The Michigan State University Comics Forum is a multi-day, annual event for scholars, creators and fans of the comics medium. Events include keynote addresses from an award-winning creator and scholar in the field, an artist alley, academic panel discussions, exhibition of comic art, comic book discussion groups and more. MSU is also home of the Comic Art and Graphic Novel Minor, the MSU Comic Art and Graphic Novel Podcast, and largest public collection of comic books in the world which is housed in our Special Collections Library.
Mission Statement: A staunchly comics-focused, international event where current, high-caliber work from noted practitioners and underrepresented groups is highlighted in an inclusive space where scholars, creators, and readers connect.
2018 Sponsors: The MSU College of Arts and Letters, The Department of English, The Journal of Popular Culture, The Department of Art, Art History and Design, Gary Hoppenstand, MSU Muslim Studies, Capital Area District Libraries, The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, The MSU Libraries Special Collections, The MSU Main Library, MATRIX: The Center for the Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, and BRD Printing.
MSU Comics Forum – Core Committee
Ryan Claytor, Director
Ryan Claytor is a comics artist and professor living in Holt, Michigan. In 2007, he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from San Diego State University with an emphasis in multimedia, researching autobiography in comics. Claytor’s achievements have included a Cartoonist in Residence position at the Cartoon Art Museum (San Francisco, CA), visiting lecturerships at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, TX), Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA), Center for Cartoon Studies (White River Junction, VT), Portland Public Library (Portland, ME), an internship with Marvel Comics in New York City, and judging the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing Award in 2007. In early 2009 the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco featured an exhibition of his work and Claytor began teaching the first comics studio course in Michigan State University’s history, and subsequently spearheaded the Comic Art and Graphic Novel Minor. As a creator, Claytor is most widely known for his self-published, autobiographical, comic book series And Then One Day. Although the series has undergone several format changes and incarnations since its inception in 2004, And Then One Day readers are consistently treated with Claytor’s thoughtful and entertaining personal anecdotes immaculately packaged with a designer’s eye for production detail. For more information about Ryan Claytor and his work, visit his website www.ElephantEater.com
Zack Kruse, Panel Coordinator
Zack Kruse is a father of three, a husband of one, and currently a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University where he studies comic books and contemporary American literature. As an academic, he has publications on the work of Steve Ditko and has recently served as the Managing Editor for The Journal of Popular Culture. In addition to his academic pursuits, he is a comic book convention organizer and an occasional comics writer—his comic strip, Mystery Solved!, appeared in Skeptical Inquirer Magazine. He can be found at zackkruse.com and on Twitter at @zackkruse.
Julian C. Chambliss, Assistant Panel Coordinator
Julian C. Chambliss is Professor of English with a Joint Appointment in History at Michigan State University. In addition, he is a core participant in the MSU College of Arts & Letters’ Consortium for Critical Diversity in a Digital Age Research (CEDAR). His research interests focus on the race, identity, and power in real and imagined urban spaces. His recent academic writing has appeared in Frieze, Rhetoric Review, Boston Review, Florida Historical Quarterly, Journal of Urban History and Studies in American. An interdisciplinary scholar he has designed museum exhibitions, curated art shows, and created public digital history projects that trace community, identity, and power in the American South. In addition, he has published opinion and commentary in popular forums such as the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio (NPR), and Orlando Sentinel. He is a co-recipient of an Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) Mellon Foundation Faculty Renewal Grant for Project Mosaic: Zora Neale Hurston: A Multidisciplinary Exploration of African-American Culture, a project exploring African-American experience through the work and life of Zora Neale Hurston, ACS Faculty Advancement Grant for Urban Dreams and Urban Disruptions: Transforming Travel Study and Undergraduate Archival Research with Collaborative Interdisciplinary Digital Tools and ACS/R1 Grant for designing a Digital Literacy and Collaborative Learning workshop. He is co-editor and contributor for Ages of Heroes, Eras of Men: Superheroes and the American Experience, a book examining the relationship between superheroes and the American Experience (2013). His newest books, Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural and Geopolitical Domain (2018) explore questions of culture, identity, and politics in the MCU and Cities Imagined: The African Diaspora in Media and History (2018) is a thematically and chronologically organized reader that documents the African-American imaginary through primary and secondary sources focus on media and culture.
Anthony Robinson, Artist Alley Coordinator
Anthony L. Robinson was born in Lansing, Michigan and remains a lifelong resident.
A proud alumnus of the MSU School of Business, he has over 24 years of professional experience in group health insurance.
Anthony has always enjoyed music, art, science fiction, and comic books since early childhood. He also cares about local community business and seeks ways to promote it. These interests led him to became involved in, and support the Capital City Comic Con since its humble beginnings in 2015. Anthony’s primary role in Capital City Comic Con for 2016 and 2017 was to recruit artists for the shows featured Artist Alley. He also helped secure vendors, sponsors and promote the shows. This year he is excited to join the MSU Comics Forum Committee!
Anthony is married and has one son.
James Curtis, Promotions Coordinator
By day, James is a marketing, communications, and public relations professional based in Cadillac, Michigan. By night, James is passionate about creating, performing, and advocating for the arts—ranging from music, theatre, prose, comics, and more. Prior to relocating to Northern Michigan from Lansing with his wife and daughter, James was co-founder and chair of Capital City Comic Con. James earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Michigan State University, and Master of Business Administration from Northwood University.
M. Sherief AbouElSeoud, Web Coordinator
Sherief is a Lansing based artist, writer, and co-founder of the Two for One Comics community. IT Professional by day, he spends his evenings toiling over bristol board with ink stained hands to make comics. He’s published a short story, drawn the comic series The Bait, and is currently writing and drawing an all-ages comic to be released soon.
Jonah Magar, Venue Liaison
Jonah Magar strives to be a connector in every possible way. He matches people with resources and each other, but also searches for connection through music, graphics, and service design. When he isn’t sorting details for events like the Comics Forum, he’ll often be found among MSU Libraries’ 18,000 video games, or in the Digital Scholarship Lab’s 360° or virtual reality spaces. At home in Lansing, he’ll occasionally stop playing Overwatch with his wife to bike or kayak to a local brewery or tabletop RPG session. He runs http://Twitch.tv/gsgmsu and the Game Studies Guild, and goes by OctopusJones wherever his real name won’t suffice.