A specially stylised comic book has been published to celebrate the work of frontline staff on the Tyne and Wear Metro.
Local artist Mike Duckett drew the 40-page comic – titled ‘Some people call us checkies’ – for the ‘everyday superheroes’ who undertake customer service and revenue protection roles on the Metro network.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, said the finished artwork was a fresh and contemporary way of celebrating the efforts of its workforce, and it has distributed copies to the thousand staff that it employs.
Duckett, an illustrator from Bardon Mill in Northumberland, has used the medium of comic book art to feature the frontline staff as they look after customers, challenge ticketless travel, and provide a reassuring presence on stations and trains.
He said: “The finished comic celebrates the everyday work of frontline Metro staff as they perform their duties.
“They do a brilliant job. I’ve already got know many of them and it’s pretty cool to think that they will be immortalised in the finished comic.
“As an artist this has been a great project for me to be involved in. I love comic book art and it was fantastic to be able to get out there and sketching ordinary Metro staff while they’re at work, whether that is helping a customer use a ticket machine or helping a person with the gatelines.
“The Metro is an iconic transport system, and I don’t think it has ever been represented through this type of artwork before. It’s a new and very contemporary way of celebrating the Metro and its staff.”
The project, part the big Metro Community Takeover, saw Duckett travelling across the Metro network to meet with and bring to life the stories of some of Metro’s 120 customer service advisors.
Customer Services Director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “We are excited to be showcasing the work of our staff through the medium of modern art as part of our Community Takeover.
“Nexus has a long tradition of promoting public art on Metro, but this is the first time that we have commissioned comic book art.
“The finished comic is unique, and is a fantastic tribute to everyday life on Metro. We look forward to giving out copies to our workforce.
“The illustrator, Mike Duckett, worked across the Metro system to draw the staff while they were on duty. Everyone has really enjoyed being a part of it.
“Over the last year Metro has been turned into a platform for community arts and live performances by creative people from across North East England over the coming year as part of the Metro Takeover, our biggest ever community arts programme funded by Arts Council England.”
The Metro Takeover programme involves major regional arts organisations running community projects and commissions which are being showcased at stations across the busy urban transit system by Metro’s operator, Nexus.
Between August 2021 and spring 2022 Metro was brought to life in new ways through dance, song, music and visual arts projects involving people right across the region and funded by Arts Council England.