While working on the New Statesman comics, I’ve also been working on some other projects this past month…
1. I was commissioned by European Movement to produce a four page comic about the EU (and the UK’s part in it) which will be published online and as a physical pamphlet. It was written by Peter Luff at EM. That’s all finished and should be going to print soon I think. Here’s a small preview from page one:
2. And now that’s completed, I’ve just started work on a 48 page comic about the past, present and future of humanitarian aid – on behalf of Cordaid. The comic will be divided into 5 chapters which should be going online over the next few months. The comic is written by Tjeerd Royaards (editor and founder of Cartoon Movement) who is travelling around interviewing people and digging into archives as I type. When the chapters are finished, the comic will be printed as a physical book.
I’ll update the blog when all these go online and are available to read in their entirety. In the meantime, I’ll continue posting new NS comics here every Friday!
Earlier in the year, I produced a one page comic about asylum seekers and refugees in the UK for the Thought Bubble anthology. It was related to my TB residency last year when I taught comics to the community at BAfR. The comic was called “Sanctuary”, and hopefully it wasn’t too much of a tonal shift from everything else in the TB anthology! I wrote a bit more about it here. But here’s a little preview:
Working on it made me want to produce a longer comic about the far right in this country. So when Matt Bors, comics editor at NSFW Magazine, asked if I wanted to pitch anything to their December issue, I went with this. It still tries to fit too much into a 5 page comic but I’m happy with a lot of how it turned out despite that.
In-between completing the comic and it going to print, NSFW Corp sold to Pando and the issue will now be published in the December issue of Pando Quarterly. I’ll be honest and say I have no idea what this means and I had no idea who Pando Daily were but there you go. I produced the comic for one company and it’s being published by another.
Here’s a preview of the first page:
I was asked to produce around 6-7 pages of comic art for each protagonist (written by the Butch & Sundance team) that act as informative story interludes and sometimes as prizes for getting further in the game. I also designed some of the UI elements.
This was a big project which I worked on over the summer and I’m glad to see it’s online and out there now. Proud of my work on it. You can play it here. Here’s a couple of screen-grabs of the game:
And here are the cover images I made for each story:
Here’s a new poem comic written by Chrissy Williams (who has recently been nominated for the Michael Marks award!) and illustrated by me. We had a lot of fun bouncing ideas and rough layouts back and forth on this.
Now, this is probably the first you’ve heard about this but this Friday, London will play host to the 2012 Olympics.
I have mixed feelings about it. There’s a lot to be cynical about but I was trying to remain optimistic because I still intend to watch some of the sport and I don’t want to sound like I’m disparaging the hard-working athletes involved. Or fall into the moaning British stereotype.
That said, when Cartoon Movement agreed to commission a ten page comic from me about the event, I found myself becoming increasingly angry and disillusioned as I did more research. Being against the Olympics but pro the sporting achievement is a little like being against the Iraq war but supporting the troops – a lot of people conflate the two and I have to add caveat upon caveat in any discussion I have about it.
Regardless, I feel I managed to get most of my reservations about the Olympics across in this piece which went online this morning. Ten pages is long enough to deal with the topic in a certain amount of detail but not quite long enough to tackle everything. I think I managed to strike the right balance but I have to admit it was the toughest comic I’ve had to write. I wanted to cover a lot – make it accessible, illuminating, balanced and completely accurate. I realised very quickly that I am not an investigative journalist. I’m a strong believer in the power and potential of comics journalism but I’m not quite sure I’m there yet.
Having said that, I’m extremely proud of how this comic came out and think I enjoyed the inking process on this more than anything I’ve drawn for a while. There’s a reason for that. I’ve been reading comics on my way into my studio every morning (I’ve had to move recently so have a much longer commute than usual). I’ve been burning through Hellboy libraries on a daily basis and found myself gleefully tackling each page of this comic with a joy for the inked line that only people like Mignola can inspire. It used to be that I had to stop looking at comics while I worked on mine, but I’m now finding the opposite to be true.
That little tangent aside, please direct your browser to www.cartoonmovement.com to read the full Olympics comic.
A new poem comic (the first one, with info about the process is here) written by Chrissy Williams and illustrated by me. Really happy with how this came out. I think when we next give this a go, Chrissy may use an odd-numbered amount of lines which could lead to my panel layouts becoming a little more playful…
I’ve always believed that the comic medium is closer to poetry than it is to straight prose, film or TV. That the juxtaposition of words and images can communicate such complex and abstract ideas while often employing a restrained economy of line to do so. To paraphrase Eisenstein’s theory of montage: Sentence A + Image B = Idea C.
The excellent poet Chrissy Williams (who has a fantastic collection of poetry – The Jam Trap – available to buy from Soaring Penguin here) actually wrote a wonderful article about the similarities between comics and poetry for The Rialto which can be read here.
Chrissy and I were talking the other day about this and decided to try and create a poem comic together. The idea was that Chrissy would write around eight lines of a poem and each line would work as a caption for a comic panel – but to prevent anything I draw from becoming too literal, Chrissy would also write a one word description of each panel which I would attempt to illustrate (nothing too prescriptive – something like the word ‘Hope’ for example). The plan being that by trying to illustrate the word and bringing my own take on the poem to the comic, we would be creating something more than just an illustrated poem – something that stands alone.
Within a few hours, The Heart Horse arrived in my inbox and I excitedly drew this. It was an enjoyable process and a fun experiment so I think we may try to do a few more when we have the free time. I’ve been working so hard on the first issue of Ellipsis lately that it was a welcome break to have a play and not be too worried about the result if it went wrong…
For the majority of the past two months I’ve been working on the colouring of a comic about malaria research. The comic has been co-written by Edward Ross and Jamie Hall. Eddie has been hard at work on the artwork and passing me pages to colour as he went.
Now, with the twenty pages complete – I feel comfortable showing a few random panels here. It’s been a really interesting and fun process to colour someone else’s linework. Eddie’s art is a joy to colour and he’s a fantastic collaborator – making sure that we were all on the same page throughout and managing to find satisfying compromises between scientific accuracy, accessible storytelling, and aesthetic consistency. I’ll post more when the comic is finished. Eddie has posted a couple of blogs on the subject here and here.
I’ve illustrated a new one page comic called The Blushing Scot (written by Anne Holiday) which will be published in the forthcoming Paper Science 7. I’m told the issue has gone to print and should be available soon. You can browse the back catalogue here. The theme for the issue is Travel. Anne’s written more about our story on her blog here. As always, it was a joy to work with Anne and I’m looking forward to doing a longer form comic with her later in the year.
Here’s a short preview of the piece:
Anne and I also contributed a short piece for the previous Paper Science issue on the theme of Jobs. It was called In The Running and I put a small photo preview on this blog when it came out but it occurs to me that I never uploaded much else. Here is a slightly more readable preview:
The issue is still available from the We Are Words + Pictures website.
It was commissioned as part of the Occupy Sketchbook that Cartoon Movement have been running for a few weeks now and happily coincided with my own plans to go and do some drawing down at St. Pauls. I’m hoping to make my visits there a little more regular and do a bit more of this sort of thing – if I draw anything worth showing, I’ll post it here. In the meantime, check out my Cartoon Movement piece (along with two other European Occupation pieces) here.