Written Submission Gallery

Along with the exhibition, I also created four books that contain, and enact, the written portion of my PhD. Each book focuses on a particular facet of my research: Comics as a Synthetic Medium, Childhood Memoirs, Mapping Autobiography, and Media Specificity in Non-traditional Graphic Narratives. These books are, themselves pieces of practice, where the design is integral to the theories discussed therein. Derrida has said that deconstruction is something that happens within the text, where the manner in which we argue a theory works against the theory itself. This submission was created with that in mind, as I consciously performed deconstruction on form as well as content in my work.

Viva Exhibition Gallery

I’m happy to finally be able to share some of the objects and outcomes from my PhD!

What I decided to exhibit for the examiners is, of course, a curated selection of the pieces I have created, and these images are a sample from that show. But as my narratives are built by accreating levels of meaning through iterations of memory, this collection of photographs adds another layer through my choice of grouping and framing, both in the room itself and in the representations you see before you.

I hope you enjoy, and more importantly, I hope they pique your curiosity. I urge the viewer to try to weave their own stories from the glimpses of moments and shards of thought you find before you.

Passed!

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A very short post just to say that I had my viva voce examination on Thursday and I passed with corrections! I’ve got a lot of photos of the exhibition to edit, but there should be plenty of images coming in the near future.

Preparing for Paris

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On Saturday I leave for a week in Paris, mostly to attend the Sixth International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference / Ninth International Bande Dessinée Society Conference being held at the University of London Institute in Paris, but I’m sure there will be some sightseeing as well. Don’t be surprised if my Instagram blows up.

My talk is called ‘Mapping the Journey: The Cartography of Autobiography’. I’ll be giving it on Tuesday morning, at 9:30am in the Auto/Biography panel. If you’re attending the conference, I hope to see you there!

Here is a copy of my abstract.

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Unconference!

 

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Last Saturday, five of us organized an unconference that was held in Glasgow. It was my first experience of an unconference, either as an attendee or organizer.

I really liked the idea of bringing together a diverse group of comics makers, comics lovers and comics academics to discuss the topics that interest us. We had about 30 attendees, which is pretty good for our first run out. I’d love it if next time we got more makers involved, but this is all a learning process for everyone!

The first session of the day consisted of collating everyone’s ideas for topics and voting on the day’s remaining sessions.

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Damon, pictured above, made a short video about the day. I think there will be video of my performance comic later too… {eeek!}

From the feedback we got, it seemed to go really well. There are definitely some things we now know to do differently next time, but overall, the participants enjoyed it and we think there will be a next time!

Here’s a shot of us all at the end of the day.

There was a fair bit of live tweeting (I tried, but flagged towards the end of the day) and there’s a storify, if anyone is interested in the topics covered throughout the day.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to try to collate some lists of links to topics covered, websites mentioned, webcomics and comics the participants make. Hopefully this will serve as a jumping off forum for more critical comics discussions in the coming months!

In the meantime, here are a few of the participant’s thoughts on the event:

Zine Workshop

Last night was the Bookmarks artist’s book and zine fair at the ECA, organized by Lucy Roscoe. It went really well and was pretty consistently busy for at least three and a half of the four hours it was on. Got a chance to chat with lots of nice folks, and I hope some of them get involved in the cool comics and zine projects happening in Scotland right now. I had TGC comics, a bunch of TYCI zines, and a few copies of Don’t Make a Scene, a new zine that’s just come out about DIY music production.

Here’s a quick before and after of the zines I had one the table. Everyone sold something, I think at least half the huge pile of TYCI zines I had were picked up, and there was quite a bit of interest in the Unconference coming up in Feb. Not bad going!

before & after

As well as chatting to folks about zines in general, and some of the great self-published stuff coming out of Scotland, I was manning the table displaying the work the illustration masters students created from the workshop I gave over the past ten days. First off, I want to say a huge thank you to Bev Hood, Michael Windle and all the students.

After giving an introduction to zines and zine culture, as it has progressed over the decades, I then got to meet with all the students one-on-one to help them create a zine of their own to show at Bookmarks. On Monday, one week from my original introductory talk, we got back together for a group crit to show everyone each others projects, get feedback, share the snags we ran into along the way and discuss practicalities such as pricing, materials and editioning of work.

