Saturday, 30 October 2010

Don Quixote and the Truth of Colour

Quixote sneaks out first thing in the morning, so early the sky is green.

I'll start with a mammoth digression (hang in there):

My good friend/Landlord/illustration mentor, Mike Charlton, and I once spent an entire lunch break arguing about truth in colour. We sat on his porch looking out over sunny Salisbury with him taking up his post-war rationalist opposition to my post-acid arty position, we pointed out shadows and highlights and bickered about their true colour. The conclusion he drew, in his usual acerbic manner, was that I either had a visionary eye for colour or I was just making it up. Now we weren't arguing about the existence of fairies or aliens, but the insinuation was the same - his argument was that the colours you see in Van Gogh are not what he sees they are an invention of the imagination. My argument (and yes, Mike, I'm still here making it!) is that art is about learning how to see so you let other people see too.
Hmmm... you can see the weight of Mike's case about me being full of shit - he's the one who made me see art as a job rather than some airy fairy mission to understand. The irony is Mike would use colour in a visionary way, but he'd just say he was doing what worked best for the picture not what the world really looked like to him.

I can't help wondering how much the arrival of photography impacted on how we see and what we believe about 'how things really look'. It is an aspect of seeing (with one-eye) that tells us so much, but not everything.

What has this got to do with cartooning, you ask, is he about to launch into a tirade against comic artists who trace photos for a living? Well, no, this is just a preamble to me showing you a few panels from Don Quixote Volume One. And the thing that you'll probably notice is the colours are a bit wangdoodle.
I've long found myself with a foot in both camps when it comes to drawing comics - out and out cartooning, with its possibilities for the pictures becoming graphemes, on one side and more 'realistic' action comic art, with its attraction of turning the mechanics of light and shade to schematics on the other. But with colour I don't see that dichotomy. Hopefully the drawing doesn't show the constant wrestling between cartoony and realisticy as a problem.

Don Quixote has given me the opportunity to put all of my ideas into practice - the book is all about perception and deception after all - I may well fall flat on my face like Quixote does, but I love the idea of being either a visionary or full of shit. Comics let you do that, and there's an audience for both.

This follows the big panel at the top of the post. It's later in the morning on the same day. the heat is in the land already, but the sky is still waking up.
It's late in the day when he arrives.

That night at the inn and Quixote gets in a scrap. The night in this case is ochre, I wanted the night to feel warm.

Daft idea this - I tried to mix my colours of warm night with my green morning to give a symbolic lighting. It's a portentous moment and I borrowed the composition from those famous knight getting dubbed illustrations of yore. Of course the pomposity of the whole thing undermined somewhat.

And off he trots. It's another day and another green morning.

This last one is representative of the whole of chapter two where all the backgrounds are bright yellow. It's a hot day, ok? I have a feeling the look of this chapter may have been influenced by the old Kia-Ora ad.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Solipsistic Pop Launch

Solipsistic Pop 3 is printed, the free gifts and stickers are ready and the date for the Launch party has been announced. Tom Humberstone has done an amazing job putting this together, I have pdf of the book and I think it's the best British anthology I've seen.
The stories are varied, but with a central theme built around being readable to all ages and having the flavour of D.C.Thompson comics of the past. My own effort (two images above) is a fairly dark autobiographical thing, but all the stories have a different tone without ever clashing.

Something I've come to realise since starting this blog and joining Twitter is just how many ridiculously talented cartoonists there are in Britain, many of them unpublished, and this book reflects that. I'm just glad I'm around and making comics now.

Below is the flier for the Launch Party, it features some artwork from David O'Connell's strip (yes, the book is that good!). I look forward to meeting the other contributors and other jolly comics' folk.

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