Learning framework: Freedom City Comics (2018)

Draft comics by Paul Peart Smith, Patrice Aggs, and Terry Wiley

This learning framework supports the use of Freedom City Comics by schools and other groups. All the activities are designed as springboards for your own projects, lessons, and activities. It’s completely up to you how to use this learning framework!

Read and download the full framework: https://research.ncl.ac.uk/fccomics/learningframework/
Download individual chapters of the framework: https://www.tes.com/resources/search/?authorId=6753649

This learning framework includes:

  • outlines of suggested activities
  • suggested links to National Curriculum KS2 and KS3, including ‘I Can…’ statements
  • printable resources including: storyboard templates, writing frames, archive materials, biographical factfiles
  • artists’ draft pages, to give young comics creators a look behind the scenes of how Freedom City Comics was made.

KS2 curriculum links include: Science, Art, Citizenship, History, Politics, Writing, Literacy, Reading, Maths, Geography, Drama, Careers, PSHE. Key Stage 2 learning framework developed by Mike Thompson and Lydia Wysocki.

KS3 curriculum links include: Media, Art, English, Modern Foreign Languages, History, Drama, PSHE, RE/Ethics, Geography, Maths. Key Stage 3 learning framework developed by Gary Bainbridge and Lydia Wysocki.

Freedom City Comics is our free comics anthology presenting snapshots of the history of civil rights and politics on Tyneside. It was created as part of Freedom City 2017.
Thanks to all our Freedom City Comics contributors:

  • Paul Peart-Smith, working with alumnus Paul Barry and researcher Brian Ward
  • Terry Wiley, working with researcher Rachel Hammersley
  • Patrice Aggs, working with researcher Brycchan Carey
  • Mack Chater and Ian Mayor, working with researcher Joan Allen
  • Sha Nazir, working with researcher Matt Perry
  • Ragavee Balendran, working with researcher Matt Perry
  • ‘Brick’, working with project lead Matthew Grenby
  • Managing editor is Britt Coxon; Editor in chief is Lydia Wysocki.

This learning framework and resources are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC). You can change this framework and share it with other people as long as you credit our project, but you can’t use it commercially. All artwork remains the copyright of the original artists.

Academic journal article based on this project: Wysocki L, Leat D. (2019) Collaborative comic as Boundary Object: the creation, reading, and uses of Freedom City Comics Cómic colaborativo como Objeto de Frontera: la creación, lectura y usos de Freedom City Comics. Tebeosfera, 3(10). https://www.tebeosfera.com/documentos/collaborative_comic_as_boundary_object_the_creation_reading_and_uses_of_freedom_city_comics.html

Freedom City Comics (2017)

Freedom City Comics anthology presents snapshots of the history of civil rights and politics on Tyneside. Each chapter focuses on a different era of the history of people and events in Newcastle and the North East. The 7 chapters are linked by the themes of freedom highlighted by Dr Martin Luther King Jr in his 1967 Newcastle speech:

“There are three urgent and indeed great problems that we face not only in the United States of America but all over the world today. That is the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war…” Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Speech on Receipt of Honorary Doctorate in Civil Law, November 13, 1967, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Made as part of Freedom City 2017, our 16-page comic is a collaboration between comics artist-writers and academic researchers:

The full digital comic is available FREE to read online http://research.ncl.ac.uk/fccomics/readthecomic/ . Look out for each standalone digital chapter, too.

The full printed comic is available to pick up FREE at libraries, cultural venues, and other events around Tyneside as part of Freedom City 2017. More info and venues list: http://research.ncl.ac.uk/fccomics/venues/

We’re also working on a learning framework to support schools and other groups to use this comic.

Press release: http://ncl.ac.uk/press/news/2017/09/freedomcitycomics/

Academic journal article based on this project: Wysocki L, Leat D. (2019) Collaborative comic as Boundary Object: the creation, reading, and uses of Freedom City Comics Cómic colaborativo como Objeto de Frontera: la creación, lectura y usos de Freedom City Comics. Tebeosfera, 3(10). https://www.tebeosfera.com/documentos/collaborative_comic_as_boundary_object_the_creation_reading_and_uses_of_freedom_city_comics.html

DIY Comic (2017)

We worked with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books in preparation for their 2017 exhibition Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories.

Overall, the exhibition features process and final artwork by a mix of old and new comics creators, with a huge focus on supporting children to make their own comics. Our contribution was in two parts:

  • designing and making the DIY comic, a ‘have a go’  for young visitors to use in the gallery and take home to continue making their own comics (see more here) (free download of the DIY comic, notes for adults, and gallery guide activities on the Seven Stories website)
  • working with the Learning and Participation team at Seven Stories to develop workshops to be delivered in-house as part of their schools and public offers, and training Seven Stories’ front of house Storycatcher staff to deliver these.

Gertrude Bell: Archaeologist, Writer, Explorer (2015)


Born in Washington New Hall in what was then County Durham, archaeologist Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) had a remarkable life. She travelled round the world twice, investigated archaeological sites through the Syrian Desert to Asia Minor, and became a powerful force in Iraqi politics. Gertrude established the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, and served as the Honorary Director of Antiquities in Iraq.  

