Hannah Berry is a graphic novelist and the current Comic Laureate of the UK, following Dave Gibbons and Charlie Adlard in that role. The comics industry is a bit up in the air at the moment and the British comic book scene seems suddenly more isolated from America and Europe simultaneously. It's like a double Brexit. Before all this was going down, Berry was working on an anonymous survey to help get a better picture of everyone making comics in the UK right now. It has just gone live, is open to anyone involved with the creation of comics in any capacity, aged over 16. As she says, "over the last couple of decades, the UK comics scene has exploded into the wild, experimental, thoughtful and provocative artistic frontier that we belong to today. To find ways to ensure that this level of creativity and growth can be encouraged, supported, and sustained, we need to get an accurate breakdown of the situation."
To encourage participation, the fifteen-minute survey will also enter a prize draw to win one of three £50 e-vouchers to be spent in British comic book stores Page 45, Travelling Man or Gosh Comics.
Hannah Berry also broadens the scope of the survey, saying "the survey has been designed to gather information and generate insights about comic producers across a range of creative practice, and at all levels of activity: if you are UK-based and make comics or cartoons for public consumption, I want to hear from you. Regardless of whether you are an internationally renowned comics legend or a newcomer working in secret on your long-form graphic novel or posting strips on Instagram: if you make comics then you are a part of the UK comics community and this survey is for you."
The questions cover who we are as a community, and what each of us does, though keeping it anonymous. How much we make from different sources and to what extent we're having to subsidise that. What obstacles we're facing and what support we need to keep on making and selling comics. Yes, that will also include how much of an effect the pandemic has had on livelihoods and working practises. The survey has been built by the Audience Agency and funded by Arts Council England, the British Council and the University of Dundee.
There's also a mailing list you can sign up to to receive the final report as soon as it's announced, as well as details of any upcoming events planned to discuss the findings further. Hannah Berry says "the delicious data will paint a more accurate picture of the comics industry, its strengths and shortcomings, and hopefully show us what we need to do in order to support creators working within it. The underlying anonymous data may also be made available to organisations working within comics, literature and the arts for funding and research purposes if it will benefit the comics community (none of your personal details will be shared with anyone without your consent). Most importantly, this information will be used to start a discussion – between you and I and everyone else making comics – about what steps we need to take to keep making and selling comics in these uncertain times." We might also now look forward to some virtual live discussion panels with professionals from different areas of the industry.