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Conference Discusses Power of Graphic Novels to Communicate History

Norfolk State University hosted its first-ever Graphic Novel Conference and Competition Nov. 18-19, bringing together scholars, artists, designers and students to discuss the power of art and graphic novels in communicating history and ideas to a larger audience.  

The two-day conference featured more than 20 local and regional artists, developers and Norfolk State faculty who participated in panel discussions, presentations and workshops about art and history-related topics for attendees.

“The goal of the conference is to discuss from a visual standpoint, how we can create a real narrative that tells the story of America,” said Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, dean of the NSU College of Liberal Arts. “We can’t talk about our accomplishments as a country and where we came from without talking about the good, the bad and the ugly,” Newby-Alexander said.

The first day of the conference featured special guests and faculty lectures about the important and transformative story of the first Africans who were forcibly transported to the Virginia colony beginning in 1619 and the historical and archeological discoveries being made today.  Nationally recognized artists who have worked with companies like Marvel, Miramax, Warner Brothers and Topps held demonstrations about the process of developing graphic novel animation storylines and about 2D and 3D animation. The second day featured sessions about how artists could create their own comic books, a panel about character design and a workshop about career paths for freelance artists.

The conference also featured a contest where participants created their own graphic novel that incorporated a storyline to interpret the arrival and lives of the first Africans brought to the shores of Virginia at Point Comfort in 1619.

The event was sponsored by Norfolk State University, American Evolution and 1619 The Making of America.