Thursday, November 3rd, 12:00PM-1:30PM

MSU Libraries, Digital Scholarship Lab, Flex Space, 2nd Floor West

How does graphic narrative shape contemporary debates about identity and culture? What new knowledge can we create at the intersection of comics and Digital Humanities? What does it mean to use comics as data, or create comics from data?

This Locus draws on the diverse community of MSU scholars who explore comics, sequential art, and digital storytelling in their research and teaching.  We encourage wide participation from scholars in any discipline to share developments in their research at any stage (including brainstorming, works in progress, invitations to collaborate, and/or fully developed projects). 

Locus: Comics, Data, and Community is taking place on Thursday, November 3rd, 2022 12PM-1:30PM Eastern, in the Flex Space of the MSU Main Library Digital Scholarship Lab (2nd Floor, West).  Coffee and Cookies will be provided!


Digital Streaming or Freezing of Chinese TV Series

Sheng-mei Ma

For the past few years, I have been publishing on Chinese TV series which have been streaming free of charge online. The Tao of S: America’s Chinee & the Chinese Century (2022), for instance, demonstrates the breadth of the subject matter: not only a plethora of TV dramas but also web novels that are the impetus for creative energy in film and TV production. Given the global distribution at no cost to viewers anywhere in the world, this burgeoning yet largely ignored cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and transnational display of China’s soft power continues to entertain, even enthrall, over one billion Sinophone speakers to the exclusion of non-Chinese, except those who persevere in googling for subtitled shows on YouTube and other platforms. Yet the non-Sinophone audience reception may be marred by subpar captioning, oftentimes by fans, and other matters.

This mother lode of research potential, available at our fingertips or at, remains untapped as a result of language and cultural barriers for non-Sinophone scholars. Digitalization levels the playing field for a student in the humanities like me who is far removed from the place of production and major consumption of Chinese TV series. I have been enabled to peep in, eavesdrop on, and critically analyze a rising, trending Sinocentric phenomenon, a parallel universe to Anglophone hegemony. Yet the digital method of delivery has been treated, by and large, like opening a book, turning the page in my research. Put simply, I have de-digitized Chinese TV series in a series of analytical “close-ups” or “freezes” on the content of the TV dramas and the stories of the web novels. Dynamic digital streaming has been arrested, frozen into screen grabs that might have inadvertently robbed the organism of its virtual life; both the tonal flux in Chinese dialogue and the facial and physical movement are zombified into the English alphabet. A sample of such close readings demonstrate the pros and cons.

Releasing the Imagination in Qualitative Research through Self-made Comics

Dustin Defelice

Many people grew up with comic books, newspaper comic sections and comic-inspired TV shows/movies. Many others drew, wrote or inked their own stories. In a sense, this medium is one way of releasing the imagination. In fact, artists and authors in this genre are masters at telling a story while providing fuel for the imagination. Since comics can appeal to children, teenagers and adults, they are an area ripe for exploration in qualitative research as analysis tools, visual representations of key stories and for member-checking. In this session, the presenter will focus on his use of Pixton, an online comic generator and he will include a brief discussion on a number of other online tools such as Strip Generator, ToonDoo and WittyComics. In all of these tools, the researcher is able to save, edit, download and/or embed their work.

Days of Future Past: Comics as Metadata, Wikidata, and data imaginary

Julian Chambliss and Kate Topham

While marginalized as a juvenile medium, comics serve as an archive of our collective experience. Emerging with the modern city and deeply affected by race, class, and gender norms, comics are a means to understand the changes linked to identity and power in the United States. For further investigation, we turn to one such collective archive: the MSU Library Comics Art Collection (CAC), which contains over 300,000 comics and comics artifacts dating as far back as 1840. As noted on the MSU Special Collections’ website, “the focus of the collection is on published work in an effort to present a complete picture of what the American comics readership has seen, especially since the middle of the 20th century.”  Given the unique opportunity this collection provides, a community of scholars and practitioners extracted metadata from the CAC to create the Comics as Data North America (CaDNA) dataset with the goal of exploring the production, content, and creative communities linked to comics in North America.

This presentation covers the various ways that the CaDNA & Graphic Possibilities teams have explored, transformed, and analyzed this dataset: the communities we’ve built through Linked Open Data, the visualizations we’ve created, and the future directions of this data and this project. 


12:00PM-12:10PM Opening Remarks

12:10PM:-12:40PM: Project Presentations

12:40PM-12:50PM: Break

12:50PM-1:30PM: Discussion and Brainstorming