Comics as an educational tool, the role of women in comics storytelling, supervillains, and libraries' acceptance of comics are some of the topics Associate Professor Carol Tilley is discussing with audiences this month.
At the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) on April 21-23, Tilley served on two panels, "The Evolution of Educational Comics" and "She Changed Comics." The first panel focused on the history of educational comics and the changes readers might expect for this genre, and it allowed Tilley to share some of her research for her recently published chapter, "Educating with Comics" (in The Secret History of Comics Studies, Routledge, 2017). The second panel examined how women—cartoonists, writers, editors, colorists, and more—have changed comics storytelling.
On Monday, April 24, Tilley, along with Betsy Gomez of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Mara Thacker of the International and Area Studies Library at Illinois, and Urbana cartoonist and animator Nina Paley, will present a local version of "She Changed Comics." This event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Undergraduate Library’s Media Commons from 4:00-5:30 p.m. and is cosponsored by the iSchool.
Tilley will give the keynote address at The Cora Paul Bomar Community Matters Summit, which is hosted by the Library and Information Studies Department at the University of North Carolina Greensboro on April 29. In her talk, "From Pariah to Powerhouse: Looking at Comics in Libraries," she will share stories about some ignominious moments throughout the twentieth century about how libraries grappled with comics and comics reading before growing to embrace them.
Tilley was recently quoted in The Ringer article, "Which Tech CEO Would Make the Best Supervillain?" She described supervillains as larger-than-life characters and suggested that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, possess some of the traits associated with supervillains—such as their entrepreneurial focus.
"Comics is a medium that has relevance to so many people and in so many parts of our lives," Tilley said. "It's challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding to share my work with fan, professional, and scholarly audiences."
At the iSchool, Tilley teaches courses in comics reader's advisory, media literacy, and youth services librarianship. Part of her scholarship focuses on the intersection of young people, comics, and libraries, particularly in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. Her research has been published in journals including the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), Information & Culture: A Journal of History, and Children's Literature in Education. Her research on anti-comics advocate Frederic Wertham has been featured in The New York Times and other media outlets. An in-demand speaker on the history of comics readership and libraries, Tilley was a 2016 Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards judge and currently serves as vice-president/president-elect of the Comics Studies Society.