The three-day Wonder Woman Symposium that ended last Saturday evening drew large audiences — over one hundred per day for three days– of serious, but fun-loving admirers of the 75-year-old superheroine.
Christie Marston, granddaughter of Wonder Woman’s creator, psychologist William Moulton Marston spoke, as did Laura Siegal, daughter of Jerry Siegel, creator of Cleveland’s own Superman! Major comics artists and writers, including Phil Jimenez, Cameron Stewart, Trina Robbins, and Genevieve Valentine, gave comics presentations and workshops to local high school and college students. Critics such as Carol Tilley, who spoke on the repression of comics within the history of psychiatry, and Pete Coogan of Washington University in St. Louis and Director Comics Studies (also Kent State alum!) spoke on the vexed history of comics within a corporate and often misogynist culture.
Symposium roundtables were lead by Karen Long, manager of the Anisfield Book Award, and Mike Sangiacomo of the Plain Dealer. Comics fans and new converts alike were treated to the history, psychology, and social significance of the comic book/television/film legend in practical, image-based demonstrations, scholarly lectures, and even a lunch time costume-play performance.
A take-away theme of the symposium was that the medium of comics, once proclaimed destructive to children’s moral fiber is now being heralded as the new “novel” media, ripe for the revisions of contemporary concerns regarding diversity, gender equality and social justice. The hope and expectation of this highly publicized and diversely sponsored symposium is to support the non-sexist psychological development of girls and boys and to recognize the importance of fictional role models to healthy, creative and socially astute self-esteem in young people.
Two CPC members, Training and Supervising Analyst Dr. Vera Camden and early admission student Valentino Zullo were part of the team that organized the event. Besides Cleveland Psychoanalytic Center, principal sponsors included Kent State University, the Ohio Humanities Council, and the Cleveland Public Library.