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News Review: March 2014

Africa

South Africa

Culture

Moray Rhoda, Ray Whitcher, Daniël Hugo and Chris Beukes did a presentation on the 28th February at the Design Indaba about South African comics (a review of the talk can be found in Link 3). Design Indaba is an event that brings the world’s best design to Cape Town every year. Link 1 (English, MR), Link 2 (20/02/2014, English, MR), Link 3 (26/03/2014, English, MR)

Americas

United States 

Business

Diamond Comic Distributors tallied total units sales for the month of February, with Batman #28 (DC Comics), Forever Evil #5 (DC Comics), and Wolverine #1 (Marvel) taking the top three spots respectively. It’s the second month of 2014 that Snyder’s series has taken the top spot. Link (English, MB)

According to Diamond Comic Distributor’s total unit sales statistics, Locke & Key Volume 6: Alpha and Omega (IDW), Fatale Volume 4: Pray for Rain (Image), and Adventure Time Volume 4 (Boom) were the top three selling graphic novels of February. Link (English, MB)

Culture

The exhibition, Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986, opened on the 12th March at the  Stony Brook University Libraries Charles B. Wang Center.  The exhibition draws from noted science fiction author and cultural studies scholar William F. Wu’s comic book collection–the largest archive of comic books featuring Asians and Asian Americans. Link (English, MB)

Jobs

The Department of Writing & Rhetoric at Colgate University seek to fill a one-year full time position at Assistant Professor level, beginning Fall 2014. The department seeks a replacement for Meg Worley, who holds comics as a research interest. A letter of application, CV, and three letters of recommendation must be submitted through the link provided. Link (English, WG)

There is a job listing for a Assistant Professor of Communications at Henderson State University. This is a nine month tenure track position, and the role commences in August 2014. The role may be of interest to the comics scholar community, as the successful applicant would be working alongside fellow comics scholar Randy Duncan. Link (English, WG)

Zenescope Entertainment is offering a Design and a Marketing Internship at their Horsham, Pennsylvania headquarters. Applicants must be attending an accredited institution and over the age of 18. Link (13/03/2014, English, MB)

The Seattle based independent comic book/graphic novel publisher Fantagraphics has an immediate opening for a Marketing & Design Intern as well as looking for editorial interns for the summer. Applications for the editorial internship are due by the 15th April. The positions are non-paid. Link (25/03/2014, English, MB)

Research

Stony Brook University Libraries exhibition, Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986, will also frame the symposium, Marvels & Monsters: A Symposium on Asian Images in Comics and Graphic Narratives, which takes place on the 23rd April. Link (English, MB)

Dan Mazur and Alexander Danner’s Comics: A Global History, 1968 to the Present has been announced for publication through Thames and Hudson. Link (English, WG)

inkt|art, the online comics journal for and by women, is seeking submissions for its Spring 2014 issue. Submissions can include comics columns, short stories, poetry, nonfiction, interviews, and critical writing. The deadline for submissions in the 4th April. Link (06/03/2014, English, WG)

Comic book historian Tim Hanley explores the history and contemporary portrayals of one of the most iconic female superheroes, Wonder Woman, in the recently published Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous HeroineLink (English, MB)

The Texas Comic Arts and Cultures Conference in San Antonio, Texas, is seeking proposals for papers, presentations, and panels that take a critical and/or historical approach to comics as part of the Texas Comic-Con held between the 20th and 22nd June. Proposals are due by the 15th April. Link (English, MB)

Asia

Japan

Culture

Kyoto International Manga Museum is hosting the 7th “Cooking Papa” talk show, where Tochi Ueyama, author of the manga by the same title, will cook three dishes from the manga. Kazuma Yoshimura, Dean of the Faculty of Manga at Kyoto Seika University will join him on stage. Link (English, JBS)

The Takarazuka Theatre is celebrating its 100th Anniversary and showing many of its most popular musicals, including “The Rose of Versailles”, based on Riyoko Ikeda’s manga by the same title. Link (Japanese, JBS)

Research

The Call for Papers for Manga Futures – the 6th International Scholarly Symposium, held by the University of Wollongong and Kyoto Seika University International Manga Research Center, is now accepting submissions. Link (English, JBS)

Europe 

Austria

Culture

This year’s Nextcomic festival took take place in Linz, Wels and Steyr from the the 20th to the 28th March; guests included Daniel Lieske and M. S. Bastian. Link (06/03/2014, German, MdlI)

France

Business

The licensing division of French broadcaster TF1 has acquired the rights to early French comic character Bécassine, and plans to launch a range of related merchandise. Link (10/03/2014, French, LTa)

Culture

A large exhibition on the work of veteran bande dessinée creator Marcel Gotlib is taking place from the 12th March until the 20th July at the Musée d’art et d’histoire de Judaisme in Paris. Link (05/03/2014, French, LTa)

Germany

Culture

The 3rd “Graphic Novel Tage” are held in Hamburg from the 31st March until the 3rd April; guests include Baru and Lorenzo Mattotti. Link (10/03/2014, German, MdlI)

This year’s Comic Invasion Berlin festival takes place on the 26th April. Link (17/03/2014, German, MdlI)

The comic Didi & Stulle by Fil is adapted into an opera, premiering on the 12th June in Berlin. Link (24/03/2014, German, MdlI)

Research

Neil Cohn is going to hold a workshop on “The Visual Language of Comics” on the 23rd June and will give a lecture on “The narrative grammar of comics, film, and discourse” on the 25th June. Both will take place at the University of Bremen. Link (13/03/2014, German, MdlI)

A new journal for German-language comics scholarship, Closure: Kieler e-Journal für Comicforschung, is going to launch on the 15th October; the deadline for the first Call for Papers is the 16th May. Link (24/03/2014, German, MdlI)

Portugal

Culture

The Casa da Cultura in Sátão is hosting a comics exhibition about the life and work of the Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz. The exhibition can be visited until the 12th April.Link (20/03/2014, Portuguese, RR)

El Pep Store & Gallery in Lisbon is hosting the individual exhibition on the comics and illustration of João Chambel. It can be visited until the 12th April. Link (13/03/2014, Portuguese, RR)

Scandinavia

Research

The Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art (SJoCA) has announced a call for papers. The scope of the journal is interdisciplinary, encouraging a wide range of theoretical and methodological perspectives. The journal publishes articles, book reviews and news from the field of comics studies. At the moment, the journal is calling for articles, reviews, and forum texts (brief scholarly essays, commentaries, and debate pieces). The language of the journal is English. Link (English, KBF)

Sweden

Culture

Stockholms Internationella Seriefestival (Stockholm’s International Comics Festival) will take place between the 17th and 18th May. This year’s theme is Canadian comics. Market tables can now be reserved, but the event is free and open to the public. Link 1 (28/03/2014, English, KBF), Link 2 (28/03/2014, Swedish, KBF)

