Speakers Announced For CBLDF’s Teaching Comic Books Conference!

TCB: PDXJoin leading teachers, librarians and authors for Teaching Comic Books, a one-day conference presented by Comic Book Legal Defense Fund on April 27!  TCB:PDX explores the values, challenges, and benefits of teaching with comics with important panels including Teaching Tough Topics With Comics, Breaking Through Barriers: Strategies For Including Comics, and Terrific Teamwork: Comics Creators Speak Up. Panelists include award-winning authors Anina Bennett (Boilerplate), Steve Lieber (Whiteout), Aron Nels Steinke (Mr. Wolf’s Class), MK Reed (Science Comics, Americus), and Shannon Wheeler (The New Yorker, Too Much Coffee Man), and many more! Pay what you want to attend!  

Every participant will receive a free gift bag filled with comics, education handbooks, and other resources from CBLDF and our sponsors, and enjoy light snacks and refreshments during breaks. Every attendee will also be entered into a raffle to win graphic novels courtesy of our sponsors Dark Horse, IDW Publishing, Image Comics, Lion Forge, and Oni Press.


Space is limited to 50 participants on a pay what you want donation basis, so reserve your space now! TCB: PDX is organized by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in coordination with Portland State University Comics Studies and Portland Comic Book Month


Be a part of the dynamic conversation about Teaching Comic Books at TCB: PDX!



10:00 – Registration

10:30 – 11:00 AM – Why Teaching Comic Books Matters

After being told as a kid that comics were only for boys, Susan E. Kirtley grabbed a copy of the X-Men and was hooked. “For boys only?  Are you kidding?  The X-Men had all the drama of Days of Our Lives, but with cooler outfits and more punching.  As I began to read the exploits of Cyclops and the team I realized these were kindred spirits,” Kirtley explains. Not only were comics entertaining, they offered empowering possibilities in feminist rhetoric. Kirtley, who oversees the Comics Studies certificate at Portland State, opens TCB: PDX with a passionate keynote about the power of teaching comics.

Speaker: Susan E. Kirtley


11:00 AM – 12:30 PM – Teaching Tough Topics With Comics

How can teachers and librarians help young audiences come to terms with difficult topics and complex concepts? This program provides suggestions for comics that address the tough topics affecting young people, including discrimination, bullying, racism, and disability, while also presenting fresh ideas for using comics to teach social justice, identity, and freedom of expression. Share success stories with other teachers and librarians, and learn ways in which comics are a powerful tool for helping young people understand the more difficult parts of growing up.

PanelistsSloane LeongMK ReedAlissa Sallah

12:30 – 1:30 PM – Lunch Break 

Enjoy Portland’s incredible food culture when you pair up with new friends and colleagues for an off-site lunch break!


1:30 – 3:00 PM – Breaking Through Barriers: Strategies For Including Comics

Even though comics are an increasingly popular format, their benefits are still misunderstood by many administrators and decision-makers. Learn about breaking through various barriers to the use of comics in classrooms and libraries, from enduring stigmas about the pedagogical validity of the medium, to challenges to the visual components of the medium, to financial challenges associated with developing and curating a comics collection. This program offers practical advice about the value of comics in educational settings including their use in subject areas such as science and mathematics. Learn and share strategies and resources to overcome barriers to using this incredible medium.

Panelists: Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg, Katherine KnoxRyan Alexander TannerLaural Winter

3:00 – 3:30 – Power-Up Break

Connect with fellow attendees and speakers over coffee and snacks!


3:30 – 5:00 PM – Terrific Teamwork: Comics Creators Speak Up

A panel of local comics creators will discuss the process of making comics and how they combine writing, art, and hours of research on every comics page to create a sum greater than the parts. Whether made by a single creator or in collaboration with several people, the processes that bring comics to life draw on a wide range of skills, which means students have a variety of entry points for accessing the medium’s powerful lessons. This discussion will define the basics of comics storytelling and provide a practical perspective on how to deepen the medium’s place in your classroom or library collection.

Panelists: Anina BennettSteve LieberAron Nels SteinkeShannon Wheeler

5:00 – 5:30 – TCB Talkback! 

Share your takeaways from the conference, ask any questions you weren’t able to explore during the day, and help us set a course to create even more tools to help keep you Teaching Comic Books all year long.

Register Today!


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