Final year students were asked to create an extra outcome for the Southampton project: either a film or publication to show the processes involved throughout the project. I chose to do a full-on comic book, as it seemed the best way to present ultimately not-that-interesting information in an entertaining way. And I came on an illustration course to do comic books.
Having a nice guy (Smile-e) explaining everything in a positive light and a cynical bastard co-host (Vegeta) gave me the room to explore all my opinions on what we’ve done, while allowing the reader to keep their own counsel.
I had a ready made a team that I just couldn’t get around. I thought about alternatives, but ultimately resolved to do what I had to do. I walk into very murky copyright waters now, as I’m using an existing character from a popular franchise (which shall remain nameless even though you know what it is) as my co-host.
I believe US and now UK law supports fair use of copyrighted material for several purposes, the one which I should theoretically fall under is parody. This is a contentious issue, but ultimately, I suspect I’ll always fly too low under the radar for this to ever be a real problem. On top of that, the university retain the rights to any work created by their students, but I also doubt I’m going to get a strongly worded email from London Met telling me to cease and desist from creating the Smile-e Show ‘cos it’s theirs now.
So what is the Smile-e show? It’s a comedy comic I’ve been making for years and I even mentioned it in my UCAS application when I applied for my course. Here’s a video I did about it, showing some examples and what not.
It goes without saying that I underestimated the amount of work it takes to make what turned out to be a 30+ page comic book all by myself with little to no knowledge of how to do it properly, but really, this is one of the core pillars of what I want to be known for.
I was inspired by Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, which is a comic book about comic books. I can’t recommend reading it enough. If you think comics=Batman, this book will help you realise comics= Batman+Maus+ Persepolis+ alternative comics, etc,etc. There’s an artform waiting to be discovered. You shouldn’t assume the only vehicles out there are buses and trucks because they’re the biggest and loudest, there are also ice cream vans, super cars and Robin Reliants. It’s the same with comics, but that’s enough about that for now.
I haven’t finished the book. The artwork needs touching up, the lettering isn’t finished, I haven’t written the foreword, the panels need resizing… It’s endless, but for the first time on the course, I can’t be dissuaded by the work required for success, because this is a big deal and whatever happens in the future, I’m only going to end up doing more of these.
I’m in two minds about the comic being fully coloured. As it stands now, the only colour content is my university art work, which supports its position as the central focus of the book. I think I’ll leave it like that. Colouring is another area of comic book design I’m woefully under-skilled at.
This book is a lot of fun, but very hard work. I look forward to finishing it, but it’s going to be on hold for a while…