Dan Thompson – zines and artist books collection

We’ve recently been very lucky to receive a fantastic collection of almost 300 zines and artist books from artist, maker and collector, Dan Thompson.

Dan lives in Ramsgate and runs a studio out of Marine Studios in Margate. He works nationwide on projects centred around people and places. Below is his story about this fantastic collection. You can browse the collection here: https://archive.kent.ac.uk

A photograph of 8 publications, their covers facing the viewer.

A selection of Dan’s publications in the collection, 997-2022 (DTC/ART/01)

“I’m a collector. I have collected since I was a child (my mum is a collector, too, with a love of the 1920s and 1930s – my dad had collections of stamps and of cigarette cards – and my uncle was an antique dealer). I have collections connected to the First and Second World Wars, to the printing industry, of studio pottery, of 7” soul singles.

But sometimes, collections creep up on you.

A photograph of 3 issues of Gay Christian zine, each photocopied on to pink paper.

Gay Christian zine, 1983-1984, found by Dan Thompson discarded at the British Juggling Convention, Ramsgate in 2022 (DTC/ZIN/02)

Back in the 1990s, I worked with a number of bands – and knew many more – who were on the fringes of Britpop.

Britpop retrospectives always feature two iconic magazine covers, Select with an image of Brett Anderson from Suede and Vanity Fair with a photo of Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit under a Union Jack duvet.

But the bands that originally made up the scene were better represented in Fantasy Y Fronts, a thick photocopied zine made by two fans, Mel and Sal. (There were lots of zines around back then, and the best ones were made by women.) Who remembers S*M*A*S*H, These Animal Men, Tiny Monroe, Thurman, Compulsion, Mantaray and co? I do, and they’re all in here.

I used to correspond with Fantasy Y Fronts, in the days when you had to write and post a letter. Finding the best bands, and being part of the scene, took time and commitment.

I kept a couple of copies of Fantasy Y Fronts as a souvenir of that time (I wish I’d kept the correspondence, too), and they’re the foundation this collection is built on.

Photographs of the covers of two issues of Fantasy Y-Fronts zine, balck and white photocopies with images of bands alongside text and logos.

Two copies of Fantasy Y-Fronts in the collection, 1994 (DTC/MUS/02)


Added to them are thirty years of things I never consciously collected.

It includes more music zines, including a small collection given to me a few years ago by the manager of Welsh band 60 Ft Dolls. There are political zines and pamphlets, including copies of Occupied Times from the Occupy movement that echo 1960s publications like International Times.

There are things made by artists I’ve known and worked with, like Charles Tolfree and Alice Angus. I’ve curated exhibitions and programmed events across England, so these come in geographical clusters: Brighton and Worthing, where I lived, then Margate, and Stoke-on-Trent where I have worked since 2014.

A photograph of 7 issues of Happy Hood zine, their covers facing the viewer.

Happy Hood zine by Laura Graham and Paige Taylor, 2017-2018 (DTC/PLA/04/01)

There are publications like Happy Hood, halfway between a zine and a local magazine, produced by my friend Laura Graham in Northampton.

There are all sorts of things, from all sorts of places, in all sorts of formats. There’s poetry and photography, and creative writing and cartoons.

A photograph of the cover of GirlFrenzy zinie, blue cover with a drawn image of a woman playing a guitar

GirlFrenzy zine, 1998 (DTC/MUS/11)

It’s a mismatched collection because I never set out to collect zines. These are souvenirs of projects, reminders of places I’ve been, gifts or exchanges with people I know – a collection of moments in time. They all originally belonged to other loose collections but a few years ago, I realised that if I took those collections apart (Britpop, or Things About London, or …) the constituent parts made a new collection, of what could be loosely termed artist’s books, zines, and small press publications.



A photograph of the cover of a zine, featuring a portrait of an older man.

