You’ll probably know me from my online courses, my art or my visual journals. Those who’ve been following me for a longer time, may know that I actually also have a thing for drawing comics. A wish, mostly. And I have actually made some comic-style visual journaling attempts like these:
Poor Sense of Humour, But Boy, Did We Laugh!
And when something hilarious happened one day, I drew this 4-panel comic, which – pardon my dreadful sense of humour – I still find incredibly funny:
And at some time I discovered that comics weren’t always about linework and traditional panels. Influenced by that, I tried a more stylish and colorful one, which was inspired by the work of Lorzenzo Mattotti and which tells a super big story for who can read it:
Embarrassment Gone Funny
Oh, and of course I tried combining illustration and comics in another funny one! Comics really seem to be THE perfect medium for embarrassing or funny events…
When The Goings Got Tough
But I also sought refuge in drawing comics in hard times, like when we moved house across the country. I drew the daily events in comic style, portraying my little family as migrating birds:
And on a more poetic note, I guess you could even say that my illustrated Tankas could be considered a form of single-panel comic:
Teaching Comics, Even…
And then there is of course also the storyboarding journaling course I teach, which is my personal favorite since it moves people so strongly towards the creation and elaboration of stories and helps them develop their visual language so well.
In other words, even though I’ve never identified with being a comic artist, I’ve always felt drawn to making comics and have used them in my journals. And for some stories I actually considered making a series or a book, even. Only, I didn’t really know how to go about it. My efforts often felt a tad clumsy. And I felt ‘naked’ without my painterly watercolors and not yet at ease with a totally different and less painterly style.
What I love so much about (auto-)biographic comics and graphic novels is that they make nearly every topic more accessible and digestible. I saw a documentary about that once, in which this notion was confirmed. Somehow it’s easier to read confronting and emotional things in images than it is in words. That’s why many graphic novels are about war and topics like mental illness. Topics that would be overwhelming in other media are interesting to read about in comic form. I think that’s in part due to the fact that comics are often a rather sober representation of events. And in part I think it’s because in images a certain principle that could offend or overwhelm people may turn funny and accessible, like my friend Elly does in her comics (important: these MAY offend people because she doesn’t shun away from any topic).
So, I’ve had a crush on comics for the greatest part of my life that I wasn’t really aware of until a few years back. Events in my life and family history demanded to be sorted into a story and shared. But it didn’t feel like art material and even though I tried to write a book about it, it didn’t feel completely right. But then I thought of a comic, or graphic novel, if you will, and that felt like “IT”. And working on the book had at least given me ample grit on the story to take shape in my mind already. But how to go about it? I hadn’t really drawn real comics before, not even multi-panel pages.
So I got back to scribbling events down in little comic-like sketches and storyboards. But I was fazed by the work involved. Somehow it seemed an even higher mountain to climb than writing a novel. This Spring, right before the renovation I got a new tablet and started a digital visual journal which I tried to keep during the renovation. I failed due to the chaos that grew too big to persevere in anything but conquering the daily chaos. But I really enjoyed creating these pages. They gave me an idea of how my journaling experience could go hand in hand with a new comic style to tell my story, so I’ve been wanting to continue ever since.
And Then…A Course!
When I ran into a facebook post by Nelle Verhoeff about taking the Storytelling Flow course by Tom Hart – a graphic novel author – I was immediately grasped, so I entered. And what a way to spend my staycation! I love it!
Practice Will Make Better…I Hope
I’m still very much in the sketching phase, so nothing fancy, but I am practising the kind of storytelling I’d like to learn in a new way and I absolutely love it! It brings about an entirely new flow of creative energy and inspiration. Here’s what I’ve done thus far. My focus was “kicking the brain” and some stories around that:
This is a topic I did an ink drawing about two years ago…one I also used to announce my Facebook time-out last fall:
I guess you might be seeing more comic-style work from me in my visual journals as of now. I’ve already begun working on some biographic panels to see if I could pull off a whole story…
Do you like working in your journal in comic-style as well?
Have you ever tried?
Before I bid you goodbye, I will leave you with a little list of really great autobiographic comics/graphic novels, should you feel inspired to read some:
A Comic Bookwurm
As a child I read a lot of comics. We had friends who had the whole series of Suske & Wiske. And one day a classmate of mine gave me truckloads of all kinds of series, which I read almost without takine a breth. But I abandoned them when I became a student. They didn’t return in my reading repertoire until I got super-excited about visual journaling and disovered the existence of autobiographic graphic novels. Some really great ones are:
- 365 Days by Julie Doucet; a visual diary of one year
- Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (it’s even got it’s own Wikipedia page!); a coming-of-age memoir
- Persepolis I & II by Marjana Satrapi; an impressive coming-of-age novel during the Islamic revolution in Iran
- Burnout Dagboek by Maartje Hartjes; sorry, only in Dutch, but really, really good and worthwhile to learn Dutch for if you’re interested in the topic of burnout
- Epileptic by David B., which is about growing up in the shadow of the epilepsy of his brother
Do you know any beautiful autobiographic comics/graphic novels that I should read?
ByeBye, Till Next Time!
Even though this post is not about my art or about my visual journal, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. It is about the impulse that inspires me right now and about the direction my river is flowing into at the moment. I’m super curious where it will lead me and my work. But I bet you’ll be seeing it come back in my journals…