Research

A call for research papers and artist participants for a Scandinavian Comics Workshop has been announced. The event will take place on the 5th May at Stockholm University. The workshop focus is linguistic scholarship in comics studies, but scholars from any discipline working on Scandinavian comics are welcome, as are Scandinavian comics artists. Abstracts (200 words) and biographical statements (100 words) should be sent by the 7th April to both kristy.beers.fagersten@sh.se and frank.bramlett@english.su.se. Link (28/03/2014, English, KBF)

Switzerland

Culture

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the comic magazine Strapazin, a short documentary video has been published. Link (02/03/2014, German, MdlI)

This year’s Fumetto festival in Lucerne is going to take place from the 5th to the 13th April, with main guest Gabriella Giandelli. Link (20/03/2014, German, MdlI)

UK

Culture

Dee Con 2014, a free anime, comics, games and animation convention, takes place at the Students Union at the University of Dundee on the 5th April. Link (English, WG)

Downthetubes reports on Issue One, a symposium on the future of the comics industry in Scotland, which took place at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts on the 17th March. Link (18/03/2014, English, WG)

The list of guests for the Lakes Comic Art Festival (17th to the 19th October) has been updated. Link (English, WG)

Obituary

Comics writer Steve Moore, who was said to have taught Alan Moore how to write comics scripts, has passed away. Link (English, WG)

Research

The Comics Grid are looking to crowdsource a directory of feeds from blogs or sites that cover comics,  particularly comics criticism, history and scholarship. Link (27/03/2014, English, WG)

The Comics Grid have published their open call for submissions to the journal. The editorial deadline this time around was the 31st March. Link (English, WG)

A Facebook group has been created for the Fifth International Conference of Graphic Novels and Comics, taking place at the British Library, London, in July. Link (English, WG)

Oceania

Australia

Culture

Comics Can Do Anything is a series of interviews featuring Pat Grant, Simon Hanselmann, Nicki Greenburg, Tim Molloy, Mandy Ord, and special guest Alison Bechdel. These took place at the Adelaide Festival Centre on the 2nd March. Link (English, ALM)

Jake Bresanello and Jake Holmes debuted their sci-fi installation comic Bear Knuckles: A Celebration of the Renaissance of Illustration at the Adelaide City Council’s Art Pod exhibition space. The exhibition runs from the 26th March to the 8th May. Link (English, ALM

Josh Santosporito has a comic art exhibition running at the Sawtooth Artist Run Initiative Gallery at Launceston. Sleuth: The Delegation will be exhibited from the 4th until the 26th April. Link (English, ALM)

Research

The University of Adelaide will be hosting Inkers and Thinkers: The Evolution of Comics on the 4th April.  This interdisciplinary symposium features speakers from around Australia, and after the presentation there will be a screening of Bernard Caleo and Daniel Hayward’s documentary Graphic Novels! Melbourne! Link (English, ALM)

 

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News Editor: Will Grady (comicsforumnews@hotmail.co.uk)

Correspondents: Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto (JBS, Japan), Michele Brittany (MB, North America), Kristy Beers Fägersten (KBF, Sweden), William Grady (WG, UK), Martin de la Iglesia (MdlI, Austria, Germany, Switzerland), Amy Louise Maynard (ALM, Australia), Renatta Rafaella (RR, Portugal), Moray Rhoda (MR, South Africa), Lise Tannahill (LTa, France).

Click here for News Review correspondent biographies.

Click here to see the News Review archive.

Suggestions for articles to be included in the News Review can be sent to Will Grady at the email address above.

 
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Posted by on 2014/04/04 in News Review

 

Comics Forum 2014: Call for Papers

CFP_2014aClick here to download a PDF of the call for papers.

This year, Comics Forum’s annual conference will take a serious look at the subject of violence in comics. The call for papers is out today (click the link above for a PDF) and the conference page on the website is online here. This page will be updated as details are announced so please check there for the latest information. The event will run on the 13th and 14th of November as part of this year’s Thought Bubble sequential art festival, and will be hosted by Leeds Central Library.

Comics Forum 2014 is supported by: Thought Bubble, the University of Chichester, Dr Mel Gibson and Molakoe.

 
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Posted by on 2014/04/01 in Comics Forum 2014

 

Reviews: March 2014

Elisabeth El Refaie, Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures, Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 2012, 273pp, ISBN: 978-1-61703-613-2, $55

Reviewed by Louisa Parker

An overview of North American and European life writing in comics form, Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures covers 85 works from Europe and the US and engages with a range of interdisciplinary academic fields. Clearly written in an accessible style this is an informative text of use to comics scholars generally. The breadth of comics work and theory covered means that depth is inevitably relinquished and some readers may find this unsatisfying, however El Refaie herself acknowledges the lack of detail and includes copious notes, bibliographies, references and a helpful index for those who wish to study the content in more depth.

The comprehensive bibliography serves as a stimulating resource in itself, with sources from social science, cultural studies, linguistics, narratology, philosophy, psychoanalysis and of course comics studies. This interdisciplinarity is, as stated in the introduction, in part a response to the tendency towards English Literature in North American comics scholarship. El Refaie refers to a range of theory from sources including Brecht, Barthes, Bakhtin, Bal, Berger, Butler, Bergson, Sontag, Mulvey and C.S. Pierce as well as the established comics scholars like Witek, Carrier, Sabin, Hatfield and Chute. This eclecticism helps El Refaie show the scope of comics scholarship and its relevance to interdisciplinary academic realms.

The explicitly stated purpose of the book is to investigate the phenomenon of autobiographical comics and to discern general patterns and trends. El Refaie restricts her research to comics in book format and so web comics and zines are omitted from this process. While all the chapters are theoretically informed, the focus is on the nature of life writing in comics, presenting the reader with examples and analysis which the author employs to identify formal and stylistic properties she perceives as common to the comics. There are five chapters organized around themes of marginality, embodiment, temporality, authenticity and readership, each chapter containing a consideration of a number of graphic works and drawing from a range of theory. The illustrations are chosen well but should be around twice the size that they have been reproduced in the book; many of them are too small to enjoy or too small to read easily, which is frustrating for the reader.

There is enough variety in the graphic works included in the book for this reviewer to make new discoveries (that will shortly fill my bookshelves) however many of the comics El Refaie analyses are the usual suspects. This is probably unavoidable when mining such a fledgling field, but it would be interesting to see the difference made to the text if for example self published zines and web-comics had been included, especially as this is an area in which women and other under represented groups are publishing more. I’m thinking particularly of ‘perzines’, personal stories in zine form, which predate the new trend for women’s life writing in comics by a couple of decades. This is no disadvantage to the book however, as a line must be drawn in the research somewhere.

