Library Comics, or, Research as Hot Pursuit

We have big news:

Special Collections at the Providence Public Library is publishing a comic book!

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Lizard Ramone in Hot Pursuit: A Guide to Archives for Artists and Makers is a comic book conceived of and printed by the Providence Public Library in Providence, RI, working in collaboration with artist Jeremy Ferris, who created the storyline, illustrations, and text. It’s being distributed locally with a bonus insert illustrated by O. Horvath.

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Providence describes itself as the “Creative Capital”, and we work with a great number of artists and designers in our Special Collections. These creative researchers often have a different approach than the students, scholars, and genealogists whom many tend to think of as “typical” archival researchers.

After asking ourselves, “How can we better meet the needs of creative researchers?” and “How can we make our collections more accessible to artists and other non-traditional researchers?”, we decided to team up with a local illustrator and library student to make a fun-to-read guide demystifying archival research. (It’s also hilarious!) We wanted it to be specific enough that it could help our users, but general enough to be applicable to collections across the country.

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We’re having a comic book release party this coming Wednesday, June 21st, from 6:30-8 on the 3rd floor of the library. (Facebook event for the party here.) Artist Jeremy Ferris will give a short presentation and answer questions; we’ll also have a bevy of interactive stations, like a mini research consultation booth, a comics-drawing station, and a table where you can have your portrait drawn by a librarian. (We’ll also have snacks.)

For local blog readers, we hope to see you at the release party! For all blog readers, stay tuned for online-readable and printable versions of the comic book!

 

Now on Exhibit: Portals art!

While the Portals exhibition (February – June 2016) showcased historical items describing imagined futures, local artists were hard at work researching in Special Collections and creating derivative art, both through programming at the library and in their own studios.

We’re lucky to have our exhibit cases jam-packed with selections of this Portals art, on view at the library now through August 15th!

Left to right: miniature dress and headdress created by teens in RISD CE fashion classes at the library; 18th century French funeral invitation from the Barrois Collection of Funeral Invitations, alongside a candle by Burke & Hare Co.; drafts, color separations, and layout notes from the Special Collections-themed issue of The Providence Sunday Wipeout.

The exhibit includes illustrations, song lyrics, candles, comics, letterpress prints, short stories, headdresses, and clothing designs by Rhode Island artists including Walker Mettling, Mickey Zacchilli, Brian Whitney, Dan Wood, Caitlin Cali, Guy-Maly Pierre, Dailen Williams, Jim Frain, Joe DeGeorge, Veronica Santos, Burke & Hare Co., Jeremy Ferris, Keegan Bonds-Harmon, and many teen fashion designers.

New creative works are displayed alongside the historical items that inspired them, including Maukisch’s Das Jagen, Fangen, Zähmen und Abrichten der Thiere (1837), The Necropolis of Ancón in Peru (circa 1880), design classic The Grammar of Ornament (1856), Academie Universelle des Jeux (1824) (from the Haynes Checkers Collection), Rational Recreations (1794), and other gems from the stacks.

Some of these artists’ original items are available for sale. (The library doesn’t receive any proceeds from these sales, but we are thrilled to support local businesses and Rhode Island artists!) You can purchase Burke & Hare Co’s Horace B. Knowles candle here, or their Repose en Paix candle here. To get a copy of the Special Collections-themed issue of The Providence Sunday Wipeout comics newspaper, visit Ada Books in Providence or contact Special Collections!

A Recap of Future Bummers

It’s been more than a week, but we’re still basking in the hilarity and creativity of our 2016 Creative Fellow Walker Mettling’s library story night, “A History of Future Bummers“.

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Jeremy Ferris performs a clam-centric ritual in front of his projected illustration. The drawing is based on historical photos of clambakes in the Rhode Island Collection.

During the month of May, Walker asked a number of local artists, writers, and musicians to visit Special Collections, each armed with a research assignment. They then were asked to write a story or create a comic based on their research.

Dailen Williams, Alexander Smith, and Veronica Santos (l-r) share their stories on stage.

These artists’ various creations were showcased at the resulting “A History of Future Bummers.” Writers including Caitlin Cali, Veronica Santos, Dailen Williams, Alexander Smith, Jim Frain, Jeremy Ferris, Keegan Bonds-Harmon, William Keller, and Julia Gualtieri shared their stories, punctuated by musical interludes from Joe DeGeorge. (You can listen to Joe’s sketch demos of these library-based songs here, here, and here. The last one is based on entries about vandalism in our Rhode Island index card catalog!)

Providence Sunday Wipeout cover; “Faces of Narragansett Bay” by Walker Mettling; huge and colorful illustration by Aaron Demuth (clockwise from top left)

The evening also marked the official release of a new, Special Collections-themed issue of the Providence Sunday Wipeout comics newspaper. WOW! Lots of familiar historical items, local lore, and strange tales appeared in illustrated format in this VERY large format publication.

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Walker printed the paper in color on a risograph, and a small army of intrepid volunteers taped and folded pages. Thanks to all for their hard work and for a hilarious and highly entertaining evening!

(Stay tuned for more info about seeing drafts and originals of these awesome creations live and in person!)

 

Portals Story Event 6/6/16: A History of Future Bummers

2016 Portals Creative Fellow Walker Mettling put together an amazing, Special Collections-themed comics compilation and story night– and you’re invited!

Library Story Night

The event, coming up on Monday, June 6th, will feature stories written and read by local artists Veronica Santos, Caitlin CaliDailen Williams, Jim Frain, Keegan Bonds-Harmon, Jeremy Ferris & Julia Gualtieri. Library friend and neighbor Joe DeGeorge will provide musical interludes. This event will also feature the release of a brand new, Special Collections-themed issue of the Providence Sunday Wipeout, a large-format comics newspaper. Wow!

This not-entirely-literary evening will be hosted by Walker Mettling. See you on June 6th at 6:30 p.m. in the PPL Auditorium!

A Creative Fellow

If you regularly check the library’s facebook page or other social media, you may already know about Special Collections’ 2016 Creative Fellow, the inimitable Walker Mettling. Walker is working with our collections for the duration of Portals, and is using his fellowship as an opportunity to create new illustrated work related to the exhibition’s theme. Stay tuned for details on where and when you can see some of his fantastical creations!

In the meantime, here are photos of Walker reading a comics newspaper that he printed on a risograph, inspired by the large-scale format of 1860s issues of the Providence Journal that he read in PPL’s Special Collections.