Lara Bond, Heritage Assistant at Richmond Local Studies Library and Archive, describes an engaging, hands-on comic workshop for young people which took place at the Old Town Hall, Richmond as part of our programme of events for Cityread London 2015.

ComicsOn Saturday the 25 April the Local Studies Library & Archive supported the comic artist Karen Rubins in a comics workshop with the theme ‘The Spirit of a Place’, as part of the series of events based around Cityread 2015‘s chosen book The Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Some of the action in the book, an urban fantasy novel based on the exploits of “Detective Constable and a trainee wizard” Peter Grant, takes place in Richmond. Among the notable characters is a secretive troll that lives in the tunnels that lead from the river to the Terrace Gardens in Richmond Riverside, while one dramatic scene sees a burning boat drifting down the Thames near Richmond Bridge.

Local Studies contributed to the workshop by presenting a wide range of historical documents, including maps; prints; photographs; newspaper articles; and even nineteenth century house auction details. We looked at the Thames around Richmond Bridge, Richmond Hill and Eel Pie Island, and explored the history and dramatic events that have shaped these areas. Our nine eager comic makers created manga style comics about the adventures of the spirit of a local or imaginary place. We had some really inspired work, with characters such as Isabella Plantation, who has a taste for venison, and a straitjacketed character representing Eel Pie Island after the flood and erosion defences stopped it constantly changing size and shape.

The workshop was a lot of fun, thank you to everyone who took part.

Cityread London is an annual event, with a range of activities taking place in libraries across the city throughout April. Don’t miss Cityread London 2016 ….