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…
Oh – and this is completely off topic – but have you heard Drop Out Venus? How good is this new track of theirs?
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.
A couple of weeks ago, Josie Long hired a mini-van and sent out a call to comedians, musicians and artists who might want to join her touring the country for 10 days – bringing guerilla gigs that reclaim public spaces to some of the more overlooked towns and cities in the UK. The tour was called The Alternative Reality Tour and was known on twitter with the hashtag: #ARTour. I joined the tour on Day 8 with a view to drawing a comic about the trip.
I drew in the van, in pubs and cafes along the way, and during the gig with very little lighting – so the images aren’t the best I’ve ever drawn. I cut these drawing out of my sketchbook and annotated them before adding a dash of colour on the computer. It’s a little haphazard but I’m happy with the results and it feels in keeping with the spirit of the tour.
Wanted to have this up and online sooner but I’ve been working hard on Solipsistic Pop 4 (launch party details announced here!) and illustration commissions – so have only just got around to it…
Don’t know if this is definite, but I think the plan is to do one or two days a month of the Alternative Reality Tour in the future – so be sure to keep an eye out in case they’re near you! Can’t recommend it enough.
Hoping to get along to OccupyLSX sometime this weekend and do a bit of drawing there if I can but, again, work may get in the way…
The sixth issue focuses on jobs and employment. Anne Holiday and I have a one page comic in there called “In The Running”.
To try and deal with the way newsprint deals with colour, I went for a strong and vivid colour scheme – fingers crossed it works. From this photo on the WAWAP website, it looks like it did:
As of today, the first part of a series of three comics about the protests against the rise in tuition fees – by myself and Anne Holiday – has gone online at Cartoon Movement (a wonderful website that supports and highlights political cartoons and comic reportage).
Drawing the line: London during the student protests is a project Anne and I have been working on for about a month now and we’re both incredibly proud of how it’s come together. The first part – Warning – is up and the next two parts will be uploaded over the next two Wednesdays. I’ll write more about it all once the entire feature is online, but for now I hope you enjoy this first story…
UPDATE: Parts two and three are now online and the full nine page comic can be read here.
It’s been a pleasure working with editor and political cartoonist Matt Bors on this. Mainly though, it’s been wonderful to continue to collaborate with Anne. I don’t usually like to work with another writer on comics – generally preferring to work alone. But Anne and I have a great working relationship which is continuing to grow stronger with each comic we work on. The line between writer and artist is becoming satisfyingly blurred the longer we work together.
We were both very much on the same page with what we wanted these comics to be and hopefully that focus comes through in the stories. Anne’s written a little bit more about this on her blog.
We’re already planning more comics together and even starting to think about a much larger project further down the line. Watch this space for more!
These images have been sitting in my sketchbook since last week due to my laptop charger dying on me. Only just got a replacement and catching up with some scanning today. Did you know it’s £60 for a MacBook charger? £60! For. A. Plug.
Anyway. It’s Saturday!
Off to Scared To Dance tonight. Might even do some drawing. Maybe see you there.