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Posts Tagged ‘Hannah Sackett’

Related imageI’m heading to the “Drawing on the Past” comic at UCL tomorrow – a conference about comics and the pre-modern world. There are some excellent papers lined up from people like Glynnis Fawkes and Sonya Nevin. I’ll be doing a poster presentation on depicting the “other-ness” of prehistory in community heritage comics, looking at examples from the Oswestry Heritage Comics, comics about Offa’s Dyke and my recent comics work on Yap. And on Monday afternoon, Hannah Sackett and I will also be leading a short workshop on making archaeological comics.

It looks to be a really interesting conference for anyone interested in the way in which our shared past is, can or could be represented in comics – and some of the potentials and pitfalls involved in the use of the medium.

UCL Senate House, London 10-11th September 2018, room G22/26

Registration via Eventbrite

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A brief glimpse of new artwork for "One Girl Goes Hunting" - script by Hannah Sackett, illustrations by me

A brief glimpse of new artwork for “One Girl Goes Hunting” – script by Hannah Sackett, illustrations by me

It was great to meet up with Dr. H recently – my collaborator on “One Girl Goes Hunting“, our graphic novel set in Neolithic Orkney. We’ve been working on this for a couple of years, ever since Dr. H sent me a script. As we worked, we started to play with the idea of doing the graphics in the style of Studio Ghibli, the production company for the films of Hayao Miyazaki – Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, etc. We decided that this approach would be a way of challenging assumptions about what is the “right” style for archaeological visualisation, and in doing so, ask some questions about expectations of the visualised past.

Anyway, recently I’ve been able to devote a chunk of time to producing some new artwork, which has been great. Dr. H and I got a chance to sit down and review them. Dr. H has also put some up on her Prehistories blog, and I’ll post some more over the next couple of weeks.

It’s an interesting project, and I’m glad to have finally been able to devote some time to it!

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Archaeological Oddities II - now available!

Archaeological Oddities II – now available!

I’ve been so busy the past six weeks getting the illustrations, comics and graphics for Middleport Pottery finished that I haven’t had a chance to review the second volume of Archaeologial Oddities, which is out now.

For those of you who don’t yet know, Archaeological Oddities is a series of highly imaginative one-page archaeological comics written and drawn by Hannah Sackett, who publishes them on her blog, Prehistories. They’re delightful pieces of work – and a really thoughtful way of presenting information about archaeological artefacts without being either overly didactic or literal. They’re exactly the kind of comics I look at and go: “Huh. Wish I’d thought of that…”

Anyway, the second collection is available now from Hannah’s etsy shop. But do head over to Prehistories for a more archaeological comics, including the longer The Bell in the Deep story which she’s recently posted – part of a Folklore Fridays series. Hannah also participated in the first Comics & Archaeology e-panel which I posted on Comics Forum, and she’s also taking part in our second panel, which is focusing on the practicalities of writing, drawing and publishing archaeological comics. Hannah and I are collaborating on the One Girl Goes Hunting graphic novel, too.

Can’t wait for more of Hannah’s comics, and looking forward now to Oddities III!

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Sea-Eagle Woman - from One Girl Goes Hunting (H. Sackett, J.G. Swogger, 2014)

Sea-Eagle Woman – from One Girl Goes Hunting (H. Sackett, J.G. Swogger, 2014)

Over the past few months I’ve been working intermittently on the graphic short-story project One Girl Goes Hunting that I’m doing with fellow archaeological comicker Hannah Sackett. As I’ve mentioned previously, this is a collaborative work – Hannah’s written the script, and I’m doing the artwork. The story Hannah has written is set in the Neolithic, and is all about a young girl going through the ritual of hunting for a husband. During the course of the story she travels around the island between some of the major archaeological sites – Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness, Ness of Brodgar, Skara Brae, etc. – which gives both the story and the artwork the opportunity to explore the reconstruction of Neolithic architecture and lifeways in the form of a comic.

The interesting thing about this project is that Hannah came to me with the idea of doing the artwork in a style similar to that of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli films. In doing so, we’re using the project to look at the question of visual style in archaeology. Why is it that some styles – even amongst archaeological comics – are considered “more appropriate” for visualising archaeological ideas and data than others? Increasingly, this seems to be a value judgement based on cultural prejudices, rather than an objective consideration as to whether any given stylistic approach is less or more capable of carrying the information. But when it comes to education and outreach, consideration of visual cultural norms and prejudices become increasingly important. Rinko Endo, creator of comics about psychiatric nursing training, specifically uses manga for works like Aggression Management Mangawhich was originally specifically aimed at a Japanese/Asian audience. It’s an object lesson in shaping your work to the demands and expectations of your audience.

