Comic book conservator

Comic Book Girl is conservator Lorraine Finch’s campaign to change the public perception of the role of the conservator and to raise awareness of conservation and preservation among the general public by impressing its relevance to their lives. She is making accessible small quantities of conservation-quality storage materials. Sharing her passion and enthusiasm for conservation and creating a focused and well researched campaign delivered through a super-hero persona is central to reaching this wider audience, by attending conferences and conventions and using social media.

Initially focused on one group of collectors, comic book collectors, the aim is to extend the campaign, covering the full range of archival material held by the public in their homes.

The campaign has been running since January 2013 and is carried out alongside usual business activities.

Challenges and opportunities

  • a steep learning curve to acquire publicity and marketing skills (her professional training did not include business skills)
  • a natural disinclination to use social media before beginning to develop the campaign
  • overcoming the initial suspicion of some other professional conservators who didn’t understand the aim of the campaign
  • finding the time to create the campaign such as characters, graphics and content
  • financial constraints
  • engaging creatively with an audience who had little or no knowledge of conservation or the role of conservators; sometimes challenging negative perceptions surrounding this
  • trying to step outside a conservator’s perception of conservation and thinking like a member of the public
  • speaking in an easy to understand manner while retaining the meaning of complex conservation interactions
  • opportunity to raise awareness of conservation to new audiences and develop their knowledge and skills in this area

Responding to the challenges and opportunities

  • sought advice of Enterprise GY, who support developing businesses in the Great Yarmouth area, to learn more about business skills and marketing and publicity techniques and supplementing this learning by reading comprehensively about the subject
  • attended courses on using Twitter and Facebook
  • used graphic design tools available on the internet
  • engaged with local business community

Developing the campaign tools

  • creating the super-hero persona – Comic Book Girl, who fights the evils of Mela-X and his henchmen, the Agents of Destruction
  • creating the Agents of Destruction – each of the causes of deterioration for archival material has its own Agent of Destruction – who are depicted in the style of a comic book villain. They are used to inform the public of the threats to their collections via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
  • creating a comic book style for the campaign
  • launching a Facebook page
  • launching a Twitter account
  • posting five videos on YouTube
  • researching supporting images such as yellowed plastic, woodworm damage and frass

Reaching the audience

  • initiated the campaign using social media – Twitter and Facebook to reach the target audience
  • videos on YouTube, whose availability was publicised through Twitter, Facebook and online groups
  • speaking at specialist conventions such as Diceni, Norwich Sci-Fi Conventions and Comi-Cons where large numbers of comic collectors gather
  • sending out press releases and featuring in the local press
  • producing a leaflet explaining who Comic Book Girl is, what she’s trying to do and why plastic bags are bad
  • producing business cards
  • handing out details of the campaign at comic book stores in the UK and Ireland
  • posting details on online discussion groups

Learning from the process

  • develop website resources as well as using social media – social media is a great tool for driving people to a website
  • use only two or three types of social media – there are too many to use all of them
  • focus on one area you feel passionate about and develop your campaign from there
  • research a need for what you are offering
  • research your target audience – find out their likes and dislikes where they gather together both physically and online
  • recording videos for YouTube requires a high quality recording system for high quality films
  • it can be overwhelming to maintain momentum in the campaign as a one-woman campaign – social media, creating video, developing a website all take time
  • keep going – take every opportunity to get word of the campaign out. It is easy to become disheartened but it is the cumulative effect of your efforts that will pay off

Developing the campaign

  • Comic Book Girl has become part of League of Guardians which has a super-hero dedicated to saving each type of archival material held at home – so that the campaign can be extended to cover all family archive material
  • speak to Family History Groups and other interested groups
  • 10 or more You Tube videos, each featuring a different Agent of Destruction
  • attend larger Comi-Cons
  • evaluation and monitoring success of the campaign

Social media enabled the campaign to reach a diverse audience, very quickly and in large numbers, with real time conservation about how to care for comic books.

Find out more about Comic Girl Campaign by contacting