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Posts Tagged ‘Applied Comics’

Comics, politics and heritage - well, I talked about archaeology in Wales, and Mickey's a dragon...

Comics, politics and heritage – well, I talked about archaeology in Wales, and Mickey’s a dragon…

A very quick thanks to everyone who contributed to a great Comics Forum session on comics, politics, community and heritage today. Lots of interesting discussion, and lots of new things to think about.

If anyone’s interested, there’s a .pdf of my paper here.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s Comics Forum sessions – and to the remainder of the Thought Bubble events through Sunday!

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From "Peak Oil", by Stuart McMillen. Check out stuartmcmillen.com for more of his comics.

From “Peak Oil”, by Stuart McMillen. Check out stuartmcmillen.com for more of his comics.

Speaking of applied comics, thanks to James McKay who’s pointed me in the direction of a great web comic by Australian artist Stuart McMillen – Peak Oil.

It’s a 120-page comic all about the life and theories of M. King Hubbert, the petroleum geologist and economist who developed the concept of “peak oil”. Stuart’s open, clear artwork and clever storytelling bring what could be a rather dull subject to fascinating life. Lots of very clear exposition of Hubbert’s theories, the logic and evidence behind them, and their social, technological and political implications. This is not just a simple exercise in informational illustration: Stuart has created a dynamic and inventive text that gives unfamiliar and complex geological and economic theories a human face. A great piece of comics-writing.

Stuart’s got more projects in the pipeline, and an impressive archive of other work already. Check out his other comics at the end of Peak Oil – and don’t forget to watch his video!

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I enjoyed our random-Wikipedia-article comic making so much I inked-in one of the infographic panels from my comic.

I enjoyed Saturday’s ACN random-Wikipedia-article activity so much I did a bit more research and inked-in the central infographic-style panel from my comic.

Last Saturday, at the half-way point in our Applied Comics Meetupwe made some comics. Lydia had come up with a great workshop idea that provided an excellent opportunity to not only make some informational comics, but talk about how they work as well.

She opened up Wikipedia and clicked on random article, and then we all had half an hour to make a comic based on information from that article. The result was twenty-five different comic interpretations of the same information – an amazing display of the versatility of the medium and the variety of approaches that could be used.

The exercise sparked a whole range of questions:

  • Who narrates an informational comic, and why?
  • What does humour do to an informational narrative?
  • How does knowing who your audience will be change the approach you take?
  • How does having expert knowledge or previous experience of the subject matter change the approach you take?
  • Does using colour affect the pace of the narrative?
  • How do you balance information and engagement – or entertainment?

We’re going to try and put up most of these resulting comics on the Applied Comics Network blog. It would be great to see these comics eventually spark some analysis of the different ways comics and information can be brought together.

For archaeologists interested in comics, this random-Wikipedia-article exercise should feel familiar: every time you stick a trowel in the ground it feels like you’re clicking “random article”. You know you’re going to get some kind of information out of it – but you’re never certain what. The day-by-day comics journalling I did of excavations on Carriacou last year felt like this: every morning I knew I was going to have to do a comic about something archaeological, but I didn’t know what.

I enjoyed the challenge of Saturday’s activity immensely, and I now know how to practice for this coming season’s daily journal on Palau: Applied Comics Networks‘ signature Random-Wikipedia-Article Comics™!

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Applied Comics Network - more events coming soon!

Applied Comics Network – more events coming soon!

Well, I was at our first ever Applied Comics Network meetup in London – and it was a great day, in the company of a great group of comics people. Really interesting presentations by Lizzie Boyle (Cross political satire anthology, Disconnected Press), Selina Lock (University of Leicester, research communication workshops using comics with postgrad students), Lydia Wysocki (Applied Comics Etc), Ian Williams (The Bad Doctor, Graphic Medicine) and Steve Marchant and The Cartoon Museum. Despite the interruption of a fire alarm we managed to fit in loads of interesting discussion about comics and information – and we even managed to make some comics!