I was impressed at the work everyone produced in such a short amount of time. For some, the pieces are continuations of their overall practice, while others used the short turn-around time as an excuse to experiment with different formats and content.

Last night we collected everyone’s zines together to display, while many of the individual zines were for sale on the student’s own tables. This photo doesn’t do the work justice, but gives you some idea of how varied the output was. There’s linocut, screen printing, postcards, hand-sewn books, concertinas, scrolls, photocopied zines, and spinning paper wheels involved.

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I had a really wonderful time working with the students and hope they got as much out of the process and I did. And I’m looking forward to doing a slightly different version of this zine workshop with the graphic design students in 2015.

Comics Forum 2014

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Just back from Leeds and my first time attending Comics Forum. I really enjoyed all the talks I attended in the two days, as well as getting a chance to see some of my favourite comics academics and catch up with most everyone. I missed a few folks, but that always happens.

I did a whole bunch of live-tweeting, for as long as my phone’s battery allowed, so you can catch up on the panels if you missed it by searching #comicsforum14.

My talk was first thing on the first day. I haven’t seen any documentation of it, as everyone was scrambling because the wifi in the library was down. But I heard from a few folks that they really enjoyed it, and it seemed well received, which is what matter most!

Here is my revised abstract:

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Publication

I’m officially a published academic now! My first peer reviewed journal article is now available online, and soon in the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. This is an expanded version of my conference talk from 2013’s Graphic Novel and Comics Conference: Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile and digital adaptability of non-traditional narratives in comics

Abstract
The demand for digital comics has increased steadily with the growth of the mobile market. This has led many comic authors to consider the importance of the physicality of their work. While many comics are being digitally converted using existing delivery channels, comics that push the boundaries of narrative find this transition more difficult. Many of the current distribution channels either attempt to emulate books, or guide the reader from panel to panel, but many non-traditional narratives require greater engagement than is allowed for under these models. Jason Shiga’s ‘choose-your-own-adventure’-style comic Meanwhile (2010. New York: Amulet) serves as a valuable example of such a story. Shiga co-developed a stand-alone iPad app for his book, which incorporates the interactive elements of his physical comic. I discuss how the app translated the experience of the book object to the digital realm, and touch on other experimental attempts to engage with readers digitally.

Work in progress

I’m turning a desk into a tank

 

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And have been putting together a booklet to document the exhibition from April

 

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It’s got so many gatefolds that I am glad I am the one having to make the damn thing!

 

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Cultural Politics of Memory Conference in Cardiff

 

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Bringing together almost 150 academics from across Europe and North America, the International Conference on the Cultural Politics of Memory at Cardiff University provided interdisciplinary insight into the diverse way memory studies is being utilized to contextualize contemporary life, societies and cultures.

Cardiff provided a very relevant backdrop for our discussions of memory. On the first evening, there was a trip organized to Butetown History and Arts Centre. Co-founded by Dr. Glenn Jordan and Professor Chris Weedon, who had given the opening lecture and helped organize the conference, the centre attempts to give voice to the marginalized histories of Cardiff’s dock-workers. Butetown, also known as Tiger Bay, has been home to immigrant populations in Cardiff for over one hundred years, and subject to numerous regeneration projects. It is a neighbourhood whose residents understand only to well the subjective memory of accepted history and the relevance of lived experience in contextualizing such official accounts. As part of a continuing project to engage with the community, the centre houses a repository of over 450 hours of oral history and 3,000 photographs collected over the past twenty years.

Each day, plenary lectures, such as the one on Butetown, were delivered by speakers well respected in their individual fields. Conference attendees came from a variety of disciplines: sociology, literature, history, and media studies to name a few. This provided an opportunity for a wide-range of viewpoints to converge on a single topic.

Presentations ranged from themes of war and power narratives to the use of memory in popular culture and literature. This provided an opportunity to re-contextualize my own research, grounded as it is in design practice, and encouraged dialogue between fields that may not otherwise overlap. My own paper, entitled ‘Subjectivity of Memory in Childhood Graphic Memoirs’, situated on a panel entitled Literatures of Identity and Self, was well received and generated useful discussion and feedback.

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