Wondermark #1000 – Made with the help of the British Library

As I mentioned a while ago, the British Library has released a Flickr set of some ninety gazillion images from their collection of public domain books! There’s a ton of great stuff in there.

For Wondermark strip #1000, “A Terror Far Greater”, I thought it’d be fun to trawl the library’s set of images and make the comic entirely from stuff I found there. The scans (or perhaps they are photos) are of a decent resolution, although quite a bit smaller than what I normally work at — when it comes time to put this one in a book, we’ll see how crisp it turns out, but it works fine for the web. Using Photoshop, I am also able to firm up some of the softer lines.


(Click any image for bigger)

Here are the images I used for the first panel — the man’s body, the side of the house, the background garden, and the gun. (The Piranhamoose is already well-known to us.) The man’s face is from a different image (below)…

Both of the faces are from different sources, as is the cart. The original faces in the environment shot were just too wacky-looking to use without modification.

The man’s “hammering” pose comes from a different shot, as does the woman. In 19th-century European magazines, there are not a lot of dignified portrayals of individuals of color, so one that’s not overtly racist or caricatured is a nice find. The wall he’s working on comes from here, and in the picture above you can also see a different background (from here) that I didn’t end up using, in favor of keeping it consistent from Panel 1.

The rest of the panels are made from images of a stone tower, of the Pyramids (for the close-up in the panel with the hand), of a sunset, and of course of a bird.

I went through 100 pages of the Flickr set and found lots of great stuff but no sharks, so he had to come from my regular archive. The hammer was also an addition from a non-Flickr source (it came instead from the 1902 Sears-Roebuck catalog) (and even still, it ended up being more of a mallet).

Still, thanks to the British Library for this amazing resource! There’s probably a shark in there SOMEWHERE on pages 101 through 10200. I’ll find it eventually!!

When I first started throwing these comics together on a lark 11 years ago, I think I labeled them “01”, “02”, “03”, etc. When I put the first 20 or so on a very rudimentary website, I optimistically renumbered them “001”, “002”, etc. Well, NOW WE’VE BROKEN THAT FORMAT.

The last 11 years have been wonderful and I’m so grateful to be able to do what I do for a living; it’s the best job in the world and anyone else who says THEY have the best job in the world is CLEARLY MISTAKEN.

Thank you for all the support, the kind notes, and the moments when you think “You know what would be cool? If I shared my favorite strip with a friend who might like it!” This is a very easy thing to do that makes YOU look cool and makes ME look AMAZING because you probably won’t share one of the clunkers rattling around deep in the bottom of the archives, but rather a sort of MODERN CLASSIC, such as this one or this one or this one.

Now I guess there’s nothing more to do except start counting back down to 001! See you all in 2025 when we can start going back up again!!