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Risograph on Risograph

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Partially supported by a NULab Seedling Grant

This project seeks to study the rise of risograph comics printing in the digital era, with a focus on small press risograph printmakers’ community networks and values. Through creating and distributing a risograph zine based on interviews and studio visits with risograph printmakers, publishers, and cartoonists, this project aims to provide a uniquely hybrid, community-oriented, intimate, hands-on, and heretofore underrepresented perspective on the role, position, and creation of print work in a digital world. Risograph has become a popular contemporary medium for small press printing because of its initial in-expense, high print speed, digitally manipulable process, compact space requirements, ease of use, and aesthetic and creative versatility. Risograph printers rapidly print one color at a time from digital files. Printmakers, working from digitally configured and manipulated multi-channel images, can quickly and easily swap out ink drums in risograph printers and run sheets through them multiple times to create layered multicolor prints with nuanced, distinct color palettes.

Risograph on Risograph will culminate in a risograph zine (as well as a presentation and NULab blog post) based on interviews and studio visits with risograph creators. Selections from the interviews will also appear in Bubbles comics fanzine, starting with issue #13. Risograph creators readily and regularly consider the role, positionality, and aesthetic, cultural, financial, and social value of the hybridization of and differentiation between the analog and the digital in their creative work. Their insights will prove invaluable for bringing bibliographic and digital humanities topics in conversation with each other, generating insights into the role of digital networks for print-oriented communities, the value of print mediums relative to digital alternatives, the position of risograph as a bridge between analog and digital technologies of text, and the blurring of the digital and the analog in media creation today.

The zine in which these interviews will be contained models an ethical form of digital humanities and bibliographic scholarship with small presses; the project seeks in equal measure to study the risograph comics community, participate in it, and give back to it. Research findings will be printed at a risograph studio and the resulting zine distributed to interview subjects and the community at large. The zine will be a source of information, connection, and insight for the community, fans, and digital humanities and bibliographic scholars; a historical record of a cultural movement; a celebration of risograph as a form and community; and a model for ethical praxis-oriented scholarship on and for media communities.

Principal Investigator

Kenny Oravetz, Graduate Student, English

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