TRACKING COMICS AND GRAFIKS IN BERLIN

This post visually documents a recent walking tour of Berlin’s Staadt Mittee area with local resident and linguist Mailef as my guide. The plan was to see graffiti and traces of an artists’ commune (kunsthaus) and to visit Renate comics shop and bibliothek which has been located there since the early 1990s, and look at some of the German kunst comicbuchs(art comics) in stock.

Finding the Tacheles building. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Finding the Kunsthaus Tacheles building in the Mitte district of Berlin. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Graffiti (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Layered grafiks and graffiti “For Free” (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Looking at street grafiks. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Studying the street grafiks. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Mailef escorted me to the Kunsthaus (arthouse) Tacheles building on Oranienburger Strasse on a site that was previously part of East Berlin when the wall was up. The Tacheles (translation “let’s talk business”) building had, over a century, successively housed an elegant shopping arcade, Nazi offices then squatter artists. The building was damaged in World War 2 then repaired by the GDR, vacated in 1989 then occupied as an international artist squat in the 1990s. The artists were eventually displaced/evicted by representatives of the investors in 2012.

Graffiti (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Graffiti (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Graffiti (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Graffiti (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Recording some images. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Recording images. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Renate Comics Shop. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Renate Comics signboard. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Art comics (kunst comicbuchs) by the hundreds were available at Renate Comics, many of which were signed and marked as limited editions. These varied in size from A6 minicomics to the larger A3 format. Art postcards (kunst postkartes) have become an additional creative outlet for comics creators and there was a range of these in a rotating rack on the pavement outside the shop.

Postcard rack at Renate's.(Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Postcard rack at Renate Comics. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Maike Leffers and poster. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

“Is this the way how art dies?”Mailef and poster. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Art minicomicbuch purchase from Renate- Pure Sultana by Franziska Schaum.

Art minicomicbuch purchase from the shop- Pure Sultana by Franziska Schaum.

 

DRAWING WAR: Arrayed in Erlangen

One awesome aspect of the recent Internationaler Comic-Salon Erlangen that I attended in the old university town of Erlangen, Germany, near Nuremberg, was the staging of two contrastingly presented exhibitions of comics art on World War I by Joe Sacco and Jacques Tardi.

COMIC SALON exhibition signboard in the city  (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

COMIC SALON exhibition signboard, with Tardi image, in the city (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Joe Sacco’s The Great War was displayed as an open-air exhibit in Schlossplatz, enlarged on display boards arranged in a long series of folds. Seeing it spread across the square magnified the herculean task that Sacco undertook in drawing this epic, concertina work of one day of the Battle of the Somme and fitting it all into one panel.

Open air exhibition in the city at Schlossplatz of Sacco's The Great War  (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Open air exhibition at Schlossplatz of Sacco’s The Great War (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

His wordless comic is structured around a single seemingly endless panel that has been folded into 24 segments that unfolds to form a single piece. It depicts events in a continuous, cinema-pan like take, spread across time and space with soldiers assembling, then attacking and returning to their lines. The unfolded published comic is too long for a table and has to be spread across the floor of two adjoining rooms or a long corridor. In Schlossplatz it ran right across the width of the square necessitating a reading whilst walking approach and with so much detail it required several passes to take it all in.

Fold-out art work of Sacco's The Great War  (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Fold-out art work of Sacco’s The Great War (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Closer view of fold-out art work of Sacco's The Great War  (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Closer view of fold-out display of Sacco’s The Great War (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

The panels above show the trenches and the movement of the soldiers from them into the hostilities of ‘No Man’s Land’, their exposure to artillery attacks and its associated schrapnel, plus machine gun and rifle fire.

Sacco being interviewed on site of The Great War exhibition.  (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Sacco being interviewed on site of The Great War exhibition. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

On the other hand the war comics art by Jacques Tardi was exhibited indoors. Low level lighting created a sombre mood appropriate to the theme and also perhaps to protect the original art work that showed corrections such as the whiting-out of errant black border lines and some alignment and registration marks. This was the original art on display, not it’s cleaned up and reduced size reproduction as seen in the published comics.

Landscape of Death: Jacques Tardi and the First World War exhibition  (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Landscape of Death: Jacques Tardi and the First World War exhibition (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Image from Landscape of Death:  Jacques Tardi and the First World War exhibition  (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Image from Landscape of Death: Jacques Tardi and the First World War exhibition (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

The work, titled Landscape of Death, was very bleak, expressing the agony of those who fought in World War I. Many of the images were painful to view such as soldiers’ bodies being torn apart by flying pieces of shredded metal, lacerated, disfigured or rendered limbless, and with some surviving in this state.

