The Database

My initial cartoon entry was very selective. I only included cartoons that expressly represent nuclear issues or imagery. For example, if there is a mushroom cloud, atom symbol or the words “atomic” or “nuclear” in the cartoon it got added. Additionally, cartoons that mention a specific type of nuclear weaponry were included such as MIRV missiles or the Trident submarine. If just a bomb or just a missile was present in the cartoon and it was not clear that it was nuclear in nature, I did not include it in the database. Conversely, cartoons dealing generically with the “arms race” were not included unless the missiles and bombs were keyed as nuclear weapons. These boundaries were established in order to initially obtain a distinct data set. As this project develops these tangential cartoons will be added to facilitate a more robust understanding of key events.

The structure of this cartoon MySQL database is deceptively simple. My goal was to track all the relevant metadata for each cartoon over time. Yet, since OCR technology does not work well with hand written texts, especially when they tend to be written at all angles and all sizes as in a cartoon, this necessitated my development of a new database populated with my own data.

Each entry consists of one cartoon. The information associated with each cartoon is as follows: the artist, the published date, the caption, a short description of the cartoon, a link to the image of the cartoon, the characters present in the cartoon, the historical event referenced in the cartoon, and any associated keywords.

This information is entered all at one time via a PHP form I constructed for just this purpose. I use a complex system of tables and join tables in the database structure in order to keep track of the metadata and maintain consistency in spelling and keyword usage. The form currently only has the option to enter “Characters” and “Keywords.” The “Events” are not displayed either in the form or in the public database as it is an incomplete list. This element will be developed further at a later date and made publicly available.

User Interface

When a user views the Full Database they will see the artist’s name, the publication date, and caption of each cartoon. Clicking on the accompanying View Cartoon Meta link will take the user to a separate page that contains the same information in addition to a short description of the cartoons and a list of the characters present, and keywords associated with each cartoon. Each character or keyword has an accompanying View All link which when clicked will take the user to a list of all the cartoons in the database that contain that character or keyword.

Currently, the links to the cartoon images are not visible due to copyright, and are available only on my personal version of the database. I hope to gain the appropriate permissions to one day make this aspect of my work available to the public.