Comic book movies and mature themes responsible for surge of academic interest in the art form

Posted on 6 November 2013
By James McAllister
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Thousands of fans will descend on the small Cumbrian town of Kendall this weekend to celebrate comic books as a maturing art form.

Dr. Mel Gibson, a comic expert at Northumbria University, has spent his life working in the art form and claims events, such as the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, is a real testament to how much credit comics are being given by academics for study.

Comics were once regarded as a puerile pastime for children. But, with Dundee University’s English department introducing a course in the study of comics, Dr. Gibson suggests it’s about time we reevaluated the art form.

Other academic conferences have begun looking into the subculture of comic books. Bodies like Comics and Popular Arts Conference , or CPAC, have also enjoyed increased support as attendance numbers to the once underground comic book conventions grows with increased media interest.

Focusing on more mature themes that were introduced by comic book writers like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, academics explore the roles of mental health, gender and particularly feminism in comic books.

Dr. Gibson said “For a while it was forgotten that girls read comics, much less that they were represented within them.” adding “Sally Heathcote is an example of a strong central female character – something comics are now very good at.”

The widely popular art form has attracted attention from as far afield as the US and Japan, and they will all be descending on Kendall this weekend, united in the love of comics.