. These stories have been told in a variety of styles and genres including: historical graphic novels (Blood on the Rose: Easter 1916: The Rebellion That Set Ireland Free), mythological action (Celtic Warrior: The Legend of Cú Chulainn), Superhero (The League of Volunteers), Supernatural Mystery (Jennifer Wilde), and even Irish-language comics like Rírá. Despite the diversity of the titles, these Irish comics are united in their efforts to challenge received views and misconceptions about Ireland.

This paper will explore how Irish people have historically been depicted in comics and graphic novels. It will examine early attempts to challenge these views, such as Garth Ennis’ Emerald Isle. The paper will then chart the emergence of a local industry post-2000, and identify how these indigenous comics offer a potent alternative to the traditional representations of Ireland found in comics.

Inkers and Thinkers 2015: Art in Space by Ronnie Scott

Comics has historically been considered an art of time. Narrative depends upon events arranged in some sequence, and comics is a narrative medium. Yet more than ‘sequential art’, after Eisner’s definition, comics is the narrative medium perhaps best-suited for radically departing from the sequence. This can mean nonlinear temporal progressions, but can also mean narratives that foreground space. This paper will explore the methods employed by three present-day American artists who have used the medium of comics to explore space, privileging these three dimensions over the dimension of time. Blaise Larmee’s work engages the medial limits of comics, transposing comics from digital publishing formats to print formats and back again; Jimenez Lai is an architect who employs the comics medium to explore theoretical, experimental architectural forms; and Chris Forgues (CF) has employed an unusual kind of grid to dislodge the reader’s sense of both space and time, in an attempt to ‘make nothing happen’ – to show stasis, or stillness. All three artists explore, foreground, and problematise the dimensional properties of comics. Moreover, as engagements with space and time are the defining properties of different narrative media, I argue that all three artists produce metanarratives, commenting not only on comics, but on narrative itself. Through close-reading these artists’ works, and applying techniques adapted from text-based narratology, this paper argues that comics can be an art of time, but is also expressly suited to explore ideas of space. In doing so, comics is a radical narrative medium. Departing less from sequential time than from time itself, comics forces us to ask whether narrative can exist without it.

Inkers and Thinkers 2015: Millennial Prophecies and Alternate Realities: Webcomics 15 Years After Scott McCloud’s Reinventing Comics by Anthony Castle

Introduction: At the turn of the century, Scott McCloud made a series of dramatic predictions about webcomics in his second theoretic work Reinventing Comics (2000). Playing a role similar to that of a millennial prophet, McCloud announced that the Internetʼs ʻinfinite canvasʼ would allow webcomics to be free from the restraints of the print format and mainstream corporations. This would result in alternative examples of artistic content and form and almost exponential sales through digital delivery. One year later, comics journalist Gary Groth wrote a rebuttal titled “McCloud CuckooLand”, arguing that webcomics would be beholden to hosting costs and the advertising of telecommunications corporations. The question remains: which of McCloud or Grothʼs predictions about webcomics have come to pass over the last 15 years?

Methods: The methods used to address this question have been investigation and analysis of contemporary webcomics, considering the alternative nature of their content, form and delivery. McCloudʼs own reflections on this debate have been taken into consideration, as well the conclusions of the ongoing research into webcomics.

Results: 15 years after McCloudʼs intial predictions, some have indeed utilised the ʻinfinite canvasʼ concept (The Prince and the Sea and McCloudʼs own Zot! Online). However, some of Grothʼs predictions also have some legitimacy with services like DC Entertainment Digital Comics and Marvelʼs Digital Comics Unlimited available on the Amazon-owned Comixology platform (even if this subscription model has also been used by indie start-ups like Thrillbent and MonkeyBrain Comics). Popular independent webcomics like Ctrl+Alt+Del, Penny Arcade, 8-Bit Theater, Girls with Slingshots and Goats deal in culture, identity and satire, with some commentators concluding that these works are simply the online continuation of the Underground Comix tradition. However, other popular independent webcomics like Lady Sabre and Cura Te Ipsum publish mainstream genre stories with alternate business models.

