Conference program

International conference Comics, the Children and Childishness

Ghent, 18-19 September 2023


Day 1 – 18 September

9:30-10:00 Coffee and welcome

Maaheen Ahmed and Giorgio Busi Rizzi (Ghent University)

10:00-11:00 Keynote

Re-Centering Children in Comics – Carol Tilley (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

11:00-11:30 Coffee break 

11:30-12:30 Session 1

Children’s Comics and Identity Politics – Chair: Margot Renard (Ghent University)

  • Topolino beyond Comics: Construction of a Magazine Identity and Children’s Contents from the 1960s to the 2010s – Benedetta D’Incau (University of Tours)
  • Between “chinos” and “palomillas”: Comics, Race and Childhood in Colombia and Peru (1920-1940) – Maria Elena Bedoya Hidalgo (The University of Manchester)

12:30-14:00 Lunch

14:00-15:00 Session 2

Children’s Comics and Dictatorship – Chair: Michel De Dobbeleer (Ghent University/KU Leuven)

  • Mikros Iros, 1953-1968: Stories of Young Orphans in the Service of National Reconciliation – Effie Amilitou (University Paris 3-Sorbonne nouvelle)
  • A Model Childhood – For Boys and/or Girls. Czech Comic Series about Two Schoolkids from Late 1930s and Early 1940s – Pavel Korinek (Czech Academy of Sciences) and Lucie Korinkova (Czech Academy of Sciences)

15:00-15:30 Coffee break 

15:30-17:30 Session 3

Constructing Children’s Comics Magazines – Chair: Kees Ribbens (NIOD/Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Stories and Pictures for Boys and Girls: Identifying the Child Reader in Pre-War British Comics – Michael Connerty (IADT Dún Laoghaire)
  • Becoming a Comics Magazine: Lisette and the Disappearance of illustrés for Girls – Nicolas Labarre (Bordeaux-Montaigne University)
  • From ‘Kid Click’ to ‘Camera-Mad Carol’: Imagining and Representing the Child Photographer in Mid-Century American and British Comics – Annebella Pollen (University of Brighton)

18:30 Dinner


Day 2 – 19 September

9:30-10:30 Session 5

Comics Narration and Childishness – Chair:  Lukas Etter (Siegen University)

  • Bathroom Words: Interactivity and the Graphic Narratives of Keiler Roberts – Shiamin Kwa (Bryn Mawr College)
  • Embodying and Estranging Childhood Perspective through Childlike Graphiation: The Gull Yettin by Joe Kessler – Rodolfo Dal Canto (University of L’Aquila)

10:30-11:00 Coffee break 

11:00-12:30 Session 6 (parallel sessions)

A. Roundtable: Manifestations of Child(ish)ness – Moderator: Dragana Radanovic (LUCA School of Arts/KU Leuven)

  • Eva Van de Wiele (Ghent University)
  • Emma-Louise Silva (University of Antwerp)
  • Frauke Pauwels (University of Antwerp)

B. Immersion in French Youth Magazines: Insights from the Van Passen Collection – Chair:  Laurence Grove (University of Glasgow)

  • A Year in the Van Passen Collection: 1937 in the French Youth Press – Benoît Glaude (Ghent University)
  • When War Seems Inevitable – Francophone Comic Magazines 1938-1940 – Kees Ribbens (NIOD/KNAW and Erasmus University Rotterdam)

12:30-13:30 Lunch

13:30-14:30 Session 7

Excavating Comics Childhoods – Chair: Ian Horton (University of the Arts London)

  • Childhood Memories in Comic Books: An (Auto)ethnographic Investigation of Comics Reading – Aseel Qazzaz (Carleton University) and Benjamin Woo (Carleton University)
  • The Child in the Archive: Evidence of the Child, Childhood, and Childishness in the Trina Robbins Papers – John Walsh (Indiana University)

14:30-15:00 Coffee break 

15:00-16:30 Session 8

Transitional Frames: Growing Up in Comics – Chair: Manuela Di Franco (Ghent University)

  • Manga Infantilities: Revisiting Scatological and Sexual Gags – Jaqueline Berndt (Stockholm University)
  • Becoming Adult: How Teenage Comics Depict and Put into Frames the Transitional State of Growing up – Florent Perget (University Paris-Sorbonne and STIH)
  • Bruce Wayne and the Adoption of Tim Drake – Joel Thurman (University of Colorado-Boulder)

16:30-18:00Private to Public book launch (with Philippe Capart) and Issue Zero exhibition visit with a small reception


Virtual asynchronous session 

Papers will be recorded and made available to the conference participants soon. No live interaction is possible due to the configuration of the conference venue.

  • For Children, Against Western Comics – Paola Bonifazio (The University of Texas at Austin)
  • Educational, entertaining, and aesthetic in the Vietnamese children’s comic “Than Dong Dat Viet” – Bui Thi Thanh Mai (Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies)


Download the book of abstracts of the conference here.