The Graphic Possibilities Podcast
By J. Chambliss
The Graphic Possibilities Podcast is the official podcast of The Graphic Possibilities Research Workshop at Michigan State University. GP is a research workshop in the Department of English at Michigan State University that engages with comics through two interrelated branches, critical inquiry and engaged pedagogy New episodes drop on the first of the month. Follow along at graphicpossibilities.hcommons.org/
Episode 14: "Marek Bennett" (May 2022)
We are excited to be speaking with Marek Bennett, who joined us to speak about his contributions to the comics anthology Turner Family Stories: From Enslavement in Virginia to Freedom in Vermont, as well as some of his recent and upcoming comics projects! Marek Bennett is a New Hampshire-based based cartoonist, musician, and educator , who leads discovery-based Comics Workshops for all ages throughout New England and the world beyond! His comics work includes the Daisy Turner book, the graphic novel series, The Civil War Diary of Freeman Colby, as well as drawing, translating, & editing for The Most Costly Journey (2021) with the bilingual El Viaje Project. His crowd-funded cartoon travel memoirs include Sharjah Sketchbook (2020) and SLOVAKIA: Fall in the Heart of Europe (2013). Marek is currently running a kickstarter for Freeman Colby volume three that runs until June 3rd. Go find it over at kickstarter.com, and stay tuned to the end of the episode for a preview from Marek himself! Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/marekbennett/the-civil-war-diary-of-freeman-colby-vol-3-1864 We are proud to present the first episode in a short series of interviews with cartoonists who worked on the comics anthology Turner Family Stories: From Enslavement in Virginia to Freedom in Vermont. Edited by Jane Beck and Andy Kolovos, this anthology presents some stories from Daisy Turner, a black woman born in Vermont in 1883. Working with six New England cartoonists Turner Family Stories presents two of Daisy’s accounts from the life of her father, Alec Turner, by Marek Bennett and Joel Christian Gill, and two stories from Daisy’s own life by Francis Bordeleau and Lilllie Harris. The comics adapted from Daisy’s interviews are linked together through a story by Grafton native Ezra Veitch, based on a childhood encounter he and a friend had with Daisy one afternoon. Center for Cartoon Studies graduate Robyn Smith drew the volume’s cover. The book also features a Foreword by Gretchen Gerzina, Introduction by Graphic Possibilities’ own Julian Chambliss (!) and a Preface by Jane Beck. P.S. Thanks for y'all's patience in the gap between episodes. Graphic Possibilities has been BUSY this Spring!!
May 24, 2022
Episode 13: "Joel Christian Gill" (February, 2022)
We are proud to present the first episode in a short series of interviews with cartoonists who worked on the comics anthology Turner Family Stories: From Enslavement in Virginia to Freedom in Vermont. Edited by Jane Beck and Andy Kolovos, this anthology presents some stories from Daisy Turner, a black woman born in Vermont in 1883. Working with six New England cartoonists Turner Family Stories presents two of Daisy's accounts from the life of her father, Alec Turner, by Marek Bennett and Joel Christian Gill, and two stories from Daisy's own life by Francis Bordeleau and Lilllie Harris. The comics adapted from Daisy's interviews are linked together through a story by Grafton native Ezra Veitch, based on a childhood encounter he and a friend had with Daisy one afternoon. Center for Cartoon Studies graduate Robyn Smith drew the volume's cover. The book also features a Foreword by Gretchen Gerzina, Introduction by Graphic Possibilities' own Julian Chambliss (!) and a Preface by Jane Beck. So, with that introduction, we’re excited to be speaking with Joel Christian Gill today! Joel Christian Gill is a cartoonist and historian who speaks nationally on the importance of sharing stories. He is the author of the acclaimed memoir Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence cited as one of the best graphic novels of 2020 by The New York Times and for which he was awarded the 2021 Cartoonist Studio Prize. He wrote the words and drew the pictures for Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield’s First Ride and the award-winning graphic novel series Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, as well as 3 volumes of Tales of The Talented Tenth, which tell the stories of Bass Reeves, Bessie Stringfield, and Robert Smalls. He is currently at work on the graphic novel of Ibram Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, forthcoming from Ten Speed Press in 2023. Gill has dedicated his life to creating stories to build connections with readers through empathy, compassion, and, ultimately, humanity. He received his MFA from Boston University and his BA from Roanoke College.
