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So. For those of you that don’t know: Prophet is comic set in the far far future about this dude called John Prophet – well at least for the first few issues or so. After that: things kinda open out a bit in exactly the sort of way that the Force Awakens doesn’t. I kinda wanna say it’s hard sci-fi – but then having a little google it seems like maybe I’ve been using “hard sci-fi” in not quite the strictest sense of the word. I dunno.
April 3rd, 2016
Back in February, I appeared on a panel at the London Graphic Novel Network’s S.M.A.S.H. event. There were a lot of great speakers at those events (including our own Maid of Nails, friend of the website Kieron Gillen, America’s next top comics critic J.A. Micheline, Mazin off the Kraken podcast, and Jam Trap poet Chrissy Williams), staggered across three panels focusing on MEANING, ART and REPRESENTATION in comics.
The plan was to write series of posts inspired by these talks, but then this happened.
Trying to appear big and clever on the internet has never felt less important to me than it did in the aftermath.
Anyway, I spoke on the art panel at S.M.A.S.H. and as a comics critic in the company of artists/editors, I figured I would be the least qualified person to talk about the subject so I did what I always do: I overcompensated. Only Mister Attack will ever see the first draft of my introductory talk, the charmingly titled “COMICS ARTISTS ARE WASTING THEIR LIVES”. In the end, I settled for a slightly less arsey approach that focused on different modes of reading, and how we might want to develop our understanding of our own biases so we can better make them fight to prove which opinions are best.
You can listen to what I actually said and the subsequent panel debate here (headphones recommended, audio’s a but quiet!), read the version of this pitch I submitted here, or if you fancy getting the right mix of depth and brevity you can now read the text I brought with me on the day below.
None of these versions are quite the same. None of them quite get across what I thought I was trying to say. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
March 27th, 2016
Our very own Dan White (aka The Beast Must Die) has been interviewed by Matt Colegate for The Comics Journal! Colegate talks to The Most Handsome Mindless* about Terminus, Insomnia, Cindy and Biscuit, writing for this site, and the development of his art style, and it’s all well worth a read if you like what’s best in life.
A teasing excerpt:
When did you start noticing that your style was developing? Was it an incidental discovery or was it something you were working towards?
There’s a hodgepodge of influences that I can see in everything I do, but it’s nice that a style has formed. When I’m doing a brush stroke I’ll be thinking “the way I’ve drawn those bushes is really Bill Watterson.” The style also came out of admitting that I didn’t have to do figurative art work. I could still tell stories that I liked by using cartoons. I should say that the biggest influence in my life is Chuck Jones. Seeing the Warner Bros. cartoons broke me forever.
So you were quite strict about wanting to be a cartoonist?
I just admitted, y’know, “You’re not going to be Simon Bisley and you’re not going to be able to draw Batman”. Nor would I want to. My uncle was an illustrator and I used to look at his work and the looseness of the brush work used to really appeal to me. When I realized I could tell the stories that I wanted by cartooning, and not being a slave to anatomy and photo-referencing, that was really liberating and I think the style developed there. It was quite organic.
A lot of your work – Terminus for example, which you did weekly for Mindless Ones – consists of single panel pieces. What is it that appeals about that format?
The one panel strip is traditionally used for political cartoons or simple visual gags, but I wanted to explore what you could do. They were like haiku experiments in paring down the text. Doing it on a weekly basis was great – doing anything on a weekly basis is great because it’s a way to refine your style – and I noticed that I was getting much better at paring the words down. I wanted to do something that wasn’t necessarily funny. What about if you had a one-panel comic that just disturbed you, or made you feel a bit sad? Somebody on the internet said “It’s like a fortune cookie that you open up and inside there’s an obituary.” That was the perfect description of what I was trying to do. He didn’t mean it as a compliment but I put it on the back of the first collection anyway. It was about trying to capture something and suggest a whole world in a panel. There was a nerdy element also, because I got to tell a science fiction or horror story simply. Horror is a thing that comes up again and again in my work and Terminus was a good way to flex some of those muscles.
If you’ll forgive me for sliding straight into huckster mode – this is the internet in 2016, after all – I’ll just right ahead and say that if the interview put you in the mood to read/buy Dan’s comics, we can help you out with that!
I mean just look at this sequence, from the most recent Cindy and Biscuit book:
**Unless you’re broke, obviously. We don’t actually want to bankrupt you or anything. Or at least, The Beast Must Die doesn’t…