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.
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:
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.