Corban Wilkin: Illustrator


But I Can’t
September 13, 2012, 16:48
Filed under: my comics | Tags: , , , , ,

This is a panel from a four-page comic that may or may not be my entry in to the Cape Graphic Short Story Prize that’s coming up soon. I’ve actually finished this one well in advance of the competition deadline, which is a first for me; for the last three years I’ve entered this, I’ve been scribbling away up to the last minute and praying that my entry arrives in the mail in time.

Read the whole story here, in the comics section. I haven’t done loads of short stories lately (i.e. none), on account of working on the graphic novel, but this is a bit of a step up from all my past efforts at short fiction, even if I do say so myself!

I will be working on more stories for the competition though. Lets see if I can top this one.

Enjoy.



When Cartoonists Compete
August 31, 2012, 23:08
Filed under: breaker's end, my comics | Tags: , , , ,

I’m working on several comics right now, with a mind to entering one of them in to the (deep breath) Observer/Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize 2012. This is the competition’s sixth year and the fourth that I will have entered. Last year my entry was an s.f. comic called Ripe which you can read here.

The simple little panel above is from the strip I’m puzzling over at the moment, titled But I Can’t, about two girls who have an obsession with ufos and alien abductions.

What I really love about this competition is that, giving them a real purpose and a definite deadline, it forces a lot of languishing cartoonists to force something out. I suspect that for a lot of entrants it’s the first comic they’ve ever completed, or the first after a long dry spell. It’s a good kick up the bum to start and (wonder of wonders) finish a comic, which is extremely easy to not do most of the time.

The graphic novel (Breaker’s End) is on a brief hiatus, but I’m tantalisingly close to finishing chapter three, and well over half way through drawing the thing. It’s been a heck of a learning experience, this one, and I can’t wait to see it finished two years after first dreaming it up and scribbling out the first draft. Still a way to go yet though, mustn’t jump the gun.

 



New Work: Comics and Illustration

I’m working on chapter two of Breaker’s End at last, and really trying to pin down the right sort of style and aesthetic for the whole thing. I will eventually return to chapter one and redraw it, I think, since it was very much a rush job when I drew it last October.

All the images above from Breaker’s End are work in progress, only half inked with pencil lines still in there, but I quite like them in this state and thought I’d share. Oddly it does seem that sometimes inking a panel or page to completion can kill a lot of the life that was in the pencils. I recently read the graphic novel Local written by Brian Wood and drawn by Ryan Kelly. Kelly’s inking is very heavy and impressive, employing a wide range of techniques to get different effects, but at the back of the book, in a commentary about the art, he said something that rang true with me;

“Usually, my methodology follows something like this: I pencil out a face and it looks great. Then, I ink it and it looks like dook. Finally, I spend an inordinate amount of time nit-picking at the face with white-out, correction tape, and numerous power tools.”

Nevertheless, Breaker’s End is fully thumbnailed and I’ll be working on it steadily throughout the year. It’s shaping up to be quite close to how I envisioned it when I originally dreamed up the idea, so I’m going to keep working at it and see it to completion, come hell or high water.

I’ve also just illustrated three articles for the coming Spring edition of Live magazine, one called ‘Culture Awards’ about upcoming cultural events in 2012. Above you can see a couple of cartoon illustrations for that piece. On my portfolio you can see all the little illustrations for that article plus images for pieces about an agnostic visiting different religious buildings, and Facebook bullying/addiction.

Finally, I’ve been doing some work on a short film called Frank Filleh, about a great man who, working his way through solving all the world’s problems, loses his genius. I’ve drawn images for a magazine and book covers to be used as props in the film.



On the Cover
December 1, 2011, 12:39
Filed under: illustrations, my comics | Tags: , , ,

The LIVE magazine winter issue is now available across Britain with the front cover courtesy of me! This issue focuses on the youth protests and uprisings that have taken place over the last year in Britain and across the world, and it has numerous illustrations to reflect that, including my comic After the Protest.

You can see my cover illustration by itself as well as other LIVE magazine illustrations over at my portfolio.

I’ve got two big comics projects in the pipeline right now, which are both in the planning stages at the moment, but which I should be able to get stuck in to drawing come the new year.