February 10, 2022
Episode 12: "Karlos K. Hill" (Oct. 2021)
In this episode, we are joined by Karlos K. Hill, who spoke with the MSU community in a zoom webinar about his recent comic, The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History. Karlos spoke with us about the life and legacy of Emmett; about bearing witness to and doing deep justice work to narratives of racial violence; the absolute necessity of community-engaged scholarship; and enhancing the pedagogical opportunities to graphic histories with archival, supplementary, and educational materials. Since this episode is part of our webinar series we’re doing this year, we’re going to preserve the conversation a little more than normal. We give brief intros to Graphic Possibilities, then Julian gives a wonderful introduction to Karlos, and then we jump into our interview. This episode is a little longer as a result, but it’s worth every minute of your time, I promise. Enjoy! Karlos K. Hill is an associate professor and chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African-American Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma. He is a community-engaged scholar and historian of the history of lynching, racial violence, and their legacies in the black experience. Hill has helped create an infrastructure to help provide high-level training on teaching the Tulsa Race Massacre through the annual Tulsa Race Massacre Oklahoma Teachers Summer Institute. Several hundred Oklahoma educators have participated in the summer institute, impacting thousands of middle school and high school students. Hill is the author of three books, Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory, The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History and The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History, which will be released in March. He is a board member for the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, the Clara Luper Legacy Committee, and the Board of Scholars for Facing History and Ourselves. You can find out more about his work at his personal website.
October 08, 2021
Episode 11: "Alina Pete and Kel McDonald; Guest host: Dr. Gordon Henry, MSU"
In this episode Julian and Justin are joined by guest host Dr. Gordon Henry to speak with comics creators Alina Pete, who is Nehiyaw (Cree) and Kel McDonald about their new comics Kickstarter, The Woman and the Woods and Other North American Stories: an all-new anthology of fantastic comics inspired by original North American folktales―from the thrilling tale of Chokfi the trickster rabbit, to the stirring story of the White Horse Plains― as told by Indigenous creators. We talk with Alina and Kel about the significance of bringing together an all-Indigenous group of creatives, as well as the necessary responsibilities in faithfully following storytelling protocols set down by each group. Then, Gordon and Alina speak to the tension between literature and oral traditions over who gets to tell the stories and which stories, before getting into how comics offer ways of representing these storied beings who travel with these stories -- especially when some of these storied beings can never be named. We hear from Kel and Alina about the power of graphic narratives to reach kids and educators, and to bring authentic folktales to unfamiliar audiences through visually representing diverse populations. AND, while we were recording, the Kickstarter reached a significant milestone: $80,000! At time of posting (9am), the Kickstarter is live for two more weeks and ends on September 10th, 2021 at 11:59pm (and it's nearing $90,000!). Go check it out! Alina Pete is a Cree artist and writer from Little Pine First Nation in western Saskatchewan. They are best known for their Aurora award-winning webcomic, Weregeek (weregeek.com), and for their Shuster-nominated anthology, Life Finds a Way. Alina also writes short stories, poems and RPG supplements, and their work has been featured in several comic anthologies, including Moonshot Volumes 2 & 3. Kel McDonald has been working in comics for over a decade—most of that time has been spent on their webcomic Sorcery 101. More recently, they have organized the Cautionary Fables and Fairytales anthology series while contributing to other anthologies like Dark Horse Presents, Smut Peddler, and Sleep of Reason. They have also worked on Buffy: The High School Years. They recently finished their creator-owned series, Misfits of Avalon, and the Eisner-nominated Stone King. They're currently working on their self-published series, The City Between. Their work can be found at kelmcdonald.com. Guest host Gordon Henry is an enrolled member of the White Earth Anishinaabe Nation in Minnesota. Dr. Henry is also a Professor in the English Department at Michigan State University, where he teaches American Indian Literature, Creative Writing and the Creative Process, in Integrative Arts and Humanities. He serves as Senior Editor of the American Indian Studies Series (and the series sub-imprint Mukwa Enewed) at Michigan State University Press. Under his editorship the AISS has published research and creative work by an array of scholars, working in a variety of disciplines, related to the larger field of American Indian Studies.
