summit, I did: Draw The Line

Posted in art, comics, illustration

Draw The Line: Concrete Political Actions

Post-Trump Election, a lot of people were feeling shocked. Cartoonists are people too…

One of my comicking friends, Myfanwy Tristram, went for a run and came back with a good idea: a comicbook of concrete actions one can take when the prevailing politics are going against their core beliefs.

It’s an idea that caught fire and a crowd-sourced list of small, achievable acts any person can use to attempt to pull the world closer to their ideal was drawn up and illustration tasks were assigned.

I got action 38: Put the pressure on

‘Tell your MP or other representative what you expect them to do about the issues that matter to you. And keep telling them. You might get a pat, generic response: that’s not good enough, and you should write back to tell them so. Otherwise, how will they know? It’s our job to hold our representatives to account.’

And like a rusty machine my brain clunked in to action…

My first thought was to emphasise the ‘Pressure’ by pastiching this celebrated Hulk cover drawn by Jim Steranko (with Marie Severin redrawing the head, because the original was too sweaty!)

Which might work if I drew like Pat Oliphant or Chris Riddell, but I know that I’d have fallen in to my old Steadman-lite-LITE ways if I’d gone down that route.

First thoughts for illustrations are treacherous things.

I liked my second thought a lot more. Pressure … Pressure COOKER … Pressure cooker BOMB … Ideas explode like bombs … resonates with the old guerrilla protest tool of leaflet bombs … hmmm.

Cue some reference searches that will make my Google history more suspect than I should like in the days of the Snoopers’ Charter, and I decided to hark back to my newspaper days and make this infographic.

Knowing that man-about-town and merciless lettering-critic, Joe Decie, was contributing to the project pushed me to handletter this thing about six times in the vain hope that I could make something that passed muster.

It was a lot of fun caricaturing Jeremy Paxman, Lord Snooty

and a young Boris Johnson, and I was pretty pleased with the result.

[click to enlarge]

But before I delivered the strip, I went for a walk (my doctor has forbidden me to run) and came back with a good idea ~ one that was less…. aggressive in its message, but still pretty insistent that I should draw it.

Fat cat businessmen (of course); Dylan’s video for Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob actually survived 2016!!) and an idea growing like a flower. Three vaguely connected thoughts that mingled in my head and came out as a comic.

I drew each panel on a separate A4 sheet with dip-pen and wash and I quite like most of the drawings.

[click to enlarge]

But, it’s been a while since I’ve done drawings that were going to be reduced before they were reproduced (I’ve mostly been working actual size or digitally in recent years)… These images just had no heft to them when composited on the actual page. They didn’t work and I was going to go back to Thought Number One… except… I’d enjoyed the inky drawing too much and really wanted to submit a drawn strip rather than a digital infographic…

So I printed out the failed strip on a single page and used that as my reference to draw in pen and brush at just slightly above print size. I think the new version captured the idiosyncrasies of my first spontaneous attempts.

[click to enlarge]

I’m not going to post that here (I’ll blog a link to the finished collection when it’s live), but hopefully this ruins some of the ‘you just press a button’ magic.


PS There were a few more actions in the list than artists available and as I’d enjoyed my first go so much, I snaffled up a second ~ 28: Walk the streets

‘It’s really easy to organise a march or a demonstration these days, thanks to social media. So, get everyone out on the streets and let’s shout about injustice.’

The Dissent of Man really wrote itself ~ taking Ascent of Man by the great Rudolph Zallinger (in the 1965 book, Early Man), adding some modern connections and  the raised fist of solidarity.

This one had to be done quickly, grabbing minutes between paying jobs, and I wanted it to look at least a little like the original. So I printed a doctored version of the original in pale blue lines and treated that as my underdrawing to ink over.

Because I am right-handed it’s easier/quicker to draw figures facing left (the brush doesn’t ‘stutter’ as it’s pushed around contours) I flipped the image before printing and would flip it back when I scanned my own drawing (which also would have flagged up any obvious glitches in my drawing).

Again, I will link to the anthology it’s live.

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