Friday 29 July 2011

The man who couldn't stop drawing
Jon Sarkin was working as a chiropractor when a stroke changed him. Suddenly, he was self-absorbed, rude and fighting a compulsive desire to create artedited extract from Shadows Bright As Glass, by Amy Ellis Nutt, published next week by Piatkus Books.


Wednesday 27 July 2011

I went back to have another look at those Alan Moore thumbnails for From hell chapter 8.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Gary Spencer Millidge's Alan Moore: Storyteller is out and he's showing some sample pages. There's stuff in this book that I've never seen before. For instance, I didn't know Alan drew thumbnails for all the From Hell chapters, believe it or not. Here are a couple of details from the spreadsheet for chapter 8 that Gary reproduces, followed by the finished versions of the pages. Remember, I never saw these thumbnalis; they were just Alan's way of keeping track of all the movements. (click to enlarge)


M' colleague, John Coulthart drew my attention (appropos my earlier post) to this great collection of George DuMaurier's attractive early work. It includes a few sequential cartoons (you'd call them comics, but to him comics would just have meant funny drawings). here's one with no words and some very animated drawing of a woman playing a piano:

In his later work the artist went completely in another direction, one that is quite out of sorts with modern ideas of cartooning. There is very little activity and the drawing is accompanied by a paragraph of text, as though he was rehearsing for the novels he would write.


Meanwhile in Googlespain:
"Desire to be the fastest unholster: Eddie Campbell made an agreeable melodrama rancidity from current assumptions"

English language edition at a serious discount.


A big Spread-6

A t the time I did worry that putting all these real life people into a Bacchus story would severely hamper the chances of the book's survival as a comprehendible read. Because nowadays we comickers think a great deal about shelf life. Perhaps too much. (is it another one of the negatives of the graphic novel era?).
But then, I reasoned, what sort of future would it be where my Bacchus is not at least still as well known as Alan Moore? Following is part of a two page scene in which Neil Gaiman, having been sent downstairs at the Castle and Frog by Bacchus, is telling Alan Moore that it's time to release the screamin' habdabs. The scene is actually an analogue of a real life event in which Alan described to Neil his intentions for the final murder in From Hell and Neil came over so nauseous that he had to leave the house.

Many people have sought me out at conventions to try to get hold of King Bacchus just for this scene. Far from hampering the future readability of the book, this may indeed be all that it is ever remembered for. Well, that and the four page spread...

I am reminded of George Du Maurier's Trilby, a book I have on my shelf, a late Victorian melodrama, hugely popular in its time, which is now mainly remembered for stuff that happened outside of the pages.

Du Maurier, in his weekly cartoons in Punch, liked to poke fun at the 'aesthetic movement', the doings of the likes of James McNeil Whistler, Oscar Wilde and Dante Gabriel Rosetti. He had actually studied art in Paris alongside Whistler and inserted the soon-to be-famous painter into his first sale to Punch in the 1960s.

Du Maurier's lampoons of the 'aesthetics' peaked in 1880, by which time he had developed a whole cast of recurring characters, such as the languid poet Prigsby, clearly modelled on Wilde.

Du Maurier turned himself into a novelist, and his second book, Trilby caused a minor furore when it was serialized in 1894 in Harper's Weekly in the USA before publication in book form. James Whistler recognized himself in the Character Joe Sibley and threatened to sue for libel unless the character was removed and all existing copies of the issue of the magazine destroyed. The character was removed and replaced by another, and the illustrations in which Sibley appeared were not used when the book was published. No apology was made. This appears to be the drawing that caused the trouble, an update of Hogarth's idle and industrious apprentices.

Trilby inspired Gaston Leroux's novel The Phantom of the Opera (1910) and introduced the phrase "in the altogether" (nude) and the term "Svengali" for a man with dominating powers over a female protege, as well as indirectly inspiring the name of the Trilby hat, originally worn on stage by a character in the play. There was a book about it all, Trilbyana (1910).

Why did Whistler think suing somebody might be a good idea? There was his earlier lawsuit against the critic Ruskin, who had written, "I have seen, and heard, much of Cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face." Whistler won but was awarded a mere one farthing in damages. The costs of mounting the suit wiped him out. Wilde, you will recall, is another who mistakenly thought suing a worthwhile enterprise, and who lost everything.


Monday 25 July 2011

A big Spread-5

Continuing a couple of thoughts following the 4-page Bacchus spread shown here on Friday 15th.

On the far left of the panorama is Dave Sim, under attack. Dave's name has come up a couple of times on the net over the last few weeks. The Comics Journal posted an excerpt of Tim Kreider's evaluation of Sim's complete Cerebus that appears in the huge issue #301
"Its parodies of characters, creators and trends in the world of comics circa 1980-2000 date badly, and were never even comprehensible, let alone of much interest, to anyone outside that marginal subculture."

I can't remember who started this thing among the self-publishing crowd of using each others' characters and personages with impunity. It could have been Rick Veitch, or James Owen. This is Owen using Frank Miller's Marv, and that looks like Jeff Smith's Big Red Dragon in the foreground.

James had also helped himself to Dave Sim's whole panel technique from around the time of Jaka's Story. And here is a character named Martin Humble, based on British comedy actor Marty Feldman.

Dave Sim pinched the Marty character for a role in Guys (1995-97), a book in which all of the supporting characters came from real life or other artists' comics.

Guys is not so much a narrative as a series of comings and goings in a tavern, where everybody drinks huge tankards of froth until somebody comes in and shows the barman how to pour the stuff properly. Here's Sim's version of Bacchus.

Even the screamin' habdabs make an appearance.

It turns out that Bacchus is actually 'wee Callum's granny', and Alec MacQuarry comes to take her home.

Through the whole of Guys Cerebus is wearing a bandage on his eye following the 'Injury to eye motif' incident at the end of the character's previous volume.

My King Bacchus (1995-96) also takes place entirely in a pub, though the coincidence is not something we gave much thought to at the time, since Dave and I had both done books set in, or mostly in, taverns before (Jaka's story, 1001 Nights of Bacchus). You will notice at the top of my post that my Dave Sim character is wearing the same bandage as Cerebus on his own eye. After suffering the attack that you see there, the next time we see him he is wearing the same bandage on his own somewhere else.