August 26, 2021
Episode 10: "Sadam Issa and Valentina Denzel" (March 2021)
In this episode we speak with Valentina Denzel and Sadam Issa from Michigan State University’s Graphic Narratives Network about the use of comics in language-specific and multilingual classrooms! Sadam Issa is an Assistant Professor at the Linguistics Department and Michigan State University. His research interests range from discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, to research on anxiety in the classroom, the use of technology, visual rhetoric, and lastly, political cartoons. He has also published articles in a number of journals including Pragmatics and Society, Arabic Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Politeness Research, Popular Music and Society, Visual Studies, and the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. He is currently writing a book on Arabic political cartoons. Valentina Denzel is an Associate Professor of French Literature at the Department of Romance and Classical Studies at Michigan State University. Her fields of interest are Italian and French Literatures, Queer and Gender Studies, travelogues, and popular cultures. In her book Les mille et un visages de la virago. Marfisa et Bradamante entre continuation et variation, she analyzes the evolution of the representation of the woman warrior in French and Italian literatures from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. Valentina’s second book project examines the impact of the Marquis de Sade on the punk and post-punk movements, as well as on punk-porn feminism and comic books in France, the UK, and the US.
August 06, 2021
GP S1, E9: "Mixed-Race Superheroes with Eric Berlatsky and Sika Dagbovie-Mullins" (Ford, Wigard), Summer 2021
In this episode, which we recorded back in November of 2020, we speak with Eric Berlatsky and Sika Dagbovie-Mullins, co-editors of the edited collection “Mixed-Race Superheroes” from Rutgers University Press. Eric Berlatsky is Professor of English, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, and Director of the PhD in Comparative Studies at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of The Real, The True, and The Told: Postmodern Historical Narrative And The Ethics of Representation (The Ohio State University Press, 2011), and is the editor of Alan Moore: Conversations (University Press of Mississippi, 2012). He has also authored or co-authored articles on The Flash, Black Lightning and Moon Girl, Ms. Marvel, Superman, Spider-Man (and the villain Vermin), Watchmen, Posy Simmonds' Gemma Bovery, Hanif Kureishi's The Black Album, Dickens' David Copperfield, Paul Auster's Ghosts, narrative frames, and other stuff, most of which found its way into the books. Sika Dagbovie-Mullins is associate professor in the Department of English at Florida Atlantic University where she specializes in modern and contemporary African American Literature and Critical Mixed Race Studies. She is author of Crossing B(l)ack: Mixed Race Identity in Modern American Fiction and Culture (U of Tennessee P, 2013) and co-editor of Mixed-Race Superheroes (Rutgers UP). Her articles have appeared in journals such as African American Review, The Journal of Popular Culture, and Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International.
July 26, 2021
Episode 8: "Brandon Easton" (May, 2021)
Buckle in for the latest installment of the Graphic Possibilities Podcast, a double-length episode with Brandon Easton! We got to hear about Brandon's experiences teaching comics within the NYC public school system, along with some lessons on visual literacies and strategies that Brandon deployed to meet students where they are at with intentional text selection. Brandon enlightened us on the challenges in writing non-fiction comics, particularly true crime comics and biographical ones vs storytelling through long-standing pop culture properties. Lastly, Brandon gives us sneak previews of his upcoming work on Mister Miracle and Shilo Norman, his experiences within the comics industry, and leaves us with the imperative to get out there and MAKE. Give this one a listen! Bio: Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Brandon attended Ithaca College and then earned his MFA in Screenwriting at Boston University. After teaching U.S. History and Economics in NYC public schools, Brandon relocated to Los Angeles and broke into the TV writing scene with the Warner Bros. Animation 2011 reboot of THUNDERCATS followed by TRANSFORMERS: RESCUE BOTS. His original graphic novel SHADOWLAW won the 2013 Glyph Award for Best