9/19 – 9/20 Rose City Comic Con

September 19th + 20th @ Oregon Convention Center


University of Oregon has partnered with Rose City Comic Con to bring the blossoming field of Comics Studies to the forefront of this event. Comics and Cartoon Studies Program Director, Ben Saunders, along with the staff of University of Oregon’s comics magazine, Art Ducko, are among the long list of panel guests. Get your tickets now at http://rosecitycomiccon.com/tickets

Statement of Condolence

“The community of comics scholars at University of Oregon is horrified by the brutal attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo on 7 January 2015 in which twelve people lost their lives. We extend our sincere condolences to the friends and families of those killed.”

Comics Pedagogy Symposium

2014 University of Oregon Comics Pedagogy Symposium: Friday, October 24th, 2014

Are you curious about how to integrate comics and graphic novels into the college classroom? Featuring nationally recognized scholars and local UO faculty, the goal of the Comics Pedagogy Symposium is to enrich our pedagogy by exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with teaching this exciting, hybrid medium.

EMU River Rooms 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
282 Lillis, Lillis Business Complex 4:00 p.m.

11:00 AM: Opening Remarks
11:15 AM: Exploring Critical Frameworks – featuring presentations by José Alaniz (University of Washington), Susan Kirtley (Portland State University), and Charles Hatfield (California State University, Northridge)
12:15 PM: Expanding the Frame – a roundtable expansion of “Exploring Critical Frameworks” featuring Elizabeth Wheeler (University of Oregon), Michael Allan (University of Oregon), Trevor Dodge (Clackamas Community College), and Glynne Walley (University of Oregon)
1:00 PM: Lunch Break
2:00 PM: Comics in the Classroom – featuring workshops and presentations by Julie Voelker-Morris (University of Oregon), Robert Voelker-Morris (University of Oregon), Charles Hatfield, and Veronica Vold (University of Oregon)
4:00 PM: Keynote Address by Hillary Chute (University of Chicago), introduction by Ben Saunders (University of Oregon)


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.

Serious about the funnies: Private donor endows UO Comics Studies minor


December 3, 2013

UO’s Ben Saunders

The University of Oregon’s groundbreaking Comics & Cartoon Studies program, which explores the world of comic strips and graphic novels, is getting a serious boost.

A private donor who has chosen to remain anonymous is investing $50,000 per year for four years in the program, to create a $200,000 endowment. The money will help sustain the UO’s undergraduate minor in Comics and Cartoon Studies, which launched a year ago as the first academic minor of its kind in the country.

“We’ve developed a wide-ranging curriculum, drawing on talented scholars from multiple disciplines — including art, art history, comparative literature, east Asian languages and literatures, English, ethnic studies and romance languages,” said UO English Professor Ben Saunders, director of the Comic Studies program. “Just next term we are offering an exciting course on the way comics can help children to express and process real-life challenges.”

The winter term offerings will include a community service component (ENG 313: “Fantasy, Comics, and the Real Lives of Boys and Girls”), a class on Japanese comics (JPN 250: “Manga Millenium”) and a course on visual story-telling offered by the UO Art Department (ARTF: “Comics and Narrative”). Spring term courses in the program will include “War in French Comics” (FR 339), an upper-division course taught entirely in French; a class on the sociological implications of the Superhero fantasy (ENG 480: “Modern American Superheroes,”); and a lower-division introduction to the field (ENG 280: “Intro To Comics Studies”).

“Our benefactor has recognized our efforts, and has inspired us to do even more with this generous gift,” Saunders said.

The UO Comics Studies endowment is expected to help bring creators, teachers, publishers and other professionals from the world of comics to the UO campus for classroom visits and lectures.

“We need to keep building our relationship with comics creators,” Saunders said. “Who can better advise the next generation of creative storytellers in this field, after all?”

The funds will also help finance more comics-related art exhibitions at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Previous exhibitions curated by Saunders have drawn thousands of visitors from across the UO campus and the wider community.

But Saunders thinks the importance of the investment is more than financial.

“It’s a sign of faith in the cultural value of the comics form itself,” he said. “Comics constitute a remarkably successful mode of communication, with a history that is at least as old as print culture, and a global reach that includes most of the nations of the world. This private investment in our program is evidence that we are doing something important and worthwhile.”

– from the UO Office of Strategic Communications

London Calling

London Calling

Spend the SPRING of 2014 in LONDON: Europe’s most multicultural urban center, birthplace of English Literature, and home to some of the finest theaters, art galleries and museums in the world!

Scholarships available!  For more information and guidance on how to apply for this program, visit studyabroad@uoregon.edu and look for links to “An English Spring in London,” or contact Diane Pritchard at .dianep@uoregon.edu.

The Myth of the SUPERHERO

Marco Arnaudo


THURSDAY, OCT. 17, 2013 AT 4:30 P.M.
This event is made possible by the generous support of:
The Department of Romance Languages
The Giustina Family Professorship Fund
The Oregon Humanities Center
The Department of Comparative Literature
English/Ben Saunders
For more information, please contact Nathalie Hester, nhester@uoregon.edu

Marvel Comics’ Brian Michael Bendis to teach class at UO this fall

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.”