Thursday, November 17, 2016

Calling all Comic Artists: Pontefract’s Secret Ballot Comic Commission

Wakefield Museums hold in our collection ballot boxes used in the first secret ballot in parliamentary elections.  Putting a cross to a name on a ballot paper is taken for granted today.  The Pontefract by-election in 1872 changed the democratic process and made elections safer and fairer.

Wakefield Council Museum Service has been successful in securing funding from The Speaker’s Art Fund to create a comic telling the story of Pontefract’s secret ballot.
We are looking for an artist to create 12 pages of art work.  The aims of the comic are:

-          To create engaging, humorous interpretation of Pontefract’s Secret ballot. 

-          Create a sense of pride amongst local communities about the role Pontefract has played in shaping modern democracy in Britain.

-          Engage young Pomfretians around the importance of democracy and the development of universal suffrage.

-          Promote the importance of Josephine Butler who, with the formation of her Ladies National Association in 1869, became the first publicly recognised feminist activist in Britain and came to Pontefract in 1872 to campaign to repeal the Contagious Diseases Act.

-          Highlight the importance of the first secret ballot in Parliamentary elections.

The script for the comic will be provided, as will other source material.
The artwork contained in the 12 pages will be used in a variety of ways including:

-          To create four other pages that will give background information to characters and elements of the story. 

-          To form the basis of graphic interpretation in a new gallery display at Pontefract Museum.

-          As part of learning  materials

-          To create a printed version of the comic (which may be sold by Wakefield Museums).

These elements will be designed and led by Wakefield Museums.

Project budget: up to £3000

This budget covers fee and delivery of the following:

·         12 Pages of comic artwork (inked, lettered and coloured).

·         Rights for Wakefield Council to  use artwork however required (this may include, but is not limited to, gallery interpretation, learning resources, marketing material, online,  retail products)

·         Regular updates of progress to project manager.

All art work is to be signed off by project manager.

Project Timeline: Comic to be completed by

Friday 17 February 2017

How to apply:
If you are interested in submitting a proposal for the commission please provide the following information:

·         Rough sketch thumbnail of double page spread [see below for script & visual references]

·         Examples of previous work

·         Explanation of how you would approach ensuring that the artwork reflects the historical period authentically.

·         Details of two referees

Email to  by 5pm on Thursday 8 December 2016. 
If you require further information about the project please contact Maya Harrison,, 01924 305350.

Potwallopers and Plumpers Script:

The comic explores the first parliamentary by secret ballot in the summer of 1872 in Pontefract.
Background to the scene

The secret ballot election in Pontefract was a by-election to decide who was the Member of Parliament for Pontefract.
The two candidates in the election were Hugh Childers of the Liberal Party – the incumbent and Lord Pollington a Conservative challenger.

As the election was the first to use the secret ballot system and the high profile nature of the election was exploited by a women’s rights campaigner Josephine Butler and the Ladies National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts. This was the first women organised and led movement in modern British history.
The two pages released follow the efforts of Josephine Butler and her fellow campaigners to hold a meeting to raise awareness of their campaign. The current MP Hugh Childers has tried to stop the group having their own meeting in town by double booking rooms and then insisting that they only have a meeting which he chairs.

They manage to secure a hayloft just outside of town but Childers’ supporters intend to spoil it.
They have been helped by a Mr Stuart (there is no description of him and therefore artistic licence can be afforded).

Page 6:
Panel 1:

Int: Cross section view. Crowd of mainly women queuing into a hayloft and  climbing a ladder from a large room containing hay bales, cross section of floor and a women alighting ladder through a trap door into large loft room, pitched roof. It is dimly lit by oil lamps hung on walls. Behind the trapdoor is a crowd of mainly women. JB and her friend Mrs Wilson are at the end of the room.
Also visible outside but hidden from view of the crowd is a group of four men with aggressive postures and angry faces.

Caption: Outside Pontefract
JB Narration: We had been obliged to go all over town before we found anyone bold enough to grant us a place to meet.

Mr Stuart paid for a room on the outskirts of town; a hayloft with a rather unconventional entrance. However, the place was large enough to hold a good meeting, and it was soon filled.
JB: Welcome ladies….gentlemen…..

Panel two:

Close up of JB and Mrs Wilson. JB has tears in her eyes, Mrs Wilson is sniffling. There are wisps of smoke visible from the floor
JB: Mr Childers is AFRAID to meet us and answer our questions. This election is our chance raise this issue and turn his supporters against him

JB Narration: They were not tears of passion, : Little did we realise that Childers’ party had been at cruel work at our meeting
Panel three:

View of the crowd in front of JB, their eyes are streaming and some are sneezing
Crowd: at Choo….cough etc.

JB: perhaps we can now have a proper debate about this INHUMANE act….cough……cough
Somebody out of frame: Pepper?...there is pepper all over the floor

Panel 4: Aggressive men are now downstairs setting light to the hay bales, smoke is billowing up through the floor boards
Angry man: Smoke ‘em out

Crowd (through the floor): Smoke! Fire! Get out!
JB: everyone remain calm

Panel 1:

Head after head of men with countenances full of fury appearing through the trapdoor. Lead by men dressed as gentlemen, one pointing at JB
Gentleman: ?!!%$£$£

Panel 2:
Smash of a window by stones thrown from the outside….glass scatters over JB and Mrs Wilson

Panel 3:
Gentleman and JB face off

Gentleman: We’ve had enough of your talk (something along the lines of immoral and unladylike talk)
JB: You can tell Mr Childers that this kind of behaviour will not diminish our resolve

JB Narration: few of these men were Yorkshire people
Panel 4:

Policemen pop heads through trapdoor – they have a cynical smile
Policeman: evening all

JB: at last…constable please kindly remove these men from the premises….where are you going?
Panel 5:

Policemen leave
Policeman: we are only here for election matters so we will be on our way

Panel 6:
The mob move in and women start to flee down the ladder. Mr Stuart confronts them and get into a tussle

Mr Stuart: Get out of here!
JB: Come Mrs Wilson….it’s us they want the rest will be safe…

Panel 7:
JB and Mrs Wilson jump through the trapdoor

Tell Mr Childers this is far….FAR!... from over (as they are leaping)
Visual References:
Hugh Childers

Josephine Butler in 1876

Victorian Policeman in 1874

Victorian Gentlemen

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