Corban Wilkin: Illustrator

Being Busy

New Blood came down… and up went New Designers. After being told the night before that we had a spot at the show, we had one hour to set up our exhibition, which was to open at 9am. We managed it though, and it turned out to be a great show, thanks mainly to Shane Noonan, who fronted the effort. New Designers is a huge show set in an enormous, St. Pancras-like building, and it mainly showcases industrial design, interiors, and so on, but there was a small section tucked away at the back for us illustrators. That’s the end of exhibiton season for me.

More recently I’ve produced some illustration for London’s big youth magazine, LIVE, with controversial themes and a bright yellow colour scheme. They will be published alongside articles concerning piercings and growing up too fast. The Beauty of the Dead is finished and printed into a promo-book along with other stories. Above is one of my favourite panels from the comic, and you can view more at my portfolio.

Since then I’ve been drawing out a lot of science fiction stories, most of which have gone well, but none of which I have ‘typed up’ into finished artwork yet. I’ve been reading Isaac Asimov and also Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy in between my scribblings, which offer great inspiration to the science-enthusiast in me. They, along with a great deal of non-fiction science reading, have borne the basis for quite a strong science fiction novel within me. Though I seem to be busy all the time, I hope to find some spare days to beginning drafting out my ideas.

Right now though, I’m working on the design and art for a new computer game. Can’t say too much yet, but it’s bound to be a challenging and exciting project.

Moving Forward

It’s been a while since I’ve posted since I haven’t had a great deal of news lately about the work I’m doing. Strangely this is the product of working very hard and consistently on a project! In this case it’s The Beauty of the Dead which is almost finished; I’m hoping to have it done today in fact. Above you can see my always-cluttered work-space as I finish inking the remaining pages, as well as photos from the New Blood exhibition, one of which shows members of the public apparently interested in my work (not family members planted there by me; I promise!)

The exhibition seems to have gone off without a hitch so far, and it comes down on Monday (4th July). After that it’s all comics all the time for me. I honestly have so many projects I want to pursue right now I don’t even know where to start, including a large-format sci-fi comic, redrafting a novel I’ve sketched about a homeless couple, starting a new one that’s been brewing in my mind for months now about a forbidden love in a modern war-time setting, starting several short-story ideas I have… The list goes on.

Does anyone else ever feel worried that their ideas will start to slip away from them somehow if they don’t grab them and do something with them right now? Does anyone ever feel as though they are pulsing with creative energy but that they have to bring it under control and let it burn slowly over the long period it takes to create comics (or any kind of art)? I hope so. I’m sure I’m not the only one!

The Beauty of the Bates
June 11, 2011, 22:35
Filed under: my comics, the beauty of the dead | Tags: , , , ,

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.