If you were watching BBC News at 6 o’clock on Tuesday 28th March, you may have caught a glimpse of Dundee Comics Creative Space! A BBC team came to Dundee to speak to the public and gather thoughts on the second independence referendum. A small group of University of Dundee politics students were interviewed and DCCS was chosen as the location and some of our artists were given air time! Catriona Laird and Elliot Balson were featured at work in the Ink Pot studio, with Elliot producing a drawing of Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon which was featured at the end of the segment. Sadly it is no longer available on the iPlayer but we saved some screen grabs. We’re trying not to let the fame go to our heads too much!
Coming up next week we have an exciting new project; a two-week workshop masterclass with comics artist Hari Conner.
Our workshop with Hari will be for 14-17 year olds and will take the slot of our Wednesday Comics Club – 4.30 to 6.30pm here in DCCS – on the 14th and 21st of September. At these events, our Comics Clubbers (and any other interested young people) will be able to learn from Hari and work with her to create their own characters or comics inspired by Dragon Matrix – a new augmented reality theatre adventure taking place in Monikie Country Park next month. As normal, the workshops are completely free with all materials provided – just bring yourself, your friends and some creative ideas!
Hari has recently been working on an interactive companion comic that will go hand in hand with Dragon Matrix. From the 5th to the 31st of October, the forest will be home to a computer generated dream world, with talking, magical creatures that will help you on your quest to find six missing dragon stones. The adventure will be enhanced by the Dragon Matrix app, and promises to be a fantastical experience!
– Caitlin Mitchell
That’s it folks, the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail is over! The removal of the Oor Wullies began on Saturday, as the team behind the Trail lifted away the statues from their various locations around Dundee – all 55 of them! Hopefully many of you got the chance to see most of the Oor Wullies, but (like me) some might only now be realising their desire to adventure round the whole of the Bucket Trail. Never fear – the Wullies are off to be polished up before being displayed in two weeks at a special event in the centre of Dundee! From the 9th to the 11th of September, all of the Oor Wullies will be on display in the Slessor Gardens by the Waterfront. So you still have the chance to see them all one last time (without the hassle of walking/cycling/driving too far between them) and to take many a selfie with them before they are taken to be sold at auction.
This was a project close to our hearts as it was celebrating one of Dundee’s most famous comics book heroes, and we were really happy to take part – we created (literally) our Wullie, aka Oor Elvis (above), which was designed by Cole Lawson, one of our Comics Clubbers, and painted by DCCS Coordinator Damon Herd. Keep an eye out for him if you attend the special event in two weeks!
Not only did we design one of the Wullies, DCCS also got more involved in the project when our Coordinator Damon cycled around the whole Bucket Trail in one day! Starting at Carnoustie Golf Course and finishing up at Dr Manhattan outside Dundee University, Damon covered 35 miles in total on what turned out to be the hottest day of summer – no mean feat. We are all very proud of you Damon! You can learn more about this adventure by reading his Bucket Trail blog post.
Overall The Bucket Trail has been a fantastic project, and no doubt the star attraction of Dundee this summer for both children and adults! I’ve really enjoyed getting to see lots of the Oor Wullies, and to experience the buzz that they have created in the city! Everyone at DCCS is very proud and happy that we got the chance to be a part of the Trail through Oor Elvis, and the legacy will live on as we are bringing him back to live in the Space – pop in and visit him anytime!
– Caitlin Mitchell
Here is the final instalment of our collaborative web comic, produced by the incredibly talented Rebecca Horner!
Well, that’s my two week internship here at DCCS over! The time has flown by and it’s been an amazing experience. Over the past two weeks I’ve been introduced to the world of comics and in particular the busy world of Dundee Comics Creative Space. Thank you to everyone who has allowed me the chance to interview you, and especially thanks to the DCCS team and artists for never saying no to a photo shoot! I’ve worked with Rebecca Horner, an amazing artist, to produce this collaborative web comic detailing my time here – thanks Rebecca for never complaining about my lack of artistic input! I’ve also had the chance to sit in on some of the workshops that go on here at the Space – both the after school Comics Clubs with young people, and the workshops that are happening in partnership with a group from Advocating Together; the finished product of this project will be a comic about tackling disability hate crime, and I can’t wait to see it! No two workshops are ever the same and I’ve had the chance to see just how incredibly creative the Comics Clubbers are, and to enjoy some classic cheese jokes (what’s the best cheese to hide a small horse with? Mascarpone!). I’ve learnt some valuable life lessons from Damon – mainly to always always keep note of your passwords, and that a Snickers a day is a necessity – but I’ve also learnt about graphic design, and our finished products were the DCCS posters and leaflets that are now distributed throughout the libraries and community centres of Dundee! Keep an eye out for them folks! Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed my time here so thank you for having me – but you’re not escaping me and my incessant posting that easily! I’ll be back in the Space regularly to keep up to date with what’s happening and hopefully to keep broadcasting information about DCCS over social media. But for now, Caitlin Mitchell, signing out!
Here is the final profile we have for you this week – some (Damon) may say we have saved the best for last. Introducing DCCS Coordinator, Damon Herd!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Damon Herd, I’m 45 and I’m from Fife.
What do you do on a day to day basis?
I’m coordinator of DCCS, so that means I have day to day responsibilities for running the space – liaising with outside organisations and partners, programming workshops for our after school clubs, and arranging artists and facilitators for our studio space.
