Corban Wilkin: Illustrator

Evolution Disproven
October 18, 2011, 23:28
Filed under: comic artists, my comics | Tags: , ,

The gag strip ain’t dead! Not as long as Kate Beaton continues with the brilliant Hark! A Vagrant. I couldn’t hope to match the humour of her strip, but I had to have a go a gag strip that I thought up recently. It was inspired by a friend of a friend who, in a discussion about evolution, claimed that they were ‘never a monkey’.

That crafty bugger Darwin had the world scientific community fooled. Do you remember ever being a monkey? Didn’t think so. Now go ahead and read the full strip.

I was also reminded of a one-panel cartoon I drew for Middlesex University’s Meow magazine, which I’ve posted below. The issue’s theme was ‘idols’. I don’t know if I really ‘did’ the theme properly. I think we were supposed to draw people we admired or something. Oh well, I got a cheap chuckle out of it!

Tough Competition
October 14, 2011, 11:45
Filed under: comic artists, comics theory, my comics | Tags: , , , ,

So that’s two competitions in a row that I’ve entered now, with my entry for the Observer/Comica/Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story Prize being posted yesterday, special delivery, since today is the deadline (I’m good at leaving these things to the very last minute!). It’s a short science fiction comic about the last two humans, stranded separately on the moons Titan and Callisto, and who can only talk to each other remotely.

It’s called Ripe and you can read it in the comics section I’ve set up. Cast your eyes left, and click ‘comics’ to choose from a selection of my most recent works, available to read in a single smooth column of goodness, rather than the atrocious ‘click link for page one, read, scroll, read, back button, click link for page two, etc.’ format that a lot of blogs present multiple-page comics in. I’ve always preferred a single long column for on-screen comics-reading as it means you can just tap your down arrow as you read, so as not to disturb the flow of the narrative. Scott McCloud, creator of Understanding Comics feels my pain and frequently speaks out against poorly formatted web-comics, especially in this article. Whilst I don’t know if I would word my objections as strongly as he does (from the linked article; ‘The page designs of most long form webcomics suck donkey dick.’) I certainly find myself in agreement with him.

That being said, I know the layout of my comics here could be prettier. Eventually I hope to set up a fancier interface that makes it as clear and lovely and natural to read as possible. Until then though, a single vertical column is a simple yet fairly effective way of creating a decent reading experience.

Regarding the Comica Prize, I found out from an interview I listened to between Paul Gravett and Stephen Collins that the quality of the entries improves every year. The feeling seems to be that a heck of a lot of young people, inspired by what comics can do from reading the new wave of graphic novels (stuff like Blankets, Black Hole, Persepolis), have decided to start taking comics very, very seriously and are set to produce things far greater than anything we have seen so far in this comics renaissance. It means that every year people who enter the Comica Prize are going to have tougher and tougher competition. I hope it drives everyone to new heights in their comics making.

Getting Comics Done
October 5, 2011, 18:43
Filed under: breaker's end, comic artists, my comics | Tags: , , , ,

A couple of days ago I sent off my entry for the Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel Competition. Above are some images I’ve cut from my comic, ‘Breaker’s End’. Here’s a blurb I wrote for it to give a quick idea of the story:

For ten years, Isaac and Chloe have lived out of a tent in an abandoned woodland. Chloe makes money selling decorated shells, but they are in their sixties now, and sleeping on the cold ground isn’t as easy as it was when they were twenty-year-old backpackers. Chloe would love to live in a warm house and sleep in a soft bed, and when the government introduces a bill to sell off England’s remaining forests and nationally owned land, it looks like living the life of the ‘travellers’ will become an impossibility. Can she convince Isaac, adamant that he will never return to society though he will never explain why? And could she ever hope to earn enough money to live, selling shells by the seashore?

You can see some of the complete spreads over at my portfolio and I intend to upload the first chapter as a whole eventually, in a format  that allows you to read it in one smooth column.

Right now I’m composing a four-page comic for the Comica Graphic Short Story Prize which I’ll be displaying here soon. Short stories are difficult to write, but hopefully it’ll shape up pretty well and be a decent entry into the contest.

Good luck to anyone else who’s entering. Last year’s winning entry by Stephen Collins was a tour de force of design and intense short prose. He set a pretty high benchmark; lets hope someone tops it!

