"I have learnt a lot about the topic in a fun way" - Benfield School student
Terry Wiley (Verity Fair; Sleaze Castle) created this 12-page comic in collaboration with the Baker Brown Archive in Newcastle University Library 's Special Collections.
True War Storiestells the World War I story of Thomas Baker Brown, a local North Shields man. It follows his experiences as a soldier on the Western Front and in Prisoner of War camps, as a 'typical Tommy' from our local area.
Thomas' archiveincludes original comics from WWI - his son tells us he was an avid collector of ephemera from this period. It was logical for Terry to focus on the line art and formal comics styles of the early twentieth century, particularly when drawing events and objects referenced in the archive's letters, newspaper clippings, and other documents and photos.
Working out modern equivalents to smudgy ink, not-solid black areas, and off-white paper stock was important in doing justice to this comic - an extra thank you to Terry and to our printer Rich at The Print People in North Shields!
True War Stories No.1: Thomas Baker Brown is both a standalone comic, and also the central part of our project with local high school students.
"I think that today was fun and I did my work well. I liked looking at the old documents because not many people get to see them." - Monkseaton High School student
Students from four local schools (St John’s Catholic School, Monkseaton High School, Benfield School, and St Aidan’s Catholic Academy) visited Newcastle University to work with the Baker Brown archive. They handled primary sources to understand how to use archives and how to be an historian. We also focused on how to plan, make, and read old and new comics. We gave copies of True War Stories No.1: Thomas Baker Brown to these students, both to share Thomas’ story and to start a discussion on how to write and draw an historical story. Then each group of students was given a resources pack (reproductions) of extracts from materials from the archive and instructions on how to use these to plan, pencil, and ink a one-page comic of their own.
Panels by Paige, Benfield School student, using TBB archive sources.
"I found the primary sources really interesting and the letters helped me with my comics." - St John's Catholic School student
All students completed the task to a high standard and their comics are published in this anthology of all comics from this project. All students will receive a free printed copy of the book in the new academic year. The students' comics are also available online, with transcribed text, and are a great read in their own right.
Panels by Kieran, St Aidan's Catholic Academy student, using TBB archive sources.
ISBN (printed edition): 978-0-9574570-5-8. All students' comics remain the copyright of their respective creators.
digital version of True War Stories No.1: Thomas Baker Brown
digital versions of all students' comics in Draw More Comics
downloadable panel templates and how-to-draw guide
downloadable archive resources packs to use with students
a link to the digitised Thomas Baker Brown archive.
We're distributing free printed copies of True War Stories No.1 at comics events (list below) whilst stocks last. Or, if you're a teacher in the North East of England, get in touch and we'll post you a sample copy (or a class set for the cost of postage).
All students involved in this project will receive a free copy of Draw More Comics through their school. Additional copies are available at cost price.
"I had a really good time I would like to come back again" - St Aidan's Catholic Academy student
"The students really enjoyed the workshop and I have had extremely positive feedback from them all. ... We are already planning as a department how we can use the comic of Thomas Baker Brown next year." - St John's Catholic School teacher
We thank Thomas Baker Brown’s family for their generosity in sharing his archive and his story.
This joint project by Applied Comics Etc and the Robinson Library Special Collections Education Outreach Team is supported by Newcastle University.