Autobiographical Comics will be useful to many scholars and students and as a sourcebook and speculative exploration of a number of theoretical points it is a valuable contribution to the field. For El Refaie, the nature of life writing has shifted due to the recent surge in autobiographical comics, as have audiences for this type of work establishing an area worthy of serious analysis. This thought provoking, useful, wide ranging book, from a UK based academic is perhaps a little overdue, but it is very welcome, a sight for sore eyes as they say.

Autobiographical Comics is published by the University of Mississippi, a North American press which has made a major contribution to the body of work in comics scholarship, but was conceived by a European scholar during research supported by Cardiff University.

ISSUE #ONE CCA Glasgow 17th March 2014

Reviewed by Damon Herd

Over 150 people involved in comics converged on the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow on Monday 17th March for an event where most of the audience were unsure of what was actually going to happen. The listing on the CCA’s website for ISSUE #ONE gave a little information but many people were left in the dark by the enigmatic announcement.

On the night the attending comics creators, retailers, reviewers, bloggers, publishers, fans, and academics only knew for certain that the event had been organised by the Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance (SICBA), Black Hearted Press, and the Stirling Maxwell Centre. As it turned out the panel included Dr Laurence Grove, Director of the Stirling Maxwell centre, as well as other academics Dr Chris Murray, Senior Lecturer and head of the MLitt in Comic Studies, University of Dundee and Phillip Vaughan, Course Director, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Publishers were represented by Sha Nazir, Art Director & Publisher, Black Hearted Press Ltd (Nazir is also a founder of SICBA) and Maria Welch, Publisher (Children’s Entertainment), DC Thomson Ltd. The panel was completed by Jenny Niven, Portfolio Manager for Literature, Publishing and Languages, Creative Scotland and Peter Watson of Forbidden Planet International, Glasgow.

The two hour symposium took the form of six questions pitched to the panel in a ‘Question Time’ style format, with time for audience questions after each topic had been discussed, and then a more in depth discussion at the end. The questions looked at themes of collaboration and mutual benefit in the industry, comics and education, the relationship between publishers (including small press) and retailers, digital comics, funding, and finished with a discussion on whether Scotland should have a National Comics Academy and Gallery.

Much of the discussion related around many positives in comics; Grove, Murray and Vaughan all noted that it had not been problematic at all to introduce comics courses into their respective educational establishments. Indeed, as a comics PhD student in Dundee myself I have noticed no resistance, and in fact benefit from the departments and courses that they have established. There was some discussion about comics and schools and how it seemed easier to get comics teaching into primary schools than secondary. In a discussion I had afterwards with a high school English teacher (who teaches comics) we debated whether high schools would take the lead from universities, and offer a Higher in comics if it lead to an undergraduate course in comics.

Both Nazir and Welch emphasized the importance of individual branding when promoting your work and Vaughan explained that a good press release makes a huge difference. Nazir also noted how advances in printing technology mean that no work should look unprofessional. The topic of funding was raised and Niven pointed out that Creative Scotland are very open to comics creators submitting a proposal and that changes to their funding procedures should now make this easier. I did feel that the focus of the discussions was ‘breaking into the industry’ and didn’t necessarily take into account the fanzine/small press scene who often make comics just for the sake of making comics.

Once you have created your comics what is the next step? When asked about getting small press comics into shops Watson asked creators to come and talk to them as Forbidden Planet were very happy to push home grown talent, with tourists being a particular market for them. A woman in the audience raised a point about a bad experience she had in FP where both staff and other customers had been far from welcoming. Watson could only apologise profusely and suggest that she speak to him or the managers in the shop but seemed slightly baffled that this could have happened. Other panelists noted that the increasing number of female creators and attendance of women at conventions was helping to improve situations such as these. The audience for ISSUE #ONE was approximately a 50:50 gender split although it was noted that the panel of seven (counting the host Gareth K. Vile) contained only two women.

The whole evening seemed to be building towards the question of whether Scotland should have a National Academy of Comics and whether Glasgow should become the new Angoulême. There seemed to be a slight bias towards Glasgow due to the organisers earmarking the nearby McLellan galleries as a potential venue for an Academy. However, the panel were keen to emphasise the strong ties between the comics scenes of Glasgow and Dundee; in fact the next ISSUE #ONE event is planned for Dundee. There seemed to be a general consensus that an Academy in Scotland was a good idea but less enthusiasm for an Angoulême in Scotland perhaps because this is something the Lakes International Comic Art Festival is working towards and Cumbria is right next door.

Overall the reaction to the symposium was very positive and there were some animated discussions in the bar afterwards. While an Academy may be a distant prospect at the moment it is exciting to see that projects such as these are being discussed. This first ISSUE #ONE symposium was positively reviewed in The Herald, a national newspaper in Scotland, so hopefully the second event will move on from just ‘preaching to the converted’ and involve the wider society in the debates. If Scotland is to have a National Academy then there will need to be work from inside and outside the comics community. I look forward to continuing the conversation at the second ISSUE #ONE.

The event was liveblogged by the organisers and you can see details here.

Louisa Parker is a PhD Candidate at Loughborough University. She is an artist and comics creator making work relating to lived experience and story telling and using a variety of visual forms including drawing, performance, installation, sound work, artists books and comics. She has been included in exhibitions and festivals in the UK, US and Singapore. Her self-published graphic narratives based on lived experience have covered themes such as nursing, disability, psychosis, and violence against women. Her first novel length comics work will be published in 2015.

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Damon Herd is a researcher and artist, currently working towards a PhD in Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee. His research area is life narratives told in the comics medium, with a particular interest in the games authors play with truth. He has recently presented papers at The International Graphic Novel & International Bande Dessinée Society Conference in Glasgow and Comics & The Multimodal World Conference in Vancouver. He has been published in Studies in Comics, and on The Comics Grid, and is a contributor to the comics blog Graphixia.

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Reviews editor: Hattie Kennedy (comicsforumreviews@outlook.com)

Click here to see the Reviews archive.

Queries relating to reviews can be sent to Hattie Kennedy at the email address above.

 
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Posted by on 2014/03/28 in Reviews

 

The Future Art of the Past? An e-panel on comics and archaeology – Part 2, edited by John Swogger

Featuring: Chloe Brown, Peter Connelly, Troy Lovata, Hannah Sackett, John Swogger and Al B. Wesolowsky

Click here to read part 1 of this panel.

Ancient artefacts, lost archaeological expeditions and ruins long hidden in jungles and deserts have long been part of comics heritage. From the EC Comics clichés of lost pyramids and ancient curses through to the Phantom and Adele Blanc-Sec, archaeology has long served as an inspiration for comics writers and illustrators.

