Comics Work

Hi! My name is B. Erin Cole, and I am a cartoonist and historian. I have been drawing comics my entire life, but only started focusing on comics more seriously and self-publishing in 2017. I've self-published five comics since 2021, and have two more coming out in 2024. I have tabled at SPX, MICE, Thought Bubble and shows in the Denver area (where I live). I sell comics on Etsy and am distributed by Radiator.

Tabling at the Small Press Expo, 2022 (from The Comics Journal)

I got back into comics after getting a traumatic brain injury that temporarily affected my ability to write but not my ability to draw. I started drawing stories about a character named Little Brain to communicate with friends and family about how I was recovering. I shared them online on social media and in Facebook support groups for people with TBIs and got really positive responses – comics made the often-invisible symptoms and challenges of brain injury visible. I started drawing more comics about my everyday life using Little Brain as a character, and published a guide to living with post-concussion syndrome (I will be putting out a revised edition of this comic in summer 2024). I am currently working on a book-length memoir about having and recovering from my brain injury.

For my day job, I am a professional historian who works in museums and makes exhibits. As I got more comfortable with using comics to tell stories, I started incorporating comics and history. I drew a comic about working in museums that has been assigned in university museum-studies and public-history classes, and then I shifted to telling more history in comics form. My current project is a graphic history/memoir about growing up in and around the nuclear industry in Colorado, and I've published a few smaller comics as part of the project. The Desert Keeps Receipts is a story about visiting the Nevada Test Site outside of Las Vegas on a tour bus full of snarky historians. After visiting Rocky Flats, a former nuclear-weapons production site outside of Denver that is now a wildlife refuge, I drew a comic about the stories the site tells and fails to tell. Both of these have been published in print form. I am currently finishing up a comic about underground nuclear testing in Colorado and the west, which will be published in spring 2024.

I also do other comics, too – cute comics about cats and snakes and tomatoes and such. You need a break from brain injury and nuclear history sometimes. A few of these have been printed, and are suitable for kids as well as appealing to adults.

So, to sum up, my comics have three main themes:

  1. the history of the contemporary American West, specifically nuclear landscapes
cover of The Desert Keeps Receipts

2. everyday life with a brain injury and mental health issues

image from a daily comic I drew during the 2020 pandemic

3. cute characters in awkward situations

a page from 2022's Snake of the Day

I have an Etsy store where I sell stickers and my print comics, including The Desert Keeps Receipts, How to Visit Rocky Flats in 20 Confusing Steps, Snake of the Day,and Tomato Cafe. Some of my comics are distributed by Radiator Comics.

Here are some links to my comics:

I Make Exhibits
Who are museum exhibits for, and what difference does that make?
The Desert Keeps Receipts
We are immersed in a landscape of risk, a damaged place that damages in return.
Am I Still A Historian?
What kind of work do historians value? Who belongs and who doesn’t? Or, what happens when an injured brain meets a crappy system?
How To Visit Rocky Flats in 20 Confusing Steps
what stories do contested places tell about themselves?
Archives Time!
Back with the boxes after a long time away….
Poop in a Box
getting older means fun medical tests and talking more about your poop
Bikes, Bison and Chemical Weapons
or, I spend a nice Sunday afternoon at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal
Little Brain Goes to SPX
scenes from my first time tabling at the Small Press Expo
New Sketchbook Day
the weird and traditional ritual marking the transition from an old sketchbook to a new one
The Peach
when a delicious peach threatens to disrupt your sense of place

I've given some talks about my comics work, which you can see below:

2023 Innovations in Storytelling Humanities Lecture Series - B. Erin Cole
Cute Drawings of Terrible Things: Graphic History and Visual Storytelling as a Historian and a CartoonistB. Erin ColeWednesday, September 20th, 4pmHope Room,…
Historians Imagine: Celebrating Creativity in the Craft with B. Erin Cole
B. Erin Cole is a historian, museum professional and cartoonist. Currently turning some of her research on zoning, race and sexuality into a longform comic f…