As data is becoming a more present part of public and social organisations and businesses, the need for engaging data communication is on the rise. Comics and related graphic forms allow for more inclusion of lived experience, help invoke empathy, and can make long lasting impacts. But where do you begin to communicate your data through comics?
This zine was created as part of the 2018 ESRC Festival of Social Science at Bournemouth University. It was designed to help participants get started with making data comics. Focused on the ‘4 Pillars of Data Visualisation’, the zine takes readers through the key elements that, when combined, can create effective and empathetic data comics.
This event was designed by Dr. Anna Feigenbaum and facilitated by Professor Einar Thorsen, doctoral candidate Alexandra Alberda and Mres candidate Andrew White, members of the BU Civic Media Hub. All zine illustrations were done by Alexandra Alberda.
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.