I am interested in how comics can encourage activism and make real political change. While political cartoons are a familiar feature in our newspapers, I do not believe that research has ever been conducted into what tangible effects they have in the real world.
In 2016-17, I conceived and coordinated Draw the Line, a project bringing together more than 100 comic artists from around the world, each depicting one action you can take when you don’t like the current political landscape.
From simple actions like signing a petition or going on a march, to more surprising ones such as shop dropping or becoming a ‘Raging Granny’, the end result is a toolkit for people who want to make change but don’t know quite where to start.
After self-publishing a volume, with the invaluable help of Karrie Fransman, Woodrow Phoenix, Michi Matthias, Simon Russell and Zara Slattery, I then sent a pitch to Street Noise Books who published an adapted version for the US in 2021.
And talking of tangible effects, thus far we have heard that Draw the Line has inspired a young man to pose a question at a public council meeting, requesting that the authority divest from fossil fuel-related pensions; that a pair of artists were moved to create a zine about the role of women in their local area and leave it around their town for others to pick up; and that two older women in Hastings have set up their own chapter of the Raging Grannies.
The book continues to make change in two other significant ways: first, the artists have released all artwork under Creative Commons, meaning it can be freely used by others (with attribution) for non-commercial campaigning purposes.
And secondly, all proceeds/royalties are donated to the charity Choose Love, who are proactive around the world in keeping refugees safe and healthy.
Seems like political comics really can have a tangible effect.
In 2021, infuriated by the UK’s government’s crackdown on the right to protest in the
Police, Crimes and Sentencing Bill, I spent the month of October drawing a different protest placard every day. Read more.
REPORTAGE, SKETCH DIARIES AND SELF-PUBLISHED COMICS
Comic-making doesn’t bring fame and fortune — but it can bring opportunities for travel and fellowship, ample rewards in themselves. Read more.
I am drawing a social memoir of two periods in my life: my teen years as an Eighties goth in rural Devon, and my middle age in which I come to terms with the events of that time. Read more.