It is only relatively recently that archaeologists themselves, however, have begun to use comics in a professional context. The list of published examples is not long, but includes works like Archaeology: The Comic (Johannes Loubser, 2003) and the archaeological comic ‘zine Shovel Bum (Trent DeBoer, ed., 1997 – present; collected edition, 2004).

This e-panel brings together six archaeologists, all of whom are making comics about archaeology, aimed at a wide range of audiences. Their work explores new ways of using comics as a medium for science communication.

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Al B. Wesolowsky: Page from Trenchant Tales: Of archaeology and the absurd (unpublished, 2009)

Al B. Wesolowsky: Page from Trenchant Tales: Of archaeology and the absurd (unpublished, 2009)

John Swogger: Following on from Part 1, where we talked about what makes comics particularly suited to archaeology, I’d like to pick up on something Pete mentioned earlier: writing, artwork, the practice of actually creating archaeological comics.

Let’s start with an obvious question: what authors and writers have influenced you, and how do you see that interest and influence in your own work?

CB: Having read comics/graphic novels since childhood predominantly for leisure but increasingly for an appreciation of the art work, I am aware the impact and staying power of illustrations on the reader. It’s therefore an important resource in education which is yet to be fully exploited. I have been inspired by Tintin growing up, due to the vast range of mysteries covered, and the Sandman novels by Neil Gaiman, because of the depth of the subjects, storyline, development of characters and fantastic art work.

TL: I used to read many more comics than I do now. Simply keeping up with the volume of the new while finding time to revisit what once so engaged me—maybe stuff by Will Eisner or Neal Adams or Mark Schultz—or what I failed to pick up the first time around—for example, mid- to late-1990′s issues of Mad Magazine or half of James Sturm’s graphic novels or a few of Chris Ware’s monumental undertakings—is a job unto itself and I already have a full-time job as a teacher and researcher! These days I find myself dropping by the public library and ploughing through the anthologies they have on hand rather than purchasing piecemeal as things come out. This invariably means I’m slightly behind the times at best. But that seems to just be what happens when you get older. I keep reading comics because they’re so engaging.

HS: I do read comics. I try and read a variety, (I’m not obsessive about superheroes), and I would read even more if I had more money and could buy as many as I liked! I work part-time as a school librarian, so I read comics for children like The Phoenix, The Little Vampire, Tales from Outer Suburbia (Shaun Tan) and Adventure Time (Pendleton Ward), but I also read comics aimed at grown-ups. I really love the Grandville series by Bryan Talbot (in fact I love all his work). I suppose I’ve recently read a number of Jonathan Cape titles, including Days of the Bagnold Summer (Joff Winterhart), Dotter of her Father’s Eyes (Mary and Bryan Talbot) and Please God Find me a Husband (Simone Lia). I also like the SelfMadeHero publications – Sherlock Holmes (Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard) and HP Lovecraft (Edginton, D’Israeli, et. al.) adaptations.

AW: Almost completely alt-comics and small-press offerings. I appreciate the appeal of superhero mainstream comics but never really have followed them. I read Eddie Campbell, Lucy Knisley (who was in my class at the Center for Cartoon Studies 2007–2009), Alison Bechdel, Joe Sacco, the late Harvey Pekar, Seth, Joe Matt, Chester Brown, Lewis Trondheim, and Guy Delisle. I also like David Collier, Kim Deitch, and Rick Geary.

Hannah Sackett: Archaeological Oddities No. 2: Silbury Hill (from Archaeological Oddities, Vol. 1; 2013)

Hannah Sackett: Archaeological Oddities No. 2: Silbury Hill (from Archaeological Oddities, Vol. 1; 2013)

JS: I hear many of the same authors and writers being name-checked here: I’m also in that same Tintin/Pogo/Joe Sacco/Alison Bechdel Venn diagram! Al, is there anything in particular about these kinds of comics creators that has had a direct impact on the work you did for that course?

AW: I note that most all of these do autobio, at least as part of their output – so that’s the immediate link with my work. I especially like Sacco’s work as a comics journalist (that is, not writing about comics but using comics as a medium for recent history and current events), and the travel comics of Knisley, Delisle, and Trondheim. I read collections of older comics, especially those by Roy Crane, John Stanley, Walt Kelly, and Carl Barks. Their range of styles is enormous (Little Lulu vs. Pogo) but their skills at storytelling and pacing are instructive and worth studying. A number of Barks’ Scrooge McDuck stories involve themes from antiquity and he brings a proper sense of wonder in these tales.

I try to bring those qualities to my own comics, to inform readers that archaeology is not just about fabulous discoveries, or being pursued by giant stone spheres or agents of the Illuminati, but more about people trying to carry out field work in places they might never have otherwise visited. Archaeologists have a curiosity about the past and its material culture that is quite at variance from the depictions of, say, the Indiana Jones stories. Our challenge can be to find interesting ways of presenting the realities of field work; my tendency is to concentrate on the human interest side of things, but comics are capable of dealing with most everything on the more scholarly side as well.

JS: And visually?

AW: Pretty much all of those comics have influenced me, not so much for artistic style (I cannot hope to match the drawing abilities of, say, Bechdel, Knisley, or Campbell) but I study how they tell their stories, how they differentiate their characters visually, and how they pace their tales. I like the way the cartoonists present themselves, often as bemused observers willing to go along for the ride (Delisle is very good at this); this approach, I think, generates both interest and goodwill on the part of the reader. The tone is not didactic or rarefied, but more of a “Hello. Want to hear a story?” feeling that makes the reader a participant in the unfolding tale.

JS: What about everyone else? What from your reading lists can you see reflected in your work?

HS: For me it’s the work of Tom Gauld (You’re all just jealous of my jetpack), Adam Murphy’s Corpse Talk and Josie Long’s Alternative Universe that have influenced Archaeological Oddities. One Girl Goes Hunting – the graphic novel about Neolithic Orkeney I’m doing with John Swogger – is more influenced by animation. I’m sure all the Tinitin and Asterix I read as a child have had an influence on me too, and they and The Beano and Mandy started my interest in comics. Comics have had a big impact on the project I’m developing with Stephanie Moser at Southampton University, as the aim is to get children drawing comics about artefacts they have encountered on museum visits.

