Monday, May 3, 2010

A Word or Two on Curriculum

So. Day Two. The drawing day. But how, you're asking, how does a comics masterclass GO? How does it run? What happens? Well, in general we'd get to The Wheeler Centre each day at about 9.30am, collect our wits and our morning beverage of choice, then have a chat for about an hour or so, led by Dylan. On this morning he had a slide show (or power point as the young people call them) to show us, of many of his drawing influences.

We'd got a bit of an inkling of this on the Monday, but on the Tuesday Dylan confirmed that yes indeed, he is

That is to say, he is very interested in comics at the point at which they break down, at which they don't work, at which they betray their makers' blind spots. It's an interesting idea and line of enquiry: that the fault lines in an artwork point towards the heart and the humanness of the creator, their fallibility and their shadow. It's a picture of the artist as vulnerable to, rather than as master of, their work.

On some mornings the talking would be followed by an exercise. So it was this morning: we'd been talking about drawing and Dylan suggested we do some life drawing. Rats, I thought, in my organiser mode, I HAD thought of getting a life model in but had jettisoned it from the plan about a month previously.

Luckily it turns out that you don't need a life model if the New Zealander in the room doesn't mind standing still for 2 and 5 minutes at a time. Dylan gave us itty bitty bits of paper (were they A7? A8?) and we drew him. Appropriately for a room full of cartoonists, they were about the size of a comics panel...

The mutt above ain't Dylan, but was lifted from a couple of pix that Dylan showed us from Rudolphe Topffer, the early 19th century schoolteacher and comics pioneer.

It was certainly a week of great t-shirts. Andrew Fulton was wearing this one on Tuesday. It was sort of a warning for the discussion that we were going to have on Wednesday morning.

After a chat and some work, clearly you're going to be hungry and clearly it's around lunchtime, so it's time to head out and grab a bite. Luckily the Wheeler Centre is right next to the QV Centre on Little Lonsdale Street and I quickly discovered the sweet and crazy delights available from Bread Top - deep fried donut anyone? And because the weather was warm you could then sit out on the QV's octagon of fake grass and talk, well talk comics with the other masterclassers.

Upon our return in the afternoons, we'd start in on working on the projects that we had on the go at the time - the idea here was that the masterclass time wouldn't be taking away from valuable drawing/writing time but adding to it.

This particular afternoon, we'd been asked by Anna at the Wheeler Centre if it would be okay if a crew from the ABC TV show 'Stateline' could come in and do some filming to go to air on Friday of that week to promote that weekend's talks/focus on graphic novels, 'Drawing In, Drawing Out'. The masterclass gang graciously agreed, little knowing that one of the crew would be part of the Australian comics world:

(you might need to click on the page above to get it to a readable size)

Yep, Stuart Thorne - Tony Thorne's brother, and writer of some strips from the great Melbourne-based FOX comics anthology from the 80s. Check out 'All Men Are Bastards' on this page from Tony's rather magnificent blog.

Once the press had left and we'd got back to our fart jokes and rude drawings, it was time for Show and Tell. Each afternoon tea time, two folks in the room would get up and talk about their work, show some pictures and speculate on where they were going with it. When we were constructing the program for the week, this seemed like a good 'extra bit' for each day, but in the week itself, these sessions were amazing - revealing and very important, for the artists du jour and for the others of us there, to question, appreciate and suggest.

Above, light floods the room and our consciousnesses, as Jo Waite unfurls her incredibly detailed street map for the town of Maversham.

Above: Chris Downes, Andrew Fulton, Mirranda Burton, Tim McEwan, Jo Waite, Dylan Horrocks and Mel Rowsell huddle around some more of the art from Jo's 'maximum octopus' (I think that's how she describes it), '*Lucky'.

NEXT: Wednesday. The horror, the horror...


Bobby.N said...

You lucky buggers. Looked like a blast.


hackpacker said...

Bernard, would love to link to this if possible. Contact me soonish.