It may be the busiest time of the academic year as far as deadlines are concerned – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun while learning, right?!
Us Comics Studies MLitt-ers certainly like to think that’s the case anyway, and on Monday we took a class trip to Glasgow where we visited Hope Street Studios before attending the Issue One Comics Symposium at the CCA.
Hope Street Studios is very much the hub of comics’ production in Glasgow. A tenement building which has been converted into offices, Hope Street Studios is a base for comics creators, old and new, to brainstorm, draw, write, and basically bring comics to life! We were met by Jim Devlin, who gave us an insight into his work process. Given that there are no strict written rules on how to create comics, it was interesting to see his method, particularly as he seemed to focus on the use of digital programmes.
Once he had shown us the ropes of his working style, Jim took us on a tour of the studios, which was really interesting to see. The studios may not be the most glamorous of spaces, but it had a really relaxed and friendly vibe to it, suggesting it would be a great community to become involved in. One highlight of this particular tour was the opportunity to say ‘hello’ to Frank Quitley – an artist who you may have seen recently on BBC’s What Do Artists Do All Day? (There’s more information on that here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/0/26453306) Hard at work on ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’, a collaboration with Mark Millar, we were grateful he gave a little of his time to welcome us into his workspace!
Our evening was spent in the CCA, where a panel of Scottish comics’ professionals (including our very own Chris Murray and Philip Vaughan) discussed the importance of creating a comics community in Scotland and how to begin developing it. Set up in a Question Time manner, it was interesting to hear the various insights from academics, journalists, retailers, and creative professionals. The creation of a strong comics’ community in Scotland is something I greatly support and think it is important we establish one. The push for a national academy and gallery is a very interesting idea. However, I did find that after two-and-a-half hours of discussion and opinions, not a lot of progress had been made. It seemed to me that whilst everyone was keen to create this strong comics’ community bond, no one is entirely sure how we go about it, with a lot of ‘ifs’, ‘maybes’ and ‘buts’. This symposium seemed to be scratching the surface of some significant ideas, however no conclusions could be reached. But that is the issue with grassroot-esque movements – someone just needs to be bold enough to take the first steps!
And now it’s back to the grindstone. After a fun (yet educational!) day away, we returned with a new boost of motivation, knowing that we have a tough but exciting future in comics ahead of us!