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Comics as AIDS Activism
June 15 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pmFree
Building upon the rich history of HIV and AIDS activism in comics, this panel discussion will explore contemporary examples of how comics continue to be used for health education, social and political activism, and testimony and remembrance. Comics have long been used to communicate quickly and directly important HIV and AIDS information to readers, with the added advantage of being low cost, low tech, and with the ability to transcend language and literacy barriers. One example is GMHC’s “Safer Sex Comix,” one of the first projects to explain safe sex with accessible and fun language and illustrations instead of a stigmatizing clinical vocabulary. This democracy of form makes comics an urgent and powerful teaching tool both in its process and accessibility of distribution, and a beloved form of entertainment worldwide. In addition, comics serve as powerful documents bearing witness to societal attitudes about HIV and AIDS, as well as disparities in access to care that have and continue to exist.
“Comics as AIDS Activism” will be arranged as a panel and presentation, animating the initial role of comics in addressing HIV and AIDS and bringing about social and political change. The program will explore how comics serve as a narrative tool—created by and targeted to specific groups of people based on age, behavior risk, and race, to thoughtfully and accurately reflect the communities being represented. The program will consider how comics illuminate voices often left out in the discourse, such as marginalized and stigmatized communities like the LGBTQI+ community
and the HIV community.
Participants will include: MK Czerwiec (AKA Comic Nurse), Chicago-based artist and scholar who has written a graphic memoir about her time working at an AIDS ward; Howard Cruse, artist and creator of the serial narrative comic, “Wendel,” who introduced HIV into his comics to serve an important narrative purpose of AIDS activism; Jennifer Camper, cartoonist, graphic artist, teacher, and creator of the biennial Queers & Comics Conference; and Marguerite Van Cook as the moderator of the panel discussion, a Visual AIDS Artist Member and Board Member, professor, and artist, known for her work on the graphic novel, “7 Miles a Second” with James Romberger and David Wojnarowicz.