Catching Up with Matt McAllister

Did you collect comic books as a kid? If so, which were your favorites?

I did collect as a kid, mostly superhero comics, right after Marvel comics became an industry leader but before the more sophisticated graphic novel trend. In academia there has been a growth of comic book scholarship—really beginning in the mid-1990s. Much of this is because those who grew up with comics in the 60s and 70s started to become Ph.D. students and researchers then.

Penn State has done a great job of bringing to campus some of the more innovative talents in comic art and graphic novels. In the past Harvey Pekar (of American Splendor) and Howard Cruse (of Wendel) have spoken on campus. This semester saw a PSU visit from Alison Bechdel, a Pennsylvania native and creative force behind the award-winning and best-selling graphic novel Fun Home.

What do you see as the strength of PSU's College of Communications?

The students—both undergraduate and graduate students—are very sharp, and interested not just in employment issues, but also in understanding how media are changing and what roles they can, and should, play in improving society. The faculty in the College of Communications are amazing. They study so many different media issues: everything from how audiences appreciate sophisticated movies to gender trends in new media technology to the historical understandings of U. S. jazz in France. With recent fundamental changes in media, our College will continue to play an important role in understanding these changes.

What are your favorite movies?

I like movies that take chances and are not so much market driven or in the big special-effects blockbuster mode. One of my favorites is based on a series of comic art stories: American Splendor. It stars Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis, and plays a lot with different ways that people are represented in movies and comics. It's very creative and thought provoking.

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Last Updated April 20, 2010