WikiWorld is a weekly comic, carried by the Signpost, that highlights a few of the fascinating but little-known articles in the vast Wikipedia archives. The text for each comic is excerpted from one or more existing Wikipedia articles. WikiWorld offers visual interpretations on a wide range of topics: offbeat cultural references and personality profiles, obscure moments in history and unlikely slices of everyday life - as well as "mainstream" subjects with humorous potential.
Cartoonist Greg Williams developed the WikiWorld project in cooperation with the Wikimedia Foundation, and is releasing the comics under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license for use on Wikipedia and elsewhere.
Williams works as a visual journalist for The Tampa Tribune, a daily newspaper in Tampa, Florida. He also has worked as an illustrator and designer at newspapers in Dubuque, Iowa, and Dayton, Ohio. The Signpost interviewed Williams this week:
How long have you been drawing comics? How long have you been in the newspaper industry?
I started drawing comic strips in grade school, on whatever scraps of paper I could find. Some of my earliest comics, in fact, were drawn on the inside of ripped-open envelopes from insurance companies. (Not quite as inspiring as Abraham Lincoln ciphering with chunks of charcoal on a wooden shovel, I know.)
For several years, I contributed weekly comic strips and editorial cartoons to my college newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. After graduating, I had the good fortune to continue producing cartoons and caricatures as part of my first newspaper job, at the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa. I have worked as a newspaper designer and illustrator ever since.
What first got you involved in Wikipedia?
While developing a comic-strip feature for The Tampa Tribune, I came across a Wikipedia article that seemed ideally suited to a cartoon-style adaptation. I contacted the Wikimedia Foundation, to ask about the legality of using Wikipedia text as the basis for a single installment of my proposed comic - and, as the result of subsequent discussions, refined the basic concept for a separate WikiWorld strip.
What are your future plans with WikiWorld and your other works?
Much like the ever-changing logo design on Google's search page, I am hopeful that the WikiWorld comic strip will come to be seen as a fun and informative destination for regular users of Wikipedia.
Is there anything else you want to say about yourself or your works?
During the past year, I have been inspired by several artists who chose to make their work freely available on the Web: animator Scott Bateman ("Bateman 365") and singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton ("Code Monkey"). Their commitment to creative expression - and to the free exchange of ideas - provided the spark that led me to Wikipedia.