Previously at the ICA - Events

Grace Wilson, Excerpt from Saving Grace, 2016.

The Politics of Comics

16 Jun 2017

This panel discussion, chaired by Dr. Juha Virtanen, explores how the graphic novel, comic strip or visual novel intervenes in and engages with contemporary social issues. Loosely responding to the current exhibition Frans Masereel: The City, the event will reflect on the legacy of the ‘wordless novel’ and the political force of comics today. The speakers will discuss how their practice tackles issues related to housing, feminism, media and political influence, migration, racism and asylum. How do comics negotiate the space between oral history, science fiction and documentation?

Speakers include Hannah Berry, Emma Saville and Grace Wilson.

Speaker biographies

  • Hannah Berry

    Hannah Berry’s latest graphic novel is the horrifyingly prescient media satire, Livestock, published by Jonathan Cape. It follows the critically acclaimed Adamtine and Britten & Brülightly (Angoulême International Comics Festival Official Selection 2010). She does a weekly cartoon strip for the New Statesman.

  • Emma Saville

    Emma Saville is Education Programme Manager at PositiveNegatives, an award-winning nonprofit which has been  producing literary comics, animations and podcasts about contemporary social and human rights issues, including conflict, racism, migration and asylum since 2012. Emma has worked extensively in the non-for-profit sectors for many years, principally in charities, NGOs and educational settings. After working for the Home Office in Managed Migration, she has worked for various schools and universities including the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University College London (UCL) and the Centre for Post-14 Centre of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London.  She lived in Costa Rica, Cuba and Brazil for three years working for various charities, community groups and capacity-raising NGOs around women’s advocacy work and human trafficking and conflict.

  • Juha Virtanen

    Juha Virtanen is Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at the University of Kent. He is the programme director for Kent's MA in the Contemporary (taught jointly with the ICA), and he has also been running a course dedicated to the academic interrogation of graphic novels since 2015. His research is broadly focused on both comics studies and radical poetry. He is currently writing about the Joker and contemporary politics.

  • Grace Wilson

    Grace Wilson studied Ceramic Design at Central Saint Martins in London, and later completed her MFA in Storytelling at Konstfack College of Art & Design in Stockholm. She is a comic artist, illustrator and ceramicist, currently working between London and Scotland. She was selected for a residency at the Maison des Auteurs in Angoulême, France in 2015 where she worked on her debut graphic novel. Saving Grace, a comical commentary on the housing crisis in contemporary London, was published by Jonathan Cape (UK) in 2016. She regularly contributes to a variety of zines and anthologies and can be often found in a local pub drawing characters that inspire her comics and ceramic works.

In partnership with


E.g., 08-06-2019
E.g., 08-06-2019