Back to the Creative Futures… (Part 2)
Day 2 of Creative Futures was, for me, all about Paul Gravett – I wasn’t familiar with his work myself, but since starting this course I’ve realised just how much I DON’T know about Comics and Graphic Novels, and decided to rely (as usual) on the excitement generated by someone else to motivate me to check him out (this time it was Dan). In fact, like Dan, it seems Paul knows just about everyone that’s worth knowing in the British Comic industry, and spent most of his time plugging other people’s work (right now I’m struggling to remember whether he showed us any of his own drawings… or if he was even an artist himself?… he must have been surely!?) but Paul’s main line was that Comics can come in all forms – there’s no real limitation to the medium.
He wizzed through a hundreds of slides, ranging from traditional comic books and Graphic Novels such as The Dandy (which has had a recent ‘celebrity’ make-over to boost sales) and a Stone-age Horror novel Mezolith, beautifully illustrated by Adam Brockbank, who also worked as a concept artist for films such as X-Men, Spiderman 1 & 2 and the more recent of the Harry Potter films – once again proving to me that I REALLY need to to practice on my backgrounds, landscapes and architecture.
^ Cor, that’s a large picture! ^ – link to a Daily mail Article that goes into more depth here
Scene from Mezolith, and concept art for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (from a scene not used, but clearly needed I might add…)
He then went on to show us some of the more successful webcomics around, such as FreakAngels by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield and the adorable My Cardboard Life by Phillipa Rice who cuts it out and sticks it down all by her loansome (must be a killer office party)
Next he went on to Manga, but he spent so little time on it I can’t really remember anything he showed me that particularly caught my attention – other than the statistics of manga readers in Japan, and the massive difference between the number of male readers when compared to female readers – but then that didn’t really come as a shock (one word – Hentai)
He also introduced to us the concept of Hyper Comics – comics that defy the traditions of paper and ink and leap into the 3D world of walls and installations:
‘A hypercomic can be thought of as a webcomic with a multi-cursal narrative structure. In a hypercomic the choices made by the reader may influence the sequence of events, the outcome of events or the point of view through which events are seen… it’s that element of reader choice and interaction that makes a hypercomic a hypercomic.’ – Paul Gravett (I’m guessing, found it on his website)
The Pumphouse Gallery in London’s Battersea Park has been transformed into a space dedicated to these boundary breaking comics, with installations such as ‘The Rut’ by Dave Mckean, who provides a very literal approach to this idea of a limitless canvas by taking his art in all three dimensions, where you can choose to follow the story up, down or side to side, with the ending piece appearing different depending on where you end up standing at the end of each narrative branch.
‘The Rut’ by Dave McKean (robbed off Paul Gravett’s actual site muhahaha)
Daniel Merlin Goodbrey is another Hypercomic artist whose work takes comics in a new direction – and this direction is pretty much whichever direction you like! Goodbrey’s comics usually start with a simple image and have the possibility to branch off in all sorts of directions, whether that be in a massive cube shape such as here or a short of diagram format as shown by the interactive web comic found here – otherwise known as a POcom (which i think stands for Potential Order Comic) and it was one of these that we go to have a go at back in a Regent Street studio…
Basically the idea here is that Dan Berry (the star of this comic) is a nightwatchman for Glyndwr’s Regent Street Campus, which used to be a hospital and is rumoured to be haunted (it’s not, I was locked in there in the dark once for about 40 minutes – saw no ghosts) so as he bumbles along in the dark various things (most of which are unpleasant) start to happen to him. With Dan and Alex drawing the central linear strip, it was our task to diverge off into different strips at certain points in the main storyline to show parallel and unique adventures happening simultaneously to the main strip in our own stories (phew!). In my first strip I had Dan being eaten by a monster Vending Machine, only to be pooped out as a skeleton at the end. This links both to the main strip where dan passes a vending machine, and Tom Harley’s strip, where a vengeful bin gremlin goes looking for justice (only to find out my vending machine had already beat him to it).
In my second strip, the Dan that has so far managed to survive in the central strip passes room 210 on his quest to find room 214, and I show what’s going on inside via a sneaky peek through the key hole – two monsters are playing chess, one doesn’t take losing very well. [on both strips follow the ARROWS for reading direction]
This project was a lot of fun, and I would love to do it again – it was complicated, and difficult to draw on the stubbly wall with any precision… and it ate up my whole afternoon, but it was an interesting excersize in teamwork, and we were all pleased with the result 🙂