Hocus Baloney
Where slightly troubling dreams come true

Sonnet Exchange in South Korea

CXLV page 0ne

CXLV page 0ne

Well, I’m back from a whirlwind visit to Seoul, South Korea. Four days is nowhere near enough time to familiarise oneself with such a huge and multifaceted city, so spent much of it in giddy culture shock. I was there as part of the British council’s Sonnet Exchange event, part of their 400 years of Shakespeare celebrations. Basically, my part was to collaborate with a  Korean poet, Bo seon Shim, on a graphic adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, whilst a British poet, Ben Wilkinson worked with a Korean artist Sung Goo Won on another. Last Thursday saw us onstage at Kaos Hall in the extraordinary Book Park ( a combination arts gallery, bookshop and performance venue,) reciting Shakespeare’s sonnets and the poets reactions, on English and Korean, whilst my and Sung Goo Won’s art was projected behind us. Compere Sarah Olive, a Shakespeare scholar, then quizzed us about our work together.

It was a strange process, at least as far as I was concerned, made up ofSkype calls and emails and not a little panic. After we settled on Sonnet CXLV I came up with a basic idea of a couple visiting the cinema, falling out and reconciling, whilst their actions are mirrored and contrasted with the onscreen action, the conclusion of James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein. I sent roughs of this to Bo Seon, who rightly pointed out that I had left him nowhere to go, and little space to fit his contribution in. And , y’know, why Frankenstein? With the deadline approaching, I started to sweat a little, until we were rescued by politics, Brexit and the Trump election, which had begun to take prominence in our email exchanges. Bo Seon had flagged up a dark interpretation of the Sonnet, centering on broader hate speech and divisiveness rather than simple relationship dynamics. I started to render the couples part of the pages, leaving the cinema screens blank, partly because I needed to work on something. And the day after Trump’s victory a poem was delivered, born of anger, as it were. Bo Seon suggested I fill the cinema screens with scenes of political apocalypse, and a week of late nights later, here we are.

I will post our collaboration soon. Meanwhile here’s the Ben Wilkinson/ Sung Goo Won collaboration:

http://timealice.com/Sonnet-exchanges

And here’s Sarah Olive and myslf doing our best to plug the evening on morning radio:

http://tbs.seoul.kr/player/replay.do?playType=AOD&fileUrl=rtmp://58.234.158.60:1935/eFMAOD/mp4:efmaod/2016-11/20161124_093000_PG2060746E.mp4&channelCode=CH_E&programId=PG2060746E&boardCate=05&bseq=838

And here’s some of my art in the Chosun Daily newspaper about the project:

http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2016/11/25/2016112500103.html

Aaand there are some photos here:

http://blog.naver.com/magnitude09/220871265285

Whilst there, I learned a lot about the Korean cartooning scene, visited the spectacular Manhwa Museum in Bucheon, and hopefully made the beginnings of more collaborations to come. Deep thanks to Rebecca Hall, William Kemp, Misun Seo, Juyoung Jeon and all at the British Council for their trust, patience and consideration. And the food. Good god! The food!

More later,

Cheers

mark

The Men Who Laugh :- Hine/Stafford podcast.

Back in 2014 David Hine and my good self were guests at the rather splendid 22 Panels comic art festival in Falmouth. As part of proceedings we were interviewed on stage by Chris Thompson, then of Orbital comics shop, now of Titan books, who has just released this podcast version of the event. Obviously you’ll have to imagine what Dave’s referring to in the slide show, but it’s a pretty fun chat overall. Thanks to Chris, and to Nicholas Heartland, who put the festival together. Enjoy!

http://www.multiversitycomics.com/podcasts/pop-culture-hound-218/

S.M.A.S.H. Art Panel 06/02/16: video link and speech notes

Starring Moi

Ok, I was part of the Middle discussion (Art) on Saturday 6th February 2016, at this event. I was delighted to have been invited, despite nerves about the public speaking aspect, which, it turns out, I was right to have, because I was afflicted with a massive tension headache throughout, meaning that my contributions to the thing were, shall we say, … compromised. Seemed to go alright, despite my shonkiness. I’m not about to watch this video link out of fear that my perception is woefully misguided:

https://londongraphicnovelnetwork.com/2016/06/16/s-m-a-s-h-3-panel-two-art-video/

And here are the notes for the spiel that I made a pigs ear of delivering at the beginning of the thing:

S.M.A.S.H.

Notes on Art

An asinine debate bubbles up repeatedly on certain message boards of that there internet, like the results of some ghastly gastro-intestinal disorder: which is more important in comics, the writing or the artwork? Why is it asinine?