Image from Landscape of Death:  Jacques Tardi and the First World War exhibition  (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Image from Landscape of Death: Jacques Tardi and the First World War exhibition (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Image from Landscape of Death:  Jacques Tardi and the First World War exhibition  (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Images from Landscape of Death: Jacques Tardi and the First World War exhibition (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Exhibited in a darkened theatre inside the Civic Centre, the low level of the light created a reverence for the images as well as a canopy of protection for the original art work as protection from fading. The work was housed in a series of narrow wooden walled and roofed walkthroughs with some shapes cut into the walls so that one could see out to lessen the confined effect. Tardi’s use of colour was impressive with his delicate watercolour brushwork adding a poignant hue to his poppies, pools of blood and rising smoke.

Image from Landscape of Death:  Jacques Tardi and the First World War exhibition  (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Image from Landscape of Death: Jacques Tardi and the First World War exhibition (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

These two exhibitions, Sacco and Tardi respectively, with contrasting presentations: open-air/ indoor; spacious/ confined; sunlight/low level artificial illumination; expansive/confined; complete/edited, served to express and communicate aspects of the texts: open, the vulnerability of soldiers out of the trenches and restricted by the narrow confines of the trenches; and time-one day or six years of living with gas masks, flame throwers, helmets, barbed wire, dampness, misery, the stench of rotting bodies, despair and the ongoing expectation of death made a memorable imprint on me.

Pages from my Germany journal with Tardi press clippings and sticker (© 2014 Michael Hill).

Pages from my Germany journal with Tardi press clippings and sticker (© 2014 Michael Hill).

 

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.36

Job done! Production of the third issue of my artist’s book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics was completed and the book launched in June at Comic-Salon Erlangen in Germany to which I had been invited by design colleagues, Professors Markus Fischmann and Michael Mahlstedt of Visuelle Kommunikation, Design und Medien Department of Hochschule Hannover University of Applied Arts and Sciences where I did a visiting academic gig back in 2007. Comic-Salon is the largest comics convention in Germany with 25,000+ attendees. Oh joy!

COMIC SALON, Erlangen. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

16th INTERNATIONAL COMIC-SALON, Erlangen, Germany. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

On the trading floor at COMIC SALON (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

On the trading floor at COMIC-SALON (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Launching Blotting Paper #3 at COMIC SALON. (Photo-© 2014 Hoschule Staff).

Launching Blotting Paper #3 at COMIC-SALON (L to R: Louise Graber, Prof. Michael Mahlstedt, Dr. Michael Hill, Prof. Markus Fischmann, Krisi). (Photo-© 2014 Hoschule Faculty staff).

On display at COMIC SALON (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Pages on display at COMIC-SALON (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

For Sale at €15 per copy (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

All 3 issues of the comic for sale at €15 per copy (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

On the trading floor at COMIC SALON (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

On the trading floor at COMIC-SALON (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Donald Duck comics appeared to be very popular at COMIC SALON (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Donald Duck comics appeared to be very popular at COMIC SALON (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Cosplay at COMIC SALON (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Cosplay at COMIC-SALON (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

For a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project that includes development of all three issues you can read the BLOTTING PAPER production reports on the following posts:

Issue #1:  No.1   No.2   No.3   No.4   No.5   No.6   No.7   No.8   No.9   No.10   No.11   No.12   No.13

Issue #2:  No.14   No.15   No.16   No.17   No.18   No.19   No.20   No.21   No.22   No.23   No.24   No.25   No.26   No.27   No.28   No.29

Issue #3:  No.30   No.31   No.32   No.33   No.34   No.35   No.36

Issue #4:  No.37   No.38   No.39   No.40

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.35

GETTING IT DONE! In this sixth progress report on the third issue of my artist’s book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics following a sustained effort over the past month I have completed the artwork and printing and the finishing stages of labeling, stapling and bookbinding. I started out stitching the sections together but found that I lacked the skills to do the job properly and so abandoned this approach and switched back to stapling. I shall endeavour to master the stitching technique in future.

Page from Chapter 3–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Page from Chapter 3–© 2014 Michael Hill.

It looks interesting as a volume being half hand-printed and half digitally printed with the varying pages shuffled together at stages. In addition to adding pages of colour and print-made texture this method has facilitated a shorter period of production.

Two of the handprinted pages from Chapter 3–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Two of the handprinted pages from Chapter 3–© 2014 Michael Hill.

The cat characters continue to assert themselves, altering the generic pattern from auto-bio to funny animal comics although the following scene is not so humorous.

