Comics & Research – event information

Directions, Event schedule, Speaker information, and internet information
Comics & Research: Applied Comics Network
10am-4pm Thursday 28th March

We’re looking forward to welcoming you to our Comics & Research event. If you haven’t yet booked, please use this form

This blog post has information about the event – or, download it as one PDF ComicsAndResearch_AppliedComicsNetwork_Thu28March2019

For general directions to Newcastle University, see
We will be in Fine Art Lecture Theatre (2.01 King Edward VII Building). This is building number 30 on the campus map
The photo below shows what the closest entrance to 2.01 currently looks like. Walk round the green building work portakabins, and look up for the big plate glass windows. We’ll do our best to put up posters. There are other entrances to the building but this is by far the most direct way.

Event schedule
10am-4pm Thursday 28th March
Fine Art Lecture Theatre (2.01 King Edward VII Building), Newcastle University main campus

10 Welcome
• housekeeping: fire exits, toilets, breaks, wifi, twitter @AppComNet #AppComNet

10.05-10.30 Introductory session
• Applied comics: what is it, and what could it become. Recap of previous ACN events; indication of consultation and planning for field guide (Ian, John, Lydia)
• From ‘to see if we could’ to a process of collaboration across boundaries (Lydia Wysocki, Newcastle University)

10.30-11.10 Comics and communication of research
• Making an Impact: Visual Communication in Public Relations Comics (Ian Horton, London College of Communication)
• Drawing the Line: Applied comics and ethics in research (John Swogger, Archaeological Comics Network)

11.10-11.30 break: tea/coffee, biscuits

11.30-12.00 Comics as a method within research
• 11.30-11.50 Comics as a method within research (Liz Todd, Newcastle University)
• 11.50-12.00 Graphic facilitation: introduction to Pen Mendonça’s practice (1of2) (Pen Mendonça, University of the Arts London)
• Q&A

Activity & semi-structured discussion

1-2 lunch (walk to KGVI building together, 200 metre walk)

2-2.05 Welcome back (Fine Art Lecture Theatre)
2.05-3 Invited speakers:
• 2.05-2.25 Values-Based Cartooning, A Method for Socially Engaged Research: further insights into Pen Mendonça’s practice (2 of 2)
• 2.25-2.45 From the Woman who Walked to the Gilded Canopy: decentering the collections of natural history through comics design (Florence Okoye, Natural History Museum)
• 2.45-3 Q&A

3-4 The Future
• Applied comics: a field guide (Ian, John, Lydia to present work so far; feedback on this 1st guide in a planned series to make it more useful to academics and/or practitioners)
• 3.30-4 Plenary and next steps

4pm close Room booked until 5pm for informal conversations
Any changes to this schedule will be shared on (you can view this without a twitter account).

Speaker biographies, presentation titles & abstracts

Dr Penelope Mendonça is an independent graphic facilitator and cartoonist with more than twenty years experience of working across civil society organisations, the UK public and independent sectors. She is a pioneer of live recording practices, her graphics are widely published and have been translated in to numerous languages. Pen has a background in health and social care, supporting campaigns and facilitating co-production, throughout her career she has used cartooning as part of her roles outside of the fields of art and design.

Values-Based Cartooning, A Method for Socially Engaged Research

Pen will discuss her professional practice and informal campaigning, along with findings from her PhD which developed the concept of Values-Based Cartooning (as a method for accessing and representing social issues). Here graphic facilitation was part of a wider cartooning process which considered the experiences and perspectives of single pregnant women and single, first-time mothers of babies.

Florence Okoye is a user experience and service designer, interested in community centred and participatory design practice. An occasional doodler, she is currently exploring how comics can be used to communicate user needs, empower individuals to tell their own stories and make the stories of the past more accessible for all.

From the Woman who Walked to the Gilded Canopy: decentering the collections of natural history through comics

How do we tell the untold stories of the Natural History Museum? The challenge to make collections more accessible to a wider range of people has led to an experimentation with different media to reach out to an ever increasing digital audience but also shift perceptions for our physical visitors. This talk will explore how comics are being used to explore new perspectives and hidden stories of the Museum’s collection, revealing as much about institutions as they do its history.