How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always been interested in comics, as a kid I used to draw my own Danger Mouse comics with a school friend. I would go to the local library and pour over Asterix and Tintin books. Like Phil, I also used to get Rupert the Bear books at Christmas – I think that places us in a certain age group! I had my first published drawing in issue 26 The Nutty – a comic from DC Thomson – at the age of 9. When I left school I worked as a draughtsman, when you still drew with pen on boards, and then fell into Civil Engineering. It was never really what I wanted to do though, so I eventually ended up working in a record shop in London, and then got a job in the film and TV industry. That lasted until my mid-life crisis when I went back to art school in my thirties. I studied Book Arts and then later did an MA in Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. When that finished, I was accepted to do a PhD on comics at DJCAD. It was titled Truth Games: Fact, Fiction and Performance in Autobiographical Comics and I just handed it in a couple of months ago. As my PhD was coming to an end, the job at DCCS came up so I applied. And here I am!
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m a practising artist, I like working in screenprint and I’ve made installations and murals in the past. I also make my own comics such as The Adventures of Ticking Boy. During my PhD I conceived DeeCAP (Dundee Comics Art Performance), which is a theatrical event where we project comics on to a screen and the authors recreate or perform their comics. I also like to ride my bike – I recently combined my love of comics and cycling by doing the whole of the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail in one day on my bike! I’m also one of the regular posters at comics blog Graphixia which has a roster of comics academics, mainly from Canada and Europe, blogging on all things comics.
What is your favourite comic of all time?
Love and Rockets is probably my all time number one favourite comic, especially the stories by Jaime Hernandez. It began in the early 80s as a slightly sci-fi inflected tale of punk living in LA, but it slowly lost the sci-fi trappings and focused on the characters, who have grown older as the comic has continued over the last 30 years. I love Jaime’s black and white drawing style, he is an artist who really knows how to use black on a page. Another favourite would be Susceptible by Geneviève Castrée, her work is really delicate and beautiful and personal, but sadly she died this year. Like Norrie, I agree that the best Batman book is Batman Year One. It’s a great combination of Frank Miller’s writing, David Mazzucchelli’s art and Richmond Lewis’s colouring.
What is the best thing about working in DCCS?
Just seeing what the kids come up with during our workshops – they are endlessly inventive, some of them are really natural instinctive cartoonists and their work is always surprising. Usually there’s a good fart joke. It’s great working with artists day to day and it’s also given me the opportunity to continue creating my own work. Everything about the Space is great!
(I think he also enjoys bossing around interns.) What are you working on at the moment?
The after school clubs have been a bit quiet over the holidays but now the schools are back hopefully it will get busy again. We’re working towards getting our Comics Clubbers to produce comics so we can sell them at the Ex Libris book fair at the Dundee Literary festival in October. In a personal capacity, I’m currently guest editing the next issue of Scottish literary journal The Drouth. It’s a comics special and it’s given me great pleasure selecting artists and writers to produce strips and articles for the issue. It should be out in October and it’s going to be great!
How can we follow you on social media?
Twitter – @tickingboy
My website – damonherd.com
Before I began reading Persepolis, I didn’t know what to expect. This was my first comic in book form (or what some people call graphic novels) – I didn’t even know they existed! I think Persepolis was maybe marketed towards people like me, who don’t have a lot of experience with comics, as from the outside it looks like an ordinary prose book. This is a clever technique and it paid off as I was more confident about starting it!
The storyline grabbed me immediately; it is an autobiographical comic, memoirs about Marjane Satrapi’s childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. I also didn’t know anything about this topic prior to reading Persepolis, but I’m interested in politics and feminism so the first chapter, where a young Marji is forced to wear the veil at school, captured my attention. The book taught me a lot about the Islamic Revolution, from the severe laws that were put in place by the new regime (such as the banning of alcohol) to the consequences that it had for Iranian families like the Satrapis, who are ultimately separated by Marji’s parents’ desire to protect their daughter when she is sent from their home in Iran to Vienna by herself. Although there was lots of information in the book, it never felt like a task; I think that it was easier to read because it was a comic, rather than a prose book. Lots of the story was told through the images, along with Marji’s narration, but there wasn’t as much text as in a prose book which I think made it flow very well, and meant I could read a lot of it in one go without getting tired. I think that overall it being a comic added to the book; the gutter, the spaces between the panels in a comic, allowed parts of the story to be more implicit than they would be in a prose book – you make the links between the images automatically in your head, rather than being told explicitly what happens.
The pictures in Persepolis were in black and white, and were drawn in quite a simple style, which previously I could have thought of as boring, but which was actually really engaging. It meant that more emphasis was put on the characters and the storyline, as opposed to bright colours and really detailed images. As someone who has never read a comic like this before, I really enjoyed Persepolis and would definitely recommend it both to people like me, who don’t know a lot about comics, and to diehard comic fans! The story ends almost on a cliff hanger as the last panel is Marji about to board her flight to Vienna, so I am definitely going to read the next book – Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return – to see where Marjane Satrapi ended up!
Friday 12th February
Are you aged between 10 and 17 years old?*
Then come down to Dundee Comics Creative Space this Friday (or ask a parent or guardian to bring you!) for a chance to find out what we are planning here at DCCS!
The first 10 young people through the door on Friday will receive a free copy of the first issue of How to Draw the Marvel Way.
*Our project is aimed at 10-17 year olds but everyone is welcome to attend the open day.
Ahead of our launch in a couple of weeks this is a chance to visit Dundee Comics Creative Space and see what we are up to!
Drop in to see the space and meet the comics creators who are usually hard at work making comics in our studio.
You can also sign up for our three workshops. They are FREE but booking is required at the links below.
Please note that DCCS has no allocated parking at the Vision Building. There is public parking available on Greenmarket and Perth Road. The most convenient access point for DCCS is the entrance on Seabraes Lane off Perth Road.
In a few days time we will be launching a short comic strip to introduce DCCS. It will also contain a news announcement that we are very excited about! In the meantime here is a taster image from the strip – a comics selfie featuring DCCS Co-ordinator Damon Herd with some other guy in a stripey top.