Cummerbundery (Vol 1): The collected tweets of Brandon Cummerbund, 2010 (DTC/ART/08/06)


As an artist, I like this reshuffling of knowledge, this reframing of things in different ways. And that’s why I am pleased to be handing the collection, well over a hundred assorted items, to the University of Kent’s Special Collections, where it will be a cornerstone of their growing collection of zines and artist’s books. Because it’s a pack of cards that can be shuffled many ways, and I look forward to seeing who shuffles it and what they turn up.”


Zines Zines Zines! New exhibition in the Templeman Gallery

Title of exhibition - Zines Zines Zines - written in a DIY ransom note font

Come and see our new exhibition in the Templeman Gallery about the history and development of zines, and featuring zines from the Queer Zine Library – which will be up throughout September 2023.

What are zines?

Zines are do-it-yourself publications – often in the form of photocopied booklets. They are either unique items or have a limited number of copies in circulation. They are cheap to make, require no particular skills to create, and have hugely varied content including art, poetry, cartoons, collage, interviews and commentary. The history of zines is rooted in radical political self-publishing and provide an opportunity for expression of views and perspectives outside of the mainstream press.

What is in the exhibition?

View of an exhibition case with two information boards to the left. The exhibition case contains a range of zines and small press publications with captions alongside.

Display of zines and small press publications from Special Collections and Archives that highlight the history of zine making and self publishing.

The exhibition features examples of zines and small press printing selected from across our collections in Special Collections and Archives – including from the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive, the Modern Firsts poetry collection, examples from our artists’ books collection, and our new zine archive donated and collated by Dan Thompson.

These zines provide examples from across the history of zine making from early 18th century pamphlets (such as ‘Common Sense’ by Thomas Paine) to Beat Poetry in the mid 20th century to zines created by comedian Josie Long in her Kindness and Exuberance tour in the 2000s.







We are also delighted to host a selection of zines from the Queer Zine Library – a mobile DIY library celebrating radical LGBTQIA+ zines and selfpublishing. With huge thanks to Holly Callaghan, one of our amazing Divisional Liaison Librarians, who organised the loan of the material from the Queer Zine Library and provided the captions about each item on display.

And finally, we are also delighted to feature some beautiful and moving examples of artists’ books created by participants in the Open Book project, a book-making project organised by the Canterbury Festival offered to those living with dementia to express their experiences both visually and through text. With thanks to Amanda Sefton Hogg at the Canterbury Festival for providing these examples from the project to include in the exhibition.

Get a Free Zine and Make Your Own!

You can pick up a free info-zine about the exhibition, and even have a go at making a zine yourself at the making station. We can’t wait to see your creations! You can share a picture with us by emailing specialcollections@kent.ac.uk.

Image showing table in the exhibition space with three piles of free info-zines for people to take away, some paper and pens for people to make their own zine, and an information board about zines at the University of Kent

The making station in the Templeman Gallery exhibition space where you can make your own zine

Small black and white zine, standing up with the front cover visible showing the text "Zines Zines Zines! Templeman gallery A Block 1st Floor. Aug/Sept 2023. An exhibition about the history and development of zines! Featuring items from Special Collections and Archives AND the Queer Zine Library!" In the background of the image in soft focus are other copies of the zine displayed on the table.

Free info-zine about the exhibition. Come along and take one.


Cartooning Covid-19 – call for volunteer participants

About the project 

Nicholas Newman, The Sunday Times, 01 Mar 2020. ©
Nick Newman (ref: 109242)

‘Cartooning Covid-19’ will be a 10-week volunteering project which aims to make available cartoons published in national papers during the Covid 19 pandemic between March and December 2020. Through cataloguing these cartoons, we ensure that this important period in recent history is captured in the cartoon catalogue of the British Cartoon Archive for use in learning, teaching and research.

The British Cartoon Archive collects the cartoons published each week in national newspapers (The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Independent). This encapsulates work by artists such as Bob Moran, Nicholas Newman, Peter Schrank, Morten Morland, Peter Brookes and more. 


To participate in this project please email cartoons@kent.ac.uk. 


The project will be carried out using a hybrid model of in-person group sessions and remote virtual cataloguing. However, this opportunity is open to all, so if you do not live locally to Canterbury, you are welcome to join as a fully remote participant. Similarly, if you would prefer to participate in person only, that’s ok too. 

