13/01/2018 – Nottingham Writers Studio

StoryboardNDC_Robin_French_02It’s always fascinating to listen to somebody from an associated craft, such as film or theatre, enlightening us on the quirks of their profession as much as the particular skills set demanded of their art. As a ‘boarder’ churning out storyboards ten to the dozen, Robin French sounded continually prey to the whims of directors and writers, and in a trade where speed (up to 100 panels a day!) and a total lack of ego are of the essence, not to mention being fluent in everything from draftsmanship to storytelling, through cinematography, staging, animation, and acting. Robin highlighted a handful of areas where ‘boarding’ techniques overlapped with those required of comics, specifically staging, cinematography (particularly the infamous 180˚ rule), shading and backgrounds and/or grids. Usefully she rounded up with some core information about rates for the job (interestingly the first guest to talk money) and a selection of useful reference books, most notably Framed Ink by Marcos Mateu-Mestre.

1877_Charles_Mengin_-_SapphoAs always after one of our guest presentations, there was a lot of back and forth with the audience, with questions and discussion, which warmed us for the remainder of the evening in the company of our slightly depleted brains trust from Nottingham University (Carl Buckland was sadly indisposed). Harriet Lander asked us to consider representations of Sapho, the archaic Greek poet from Lesbos (not the bone condition!). She presented three images depicting the writer, two by Victorians Simeon Solomon and Charles Mengin, and one from a 1970s Playboy cover, inviting us to compare and contrast. Given that we know almost nothing about Sapho, she would seem wide open to interpretation and use by comics creators, and Harriet flipped through examples found in on-line comics and, of course, Wonder Woman. Perhaps most curious was the example from My Little Pony, but what surprised NDC members most was that academia had buried so deeply into an analysis and consideration of fan art. “Is nothing sacred!?”

Lynn1Lynn Fotheringham‘s highly animated focus was exclusively on Three, the repost to Frank Miller’s pumped up and grotesquely if brilliantly distended 300. More specifically she honed it down to just two pages of Three in which Terpander relates the story of the 300 Spartans to Arimnestos, a narrative comic creators Kelly, Gillen and Bellaire pithily reduce to just eight panels! If this sounds somewhat limited as the basis for a 15 minute presentation and discussion, be aware that the NDC audience has never been more animated or forensic. Undoubtably folk relished the deep analysis of content, style and colour of those two pages, and you could see Lynn making mental note of points they raised she maybe hadn’t considered before. We could have gone on into the night, and that made us think we need to do more of this deep focus stuff at future NDC meetings.

Our thanks to our guests for providing one of our most stimulating and interactive sessions.     –  JSC

Photos by Matt Brooker