A Conference Report by J. Rehse, P. Zwirner, M. Pollich, Y. Neuhaus, S. Böhm, and L. Respondek (students of the University of Cologne), Photography by Philin Zwirner
From September 17th to 19th 2018 the 13th Annual Conference of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor) took place at the University of Cologne. Under the main theme “Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics” the conference schedule – planned and organized by Véronique Sina and Nina Heindl – offered a wide range of interesting insights into state-of-the-art research on the nexus between the medium of comics and categories of difference and identity such as gender, dis/ability, age, and ethnicity. Participants who already arrived on Sunday (the day before the official start of the conference) had the opportunity to become familiar with the city of Cologne. In the afternoon, the cultural program started with a guided tour through the exhibition “Avengers Assemble” held at the Cöln Comic Haus. With highly entertaining host(s) and a lot of interesting details, the visit of the exhibition was a perfect start for the conference. Afterwards, the group took a stroll along the Rhine in warm and shiny weather. With a boat-trip along the picturesque panorama of the most beautiful part of Cologne, the pre-program ended and gave the participants the opportunity to enjoy the rest of the evening in the historic center of Cologne.
At the official beginning of the conference on Monday, the conveners Véronique Sina and Nina Heindl, as well as Manuela Günter (Vice-Rector for Gender Equality and Diversity of the University of Cologne), and Stephan Packard (President of the German Society for Comics Studies) welcomed all speakers and guests. They stressed that it is their great pleasure to open a conference that not only focuses entirely on gender, diversity, and identity in comics, but also presents a majority of female speakers as well as an all-female organizational team – a premiere for the German Society for Comics Studies.