THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Digital scholarship blog

03 October 2016

Comics and Play In The Sunshine State

Posted by Mahendra Mahey on behalf of Matt Finch.

I’m currently a BL Labs Creative/Researcher alongside my role as Creative in Residence for the State Library of Queensland. SLQ is an Australian institution which serves a population of over four and a half million people…spread over an area three times the size of France.

Matt_finch
Matt Finch Creative in Residence at the State Library of Queensland

Our footprint stretches from our headquarters in Brisbane’s cultural precinct to the Indigenous communities of the Torres Strait Islands in the north, the Great Barrier Reef to the east and the edge of the Simpson Desert to the west.

Such a demanding geography means we blend physical and digital activities, embracing our collections but also creating opportunities for local communities to surprise us with their own plans, schemes, dreams, and innovations. We seek to imagine a digital future for Queensland which acknowledges Traditional Owners of the land and pays respect to Indigenous elders past, present, and future, as well as embracing all the many and diverse communities who live, work, and play here.

So what does a Creative in Residence do? You’re equally likely to find someone in my role unearthing new material for our collections, reimagining panel discussions for a writers’ festival, helping teens fight zombies in an abandoned showground , or working in digital spaces.

Given the huge distances involved when you work in a state like ours, we’re especially interested in geolinked collections and mobile digital access. Partnering with BL Labs, we’re currently working on ways to celebrate and share Queensland-related material from the BL collections.

We also make stuff which is brand spanking new. This month, the State Library has released an online comic maker for the global Fun Palaces event which takes place every October.

Comic maker
Online Comic Maker

The Fun Palaces manifesto is “everyone an artist, everyone a scientist” which chimes well with libraries’ mission to ensure everyone has freedom to explore human knowledge and culture on their own terms. (In my mind, the secret manifesto is “hit the library get a drink start a riot”).

The comic maker was piloted in 2015 and this year has been fully integrated into the Fun Palaces site – but we’ve also released the code behind the comic maker on Github.

Comic code
Online Comic Maker in action!

In 2015, users around the world surprised us by using the simple comic maker to create non-narrative comics, cheeky horror storiesand even comics in Te Reo Māori – this year we look forward to people reimagining, repurposing, and reworking the code behind the comic maker into weird and wonderful new forms. We’d also love to see friends of the BL Labs, sister institutions, and communities worldwide put their own image sets into the drag-and-drop image inventory.

You can contact Matt on Twitter @DrMattFinch

Please don't forget to book for our latest events:

Black Abolitionists in 19th Century Britain. 

Thu 6 Oct, 19:00 – 21:00

British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB

Cost: £8 (Concessions available)

An informative and entertaining evening of talks, performances and discussion about the antislavery movement with scholar Hannah-Rose Murray, actor and writer Joe Williams and actress Martelle Edinborough. 

For more information, please visit: https://goo.gl/WxigUQ

Fourth annual British Library Labs Symposium.

Mon 7 Nov, 9:30 – 17:30

British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB

Cost: FREE

The Symposium showcases innovative projects which use the British Library's digital content and provides a platform for development, networking and debate in the digital scholarship field.  This year’s keynote will be given by Melissa Terras , Professor of Digital Humanities at University College London, entitled 'Unexpected repurposing: the British Library's Digital Collections and UCL teaching, research and infrastructure'.

For more information, please visit:  https://goo.gl/2twnr5

We Are Amused! A Night of Victorian Humour.

Mon 7 Nov, 19:00 – 21:00

British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB

Cost: £12 (Concessions available)

Following the BL Labs Symposium, join Dr Bob Nicholson (Edge Hill University) and comedians Zoe Lyons, Bob Mills and Iszi Lawrence for the evening as they unearth thousands of old puns, sketches, one-liners, mother-in-law jokes, saucy songs and other comic clippings from the 19th century.

For more information, please visit: https://goo.gl/QASR6K

The Way Ahead? Map Making and Digital Skills for Geography Teaching.

Sat 12 Nov, 9:45 – 13:30

British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB

Cost: £12 - £24

This half-day conference for Geography teachers at Key Stages 2–5 uncovers the British Library’s forthcoming major exhibition Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line and explores a range of approaches to interpreting and creating maps, with a focus on digital resources, to support and enrich Geography in the Primary and Secondary classroom. 

For more information, please visit: https://goo.gl/f014YR

Black Abolitionist Walking Tour.

Sat 26 Nov, 13:30 – 17:00

Starting at the Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ

Cost: FREE (places limited)

An afternoon walking tour around central London which will visit six sites where African American abolitionists made an indelible mark on the British landscape. The walking tour will be followed by food, drinks and a short re-enactment of an antislavery meeting at the Old Crown Public House.

For more information, please visit: https://goo.gl/N4acXE