Wednesday 5 April 2017

...creation - correlation - confrontation...

In preparation for the forthcoming Superhero workshop at 
The Dragonfly Gallery in Watton, I set up a facebook page to allow 
those interested in taking part, to view the work of previous workshops 
and also to download character design templates, cover designs 
and professional comic scripts. 

I was able via
to upload the workshop day's schedule and examples of 
previous co-creations and characters! 

 No sooner had I completed my timetable than I realised that 
I was being too ambitious by far, both for myself and the students - 
 if we got to Session 3 on the schedule we were well on target!

Because this class is more about designing (costumes and characters), 
than it is about drawing, I designed template sheets so that participants 
could get on with the task of creating characters/costumes without 
worrying about anatomical and proportional problems.

Attending a workshop myself at the London Cartoon Centre in the 80s, 
we were handed the above anatomical sheets to use as reference, so that 
we could understand the limits of anatomy and break them accordingly. 

…and encouraged to attend life study classes whenever possible...

In preparation for their first character designs, and in response 
to creative back and forth between Jo, Roy, Paul, Gerry and myself, 
we co-created the following superheroes - 'Buck-Fast! (Lee), 'V-Tol',
 'Magenta' and 'No-Guy!' (What else do you call a character that is 
vacuum, but is defined by their environment? Great idea Roy).

It's not always easy conjuring something up out of thin air 
and onto a blank piece of paper. I  recall Paul and Gerry both came 
from lighthouse keeper background and had discussed possibilities 
for character with abilities that would be appropriate 
for the protection of lighthouses. 

Similar to the original Daredevil, this would involve some type 
of sonar/radar to overcome poor vision, and perhaps 
super strength to cope with the bulk of huge vessels 
and the power of crashing ocean waves. 

Jo investigated the formidable problem of foreshortening 
and dynamic lettering, and Roy who maintained he had not drawn 
for a long time, and had certainly not created a super characters 
before, surprised us all - and himself I think - by coming up 
with four good strong characters!

Naturally the creative process couldn't  continue without the 
obligatory tea and biscuits, wherein Paul showed us the handsome 
Dan Dare edition he had brought in, showing us panels that had 
painted background scenes reminiscent of a young David Hockney. 
(The early Dan Dare studio recruiting assistants  
from the local art college).  

And wonder of wonders - Jo produced from her bag the very 
same book on perspective that I used to study myself as a boy. 
And I thought I had the only existing copy.

After lunch we proceeded to create a dramatic cover scene 
between two of the comic characters we created in the morning 
- 'Buck Fast!(Lee)' and the weirder than weird 'V-Tol'! 

'Carmine Infantino' style design.
'Gil Kane' style design.

Rather than use my existing 'Carmine Infantino' style cover 
template, I rotated the characters little to draw the reader closer into 
the action. Extending costume detail which was not immediately 
apparent in the original face on designs.

Strong as the cover was in black and white, we agreed 
adding colour would enhance to dynamics of the image! I use 
Winsor & Newton ProMarker pens which are excellent for quickly 
providing solid colour confidently with each broad stroke. 

As well as the chisel tip, the pens also have a sharper 
point at the opposite end for fine line and detail.

Well, I certainly could and would not have come up with these 
characters by myself, so a big thank you to my co-conspirators for 
allowing me to be the conduit for their unusual ideas. 

Since I had no idea who today's students would, little did I realise 
that when I brought along the Dr Strange collection of his earliest 
adventures, that I would be reacquainting Paul with the first issue 
of Dr Strange he'd read while waiting age six in his 
own doctor's surgery. 

Possibly the moment Paul revisits his first  Dr Strange story?

The Dragonfly Bullpen hard at work creating confrontational covers, 
revisiting old comic book adventures and pushing the boundaries of 
dynamic colour, dramatic anatomy and extreme perspective. 

Gerry very kindly showed us the very accomplished, finely 
drawn pen & ink illustrations and cartoons he had produced for a
local motorbike magazine, going back over many years. With fine 
design, great attention to detail, and taking more than a little 
inspiration from Punch magazine! 

Gerry's great work warrants a blog of it's own.
Let me know when you're ready Gerry!

Myself, standing with what a few hours ago
were blank sheets of layout paper!

When working with younger age groups I find there is 
always a common knowledge with a shared interest, working 
with participants of a similar age we were all referencing (and reminiscing)
at first hand the same experiences. 

The same comics in the 60s - Dr Strange, Fantastic and Terrific 
magazines, Dan Dare, Hotspur, Victor, Whizzer and Chips, of course 
the Dandy and the Beano. Whatever happened to Billy the Cat?

Also the same 'How to Draw' books on perspective, the human 
figure, hands and faces, and Hal Rasmussen's 'How to Draw Cartoons'. 

Paul, Jo, Gerry and Roy - the Dragonfly Gallery's fantastic four - and their co-creations
- alongside Captain America - created by the legendary Joe Simon and Jack Kirby!

SUPER thanks to Paul, Jo, Gerry and Roy for taking part and contributing 
heart and soul to great workshop - hope to see you all again for Part Two!

A big thank you to Jan Godfrey and Susan Hollingsworth of the 
Wayland Dragonfly Gallery in Watton, for kindly offering me the 
opportunity to take part in their 'Once upon a time' book event - 
A Wayland Feast of Reading, Writing, Poetry and Illustration.

And a big thank you also to writer/artist Sue Welfare 
for recommending me in the first place!


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