11 December 2020

#AntarcticLog: Creating a visual story journal

Posted by Shane Hanlon

#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here

Greetings from #AntarcticLog! How does a visual story journal get started? Here’s what happened with mine: 

Quite a bit goes into getting to Antarctica. The first hurdle was getting accepted to the Antarctic Artists and Writers program.  The second was passing the physical qualification requirements — the dreaded PQ. A bit of a nervous nellie, I raced off to begin this lengthy process with the necessary blood tests.  Later in the day, once facing the needle was over with, I’d get to work on a plan for my comic. 

Once the blood test was over, creating a new comic seemed easy. It’s not just that I get a little faint about blood tests; no, the phlebotomist gave me my first story.  Here it is: 

(1) The blood test. I checked the comic off for the first week, and you can tell that it was a new thing: look at the wobbly line and the undecided logo… But the second week came around quickly. As I considered what to do,  I realized I had a lot to learn about Antarctica. I got lucky again: the New York Times had just debuted a new Augmented Reality series about Antarctica. I strapped on my cardboard AR set and dreamed myself onto an LC-130 flying research equipment above the continent.  The comic? Well, definitely penguins would get a lot out of this; I sure did.  

(2) By week three I was starting to get the feel of audience, if not a sure sense of style.  For whom was I writing? Anyone who thought getting to go to Antarctica was cool — especially if you were going to write a children’s book and create science comics (I did science, too, but I’ll get to that later.) The third comic reflects some of the conversations I’d begun to have, and which are without question the most fun part of #AntarcticLog. Everyone wants to know what it’s like down there. With #AntarcticLog, I have a way to tell them. 

(3) Next week: a little science. 

P.S. Something amazing happened this week!  The Antarctic Artists and Writers Collective (a group of 70 artists who took part in the NSF program) launched our website.  Visit at aawcollective.com.

Karen Romano Young is a writer, artist, deep-sea diver, and polar explorer. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram