New student club creates community through comics | Information Center

Fawaz Qashat, president of the Comics Studies Club, participates in a Comics @ SDSU panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con International.

Through Leslie LJ Reilly

Biology student Fawaz qashat found solace in the comics when he left Iraq for the United States in 2009. He immersed himself in Marvel’s X-Men, Fantastic Four, and later Scarlet Witch to better understand the world there. ‘surrounded.

“I was an immigrant and it was difficult to fit in and learn the language,” Qashat said.

The connection and community he longed for came through in a general education course he chose on a whim. In the Comics and History class (HIST-157) taught by Elizabeth pollard, history professor and co-founder of Comics @ SDSU, he felt a certain kinship with Pollard and the other students.

“It was my first semester in college and I was very nervous. It was all online (due to the pandemic) and this course really helped me find a sense of community and unity, ”said Qashat.

His interest in learning more about how comics can be critically analyzed and applied to everyday life was sparked, in what he calls this “awesome” class, to further fuel his passion for comics. .

“When I was younger I really didn’t understand comics,” he said. After taking the course, he was able to see the deeper messages in the characters and stories he was reading.

One area that stood out in the course was graphic medicine.

“It bridges the gap between learning human body processes with pictures and text to tie it all together,” Qashat said. “In a regular textbook you learn all of these complex systems like the circulatory and respiratory systems, but when you put it into graphic medicine and put it in a comic book, you see all of these things working together in union. Which is just amazing. For me, a manual has never been able to do that.

He volunteered and was paid, through a Student Success Fee, to conduct research for the Comics @ SDSU interdisciplinary initiative with students, Luc Heine and Julia ross. The three have formed the new SDSU Comics Studies Club to inspire and share the comic book genre and create a larger network for all SDSU students.

The club offers a space where students can immerse themselves in big topics like social justice, identity. public health, mental health and disability in comics. “We’re also exploring something new called hero therapy – where you focus on a superhero character and you look at all the life experiences they have to make a connection – to see the human side,” he said. he declared.

Comic book lovers are also invited to join the club to find out what comics can offer.

Qashat, now in second year, works part-time in Special Collections and University Archives with Pamela jackson, pop culture librarian, curator of comedy arts and co-founder of Comics @ SDSU. He spends many days well settled in research and can be found in the library’s Comics Corner three days a week.

He’s thankful for the “perfect triangle” of opportunity provided by Pollard and Jackson, which includes a dream come true ticket to attend the special edition of Comic-Con and join the Comics @ SDSU panel at con.

“It blew me away, and honestly, I can’t believe I’ll be going to Comic-Con this year,” Qashat said. “At the moment, I am preparing my presentation in order to share my experience of comics as a learning tool. It is so exciting.

The interdisciplinary team at Comics @ SDSU will present “Comics and Social Justice at the SDSU” at 4:00 pm on Friday, November 26, during Session 3 of the Comic Book Arts Conference.

The goal of the grassroots inter-college initiative is to cultivate innovative teaching, pursue transformative research, and foster vibrant community interaction, especially with regard to the unique power of the comic book medium to provoke social change.

The session features a five-minute short film that highlights the work of Comics @ SDSU’s Comics and Social Justice Initiative.

Following the screening, Moderator Pollard will reflect on the goals of the Comics and Social Justice Initiative as well as the scholarships and student learning and research opportunities that the initiative promotes.

Other panelists are Jackson, who will discuss the role of the SDSU Library Comic Book Collection in supporting this initiative at SDSU; Neil kendricks, artist and lecturer, School of Art and Design, and Guillaume Nériccio, history teacher and editor of Amatl Comix.

As president of the newly formed club, Qashat said he continues to expand his universe to connect with others and find deeper meaning in the comic book genre.

With the comics, he thinks that “we can all come together and have a sense of community.”

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