TL: This would be the question that a skilled archaeologist of comic books would use to place me within a stratigraphy and accurately date me! Most of my stuff is clearly the by-product of a pile of poorly archived ‘zines and mini-comics combined with what so engrossed me from teenage times to early adulthood. I suspect most people simply can’t escape the influence of that stretch of years. So, for how my stuff looks and how I think visually, influences would be the Matt Feazell’s of the world on one hand and, on the other, Los Bros Hernandez first run at Love and Rockets or whatever Shawn Kerri and George Trosley had in CARtoons magazine on any given month. Not a single one is a science or archaeology comic per se. Yet shared black and white formats are clearly some of the link between the commercial and do-it-yourself publishers. These are the comics that I consumed and thought, I can do something similar with the tools and skills I have on hand. “I’ve got black pens and white paper, I can do this sort of thing.” When I became an archaeologist I fell back on those tools at various points.

JS: Hergé has been an obvious influence on my artwork, and I include a large number of ligne claire illustrators in that same category of influence, from Jacques Tardi (his Adele Blanc-Sec stories being an obviously archaeological influence, too) to Adamov. But I came to work in that style because it served the need for detail and precision rather than any specific desire to imitate the look of Tintin, per se. Moebius, for similar reasons, has been a big influence on my pen and ink work in archaeology generally. Many years ago, a film-maker described my reconstruction illustrations as “looking as if they had been drawn by Robert Crumb,” because of all the crosshatch-work in my drawings. So there’s that old sixties underground style in there as well – perhaps unsurprising given that archaeological visuals also rely heavily on black and white rather than full colour, and that most archaeological illustrators (myself included) are self-taught.

It seems fairly clear that we’re all leaning in some similar directions. There’s an obvious influence from a broad school of “adventure realism”: Hergé, Tardi, Chester Brown, the Hernandez brothers, etc. But there’s also clearly a lot of influence from the “alternative” side of the fence, both in artwork and approach to story-telling. I think it’s interesting that, with a few notable exceptions, we’re all still very much drawn to less cartoon-y, more detailed artists – and yet also to writers who are dealing with often very nuanced, alternative approaches to their storytelling: Bechdel, the Hernandez brothers, Chris Ware, etc.

This mix sounds very much like a description of archaeology itself: visually often detailed and specific, but dealing with a lot of narrative complexity.

What about some practical advice or observations about the making of archaeological comics?

Troy Lovata: from Shovel Bum #19

Troy Lovata: from Shovel Bum #19

TL: More archaeologists should shamelessly read more comics. That’s part of understanding the context I’ve previously mentioned. I’ve been approached a number of times by people wanting to collaborate on a comic or some form of illustration based on a fairly limited background in the field. They saw something in particular they really liked and want it emulated in a presentation of their own research. It’s hard for some of those folks to really express what they’re drawn to or understand why it might or might not work as they expect without more exposure. But this doesn’t mean they should sit and read up until they get the background necessary to be an expert. On the contrary, more archaeologists should also try creating comics, especially hand drawn work. Archaeologists are a fairly visual lot—this should be no surprise as they work so much with physical artifacts and on physical landscapes—and they’ve got great stories to tell. I’ve seen some engaging comics come from simply giving it a shot in very manageable circumstances. Such people aren’t going to put professional illustrators nor professional trained comics creators out of business, but they can nonetheless create valuable narratives. This means producing comics that aren’t necessarily long form. But there are niches needing to be filled by the short, the quick, and the sometimes messy.

JS: I’d like to see archaeological comics actively trying to bring the visual side of archaeological practice, data and interpretation back into the text we already produce. I’d like to see comics that restore the close interrelationship that exists in the field between image and description – regardless of whether this is talking to an external audience as education, interpretation or outreach, or talking to an internal audience as peer-reviewed data. Comics – or if not comics, then the language and lessons of comics – could bring back the sense of connection that exists as archaeological knowledge is created in the field. I’ve always thought it particularly painful to have had the experience of working in the heart of an excavation, standing in the remains of a building and seeing the chronology and building history all around you, and then later flipping back and forward through the publication between plans, plates, finds drawings and text, utterly unable to recapture that sense of connection. I think comics can bring all these disparate kinds of archaeological information together in a way that could give them so much more meaning, both to us as archaeologists, and to our various external audiences. Comics like these could challenge archaeologists to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the voices they currently use when they speak to those audiences.

AW: Yes – slice-of-life stories about field work, illustrating the conditions under which archaeologists work. Also some good introductions to ancient technologies (stone-knapping [1], ceramics, metallurgy, sculpture, architecture, astronomy, agriculture, economics, ship-building, travel) that would be suitable for students or for the general public. Such booklets could easily be site- or project-specific and could be used in reports aimed at a more popular readership. Another topic could be the history of a project, how it was formed and its goals selected, how field work was performed and information gathered, and how concurrent analysis affected the working goals and hypotheses of the project.

CB: It would be exciting to see the illustrative format become accepted as part of the archaeological recording process. An artist’s book created alongside a site report but also, comics produced to complement post-excavation analysis. This would provide a bridge between the post-excavation lab work and the excavator. It might allow issues which arise later – such as contamination of samples – to be eliminated at earlier stages, due to a deeper understanding of individual actions impacts and various protocols.

JS: I think this is an important point, and something which I think is being explored in a number of fields: the use of the comics approach to image and text – ie: bringing them together – in the actual recording of scientific data or designing field or lab protocols. I suggested a few years ago at the Visualisation in Archaeology workshop programme at Southampton University, the use of “airline safety information card” type training tools for field archaeologists to explain new sampling protocols, etc.

CB: And if Illustrating the processes and techniques used throughout the excavation process is done on site, and illustrating scientific processes employed at the post-excavation stage is done in the lab, both would then be useful in an educational context and for outreach programs.

JS: I know that in both medicine as well as in environmental and development working, people are looking at comics as a model for recording fieldwork practice and experience: as an alternative to a purely text-based record. Comics as field journals, which is something I’ve done in the Pacific.

HS: Comics in archaeology do have the potential to be really sophisticated – they can communicate complex ideas in a visually appealing and enticing fashion. I believe that comics should be drawn by people who care about and understand the medium, not just a comic/cartoon-style drawing by designers who don’t appreciate the potential of comics. I do feel, though, that education and outreach are not the limit of what comics can do in archaeology. I think that comics are endlessly versatile and can be used to do anything – to document the experience of being an archaeologist, to look at the process of making artefacts and sites, to explore theoretical ideas. Comics can (and should) find a way!

AW: There can be a didactic component based on a narrative of discovery, elements of fact and fiction (stated as such) can be used in the work, with the goal of using comics to distil and present the theoretical approaches and the findings in a report. As for biography, I can imagine a graphic version of Glyn Daniel’s Some Small Harvest, his autobiography, or Agatha Christie’s memoir Come, Tell Me How You Live. I suppose I view comics as ancillary to the formal report, with the former supplementing the latter and appealing to a wider readership, but not substituting for it.

