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Another busy day of Comica talks! I paid such total attention during the hour-and-a-half presentation by the amazing Dave McKean that I kind of fried my brain and had a hard time concentrating for the other four hours of comics school. Here's a doodle I did in the very last talk, when I was about to fall off my chair from overstimulation:

Dave McKean gave an excellent talk, showing us lots of his work and talking about his working processes. What most struck me, and I asked him to expand on it in the question time, was his comment about the recent sketchbook albums he's made of cities: Paris, Barcelona, Vienna. He said, 'They're very important to me, they've taught me how to draw. I've only really felt confident in drawing for the last three years because of these books.' This seemed kind of shocking, coming from someone who's had a long career of making drawings so good that half of the kids on every BA illustration course in the country are copying him. But he explained that, while he could draw, he'd often have to fight with drawings, and they hadn't felt like they'd flowed freely out of him. By doing the city sketchbooks, and drawing whatever he liked, the penny somehow dropped; he compared it to drumming, when people get so good at drumming that they can start listening to themselves, and surprise themselves with new things they like because the drumming has so become a part of them.

The other thing he emphasised through the talk was 'the importance of script'. 'If a book's going to be any good, it has to come from the script.' McKean said he writes stories on little notecards, which he spreads around him so he can see how the ideas bunch together, and where they leave gaps. Even though he works on building a solid structure for his script, he still leaves room for play and writes the dialogue as the scenes occur, so there's always something fresh and new happening. Once there's a good script, he takes control over every part of the design process... 'damage control', as he put it. He said there's nothing worse than doing all that work and having some designer come and slap hot pink lettering over the top of it. His art teacher, George Glenny, was very learned in semiotics, and told him 'everything is loaded with meaning', which includes fonts and every aspect of book design.

McKean also talked about working closely with other writers, including Neil Gaiman, but he focused on Iain Sinclair, as someone for whom he has great respect, for his ability to let go of text; while most writers 'are in love with their words', Sinclair told him on a joint project that 'he didn't mind if the books didn't have any words'. McKean mentioned several films he's worked on, and I'm eager to see them: two shorts called Dawn and Whack!, one set in Venice called Neon and another coming out soon, called Luna.

During the second talk, Between the Panels, we got to hear from the two runners-up and the winner of the Observer graphic short story competition: Isabel Greenberg, Emily Haworth-Booth and the winner, Julian Hanshaw with Sand Dunes & Sonic Booms. Super-cool fact: Hanshaw's already on the schedule to appear in the DFC early next year, so look out for this guy!

Julian Hanshaw's the guy on the right, and he's sitting next to Oliver East, who's recently come out with Trains are... Mint.

Other speakers whose work I will have to look up very soon from the second and third talks are:
Hannah Barry with her very promising looking novel, starring a detective and his tea bag partner, Britten & Brülightly
Paul Duffield, Marcia Wiliams (who recently wrote Archie's War), John Burns, Jason Cobley, Mike Collins, Mustashrik, Chie Kutsuwada and Ian Culbard.

Here's a little reunion from Friday's day at the V&A with Mahala Urra and Maartje Schalkx.

And I did some painting in the morning, but with the help of some vertically-challenged friends, the whole poster turned to chocolate-coloured mush in about fifteen minutes (which was rather satisfying).

Edit: You can catch up on news from Thought Bubble in Leeds from shug_comics, squirmy, ryclaude and undoubtedly soon from smurf_uk, chamonkee, emmav and nabbit.

jinty has done a second write-up on Friday's V&A Comica symposium here, with a good description of Posy Simmonds and comments on Pat Mills' talk that I didn't manage to write about.