Thanks to all our presenters, thanks to Lydia and Ian, and a big thanks to everyone who came along – really good to meet so many people interested in comics and information. We’re planning more events later in the year, so anyone who didn’t get a chance to come along on Saturday: keep in touch with us on Twitter, and via our Applied Comics Network blog.

 

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Interested in graphic narrative/comics and information? What are you doing on May 9th?

Interested in graphic narrative/comics and information? What are you doing today?

Hopefully, you’re coming to the Applied Comics Network Meetup between 12 and 4! A group of us creators who make informational comics on every subject from archaeology and palaeontology, to politics and medicine, will be meeting up at the London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle, London for a day of workshops and presentations about using this most versatile of mediums as a communications tool. The event is free, and you’re all welcome to come along for the day. In case you can’t make it, you can always follow the event on Twitter and look out for future events on the Applied Comics Network blog.

Applied Comics Network meet-up today – May 9th, 12-4pm, London College of Communication : more via ACN on Twitter

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Interested in graphic narrative/comics and information? What are you doing on May 9th?

Interested in graphic narrative/comics and information? What are you doing tomorrow?

If you’re interested in comics and information, I hope you’re planning to come to the Applied Comics Network Meet-up. It’s an open, free, informal get-together for anyone who’s interested in comics and information. We’ve got four hours of talks, discussions and workshops planned; it’ll be a great opportunity for anyone interested in the subject to network and talk with like-minded comics creators from across the country.

So, whether you make informational or educational comics, graphic textbooks or teaching material, whether you use comics in the classroom or in training, whether you’re a teacher, educator or training specialist looking to develop innovative communication tools – you should be at the meet-up!

We’re meeting in Room T304 at the London College of Communication in Elephant & Castle, London. There’s full details on the poster (left); and you can find out more about the day by following us on Twitter.

And if you can’t make it – don’t worry! We’re an ongoing network, so find us on Twitter and stay in touch for more events.

 

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Cover artwork for ctrl.alt.shift by Laura

Cover artwork for ctrl.alt.shift by Laura Oldfield Ford

Information is political. Like comics and information, comics and politics share a long history, turning communication as act into communication as activism. I’m interested in the way writers and artists blend information with other elements to create comics with a very specific feel and intent.

I recently came across a copy of a 2009 anthology co-edited by Paul Gravett entitled ctrl.alt.shift unmasks corruption – a collection of comics with an activist agenda. ctrl.alt.shift was an awareness-raising publishing and art initiative on behalf of the development and aid charity Christian Aid.

From fiction to reportage to memoir, each of the comics in the anthology blends information – facts, figures, statistics – with other elements – observation, personal experience, point-of-view, philosophy, even humour – to create a political narrative. The anthology is not just a good example of the way in which comics can create such narratives, but an example of the different ways writers and artists work to construct them: Bryan Talbot goes for direct narrator-to-reader, first person confrontation, heavy on spoken polemic; Dan Goldman for wordless image-collage; Elettra Stamboulis and Gianluca Constantiti narrative reportage over sketchbook drawings; etc.

It’s fascinating seeing these writers and artists work within the strictures of an informational framework, each building an overtly political narrative with a unique blend of tone, voice and style. But, of course, that’s what an anthology is all about: showcasing diversity, reminding us that, in comics – even in the world of comics and information – no two creators ever need approach the material in quite the same way.

Don’t forget: Applied Comics Network meet-up day – May 9th, 12-4pm, London College of Communication : more via ACN on Twitter

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"Sweet Temptations" - fotonovela produced by Melvin F. Baron & team, 2014.

“Sweet Temptations” – fotonovela produced by Melvin F. Baron & team, 2014.

One of the real treats at last year’s Comics & Medicine conference in Baltimore was a presentation by Melvin F. Baron, Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. He gave a fantastic talk on the use of fotonovelas in raising awareness of diabetes and disseminating information about diabetes-prevention among Latino communities in East Los Angeles.

