Conor Byrne

I’m Conor, I’m currently studying for my MA in Media and Communications at Bournemouth University whilst also working as a freelance writer. My research interests lie in niche media and internet subcultures.
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Call for Papers for Comics Up Close at LICAF 2021

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Image courtesy of Pixabay via Stockvault

The following blog post is a call for submissions by Comics Up Close – New Perspectives in Comic Art as part of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2021. At this event, Dr Anna Feigenbaum is going to be presenting our own research alongside other comics-based academic projects. If you are an academic with interests relating to comics and graphic novels, this could be a valuable opportunity for you to present your work at an award-winning comics festival

A Call for Papers for Comics Up Close – New Perspectives in Comic Art, the opening event of Lakes International Comic Art Festival on 15th October 2021, has just been announced by the team from LICAF and ReOPeN, Lancaster University’s graphic novels and comics pedagogy, research and engagement network.

We welcome the submission of abstracts for short papers that explore any aspect of comic art or graphic novels. For comics-inspired academics, this is an opportunity to share your current or recent project with other researchers, illustrators, writers and teachers in the field, as well as members of the general public passionate about comics. These papers will be part of sessions inspired by the PechaKucha
presentation method: participants are asked to speak for eight
minutes, with eight slides.

Areas of interest include but are not restricted to: comics for empowerment, social justice and change, comic histories, comics and
the reinterpretation of literature, the politics of comic art, international
comics, graphic narratives, comics and horror, cinema, education, and
science fiction.

If you are interested in taking part, please submit a title
and an abstract of up to 150 words.

The deadline for submission of extracts is 5.00pm, Monday 13th September 2021 and should be sent to Lancaster University’s:
Dr. Andrew Tate (a.tate@lancaster) and
Dr. Natasa Lackovic (,
who head up the university’s graphic novels and comics pedagogy,
research and engagement network, ReOPeN.


Confirmed Comics Up Close speakers include:
Prof. Andrew Miles, University of Manchester
Dr. Anna Feigenbaum, Dept. of Communications & Journalism at
Bournemouth University.
Helen Jones, Institute of Education at University College, London.
Dr Joe Sutliff Sanders, Faculty of English at Cambridge University.

More Information about licaf 2021 and COmics up close can be found at:

Twitter: @comicartfestpod

Facebook: @comicartpodcast

Instagram: @comicartpodcast

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Graphic Images: how webcomics can aid public health awareness

Dave Whamond/

As you’ve probably guessed from the title, webcomics are being discussed as a new method for getting across public health messaging. Alexandra Alberda, a researcher at Bournemouth University, explained some of her ideas about how and why webcomics – and data-comics – work so well at getting across info, with a particular focus on using them during the pandemic.

COVID-19 has been a long and drawn-out catastrophe, and there has been a need to get urgent messages out to the public for everyone’s safety and well-being. But these messages can get muddled, drowned amongst a sea of long press-conferences, Twitter mis-info, and wild conspiracy videos. This is where the unique aspects of webcomics can step in and help.

Connie Hanzhang Jin/NPR

For a start, comics are easy to engage with for a lot of people, young and old. They have an aesthetic and use of language that is simple enough to be accessible for a very broad target audience. That broad appeal, especially in the context of educating the public about a pandemic, makes them a potentially powerful tool for public health communications.

‘Data-comics’ are something Alberda discussed in her talk as part of the speaker series. Now, the words ‘data’ ‘statistics’ and ‘figures’ are bound to immediately put off a lot of people (myself included) who don’t have a mathematical bone in their body. The same goes for charts and graphs, which can be pretty dry at the best of times. So, data-comics attempt to bridge that gap, and aim to repackage that info – for example, virus R-numbers, infection rates, risk calculations etc. – into something more easily digestible and understandable.  Take XKCD, the long-running webcomic that blends scientific topics with sardonic humour and a classic stick-figure aesthetic, or the Graphic Medicine project run by illustrators and academics to see how data-comics can be used in public health communications

Randall Munroe/

At the heart of it all is storytelling. Alberda outlines that a key part of web and datacomics about medicine and public health is transforming a whole mess of disparate facts and figures and putting them into a story format. Storytelling is such an innately human way of making sense complex things and issues. We tell children cautionary tales to warn them of the dangers out there, we package world events and issues into news stories and articles, and we even organise our memories into story-like structures. A great example of this can be seen in a webcomic that’s sprung up specifically to explain coronavirus to kids in a way that hopefully appeals to them through light-hearted dialogue and a fun, childish drawing style.

So, webcomics might just be an ideal way to get public health messages and guidance across effectively and entertainingly to a wide range of people across all demographics, and COVID-19 might just be the push that gets the ball really rolling.

Comic credits, from top to bottom:

Featured image: Malaka Gharib/NPR
Dave Whamond/
Connie Hanzhang Jin/NPR
Randall Munroe/

All images have been used for educational purposes, please contact for removal.

Originally published at:

Conor Byrne Author
Research Assistant

I’m Conor, I’m currently studying for my MA in Media and Communications at Bournemouth University whilst also working as a freelance writer. My research interests lie in niche media and internet subcultures