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 16th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
There's a little bit of Quentin Blake style in that drawing. (one of my favorite illustrator of all times)
Nov. 17th, 2008 12:13 am (UTC)
It IS a bit Q.B.-ish -- those tangled noodley microphone cables!
Nov. 17th, 2008 07:16 am (UTC)
Cool! I can't quite see it, but I'll take your word for it! :-D It was fun to draw because I wasn't trying too hard to make it look like them.
Nov. 17th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC)
It's posts like this that make me wish I was rich and famous enought to live in that london! So many amazing things to see and go to. Especially listening to Dave McKean, I seriously love "Theres Wolves in the Walls".
Also I'll be posting tomorrow about leeds since I am so very knackered :)
Nov. 17th, 2008 07:18 am (UTC)
I'll bet you're knackered! Thanks for the Thought Bubble news in the last post comments!

Yeah, I love Wolves in the Walls as well, and I thought the sets at the Lyric Hammersmith's theatrical version of it were some of McKean's best work. (And I randomly got to meet Neil Gaiman there, when he was hanging around the lobby by himself!)
Nov. 17th, 2008 11:59 am (UTC)
Meating Gaiman too! You lucky Duck.
Nov. 17th, 2008 07:11 am (UTC)
Observer competition: Why do they ask for a two-page story, and then scale it down so that panels are split across the fold?
Nov. 17th, 2008 07:15 am (UTC)
Yeah, I wondered that! And also, why didn't they put it on the centrefold, so it could be a poster? There's nothing in the actual centrefold that warrants its placement there. And there's no buildup to the comic anywhere else in the paper, you really have to look for it.

I'm very impressed by Julian's work, but only partly impressed by the paper's part in it.
Nov. 17th, 2008 07:53 am (UTC)
Thanks for this write-up!
Maybe we can distribute the write-up of all Comica over various people's journals to save work? Heh!

I like your doodle a lot, particularly the fact that the people don't look quite like they really do.
Nov. 17th, 2008 07:59 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks for this write-up!
Haha, I linked your writeup just as you were posting here! Yes, I was SO tired after the V&A thing. I had a great time, just couldn't manage to write much.

Yeah, they don't look much like that at all. Except John's hair, Jason's square shoulders, Paul's head shape and Mike's facial hair. ;-)
Nov. 17th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
Paul's head shape doesn't actually look like your drawing
but somehow it looks like it ought to look like your drawing! (It's actually longer and thinner than your nice round version.)
Nov. 17th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Paul's head shape doesn't actually look like your drawing
Oops, missed again! ;-)
Nov. 18th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Paul's head shape doesn't actually look like your drawing
I think you have captured the very essence of Jason, though ;)

Nov. 19th, 2008 08:22 am (UTC)
Re: Paul's head shape doesn't actually look like your drawing
Ha ha.... thanks for that, Neill!
Nov. 17th, 2008 08:41 am (UTC)
Sounds like Dave McKean was a bit of a star! And talking for an hour and a half!

I'm very jealous...
Nov. 17th, 2008 09:44 am (UTC)
Oh my Lord - do you see what they've done with the online version of the winning strip? They've entirely ignored (or failed to understand) that it was meant to be read across the double page spread and instead presented the panels from the first page followed by the panels from the second page. Incredible! Not that I should be surprised - the various strips from The Comic in the Saturday Guardian have been ill-served by their online incarnations - but this is especially poor.
Nov. 17th, 2008 09:45 am (UTC)
Oops. Didn't mean to be anonymous. That was me being all grumpy there.

- Dave S
Nov. 17th, 2008 10:27 am (UTC)
I know. It is so bad. I hate to bash them hugely because at least they were making an effort to promote good comics. But not much of an effort, they should feel embarrassed. :-P
Nov. 17th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I noticed that! What a bunch of idiots!
(There goes my chances for next year's competition...)
Nov. 17th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, I hope this doesn't put people off of next year's competition, but I wouldn't blame them if it did. (As for chances, that might make more room for easier winnings, but I'm not sure that's the best way to get a better chance.)

All I can say is that Julian's piece is so good it speaks for itself, and it's really obvious the paper's to blame, not him. But it easily could have been so much better, I don't know why they didn't put in that extra bit of effort.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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