Conclusions and predictions: With approximately 10,000 webcomics online, neither McCloud nor Grothʼs alternate realities have come to pass. Instead, webcomics can be corporate, indie, mainstream and alternative across the spectrum. In fact, webcomics have appeared online with content, forms and sales suspiciously similar to the traditional comics milieu. However, with Amazonʼs purchase of Comixology, new questions arise regarding the possibilities of reading devices and also a further consolidation of corporate power

Inkers and Thinkers 2015: Peripheral Vision in Comics by Ben Juers

Comics scholar Jens Balzer has stated that in reading comics, ‘the gaze of the beholder must arrive at a mode of distraction’ in order to negotiate the various tensions at work in the medium. In this ‘mode,’ the eye is set in perpetual motion, continually seeking out alternative focal points, enacting the animation implied by the juxtaposition of static elements. According to Balzer, this ‘distracted gaze’ – typified early on in the crowd scenes of R.F. Outcault’s Hogan’s Alley – teaches the beholder an alternative, mimetic approach to participating in the constant motion of modernity, one that both sidesteps and caricatures this motion in the manner of a flâneur, or a Situationist dérive. In other words, comics show the reader that they are not passive spectators, that they can manipulate the spectacle of modernity, and interpret it in a variety of ways according to their subjective experience. Using this argument as a starting point, I will examine how certain comics after Hogan’s Alley play to this ‘distracted gaze’ through anti-sequentiality and the accumulation of peripheral details that reveal themselves on re-reading. This will demonstrate the formal and conceptual significance of marginality and the periphery in comics, how this discourages interpretive stagnation and mirrors what Balzer sees as the transience of modernity. Specifically, I will be looking at the copycat Yellow Kid strips created by George Luks in the 1890s, George Carlson’s Jingle Jangle stories from the 1940s, the ‘chicken fat’ aesthetic of Mad in the 1950s, and the echo of Outcault’s crowd scenes in Jordan Speer’s recent QCHQ.

Inkers and Thinkers Symposium Directions and Maps


adelaide university map

The North Terrace Campus is on the corner of North Tce and Pulteney St. You can simply walk into the campus, and there are maps which show you the different buildings on site. The symposium will be held in the IRA RAYMOND ROOM in the BARR SMITH LIBRARY and the SANTOS THEATRE in the MARJORIBANKS BUILDING.

THE IRA RAYMOND EXHIBITION ROOM (CONFERENCE VENUE): The Ira Raymond Room is on the 3RD FLOOR OF THE BARR SMITH LIBRARY. You can enter via the Hub and take the stairs, or you can enter via the library walkway, which is located near BARR SMITH NORTH. (The walkway entrance is marked with a small orange triangle in the pdf below).

THE SANTOS THEATRE (WORKSHOPS VENUE): The Santos Theatre is located at ROOM 126 on the first floor of the MARJORIBANKS BUILDING. The Marjoribanks Building is directly opposite the main campus, located on the left hand corner of Pulteney Street and North Terrace, on the Pulteney Street side. It is connected to Nexus 10 (The Faculty of Professions), and is just down the road from Target Central.

There is a full pdf of the North Terrace Campus Map HERE. This map includes car parks, bike racks, toilets, security, parenting rooms, information services, and disability access. An ATM is located in the Hub Building. The University is located next to the Royal Adelaide Hospital if you are in need of medical assistance, and there are many buses which stop outside the University. This link will take you to the Adelaide Metro site, so if you need you can plan your journey.


pulp fiction comics

Pulp Fiction Comics is located at 34A KING WILLIAM STREET. They are open 9am – 9pm on Fridays, and 9am – 5pm on Saturdays. Their website, including contact details for mail ordering and shipping, is here.


The CBD location for Bar 9 is the DAVID JONES CENTRAL PLAZA, which can be accessed via North Terrace or Rundle Mall. They are located next to the Food Court on the basement level. They are open 8.30am – 8pm on Friday, and 9.30am – 4pm on Saturday. Please note that the Inkers and Thinkers offer is only available at the CBD store.


austin and austin

Austin & Austin is located at 28 AUSTIN STREET, a small laneway that is very close to campus. They are open from 12pm to 2am on Saturday, and as well as drinks they serve small meals.

If you have any questions please email, or speak to one of our friendly organisers on the day!

Win! The masterful Building Stories by Chris Ware

Among recent graphic novels, Chris Ware’s Building Stories stands out as a real triumph. It’s a boxed set of books, mini-comics, fold-outs and other styles of publications that all link together to tell one story. By turns both heart-warming and heart-retching, it’s a dazzlingly inventive example of how powerful comics can be. Naturally, it’s one of our favourite books here at Inkers and Thinkers HQ, and we are fortunate enough to have some brand new copies to give away!


This book normally retails for at least $40 USD, and some Aussie stores sell it for up to $100 AUD … but the next two people who purchase tickets to both days of Inkers and Thinkers will receive their own, brand new copy at the symposium ABSOLUTELY FREE!