Professor Liz Todd is Professor of Educational Inclusion and Deputy Director of the Centre for Social Renewal at Newcastle University. She is Deputy Director of the Centre for Social Renewal which forges partnerships between the university and external organisations in order to contribute to creative solutions to societal challenges. She is internationally recognised for her work on the interaction between communities and schools, the engagement of young people in development and research, and the use of co-produced theory of change in complex initiatives. Two of her books have been highly commended, Beyond the school gates; can full service and extended schools overcome disadvantage? and Partnerships for inclusive education was shortlisted for the NASEN/TES prize. She is also co-editor of the only two UK books on video interaction guidance.

Comics as a method within research

Comics is a creative medium also in use as a method in social science research. By exploring how this emergent and as yet under-theorised aspect of social science methodology can be used in a range of research approaches and processes, it becomes clear that comics is already used in multiple aspects of academic research including but far more than dissemination and consent. Through a focus on comics, questioning what counts as data and whose interpretations of data are privileged thus approaches deeper issues of whose voices are privileged in research.

John Swogger is an archaeological illustrator and field archaeologist who specialises in the use of comics to communicate research in archaeology. He works on long-term field projects in the Caribbean and the islands of the Western Pacific, but is currently also working on comics and cultural heritage projects in the USA, North Wales, Central America and Yemen.

Drawing the Line: Applied comics and ethics in research

Abstract: As an archaeological illustrator, I principally use applied comics as a way to communicate information about surveys, excavations and museum exhibits to public audiences. However, not all public communication in archaeology is purely informational. Recent comics projects have told the stories of repatriations of sacred items and ancestral remains from US museums back to Native American communities under NAGPRA legislation (the “Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act”). Working collaboratively with both museum anthropologists and Native communities has raised various ethical issues about when and how items, people, places and events are shown – or not. What are the ethical issues involved in visual storytelling when the right to visualising certain things is contested?

Dr Ian Horton is Reader in Graphic Communication at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. He has published work on: oral history and text-based public art; colonialist stereotypes in European and British comic books; the relationship between art history and comics studies; public relations and comic books.

Making an Impact: Visual Communication in Public Relations Comics

Abstract: Applied Comics are used to examine many different issues with history, science, technology and the socio-political being some of the most significant topics. The diversity of visual devices employed in such comics is evident in all of the categories outlined above but specific modes are most usually employed to tackle certain subjects. For example, the scientific and technological often employ diagrammatic devices whilst historical and politically engaged works tend towards the illustrative. By examining three Public Relations comics about nuclear warfare; Duck and Cover (1951), Protect and Survive (1980) and When the Wind Blows (1982), it is possible to consider both the complexity of the visual devices employed and the impact these might have on different readers.

Lydia Wysocki is a Research Associate in the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University, where she is also undertaking a part-time PhD. Her research interests include: comics and the communication of information and values, sociocultural approaches to processes of collaboration, and using comics as a method of data collection and analysis. She founded and leads Applied Comics Etc, working with comics creators and subject specialists to use comics for specific informative and educational purposes.

From ‘to see if we could’ to a process of collaboration across boundaries

A very brief tour of some collaborative comics projects with Newcastle University so far, shared here as examples of what can be done with comics and research. These include: Asteroid Belter: The Newcastle Science Comic (10k copies, 76 collaborators, much fun and lots of learning), Gertrude Bell: Archaeologist, writer, explorer (using hotspots in online comics to connect with digitised archive sources), FaSMEd Comic (children making comics to reflect on their lessons, to support interviews, and as a research project output), and Freedom City Comics (37k copies, 17 collaborators, and heading towards a theoretical framework for collaboration in applied comics).

The internet
For wifi at the event:
• if you have a Newcastle University staff or student login, use newcastle-university
• if you have a login for another educational institution, use Eduroam
• or, use The Cloud (WiFi Guest)
More detail and a link to rules of use:

To keep in touch on twitter:
• our account is @AppComNet
• our hashtag is #AppComNet

Our blog/website is

For last-minute queries about this event, tweet @AppComNet or email lydia.wysocki (at)

Event co-organisers: Lydia Wysocki, Ian Horton, and John Swogger
March 2019

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