Body of Work: Assignment two – Genre Development
Building a Graphic Novel
For the A2 assignment, I decided to experiment with the graphic novel, the idea being to use some of the methods developed during the creation of the concept art in A1 and apply these to the creation of a series of storytelling panels. I have already discussed the Perseus Myth and decided to continue using this in this experiment. Above are some of the results of that work. I had no intention at this stage to complete a full graphic novel of this story as one of the things I discovered was how much content would be required to tell one story. As an example, the Graphic Universe Novel on Perseus is 45 pages with an average of 5 or 6 image panels on each page, that is approximately 225 to 270 images to tell the story the way they have. Although I am not aiming to copy or replicate their content in any way the flow of the story and the number of panels required to develop the story would broadly be similar.
The next issue is the huge amount of time each image takes to render. It takes between 2 to 8 hours for an image to render once the design is complete so we are looking at between 440 hours and 2,160 hours of rendering just to produce the entire graphic novel. This project feels like it’s taken the wrong road as that’s between 37 and 180 days working 12 hours a day simply to render the images and that is without the actual creation of the model to render and the photoshop required to turn it into an artistic image. Then there is the graphic design work to set all the images in the panels and add the text.
While the final output would be amazing it feels to me to be far too big an undertaking to fit into a degrees tight timescale. This is a little bit of a shame, as I love the concept, however, I had planned to tackle a series of myths and legends from around the world and bring them all together as an epic book of stories told in graphic novel style. This would be an impossible task for this degree.
I also discovered that the individual panel images tend to be more trivial than the concept art images as they may just convey a gesture or the movement of a foot etc, and so the energy I was getting from making epic tableaus that tell the story was largely missing and I am finding myself wanting to go back to creating images more like the classic paintings of these events that try to convey the main parts of a story in one image.
Richard F Lack – Andromeda and Perseus 1965
Moving Forward to Assignment 3
Having gotten this far I think I have to backtrack a little, I have done substantial research on graphic novels and their presentation and it’s clear that for my work to tell the myth properly it would need a far deeper set of images than I achieved in the trial shown above. Indeed the work I produced feels somewhat trivial in its pursuit to tell the story. At every step, I felt I needed far more images to describe the actions and that I was forcing myself to cut corners in order to reduce the number of images that needed to be rendered. The resulting 3 or four pages worth of content tells only the tip of the story dealing with the circumstances of Perseus birth and how he ended up being challenged to take the head of medusa by King Polydectes. Even this small portion of the novel took a great deal of time leaving me with the thought that to complete just the story of Perseus would be an epic undertaking. Since my original goal was to produce a book of many myths and legends I have probably aimed for the moon and missed it.
This project is still very real and it is something that will probably continue past the end of my degree as I think the completion of the full work could be a tremendous achievement once complete
I have been doing this degree for 9 years now and so far I have managed to swerve as far away from feminism and the male gaze as I possibly can, its a subject that feels like juggling hand grenades, I really don’t feel equipped to discuss it but I also feel myself being driven like cattle towards it.
I generally avoid things like politics and religion as it’s a great way to stir up an argument. However, I am a big fan of fantasy art and have always really enjoyed the work of artists like Boris Vallejo who I consider something of a genius, traditionally a lot of fantasy art contains scantily clad female forms. I can’t and won’t apologise for liking this work.
I find myself now working on greek myths and legends these tend to have a certain style based on period clothing that has a similar feel to the work of Boris Vallejo. This means that the work I am doing tends to create what might be termed attractive people in period clothing, this has the potential to get the blood boiling in some individuals. Indeed, I am being encouraged to change everything in order to satisfy the demands of other people.
This feels frankly awful to me, I witness the woke brigade demanding people to be cancelled on social media which in turn is having a very bad negative effect on some of the best movie franchises, the worst part is that the people demanding the change are mostly not the fans. We have witnessed the total destruction of the Starwars Franchise in a mad attempt to remove all the strong male leads, leaving fans reeling at the brutal treatment of their childhood heroes.
The pendulum it seems to me is now swinging too far in the opposite direction, I for one wish it would remain firmly in the middle. I am probably going to get attacked for writing this but, I can’t tolerate people telling me what I should create artistically, it makes my blood boil. Did people tell Picasso he did not have enough eyes on his portraits? (actually, they probably did but he probably told them to Go forth and multiply).
This debate has physically stunted my progress on level three, I was working at a huge rate and being massively productive and incredibly motivated. Then in one meeting my train has been derailed and I am finding it hard to get re-motivated and move on. It was like someone deflating my entire ballon and leaving me with no motivation to carry on and feeling like I was in a boat without a rudder or a paddle. I have probably completely misinterpreted the advice I was given, I am not beyond doing that. However, I have no idea how to proceed. I am advised to study the male gaze and in one breath it feels like I should change my wicked ways and in another told that I can do what I want as long as I study the male gaze. I can’t remember being so badly derailed by the advice of others as this. I am tempted to forge on stubbornly but then think is this going to get my work marked down in the final assessment. This does not feel like working freely on my own body of work and express my own vision.
I have to sadly admit that I have no idea what is required of me to keep the critics happy, the explanation has been too vague and left me with the feeling that the only way forward is to stop and do it all differently to please others. I have been wrestling with this for several months and still do not know what I am expected to do. Unfortunately when I tried to dig into it and understand people got upset and annoyed with me and my tutor even angrily said “you are not even willing to take this on board”, apologies Jane that’s not a dig I guess you are frustrated too but I don’t know where to go from this and am now too nervous to ask for fear of offending others.
