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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 year-long 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 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. 


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! 

Sign up here for announcements and calls for participation in future events. 

2021 Visualizations

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.

Liz Adams
Ariel Bacon
Allison Bailund
Madison Brents
Lauren Burnick
Alexandra Cenatus
Julian C. Chambliss
Kay Clopton
Lauren DuBois
Todd Enoch
Tiffany C. Esteban
Kyle Eveleth
Christine Fernsebner Eslao
Ronny Ford
Mary Grenci
Adam Harangozó
Sydney Heifler
Greta Heng
Mark Hibbett
Steven W. Holloway
Lisa Howard
Spencer Keralis
Annamarie Klose
Zack Kruse
Greta Kuriger
Jason Larsen
Jae Won Lee
A. David Lewis
Nerissa Lindsey
Christina Linklater
John Martin
Bree Midavaine
Chassidy Miles
Matthew Murray
Lydia L. L. O. Oladapo
Wendy Pflug
Daniel A. Reboussin
Leonard Rifas
Lori Robare
Ana D. Rodriguez
Joe Sutliff Sanders
Roohia Shahzad
Danica Sheridan
Nicole Smeltekop
Gina Solares
Mara Thacker
Mary Ton
Amelia Volpe
Lizzy Walker
Michael Weisenburg
Justin Wigard

Partner institutions

The GPRW team collaborated with several partner institutions for our first event, including:

A logo for University of North Texas, with the letters UNT and "University of North Texas" in green on a white background..
University of North Texas
A logo of burgundy text on white background. The text reads "U of SC" and "South Carolina."
University of South Carolina
A logo depicting a large orange letter I, and the text "University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign" in blue on a white background.
University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
A logo depicting large blue letters UF, and the text "University of Florida" in blue on a white background.
University of Florida
A logo with a large red O and the text "The Ohio State University" in grey on a white background.
The Ohio State University

Resources and Extra Links

Blog Post on Wikidata Queries 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.