Whenever you visit a new city it’s important to get to grips with a few basics before arrival. Chicago is pretty easy because there’s only two. 1) You’re not allowed to put ketchup on your hotdog (but mustard, sweet pickle relish, sports peppers, a dill pickle spear, chopped onions, tomato wedges, and celery salt are a must) and 2) it’s important to know your teams: the Cubs and White Sox are baseball, the Blackhawks are ice hockey, the Bulls are basketball, and the Bears are football. Now you’re ready!
But what have I been up to? My five weeks in Chicago have been spent talking about comics on-stop with students, writers, academics, illustrators, and strangers. What is a comic? How do we make them? Why? Are they valuable? How do we teach comics? I’ve run workshops in college buildings, beach side bars, and comics shops with students who have absolutely no experience with comics and some who are working professionally in the industry. I have learnt so much during my visit that I can use towards my dissertation. I can’t wait to start writing it!
If I had to pick a favourite moment from the trip it’d have to be visiting the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection at The School of the Arts Institute. This collection is home to thousands of self-published poetry collections, zines, comics, and collected writing projects. Each book has been printed and published in different ways: envelopes bound together instead of pages, sugar paper next to tracing paper next to vellum, collage and screen printing. Be prepared to leave your notebook at home and to use the pencils and scrap paper provided because there’s a strict No Notebook policy. Also when you’re asked to wash your hands before handling the books there is a restroom down the hall. You don’t need to use the water fountain…
And while I’ve got you I want to quickly thank everyone at Bath Spa and Columbia who made this trip a reality, your support and encouragement has been invaluable, and thanks, of course, to GALA. Trips like these are life changing and career defining and I feel very fortunate. Thank you.
Hannah K Chapman
MRes Transnational Writing
P.S I think Medieval Times should be a mandatory study for Transnational Writing students – I’ll be writing about the sequins and mish-mashed British accents for the rest of my life.