One of the panels I attended was delivered by the very excellent Neill Cameron. Amongst many other things, he’s currently the artist in residence at the lovely Story Museum in Oxford. As part of this work, he runs a weekly comics club which is doing some delightful and brilliant things – have a look at their twitter account here.
He gave a smart and savvy introduction to comics, and what I was very struck by were his points about how comics is an accessible art. It’s something we are already doing – we just don’t know it. We all make marks, doodles – we can all draw stick men. Ergo comics.
One idea which I wanted to share with you was the suggestion to use mini figures in comics. We’ve all got something around the house – a doll, a teddy, a pokemon keyring, a lego figure … The idea is to use these as your figures in the comics – lay them down on a piece of paper, draw a speech bubble and background and voila, comics! I loved this because it’s so easy for children (and adults, cough, cough, side-eye to camera) to become intimidated. And you shouldn’t be. Using these figures (especially, say, a beloved teddy or a toy) and putting them into adventures is a perfect way to bridge somebody into creative work without them being terrified and intimidated in the process.
Neill also made some important points about the potential of comics. He showed a page from Daredevil which followed the characters from street level down into a subway station – all on the same page. It was a beautiful, fluid series of moments which spoke really of the great heights of storytelling that can be achieved in comics through combining visuals, narrative and bold use of the narrative space. And just think what this sort of stuff shows any juvenile reader! It’s telling them that they can break the rules once they *know* the rules. That this space is theirs to address and to shift and change and to *mould* for their purposes.
You can view a brief recap of tweets below from the session itself and my amazing (I’m pretty much the new Da Vinci) attempt at creating the entire Chalet School series in one comic. I’d like to draw your attention to the subtle use of chiaroscuro, the elegant juxtaposition of line and movement ….