This is probably the worst time in my degree I have never felt so isolated and alone with no one at all I can talk to who will listen from my point of view. My train is derailed, I am almost afraid to speak up to clear this up. Hopefully, this post will start the ball rolling from my end in finding resolution I am somewhat upset that the huge head of steam and energy that was ploughing me through this has been vented off this is not how this is supposed to work.
Can’t I be one of those more anarchistic artists who stick two fingers up to the world while splashing paint on a canvas with a large rubber chicken!
A Graphic Novel
Based on the feedback and the graphic novel I produced in Digital Image and culture, I have been thinking that this may be a good way to express my body of work. So moving forward from the concept art I have been doing I decided to work on a graphic novel based on the myths and legends I have been researching. My feeling is that the body of work would be made up of a series of short graphic novels spanning a number of myths and legends from around the world.
So for Assignment two, I am exploring this a little further.
During Digital I mage and Culture I developed a narrator character using my own face photographed and turned into a 3d mesh for my figure, this narrator was speaking from a library and narrating the explanation of the Hero Cycle. There was a suggestion in the feedback fro assessment that this was an interesting idea and that there was a lot more scope to explore the hero cycle and work with the graphic novel format.
My plan is to continue with the Narrator and use him to narrate the myths and legends selected. In order to explore this further I decided to pick one myth/legend and develop it further so that I could find all the problems and wrinkles with this idea. The myth that stood out was the myth of Perseus and Andromeda.
Perseus is a colourful character and appears in so many of the Greek myths as he was the favoured hero of the gods he even appears in the mythe of Jason and the Argonaugts on the quest for the Golden fleece. However, he is best known for the rescue of Andromeda from the Kraken.
The Kraken vs Cetus
This myth has always been one of my favourite since I was a youn boy reading a book about Greek myths and legends, and I alway thought that Percy fought the Kaken, however in researching this I discovered that the Kaken was a Norse myth and that Perseus fought Cetus there is some confusion in litterature and populat=r films as the 1981 film clash of the titans renamed Cetus to the Kraken and it seems to have stuck however the real myth without the cloud of Holywood is that Queen Cassiopeia boasted that she and her daughter Andromeda were more beautiful than the Nērēides , which invoked the wrath of Poseidon who sent the sea monster Cetus to attack Ethiopia. Upon consulting a wise oracle, King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia were told to sacrifice Andromeda to Cetus. They had Andromeda chained to a rock near the ocean so that Cetus could devour her. After finding Andromeda chained to the rock and learning of her plight, Perseus managed to slay Cetus when the creature emerged from the ocean to devour her. There are two versions of the tale in one, Perseus uses his sword to stab Cetus in the back back, while according to a more popular version, he used Medusa’s head to turn the monster into stone.
In art Cetus has been depicted as a sea serpent or even a lrge whale or shark:
This painting from 1720 by the 18th century Dutch artist Hendrik Jacob Hoet Depicts a scene from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Andromeda appears half naked and chained to the rocks by the sea while Perseus rides the winged horse Pegasus wielding a sword to rescue her.
When researching myths and legends I discoverd many different versions of each tale presumably changed with each re telling down the years as each narrator put their own spin on the story. There are two comon versions of this legend in one Perseus rides Pegasus the winged horse and in another he flys using the winged shoes given to him by the god Hermes.
Pegasus the winged horse appears in several tellings of this story, which agian may be thanks to Hollywood as its a romantic and cinematic slant to have Perseus ride to the rescue on a white winged steed. A study of greek literature and of the recors on greek pottery sugest that Pegasus was born from the blood of madusa when Perseus cut off her head and that the famed winged horse was rescued by Ballerathon in a different myth. When I created my concept art I chose to add Pegasus in the image because of the drama it create in the image. I also used a model for Cetus that more resembles the Kraken than Cetus but again it adds drama to the image.
The true myth
I have been studying these myths worrying about accuratly relating the myth in the work but I realise that this is actually folly as they are in the end just stories, and while the tales probably have some seed in historical events the elements have been changed and elaborated in the many tellings down the centurys to a point where the essance of the myth is the lesson behind the story and the exact detail are an ahedemic debate but in terms of art and story telling largely unimportant. We arne not recording history we are telling a compelling and exciting story.
I discoverd a graphic novel telling the story of Perseus and Andromeda which was a useful insight into telling the story as a graphic novel.
Unlike the concept art pieces I created in assignment one this graphic novel demonstrated that the art of this kind of storytelling lies in the way the artist sometimes focuses on the subject, and while the concept art was usually a broad image depicting the whole scene and attempting to convey the totality of the story in one image, a graphic novel has to break that image down into mush smaller segments often depicting just an expression or the glare of a pair of eyes.
Having Identified this I did some research into the styles adopted in comic books for telling the story, I noticed that modern comics like new Ironman and Avengers type comics have migrated from the old serial set of panels telling the story to a more fractured approach, they often create an epic page that shows the complete scene and break that up with smaller detailed panels that fill in the story. and from this comes two styles one where the smaller panels must be read in series and one that does not seem to matter which order they are consumed in they focus more on uploading all the information by the time you get to the end of the page no matter what order they are consumed in.
The following are some examples of layout in Marvel comics the first two being a more traditional old style
Marvel have over the last few years transitioned to their online platform MArvel Unlimited, which serves comics digitally to your phone or tablet or pc. With the popularity of phones and tablets reading comics electronically has never been easier, the ability to swipe to the next page with a finger makes the user experience more tactile and in some ways similar to the paper version, except you dont have to store a huge pile of comics and its easy to carry them wherever you go.
This shift has seemingly had an impact on panel design as modern panels often include a strip design like the one opposite this allowas the user to shift into panel by panel mode and swipe between the strips rather than view the whole page. This has the advantage on smaller devices of making both the image and the text larger and easier to digest. It is also possible to use a pinching motion to zoom in and out of the image.