Applied Comics

Applied Comics Poster_150dpi

I was just thinking to myself how I really ought to write a blog post about the excellent Applied Comics meet-up that I attended on 9th May, when a feature popped up on the Today Programme about Benjamin Dix’s work in comics journalism.

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The comics created by researcher Benjamin Dix and artist Lindsay Pollock are a perfect example of how comics in the UK have stepped far beyond superheroes, and are being used to talk about everything from global and regional politics, medicine and public health, personal and social education, science and the humanities – including (of course) archaeology.

The Applied Comics Meet-Up was organised by Lydia Wysocki, John Swogger and Ian Horton. You can read an excellent account of the day’s proceedings, written by Selina Lock.

It was great to meet up with other people making and exploring comics as a way of communicating information/ideas/research and who are open minded about where this relationship might lead.

An especially enjoyable part of the meeting was the chance to play Wikipedia roulette – in which we were challenged with making a comic about a random article from Wikipedia.

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

You can read more about this on John’s blog. The challenge of writing, planning and drawing a comic in a short amount of time focused our minds, and drew out a range of different ways that comics can approach a single topic.

I’m excited at Lydia’s suggestion that a there should be a comics event with the focus on the making of comics, just as I’m excited to start reading Pat Grant’s research “Bodies on the Boards – Materiality and movement in the production of comics and graphic novels”.

Pat Grant thesis cover

I feel that comics have only just started to explore their potential in communicating academic research, but hopefully the Applied Comics Network will help them on their way.

Dr H

Folklore Fridays: Sunday 21st October 1638

Sunday 21st October 1638 double cover

This comic was created for the Past in its Place workshop, held at Buckfast Abbey 17th-18th April 2015.

Many thanks to conference organiser – Philip Schwyzer – for  accepting a comic as a contribution to the workshop, and to David Harvey, whose blog post inspired the comic.

The narrative and images for the historical account of the storm are based on The two Widecombe tracts 1638: giving a contemporary account of the great storm.

Sunday 21st October 1638

01 Jan Reynolds and the Devil

02 Jan Reynolds and the Devil

03 Jan Reynolds and the Devil

04 Jan Reynolds and the Devil

05 Jan Reynolds and the Devil

H Sackett MAP

01 Sunday 21st October 1638

02 Sunday 21st October 1638

03 Sunday 21st October 1638

04 Sunday 21st October 1638

05 Sunday 21st October 1638

Dr H

 

The Devil and Dartmoor

Buckfast Abbey detail

I’ve recently returned from The Past in its Place conference, held at Buckfast Abbey, Dartmoor. The conference was organised as part of an interdisciplinary research project exploring  the ‘history of memory’ in a range of English and Welsh locales from the early medieval period down to the modern era.

I heard many excellent papers at the conference, and have come away more interested than ever in the different art styles and forms of documentation and communication produced in the past. My own contribution was a short paper about the growing role of comics in communicating academic research to a wider audience, as well as their potential use within academia. (Anyone interested in this subject should think about coming along to the Applied Comics meet up in London on May 9th.)

Devil in Dartmoor

I also created a comic for the conference (more on this soon), narrating two stories connected to the great lightning storm that struck Widecombe-in-the-Moor church in 1638. One of these stories is a folktale, which sees the Devil descending on the moors in order to claim the soul a local sinner.

The Devil was no stranger to Dartmoor, if the placenames and folklore of the area are to be believed. Among his many activities, the Devil seems to have taken an interest in trying to disrupt the building of churches in the area. As part of the workshop, we walked up the hill from Buckfast Abbey, to the site of Holy Trinity Church, Buckfastleigh. According to legend, 196 steps were built leading to the church in order to place the church out of the reach of the Devil, who was prone to pulling down at night any building work completed during the day.

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The church is also the burial place of Squire Richard Cabell, whose extremely dubious reputation led to tales of him rampaging around the countryside with a pack of hellhounds after his death in 1677. The folklore associated with the squire may (or may not) have provided part of the inspiration for The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The church has a complex and troubled history – incidents of body snatchers, lightning strikes, damage from bomb blasts, fires and rumours of satanic rites (see here for a full account). Following a devastating fire in 1992, the church was reduced to a shell, open to the elements.

P1090021On the day when we visited, the Devil seemed to be far away.

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The sun shone and the graveyard was carpeted with flowers.

P1090018Watched by the jackdaws that nest in the church, we explored the ruins.

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Everywhere, plants and tiny saplings, tried to claim the building.

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P1090029On a sunny spring day, the site was beautiful.

Still, I would not wish to go there at night, or suffer the consequences of running around the squire’s tomb seven times widdershins.

Dr H