His name? Benoît Peeters. His curriculum? Graphic novelist. His new position? First ever comic teacher in the United Kingdom. More specifically, first ever teacher hired in an UK university to work exclusively in comics as an academic field.
His appointment by the Lancaster University has been described by the institution itself as a “full academic commitment” to this type of art, “not just in its creative writing and literature department, but also across its wider disciplines, including philosophy,” as The Guardian reports. Peeter’s job as a visiting professor in graphic fiction and comic art will last for three years, starting next summer.
But what exactly qualifies Peeters as a ‘graphic fiction and comic art’ professor? He has, for starters, studied extensively the classics. Apart of artistic works in his own, (he created and writes the well-known Belgian fantasy graphic novel, Cities of the Fantastic), he has published biographies about Hergé (Tintin’s creator) and Rodolphe Töpffer (XIX century French cartoonist), among others.
He has criticized, as it can be read in The Guardian, the academic world in France, yet he confesses that he has hope for change: “They don’t consider [comics] an academic pursuit […] Things are changing and they will change because it is such an important medium. It’s important economically, it’s important sociologically, and it’s important in connection with other media, such as movies.”