Professor Ben Saunders interviews comics writer Kelly Sue DeConnick about her work, influences, and the relationship between feminism and science-fiction.
Check out this early coverage of “Aliens, Monsters, and Madmen” in The Oregonian newspaper by reporter Steve Duin. Read the full Oregonian article here
There is also an interview with Curator Ben Saunders on KLCC 89.7, listen to the interview here.
New! An article in Eugene Weekly by Aaron Ragan-Fore, “Raising Eyebrows” view the Eugene Weekly article here
Our history is documented in everyday design. A passing glance at a poster may not strike the viewer as anything more than an artful image, designed to draw attention to an upcoming film. But what happens when more than 200 hundred posters, spanning fifty years, are placed juxtaposed in an exhibit?
SuperTrash, a collection of cult movie bills curated by Jacques Boyreau, was first presented at the Andy Warhol Museum. Offering an alternative portrait of the 20th century, the prints amassed by Boyreau, author of TRASH: The Graphic Genius of Xploitation Movie Posters, are on display at PNCA’s Swigert Commons (1241 NW Johnson) through Oct. 21. As this showcase of vintage design warrants more than just a glance, the art school seeks to contextualize the thoughts and attitudes behind the graphic designs with a symposium hosted this Saturday, Oct. 11, as part of Design Week Portland.
After settling in with a cup of morning coffee, the symposium begins promptly at 10 a.m. Boyreau opens the event, speaking to why this selection of cult movie advertisements is an avant-garde study of America’s collective past. Then, a discussion lead by notable presenters is to follow. Speakers Amy Borden, contributor to anthologies on early cinema and contemporary American film; Ben Saunders, director of America’s first undergraduate minor in Comics and Cartoon Studies; and Harvard Ph.D. Sarah Sentilles, Assistant Professor for PNCA’s MFA in Visual Studies program will participate in the discussion. Through the presentations learn how these posters intersect with the culture of film and comics. Explore the presence of the male gaze and gender exploitation documented by both high and low culture. Join the analysis of SuperTrash. The symposium lasts untill 4 p.m. and admission is free.
Across town, Laurelhurst Theater (2735 E Burnside) is playing several cult films in conjunction with the exhibit. There’s still time to catch Temple of Doom and Gremlins 2.
– Rachael Lesley
Above, John Wayne (2012). Design by Joe Niem.
Spider-Man, X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s just a fraction of the comic books that award-winning and best-selling author Brian Michael Bendis is currently involved with, and that’s without mentioning his past writing credits on Daredevil, The Avengers and The Fantastic Four.
His work has spawned both film and television, but for Bendis, writing isn’t enough. On top of all of this, he’s finding time to be one of UO’s newest instructors, serving as a professor for the comic book and cartoon studies minor.
“I’m very excited, and I hope I don’t screw it up,” Bendis said.
Bendis’ class will offer an exclusive look into how the comic book industry works.
“It’s everything. It’s a nuts and bolts class,” Bendis said. “It’s the nuts and bolts of how comics are made on a mainstream level and how they’re made on an independent level. Some people think you need a team of hundreds, but you don’t. You just need you and the initiative.”
Bendis is an adamant believer in the idea that the writing experience is individually unique, so he hopes to have as many perspectives has he can in his class.
“When you’re teaching writing, people think that the class is just me teaching students how to write like me, but really it’s the opposite of that. I don’t want anyone to write like me,” Bendis said. “I plan on a lot of my friends in the Portland area who are very well-known comic creators to give their perspectives, also. I’m trying to give as many perspectives as I can to the students so that everybody gets a chance to find which one works for them.”
Outside of his writing credentials, Bendis has recent teaching experience from being a professor at Portland State University where he taught a similar class. When Bendis decided to leave PSU, the program director for the comic book and cartoon studies minor, Ben Saunders, called up Bendis to see if he’d be interested in teaching the class at UO.
“[At PSU] I was kind of the only comic book guy there. It made the class stand out, but it also made it really frustrating. Here, there’s a great support system from the professors within the comic minor.”
During his time at PSU, Bendis sought to make the class workshop extensive, believing that that’s the best way to learn about writing.
“I’m a big believer in workshops. It’s the only way you’re going to learn by doing it over and over again,” Bendis said. “We’ll also show some Will Eisner documentaries and some hidden gems from Jack Kirby, pretty much the grandmasters who created this language. We’re going to look at the philosophical history of comics as well as doing plenty of workshop stuff.”
If all goes well, Bendis plans on teaching the class for the foreseeable future, which is something that the majority of comic book enthusiasts are hoping will happen.
“The size of the class is like 20 or so students, and you have to be approved to be in the class by Saunders,” said Sam Koch, a cinema studies and comic and cartoon studies minor. “I currently don’t have the credits for the class, but I still plan on sitting in. The comic book industry is a tricky medium to write for. It’s not as easy as fitting some words in a little bubble.”
Bendis is hoping for nobody to feel like they’re in a bubble while they’re in his class.
“There’s no right or wrong answer to creativity,” Bendis said. “I’m hoping to give the students all kinds of different creative avenues that they’ll be able to explore so that they can get what they need out of the class. You find that little nugget that’ll change their life, so I try to give them as many little nuggets as possible.”
Associate Professor Fabienne Moore
Department of Romance Languages
Whether she’s teaching students in the classroom, talking with them about career possibilities, or working out alongside them at the UO Recreation Center, Associate Professor Fabienne Moore thinks that each and every student has the capacity to be outstanding.
Moore structures her classes and her life around having meaningful conversations with her students and she strives to keep class sizes small. “I always remember what I loved myself as a student: discovery and exploration,” she says. “Teaching helps me grow. It opens my mind to worlds of ideas. By giving me the chance to exchange knowledge with students, who have so much to bring, it simply makes life more beautiful.”
Moore’s broad view of the study of language is why some students choose to major in Romance languages, instead of majoring in an individual language such as French, Spanish, or Italian. Majoring in Romance languages involves mastering two of the three languages, along with studying the corresponding literature and cultures.
Associate Professor Fabienne Moore with a graduating student.To this end, Moore enjoys planning cultural activities with her students, including outings to museums or classes in continental cooking. “Learning to appreciate art and culture is a process that enriches one’s life,” she says.
It’s a path that can lead many places, even while a student is still at the UO. The Department of Romance Languages has undergraduate advisers to help students find study abroad programs and bilingual internships that allow them to earn academic credit.
Internship opportunities are availably locally or abroad, says Moore, and include experiences as diverse as volunteering in Eugene French and Spanish immersion schools, working with a performing arts association in Senegal, conducting tours of a French château, working on environmental conservation in Panama, or writing for an English-language newspaper in Costa Rica.
Beyond the UO, undergraduate advisors have helped guide students toward careers in education, health, non-profit administration, and journalism. Alumni have gone on to teach English in France and Spain, join the Peace Corps, and pursue business or medical degrees.
“Ultimately, no matter what career a student might chose,” says Moore, “he or she will always find big and small ways to use their language skills, because we’re always in contact with the rest of the world.”
Text by Jennifer Snelling.
Photos courtesy of Fabienne Moore.