Friday, November 24, 2006
Stumbling into Comics
I have been interested in comics for some time now but I did not “grow up" with comics, apart from the children’s weeklies an annuals of the seventies i.e; Beano, etc. I mean by growing up all of the super hero comics and Judge Dredd stuff. I was introduced to comics by a friend and was first struck most by the artists that focus on an outward display of drawing skills in the traditional sense. I was also one of those that were drawn towards a comic more by its surface look or style. Many of the comics that I scoffed at at first later became my favourites. Once I had gotten over any prejudices that I may have had these comics seemed more original and personal in their approach than others that I had read previously (I began to cultivate more patience for different or new things, a continuation of my personal development in fine art, having once walked around galleries completely discrediting artworks that late came to have a big influences in my own work). I have come to realise that it is very much the combination of narrative flow and use of written language, it’s compatibility with the drawing style, that is the judge of whether a comic works or not and that these aspects of narrative require plenty of time and effort to appreciate fully.
Being involved in Fine art at the time of my first attempts with comic art I also liked the fact that it was a very easy area to get involved in, the practitioner needing only a paper and pen to get started. The medium also has a similarity to film and some of the structures of writing. Being interested in film and writing I found it interesting to combine these interests with drawing which has formed the basis of all of my artwork thus far.
I did not or do not feel that the bridge over to comics from painting is necessarily a difficult one but is subject to the personal prejudice and habits developed by the individual artist: Painters (Fine artists) tend to be perfectionists in a different way to comics artists. They tend to focus on refining the look of something and are much more concerned with keeping the art open to interpretation so as not to block off a viewers imaginative response. In comics the artist is much more involved in directing the viewer through a series of avenues and up to a point dictating their response. While working of my initial experiments with comics I tended not to be bothered so much with clarity or definite meaning in terms of signs or symbols. I steered away from conventions, wanting to create something “individual”. I followed my own intuition and did not have a thought for other comic styles (although these did seep in as I progressed). Seeing where something went seemed like a more exciting way to go at that time. Sometimes a narrative can have a more organic feel, more true to a thought process, each segment being drawn one after the other, building like a pile of bricks only anylising later what you had done and then editing.
You can tell that I had spent a long time with Abstract expressionism and had digested all of the rhetoric. It is a handy way of starting something off as 1. You produce a lot of work and 2. Initially at least it does not require any fore-knowledge. As a consequence of this process I began thinking of comics as being a good medium for expressing psychological realities, a way of expressing a minds eye view of the world. Areas of Fine art that cover this area tend towards the precious and the obscure, whereas in comics it takes on the mantle of documentary making, story telling, to tell a story that develops from somewhere in your psyche and is an expression of your inner reality. To have it directed and not hinted at or hidden inside unfathomable complexity to me was the opening of a new avenue of interest, one that I wanted to explore further.