Consider this; you’re drawing a graphic novel from a script, it’s a rags to riches affair, about an artist who gains the world but loses his soul. Bit clichéd I know, but hell, you need the money. Who doesn’t in this economy?

Somewhere in act one there’s a scene where the artist, as a young student, chats to a friend in a café, in the last act, there’s a scene where, much older he talks to the same friend, in a restaurant. In both scenes they are talking about a third person, maybe the artists muse and would be lover. I don’t know. It doesn’t exist. Apart from the dialogue, the script gives you nothing.

But you, as an artist, and knowing the story’s shape, decide to emphasise certain things. You might make the café a real greasy spoon job, all chipped mugs and formica tables. You might surround your two characters with workmen and little old ladies and a couple with a pram on the verge of a nasty argument. You decide that the artist and his mate have been nursing two cups of tea, because they can’t afford the full English.

With the later scene you decide that the restaurant is as exclusive as possible, maybe the artist has a regular table, maybe it’s actually separated from other diners by a velvet rope. The food comes in tiny, beautifully laid out portions on huge plates. It is largely ignored, as are the staff, whom the artist never acknowledges.

In short in the first scene you do everything you can to emphasise the artists poverty and place amongst the common people, and everything you can to get over his alienation and aloofness in the second. You consider body language and clothing, placement: the first scene has our two characters squeezed in almost nose to nose, the second has them separated by an acre of tablespace. The first scene is all balanced compositions and cheerful colours, the second all dutch angles and desaturation. Maybe the café scene is a breezy six panel Kirby grid, and the restaurant scene takes place in a gazillion cramped little Chris ware boxes. And so on, and so on…

Here’s the thing: how much of that drawing could actually be considered writing? How much of that ink on paper is doing the same job that a novelist does in a prose novel? How much would the book lose if the cartoonist involved said bollocks to all that detail and just drew the figures and the table? The bare minimum required to get across the scene?

The internet argument is asinine because in comics, the artwork is the writing. The page design is the syntax. Everything on that page, from panel progression to balloon placement and lettering font is going to affect how the reader perceives the story. This much is bloody obvious to anybody who creates the damned things.

In short, the internet is a fucking idiot.

 

The blurb for the full event ran as follows:
Getting philosophical about the art of comics. Three subjects. Three panels. Informal chat – followed by a discussion with the audience.
Ramsey Hassan (Zorse)
Alison Sampson (Genesis)
Mike Carey (The Unwritten)
Katriona Chapman (Katzine)
David Allison (Mindless Ones)
Mazin Saleem (Kraken Podcast)
Chrissy Williams (Over the Line)
J. A. Micheline (Comics Alliance)
Mark Stafford (The Man Who Laughs)
Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine)
Kelly Kanayama (Women Write About Comics)
Hannah K Chapman (Comic Book Slumber Party)Hosted by Joel Janiurek (Barbican Comic Forum)Discussions on Meaning, Art and Diversity.

Free admission.

The S.M.A.S.H. events at the Barbican are well worth attending, if you haven’t, the level of comics related blather just seems to be on a higher level than most other inky shindigs. And the pub chatter afterwards maintains the standard. Thanks to Joel Janiurek for making it all happen.

Link here:  https://londongraphicnovelnetwork.com/category/s-m-a-s-h/

Cheers,

Mark

 

Visit the Cartoon Museum! Drop In Cartoon Clinic Kicks Off!

Mark has been Cartoonist -In -Residence at the Cartoon Museum since the year it opened (2006) and is pretty damn happy about it, previous duties included running the Family Fun Day, and creating worksheets and educational materials for classes and workshops.  But from February 4th 2016, and every other Thursday thereafter, from 1-5pm he will be working on current projects in the Young Artists Gallery, upstairs.  And will be happy to treat this as a Drop In Cartoon Clinic.

So if you want to ask about the process of creating comics or want him to have a look at your work, give tips and advice, chat about materials and publishers and the like, he will, most likely, be happy to accommodate you. He has very rarely bitten people. Rarely.

So Visit! You can find details of current exhibitions and events on the Cartoon Museum website:

http://www.cartoonmuseum.org/

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Check out the mural

Mark painted a mural for the graphic novel section of the John Harvard Library near Borough tube. The mural is in sections, with each section depicting a genre of comic art, with the main protagonist reading a comic of the next genre. Shown is an initial sketch for true story comics. The mural is in glorious technicolour and well worth checking out. You can find a map and opening times on the Southwark council site