John Swogger: Page from Barclodiad y Gawres (CADW – Welsh Government Historic Environment Service; 2014 – in press)

John Swogger: Page from Barclodiad y Gawres (CADW – Welsh Government Historic Environment Service; 2014 – in press)

JS: I think there are often big gaps between the professional and wider understanding of what it means to be an archaeologist and what it means to do archaeology: gaps between fact and fiction, between data and interpretation, between the professional report and the personal experience. The usual academic approach to publication and presentation in archaeology just doesn’t really suit the ambiguities inherent in these gaps. For example, I’m not sure where would be the best place to work out the various archaeological ramifications of the theories or obsessions of famous archaeologists whose legacies have left lasting impressions on the work of subsequent generations of scholars. These would be stories about clashing personalities, undue influences, questionable motivations. These are also stories which touch on particularly sensitive issues for archaeology: fraud, forgery, obsession. But these are also important stories which should be told. You’re very constrained in academic journals or written biographies, and these would be narratives more full of questions than anything else. Dr. Muna Al-Jawad, a geriatrician and comics creator, has identified comics in medicine as having a role to play in analysing “difficult areas of practice”. Perhaps comics might be a way of looking at some of these “difficult areas of practice” in archaeology?

PC: One interesting observation is that the large majority of comics produced by the main publishing houses are joint productions, e.g., there could be a writer, a penciller, an inker, a colourist, a letterer and an editor all involved with the publication of one issue. Whereas, as far as I am aware, the large majority of archaeological comics have been produced by sole operators. I am aware that the example given above is as much an economies of scale issue as anything else and the large publication house production line could be streamlined to writer and artist. However, there may some weakness in archaeological comics produced by a single person and this may need to be investigated more.

JS: That’s an interesting observation, Pete, and I think fertile ground for another round of discussion entirely. We haven’t talked a lot about the “drawing board” practicalities, if you like, of producing archaeological comics. I think there are a lot of questions about time, training, writing and visual approaches to data and so on, that would be extremely interesting to discuss further at some point.

I’d like to thank my panel colleagues: Pete, Hannah, Al, Troy and Chloe for taking part, and also Ian Hague and Comics Forum for hosting our discussion.

*               *               *

Chloe Brown is a Fine Arts graduate, currently studying for an MSc in Bioarchaeology at the University of York whilst forming an archaeological illustration business. She is producing her first archaeological comics this summer based on experiences working both in the lab and the field.

Peter Connelly is Director of Archaeology at York Archaeological Trust and a Trustee of the Council of British Archaeology. He was Director of York’s Hungate excavations for five years and has a wide range of experience in large-scale public archaeology. He’s not a comic creator (yet), but has long been a reader of Silver Age and independent comics.

Troy Lovata is Associate Professor of Archaeology at University of New Mexico Honours College. He has been a long-time contributor of comics to the archaeological ‘zine Shovel Bum, and produced part of his PhD defence in the form of a comic. His book Inauthentic Archaeologies: The Public Uses and Abuses of the Past, was published by Left Coast Press in 2007.

Hannah Sackett received a PhD in landscape archaeology from Leicester University, and is is currently developing a project on visual narrative and the reception of museums with Pr. Stephanie Moser at the University of Southampton. She has published papers on the use of land in eighteenth and nineteenth century Buckinghamshire, bronze age rock carvings in Norway, and archaeology in the writings of Lewis Grassic Gibbon. She is the creator of the Archaeological Oddities comics, and is collaborating with John Swogger on a graphic novel set in Neolithic Orkney.

John Swogger has been an archaeological illustrator for almost twenty years, working for small archaeological units, museums, excavation projects and as a freelance illustrator. For ten years he was site illustrator for the Çatalhöyük Research Project in Turkey. He has produced comics for education and interpretation projects in the UK (Bryn Celli Ddu, Barclodiad y Gawres, Llyn Cerrig Bach – CADW), the Caribbean (Archaeology in the Caribbean - Carriacou Island Archaeology Project) and the Pacific Islands (Palau: An archaeological field journal), and has written comics about the use of comics in archaeology to the Society for American Archaeology.

Al B. Wesolowsky is the retired Managing Editor of the Journal of Field Archaeology and the current Art Editor of the same publication. He received the MFA from the Center for Cartoon Studies, White River Junction, Vermont, in 2009. He has an extensive background in excavation in Texas and the Balkans and creates comics based on his experiences in the field.

[1] – Knapping: the process of turning a piece of stone into a tool.

 
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Posted by on 2014/03/13 in Guest Writers

 

The Future Art of the Past? An e-panel on comics and archaeology – Part 1, edited by John Swogger

Featuring: Chloe Brown, Peter Connelly, Troy Lovata, Hannah Sackett, John Swogger and Al B. Wesolowsky

Ancient artefacts, lost archaeological expeditions and ruins long hidden in jungles and deserts have long been part of comics heritage. From the EC Comics clichés of lost pyramids and ancient curses through to the Phantom and Adele Blanc-Sec, archaeology has long served as an inspiration for comics writers and illustrators.

It is only relatively recently that archaeologists themselves, however, have begun to use comics in a professional context. The list of published examples is not long, but includes works like Archaeology: The Comic (Johannes Loubser, 2003) and the archaeological comic ‘zine Shovel Bum (Trent DeBoer, ed., 1997 – present; collected edition, 2004).

This e-panel brings together six archaeologists, all of whom are making comics about archaeology, aimed at a wide range of audiences. Their work explores new ways of using comics as a medium for science communication.

*               *               *

John Swogger: Page from Llyn Cerrig Bach (CADW – Welsh Government Historic Environment Service; 2014 – in press)

John Swogger: Page from Llyn Cerrig Bach (CADW – Welsh Government Historic Environment Service; 2014 – in press)

John Swogger: I’d like to thank my five other participants in this e-panel and ask them to briefly introduce themselves.

Chloe Brown: I’m a Fine Arts graduate, currently studying for an MSc in Bioarchaeology at the University of York whilst forming an archaeological illustration business. I’m currently producing my first archaeological comics this summer based on experiences working both in the lab and the field.

Peter Connelly: I’m Director of Archaeology at York Archaeological Trust, and was Director of York’s Hungate excavations for five years and have a wide range of experience in large-scale public archaeology. I’m not a comics creator, but I’ve long been a reader of Silver Age and independent comics

Troy Lovata: I’m Associate Professor of Archaeology at University of New Mexico Honours College. I’ve been a long-time contributor of comics to the archaeological ‘zine Shovel Bum, and I produced part of my PhD defence in the form of a comic.

Hannah Sackett: I received a PhD in landscape archaeology from Leicester University, and am currently developing a project on visual narrative and the reception of museums with Pr. Stephanie Moser at the University of Southampton. I’m the creator of the Archaeological Oddities comics, and I’m collaborating with John Swogger on a graphic novel set in Neolithic Orkney.

