It's not just a book thing!
Far too early on Sunday morning, I made my way to the Elizabeth College art department to attend my first workshop of the day – Creative Writing Accompanied By Book Art, run by Richard Vann and Paula Gamble-Schwarz. I had pretty much no idea what to expect from this workshop, beyond that it might involve doing some writing and making some art.
It turned out to be both well organised and largely explorative – the freeform nature of it was a change from some of the more technically oriented classes I had attended at the festival. Bound together by a central text ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal’ by Jeanette Winterson, the workshop was split in two parts.
First, we spent some time considering objects taken from the book (a ring, a packet of mints, a toy car…) and writing in response to them. Secondly, we used pages torn from the book to create a piece of art using other materials available. There was a relaxed atmosphere to the event, which made it conducive to experimenting – it was also interesting to see how artists responded to the writing tasks, and how writers responded to the art tasks.
After lunch it was up to the library where David Hines and Mark Stafford put us through our paces as we learnt some key techniques for devising comics and graphic novels. First, they talked us through their graphic novel The Man Who Laughs, pointing out various visual themes that run through their adaptation and the decisions they made when deciding how to tell the story.
We were then given the task of plotting out some panels based on scripts David had written – one an excerpt from The Man Who Laughs, the other from Spiderman Noir. Though I was worried about the (non-existent) quality of my drawings, the aim of the exercise was more to create thumbnails, so use of stick men was acceptable (phew). We were trying to put in to practice everything David and Mark had spoken about regarding guiding the reader from panel to panel and the best ways to frame each shot, and this proved to be difficult – it was a case of interpreting the writer’s instructions and trying to visualise a final page.
And that was it, all too soon it was time to pack up and make my way home, another Litfest done and dusted.