Burlington-based cartoonist Glynnis Fawkes draws from a background in illustration on archeology sites for her historical graphic novels.
“I worked as an illustrator on excavations around the Mediterranean, doing very scientifically measured drawings of pottery and other artifacts,” Fawkes said. “It’s really given me an insight into how archaeologists think.”
Fawkes works full-time as a cartoonist, in addition to teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction. Her work includes a graphic novel about her time on an excavation site in Kenchreai, Greece; a comic book about the mythological king Kinyras of Cyprus; and a graphic novel about the life of “Jane Eyre” author Charlotte Bronte.
Fawkes’ forthcoming work, “Graphic 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed,” is a collaboration with historian Eric Cline about the late Bronze Age.
From excavation site to comic page
Fawkes began working on excavation sites in 1998, traveling to Greece, Syria, Turkey, Cyprus, and other storied locations around the Mediterranean. Fawkes was not an archeologist herself, but worked closely with excavators to draw scientific illustrations of artifacts — mainly pottery.
“I really appreciate how those things that people used in daily life and threw away or were broken can give so much information about how people lived in the past,” Fawkes said.
Analytical drawings can depict details of an artifact that don’t show up in a photograph, Fawkes said. These drawings can reconstruct the diameter and shape of an artifact, giving scientists clues as to the era the artifact was from and what its use was.
In 1999, Fawkes received a Fulbright to Cyprus, where she published a book of paintings of archaeological sites, as well as a book of cartoons about Cypriot archaeology.
“I wanted them to be in the same book, but the Hellenic Bank that published my book of paintings thought the cartoons were not serious enough,” Fawkes said, “which in one way is a win.”
Fawkes eventually got the cartoons published by Moufflon Press, and has been publishing comics ever since.
Fawkes is not the type to perform on stage in front of people, she said, but she loves drawing cartoons as a way to connect with people.
“Connecting with people in the countries of the Bronze Age, where this took place. Connecting with archaeologists who might be able to use this to introduce ideas to students to share this world with other people,” Fawkes said. “To share this world with other people, especially young ones who might be curious about archeology.”
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