Al B. Wesolowsky: I am the retired Managing Editor of the Journal of Field Archaeology and the current Art Editor of the same publication. I received the MFA from the Center for Cartoon Studies, White River Junction, Vermont, in 2009. I have an extensive background in excavation in Texas and the Balkans and I create comics based on my experiences in the field.

John Swogger: And I have been an archaeological illustrator for almost twenty years, working for small archaeological units, museums, excavation projects as a freelance illustrator. I have produced comics for education and interpretation projects in the UK, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands, and recently presented a paper to the Society for American Archaeology in the form of a comic.

*               *               *

Troy Lovata: from Shovel Bum #19

Troy Lovata: from Shovel Bum #19

JS: I think the first thing to note is how diverse this forum is – I think it’s fair to say that we all represent very different aspects of archaeological practice, and yet have all ended up using – or wanting to use, perhaps – comics in our work. I’d like to start with that point: what is it about comics that seems to fit in with what you do as an archaeologist?

CB: I am exploring ideas about creating work that illustrates some of the scientific approaches employed after the excavation process, which I believe could further progress potential for interdisciplinary research as scientific terminology translated into a visual format could potentially overcome the divide created by academic language. I aim to create comics explaining techniques, such as isotope analysis. Used perhaps as part of a pamphlet or a poster at conferences to allow for quick viewing and facilitate a general understanding by all present of alien techniques and therefore yield greater contribution from more members of the conference.

TL: I’m an archaeologist who decided to write and draw up some of my work in comics format. It’s something I’ve been doing now for a decade and a half. Putting together the 40 plus page comic for my Ph.D. dissertation, done over a dozen years ago, was the biggest project I’ve attempted. I turned research about dog domestication on the Great Plains of North America and cultural ideas of dogs into a comic. That did and didn’t work as planned and a lot of my recent comics have been a couple pages of panels here and there. My book on archaeology hoaxes and recreations from 5 years ago had a whole chapter, on Piltdown [1], done as a comic. Other works have been 1 to 3 page vignettes. I’m not entirely happy with my output, but my position as a faculty member and scholar has demands that keep me from diving into a large project in the same way again. I’m not an illustrator or writer for hire, these projects are my own research and work.

HS: Archaeological Oddities had its origin in a jokey present I made for my partner Andy Jones, while he was researching the Folkton Drums [2] for his last book, Prehistoric Materialities. It was a Tunnocks Teacake box turned into a “Make your own Folkton Drums” set. It had picture of the three Neolithic chalk carvings on the outside, with them saying “We are Family”. This picture stuck in my head, until one day I found myself jotting down a conversation between the three drums. I messed about, working on simplifying the drums and finding a simple drawing style, and made the first Archaeological Oddities. The people I showed it to were really positive, so I kept going. I chose oddities, because I think archaeologists sometime gloss over things that don’t fit into a neat category. An archaeologist once told me that you couldn’t discuss Silbury Hill [3] because you couldn’t categorise it! This stayed with me.

AW: I make comics about my archaeological experiences, and they are autobiographical in nature. Not all my autobio comics are archaeological, though. I find comics to be a very engaging medium for memoirs and reflection. The archaeological ones tend to concentrate on the odder aspects of field work, the occurrences that are familiar to most archaeologists but which seldom make it into any published record or excavation report. Examples include dealing with local workmen, local governing bodies and military, accidents and injury and stays in local hospitals, and working out problems in field analysis.

JS: So there’s are several themes emerging already. One is communication – the idea that there are some aspects of archaeology which are not being communicated at all: for example, the “daily life” stories you’re referring to, Al.

AL: Personalities can loom large in these accounts, and, while the events are episodic in nature, I’m trying to develop an overall narrative about my own professional development and how my views regarding the discipline matured as I was thrust into increasingly directorial positions with administrative tasks (budgets, payroll, banking, vehicles, purchasing, etc.). I make comics because I have stories that I want to tell, and I like the visual component of comics which, I think, adds to readability and general appeal to readers.

TL: For me, archaeology is chock-full of narratives that fit very, very well into a comics format. I think they often they work better there than in other formats common to research and academia. The narratives about past peoples and places are, of course, one set of stories ripe for the showing or telling in comics. But I’m more often engaged with narratives of what archaeologists do and how research is done. Trent de Boer’s Shovel Bum has been a great outlet for my ideas because it’s a comics ‘zine and ‘zines are so focused on the context of creation and experience. My first forays into archaeology comics were sketches in field books—little cartoons alongside the other notes—that recorded and commented on what I was experiencing and how archaeology was unfolding. Things grew from there; which is no surprise considering the significance of reflexivity in the social sciences.

HS: My aim in drawing these kind of “general appeal” comics is to have fun, to entertain myself and hopefully other people, and to encourage people to learn more about archaeology – make them curious. I’ve written a lot of stories, as well as writing academic papers, but I feel that a comic strip is much more inviting than a block of text. Working on these Archaeological Oddities comics is teaching me a lot about how to work with words and images.

Hannah Sackett: Archaeological Oddities No. 1: The Folkton Drums (from Archaeological Oddities, Vol. 1; 2013)

Hannah Sackett: Archaeological Oddities No. 1: The Folkton Drums (from Archaeological Oddities, Vol. 1; 2013)

JS: I know that the comics I’ve done about fieldwork in the Pacific and the Caribbean have been used by university professors to show students what they can expect, working on projects in places like that. Most of these comics were originally drawn as public outreach tools – so “general appeal” can certainly cross over to archaeological audiences. But there’s also this idea that comics can be produced specifically to communicate with other archaeologists – even other scientists. Chloe’s point about comics being useful as an interdisciplinary tool is intriguing.

TL: On that point about interdisciplinary uses, the connections between archaeology comics and comics in other sciences are certainly there. There are people—the Larry Gonicks [The Cartoon History of the Universe series, 1977 - 2008], of the world or Jim Ottaviani [Two Fisted Science, 1997; Feynman, 2011, etc.] at GT Labs—who do quite well creating comics relating to a wide range of fields. Those are people who are the connections. I view the comics as akin to the research articles or chapters that I craft as part of my position. I’ve also written, presented at archaeology conferences, and used in classes I teach a fair amount about archaeology and comics. I was interested in comics before I ever became an archaeologist—from childhood on—and that hasn’t stopped just because I earned a handful of degrees in the field.

PC: On the whole I can see no reason why any aspect of archaeology that wouldn’t fit the comics medium. After all archaeology is a very ocular process and profession which would appear to fit with the graphic, sequential art and comic medium. A natural fit with comics may be the processes/“doing” of archaeology and the interpretation of archaeological data. However, if done well I can’t see why the reporting of archaeological facts and data couldn’t incorporate either elements of the comic medium or be entirely presented as a comic. What may hold the archaeological data representation back from the comics medium is the ease with how a written report can be carried out, and how that is accepted.

