Academic Journal Article Comic

I am delighted to be able to tell you that I have written an academic journal article in comic form. Even better: it is open access until 31 August 2021.

This came about at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (LICAF) in 2018. LICAF runs over a weekend in mid-October and during the day on the Friday they hold the Academic Sessions, a day for academics who study, make, and use comics in their work. This is always great fun and very thought-provoking too. (I don’t know whether it will happen this year – there is nothing about it on the website at present, so I asked on Twitter, but they didn’t reply.)

Anyway, two colleagues from Perth, Australia, often come over for LICAF. They are Bruce Mutard, comics maker and doctoral student, and Stuart Medley, arts and design professor at Edith Cowan University. We had met before, then at LICAF 2018 we were all producing conference records: me by live-tweeting, and Bruce and Stuart in comic sketch form. In the bar at the end of the day, where good ideas are often hatched, we were reflecting on the process together, and decided there was scope for a journal article.

The process took a while because of all our other commitments, the pandemic, and the publishing process itself. The article was eventually published on 27 May. It is called Is History Fiction? Conundrums In Graphic Representation. I got an email late that day to tell me I had 50 e-prints to give away, so I tweeted the link that evening, and again the following morning. By lunchtime I heard that they had all gone – within 16 hours of my first tweet, which is fairly amazing in itself. I tweeted about that too, and the lovely Becky Guest from Routledge, who has awesome powers, saw the tweet and decided to make the article open access for the next three months.

One thing Bruce, Stuart and I had been a little apprehensive about was the peer review process, because minor revisions to an article in comic form can mean a major amount of work. This has been discussed quite extensively at the academic sessions. With a text article, if a reviewer points out something the authors have missed, and suggests they add a sentence or two, implementing that is straightforward. With a comic, it might mean adding a new character who would have to be drawn from scratch, or one or more new panels which would affect the layout and page count as well as requiring more time-consuming drawing. So amendments to a comic can be much more complex than amendments to text.

As luck would have it, our reviewers were unanimously positive. Let me share my favourite quote:

“I like how the comic betrays readerly expectations: that is to say that the creators lead you to believe you’re embarking upon a conference review, but then the comic shifts focus and starts reflecting upon the justifications of why comics form is great for capturing/reporting on events (like conferences). The comic has a real sense of fun.”

Regular readers will know I frequently argue for a bigger role for fun in scholarship. It’s lovely to be able to put my money where my mouth is. Not that any actual money was involved in this endeavour – so, as always, thanks to my patrons who support me in producing this kind of work.

Please download, read, and share our article widely.

This blog, and the monthly #CRMethodsChat on Twitter, and my YouTube channel, are funded by my beloved patrons.  It takes me more than one working day per month to post here each week, run the Twitterchat and produce content for YouTube. At the time of writing I’m receiving funding from Patrons of $86 per month. If you think a day of my time is worth more that $86 – you can help!  Ongoing  support would be fantastic but you can also make a one-time donation through the PayPal button on this blog if that works better for you. Support from Patrons and donors also enables me to keep this blog ad-free. If you are not able to support me financially, please consider reviewing any of my books you have read – even a single-line review on Amazon or Goodreads is a huge help – or sharing a link to my work on social media. Thank you!

6 thoughts on “Academic Journal Article Comic

    • Thank you, Tom; I’m glad you like it. I assume there is ALT text. It is the publisher’s responsibiity, not the author’s; the journal is published by Taylor & Francis, who are part of global multi-national Informa, so I expect they meet all these kinds of legal requirements worldwide. If you have further concerns you could get in touch with Becky Guest of Taylor & Francis via the link in the post; she would be able to help, or to put you in touch with one of her colleagues if it’s not part of her own role.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This was very interesting and engaging due to the visual elements. Over the past year I have stopped using interviews and questionnaires for gathering research, instead I ask children and adults to use images, text and music to tell their stories. Much more interesting to read, richer in content and I feel everyone gains from the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon, thank you for your kind comment. I agree about the potential of arts-based methods for data gathering – better data, more fun for participants, more fun for researchers; what’s not to love?!


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