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Graphic Journalism by Dan Archer



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Interactive Comics Journalism piece online now at Cartoon Movement

I’m pleased to announce that one of the interactive multimedia comics that I worked on during my Knight fellowship is now live over at Cartoon Movement. To read the piece, click here. (Above is a sample tier). The piece tells the story of the Nisoor square shootings that took place in Sept 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq involving US contractor Blackwater (now renamed “Xe Services”). The tragic event saw 17 Iraqis killed and 24 wounded during the controversial shootings, which civilian witnesses argue was unprovoked. The case was dismissed by US courts in 2009 but reopened just a few months ago, in April 2011.

Meanwhile, Xe’s polemical CEO Erik Prince has moved to Abu Dhabi to export his unique brand of mercenary training:

Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times…

Stay tuned for a separate post on what looks frighteningly like a School of the Americas for the middle east.

Vote for me in the Mozilla Knight News Challenge!

That’s right, now is one of the few times you can honestly help me improve my mojo. (Mo)zilla + (Jo)urnalism that is, you dirty-minded lot. Simply go here, read my awesome proposal and click ‘vote’ in the top right hand corner. Essentially, it’s what you’ve come to expect around here, discerning fan of comics journalism that you are – combining the visual storytelling devices of comics with the souped-up power of web 2.0 (or is that passe already?) to incorporate video, animation and audio within comics panels. Voting closes today, so make it count! Winners go through to the next round, earning themselves some top-notch coding training in the process. Believe me, after wrestling with my interactive Blackwater piece (now pushed back til Monday on Cartoonmovement, sorry folks), I could use it.

Here’s the blurb from the Mozilla:

Video is a central part of many people’s daily news experience. But most online video is still stuck in a boring embedded box, like “TV on a web page,” separated from the rest of the page content. This offers little in the way of context or opportunities for viewers to engage more deeply.

New open video tools make it possible to pull data from across the web right into the story. Information related to the video can literally “pop” into the page. And videos themselves can change, dynamically adapting as stories evolve. The challenge is to use these tools in ways that serve the story. How can we enrich news video through things like added context, deeper viewer engagement, and the real time web? What are the untapped possibilities inherent in many-to-many, web video?

New Interactive Comics Journalism Piece – Online next Weds

Cartoon Movement, the internet’s #1 platform for high quality political cartoons and comics journalism (and sister site of VJ movement) , is publishing my latest piece on the Sept 2007 shootings that occurred in Nisoor Square, Baghdad – there’s a little taster about it on their blog here. The piece will go up next wednesday, June 15th. In the run up to next week I’ll post some previews of the panels and give more of a sense of how the piece works, and the importance (not to mention the untapped potential) of incorporating interactivity into comics journalism pieces.

For now, let me break down the above screenshot, which is the main viewing area for the piece (which, incidentally, loads in its own window due to sizing constraints). The viewing area is comprised of 3 main parts: the timeline (corresponding to the 15 minutes that the incident took place over), which can be advanced by clicking on the play button, or dragged to a specific point); the background, which is comprised of a satellite picture of Nisoor Square together with an additional layer of brightly coloured icons (corresponding to the various people and vehicles involved in the incident) that move along their respective paths as the incident unfolds; and, of course, the panels, which appear as the user hovers over the said icons, providing an eyewitness account of the event from that specific perspective (the majority of which are taken from direct testimonies).

Finishing up the Knight and Re-Engineering Journalism

Wow. I know lately I’ve been prone to postponing my once-daily digital diatribes, but the sheer amount of work I’ve been getting through of late has tipped we way over the line. The main reason for that was the big push to the end of my Knight Fellowship at Stanford, which I’ll write more about in detail on my Knight project page. In the meantime, visit this link to watch my 3 min hyper-summary of comics journalism and what I’ve been working on at Stanford. Or click here to see how the rest of my incredibly talented cohort spent their year via the re-engineering journalism Knight Fellowship Garage.

Joe Sacco at Stanford TONIGHT, a new prototype and Hard Hats (pt.1) finally finished!

Reminder: myself and various other members of the Stanford comics community will be discussing comics journalism with Joe Sacco at Annenberg auditorium, 7pm tonight. If you’re curious about the above image, it’s a screenshot of my latest interactive prototype, which you can experiment with here. (It’s the most recent one, at the bottom).

I’ve also just contributed my first post to Graphic, which is a comics journalism collective featuring Susie Cagle, Wendy Macnaughton, Matt Bors, Jen Sorensen and Sarah Glidden. As if that wasn’t enough, last night (well, technically in the wee hours of this morning, in the longstanding tradition of comics creators everywhere) I finally finished the first part (4o pages) of my graphic novel, “The Hard Hat Riots”, which I’ve co-written with Nikil Saval. More on that soon.

New Hardhats Artwork

It’s so close I can taste it! One of the concluding panels from the re-drawn part one of my graphic novel-in-progress, Hardhats. See the drop-down menus above for more info on that, and other comics. Also, you can follow me on twitter (@archcomix) or follow the Archcomix FB page here to stay up to date on all comics journalism news and events. Speaking of which – I’ll be on a panel with the legendary comics journalist Joe Sacco at Stanford next Thurs, May 5th at 7pm. Annenberg Auditorium. Hope to see you there!

Hardhats and the no-longer AWOL laptop

After a brief hiatus, the hardhats story continues: only a few more corrections to go and the WHOLE first part is finally ready to send off.  If you’re new to the site, have a look around! Comics are accessible via the drop down menus above (hover over the different categories to choose a subject).

The more observant among you will have noticed that the comic above has not changed in a while. The reason? I left Archbeast I, my brand spanking macbook pro, in the world’s busiest airport (London Heathrow) after spending most of the night before working on a new website launch (about which, more another time). Thankfully it has since been tracked down and will be back safe and sound on the west coast tomorrow, together with my lovely wife. In the meantime, scroll down for news and updates of a more textual variety – alas my scanner and old macbook don’t get on, and Archbeast has all of my new material on. Time for an external hard drive backup methinks.

hey good looking

Hit ‘preview’ above to read previous panels in my ongoing preview of my graphic novel, Hardhats. Rollover the tabs above to browse other comics, and leave your comments!

Art as a tool for political change?

Just finishing up the last page of part 1 of my graphic novel, featuring the White Horse tavern in NYC. Click here for more of an intro to the project. The above panels continue on from the last post and feature a conversation between Harry and Kwame, two idealistic NYU students, about the effectiveness of art as a tool for political change.

More Hardhats panels

Harry and Kwame debate the motivational discrepancies that student filmmakers face when making art with a message – a sample from my graphic novel in progress, Hardhats. More to follow. More info on the true story behind the project here for those new to the site.

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