Comics – because of the wide range of stylistic options open to both text and image – have manifold opportunities to engage their audiences beyond simple considerations of data and informational content. The Studio Ghibli films appealed to us for this stylistic experiment as they already represent a visual hybrid between European motifs and Japanese manga representation. As such, they strongly suggested a way to see/show British prehistory in a new way. It will be interesting to see what the response is when the project is finished. And with increasing numbers of tourists from countries like China and Indonesia coming to the UK, perhaps thinking about “Heritage Manga” might not be a bad idea. Anyone out there like to commission a Windsor Castle Manga?

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Archaeological Oddities, Vol. I - by Hannah Sackett. Out now!

Archaeological Oddities, Vol. I – by Hannah Sackett. Out now!

Hurrah!

My copy of Volume I Hannah Sackett’s Archaeological Oddities comics arrived before the weekend – and quite a package it was, too. Not only were the Oddities themselves there in a handsome, hand-stitched A4 collection, but there was a bonus A5 edition as well. And more! The package also contained the cut-out-and-paste Mold Cape, plus postcards and a great little fold-out Oddity card.

I can’t say enough good things about Hannah’s Archaeological Oddities series. I think they’re fantastic comics. They teach without being formal and didactic, and their wonderfully sideways approach to the idea of an object’s “life history” really do make you think differently (and, frankly, critically) about what is both known and said about these archaeological artefacts. Want to talk about materiality, entanglement? These comics do a far better job than any journal article.

Nip along to Hannah’s Prehistories Etsy shop and grab yourself a copy of the Volume I package. I am assured that Volume II is almost ready!

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"Llyn Cerrig Bach Hoard" - Hannah Sackett, 2014

“Llyn Cerrig Bach Hoard” – Hannah Sackett, 2014

Hannah Sackett, hopefully well-known to anyone who reads this blog as the creator of the Archaeological Oddities series of comics, has just done a comic about the hoard from Llyn Cerrig Bach.

She claims I put her up to this – I suppose I did mention it, but really, it was only a matter of time before she got to it anyway. Like all the other subjects of the series, the Llyn Cerrig Bach hoard is one of those bits of archaeology of which Winston Churchill might have said: It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Churchill, speaking about Russia of course, then went on to say: but perhaps there is a key. There are, like all the best mysteries, many possible suggestions about what the hoard was for and why it ended up in the coastal marshes of Anglesey. But for all of us allegedly objective and scientific types who have secretly chucked a penny in an archaeologically-notable lake or a stream, perhaps Hannah’s found that key: … we know that any moment might bring new friends… new stories.

 

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From "One Girl Goes Hunting" (H. Sackett & J. Swogger, 2014)

From “One Girl Goes Hunting” (H. Sackett & J. Swogger, 2014)

It’s only March, and yet it’s already shaping up to being a busy year for me and comics.

I’ve got two big collaborative comics on the go this year. The first is the comic Hannah Sackett and I are working on, set in Orkney during the Neolithic: One Girl Goes Hunting. I’ve talked about this project a little bit before. This is our attempt at making an archaeological comic in the visual style of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli films. It’s a really interesting and challenging project. It’s a project full of firsts: the first time I’ve ever collaborated with another archaeologist on a comic, the first time I’ve ever collaborated with a writer, and the first time I’ve ever collaborated with another comics creator! Hannah’s story is a lovely mix of archaeology, interpretation and magical realism; her art direction is nice and clear, however, meaning that I’m not struggling over how best to show what she’s written (the advantages of working with someone who’s both an archaeologist and a comics creator, I suppose!). The real challenge has been in trying to capture the feel of Studio Ghibli. While I’m a big fan of the films, I’m not naturally that kind of illustrator, so it’s been a bit of an uphill battle for me to find a way of working to that model in a way that feels natural. And it’s a challenging mix of drawing – the cel-shaded characters – and painted backgrounds. Since the autumn it’s been a bit of a case of two steps forward, one step back, but I think I’m just about there!

There’s more going on this year for me in comics and archaeology. Between now and June I’m working in the Potteries – at Middleport Pottery in Burslem – producing comics and graphics for their interpretation displays. The project is a real gem: Middleport Pottery is a nineteenth-century model pottery with a working pottery still occupying part of the factory. The complex includes a bottle oven – the only survivor of seven original ovens, and one of only a handful of such survivors in Stoke that has both the hovel and oven preserved. Anyway, more on that as the project progresses.

I’ll also be returning to Carriacou for my usual field season, and will be pushing forward the next phase of our use of comics in public outreach on the island with some museum displays and some live, weekly updated comics as well.

But I’m also returning to the genre of comics and medicine this year with the first chapter of One of Those People – a comic about eating disorders, depression and dependency. I’m collaborating with a very special author on this project, and we’re blogging the process on a separate site. We’re hoping to present our work so far at the 2014 Comics and Medicine conference in Baltimore, MD in June – still one of the best small comics get-togethers around, even if it has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two years!

So, as I say, a year full of comics. Onward!

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