That’s all for now!



How to Draw Comics

Drawing comics is a painful process. I wouldn’t recommend it.

My two new comics; After the Protest and Phoenix are now up for reading, and the first is going to be published in the Winter 2011 issue of LIVE Magazine, alongside feature articles about the youth protests and riots across the world that took place over the last year.

Phoenix was my last-minute entry into the 2011 Northern Sequential Art Competition. The competition requires you to submit a self-contained one-page story for an A3 page. I heard about it three days before the deadline, and after many unsuccessful attempts and much head-scratching I came up with Phoenix and did the whole thing in 24 hours.

The theme of the story perhaps says something about how I feel about comics sometimes. I don’t know if other cartoonists have experienced the same urge to burn things that I felt briefly after completing A Plague of Lighthouse-Keepers at the end of four months of work. Thankfully Plague remained intact, but I have destroyed plenty of artwork over the years, and it always comes with wails of protest from friends and family, who insist that one is trashing the Mona Lisa when most of the time it’s actually just a pile of old sketches and juvenile drawings from years before that have no use to you now.

Anyway, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Instead, I wanted to post a run-down of my current process for creating comics. My methods have varied wildly over the years and will no doubt change again many times, but since Phoenix turned out to be an almost painless comic to create, I thought it would be the perfect time to show the steps I took to create this page.

1. So I dreamed up this idea, a very brief story with three characters in conflict over an action that one is threatening to take because they feel it is in their interests, but which the other characters don’t want to happen. Classic, very simple story structure. So immediately I sat down with a sketchbook and scrawled the thing out, not caring what the characters look like, not doing any real composition, just getting it down as pictures and words. (On the image above the comic starts at the top-left of the right-hand page. I ran out of space on that page and had to continue on the left-hand page.)

2. Being basically happy with the story (which 99% of the time you won’t be) I went ahead and created a full rough. This was done on a single A4 sheet, the panels were all measured, most of the details were put in, words were finalised, but most importantly, this is the stage where the composition is worked out. For each panel and for the page as a whole, I figure out everything like depth, shapes, light and dark, where speech balloons go, how much environment to draw in, etc. Here is where I get everything right, so that I won’t have to make creative decisions when drawing the final artwork.

3. I didn’t scan in the pencil layouts, but for the final artwork I measure out all the panels, translating precisely from the rough. This comic was drawn at A2 scale so all measurements had to be doubled. Then I lightly plot the positions of all the big shapes across the page that make up the composition. I draw in detail panel-by-panel next, though I’m not as meticulous about penciling in these details as some cartoonists. I feel more confident drawing with the ink afterwards so that’s when the details really start coming out. I use a size 4 Windsor and Newton Series 7 and completely undiluted Sennelier ink, which is very thick and black and will destroy many expensive brushes until you learn how to clean them properly. So I ink it all up, pretty cleanly in this case, starting with the panel borders, and then basically going from panel to panel. This is the mindless-labour part of making a comic really, but it’s still very enjoyable, especially since you can listen to music or audiobooks because you don’t need to concentrate very hard.

4. Finally you scan it in, blast the contrast so it’s all pure black and white, and then colour it digitally if it’s in colour. Colouring probably doubles the time it takes to create a page, but in some circumstances it’s definitely worth it. I create a new layer over my inks, set it to multiply and then colour away using a pressure-sensitive tablet (I can’t tell you how much nicer it is to colour with than a mouse/pad). For this comic I took an image of fire and selected two colours from the image to use. Taking cues from the duo-tone colouring of Seth, I used these two fire colours the represent all the colour and tone in the story.

Like I said, this is one of the most painless comics I have ever made. Somehow it seemed so easy. Most of the time it’s more of a case of tearing my hair out and constantly thinking that I should try a different story. Sometimes I’ll type out a script to work over, as in the case of Ripe, to try to perfect the dialogue, and usually I’ll have to redraft the initial thumbnail stage countless times.

One of my favourite posts from Craig Thompson’s fantastic blog shows the stages that he went through to create a standard page for Habibi. He actually does five drafts of each page, and they aren’t even in colour! No wonder it’s so good.

P.S. Breaker’s End has been long-listed for the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition. I’m through the first round!



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.