Double page hand printed spread from Chapter 3–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Double page hand printed spread from Chapter 3–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Notice of publication will be posted on this blog around the end of the month. It may well take place at a comics event in Germany but we’ll have to wait and see about that. In the meantime for a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project, you can see all of the BLOTTING PAPER production reports on the following posts:

Issue #1:  No.1   No.2   No.3   No.4   No.5   No.6   No.7   No.8   No.9   No.10   No.11   No.12   No.13

Issue #2:  No.14   No.15   No.16   No.17   No.18   No.19   No.20   No.21   No.22   No.23   No.24   No.25   No.26   No.27   No.28   No.29

Issue #3:  No.30   No.31   No.32   No.33   No.34   No.35   No.36

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.34

GOING DEEPER INTO PRODUCTION MODE! In this fifth progress report on the third issue of my artist’s book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics, Chapter 3, The Chthonian Turn (subtitled The Cats’ Revenge as it starts heading in the direction of a funny animal comic) I am approaching the mid-way point in completion of the artwork, averaging one page per day.

Title page for Chapter 3–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Chapter title page–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Serial production, wherein things are developed over a period of time, offers the opportunity of revisiting the work at some future date and the temptation to make changes. With the benefit of hindsight, the opportunity to rework things and even to add new material seems both attractive and viable and, one hopes, would improve the material. But this won’t happen till after I have published a first edition.

Sorting out page numbers and doodling–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Sorting out page numbers and doodling–© 2014 Michael Hill.

About half of this issue is being hand-printed and painted and that is the section that I have spent most of the time working on. The remaining half will be digitally printed. Most of the page numbers are being stamped, some directly onto the page, others scanned then printed.

Sample of hand-printed pages–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Sample of hand-printed and painted pages–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Further developments and an update on progress will be posted on this blog later this month. For a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project, you can see all of the BLOTTING PAPER production reports on the following posts:

Issue #1:  No.1   No.2   No.3   No.4   No.5   No.6   No.7   No.8   No.9   No.10   No.11   No.12   No.13

Issue #2:  No.14   No.15   No.16   No.17   No.18   No.19   No.20   No.21   No.22   No.23   No.24   No.25   No.26   No.27   No.28   No.29

Issue #3:  No.30   No.31   No.32   No.33   No.34   No.35   No.36

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.33

NOW DEEP IN PRODUCTION MODE! In this fourth report documenting the production process and progress of the new issue of my artist’s book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics, Chapter 3, The Chthonian Turn or The Cats’ Revenge I am approaching the 30% mark in terms of completion of the artwork. On the other hand I am slightly more advanced in terms of scripting and page layout but I am keeping things more open in terms of resolution of the story.

A spread of artwork on the studio floor.

A spread of artwork on the studio floor.

I find the creation of the images, the entire image-making process, and the resultant generation of the artwork the most pleasurable part of the production process. Culling, selecting and editing the artwork is a tougher task.

A more detailed glimpse of the spread of artwork.

A more detailed glimpse of the spread of artwork.

Printmaking has been employed to make more of the image-making this time around, more than photography but about the same proportion as drawing and,in terms of style, abstraction is making an impression.

Another more detailed glimpse of the spread of artwork.

Another more detailed glimpse of the spread of artwork.

Further developments and an update on progress will be posted on this blog next month but for a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project, you can see all of the BLOTTING PAPER production reports on the following posts:

Issue #1:  No.1   No.2   No.3   No.4   No.5   No.6   No.7   No.8   No.9   No.10   No.11   No.12   No.13

Issue #2:  No.14   No.15   No.16   No.17   No.18   No.19   No.20   No.21   No.22   No.23   No.24   No.25   No.26   No.27   No.28   No.29

Issue #3:  No.30   No.31   No.32   No.33   No.34   No.35   No.36

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.32

STARTING TO GET A MOVE ON! In this third report documenting the production process and progress of the new issue of my artist’s book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics, Chapter 3, The Chthonian Turn: The Cats’ Revenge I can say that things are starting to move on the design front and scheduling of the creation of the planned pages is beginning to fall into place.

The production schedule is up!

The production schedule for Issue #3 is up on the wall!

The intended dates for completion of the five 8-page signatures have been approximated and with a good run could be ready for binding as early as June.

The art table has been established.

The art table has been established…

Ink more so than paint appears to be the dominant graphic ingredient in the production with dip pens, drawing pens and brush calligraphy involved although some of the inking will be made onto painted paper.

...and particular tools selected.

…and particular tools selected.

There are some pencils in there too, as well as the pens, with drawing and handwriting components plus my regular use of printmaking.

Ink tests are underway...

Ink tests are underway…

The mess of ink tests and mark making has begun.

...and drying on display.

…and on display whilst drying.

Further developments and an update on progress will be posted on this blog next month. For a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project, see all of the BLOTTING PAPER production reports.

Issue #1:  No.1   No.2   No.3   No.4   No.5   No.6   No.7   No.8   No.9   No.10   No.11   No.12   No.13

Issue #2:  No.14   No.15   No.16   No.17   No.18   No.19   No.20   No.21   No.22   No.23   No.24   No.25   No.26   No.27   No.28   No.29

Issue #3:  No.30   No.31   No.32   No.33   No.34   No.35   No.36