This week I joined in with #gridsgestures  (worth clicking on link to see all contributions) on Twitter. It was a comic making activity without drawing led by @Nsousanis who teaches comics as a way of thinking and uses this activity in his courses as a starting point to learn about time and space on the page. 

This was timely for me as I am teaching myself to make comics following Comics: Art in relationship and Drawing Words, Writing Pictures. I have been struck by the idea the ‘time happens in the gutter’ in comics and also by the idea of challenging my imagination to ‘make the panels speak’. The task was to make a grid with marks on the paper that told of our day through the week. The photos above are my attempts, I tried different media to experiment with what might be my preference going forward. 

My favourite and the one I got the best feedback was a simple pencil sketch. I think I have learnt how to start ‘to think comics’. Working with panels, text and words means great flexibility. One can let one’s mind create an idea, thumbnail this idea a few times as a kind of script, then production can be a quick sketch, digital, pastels or anything else one chooses. What is interesting to me is that the ‘work’ (for me at least) was in the thinking about the interplay of all elements in comics and how to express an idea on paper. 

I think I now get abstract comics as a genre more. I also see what makes minimalist comics work. Look at the work of Shane Simmons, you do not need to learn to draw to produce them, but you do need scripting and an understanding of time in the gutter and how humans seek closure and make meaning, even out of dots! (click on his name to get more readable samples)

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I am also starting to get the idea that what makes a comic funny is what is absent but implied as it makes the reader’s mind work to make sense. I have Matt Madden and Jessica Abel to thank for this as I practiced captioning a simple drawing that was not designed to be funny. 

Also this week has shown me the importance of a title or some kind of context setting. I did this on the tweet for each day, but what was said mattered to make sense of the grid (look at the captions in each photograph and the last day has its title embedded – click on any image for gallery). Title or context is another element in relationship in a given comic. What Matt Silady suggests is the we avoid the kind of relationship between the elements where each element says the same thing. Redundancy in comics seems something less than desired. I guess it is because the reader has to do no work. It is all obvious and hence not funny. I see how some of my early digital attempts are just obvious and not funny.

This week was a great week to put together many ideas I have been learning on my courses. Thanks, Nick.