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Pulitzer Prize Winner to Speak at ASU Writers Conference

January 31, 2011

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Art Spiegelman will be the featured speaker for Angelo State University’s 15th annual Writers Conference in Honor of Elmer Kelton Thursday and Friday, Feb. 17-18, in the Houston Harte University Center, 1910 Rosemont Drive.

The conference is open free to the public and will be held in the University Center’s C.J. Davidson Conference Center. The focus of the annual event is fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and crucial papers on Spiegelman’s and Kelton’s work.

Spiegelman will give a lecture with visual images on Thursday, Feb. 17, at 5 p.m. titled “What the %@&*! Happened to Comics?” during which he will trace comics’ evolution, their value to society and why they should not be ignored. He argues that in the post-literate culture, comics’ importance is on the rise and that the medium echoes the way peoples’ brains work.

“People think in iconographic images,” he said, “not in holograms, and people think in bursts of language, not in paragraphs.”

Spiegelman will also give an interview at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 18. Conference sessions will be held throughout both days beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday and running through Friday at 4:15 p.m.

The author’s Pulitzer Prize came for Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale, which is a biography of his father, Vladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The graphic narrative depicts that era’s Jews as mice and Germans as cats. The 1986 work is the only comic book ever to win a Pulitzer Prize.

He followed up Maus I in 1991 with Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began, which won a Pulitzer Prize Special Award. It continues the story of his parents’ survival of the Nazi regime and their later lives in America. Spiegelman’s other noted works include In the Shadow of No Towers and Breakdowns: A Portrait of an Artist as a Young %@&*!.

Spiegelman began drawing professionally at age 16 and studied art and philosophy at Harpur College on his way to joining the underground “comix” subculture of the ’60s and ’70s. While working as a creative consultant for Topps Bubble Gum Co., Spiegelman created Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids and other novelty items. He also taught at the School for Visual Arts in New York.

In 1980, Spiegelman founded the acclaimed avant-garde comics magazine, RAW, with his wife, Francoise Mouly, and first published Maus I in serialized form in RAW. His work has since been published in The New Yorker, and a collection of his works has been published in France, Germany and Italy.

Other authors and scholars will present their and others’ works throughout the two-day conference. Highlights include Albert Haley, winner of the 2011 Elmer Kelton Contest, presenting his creative nonfiction piece, “Hemingway Summer Jazz,” 2010 Texas Poet Laureate Karla Morton’s “Helplessness” and other poems, Joe Spect’s critical paper “We’ll Never See the Likes of it Again” on Kelton’s Oil Patch Memories, and a panel discussion on “Who Am I to Say?: Maus and Mutuality in the Composition Class.”

On Friday, Feb. 18, sessions will include a panel headed by Dr. Sharon Hileman of Sul Ross State University, who will discuss teaching graphic novels.

Kelton, who died in 2009, wrote more than 40 books, including The Time it Never Rained, The Man Who Rode Midnight and The Good Old Boys. He was a seven-time winner of the Western Writers of America’s (WWA) Spur Award, and the WWA named him the “all-time best western author.” He also received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western Literature Association and the Barbara McCombs/Lon Tinkle Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. He was the first Distinguished Visiting Professor at ASU.

The ASU English Department hosts the conference, which is sponsored by the university. It is funded in part by College Bookstores of America, the ASU Alumni and Visitors Center, the ASU College of Liberal and Fine Arts, the English Department, and Guy and Eva Choate.

More information about Spiegelman is available by going online to www.barclayagency.com/spiegelman.html.

For more information about the Writers Conference, contact Dr. Julie Gates at (325) 942-2268, ext. 236, or visit the conference website.

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