OCR’ing and analysing comic books – a workflow report

spidermanI like experimenting with text analysis tools like Voyant. However, most tools for corpus linguistics don’t account for historical change – which I am, as a historian, mostly interested in. Historians working with tools like these have to think of ways themselves to add a time scale to their analyses. The most straightforward way to do so is by arranging a corpus in a chronological order. Highly interesting, for example, is to study linguistic changes in successive volumes of newspapers or periodicals, as I do in my academic research.

Really just as an experiment, I’ve also tried analyzing volumes of comic books. I happen to possess some digital comic book archives, they have a nice chronological order, and they are quite under-studied as historical sources for changes in (popular) culture. As turning digital comic books (in cbr format) into analyzable text files took more effort than I realized, what follows is the workflow I constructed. I don’t know whether it’s the optimal way of doing so, but as someone who is new to bash commands, OCR’ing, and the combination of both, I had a lot of fun figuring this out. No, it’s probably a long way from being optimal. More like quick-and-dirty, although it isn’t quick either (depending on the volume of your dataset). But it does requires hardly any action, so for all its downsides it really is a fun way of experimenting with the (historical) text analysis of some original data. Lees verder

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