24 January 2010

Another great talk on comics

While the main Comica event is held at the ICA each Autumn a number of other Comica events are held throughout the year and the latest was held at the london print studio with the engaging title How a Comic is Made. On the panel were Andrzej Klimowski and Danusia Schejbal (Master & Margarita), Nana Li (Twelfth Night), Pat Mills (Nemesis, Slaine, Requiem) and Woodrow Phoenix (Rumble Strip).

The event was chaired by the enthusiastic and ebullient Paul Gravett (pictured here in full flow) who gets to do these things because he is an expert on all things comics and he runs Comica.

The only panellist that I knew beforehand was Pat Mills who, with John Wagner, has been the voice of 2000AD for the last thirty years.

The evening got off to an unexpectedly good start when I bumped in to Paul Gravett at Kings Cross Station, he and a colleague had just been to Kings Place (where I work) to see a gallery space there for an exhibition later this year on Argentinian comics - something else to look forward to.

The talk was a tremendous success for me with a lot of learning during the long discussion session and then a chance to speak to all of the creators afterwards.

It was interesting to learn that all the creators approached their art in different ways.

Some were completely chaotic just jumping in to the story with no real plan and working on individual pictures, rather than the whole page, so that they then had to be resized and cropped to fit.

The manga Shakespeare adaptations are presented to the artists as 193 pages of dialogue, leaving the artist free to do what they like around this simple constraint.

One had produced an unusual book, Rumble Strip, that deliberately does not have any people in it, not even a narrator, as the success of a story depends on your ability to connect with the characters so having no characters takes this problem away.

Pat Mills (the only writer not artist on the panel) explained the art of planning each page so that they all end with some sort of compelling incident that make you want to turn the page.

The discussion covered much more than this and was illuminating, entertaining and informal. Of particular interest was the work-in-progress samples that all of the creators brought along to show how they approach a character, a scene, a page or a script and how this then developed in to the final product.

But the proof of the pudding is in the shopping and after the talk I bought four books, including Rumble Strip, Twelfth Night and Requiem and had more delightful conversations with the creators while they were signed.

I am really grateful to Comica for organising such great events and, through these, for introducing me to books that I would otherwise have read.

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