On Tuesday 15th October, I got the opportunity to explore The Seven Stories Comics: Explore & Create Comic Art exhibition. I have rarely been into comics in my life. So with that, I expected to spend about ten minutes at the exhibition taking in the comic examples with the added history, comments and opinions for reading. I was thankfully mistaken.
I was welcomed with the playful chatter of children as they were at the Comic Hub, holding their drawings for it to be photographed in front of a backdrop. I then proceeded to have a quick look around the exhibition to see what was offered. I then came back in half an hour later to spend about two hours writing notes.
It was evident that this exhibition is great for children; but it soon became clear that as a writer, even if you do not write comics, it is definitely worth a trip. This is why:
1. Each section provides different writing prompts.
The exhibition is divided up into six sections; (1) Story, (2) Character, (3) Setting, (4) Props and Power, (5) Style, and (6) the Comic hub. Each section provides writing prompts with some sections providing seating for writing and drawing. These prompts were originally placed to support the D.I.Y Comic Activity Sheet – that you can collect at the entrance – but they are not solely for this sheet. These prompts range from the three blocks of storytelling (noun, adjective and story type), questions about your characters, a wheel to determining your setting and a wardrobe of possible impossibilities (to determine a superpower). Even if you are not using the D.I.Y Comic Activity Sheet, the prompts are a great tool to play around with for potential writing ideas.
2. You will end up finding hidden writing tips.
One writing tip that I can reveal is perhaps the most obvious one you will find. In the character section, there is a discussion on where you can find inspiration when writing characters. It is the idea of using famous characters or real people and putting them in new situations or adding different qualities to their character. It is within this activity that could help you create a new character.
As of the rest of the tips, have the fun of finding them yourself!
3. You will relate to and understand multiple comic creators’ habits.
In order to explain this point, I direct you to a particular habit discussed within the exhibition. It is the example of Nigel Auchterlounie’s (Beano and Numskills) quick roughs. It is shown in the character section that he uses small sheets of paper for his drafts to stop him from writing too much. This helps him use them as puzzle pieces to arrange and rearrange the order of that particular comic. That habit of writing on small sheets of paper personally resonated with me. Looking back on my own writing, I can relate to this habit. I have found that my style changes depending on the size of the page I am writing on. When you eventually visit, perhaps you will find a particular writing habit you will relate to and examine their significance to your writing.
If you look closely, you will come across Jamie Smart’s (Bunny VS. Monkey) comment over how an idea occur which I believe resonates with a lot of writers. I will let you find that one yourself.
4. The examples used will help you understand the creative process of each of the highlighted comic creator at the exhibition.
The elements of storytelling are obviously shown within comics. Yet, their median is quite unique from other branches of storytelling because it incorporates still imagery and written text, although the text is an optional factor in comics. Rough drafts of particular comics were kindly donated to the exhibition and are displayed around most of the sections to give a clear example of how they told a story and of the creative process behind past comics. The creative process is something writers are familiar with.
5. You will learn of one process that didn’t make it to print.
I know it is not fun hearing about the development of an idea and for it to be shelved. It probably one of the worst nightmares a writer can face. Found in the Style section, there is an example from the 1960s of one such idea that was eventually scrapped. Not giving anything away, the fact that this example was given a spot at this exhibition bears great significance. It shows that even people with a lot of professional experience will produce ideas that they will spend hours, days and maybe even years on for it to never come to light. It is a side of writing that writers need to be aware of if they are to take their writing further than their personal notepads or digital folders.
What to take from this example is that it is okay to spend a significant amount of time on an idea and then for it to be scrapped. It is an awful feeling to scrap an idea where so much hard work has been put towards it. However, that time was never wasted. The elements taken from that experience can be used as a learning curve for future projects. Whether that is taking on a similar style, idea or character, or how you approach a project in a different direction. It’s all in the writing process which will help your own writings in the future.
In the description panel of the Comic Hub, there is a point made that Comic Creators, both amateur and professional, work together to support and share each other’s talents and ideas. This is a feature you can find a lot in the wider writing community. This exhibition is something to be used for budding writers whether they have an interest in creating comics or not. It’s definitely worth your time and the £2 entry fee.
Just don’t forget your notepad!
The Seven Stories Comics: Explore & Create Comic Art exhibition will be held at the Dick Institute until the 18th of January 2020.
For more information on the Dick Institute, please visit: https://eastayrshireleisure.com/libraries/the-dick-institute/
For more information on Seven Stories, please visit their website: https://www.sevenstories.org.uk
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/