Volunteers will be provided with full training as part of the project, including sessions from the archive team about the BCA and the work they carry out to preserve it and make it available, and they will be given access to library resources where possible, such as newspaper archives and both physical and digital cartoon collections. 

Volunteers will be given a set of cartoons published between March and December 2020, which they will be asked to catalogue by listing details about the cartoons into a spreadsheet with supervision from the Special Collections and Archives team. At the end of the project the resulting spreadsheets of data will be uploaded to the British Cartoon Archive catalogue alongside digital cartoon copies, making these resources available to the public.  

Special Collections and Archives will provide refreshments at in-person events (lunch will not be provided). 

Michael Heath, The Mail on sunday, 05 April 2020. ©Associated Newspapers Ltd. (ref: 109333)


  • In-person sessions will be held fortnightly on Tuesdays from 3rd October through to 5th December 2023 (10 weeks). Sessions will run from 10:30-16:00 with an hour break for lunch. For online only participants, you would be invited to attend the welcome day sessions virtually on Tuesday October 3rd, after which you will be provided with digital copies to describe and catalogue. 
  • Optional online drop-in sessions will be scheduled virtually (via Microsoft Teams) for one hour every other week from Thursday 12th October. These sessions will enable Special Collections and Archives to provide virtual support for volunteers between in-person sessions, while also providing an opportunity for socialising and peer support. 
  • Volunteers are encouraged to participate remotely between in-person sessions. Resources will be made available online through Google Drive.   


There are no specific prerequisites for participating volunteers, however this project will likely suit those with an interest in political satire, art and graphic design, UK politics, or those wishing to learn more about archives.  

Volunteers should be comfortable with using websites and online catalogues, and in using spreadsheets. 

A laptop will be needed for participation during in-person sessions.  These can be supplied by Special Collections and Archives on request, but numbers are very limited so please indicate in advance if this is required. Volunteers are encouraged to provide their own devices where available.  

For remote participation, volunteers will need to have their own laptop or personal computer with internet connection, as well as access to a Google account.  

To participate in this project please email cartoons@kent.ac.uk. 

Morten Morland, The Times 27 April 2020. ©News UK (ref: 109373)

50 years of cartoons at the University of Kent, 2023-2025

In 1973 the first cartoons arrived at Kent, in the shape of a large deposit of 20,000 cartoons from the Daily Mail and Evening News. This paved the way for the establishment of the Centre for the Study of Cartoons and Caricature (CSCC), which was formally inaugerated at the University of Kent in October 1975. Dr Graham Thomas, who worked at the university’s Politics Department, was instrumental in it’s founding and, along with colleagues such as Colin Seymour-Ure, built the CSCC into one of the largest and most significant collections of cartoons in the UK. Today we know these collections as the British Cartoon Archive. 

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CSCC and the British Cartoon Archive, we’ll be hosting a variety of events and activities from Summer 2023 through to Winter 2025. Information about these events will be posted here.

The 50/50 Project: Celebrating 50 Years of the British Cartoon Archive (June-December 2023)

A photograph of the volunteers working at tables in our reading room. On top of the tables you can see various books and archival materials.

Our volunteers selecting and reviewing material in the Special Collections and Archives Reaing Room.

This is a volunteer-led project aiming to explore and select 50 cartoons from across the British Cartoon Archive collections to feature in an exhibition in the Templeman Gallery. The project took place on Mondays throughout June 2023.  The exhibition will be on display from October to December 2023.

After an initial tour of the collections the volunteer group got hands-on with cartoons, searching our catalogues, viewing material, and writing captions, before curating the exhibition. They continune to work remotely on their captions, which will be brought together to form the exhbition in October 2023.

Watch this space for more information!