JS: Yes, I’d like to pick up on some of those practical questions a bit later on. There’s one other theme which Hannah has mentioned: that of education and outreach. Hannah, both you and I have used comics in this way. What is it about comics in particular that make them useful for archaeological education and outreach?

HS: I think the most obvious fit between comics and archaeology is in the areas of public outreach and education, that’s true – to explain sites and archaeology and interpretations. As I mentioned earlier, a comic draws you in better than a block of text, and it will also be more appealing to children and younger people (children love to read speech bubbles!). On a notice board, you can fit more information into a comic than you can into a block of text next to a picture, and I think people are more likely to read it (although some people do have an issue/mental block about comics).

JS: I’ve certainly noticed that when you start using comics as tools to talk about archaeology, you can let the pictures do a lot of the explaining. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to describe in text, visual and spatial relationships – say, between the different layers within a site trench, or different building phases in a structure. But with a comic, you can create panels which show all these things, freeing up your text to do other things. You can also use the panels to build explicit and complex chronological relationships: how what was built in the Neolithic relates to what was built later in the Bronze Age, or how buried objects change through time. These are all things which are often really, really difficult to make clear and concise when using text alone. Comics can be a very powerful communications tool in that regard. And what’s even more interesting is, in using panels, image and text like this, you actually end up “smarting up”, rather than “dumbing down”; I’ve found I can make my comics cover quite complex and sophisticated concepts as a result.

PC: Archaeological narrative can often be cloaked in inaccessible academic phraseology and description. This can be overcome in the comics medium, providing both outreach and wider educational appeal. However, I feel that if archaeological comics are largely produced solely for outreach and wider education then they will never be accepted as rigorous pieces of academic work. There is a danger that archaeological comics could become a handmaiden to the more traditional archaeological report and publication. Something I feel should be avoided.

AW: I think that the use of comics in archaeology for public outreach is in its infancy and is deserving of wide adoption. While archaeology as a discipline has a fundamental infrastructure (e.g., the notions of stratification and stratigraphy [4], the role of context, the importance of spatial documentation, the need for maps and plans and drawn sections, and so forth), expressions of antiquity are usually very localized. Hence, there are localized conventions and practices in archaeology that would be inappropriate in other areas. This localization means, I believe, that comics will need to be localized for most regions, projects, and sites. A reconnaissance in the U.S. desert Southwest would be treated, visually, quite differently from, say, the excavation of a Bronze Age barrow in Sussex or the reconstruction of a Neolithic site in Turkey. There’s not much opportunity for a “one size fits all” approach here, and localized comics for local projects will be the most effective.

JS: It’s interesting to note that I think we’re all very much agreed on one thing: no matter how comics are used in archaeology, it’s the input of the archaeologists that is key. Whether it’s, as Pete says, avoiding educational comics becoming a poor second cousin to the more formal archaeological report; or as Al points out, steering clear of a “one size fits all” approach and concentrating on a more specifically-focused approach to the visuals; or, as Troy mentioned earlier, making sure that the real experiences of archaeological process are present within the narrative.

This brings me back to something Pete raised earlier, and which I’d like to focus on in the second part of our panel discussion: the practicalities of introducing the use of comics into archaeological practice.

Al B. Wesolowsky: Page from Free Flight (unpublished, 2008)

Al B. Wesolowsky: Page from Free Flight (unpublished, 2008)

Click here to read part 2 of this panel.

*               *               *

Chloe Brown is a Fine Arts graduate, currently studying for an MSc in Bioarchaeology at the University of York whilst forming an archaeological illustration business. She is producing her first archaeological comics this summer based on experiences working both in the lab and the field.

Peter Connelly is Director of Archaeology at York Archaeological Trust and a Trustee of the Council of British Archaeology. He was Director of York’s Hungate excavations for five years and has a wide range of experience in large-scale public archaeology. He’s not a comic creator (yet), but has long been a reader of Silver Age and independent comics.

Troy Lovata is Associate Professor of Archaeology at University of New Mexico Honours College. He has been a long-time contributor of comics to the archaeological ‘zine Shovel Bum, and produced part of his PhD defence in the form of a comic. His book Inauthentic Archaeologies: The Public Uses and Abuses of the Past, was published by Left Coast Press in 2007.

Hannah Sackett received a PhD in landscape archaeology from Leicester University, and is is currently developing a project on visual narrative and the reception of museums with Pr. Stephanie Moser at the University of Southampton. She has published papers on the use of land in eighteenth and nineteenth century Buckinghamshire, bronze age rock carvings in Norway, and archaeology in the writings of Lewis Grassic Gibbon. She is the creator of the Archaeological Oddities comics, and is collaborating with John Swogger on a graphic novel set in Neolithic Orkney.

John Swogger has been an archaeological illustrator for almost twenty years, working for small archaeological units, museums, excavation projects and as a freelance illustrator. For ten years he was site illustrator for the Çatalhöyük Research Project in Turkey. He has produced comics for education and interpretation projects in the UK (Bryn Celli Ddu, Barclodiad y Gawres, Llyn Cerrig Bach – CADW), the Caribbean (Archaeology in the Caribbean - Carriacou Island Archaeology Project) and the Pacific Islands (Palau: An archaeological field journal), and has written comics about the use of comics in archaeology to the Society for American Archaeology.

Al B. Wesolowsky is the retired Managing Editor of the Journal of Field Archaeology and the current Art Editor of the same publication. He received the MFA from the Center for Cartoon Studies, White River Junction, Vermont, in 2009. He has an extensive background in excavation in Texas and the Balkans and creates comics based on his experiences in the field.

[1] – Piltdown Man: an archaeological hoax perpetrated in the early twentieth century relating to a discovery of human skull fragments purporting to be evidence of a “missing link” between ape and man. The find was alleged to have been made near Piltdown, East Sussex, UK. The hoax was conclusively exposed in 1953. The identity of the forger has never been discovered.

[2] – Folkton Drums: a collection of highly-decorated carved chalk objects found in association with a neolithic burial site near Folkton, Yorkshire, UK. Their exact purpose is unknown.

[3] – Silbury Hill: a mound near Avebury, UK, dating from the Neolithic period. Its purpose has been the object of much speculation, and various claims for its prehistoric use as a spiritual or ritual centre have been made. Most archaeologists tend to reserve their judgement on the exact role it played during the Neolithic.

[4] – Stratification: the principle that layers within the soil are built up chronologically, thus enabling archaeologists to determine how old something is by how deep it was found in the ground.

 
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Posted by on 2014/03/11 in Guest Writers

 
 
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