Abstract for Creating Comics, Creative Comics 2020: DIY Digital Comics Without Drawing: Craft, Collaboration and Materiality in the Digital Age 

I am delighted my paper for the Creating Comics, Creative Comics 2020- BEYOND Symposium at the University of South Wales: Cardiff Campus (Monday 6th – Tuesday 7th April 2020) has been accepted. I am looking forward to participating.

Below I share a slightly revised version my abstract.

The Blank Page (page 4), London is a real city that has been descibed as ‘unreal’. The situations, settings and characters in ‘The Blank Page’ are entirely fictitious. London is a real city that has been descibed as ‘unreal’. The situations, settings and characters in ‘The Blank Page’ are entirely fictitious.
The Blank Page, page 4 (2014)


DIY Digital Comics Without Drawing: Craft, Collaboration and Materiality in the Digital Age 

Dr Ernesto Priego, Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design, City, University of London

In this presentation I will discuss examples of the poetry, autobiographic and non-fiction comics that I have been producing through purely digital means since ca. 2006.

The usual assumption is that a precondition of comics is drawing or illustration, particularly in some traditions. For instance,  bande dessinée in French means “drawn strip”, whereas in other languages terminology refers to tone or genre (“comics”, originally referring to the content being comical), length or cultural status (“historietas”- meaning little or pseudo stories) or layout features (“quadrinhos” literally meaning little boxes, panels; “fumetti”- literally little puffs of smoke; balloons). It is interesting that in the English language, the term “fumetti” is frequently used to refer to photo comics, regardless of origin or language.

I grew up surrounded by comics and fotonovelas or photo-comics (see, for example, Priego 2011), and though this fact most have defined my experience of graphic storytelling up to a certain extent, my work making comics without drawings has been more properly inspired by the collaborative nature of, initially, the craft of DIY fanzine making (I co-founded and edited Hemofilia, a horror comics fanzine [see Trujillo 2020], when I was 15), and, later on and more recently, the Web and Internet-mediated collaboration.

I will show examples from A Life Deferred (2006-2008), The Blank Page (2014), The Strip Hay-na-ku Project (2008-2019) and stand-alone examples such as “Addressing Sylvia” (2019a) and “Salut, Notre-Dame…” (2019b) and discuss how I have repurposed writing and images created by me and others, and how that practice fits in with my long-time interest in the comics grid (the array or layout of graphic panels; the specific distribution of images on a comic book page) as a poetic force, as a space for poetic revelation (Priego and Wilkins 2018). These are comics made with computers to be shared via computers (and of course mobile devices) that nonetheless are also embedded in the tradition of DIY fanzine making that, though digitally-mediated, still aim to achieve the feel and should I say “aura” of mechanical reproduction*.

I am interested in discussing the affordances of contemporary off-the-shelf software as a continuation and transformation of material practices of cut-and-paste and détournement, as exemplified by my own attempts at graphic storytelling with digital means.


*At this stage the Benjamin citation is not really needed, is it? ;-)


Priego, E. 2008. A Life Deferred Book 1. Issu. https://issuu.com/ernestopriego/docs/alifedeferredbook1  [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. 2011. “¡Santo!”: The Stuff of Legend. The Comics Grid blog. http://blog.comicsgrid.com/blog/c2a1santo/ [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. 2014. The Blank Page. Everything is Connected. https://epriego.blog/tag/the-blank-page/ [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. and Wilkins, P., 2018. The Question Concerning Comics as Technology: Gestell and Grid. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.16. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.133 [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. 2019a. Addressing Sylvia. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7803530.v4. [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. 2019b. Salut, Notre-Dame…. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7999418. [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. 2019c. The Strip Hay(na)ku Project. A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics. California, USA: Meritage Press and L/O/C/P. ISBN 9781934299135. http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/21927/ [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Trujillo, R. 2020. HEMOFILIA, fanzine de comics y terror. 5 January 2020. https://ideacomics.blogspot.com/2020/01/hemofilia-fanzine-de-comics-y-terror.html [Accessed 23 January 2020].


