Saturday 18 June 2011

Lightnin' Hopkins

Did this yesterday at lunchtime. It's based on the cover to Walkin' this road by myself, the Lightnin' Hopkins LP. If you have the misfortune to follow me on Twitter you probably saw me posting images of it as I went along. Started out as a tiny thumbnail sketch (below) then got dragged into Manga Studio, which I prefer now to Illustrator for creating these kind of sans line images. I may have a go at turning it into a 'proper' painting on some kind of wood paneling (or whatever I can chor from a skip).

Monday 13 June 2011

Don Quixote - Broken Hearts and Broken Minds

Finished. Volume One of Don Quixote is in the bag. I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but it's taken me this long to get over the loss and the separation and move on. Hmmm... I'll start again... That was a piss poor attempt at making an oblique reference to the fact I marked the end of Quixote by separating from my wife and moving out of my home with her and the kids. Quixote wasn't in any way responsible for what happened, but I found much in the book that echoed my state of mind and my situation.

If you're not familiar with the original book you may be surprised to learn that it contains eternal truths about love and loss as well as madness, delusion and goats. But love is to some extent the ultimate madness and delusion, it's the quixotism we all indulge in (not sure where the goats fits in, but each to their own, eh). Maybe the best way to appreciate the idealist, the impulsive, the rash romantic that is Don Quixote is to think of madness as love, then his crazy exploits don't seem any more ridiculous than our own. (Hmmm... how long can I stretch this analogy...?)

I'll switch from discussing it in general terms and instead use some synchronistic examples from recent weeks.

The day of the Royal Wedding was a particular low in my life, the point in this particular marital breakdown where events spiraled out of control into the kind of nightmare-scape that I'd always dreaded. On that day I did this panel:

For Don Quixote love is as unrequited and sweet as a teenage crush.

Everything he does is for the Lady Dulcinea del Toboso, a figment of his imagination, a deep, lasting love he has projected onto a peasant girl in the village.
Nothing like a teenage crush to make you act like a fool, you might not have dressed in armour and fought windmills, sheep and cats to prove the validity of your own imagined love, but it will probably have found a way to make a fool of you I'm sure.

It's in the stories within stories from the people he meets on the road that we get a more realistic picture of how men and women inflict their madness upon each other in the name of love.

They're simple morality tales with a cruel twist and a wicked sense of humour.

Cervantes saves the best for last in Volume One - an entire novella within the novel. In my version this is crushed down to just four pages. 'The Novel of the Curious Impertinent' paints a painful and hilarious picture of what happens when monogamy and curiosity collide.

Now I'm not trying to belittle the complex states of insanity that afflict folk by comparing them to love anymore than I'm trying to turn anyone's idea of love sour; I'm interested in the mechanisms of fiction and how close those mechanisms echo sanity and love. I don't expect to understand these things, it's just handy to leave a few breadcrumbs on the path as you go in so you can find your way out again.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

2D Festival Derry 2011

I've attended a lot of comic conventions and arts festivals over the years, I think the 2D festival in Derry might just be my favourite. Granted, I am writing this in the hazy after glow with a crooked smile on my face, but this event was everything I would like to see from a comics' festival.

The whole festival seemed to be about getting artist to actually give something back rather than sit and receive their fans like royalty. There was no reaching into your pocket from artists or punters and yet everyone went away so much richer for the experience.

I spent a weekend in great company that included my boyhood hero, a host of brilliant artists and writers and so many people from Derry who all seemed to become instant friends.

Saturday was spent sketching all day, and I mean ALL day. No one charges for sketches and whilst you get some people who want you to draw 'what you do' (I did a LOT of Daleks and Matt Smiths) you get a whole bunch of people asking for anything under the sun (I have now drawn Wonder Woman, Wolverine, the Joker etc etc). Most of the people were kids. I got handed sketchbook from a 6 year old that contained zombies by Glen Fabry, Spiderman by Phil Winslade and Tank Girl by Rufus Dayglo mixed in with the kid's own drawings from the day before. "What would you like?" I foolishly asked. "A robot squirrel," he said.

I spent the day sat next to the genius that is Mick McMahon and his wife Chrissie. They were great company and the nervous quaking that should have wrecked me in his presence was dispelled by the fact he's a such a nice bloke. We spent a lot of time together and talked A LOT of comics.

Here's a couple of sketches he did for me:

Dredd done in my sketch pad with my pen and...

Spikes Harvey Rotten. And here's the man himself busy drawing countless sketches for everyone. I had so much stuff with me it spread all across his table too.

Eventually the kids go off to bed and the adults head to Dino's bar for the panels. I was on the first panel on the Friday night with Rufus (Tank Girl) Dayglo, Denise (crime writer) Mina, David (Bulletproof Coffin) Hine and Mark (Vice president of DC comics) Chiarello.

From L to R David, me, Denise and Mark. Photo by Rufus.

Below is the bar filling up ready for the panel.

Once again 2D was a great leveler as artists, fans and locals all mixed in. The discussions from the panels filtering out onto the street and vice versa. This is what a festival should be like and David Campbell who puts it together with the help of, yet another new mate of mine, Gary (Marvelman) Leach deserves all the praise he will get from us in the coming weeks. I don't know how he does it, but anyone else putting together a festival like this should give him a ring and find out. I want more.

I learnt a lot, had a lot of fun and made a lot of new friends. I think that was true of everyone who came.

Thanks David. Thanks Derry.
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