It’s really really soon now, you guys

Woah, those Finns are arriving pretty soon!

In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you might like to catch up on the history of my madcap idea to bring two complete strangers over to the UK to sleep on my sofa and talk about comics — hopefully to an audience, which is of course where you come in.

You can see Siiri Viljakka and Lauri Tuomi-Nikula speaking at four events in Brighton, London and Hastings, next week.

I’m pretty sure these are going to be the best Finnish-comic-and-FOI-related events ever held in the UK (and possibly the only ones) so I’d advise you to grab a ticket while you can.

We did it! Finnish cartoonists incoming

The crowdfunder to bring the Finnish cartoonists over to the UK was successful. Thanks so much to everyone who donated or helped spread the word — every tweet, email and penny helped. We launched the campaign at 13:53 on Thursday, and actually hit target on Friday at 16:17, which was a much speedier result than I dared to anticipate!

I’ve been in touch with Siiri and Lauri and they are delighted. In fact, we basically exchanged emails which read as variations of “Wooooooarrrghhhh!”.

We’ll be consolidating all the plans over the next couple of weeks, and contacting anyone who qualifies for one of the rewards.

The crowdfunding page is still active, for a couple of reasons. First, the final donation came from the Hastings Cartoon Festival, and was paid directly. Secondly, I’ll be happy to raise a bit extra just to cover any fluctuations in flights and train prices, and if there’s still some left over, we can use it to fund food and drink at the events.

Now, if you want to see Siiri and Lauri speak, which of course you do, here are the penciled-in dates. Once we’ve had absolute confirmation regarding travel arrangements and venues, I’ll advertise these again, with links to proper event pages, but for now it’s probably looking like this:

Monday 24 October – Cartoon County in Brighton

Tuesday 25 October – Citizen Beta in London

Wednesday 26 October – Gosh Comics in London

Thursday 27 October – Cartoon festival in Hastings
Image by Siiri Viljakka and Lauri Tuomi-Nikula

Help me do one of the strangest things I’ve ever done

siiri-and-lauri - image by Siiri Viljakka

Bear with me while I introduce this story, because it needs a bit of explanation. It’s worth it, though! It has everything, well, if by everything you mean Finnish people, cartoons, and crazy ideas of international collaboration.

For, much to my surprise, I find myself fundraising, with the aim of bringing two Finnish people to the UK. <- Click there if you don’t want to read the whole back story, because that’s the important bit. But read on if you want to see some lovely comics.

A crazy idea is born

As regular readers will know, I have an interesting job with a charity named mySociety. One of the areas in which we work is Freedom of Information – that’s the concept that we all have the right to ask for information from the authorities that govern us.

Now, for those people outside a small group of enthusiasts — many of whom I work with or know through my job — the phrase ‘Freedom of Information’ is almost guaranteed to provoke a blank stare, and possibly even a sudden desire to nap.

But there is an interesting side to FOI. Several, in fact. I tried to capture some of that in the sketch diary I created when we ran an FOI conference at work.

One interesting aspect of FOI is that someone had to invent it. And that person was Anders Chydenius, a Finnish priest, and he did it exactly 250 years ago. Which is why I found myself Googling to see how other countries were celebrating this landmark year — we at mySociety wanted to mark the anniversary, so I was looking around for ideas.

And what did I find?

A comic book, that’s what I found.

Not the only one

Now, bear in mind that when I was making my sketch diary, I was convinced I must be the only person in the world to have ever married comics and FOI. But no! Here were two others who had done exactly the same.

Before I knew what I was doing (and I mean that literally; I have never appreciated the full weight of that phrase before) I had located the comic artists on Facebook and written them a note, along the lines of:

Oh hey, you have no idea who I am but I saw your comic and I work for a charity that’s big on FOI and I was just wondering… I don’t have any funding or anything… but IF, just IF I was able to get some, would you consider coming to the UK to talk to some friendly comics and FOI type people?

Ever since then, we’ve been writing back and forth and we’ve formulated a plan.

The plan

We’d like Siiri and Lauri (for those are their names) to come over to the UK in the week beginning 23 October. Being easy-going types, they would *rather* sleep on the sofas of comic creating people than stay in a hotel, so that keeps costs down.

I have agreement for them to speak at four events: at the Cartoon County group I attend here in Brighton; at a similar group in Hastings, at Gosh Comics, the wonderful indie comics shop in London’s Soho, and at Citizen Beta, which is where people doing mySociety-type work meet for fun times.

The promo comic

To accompany our fundraising guide, I asked Lauri and Siiri to make me a short video clip. rather fantastically, they came back and said that they thought a comic would be more suitable. They were right, of course!

Here’s what they sent me:

myfcomicpage1

myfcomicpage2

myfcomicpage3

 

myfcomicpage4try2smollmyfcomicpage5

myfcomicpage6

 

That just makes me want to meet them all the more!

So, that’s basically it. Now for the big request.

If you can donate, please do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/FinnishComicFOI

If you can’t donate, please help by sharing the campaign everywhere you can.

THANK YOU!!!

 

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Madrid/Freedom of Information sketch diary, part 5

This is the final part of the sketch diary.
See part 1 here
part 2 here
part 3 here
and part 4 here.

p22 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p23 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p24 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p25 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p26 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Postscript:

p27 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

If you enjoyed this diary, and you live in the UK, you might want to check out www.WhatDoTheyKnow.com, where you can make your own FOI requests, or browse those of others.

If you live in one of the other countries mentioned, why not visit their sites and give them some support?

And if you live in a country where there’s no online FOI website, take a look at Alaveteli.org: with a little commitment and some help from mySociety, you could set up your own!

Madrid/Freedom of Information sketch diary, part 4

It turns out today is International Right To Know day. Well done me for organising these posts to go out at such an apposite time (let’s pretend it was deliberate).

This is part 4: see part 1 here
part 2 here
and part 3 here

p20 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p21 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p20 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p21 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

The fifth and final part is here!

Madrid/Freedom of Information sketch diary, part two

Here’s the second installment! You can read part one of this sketch diary here.

p6 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p7 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p8 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

[I don’t usually Photoshop my sketch diaries, but I deliberately drew these figures in closed lines, knowing that I’d be able to drop in a background. The floor where we had lunch was this kind of crazy paving – much easier to do like this than to draw laboriously].

p9 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p10 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p11 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

See part three here.

Madrid/Freedom of Information sketch diary, part one

Did you know that in the UK, as well as in many other countries around the world, you have the right to ask for information from public authorities, and by law they must respond?

Wait, you’re thinking, isn’t this a drawing blog?

Well yes it is, and hold tight for quite a bit of drawing: my longest sketch diary yet, in fact, which I’m going to split over several posts in an effort to make it more digestible.

But as long-term readers will know, the reason I get to travel is often because of my job, working for an NGO. I’m extremely grateful for this, but I’m also just as grateful for the very interesting work we do.

Yes, that’s right, I said ‘very interesting’.

And I am indeed talking about Freedom of Information. If that phrase sounds dry to you, I really hope that you’ll read on, and maybe even change your mind. And if not, well, there’s plenty of stuff about Madrid, in between the FOI stuff.

Oh, one last thing: I probably ought to say that what follows over the next few posts is in no way an official account of the work of the organisation I work for, mySociety. It’s my own visual representation of an event from the point of view of an attendee – me.

Click on any picture to see it larger.


p1 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p2 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristramp3 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p4 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

p5 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

See part two here.