The Graphic Possibilities Podcast

This year, the Graphic Possibilities Research Workshop will be speaking with comics educators, makers, and scholars from around Michigan State University in a monthly podcast series. We wanted to bring the conversation right to you, bridging the gap in space through the digital medium.

Episodes release on the first of every month, so be sure to follow along! Folks from the MSU community are encouraged to reach out to Nicole Huff (huffnico@msu.edu) if you have researched, taught, or worked on comics.

Featured Podcast Episode:

Episode 12: “Karlos K. Hill” (October, 2021)

In this double-length 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

In this black and white photograph, Associate Professor Karlos K. Hill, a black man in a charcoal suit and tie, is smiling at something off-camera to his right.

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!

The cover for The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History. It features yellow title text up at the top, with Emmett's family looking down on his gravestone. His mother, leaning on a cane, says "We won't quit until we get justice for you, Bobo."

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. 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.

 

 

Episode 11: “Alina Pete and Kel McDonald; Guest host: Dr. Gordon Henry, MSU” (September, 2021)

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.

 

A young indigenous woman in regalia dances upon the back of an X-ray turtle in full moonlight over a great body of water while the Northern Lights are in the background. The entire picture is in shades of blue and blue green. The turtle has trees inside of its shell. In the sky are two constellations of spirits: one is Chokfi, the trickster rabbit, and the other is a great spirit taking the form of a horse. The Sky Woman is dancing, and smiling, and living her best life.
The cover for The Woman and the Woods and Other North American Stories, drawn by Alina Pete.

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! The kickstarter would go on to raise over $300,000 during its run.

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.

 

Episode 10: “Graphic Narratives Network: Sadam Issa and Valentina Denzel” (Summer, 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! We learn more about the Graphic Narratives Network, which is  a collaborative research initiative at Michigan State University. It enables an interdisciplinary group of scholars—both faculty and students—that work collaboratively on topics related to graphic narration in its various forms across languages & cultures: comics, graphic novels, photo-essays, animation, and film. 
Sadam Issa looks on at the camera in front of an open doorway. He is wearing a grey suit with a white shirt and silver tie.
Sadam Issa, Assistant Professor of Arabic at Michigan State University.
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 smiles warmly at the camera, with short brown hair, thin glasses, and a wool brown sweater.
Valentina Denzel, Associate Professor of French Literature in the Department of Romance and Classical Studies at Michigan State University

 

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.

Episode 9: “Mixed-Race Superheroes with Eric Berlatsky and Sika Dagbovie-Mullins” (Summer, 2021)

In this episode, which we recorded back in November of 2020 with guest host graduate student Ronny Fay Ford, we speak with Eric Berlatsky and Sika Dagbovie-Mullins, co-editors of the edited collection Mixed-Race Superheroes from Rutgers University Press.
Eric Berlatsky smiles at the camera with short brown hair and is wearing a green and white striped polo.
Eric Berlatsky
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 confidently speaking into a microphone at an event
Sika Dagbovie-Mullins
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.

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! 
Brandon Easton
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

Listen below or wherever you get your podcasts!

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, Wikidata Program Manager

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: 

Episode 6: “Deborah Elizabeth 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. 
Professor Deborah Elizabeth Whaley smiles at the camera. She is wearing a white shirt with a blue and white patterned vest.
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. More of her work can be found here: https://www.deborahelizabethwhaley.com/ 
Pedagogical links: 

Episode 5: “Daniel Fandino” (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

Daniel Fandino, a PhD Candidate in History at MSU, salutes the camera while standing in front of a towering Gundam, a giant robotic mech.

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/

 
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.
Comics and creators mentioned: The Umbrella AcademyNew Mutants, Strange Academy, and We Only Find Them Where They’re Dead

Episode 4: “Elizabeth LaPensée” (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 LaPensee, Assistant Professor of Media and Information at Michigan State University, stands in front of a painted mural, hand on hip, and looks stoically at the camera.

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.

Find more of Beth’s work at her website.

 
Sovereign Traces Volume 1 and 2 can be found here: https://msupress.org/978193806…/sovereign-traces-volume-1/
Comics and creators mentioned: Inhabit Media, Jay Odjick, Sin City.

Episode 3: “Tim Fielder” (Oct, 2020)

In this episode, Julian and Justin talk with Tim Fielder about his new book, Infinitum, published by HarperCollins, out January 2021.

Tim Fielder 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 comics page.

Find more of Tim’s work at his website.

We talk with Tim about his work in various and multimodal industries, what it’s like to create a fully-rendered 280+pg Afrofuturist graphic novel, and the radically important work of visual Afrofuturism. Tim also spends some time impressing upon us the value of teaching and working with students.

Comics and creators mentioned: Richard Corben, Moebius, John Jennings and Stacey Robinson (friends of the show!), and Will Eisner.

 

Episode 2: “Ho Che Anderson” (Sept, 2020)

In this episode, Julian, Justin, and Ronny talk with comics creator Ho Che Anderson about his new illustrated book, Stone, published by NeoText.

Cartoonist Ho Che Anderson sits on the cement steps of a building in a black short and khaki pants.
Ho Che Anderson (photo by Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal).

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.

We talk with Ho about his work in journalism and film, why comics reflect our current moment, and how comics can not only help us confront our own discomforts around issues of race and violence, but why comics are particularly situated for these conversations.

Comics and creators mentioned: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, the work of Benjamin Marra, and of course, Captain Canuck.

Episode 1: Julian Chambliss, Justin Wigard, and Ronny Ford (August, 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.

Our podcast is hosted on Anchor.fm here.

Here’s a link to our RSS feed! 

Intro/Outro music is “Happy Level” by SketchyLogic. Their work can be found here.