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.

 

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.36

Job done! Production of the third issue of my artist 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   No.41   No.42   No.43   No.44

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 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 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

Q: A PROJECT FOR THE PRESERVATION OF COMICS

I have been involved with this project as an advisor for the past three years. It’s formal title is Q-COLLECTION COMIC BOOK PRESERVATION PROJECT and is an initiative to preserve a collection of comics. I like to refer to it as Q, the “Q” standing for the city of Quincy, Massachusetts. The city’s shield was presented to the project’s founder Dr. John Offerman Sindall for use on the project. Sindall, a member of Mensa, has collected around 200 key American comic books from the period 1930s-1960s. The list of comics in the collection is here. This was an era of printing comics on low grade paper that will eventually crumble into powder at a mere page turn. The Q project is a strategy to prevent this by cutting up the comics, coating them with Mylar and mounting them in wooden binders that will provide an estimated life of 10,000 years. Hearing this part of the process, that the comics will have to be destroyed in order to be saved, is disturbing for some collectors but librarians understand. It means the comics can be read. This collection is not about unopened first issues in sealed plastic bags.

Two of the comics in the collection, both No.1's, Strange Adventures (1950) and MAD (1952).

Two of the comics in the collection, both No.1’s, Strange Adventures (1950) and MAD (1952).

In addition to the comics the collection contains associated artifacts such as trading cards, bubble gum wrappers, photographs, ads, membership cards etc. These too, will be subject to the preservation process.

Superman bubblegum wrapper.

Superman bubble gum wrapper.

Sindall has put together a wide-ranging international advisory committee for the project. Here is my statement of support: In a world in which comic books have been treated for far too long as consumables and ephemera the Q-Collection Comic Book Preservation Project represents a significant plan to preserve key items of these as popular culture artifacts. This project also provides physical protection against the transitory status of comic books by means of coating, wrapping and encasement in protective materials that will ensure defense against their decay. The selection and acquisition of these rare comic books that have become classics of popular culture, their preservation treatment, deposit and safekeeping and subsequent availability for reading and research by future generations has my support and deserves backing by business benefactors, patrons of popular culture and by an appropriate public collection institution.

The collection is destined for the Library of Congress.

UPDATE: FEBRUARY 2016: Article about the project’s founder published: Comic Book Heroics: Mensan Leads Efforts To Preserve Aged Comics by Michael Hill, Ph.D., The Mensa Bulletin, February 2016, No. 592.

UPDATE: DECEMBER 2016: The Q-Collection Comic Book Preservation Project’s 2017 promotional calendar-strictly limited edition gifted to committee members. Thank you John!

2017-q-project-calendar

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.8

I’m getting closer to completion of the first issue Chapter 1: The Ingurgitator. Drum roll! What I had hoped to have out by the end of 2011 is now looking certain for early 2012 so some celebratory banging on my own drum is in order.

Testing out type. (Photo by Louise Graber)

There have been changes to the script. This has resulted in compressions, extensions and deletions. I found that I needed more space to convey some sequences. The consequence of this meant shortening some parts in order to keep to the 40 page total that has progressively crept up from the planned 20. Some sequences weren’t working so they had to be cut although they may appear in a subsequent chapter if I can get them sorted out, and some parts, whilst working in script form, were just too difficult for me to draw.

My box of type. (Photo by Louise Graber)

The type in print.

The other interesting development has been the photographic part of the project. Initially employed as a reference device for locations, objects, figures and gesture positions that would in turn be converted into drawings, the lens art has now become more of a feature. Some pages are even starting to look a little like sequences from a Mexican foto-novela or picto grafia comic. This was not my intention. There is still the anticipated drawn, collaged and printmade elements along with the traditional rubber stamped text (see the photos above). Anyhow, I expect that the next report will confirm my suspicions of the forthcoming completion of the first issue of the comic and contain the announcement of details of publication place and date.

For a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project, see all of the BLOTTING PAPER production reports relating to 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

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.2

Title page for first issue using rubber type stamps and linocut-© 2011 Michael Hill

The above image is an impression of the reversed typographic design shown in Production Report No.1. As I am interested in experimental image-making I have moved the block during the printmaking to create some blur, used askew registration and mixed some of the fonts. The comic is based on memories I have of a career in education that involved teaching, research, design and consultation at an art college then a design school across the disciplines of film, video, animation and visual communication. The subject of comics came up as a method of teaching storyboarding and as a medium in its own right. I also became involved in printmaking and that has become part of my artistic practice. It has not only been used to generate the title but also many pages.

A little too much blur perhaps?-© 2011 Michael Hill

I manipulate the visual communication aspect of the work and modify the degree of graphical experimentation but I see both elements as essential considerations in comics making,

Experimental typography-© 2011 Michael Hill

The ‘graphical impressions’ are drawings or prints of memories generated in ink from rubber, wood, lino and other surfaces (the title and subtitle from rubber, my name from lino). This page looks a bit too typographic so I think I shall probably consider adding an illustration. In addition to utilising printmaking as a method of image-making I am also doing some drawing with various tools ranging from traditional metal dip pens and pencils to felt-tipped pens and brushes and a selection of inks.

UPDATE: For a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project, read all of the production reports relating to 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