Gertrude Bell: Archaeologist, Writer, Explorer uses digital comics as entry points to original archive materials. The online-digital-hyperlinked comics are all free to read online: http://research.ncl.ac.uk/gertrudecomics/ 

The seven digital comics by cartoonist John Miers present snapshots of Gertrude’s life and work. Click on the circular hotspots to see the photos, letters, and other artefacts that inspired each comic. These original materials include digitised artifacts in the Gertrude Bell Archive, and other collections of key sources.


Phase 2 will support people who aren’t archaeologists or subject specialists to further explore the Gertrude Bell Archive, with these comics as a starting point.

Look out for our printed preview version, too!  Of course the hyperlinks are only in the online comics, but the printed preview has more detail on where in the world Gertrude lived and worked.


We’re grateful to young people from the Newcastle Young Archaeologists’ Club for their help in refining these comics. We went on site at their summer dig at Derwentcote Steel Furnace, for feedback on drafts of each comic and opinions on art style. Then in autumn 2015, YAC tested our hyperlinked comics and helped us decide what could be developed further as phase 2 of this project.

Gertrude Bell: Archaeologist, Writer, Explorer is a collaboration between:

This project is supported by Newcastle University’s Institute for Creative Arts Practice

Please note that we are not responsible for the content or reader-friendliness of external archives and websites.


Academic journal article based on this project: Wysocki, L, Jackson, M, Webster, J, Miers, J, and Coxon, B. 2019. Making the invisible visible: hyperlinked webcomics as alternative points of entry to the digitised Gertrude Bell archive. International Journal of Heritage Studies, epub ahead of print. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2019.1663236

Blog post about phase two of this project (Sana Al Naimi and Lydia Wysocki, interviewed by Eve Forrest): https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/hassimpact/2019/09/06/picturing-gertrude-bell/

True War Stories (2015)


For this project we worked with the Thomas Baker Brown Archive, Newcastle University Library Special Collections Education Outreach team, and artist-writer Terry Wiley.

Thomas Baker Brown was a man from North Shields, Tyne & Wear, who served as a signaller in World War I. His son donated his archive to Newcastle University Special Collections, and we have used the letters, documents, and artefacts in the archive to better understand his WWI story as a ‘typical Tommy’ from our local area.

Thomas’ story forms the heart of this project. His archive includes original comics
from WWI, so we used comics as a method to help local high school students understand how archives help us write history. Visit the True War Stories education outreach webpage to read and download free comics:

  • True War Stories No.1: Thomas Baker Brown, a 12-page biographical comic written and drawn by Terry Wiley
  • Draw More Comics: The Thomas Baker Brown World War I Comics Anthology, an anthology of local students’ comics based on archive materials
  • downloadable panel templates, archive resources packs, and a how to draw guide to use alone or with students


COMICS: Newcastle, Gateshead, and Stockton Libraries (2014)


In summer 2014 Newcastle, Gateshead, and Stockton Libraries joined forces with local comics creators to host a great comics festival for children and young people.


Applied Comics Etc took part in the festival by running our infographics workshop. Then we were invited back for more. In partnership with the libraries and with Tyne Bridge Publishing we published a souvenir book, celebrating the work created by everyone involved.


The souvenir book was a way for participants and their families to remember their shared experiences and comics-making fun (and hard work). It was also a way to show others what the festival achieved, and to say thank you to local arts organisations, local councils, the British Library, and Arts Council England for supporting the festival.

The festival linked with the 2014 British Library exhibition ‘Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK’ and the festival competition winners won a trip to the British Library. The magic of ISBNs means that this souvenir book featuring their comics is now part of the British Library’s legal deposit collection.

Click here to read the full souvenir book on Newcastle Libraries’ website.

Sparks: Comics and collaboration (2014)


We led a workshop for scientists, researchers, physical/digital makers, and artists who took part in the Science Collider run by Sparks North East .  Collaborators arrived not knowing what data they’d be playing with or who their teammates would be.  We focussed on how comics could help them get started and keep things on track, and provided a workbook to keep things on track.

Science FACT-ion (2013)


Ahead of the British Science Festival 2013 we developed a downloadable activity pack available as a PDF from the Teachers’ Toolkit. Download the kids’ pack and adult helpers’ pack here – the competition has closed but the activities remain awesome.

Science FACT-ion drawing challengeScience FACT-ion used the medium of comics to show 8-13 year olds how science fact and science fiction are both separate and interrelated, then check this understanding.  We also challenged readers to design their own inventions, with the winning drawings published in Asteroid Belter and exhibited at Newcastle City Library.


Newcastle Science Comic (2012, ongoing)

Newcastle Science Comic is our heading for all things science + comics: Asteroid Belter, Science FACT-ion, The Science of Comics exhibitions, and other workshops.  We sometimes still do projects as Newcastle Science Comic, but we’re not only Newcastle Science Comic.

Since 2012 we’ve broadened our horizons to include other subject areas.  We began with Newcastle Science Comic so it’ll always have a special place in our comics collections.  Hearts.  In our hearts.

Academic publications about Newcastle Science Comic: