Wednesday, November 28, 2012

UAF Podcast - "Why can't my dissertation have pictures"

Out of the blue Monday evening, I received an email from Chris Malmberg, a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, sharing a podcast he had done with his colleague Brooke Sheridan titled "Why can't my dissertation have pictures too?" on the use of comics in education and was in large part a discussion around my dissertation and the implications for what academic inquiry can look like.

Brooke has been delving extensively into comics in education  (you can see more of her reflections here) and offers some spot on insight into my work - startlingly so considering having no contact with me prior. I found their conversation tremendously useful to me as I continue to develop my argument and I think those interested in comics in education and considerations of new forms of academic scholarship will as well. Check out the iTeach Podcast from the University of Alaska Fairbanks here.

A sidenote: near the end of the podcast, Brooke goes into some detail explaining a page from my piece the Shape of Our Thoughts. The page is intentionally able to be read non-linearly and emphasizes the way creating a comic, in that spatial play of visual and verbal, can facilitate creative discoveries. I cite, and Brooke mentions, a study by Robert Root-Bernstein in which he found that scientists' training as artists helped in their process of discovering. The broader implications of this study are central to my dissertation and using comics - having access to alternative means of seeing allowed those individuals to look at problems and make connections in ways their more narrowly educated peers limited to a single mode of thinking could not. Anyhow, the page is below as are some of the sketches that led to its development.

Thanks Chris and Brooke, hope you all enjoy their conversation. - Nick

Monday, November 26, 2012

NY Comics & Picture-stories Symposium

Tonight (November 26) at 7pm, I'll be talking comics at the 27th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-stories Symposium hosted by Ben Katchor. I'll be talking on my dissertation and comics as a means of legitimate scholarly discourse. Also, first up tonight, Mark Lerer will be talking on the history of comics fanzines. The symposium has been a great opportunity to connect with other comics makers, scholars, historians, librarians, and more in a relaxed setting. Interested in comics, telling stories in pictures? Come on out!

In the meantime, i'm drawing the final pages of Chapter 2, should be finished soon. Sharing one image from the final six-page sequence below... - Nick

(Can't/couldn't make it out? Some links that relate to what I'm talking on, and of course excerpts from the dissertation can be accessed by scanning my site or clicking the "dissertation" tab...
Interview in Russia's Theory&Practice
From Visual Arts Research Journal - "The Shape of Our Thoughts")

Monday, November 19, 2012

Testing, testing... extended sequence from Ch 1

As I'm putting together the final pages of Chapter Two, wanted to share a few unseen pages and a complete sequence from Chapter One - reflections on being stuck and how systems perhaps built with the best of intentions, end up becoming a trap. I shared two pages on "Boxes" before as they were on view at Gallery Project in Ann Arbor, MI for the exhibition Quantified Self. Four other pages I've yet to share on my site were on view at Gallery Project's Grammar of the Elite. End of Ch 2 coming soon. - Nick 
(As always, these are low resolution images of the actual work.) 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Speaking at Kutztown U

Thursday, November 15, I'll be talking comics and my dissertation at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania thanks to professor Lynn M. Kutch. Should be fun! - Nick

Monday, November 12, 2012

A dog's view...

As this entire second chapter (and the dissertation in total) has been a discussion of ways of seeing, I sought to clarify that by "ways of seeing" i also mean to be inclusive of means of perception beyond the visual in a literal sense. To that end, I thought of no better example than my dog and what I learned from him. As the page developed, it went from a side note about the other ways of perception, to I think a significant summation and expansion of the chapter's ideas about the limitations of our vision and how we might expand perception. I drew from a great piece on dog's sense of smell in the New Yorker, and then I was profoundly struck by a piece from New Scientist which led to thinking about a dog's sense of smell as a time capsule (both fantastic articles). Anyhow, if you're new to following along, the final reference of "upwards not northwards" comes from my earlier Flatland sequence here. This was also a nice opportunity to revisit with memories of my dog Sledge - from the photos (a few shared below) and a journal I'd kept of one year of our adventures.... - Nick

(Since posting this, I've finished Ch2, which can be read in its entirety here.)

Sunday, November 4, 2012


My return to making comics was triggered by an invitation to participate in a political art show in Detroit on the eve of the 2004 election. That piece, "Security" was quickly followed up by with a second piece "A Show of Hands" immediately after the election. Much that emerged in that second piece shapes the way I've been working since. For the 2008 election, I made the piece "Seeing Red/Feeling Blue," which prompted me to launch this digital space. I took a quick break from the dissertation to continue this quadrennial tradition with the following piece on labels. In many ways it follows up on what I was dealing with in the Red/Blue piece, but it also plays on things I've been thinking about in the dissertation - specifically my intentionality in leaving specific words out of the work that might act to prevent readers from accessing the work. I see this in conversations on politics all the time - how people who otherwise get along quite swimmingly, are torn asunder by the introduction of a single label. In this heated, divisive time in this country, I felt compelled to make something that talks about our commonality and all that we share - which I suppose is what all my political comics have been about. Anyhow - enough words, here 'tis. More dissertation pages soon. - Nick