The Mix Comics Symposium: One of the Best Weekends of My Life

September 30th, 2013 by Student Blogger
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My badge and bio in the program - feels surreal!

My badge and bio in the program. Feels surreal!

By Colleen Clark

This past weekend, I was given the amazing opportunity to be part of something special: CCAD’s Mix Comics Symposium. This event was started for the first time last year by professor and comics enthusiast Robert Loss. This year and last, talented comics creators from across the country flew in to attend, present, and learn. I ended up working alongside Mr. Loss as his volunteer coordinator, so I was able to help a little with the set-up and flow of the entire symposium.

MIX also marked a huge milestone for my career; I was asked to speak and present on a panel! I am part of a women’s comics collective here in Columbus called Sketch and Kvetch, and I got the amazing opportunity to speak with the rest of the group. The topic was a discussion about what it means to be a female comic creator.

As anyone who is aware of mainstream comics hopefully knows, female representation isn’t so great. The classic genres of the comics medium—specifically the superhero genre—aren’t very kind to women.

We had a lot to talk about.

The other women on the panel were all inspiring, talented creators: Canada Keck, Enrica Jang, Meg Syverud, Caitlin McGurk, Katie Wright, and Lora Innes. Carol Tyler, an influential and award-winning comics creator for 35 years, was also a featured guest on the panel.

I felt so lucky and humbled as I sat at that table alongside these women. I talked about my comics dealing with body image and gender and how it is no doubt that their kind reception has a lot to do with women like Carol Tyler, who have been fighting to be recognized in a male-dominated industry for years. I also somehow managed to talk about both Sailor Moon and Star Trek (no one was surprised).

Carol Tyler speaking to student interested in comics one-on-one.

Carol Tyler speaking to students interested in comics one-on-one.

On Friday, I had the chance to have a one-on-one critique and presentation of my work with Carol Tyler. I was nervous beyond belief, but her feedback and kind words are invaluable.

Some of the other panels I attended and loved:

  • “Voltron That Has Yet to Assemble: The Columbus Comics Scene Past, Present and Future” with James Moore, Bob Corby, Ken Eppstein, Jenny Robb, and Tom Spurgeon
  • “History, Memory and Narrative in Comics” with Jared Gardner, Terry Eisele, Lora Innes, Katherine Wirick, and Carol Tyler
  • “Comics of the Middle East and India” Dara Naraghi, Hend Alawadhi, Christopher Smith, and Jeremy Stoll

I could talk forever about everything that I learned from these panels and the others I went to, but this post is already getting lengthy. I could also talk forever about the connections I made with people I met all weekend long. The keynote speaker, Jeff Smith, author of the nationally acclaimed and multi-award-winning Bone, was also an amazing presentation to see.

All in all, I feel like I grew exponentially as an artist in one weekend. I will never, ever forget this humbling and exciting experience. Anyone who is in the Columbus area and is the least bit interested in comics should attend MIX every year. Thank you again, Robert Loss, for doing a wonderful job once again.

Colleen Clark, CCAD senior illustration major, enjoys looking at photos of dogs online, following NBC comedy series (specifically anything involving Tina Fey), and sharing her art and thoughts through her online blog.

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