I just checked the prices that Building Stories is going for on and it looks like buying tickets to both days of Inkers and Thinkers (about $40) is actually the cheapest way to get this book in Australia. So that’s a bargain in and of itself — but don’t buy tickets just to get Building Stories on the cheap, buy them because you want to attend Australasia’s biggest and best academic comics conference. With a full day of seminar presentations on Friday and hands-on workshops on Saturday, and featuring award-winning cartoonist Pat Grant, you will learn an incredible amount about visual expression, graphic storytelling and sequential art.

building stories boxed

We only have two copies of this book to give away, so grab your tickets now!


If you love comics and haven’t read this book, you need to read it! If you have read it, then you know that it will make an awesome gift for the book-lover in your life.

P.S. For more about Building Stories check out this series of essays from The Comics Journal!

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Interview with Madeleine Karutz, Poster Artist

Over the past few weeks in the lead up to our symposium, the fair city of Adelaide has been peppered with posters. Whether you’re having a hot coffee in the East End, or enjoying a cold pint at the West End, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the image of a fearless Nancy surfing a comics strip. The artist behind the poster, the ebullient Madeleine Karutz, graciously agreed to an interview about her artistic influences, and gave advice for other illustrators. Sometimes, you just have to draw that goddamn bee.


There are a myriad of art styles on the poster, which is fantastic. Who did you pay homage to in the design?

I tried to pay my respects to a few of the amazing comic artists in the alternative comic genre, both in Australia and overseas.

Here’s a blow by blow explanation of each panel (left to right):

The first is Robert Crumb, in his earlier more cartoony style with the dipping buildings, and the exaggerated feet and body movement.

Owen Heitmann, a fantastic Australian comic artist and one of the work shoppers for the symposium. His line work is always superb, and stories are compelling to read.

Georgina Chadderton, another Australian comic artist, who will be doing a workshop at the convention with Owen. Her comics are always bright, with great female characters and bold designs.

In the teal is Mandy Ord, a female Australian comic artist that does fantastic autobiographical works with beautifully detailed backgrounds in ink and brush.

Under that is a poor attempt at doing American comic artist Daniel Clowes’ style. He uses traditional medium to do his comic work and unless you have his sensibility for line it’s difficult to recreate.

American Ivan Brunetti – you may of seen his work on New Yorker covers.

Below that is Kate Parrish, an Australian comic artist. Some of her work can be found in The Lifted Brow, with very compelling story telling and subject matter coloured in lovely watercolours.

Then there is Bruce Mutard, an Australian comic artist who does beautifully detailed and paced comics in traditional medium. He wrote and drew the graphic novel The Sacrifice, which a great read.

Pat Grant, another Australian comic artist, is the Keynote speaker for the symposium and the creator of the graphic novel Blue. His work is always a delight to look at, with really thought provoking content.

The girl on the surfboard is in the style of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, an American newspaper strip comic started in 1938. Personally one of my favourite ever comics, as the drawings are fantastic and it’s still funny to read, even today.

Australian comic artist Mirranda Burton, who did the graphic novel Hidden. Her artwork has a lovely balance of fine line work and bold blacks, and her writing has sensitivity and intelligence.

Lastly, a workshop teacher for this year’s symposium and Australian comic artist and book illustrator, Claire Richards. She does wonderfully vibrant and playful works in watercolour.

If I could I would of filled the whole page with references to Australian comic artists, because I only touched the surface of the large number of immensely talented comic artists producing in Australia today.

If you were able to collaborate with any comics artist/writer in the world, who would it be?

Perhaps Alison Bechdel, because her writing is always unpretentious and thoughtful. Her artwork is also wonderfully illustrative. I actually had a whole spate of comic creators  in my head for this question, but so many alternative comic creators’ work is autobiographical, and done by only them (art and writing), and so you wonder how you’d be able to combine your practice with theirs to make something new and good. Certainly it is achievable, but getting a balance of strengths and weaknesses would be essential.

Any tips for aspiring artists?

‘Keep pushing your work and practice’ is the best advice many art professionals have told me, and it’s really the best advice I can give. This means always expanding your practice, and finding your weaknesses, like maybe it’s drawing bees, and then drawing a whole lot of bees. ‘Cause it’s never enough just having one thing locked down, ’cause eventually you will have to draw that goddamn bee. So definitely get outside your comfort zone as an artist, ’cause the flow on effects are enormous.

Inkers and Thinkers 2015 Poster


Inkers and Thinkers 2015 Poster By Madeleine Karutz

Our amazing Inkers and Thinkers – Alternative Forms, Alternative Voices poster by the talented Madeleine Karutz is now popping up all over Adelaide. We can’t thank Madeleine enough for the awesome job she has done in capturing both the tone and themes of the symposium as well as the artistic styles of some of the brilliant artists involved with Inkers and Thinkers 2015.

Inkers and Thinkers 2015 Poster

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