Comics as Data Wikidata Visualization Gallery
CaDNA began in 2018 as a project bringing together faculty, librarians and digital humanists to explore MSU libraries (MSUL) metadata. The initial project’s completion created the Comic as Data: North America dataset, which is publicly available for research. The Graphic Possibilities Research Workshop (GPRW) builds on findings from the first project, calling attention to the possibility of using our dataset to address omissions in Wikidata. To facilitate this process, the GPRW designed a year-long engagement supported by Wikidata edit-a-thons designed to clean, organize, and integrate comic book data from MSUL with Wikidata. Our hope with this project is to provide students, teachers, and scholars working in Popular Culture and Comics Studies a greater opportunity to collaboratively engage with emerging narratives in Comics and Popular Culture Studies, the latter of which being a distinct strength of the Department of English at MSU.
The outcomes of this engagement were multifold. First, our experience highlighted the impact of the MSUL Comics Art Collection as a source of knowledge about comics and popular culture. Participants in these workshops were able to gain significant understanding of the nature of authority control and its implication for knowledge production through these events. Second, we gathered a community of scholars and practitioners that were able to participate in the edit-a-thons and take lessons learned from our events back to their home institutions. Third, we established that our engagement with Wikidata offers the opportunity to educate communities on and off campus about the gaps in the Wikidata and how we can address those omissions through our continued engagement.
One central question drove our spring 2022 event: “How can wikidata liberate our thinking and understanding about comics?” The visualizations on display here represent an effort to consider how the knowledge created in this process can produce an opportunity to shape public thinking about comics through open-access engagements. Not only do these visualizations demonstrate connections between MSUL’s comics metadata and Wikidata more broadly, but they call for increased attention to the glaring gaps and omissions within comics Wikidata, especially for early comics publishers and creators. Each visualization highlights one key Golden Age comics publisher and its ties to existent items within Wikidata, and in the process, reveals an exponential amount of items that still need inclusion: additional items, more publishers, increased statements, etc. Likewise, these graphics represent year-long practices of learning and collaboration between actors from different backgrounds, specializations, and even countries, all united through interests in comics and Wikidata.
The spring 2023 event, much like the previous year, was a two-day event that emphasized adding data from the Bronze Age of comics from the MSU CAC to Wikidata. While data entry was the focus for the first day, the second day centered around creating visualizations of the data previously inputted into Wikidata. Participants were asked to come up with questions about our comics data and location to visualize the history of comics and their locales. Participants used the Graph Builder and the Query service to create the visualizations below. Overall, the visuals created during the Wikidata event showcase the location of publication of various comics from the Bronze age.
These visualizations are presented in their default views, but once a visualization has loaded, it can be interacted with in several ways. For instance, clicking on an element can provide additional information in the form of revealing new connections or providing clarification. Clicking again on one new connection will add the element to the visualization. These can be zoomed in/out, and using the pop-up toolbars on the top/left/right will allow additional modifications and viewing. If all else fails, refresh the page, and play around again!
Visualization 1: MSUL Comic Art Collection items mapped
A visualization that maps the location of publication of the items in the MSU Comic Art Collection in North America. The red points indicate the location of the publisher and when you click on the point, a web with more red points appear. Each of these red points within the web represent specific item titles with a link to their Wiki entry.
Visualization 2: Comics, comic strips, and comic books mapped by place of publication
Similar to the previous visualization, this map indicates the various places of publication of comics worldwide. Again, the red points that you first see indicate the place of publication. When you click on that red dot a web appears with more points. Each of the points in the web indicate the specific comic associated with that location.
Visualization 3: MSUL Comic Art Collection items (table)
This table depicts the comics from the CAC that have been entered into Wikidata. This is especially useful in its ability to be organized and reorganized. Specifically, you can organize this table by the title, by the catalog number, or by the comics Wikidata entry information. Further, one can get an overview of the titles from the CAC that have Wikidata associated with them and how much information has been added to those Wiki pages.
Visualization 1: Fawcett Comics
A visualization of Fawcett publications with their possibly biggest creation: Captain Marvel, aka Shazam. Included in the visual are links to the creators of Captain Marvel and some of the imprints of Fawcett. More specifically, this visualization highlights the many publishers and creators who have used Captain Marvel in their work. Clicking on each element of the visualization leads to more details of the imprints, creators, and appearances of the character.
Created by: Karina Ocanas, Christine Eslao, Allison Bailund
Visualization 2: Quality Comics
This visualization demonstrates some of the comics associated with the Golden Age publisher Quality Comics held within Wikidata. It further showcases some of the genres that Quality Comics is commonly associated with, while failing to capture the nuances of Quality’s anthology comic book series. This particular visualization demonstrates a vested need for adding more Statements to all Golden Age comics, particularly dates.
Created by: Kathy Boyd, John Martin
Visualization 3: Charlton Comics
This graph depicts the visual relationship between Charlton Comics and the comics they have published. Of particular interest is the prominence of Nyoka the Jungle Girl, along with the absence of many items by Charlton Comics within Wikidata’s corpus. It demonstrates a call for not only additional statements and items, but uploading of comic cover images to strengthen visualizations like these.
Created by: Dan Newland, Todd Enoch, Annamarie Klose
Visualization 4: Comics Publishers Pre-1956
This timeline depicts the date of inception of comics publishing companies before 1956. One strength of this visualization is the attention to pre-Golden Age comics publishers like Western Publishing, creating a longer view of comics publishing than is often present in many comics studies conversations. Of course, this same timeline demonstrates an ever stronger rationale for including more early comics history items within Wikidata to build more comprehensive timelines.
Created by: June Oh, Matthew Murray, Colleen Seale
Graphic Possibilities Wikidata Alumni
We would like to thank each of our participants who were able to join us for our first event in Fall 2020. Your contributions enabled us to create and/or update over 7,700 items into Wikidata.
Julian C. Chambliss
Tiffany C. Esteban
Christine Fernsebner Eslao
Steven W. Holloway
Jae Won Lee
A. David Lewis
Lydia L. L. O. Oladapo
Daniel A. Reboussin
Ana D. Rodriguez
Joe Sutliff Sanders
The GPRW team collaborated with several partner institutions for our first event, including:
Resources and Extra Links
2023 Graphic Possibilities Wikidata Edit-a-thon Presentation by Will Kent, WikiEDU Specialist.
SDSU Wikidata Comic Arts Project — Lots of comics-related queries that are enlightening, and can be modified!
NYU Library’s Manga Collection — Listeria-based comics Wikidata page.
Wikidata Edit-a-Thon Tutorial, created for Wikidata’s 9th birthday in 2021. — Graphic Possibilities contributed sections to this.