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Graphic Journalism by Dan Archer


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2012 April

Hard Hats comic – the cover

After finally reaching a breathing point after months-worth of deadlines (could be the eye of the storm, mind you) I finally took the chance to get back to some illustration work. Here’s the new cover of my soon-to-be-launched comic (co-written with Nikil Saval), Hard Hats. For more info, go to the Hard Hats page.

Pullitzers, Eisner Nominations, Foundation Funding – Comics Journalism Gains Momentum

The past few weeks have been a veritable mini-golden age for comics journalism, as the slumbering behemoth that is the mainstream media slowly but surely wakes up to the storytelling potential that illustrated reportage affords. First up is the editorial cartoonist machine that is Matt Bors, who in addition to being the comics journalism editor over at Cartoon Movement, cranks out an inordinate number of editorial cartoons for the syndicates every week. This week he was honoured as a finalist for the Pullitzer, hot on the heels of his Herb Lock Prize. Next is another comics journalism standard bearer, Erin Polgreen, who in addition to being a keystone at the Media Consortium has recently been awarded a Women Entrepreneurs in Digital News Frontier Grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation to kick off her latest project, Symbolia – a soon-to-be-launched tablet magazine focusing on showcasing illustrated journalism. Susie Cagle, another member of the Graphic Journos collective, was honoured by the Society of Professional Journalists for her coverage of Occupy Oakland, and Josh Neufeld got a well-deserved Eisner nomination for his piece on the protests in Bahrain, Lines in the Sand. Editors, take note!

Animations, Eisner Nomination and Latest Projects

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Above is some of the original concept art for one of my latest projects that will feature comic art, animation, after effects and live action documentary footage, all blended together. It’s a unique opportunity to get out from behind my drawing board and work as part of a team, which I’m really enjoying, though I can’t share too many more details with you until we’re into the next stage of the project. Early days yet. There’ll be a trailer for you in early May, so be sure to check back in then. I finally bit the bullet and got a copy of toonboom after what felt like a lifetime of wrestling with flash, and so far, so good. Aside from some jaw-droppingly bizarre keyboard controls (alt + a = brush tool, anyone?). I was actually prompted to get TB over anything else after seeing the trailer for the oscar-nominated Chico and Rita.

Speaking of nominations, the Yiddish-themed anthology I collaborated with Harvey Pekar on, Yiddishkeit, has been nominated for an Eisner award for Best Anthology! Kudos to comics stalwart Paul Buhle for getting us there. Clearly this post, there’s no I in team. There is one in Eisner though.

From Busan to San Francisco: The new Stanford Graphic Novel Project is (almost) here!

Two (and a bit) semesters in the making, I’m pleased to announce that the new stanford graphic novel project is almost here. The story is based on an SF Chronicle piece, “Diary of a Sex Slave” that ran in 2005, highlighting the plight of a trafficking victim who was tricked into coming to the US from Korea, ending up in brothels masquerading as massage parlours in LA and San Francisco.

The course, now in its third year, offers 20 students the chance to write and produce a graphic novel from scratch over two (fast-paced) semesters. We split them into a team of writers, thumbnailers and artists, then switch some of them into scanning/colouring and eventually layout in indesign. You can check out previous years’ graphic novels here. This year’s book weighs in at 160 pages and relies on extensive picture reference and documentation passed on to us from the original reporter, Meredith May, at the Chronicle. It’s a big evolution from Pika Don, the previous graphic novel, which only featured single tone spot colour. As you can see from the sample page below, this year we went for 3-tone gradations of colour to fill out the line work more. More soon.

Sample page showing the US/Mexico border crossing