Chambliss, Julian Carlos, Nicole Huff, Kate Topham, and Justin Wigard. 2022. “Days of Future Past: Why Race Matters in Metadata” Genealogy 6, no. 2: 47. https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy6020047
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 comic 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”. As one of the world’s largest publicly accessible comics archives, a community of scholars and practitioners created the Comics as Data North America (CaDNA) dataset, which comprises library metadata from the CAC to explore the production, content, and creative communities linked to comics in North America. This essay will draw on the Comics as Data North America (CaDNA) dataset at Michigan State University to visualize patterns of racial depiction in North American comics from 1890–2018. Our visualizations highlight how comics serve as a visual record of representation and serve as a powerful marker of marginalization central to popular cultural narratives in the United States. By utilizing data visualization to explore the ways we codify and describe identity, we seek to call attention to the constructed nature of race in North America and the continuing work needed to imagine race beyond the confines of the established cultural legacy.
Keywords: comics; race; metadata; North America; digital humanities
Topham, Kate, Julian Chambliss, Justin Wigard, and Nicole Huff. 2022. “The Marmaduke Problem: A Case Study of Comics As Linked Open (Meta)data”. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 6 (3):1-8. https://doi.org/10.18357/kula.225
Michigan State University (MSU) is home to one of the largest library comics collections in North America, holding over three hundred thousand print comic book titles and artifacts. Inspired by the interdisciplinary opportunity offered by digital humanities practice, a research collaborative linked to the MSU Library Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL) developed a Collections as Data project focused on the Comic Art Collection. This team extracted and cleaned over forty-five thousand MARC records describing comics published in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The dataset is openly available through a GitLab repository, where the team has shared data visualizations so that scholars and members of the public can explore and interrogate this unique collection. In order to bridge digital humanities with the popular culture legacy of the institution, the MSU comics community turned to bibliographic metadata as a new way to leverage the collection for scholarly analysis. In October 2020, the Department of English Graphic Possibilities Research Workshop gathered a group of scholars, librarians, Wikidatians, and enthusiasts for a virtual Wikidata edit-a-thon. This project report will present this event as a case study to discuss how linked open metadata may be used to create knowledge and how community knowledge can, in turn, enrich metadata. We explore not only how our participants utilized the open-access tool Mix’n’match to connect the Comic Art Collection dataset to Wikidata and increase awareness of lesser-known authors and regional publishers missing from OCLC and Library of Congress databases, but how the knowledge of this community in turn revealed issues of authority control.
linked open data, comics, Wikidata, authority control, special collections