Welcome to New Worlds! This year the Being Human Festival has taken us deeper into the world of science fiction. Several of the Being Human comics we’ve produced since 2015 have included science fiction stories, including our Frankenstein and H.G. Wells comics, but this time we are travelling through the multiverse, through time, exploring outer and inner space, and meeting cyborgs and all manner of strange creatures!
Our lead story is ‘New Worlds, Same Sh%t’ by Norrie Millar, the winner of the 2020 Dundee Comics Prize. Also included here are runners up, ‘New Worlds’ by Sebastijan Camagajevac, and ‘Brave New World’ by Andrew Strachan. Congratulations to Norrie, Seb and Andy. Thank you for their fantastic stories, and indeed, to all those who submitted entries to the competition. This volume also includes a one-page comic by Garry Mac, produced as part of the event he helped to deliver for aspiring young comics creators. This was delivered in partnership with Dundee Science Centre. The comic also includes the stories ‘New Worlds to Conquer’ by myself and artist Gary Welsh, and ‘Alpha – A Tumble Through Time’, also by myself with artist Anna Morozova. The cover and production for New Worlds are by Rebecca Horner. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this comic.
As always, it’s been great fun to work on a comic as part of the Being Human Festival, and this is also an opportunity to showcase research. As in previous years, the science fiction theme responds to a cluster of research being undertaken in the School of Humanities. Also, one of the key goals of the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies is to work with comics creators and support comics as a creative economy. Every time we collaborate with comics creators we are learning something new that feeds into our practice research work. My research on British superheroes, and the relationship between comics and games, underpins the Alpha story. You can learn more about this work here.
The Pandemic Tales comic, which is also being launched as part of Being Human 2020, responds to the New Worlds theme in a different way. It looks at the strange new world we have all been living in since the start of the global pandemic and the resulting lockdown (or more properly at this point, lockdowns). This project allowed us to work closely with comics artists to tell these stories, which, again, feeds into our practice research orientation. It also allowed for the exploration of other research questions, notably with the work that Professor Divya Jindal-Snape (School of Education and Social Work) had done on life transitions, which drove and informed many of the stories. The international partnerships that Mayra Crowe (School of Humanities) is developing in order to address human rights issues, especially for older people, also informed one of the stories.
We find that presenting these stories, and this research, through the medium of comics heightens their potential for public engagement and impact, and on the basis of past experience we know that we will be able to make great use of these two comics in the future. The launch of these comics is only the beginning.
This comic has been produced by the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies (SCCS) and Dundee Comics Creative Space (DCCS) and would not be possible without the support of the Being Human Festival of the Humanities, the Rank Foundation, and the University of Dundee. Particular thanks are due to Dr Daniel Cook, the leader of Dundee’s contribution to Being Human, Lauren Christie, Dr Keith Williams, Professor James Livesey, Professor John Rowan, Liz Faini and Sarah Conway. And finally, we pay tribute to our friend and colleague, Eddie Small, who made such a fantastic contribution to our Being Human events over the years. Much missed and gone too soon, this comic is dedicated to you, Eddie.
I hope you enjoy visiting our New Worlds.
Professor Christopher Murray
Director, Scottish Centre for Comics Studies
University of Dundee