Displaying : comics
This year I took part in Memory Palace, an exhibition at the V&A based on a piece of fiction by Hari Kunzru which was interpreted and adapted by 20 designers and illustrators to make a multidimensional walk-in story type thing. I was given a passage in which the imprisoned narrator is interrogated. Please click the image below to see the whole piece. Warning, it’s really big.
I had a lot of space to play with so I decided to do a large scale comic that breaks down and depicts the passage in a ridiculously literal way. I wanted to try and describe everything the character sees and experiences as the scene progresses. To be honest I would have liked to have gone even further with the amount of panels and different trains of thought branching off from the main narrative, but for various reasons it is as it is. It probably doesn’t make loads of sense out of context (you can buy a book that has the full story in it plus information about the exhibition) but you should be able to follow it. Below are some bits I cut out for easier viewing and some more info.
From the website:
Hari Kunzru’s story is set in a future London, hundreds of years after the world’s information infrastructure was wiped out by an immense magnetic storm. Technology and knowledge have been lost, and a dark age prevails. Nature has taken over the ruins of the old city and power has been seized by a group who enforce a life of extreme simplicity on all citizens. Recording, writing, collecting and art are outlawed.
The narrator of the story is in prison. He is accused of being a member of a banned sect, who has revived the ancient ‘art of memory’. They try to remember as much of the past as they can in a future where forgetting has been official policy for generations. The narrator uses his prison cell as his ‘memory palace’, the location for the things he has remembered: corrupted fragments and misunderstood details of things we may recognise from our time. He clings to his belief that without memory, civilisation is doomed.
I felt like I’d been pretty conservative when I saw what some other people had done with the brief. But I did make it really big so that’s something. Some other contributors included Isabel Greenberg, Rob Hunter, Alexis Deacon, Stuart Kolakovic and Henning Wagenbreth who made this cool sculpture. See the full list and more information here.
Here’s my piece in situ. I was going to draw it directly on the wall but I babied out and decided to hand draw it all separately, arrange it digitally and then get it stuck on the wall as a series of giant print offs.
NOTE: THIS COMIC IS NSFW.
Also it reads right to left, manga style. Click the image to read all four pages.
This comic appears in Secret Prison 7, published by Retrofit Comics. It was conceived as a tribute to the alternative manga anthology Garo, featuring contemporary western alt-ish cartoonists working in the ‘traditional right-to-left/newsprint/pulp-manga format’. It’s satisfyingly large at 10 x 13″, 150 pages and is full of cool people. It’s one of my favourite comics of last year for sure, even if I wasn’t it. There are some other full comics from it online from Angie Wang, James Harvey and Katie Skelly, that are all distinctly better than mine. Below is the front cover and back cover of the anthology, by Ryan Cecil Smith and Angie Wang.
I have mixed feelings about my own comic. There are a few panels in there that I feel are some of the best little bits of a comic I’ve ever done, but there are also some awful drawings, particularly of the main character whose design slips all over the place and exposes some of my drawing weaknesses. Also I’m not convinced that the comic isn’t altogether a bit icky and embarrassing.
Two years earlier I was in Secret Prison 2 with this comic.
I noticed I never pointed out that all 12 pages of this comic are online now. So here it is. It’s a couple of years old now and it shows in places, but I’m still pretty pleased with some of the stuff in here, particularly all those trees and the creature itself (the design of which is based on/stolen from Tezuka’s weird dog police cars from Astro Boy.) It also features what I still believe to be the best panel I’ve ever drawn.
You can either read it online over at spera-comic.com (where you can read other stuff featuring the same characters and world, including the ongoing story Glass Flowers, other stand-alone shorts like mine or the original online collaboration which I also contributed to some time ago) or you can click on the image above to read through it right here.
It’s a 40 page hardback book. Here are some little previews:
My contribution to Nobrow 7: Brave New World. Please click a page to make it big and click through to read the whole thing.
I’m choosing to display it in black and white here, because that’s how I prepared the artwork and I’m quite fond of the way it looks. In the actual book however, (which you can buy here) it’s printed in a nice blue. Which you can see below.
Here it is next to some stairs.
The contributor list was made up of some of my favourite cartoonists going so I was pretty excited about getting to take part. It included Stephen Collins, Kate Beaton, Lilli Carré (you should read her book The Lagoon, it’s one of my favourite comics), Gabrielle Bell (I think her one might have been the best), Tom Gauld, Ivan Brunetti, Nicholas Gurewitch and Modern Toss. You can read all of them over on the Guardian website, right here.
Also, a big thanks to Becky Barnicoat for helping make it happen. She draws great comics and should have been in it as well.