Symposium Reflection

As part of a symposium yesterday my MA group presented our projects alongside Harrogate students; the focus being on present creative endeavours and the overall direction of our work. Besides getting insight into other people’s projects – all of which are shaping up nicely – this also presented a convenient opportunity for me to gather my own ideas together and consider development of the project as a whole.

Being honest I didn’t step up to the stage with huge confidence. I’m no orator and attempting to memorize my planned talk in the form of a recording only made me acutely aware of how annoying my own voice is. Fortunately such doubts were disproven as the audience response was overwhelmingly positive. I got a lot of useful suggestions for future research material and some interesting input on the development of my style in particular.

There was also a lot of talk about the development of comics in the digital age, sparked by my mention of posting on webcomic sites.  Frankly I haven’t given it much thought, but a few of the questions made me consider what internet reading might mean for the medium and what sorts of innovations could be on the horizon; we already have webcomics made for phones and handheld computers after all, so how long before these novelties take hold and become important industries in their own right? Much like the human-machine symbiosis my graphic explores, comics and the web are forming a new and intriguing symbiosis of their own. It feels like a project in itself as I’ve been focusing on what is predominantly intended as a print work in most regards, though it’s still something worth thinking about not just while I’m on the course but beyond it aswell.

Moving away from the positives though, I think a small reality check is in order here. One thing the presentation specifically made me face up to was what I can reasonably expect to achieve within my last year of the MA. Initially, I made optimistic estimates of 100 pages while writing a streamlined, but not exactly short script. I need to (and almost certainly will) become faster with my pencil work, inking and colour, but short of a miraculous jump in skill it’s extremely unlikely I’ll hit my planned page count.

I absolutely loathe compromise, but it is a fact of life and this is no different. I’m left with two options; to continue and deliver a portion of the graphic as a sort of statement of intent for how my practice will continue following the MA or to rewrite, replan and create something more humble and feasible to complete within the allotted time. I realise that the latter is in many ways the sensible option but I’m honestly not sure it’s something I can bring myself to do. Rather than using this graphic as a project for the MA, it seems fairer to say I used the MA as a launchpad for my graphic – a situation where I could really push myself, allocating the time, resources and care to do something I might otherwise have been unable to.

I spent my media degree making short films, while in my spare time my hobby comics never  amounted to much either. Perhaps the largest motivation behind me taking on this MA was the idea this wouldn’t be another 10 minute/page case of playing it safe, that I would go all out and take a genuine risk. Put bluntly, I’d rather continue this graphic under my own power to see it done right than mercilessly chop up narrative, art and ambition itself for the sake of a deadline.

To be clear this isn’t at all intended to suggest I’m casting off the MA; I will still deliver a print version of my work as planned, though it is more likely to be an issue/act/third of the narrative than the finished article. This is also not intended to suggest I won’t be doing all I can to achieve as much as possible this year, ultimately it just means I’ll be prepared if/when I fall short and still be able to deliver a competent final piece of some kind – something I have the tutor’s support on, so this shouldn’t be a leap into the jaws of failure.

Now with all this in mind, time to sit down and get drawing again…

2 Responses to Symposium Reflection

  1. demontales says:

    I’m glad for you that the symposium was a positive experience. I’m also not fond of compromises, but sometimes they’re lifesavers.

    You mentionned the future of webcomic and the new possibilities. I’ve went to the comic section of a store earlier(and finally bought Understanding Comics) and I’m seeing more and more print version of webcomics on shelves. I always like to see them, but at the same time it’s a little funny. The comic industry seem to be slowly dying(here at least) and books are getting replaced by books from the internet.

    • Ozy says:

      @demontales: I haven’t actually checked out McCloud’s ‘Understanding Comics’ yet, but given how good his followup ‘Making Comics’ was I reckon it’s a likely future purchase for me too!

      On the webcomic thing; I get that vibe too. Not just with comics either, we already have music downloads largely replacing physical purchases and films not far behind. Kindle is being hyped as the trendy new way to read books and buying things over Amazon seems to be getting more and more prominent.

      I like to take a balanced view of new technologies and their development, but I’d be lying if I told you this doesn’t scare me a bit. I love how webcomics have empowered authors and artists to share the work but I’ll always prefer reading from a printed page to an eye searing monitor…

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