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Blog: A Consortium Of Scholars

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On Monday night I finished my first day of my new job at UCL and headed across town to the very slightly differently titled but very VERY differently inclined UAL, where I was due to attend a meeting of The British Consortium Of Comics Scholars.

This is a bunch of people pursing Comics Studies Research at Postgraduate Level who a) meet about once a month to discuss Comics Stuff and b) appear to be ENTIRELY DELIGHTFUL. Later on in the evening a guest said that ALL "Comics People" seem to be really nice, and somebody suggested that this was because there was very little prestige and absolutely no money whatsoever for anybody to fight over, so most of the usual academic conflicts were pointless. All my experiences so far point to this being CORRECT!

As I strolled from one University to the other I noticed a distinct change in the people involved. My bit of UCL is very much Standard University Employees i.e. casually dressed and indistinguishable from the population as a whole. The nearer I got to UAL, however, the more I noticed ART STUDENTS. By the time I got to the main campus at Granary Square I was SURROUNDED by swaggering teenagers, trousers that didn't go all the way to the floor, challenging haircuts, brave colour choices and A LOT of HATS. I couldn't help GIGGLING, especially when I passed someone brandishing a PAINT BRUSH with a PAINED LOOK in a Cafe.

My lot were much more like The Usual Academics, also FRIENDLY. We gathered in the reception area then went upstairs to a meeting room where we were helping out with an experiment in Graphic Facilitation. This is basically where illustrators listen to a group discussion and create a mixture of graphics and text to reflect what people are saying and thinking. It's a THING, apparently, that is used a lot in public consultations, and two academics from Australia had come over to try out some new methods with us.

It was really interesting - we were talking about people's feelings and experiences around Social Media, and everyone launched into a BIG TALK about it. As per I found myself getting a bit evangelical about the JOYS of Social Media and the way The Internet has broadened our social circles and made keeping in casual contact with each other SO much easier. I think it's lovely how, nowadays, we can have EXTREMELY trivial conversations with our oldest friends without having to travel miles to see them and then going through UPDATES for hours before getting to the bit you actually enjoy.

Anyway, while all this was going on two members of the group drew loads of illustrations on two flip boards, then at the end these were placed on the floor and discussed in order to see how accurately they reflected what we'd been talking about. Being a COMICS group there was also discussion of EMBODIED METAPHORS (which I now almost know what they are) and PROCESS and stuff - it was GRATE!

By 8pm, however, my BRANE was KNACKERED by all this on top of the whole First Day At A New Job, and I thought it best to leave. I tried to sneak out but then everyone said "Bye!" and waved, PROVING, I believe, the whole thesis about comics people being lovely!

posted 13/10/2016 by MJ Hibbett

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