Social Comics
August 4, 2011, 11:03
Filed under: comic artists | Tags: , , ,

I’ve attended various comics-based events over the past week inlcuding the private view of the Cartoon Museum’s follow up to the huge Steve Bell exhibition, an exhibition devoted to Doctor Who in Comics. Above is one of the pages of original art on display, of which there are many by a wide variety of artists. Dave Gibbons and David Lloyd both feature, as well as Alan Moore as a writer. As always, it’s incredible to see pages of original comics art. Very inspiring.

I also attended the Comica Social Club last week, a monthly meet-up at the Southbank Centre hosted by Paul Gravett, who fronts the Comica festival. I got to meet various cartoonists including Jon Lim who draws a webcomic called Vampires from Mars which I think has some incredible cartoon drawing. Also; Claude over at GronkComics has an impressive array of work, including some of the nicest mini-comics I’ve seen (drawn straight into ink in a sketchbook!)

Just last night I attended another meeting of cartoonists organised by The Comix Reader, which also proved to be a decent social gathering of the London comics core. Visiting from Australia was graphic novelist Bruce Mutard, who seems to be a hidden gem of antipodean comics, with a beautiful line drawing style which reminds one a bit of Adrian Tomine.

Publishing Alternatively
May 31, 2011, 18:55
Filed under: comic artists, paroxysm | Tags: , , , ,

Hot on the heels of the Steve Bell exhibition, I spent the weekend at the International Alternative Press Festival 2011, a zines, comics, and small press fair. I forgot to take photos, but it was a really packed out and pretty well-sized event, with tonnes of creators of every stripe selling their work. It was refreshing to see so much enthusiasm, like Hamish MacDonald who writes, prints, binds, and sells his own novels and has a podcast about making books, and Steve Tillotson who is hilarious as well as being a skilled draughtsman Also picked up a surreal wordless graphic-novel by Nicolas Presl, the kind of thing I wouldn’t have come across if I hadn’t been to the festival

Woodrow Phoenix (author of Rumble Strip) was there, along with Paul Gravett (head of the Comica festival), both whom I’d had the fortune to meet in 2009 at the London Print Studio in a discussion/presentation with several other comics people, as the culmination of a comics exhibition. I also shifted quite a lot of old copies of Paroxysm #1 and #2, and received a lot of self-published zines and comics in return. This is the first real convention I’ve been to, but it turned out to be a great experience and I’ll definitely be on the look-out for more in London as they come.

Meeting the Pros
May 28, 2011, 21:25
Filed under: comic artists, exhibitions | Tags: , , , ,

On Wednesday I attended the private view for the new Steve Bell exhibition: Bell Époque, at London’s Cartoon Museum which presented a retrospective of his work from throughout his career. It was a great exhibition which such a range of work. I didn’t realise Bell (who is the cartoonist and comic strip artist for the Guardian) was so skilled in so many different styles and media. Even though I found his style of humour alienating when I was younger, I’ve come to see him as a real master of the form. I also find his comics hilarious now, even though I’m never sure why! Despite the fact that he’s been in the industry for decades, his work is still so cutting edge; it feels like the work of a much younger, more rebellious and, indeed, angry cartoonist. Far from being an angry rebel, though, he seemed like a really friendly guy! I suppose he saves it for the cartoons.

I was also lucky enough to meet Bryan Talbot at the event. He’s the creator of Grandville and Alice in Sunderland and one of the great British cartoonists involved in creating novel-length works (the comics form I’m most attracted to). He told me about his beginnings in underground comics and his latest just-finished project, created with his wife. It’s great to talk to professional cartoonists who have been making comics for many years, just to see how they feel about their work, and get a glimpse into their wealth of knowledge on the subject.

Incidentally, I found out today that Myriad Editions will be holding a graphic novel competition for unpublished cartoonists, the first prize being the opportunity to publish your submitted work with them, and the panel of judges will include both Bryan Talbot and Steve Bell! They’re asking for 15-30 pages of art and a synopsis of the novel for consideration. This looks like it’ll be a great chance for aspiring cartoonists to get their ideas out there and it should give a lot of people the impetus to start working on that story idea that’s been in their heads. The Deadline is in October, which is perfect for me, as I’ve recently begun work on a new long story. I think I’ll be entering, and I’d encourage anyone who wants to make comics-novels to submit their work, as well.

[Photos via Fearnet and Varndean College]