A new breed of artist-journalists are finding their voices in comics journalism, moving beyond the single-panel editorial cartoon to use drawn comics as a way to delve more deeply into stories. With their rich, hand-crafted feel and depth, comics provide a way to compete for shrinking attention spans, and to cut through the information overload that comes with trying to stay current in a complex world.
One such voice belongs to Dan Archer of Archcomix.com. Archer will be speaking at the upcoming Woodstock Digital Media Festival on June 22 and 23 in Woodstock, Vermont.
A graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies, Archer creates non-fictional, journalistic comics that present a new perspective on a range of human rights and social justice issues, giving voice to stories that wouldn’t otherwise be heard. He’ll participate in the Festival’s panel on “Telling [True] Stories” to be held Saturday, June 23, from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the Woodstock Inn.
As a comic journalist, Archer embraces the seeming contradiction between the subjective nature of drawing and the objectivity required in journalism. “Journalistic comics explicitly acknowledge the fact that news reporting can never be completely objective. By embracing the author’s style, as well as his or her artistic and editorial choices, these comics expose the lack of objectivity in all news reporting.”
Archer says that journalistic comics have the ability to convey more information, as well as to better highlight the “dissonances” that exist within any given topic, and our exploration of that topic.
“A comics news story acts as a window into a subject. It does more than scratch the surface of a topic. Instead of falling back on rhetoric, these comics actually aim to inform—dare I say educate—the reader.”
Archer says he’s excited to return to the Upper Valley, to reconnect with friends and colleagues at the Center for Cartoon Studies (cartoonstudies.org) in White River Junction. Beyond that, he says, the Woodstock Digital Media Festival offers a special opportunity. “Cartoonists, journalists and people in technology tend to stay somewhat isolated in their spheres. I see this a chance for people with common interests—sharing news stories in unique, attention-getting ways—to come together and talk about commonalities.”
The Woodstock Digital Media Festival opens to the public on Friday evening, June 22, with a free Exhibition Opening from 8:30-10:30 p.m. at the Artistree Gallery in Woodstock. On Saturday, June 23, outdoor digital “explorations” and informational sessions like Archer’s “Telling TRUE Stories,” are free and open to the public. Saturday evening’s reception and presentation is a ticketed event from 8:00-11:00 p.m. at the Billings Farm and Museum.
For more information on the Festival and to register, visit WoodstockDigital.com.
The Woodstock Digital Media Festival is a forum and exhibition held each summer in Woodstock, Vermont, where leading digital artists, businesses and educators present their work and interact with their peers as well as with the general public. The Festival combines a beautiful, natural setting with a completely wired town center to create a fantastic “digital campus” offering lively talks, unique outdoor explorations, and ongoing exhibitions of digital art and innovations. For more information on the Festival and to register, visit WoodstockDigital.com.