Newcastle University Library Education Outreach Team have teamed up with comic artist Terry Wiley, Lydia Wysocki from Applied Comics Etc and local secondary school students to explore the true war story of Thomas Baker Brown from North Shields, Tyne & Wear, who served as a signaller in the First World War. Wiley used the letters, documents, artefacts and other material in Baker Brown’s Archive, which was donated to Newcastle University by his family, to create a comic telling Tommy’s wartime story. The comic follows Baker Brown’s experiences as a soldier on the Western Front and in Prisoner of War camps, as a ‘typical Tommy’ from our local area.
Students from four local schools (St John’s Catholic School, Monkseaton High School, Benfield School, and St Aidan’s Catholic Academy) then 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. They also focused on how to plan, make, and read old and new comics. The students were given copies of True War Stories No.1: Thomas Baker Brown, 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. All students completed the task to a high standard and their comics are published in an anthology of all comics from this project, entitled ‘Draw More Comics: The Thomas Baker Brown World War One Comics Anthology’. All students will receive a free printed copy of the book in the new academic year. The students’ comics and Wiley’s comic are all available to view online here, along with free resources to use and share.