University of Mississippi Press
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to infect millions, kill people around the world, dismantle political, economic and cultural infrastructures, and disrupt our everyday lives, we have seen a surge in amateur and professional creative activity in the comics medium. From blogs to Instagram, superheroes to public health, educational comics to graphic memoirs, etc., artists are engaging with a variety of genres, narratives, platforms and styles to tell stories.
This edited collection brings together a range of creative work, along with practice-based and critical reflections on what it means to make, share and read comics in the time of COVID-19. Bridging the fields of comics studies, memoir studies, graphic medicine and data storytelling, this collection takes a transdisciplinary and transnational perspective, with contributions from around the world.
I am a writer, researcher, teacher and workshop leader specialising in data storytelling for civic good. From digging into dusty archives to data visualising absent deaths, I am drawn to the difficult, the messy, the ethically challenging questions that exist around the edges of debates over how we tell stories with science and data. As a consultant and trainer, I collaborate with charities, NGOs, Public Health organisations, investigative journalists and other researchers to explore empathetic and effective ways to tell data stories. I believe that it is often those without access to big budgets and fancy tools that hold the data stories we most need to change the world.
My PhD, titled Graphic Medicine Exhibited: Public Engagement with Comics in Curatorial Practice and Visitor Experience since 2010, explores the intersections of the comics medium, health, and exhibition to understand potential methodological approaches and sociocultural values of these experiences. My collaborative projects, namely with Dr Anna Feigenbaum and Aria Alamalhodaei, have explored such topics as public health, data storytelling and visualisation, comics (graphic medicine, graphic social science, data comics), and creative-led knowledge exchange. As a research illustrator I have worked on a number of projects, including the recent The Data Storytelling Workbook (Routledge 2020) and two COVID-19 webcomics. As a curator, I explore how different media, such as comics and zines, can create more emotive connections between different cultures, place, and time, contribute towards decolonisation, and foster social justice and care in upcoming museum professionals.
I teach and research in areas related mainly to popular culture, including comics, film, television, franchising and other media platforms. My interests focus on the relationships between texts, production cultures and audiences, considering the complex and variegated discourses that underpin cultural production and reception within networks of global capitalism. I have published on a wide variety of topics, including fan and audience cultures, popular transmedia franchises (Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond, Stephen King, etc.), global convergence cultures, transmedia storytelling, superhero and science fiction comics, and more. At present, I am currently working on two edited collections, Horror Franchise Cinema (with Dr Mark McKenna, Routledge) and The Scandinavian Invasion: Nordic Noir and Beyond (with Dr Richard McCulloch, Peter Lang), as well as a single-authored monograph titled Reboot Culture: Comics, Film, Transmedia for Palgrave. My future plans include working on an external funding bid that can be seen as an extension of the COVID Comics project, with a focus on the way in which comics may support adults who have received a late diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (in collaboration with Dr Rachel Mosely, also from Bournemouth University). In broad strokes, I believe that comic books have the potential to provide support and insight into health and wellbeing, not only through medical information, but also through personal testimonies and autobiographical stories.