Writer, and Brandon was also nominated for an Eisner Award for the African-American inspired WATSON AND HOLMES graphic novel. Brandon is currently on the writing team of the STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE graphic novel series from IDW Publishing and a writer for the DC COMICS FUTURE STATE: SUPERMAN event series released in January 2021. Brandon has been announced as a writer for a variety of upcoming DC series including MISTER MIRACLE: THE SOURCE OF FREEDOM, SUPERMAN: TRUTH & JUSTICE, SUPERMAN: RED AND BLUE and BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT. More of his work can be found on his twitter Texts & creators mentioned: John Burger, War of the Worlds, Naruto/One Piece, Dragon Ball Z, Ziggy, Spider-Man Noir, Jeffrey Thorne, Brandon Thomas, Robert Roach, Kevin Grevious
April 30, 2021
Episode 7: "Will Kent" (April, 2021)
Episode 7: "Will Kent" (April, 2021) In this episode, Julian, Justin, and Nicole speak with Will Kent, the Wikidata Program Manager at Wiki Education. Will enlightened us about the uses, extensions, and applications for Wikidata, but also the critical need for open-access repositories of data -- like Wikidata. We also hear from Will about some entry and higher-level Wikidata pedagogical activities in the classroom. Following up on his talks with Graphic Possibilities, Will tells us about some really incredible groups working with Wikidata, including Black Lunchtable and Women in Red, collectives that are engaging with Wikipedia to enact discursive action by reclaiming digital spaces and recovering erased voices of black artists and women, respectively. Finally, we ask Will the big question: "How does working with Wikidata further our understanding of something we're working on?" To our surprise, Will has three answers right away -- listen in to find out what he has to say, and join us on April 22nd, 2021 for our follow-up Wikidata event! Will Kent is the Wikidata Program Manager at Wiki Education. He leads online courses that cover Wikidata fundamentals, community norms, and best practices. These courses also encourage attendees to contribute new data to Wikidata, helping to build a more representative, equitable, and accurate linked data version of our world. He is also the Program Manager for the Wiki Scholars and Scientists program, which trains academics and professionals how to contribute to Wikipedia in their areas of expertise. Prior to Wiki Education, Will was a librarian. He is excited to travel and see live music again when the pandemic ends. You can learn more about his courses at learn.wikiedu.org Pedagogical links: Black Lunchtable Women in Red project Scottish Witches Wikiproject Comics WikidataCon 2019
March 30, 2021
Episode 6: "Deborah Whaley" (March, 2021
In this episode, Justin and Nicole speak with the MSU Comics Forum Keynote Scholar: Professor Deborah Elizabeth Whaley. Professor Whaley joined us for a conversation about her recent book, Black Women in Sequence, particularly the precarious-but-powerful relationship between fandoms, creators, and critics in regards to manga. We hear from Professor Whaley about her creative pedagogies with regards to critical-making in the classroom, and the significance of offering new approaches to teaching not only for students, but for ourselves as educators. Following up on her successful graduate research workshop with the MSU English Department, Professor Whaley enlightens us with some accessible entry-points into digital exhibitions and digital humanities. Finally, we end up geeking out about Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and look ahead to some of Professor Whaley's myriad projects, including the forthcoming Keywords for Comics Studies that she has co-edited with Ramzi Fawaz and Shelby Streeby. Deborah Elizabeth Whaley is an artist, curator, writer, poet, and Professor at the University of Iowa. From 2017-2020, she served as Senior Scholar for Digital Arts and Humanities where she was an ambassador and liaison for the digital humanities, as well as director of the Public Digital Humanities graduate certificate. Currently, she is an administrative fellow in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Office of the Dean. Her recent and critically acclaimed book is Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime(2015); it explores graphic novel production and comic book fandom, looking in particular at African, African American, and multiethnic women as deployed in television, film, animation, gaming, and print representations of comic book and graphic novel characters.
