Monday, 15 July 2013

Glasgow Comic convention

So many highlights from this event. It was a brilliant location and really well organised. Top work from Sha, Katy and the whole team.

Great to meet so many 2000ad boarders in person too. All top people. And talented too, it transpired.

Learnt so much from the panels. The John Wagner writing lecture was fantastic. Hearing him breaking down a script, why each panel was there, what his thought process was in developing a story. It included a breakdown of Dredd story qualities

- Dredd as Hero
- Dredd as villain
- Powers of a judge
- Weapons/Tools of a judge
- Sci-fi future element
- The city as a character
- Action
- Humour
- Twist

 It laid bare John's understated genius and I noted a couple of major things to apply to my own work. 

Fascinating insights into the work of Carlos Ezquerra and Alan Davis too. Firstly the sheer fun they both have while drawing. They please themselves first, and their exuberance powerfully transmits onto the page as Thrill power personified. I'm always really thoughtful and methodical when I draw a comic page, and it looks much more boring as a result. A bolder approach is in order.

Secondly the sheer serendipity involved in creating great work. Of course, it's the kind of luck you can only have if you happen to be a visionary artist - a major talent waiting to happen like Ezquerra, Davis, Wagner and Moore. Carlos got his first adventure strip by accident - it was meant for someone else. Then his Dredd designs were nothing like what John wanted, he just went with his instinct and took it in the seminal direction we're still enjoying today. Similar story with D.R. and Quinch, two of my favourite ever 2000ad characters. I asked Alan what he remembered from designing them. It was a revelation.

Firstly the artistic approach to D.R and Quinch as written by Alan Moore was gritty and realistic. Knowing Moore's views on violence in comics I can understand this. So Alan D got the gig for two reasons 1) He was the grim and gritty artist of Harry 20 on the High Rock, the go to guy for a realistic take on an outlandish situation 2) He was the only artist available who the editor thought could make sense of Moore's scripts. They'd worked together on Captain Britain, though this counted against Davis as Tharg didn't want to pair them together in the same way. But simply finding someone who could decipher and realise what Moore was writing was apparently a problem at this time - so it seemed Davis was the only option. (As anecdotal evidence, I offer Carlos's revelation that he simply posted a script from Moore back to Tharg because he didn't want to deal with any of those verbose panel descriptions. I suspect it was Skizz, but there's no way of knowing for sure at this point. Carlos's view is that all the peripheral detail in a panel is his job. And why not).

So Alan D had already successfully decoded The Hyper Historic Headbang (another brilliant Future Shock) and was therefore to be trusted with Moore's vision. But when he read the script he couldn't see how it could possibly work in a realistic style. The events  of Have Fun on Earth are so outlandishly over the top that Davis decided it could only work with a much more cartoony approach. But the gritty requirement does explain some of that murky cross hatching you can see throughout the first Time Twister.

The characters as described by Moore were reptilian bikers! So again we have a great artist trusting his instincts and going way off piste as far as what was asked for in a character design. The stylistic caricature so integral to the brilliance of D.R. and Quinch seems to be something Alan D developed in response to what he felt was needed to make the story work. The talent and versatility of the man! The alien designs he came up with are an amalgamation of his own artistic skills, Moore's notes, and various aliens floating through the popular culture of the time. The Skrulls were specifically mentioned in relation to D.R.  - which you can see now he's mentioned it - crossed with the biker quiff from Alan Moore's description. The end result is something neither man fully intended, but which is utterly magical nonetheless. The rest, as they say, is history.  

So churn out your best ideas, collaborate freely, and hope the comic gods smile upon the results. God knows how many other characters died on the vine in this collaborative melting pot. But so be it - it all sounds like great fun to me!

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