Ernesto Priego is a lecturer at the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design, City, University of London. With a background in English Literature and Cultural Studies, he completed a PhD in Library and Information Science at the Centre for Digital Humanities, University College London, focusing on issues of comic book materiality in the digital age. In 2009 he co-founded The Comics Grid as a peer-reviewed scholarly blog. With Ernesto as Editor-in-Chief, the project was rebranded as The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship in 2013, becoming a fully-fledged peer-reviewed open access journal. The Comics Grid is now published by the Open Library of Humanities.




Presenting at The First USW Cardiff: Comics Symposium- Creating Comics, Creative Comics

Creating Comics, Creative Comics

Creating Comics, Creative Comics is a 2-day academic symposium taking place on Friday June 1st & Saturday June 2nd 2018 at the University of South Wales, Cardiff, United Kingdom.

I will make a presentation Saturday (panel 4) along Simon Grennan on a project we have been doing with Peter Wilkins et al. The title of our presentation is “Hypotactic correspondences between Yonkoma four panel manga, emotional ambiguity and story, in styling and drawing the comic Parables of Care: creative responses to dementia care (2018)”.

The First USW Cardiff: Comics Symposium is interested in creator’s perspectives. It will explore comics and creativity and will examine the practice of creating comics, and the particulars of storytelling in comics.

Does changing a panel, change the story? How might a medium’s materiality affect its construction and reception? How do the theoretical and philosophical objectives of the maker inform and frame the construction of the works?

This symposium addresses these needs from the point of view of the creators involved in the production and creation of comics.

Symposium Schedule

Friday 1st June

09:30 Symposium Registration: Registration Desk, The Street, Atrium

10:30 Symposium Welcome with FCI Deputy Dean, Huw Swayne

10:45 PANEL 1 ~ Philosophy, Communicating Concepts
Dr Peter Hodges, The Last Temptation: A Consideration of the Role of Sound in Comics
Xiyuan Tan, Guoxue Comics: Visualising Philosophical Concepts and Cultural Values Through Sequential Narrative
Ian Hornsby, UCOs, or Beyond the Marriage of Philosophy and Sequential Storytelling
Dr Nathan Kilburn, Practice as Research: The Visual Aphorism
Chair: Corrado Morgana

12:30 LUNCH

Chris Phillips, Creating Comics – 5 Page Red Riding Hood
With Geraint D’Arcy

14:30 PANEL 2 ~ Perception and Re/presentation
Jeannette D’Arcy, Creating Canon: Fun Home and Transmedial Adaptation
Dr Robert Hagan, Touch Me/Don’t Touch: Female Archetypes in Ann Nocenti’s Daredevil
Chair: Madelon Hoedt

Dr Julia Round, Anonymous Authors, Invisible Illustrators, and Collaborative Creation: Misty and British Girls’ Comics

Saturday 2nd June

09:15 DAY 2 Welcome

09:30 PANEL 3 ~ Practice-As-Research
Dr Paul Davies, New Choices of the Comics Creator
Ahmed Jameel, Studying Writer-Artist Comics Collaboration: A Practice Based-Approach
Dr John Miers, Fortuitous Realism at Work and Play: The Role of Imaginative Projection in Developing a Cartooning Practice
Chair: Brian Fagence

11:00 PANEL 4 ~ Comics, Parables of Care and the Medical Self
Tony Pickering, Diabetes Year One: Drawing my pathography: comics, poetry and the medical self.
Dr Enesto Priego, Dr Simon Grennan and Dr Peter Wilkins, Hypotactic correspondences between Yonkoma four panel manga, emotional ambiguity and story, in styling and drawing the comic Parables of Care: creative responses to dementia care (2018).
Chair: Emily Underwood-Lee

12:00 LUNCH

Jon Davis-Hunt and Rob Williams
With Brian Fagence

14:00 PANEL 5 ~ History, Memoir and Autoethnography
Nick Dodds, Reframing the Graphic Memoir: How can the comic-strip artist negotiate modality and fidelity in the depiction of personal and historical narratives?
Dr Simon Grennan, Drawing in Drag: self-observation, the dissenting subject and stylistic reformation in the production of a new pseudonymous comic album
Chair: Geraint D’Arcy



*In association with Cardiff Indie Comic Expo. Registration for the symposium grants entry to CICE Saturday 2nd June.

Registration link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/creating-comics-creative-comics-tickets-45194337480

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