Filed under: my comics, the beauty of the dead | Tags: art, cartoons, comics, graphic novels, illustration
H.E. Bates, author of The Darling Buds of May and myriad other novels and short stories, is one of my favourite writers and a great inspiration in my own stories. He creates somber and beautiful little worlds, usually set in little English towns at the turn of the 20th century, and weaves some of the most real and emphatic characters I’ve found in fiction. He is also very strongly visual, and his descriptiveness can make his writing hard to digest at times. However, if we use images, visual description can communicate to a reader simply and instantly, making Bates’ style ideal for the comic-book form.
Hence, right now I’m designing a graphic adaptation of The Beauty of the Dead, a rather dark short story about an elderly woman lying on her death-bed with her husband ‘caring’ for her as the first snow of winter piles up outside. I first came across this story in a tiny library in the Suffolk countryside and I’ve since read it many times, gradually realising that I’d love to create my own interpretation of the story and really materialise the two characters. Additionally the book (The Beauty of the Dead and other stories) is long out of print and quite difficult to get hold of, and perhaps by presenting this story in a new form I can make more people of aware of a fantastic piece of literature.
Over the last week I’ve been going through my extensive process of drafting the story into images, redrafting into a more streamlined sequence, and then going through and figuring out the design and rhythm of every page/spread, linking different parts together visually and making the design appropriate. Currently I’m working on what I suppose is the third draft, which involves quite fully realised pencil roughs, making sure that I know where everything goes within each panel and doing extensive reference drawing to make sure that everything can be drawn accurately.
Above are some character models which help me keep the characters consistent throughout the fifty-odd times I’ll be drawing each of them, along with some of the page plans which I have worked out for every spread.
Below you can see the opening paragraph of The Beauty of the Dead along with my first page of third-draft pencil roughs, which I will use as a guide for the finished artwork, which will be identical to the rough, but drawn much larger and more cleanly in ink.
This last week has been my degree show at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. I displayed some of my recent work along with all the other graduating illustrators and various other arts courses in the same large hall. I showed pages from The Old Man and the Sea, as well as my children’s book Stewpendous! and a plethora of other work. There was some fantastic photography as well as a personal favourite of mine, the Sonic Arts exhibits, which always has work of great technical prowess and can be quite thought-provoking too. The show generally was a great success and was full of visitors over the whole weekend. You can see the official website of the communication arts section of the show over at Unfolding Talent.
From July 1st-4th, and in the same building as the graduation show as a matter of fact, I’ll be displaying a smaller selection of work at the D&AD New Blood festival, a showcase of graduate art and design work from universities across the country. This one focuses only on illustration, animation and graphic design. I visited last year’s show and there was an incredible range of work, so it’s well worth going to.