I was flattered to be asked by John Stanbury to draw an A3 sized piece of advice in the form of a comic, for this year’s batch of posters. You can see the finished design here.
One of the things that concerned me was to produce something which was an interesting picture as well as something to be read. I imagined an altarpiece with a large central panel, and a kind of predella on the bottom to contain a short dialogue. I don’t know when the idea of the hand struck me exactly, but no doubt I was looking for an interesting shape which could be invested with an appropriate meaning. Thinking of altarpieces definitely led to the shape of that central panel. Why such a wintry scene when I was drawing Osmi in August? The jury on that one is out, although Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes both released pretty wintry music which I was listening to at this time.
A mixture of these aesthetic and symbolic concerns inspired me to create the story, such as it is, although perhaps ‘moment’ or ‘fragment’ would be a better description. I suppose what interests me most in comics is the picturing of another world, interesting characters and witnessing significant and/or unusual events. Plotting in its own right has never been a big concern of mine, except that a sequence of events MUST reveal themselves in an interesting and revealing way. I like mystery and am more interested in the poetry of a scene and its implied narrative, rather than things which are too fixed and too literal.
On reflection, there are things about Osmi which I’m not totally happy with. As a comic it works well enough, but I think that the altarpiece idea has not been fully developed. Consequently, it doesn’t entirely hold-up as a single picture. No worries. I want to develop this altarpiece idea, and develop a visual story telling method totally separate from the ‘graphic novel’ formula. A kind of comic poetry, liberated from the book, floating over tables and placed on walls. Hmmm.
As for my comic’s message, well… I hope very little needs to be said. I suppose I’ve always felt a strong sense of creative isolation. The snowy landscape kind of reflects that. Often a picture feels like an open letter: “Hello! This is me. What do you think? What are YOU up to?” Referring particularly to Osmi’s hand I suppose it would be a trifle pessimistic to quote from Stevie Smith’s ‘Not Waving but Drowning’ poem but heck! if I was going to do that I guess that a lot of you would know what I mean?
Many thanks to John for giving me the opportunity to create Osmi and the journey it has set me on… and HAPPY BIRTHDAY today too