March 15, 2021
GP S1, E5: "Daniel Fandino" (Wigard) Feb, 2021
In this episode, Justin speaks with PhD Candidate Daniel Fandino about his work conducting archival research with Japanese-American popular culture, particularly as these ideologies manifest in both Japanese and American comics. Justin talks with Daniel about his experiences participating in the 2020 HistoryMakers Fellowship workshop during Summer 2020, and discusses his accordion model of designing lesson plans utilizing the HistoryMakers video archive. Comics and creators mentioned: The Umbrella Academy, New Mutants, Strange Academy, and We Only Find Them Where They're Dead. Daniel Fandino is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at Michigan State University. His academic fields of study focus on U.S. cultural history, Modern Japan, and digital history. Daniel's research is centered on the intersection between popular culture, technology, commodities, and consumption. He also maintains an interest in game studies. Daniel is also co-editor of the edited volume Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural and Geopolitical Domains. You can find more of his work over at http://wiredhistory.com/ Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be found here. The HistoryMakers is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational institution committed to preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans. Through the media and a series of user-friendly products, services and events, The HistoryMakers enlightens, entertains and educates the public, helping to refashion a more inclusive record of American history. You can find out more about The HistoryMakers here. LEADR at MSU CHI Fellowship at MSU Tokyo 6420
February 01, 2021
GP S1, E4: "Elizabeth LaPensée" (Chambliss, Ford, Wigard) Nov, 2020
In this episode, Ronny, Julian, and Justin speak with Professor Elizabeth LaPensée about her work creating, illustrating, and writing Indigenous comics and games. We talk with Beth about the graphic power of Deer Woman, the importance of being seen and seeing ones identity represented in comics, and practices of critical-making with students. Elizabeth LaPensée is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher of Indigenous-led media including comics. She is Anishinaabe with family at Bay Mills, Métis, and Irish, and an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures at Michigan State University. She has contributed as an illustrator and writer to Deer Woman: A Vignette, and as a writer in MOONSHOT: The Indigenous Comics Collection Volumes 1 and 2. She co-edited the comic anthologies Deer Woman: An Anthology, Sovereign Traces Volume 1: Not (Just) (An)Other, and MOONSHOT: The Indigenous Comics Collection Volume 3, as well as edited Sovereign Traces Volume 2: Relational Constellation. Sovereign Traces Volume 1 and 2 can be found here: https://msupress.org/978193806.../sovereign-traces-volume-1/ https://msupress.org/978193806.../sovereign-traces-volume-2/
November 02, 2020
GP S1, E3: "Tim Fielder" (Chambliss, Wigard), Oct. 2020
In this episode, we speak with Tim Fielder, who is an Illustrator, concept designer, cartoonist, and animator born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and raised in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He has a lifelong love of Visual Afrofuturism, Pulp entertainment, and action films. He holds other Afrofuturists such as Samuel R Delany, Octavia Butler, Pedro Bell, and Overton Lloyd as major influences. Tim has worked over the years in the storyboarding, film visual development, gaming, comics, and animation industries for clients as varied as Marvel Comics (‘Dr Dre: Man With A Cold Cold Heart’), The Village Voice, Tri-Star Pictures (‘The Mothership Connection’), to Ubisoft Entertainment (‘Batman: Vengeance). He is known for his graphic novel, Matty's Rocket, while his new graphic novel, Infinitum, will be released in January 2021. Infinitum is an afrofuturist tale that is epic in scope and steeped in Afrodiasporic experience, one which embraces the potentialities of the comic page. Find more of Tim's work at his website.
October 19, 2020
GP S1, E2: "Ho Che Anderson" (Chambliss, Wigard, Ford), Sept. 2020
In this bonus episode, we’ll be speaking with creator Ho Che Anderson, author of the upcoming illustrated book, Stone. Born in London, England, Ho Che Anderson was named after the Vietnamese and Cuban revolutionaries Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara. Anderson began his career as the author of numerous graphic novels, including KING, a biography of Martin Luther King, the horror thriller, SAND & FURY, and the science-fiction action-adventure, GODHEAD. During this time he also wrote the children’s novel, THE NO-BOYS CLUB. After a two-year stint as a Toronto Star reporter, Anderson embraced a lifelong fascination with filmmaking. He studied film production at the Toronto Film School and Sheridan College, during which he was involved in the production of more than 40 shorts as either DP, camera operator, editor, writer, or director. One of those films, LOTUS EATERS, won best picture at the 2014 TFS Festival of Films and was an official selection at the 2014 ReelWorld Film Festival. Following film school he joined IATSE Local 667 where he worked for several years as a camera assistant on numerous shows including Reign, Taken, and Designated Survivor to further hone his skills. Anderson wrote and directed his first feature in 2018, the supernatural heist thriller, LE CORBEAU, for Canada’s Telefilm, and is currently in development on a second feature with Antigravity Entertainment. He is also hard at work scripting several graphic novels, among them another tale of the supernatural called, THE RESURRECTIONISTS, for Abrams Books.
September 21, 2020
GP, S1E1: Chambliss, Wigard, Ford (Sep. 2020)
In this episode, Julian, Justin, and Ronny talk about the past, present, and future of Graphic Possibilities. We each give a brief intro to our connections with comics, talk about some of our ongoing projects, and look ahead to the Fall semester. Comics and creators mentioned: Prince Valiant, Morrie Turner, Calvin and Hobbes. Intro/Outro music is "Happy Level" by SketchyLogic. Their work can be found here.
August 28, 2020