This year's San Diego Comic Con had a bit of politics sprinkled into its schedule, with Congressman Robert Garcia launching the Congressional Popular Arts Caucus during a panel attended by 250 intrigued audience members, and featuring himself, Library of Congress Reference Librarian Megan Halsband, comics writer Josh Trujillo, and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund interim director Jeff Trexler.
During the event, Garcia spoke not only about his love for comics (“I like to think I’m Congress’s first hardcore comics fan”) but also about what he thinks he can do for comics and popular culture through the launch of the Congressional Popular Arts Caucus.
Now what is the Congressional Popular Arts Caucus and what do we know about it so far? Well, you've come to the right place. Read everything we know about the Caucus so far in the guide below.
What is the US Congressional Popular Arts Caucus?
The Popular Arts Caucus is a brand-new bipartisan caucus that will focus on issues related to the popular arts, which includes not only television, movies, and comics, but games as well. During the panel, the congressman noted that the caucus will focus on a variety of issues including piracy, copyright, rights for creators and for artists, workforce issues, and labor issues.
“These issues need to be addressed more broadly,” Congressman Garcia said, and he hopes the caucus will and draw attention to the popular arts and their impact on the country. “The popular arts really dominate so much of our economy.”
What can we expect from the Popular Arts Caucus?
According to Congressman Garcia, the Popular Arts Caucus won't be jumping directly into legislation. Because the group is so new, it may take a moment or two before we see a specific policy announcement.
“This is the first official Popular Arts Caucus event… it’s going to take us a while to get organized, do some planning, get a Vice Chair… and then what we’re going to try to do is start on the programming side and establish an annual event or two.”
As for what kinds of events we'll see, Congressman Garcia mentioned bringing Free Comic Book Day to the Capitol as well as other sorts of programming with comics creators and the Library of Congress.
Who is on the Congressional Popular Arts Caucus?
For those interested in who has joined the Congressional Popular Arts Caucus so far, here is a list shared at the panel of members of congress who have joined the group so far:
- Don Bacon
- Don Beyer
- Buddy Carter
- Greg Casar
- Joaquin Castro
- Jasmine Crockett
- Chris Deluzio
- Don Davis
- Adriano Espaillat
- Robert Garcia
- Val Hoyle
- Sara Jacobs
- Dan Kildee
- Derek Kilmer
- Mike Levin
- Ted Lieu
- Seth Magaziner
- Morgan McGarvey
- James McGovern
- Jared Moskowitz
- Kevin Mullin
- Wiley Nickel
- Jay Obernolte
- Scott Peters
- Adam Schiff
- Melanie Stansbury
- Jill Tokuda
- Juan Vargas
What is the demographic breakdown of the Congressional Popular Arts Caucus?
If you’re looking for a little more detail about the demographics of the new Congressional Popular Arts Caucus, here's some information from a slide shared at the Popular Arts Caucus launch. The caucus is a bipartisan group with 17 states represented, 23 different committees represented and 14 freshman members. The group is made up of 22% Latino, 10% Black, 8% AAPI congress members.
How will the Popular Arts Caucus affect the industry?
Also on the SDCC announcement panel were Library of Congress Reference Librarian Megan Halsband, comics writer Josh Trujillo, and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund interim director Jeff Trexler. Halsband spoke about the comics collection at the Library of Congress, which anyone can access and also about her excitement about the Congressional Popular Arts Caucus and their plans to collaborate with the Library of Congress.
“It’s really exciting, because it says that maybe what I’m doing is useful to people… I’m really excited that there’s going to be more engagement, there’s going to be more interest.”
Josh Trujillo spoke about the importance of the Caucus in “getting these books to the right hands to the people who need them,” specifically calling out the book challenges that are happening throughout the United States as well as simply raising awareness about comics. As for how comics creators might feel about the government getting more involved in policy regarding comics creators, Trujillo talked about the many issues that creators and artists are facing that he hopes can be addressed, from pay rate transparency to the fact that many creators are not protected by unions.
Jeff Trexler spoke about his work with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and facing the book banning crisis right now with creators, publishers, libraries, and retailers being threatened, adding that "what [Congressman Garcia] is doing is going to be incredibly important to what we’re doing at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.”