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Jon Vickers
IU Cinema

Last modified: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Uslan lecture to headline symposium, film series at IU Cinema

Oct. 25, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- IU Cinema and the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University Bloomington will explore the evolution of comics in film through "The Comic Book Rises: From Underdogs to Blockbusters" symposium and film series Oct. 27-29.

The event will feature a public lecture and book signing with movie producer and IU alumnus Michael Uslan, set to begin at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, at the IU Cinema. The lecture will be followed by a 7 p.m. screening of 2008's The Dark Knight.

Perhaps best known as the architect behind the superhero Batman's renaissance on the silver screen, Uslan is considered an authority on comic book history, having developed both the first accredited college course and correspondence course on comic books at IU in 1971, the first textbook on comics and more than two dozen other books on the history of comics. In 2001, he donated approximately 30,000 comic books from his collection to the Lilly Library, IU's library for rare books and manuscripts.

Uslan gave IU's 2006 commencement address; an experience he said helped him realize he wanted to share his story with others, resulting in his newly published memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman: The True Story of How a Comics-Obsessed Kid Conquered Hollywood to Bring the Dark Knight to the Silver Screen.

"My journey pretty much began when IU allowed me to teach the first accredited course on comic books. That changed everything, and put me on the road to getting where I wanted to go in life," he said. "I love telling students about my journey, and IU is an essential part of that."

In addition to eating one of Nick's celebrated stromboli sandwiches while he's in town, Uslan said he's looking forward to speaking at a symposium meant to illustrate today's strong connection between comics and film.

"When I started collecting comic books as a kid, it was the most isolating hobby in the world. In the days before the Internet and the conventions, there was no way to communicate with anyone else," he said. "And when I was growing up, after age 12, comic books became very uncool, very unhip. By the time you turned 16, 17, and girls found out, people like me became what I like to call 'date challenged.' But today, those of us total comic book geeks can sit back with great big smiles. Comics are the basis of films, hit TV shows, great video games. They're impacting culture, they're impacting fashion. So I say to all my fellow comic book nerds: We win."

As part of the film series, the IU Cinema will also screen Ironman, Wanted, Persepolis, Serenity, Oldboy and a collection of animated film shorts that provide some history of comic franchises as well as a look at a locally made homage to graphic novels-to-film.

Uslan's son David, an IU alumnus and producer in Los Angeles, will give an industry presentation at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at the IU Cinema.

At the symposium, academics will present papers focused on the relationship between comics and film, delving into issues ranging from themes of redemption in superhero movies to how producers use viral marketing and alternate reality gaming to draw in devotees in an effort to redirect potential complaints about changes to the franchise. Presentations begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at the IU Cinema.

There will also be a lecture from IU assistant professor Andrei Molotiu titled "The Language of Film and the Language of Comics" on Friday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. Molotiu is an art historian who teaches in IU's Art History Department and is also an exhibiting artist and comics creator.

For a complete schedule of the film series, visit

No ticket is required to attend Uslan's lecture, which is part of the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture Series made possible through the support of the Ove W. Jorgensen Foundation. For free tickets to the film series, visit the IU Auditorium Box Office or call 812-855-1103.

Uslan will also speak and sign copies of his book at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at the Lilly Library. For more information about the event, contact the library at 812-855-2452 or visit