The fotonovela is a photo-comic, popular in Latino communities since the mid-twentieth century, often vehicles for dramatic, romantic stories. Recently, they have been adopted as a medium for health information, and Melvin talked more about how effective they were as a communication tool (more on that evaluation here and here). He had a stack of them to give away, and I was lucky enough to grab three of them – and they’re great! They’re pocket-sized, published in both English and Spanish in the same volume, and have a 24-page photo-story followed by a three-page Q&A-based “additional information” bit with the main characters from the fotonovela story.

What I found particularly interesting in Melvin’s project (and in other uses of fotonovelas among Latino communities), was the decision to not just use, but exploit a specific comic format and style familiar to, and accepted by, a specific audience. Sweet Temptations is not just a diabetes information booklet in the form of a fotonovela, it is a fotonovela about diabetes: the distinction here is more than just semantics. You could pick up Sweet Temptations and read it as just another fotonovela – the characters, situations, style of production, look and feel of the booklet all make it feel like a “real” fotonovela. But it’s more than just a clever pastiche. The larger-than-life characters, the fast-pacing of the story, the dramatic script, the hammy acting – all these inextricable characteristics of the fotonovela are intentionally used to further the health-based narrative, enliven the informational content and push the message home.

Too often informational comics simply use a “standard” comics approach rather than explore the medium more closely. This can result in a comic which looks like a comic, but doesn’t go much further. What I’m starting to learn is that understanding and exploiting a target audience’s specific expectations of comics can deliver works that are more than simply attractive or appealing, but truly effective.

Don’t forget: Applied Comics Network meet-up day – May 9th, 12-4pm, London College of Communication : more via ACN on Twitter

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Interested in graphic narrative/comics and information? What are you doing on May 9th?

Interested in graphic narrative/comics and information? What are you doing on May 9th?

Do you make informational or educational comics?

Do you make graphic textbooks or teaching material?

Do you use comics in the classroom or for training?

Are you an illustrator, educator or training specialist interested in developing innovative communication tools?

Well, coming up on May 9th, we have an event for you. Myself, Lydia Wysocki (Newcastle Science Comic, Applied Comics Etc.) and Ian Horton (Coordinator for Contextual and Theoretical Studies, London College of Communication) have started up a new group: the Applied Comics Network, bringing together anyone interested in comics and information for a meetup at the London College of Communication building, Elephant & Castle, London on May 9th, between 12 – 4pm.

The day will be a great opportunity for those of us who work in the field to network; there will be a chance to give short presentations about your work; we’ll do some comics-making workshops; and we’re getting together a few speakers for the afternoon to talk about their work with applied comics.

So, if you already work with comics and information, or if you’d like to, or if you’re just interested in finding out more about the use of comics in science, medicine, archaeology (!), architecture, palaeontology, environmental studies, politics, engineering, in the classroom or in training, come along on May 9th. The event is free, but to help us out with numbers, let us know via Twitter if you’re thinking of turning up.

Applied Comics Network Meetup – May 9th, 12-4pm – London College of Communication / Room T304 – Elephant & Castle, London, SE1 6SB

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Thank you, Laydeez do Comics!

Thank you, Laydeez do Comics!

A big, big thank you to Lou, Jennifer and the huge crowd at Laydeez do Comics in Leeds last night, and for the overwhelming support and enthusiasm you showed for our graphic novel project. It was an evening that demonstrates just why Laydeez is such a phenomenon. It was an extremely rewarding evening for us, definitely firing us with even more determination to push ahead with the book and see it published as soon as possible.

Thanks also to everyone who wanted to talk archaeology and applied comics, too! For those of you interested in our upcoming meet-up in London, you can follow @appliedcomics on Twitter for details – but I’ll also be posting details here, on Facebook and on Twitter closer to the time.

And finally, thanks to our fellow presenter Christine Chettle for a couple of excellent ideas for comics workshops.

For more information on our evolving graphic novel project, step over to our dedicated blog. Hopefully we’ll be able to pay a return visit to Laydeez in the not-distant future to give you all another glimpse of the book as it nears completion.

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