Carol Tilley, Comics historian


Cool Tools Show 305: Carol Tilley

Our guest this week is Carol Tilley. Carol Tilley is a comics historian and associate professor of information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A lifelong nerd and former librarian, her research explores how young people did cool things with and through comics during the mid-20th century. You can find Carol on Twitter @anuncivilphd.

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Show notes:

Merlin Birding App
Like several hundred thousand people, I downloaded the Merlin app once the pandemic lockdown started last year. The Merlin app is a product from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and they keep integrating really cool new stuff, including identify this bird by the song. But since I have been working from home and sort of staring out the big window in front of my desk, I’ve been amazed at all of the birds that seem to exist in this little corner of the yard that I don’t see elsewhere, looking out from my house. And the Merlin app has just been so extraordinarily helpful for me to figure out what some of these small birds are that after a while start to look alike.

Zassenhaus Coffee Mill
I’m a coffee drinker, and I had relied on an electric blade grinder, for the last 25 years or so. But just about a year ago, my wife bought a German-made Zassenhaus coffee mill for us, and it’s got a burr grinder. I sit with it. I grind the coffee by hand. I hold the coffee mill between my knees, and it has made what was already good coffee just even more fragrant and tasteful.

Part of the reason that our yard is so full of birds is because it has overgrown. We’ve got a half acre lot in town that’s heavily wooded, and it’s full of volunteer and invasive trees. So we purchased this amazing thing called the Extractigator. It’s this sort of bright orange, amazing, powder-coated steel tool that will rip up trees up to about an inch and a half or two inches in diameter, and it has just been such a lifesaver, truly, for us in terms of just trying to get the backyard under control. And that said, I could probably use the Extractigator an hour a day for the year, and we would still be overgrown. But it’s getting us closer to ensuring that our neighbors don’t hate us completely.

Oxford Grid Design 3X5 index cards
I work in a discipline and a profession where I’m overly connected, but index cards and using them is just a way for me to get offline and sort of appreciate the tactile pleasures of doodling and taking notes. A few years ago, I’ve got a space in one of cartoonist Linda Barry’s workshops, and her only requirements for things to bring with us were some packs of index cards and I think we had to have either three or five Papermate Flare pens. They had to be black, and they had to be medium. I have continued with both of those. I hadn’t used a Flare pen in years before that. But there is something truly satisfying that the index cards are thick enough and substantial enough that the ink doesn’t show through. She didn’t specify the grid, but I think I have a leftover love for grid paper from when I was a kid and I used to play at designing my own houses. So I like having the grid on one side for a little bit of structured doodling and home design on the side.

More about Carol Tilly:

Dear Sirs: I Believe You Are Wasting Your Time (National Archives talk)

Carol Tilley: Comic Book Crusader (Big 10 Network)


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