Cartooning Covid-19 (October-December 2023)

‘Cartooning Covid-19’ will be a 10-week volunteering project which aims to make available cartoons published in national papers during the Covid 19 pandemic between March and December 2020. Through the description and cataloguing of these cartoons, we will ensure that this important period in recent history is captured in the cartoon catalogue of the British Cartoon Archive for use in learning, teaching and research 

The project will be carried out using a hybrid model of in-person group sessions and remote virtual cataloguing. Volunteers will be provided with full training as part of the project, including sessions from the archive team about the BCA and the work they carry out to preserve it and make it available, and they will be given access to library resources such as newspaper archives and both physical and digital cartoon collections.

The project will begin in October 2023, see https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/specialcollections/2023/09/01/cartooning-covid-19-call-for-volunteer-participants/ to get involved!


The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Richard Whittington’s Lasting Legacy In Pantomime

This year marks the 600th anniversary of the death of Richard Whittington, a well-known fifteenth-century Mercer and three times Mayor of London, who was key in shaping civic governance in medieval London. He also served under three medieval kings, Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V. His legacy and memory has survived the test of time, albeit with a few embellishments along the way (there’s no record confirming that Richard Whittington ever had a cat, for example). Nevertheless, even in the present day, we continue to remember Whittington for he serves as the inspiration for the tale we all know and love, Dick Whittington and His Cat.

Black and white photograph of Dorothy Ward as ‘Principal Boy’ in Dick Whittington, taken at the Whittington Stone (created 1821) at the foot of Highgate Hill, London. Photograph in the David Drummond Pantomime Collection

The Story of Dick Whittington and His Cat

The story of Dick Whittington is one of England’s most famous folk tales, harking back to the early modern period, with one of the first fictionalised references to Richard Whittington and his cat being made in a ballad written by Richard Johnson in 1612. The story was adapted into prose form during the later 17th century by Thomas Heywood, who wrote The Famous and Remarkable History of Sir Richard Whittington, and then it was crafted into a puppet play during the 18th century by Martin Powell. As from 1814, the story was further adapted as a staged pantomime, with the first performance starring Joseph Grimaldi as Dame Cicely Suet, the Cook, and later as a tale for children.

Flyer for a performance of Emile Littler’s Dick Whittington and His Cat at the Palace Theatre in London. Flyer in the David Drummond Pantomime Collection

The story that modern day audiences are familiar with tell the tale of an orphan boy, Dick, who ventures to London hoping to make his fortune, believing the streets of London to be ‘paved with gold’. He enters the employment of the merchant FitzWarren, who takes him in, yet Dick finds life as a scullion boy miserable as he is bullied by the Cook and does not enjoy being plagued by rats and mice. It is during this time that he buys his cat, hoping to keep the vermin away. Dick, however, soon ventured his cat to acquire a stake in the cargo ship that was set to sail for north Africa. Nevertheless, when the bullying of the Cook intensifies, Dick runs away yet soon returns after hearing the bells of Bow Church speak to him ‘Turn again Whittington Thrice Lord Mayor of London’.

Extract from Scene 4 of the pantomime ‘The Adventures of Dick Whittington’ from a script collection of Clarkson Rose’s. In this scene, Dick hears the bells call out and predict that he will be Mayor of London. This performance took place at the Palace Theatre in Westcliff-On-Sea. Item in the David Drummond Pantomime Collection

Extract from Scene 4 of the pantomime ‘The Adventures of Dick Whittington’ from a script collection of Clarkson Rose’s. In this scene, Dick hears the bells call out and predict that he will be Mayor of London. This performance took place at the Palace Theatre in Westcliff-On-Sea. Item in the David Drummond Pantomime Collection

Upon his return to FitzWarren’s home, he finds out that he is a rich man. His cat who had formed part of the crew of the vessel that set sail for north Africa was loaned to the King of Barbary as his Palace was overrun with rats. The king was so grateful for the cat’s service, that he paid for the entire cargo and ten times as much for Dick’s cat. From this point onwards, Dick’s fortunes continue to improve by marrying Alice FitzWarren, his employer’s daughter, and becoming Mayor of London three times, just as the bells of Bow Church had foretold.

