Gator-Con Celebrates Comic Culture
By Mike Emery
Comic books continue to inspire blockbuster films and capture the imaginations of audiences around the globe. The impact of illustrated tales of adventure also has impacted academia, as professors and students are embracing the medium as a teaching/learning tool.
On Oct. 25, the University of Houston-Downtown community will celebrate comics and related genres (fantasy, science fiction and horror) during the University’s inaugural Gator-Con. The event will kick off at 9 a.m. (Academic Building, Room A300) with panels and discussions led by faculty, staff and students. Additional events include a video game tournament, cosplay contest and movie screenings. Gator-Con is free, but RSVPs are encouraged.
“I think an event like Gator-Con is important because it allows students, faculty and staff to come together and celebrate their passions for all things pop culture,” said Dr. Krista Gehring, associate professor of criminal justice and author of the comics series, CrimComics. “We may not realize that our classmate or professor is a fellow ‘fan.’ It also allows members from the community, like the various exhibitors and vendors, an opportunity to interact and engage with the UHD community in a way they may not have been able to before.”
Gehring is among the presenters at Gator-Con and will lead the discussion, “So, you want to make comics?” at 11 a.m.
Additional panelists include lecturer Beth Secor's art students discussing their graphic novel projects; communication studies student and Reality of Wresting announcer Brad Gilmore; Dr. Jerry Johnson, assistant vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs; student organization UHD Fandom; and Dr. Mari Nicholson-Preuss, director of the Honors Program. The event will conclude with a 7 p.m. screening of the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” hosted by UHD’s Film Studies Program.
UHD Fandom also are coordinating a video game tournament at 3 p.m. Registration for the tournament is free. Prizes will be awarded to the top two finishers.
Cosplay competitors are encouraged to arrive by 1:30 p.m. to A300 to register for the contest. Simulated weapons, such as swords or guns (even toys) are prohibited from this event. The competition begins at 2 p.m. with faculty judges selecting the winner and awarding a grand prize to the winner.
In addition to the event, Gator-Con has inspired a scholarship inspired by UHD’s Office of the President. Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz will award $2,500 to an enrolled student who produces a UHD comic book to be used as a promotional tool. Submissions are due by Dec. 15 and will be judged by UHD faculty members.
For more information, contact Mike Emery, UHD director of communications.
Panels/Movie (A300 – White Oak Room)
- 9 - 9:45 a.m.: Graphic Novels as a Tool for Social Change
UHD students discuss projects for the class, “Creating a Graphic Novel.”
- 10 – 10:45 a.m.: Wrestling with Success
Student and Reality of Wrestling Announcer Brad Gilmore shares his story.
- 11 – 11:45 a.m.: So, you want to make comics?
CJ professor Dr. Krista Gehring offers insight on creating comics/graphic novels.
- Noon – 12:45 p.m.: The Business of Fandom
Area toy and comic store owners dish on dealing fantasy to the masses.
- 1 – 1:45 p.m.: The Great Debate: Marvel vs. DC
UHD Fandom and students face off.
- 2 – 4 p.m.: “Dead of Knight” Screening
Houston horror auteur Joe Grisaffi presents this classic.
- 4 p.m.: Harry Potter in Higher Education
Resident wizard Dr. Mari Nicholson-Preuss talks all things Hogwarts.
Activities (A300 – Buffalo Bayou/Houston Rooms)
- Board games / video games / activities
- Noon – Learn about UHD’s eSports!
- 2 p.m. – Cosplay Contest
- 3 p.m. – Video Game Tournament
Movie Screening (North Deck)
- 7 p.m. – “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” presented by UHD’s Film Studies Program
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.