Last year I did a literary walk of Nottingham with Michael Eaton as part of the Festival of Words and was shocked at how little people knew about their local history. Yes, they knew who Byron, Lawrence and Sillitoe were but they had no knowledge of other figures such as Slavomir Rawicz, Alma Reville and the eccentric 5th Duke of Portland.
Nottingham may have a long history of rebellion and standing up to authority but it would appear we’re not so good at celebrating our own history and standing up for ourselves, so I decided to do something about this and resurrected 12 writers from the grave for a digital graphic novel called Dawn of the Unread. This can be read online and will soon be available as an App for iPhone, Android and the iPad. Reading habits are changing and so if I want Nottingham history to be celebrated then it has to be made accessible in as many formats as possible for a new generation of reader.
The project started on 8 February 2014 (National Libraries’ Day) and finishes on 8 April 2015 when a physical copy of the graphic novel will be presented to every school and library in Nottinghamshire.
On the 8th of each month a new chapter is released and is written and drawn by a different writer and artist. The 4th chapter ‘Little Boxes’ tells the tale of the Gotham Fool and how this led to Gotham becoming the mythical home of Batman. It is written by Adrian Reynolds and drawn by Francis Lowe and deals with perceptions of reality and mental health.
The graphic novel includes lots of embedded content which gives further context to the story in the form of videos, photographs and extended essays for readers who want to go deeper into the topic. To access these, just look out for a round circle with a star and click on it.
There is also a Twitter account called @GothamFool where every day a line is tweeted from the many tales of the Merry Men of Gotham as well as photographs that relate to the story to help build up a digital archive of this incredible story of local folklore.
Dawn of the Unread can either be ‘read’ as you would any story or you can ‘play’ it. To ‘play’ users are encouraged to answer questions, loan books from the library, visit locations related to the chapter and upload their own interpretations of the story which can be viewed on a screen outside Broadway Cinema, Nottingham. They get points for completing tasks and the person who scores the highest will feature as a character in the last chapter. Information packs are being sent out to all schools and colleges in Nottinghamshire, so please encourage fellow Gothamites to get involved and prove they are anything but fools!
James Walker Editor, Dawn of the Unread