Where History and Myth Meet

Whilst the story that we recognise has been largely fictionalised, elements of the life of the true Richard Whittington form the basis of the pantomime. Even those responsible for staging the pantomime Dick Whittington, recognised the performance’s historical links to this medieval mayor of London, questioning aspects of the myth surrounding Whittington, such as whether he had a cat and where the origins of this story came from.

Short article explaining the historical links between the pantomime Dick Whittington to Richard Whittington, mayor of London during the late medieval period. The news article also gives details of the upcoming pantomime starring the Principal Boy Jean Adrienne as Dick Whittington in the upcoming pantomime at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. News cutting in the David Drummond Pantomime Collection

These links can be further explored within the source material available for the pantomime Dick Whittington in Special Collections & Archives’ David Drummond Pantomime Collection, which is currently being catalogued after being awarded an Archives Revealed grant from The National Archives.

Travels to London

Central to the story is London as a focal point for the fortunes of Dick Whittington and the real historical figure of Richard Whittington. Like the fictional character Dick Whittington, the real Whittington also came from outside of London. In contrast to his dramatised counterpart, however, Richard Whittington was born in Pauntley, Gloucestershire during the 1350s and did not begin his tale in Lancashire. Whittington’s story was also not a tale of rags to riches. Unlike young Dick Whittington, who was an orphan, Richard Whittington came from a landowning family and was sent to London to undertake an apprenticeship to learn to be a mercer, a type of tradesman that specialised in textiles and luxury goods.

Miscellaneous item showing Dick Whittington and his Cat 4 miles from London. Item forms part of the David Drummond Pantomime Collection

Both Richard Whittington and Dick Whittington also inhabit the same spaces within London. In both the pantomime and in the time period that Richard Whittington lived, both Cheapside and the Guildhall are prominent features of the stories of both of these individuals. Historically, Cheapside was one of the most important streets within London for trade and many of the individual guildhalls were based near this area (and still are to this day). Dick was taken into the home of the merchant Fitzwarren and the real life Richard Whittington himself was engaged in trade because of his profession. It is of no wonder, therefore, that the area known as Cheapside has been incorporated into the pantomime. Similarly, the Guildhall was a place that would have been central to those involved trade. Moreover, the Guildhall was the centre of civic governance and politics, being THE place that mayors of London would have frequented and conducted their business from. The Guildhall and Cheapside were core focal points for Londoners during the medieval period and it is significant that these locations feature in the pantomime of Dick Whittington, showing the clear historic links between both stories. Understanding the importance of London in both their stories is key for audiences to understand that by going to England’s capital, both Whittingtons secured their fortune and created successful careers.

Tradesmen in the Metropolis

Understanding the type of worlds that both Whittingtons inhabit in the city of London is also important in establishing this historical link between these two figures. Dick Whittington may not have been an apprentice to a merchant or artisanal tradesman but he does live in the house of a merchant known as Fitzwarren, who he works as a scullion boy for.

Extract from Scene 2 from a Book of Words of the pantomime Dick Whittington written by Frank Ayrton, produced at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham from 1910-1911. It is in this moment that Alderman Fitzwarren agrees to give Dick employment. Item in the David Drummond Pantomime Collection

The inspiration for Dick to live in the house of a merchant may come from the work life of the real-life Whittington, who was himself a very successful artisanal tradesman and an established mercer in London by 1379. Whittington also had an upmarket clientele by the 1380s and 1390s, for he sold luxurious goods to customers such as Richard II and other members of the royal family, including John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and Thomas Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester. Despite the change of regime and usurpation of Richard II by the Lancastrian king Henry IV, Richard Whittington continued to prosper and he also sold goods to the new royal family, even supplying goods for the marriages of Henry IV’s daughters, Blanche and Philippa.

Marriage to Alice Fitzwarren

The historical Whittington’s links to the world of trade even influenced the choice of love interest for the character Dick Whittington, for both individuals marry a woman of the same name – Alice FitzWaryn/Fitzwarren.

