Comics forever and ever

I’ve been thinking about the issues related to webcomics/digital comics and preservation for a while now, everything from the cartoonist’s personal archiving mechanisms to long-term issues with access and preservation. Traditional comics might start and end their “active” lives as print-based media, but what about everything else that doesn’t fall within this (ever-narrowing) scope? In proposing a project to research the archival habits of digital artists – specifically, cartoonists producing web-based comics – I’ve fallen down a bit of a research rabbit hole that’s offering many, many questions, but no answers yet.

This blog will serve to collect some of my thoughts and research notes through the process and the first steps of investigation, potentially touching on these topics:

  • Why is this material important to save? (do we really still have to prove why comics are a valid thing and worthy of long-term consideration and study?)
  • What concerns do cartoonists and illustrators who work in digital media have about the long-term use/access of their work? What are their current practices?
  • What values do the creators ascribe to their work? How does that affect or impact their preservation decisions?
  • Is there social “preservation” WRT fans saving and archiving work? Are there other actions/behaviors that aren’t explicitly a preservation activity but that support continued access?

etc etc etc.

In the meantime, I’m interviewing and surveying a few cartoonists to kick things off, and will be presenting those preliminary findings at the ARLIS/NA-VRA joint conference this March in Seattle. More on that soon!

 

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Author: Stephanie Grimm

Art and Art History Librarian at George Mason University

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