Extract from Scene 12 from a Book of Words for the pantomime Dick Whittington and His Cat written by Newman Maurice, produced at the Brixton Theatre. Now that Dick is Mayor of London, he asks for Alice’s hand in marriage. Item from David Drummond Pantomime Collection

Where the pantomime departs from the true historical narrative, however, is in how that these marriages come about. The historic Richard Whittington married Alice Fitzwaryn, the daughter of Sir Ivo FitzWaryn (clearly the inspiration for Fitzwarren who employs Dick), a landowner in Dorset. Sir Ivo only had daughters and so this was probably an advantageous marriage for Whittington, who married Alice at the age of 48 and who would have inherited certain of Sir Ivo’s estates in Wiltshire and Somerset that would have been passed on to Alice. In contrast, in the pantomime, Alice is the daughter of Dick’s employer, Fitzwarren, and Dick’s love interest throughout, marrying once Dick has made his fortune and is mayor.

Thrice Mayor of London

The clearest link between Richard Whittington and the pantomime character, Dick Whittington, is, of course, the fact that they were both thrice mayors of London.

Opening of Scene X in which the Lord Mayor’s Show takes place. Extract is from the Book of Words for Augustus Harris’s Pantomime Whittington and His Cat, produced at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1884-1885. Book of Words written by E. L. Blanchard. Item in the David Drummond Pantomime Collection

As mentioned earlier, by the end of the pantomime Dick achieves his destiny and becomes Mayor of London three times. This is in keeping with the fate of the historical figure of Richard Whittington, who was first appointed Mayor of London on 8th June 1397 by Richard II, following the death of Adam Bamme, the previous mayor, on 6th June 1397. What is quite special about the way that Whittington became mayor is that it shows the trust that the King had for him, as Richard II appointed him in this position based on the good relationship that Whittington had cultivated with him. He was then elected mayor by his fellow citizens in 1406 and then again for the third time in 1419.

Charitable Endeavours

Whittington’s charitable nature and philanthropic endeavours are also remembered in the materials available. Once mayor, the pantomime character Dick Whittington’s charitable acts included the building of alms houses, a church, and Newgate Prison. The real Whittington was just as philanthropic, financing a number of public projects, such as drainage systems for the poor. Whittington left in his will £7000 (more than £6 million by modern standards!), which he had drawn up by September 1421, to go towards charitable endeavours. Like Dick Whittington, money went towards the rebuilding of Newgate prison and investing in alms houses, but the historical Whittington also financed the building of the first library in London’s Guildhall and distributed money towards repairing St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Etching showing Whittington’s Alms Houses on Highgate Hill. Item forms part of the David Drummond Pantomime Collection

Whittington was recognised during his lifetime as being someone who inspired trust and nobly served the city of London. These character traits and commitment to good works certainly seem to have also been integral to the character of Dick Whittington, who follows the historical Whittington’s footsteps in ending his tale by giving back to the City where he was able to forge his path and success. This idea of civic duty and the role of Londoners in upholding these values seems to be preserved in the way that Whittington’s legacy has lived on through the legendary figure of Dick Whittington.

Extract from the final scene in a script for the pantomime Dick Whittington & His Cat, a Christmas pantomime written by Theo Hook in 1948. Before the pantomime ends, Alice reminds ‘every boy and girl this night (or day) Who sees this Pantomime. Be good and true like Whittington’. Item in the David Drummond Pantomime Collection

Remembering Whittington on the Stage

Throughout this blog post, you have seen various sources to study the links between the historical figure Richard Whittington and the fictional character of Dick Whittington. The David Drummond Pantomime Collection is a treasure trove for anyone wanting to explore the link between Richard Whittington and his pantomime counterpart Dick Whittington further. From photographs to news cuttings, these materials show us just how many times Dick Whittington appeared on the stage and where, demonstrating interest in the figure and his centrality to the world of pantomime from the Victorian period to the present day. It is a legacy that has survived beyond the fifteenth century and remains in popular memory in our present day.

At Special Collections & Archives, we have a rich collection of pantomime and theatre materials in which the figure of Dick Whittington appears time and time again. Search our catalogue for more and pay us a visit – we’d love to remember Richard Whittington’s legacy with you!