planet nottingham: game city!
On Tuesday, my studio mate Ellen Lindner and DFC comics colleague John Aggs and I took the train up to Nottingham to paint murals for a big festival called Game City. We’d known about it last year because the guys who used to work upstairs in our studio, Ian Gouldstone, Martin Lye and Dave Surman had done a lot of animation work for it, so we were prepped to expect a huge burst of creativity on Market Square.
Our brief was for each of us to decorate a gaming lounge by Wednesday afternoon. John’s and Ellen’s were more specific (John had a somewhat open mission to feature the video game Crysis 2 and Ellen’s instructions from LEGO were fairly tight.) I wasn’t given a set theme, so I decided to draw a 30-panel space opera comic featuring a bunny called Flummox. When I saw the guys across the way finish theirs in three hours, I realised I’d been stupidly over-ambitious, and I had to work like mad, and leave out a lot of things I’d planned to do to finish by the next day and catch a particular train. But hey, it’s there now, ta-dah!
This was my rough outline. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure type of story, inspired partly by seeing Daniel Merlin Goodbrey’s pieces at the HyperComics exhibition at Battersea Park, and having tied the idea into a workshop I led there.
Poor Flummox. The story had several ‘Game Over’ bits, so he died a lot.
Here’s some bits of John Aggs’s work, which was sectioned off in the ‘mature’ area, since the video game is rather violent. The subject matter isn’t my cup of tea at all, but no one can deny that that this John guy can really draw. (And he’d only been commissioned at 5pm the night before!)
Ellen was still working with the LEGO people as I left, but you can get a glimpse of it here, next to the family arts-and-crafts area. They changed the brief completely when she got there, but she was great at coming to a compromise with them.
These were the guys who finished in three hours: Daniel Grey (daninski on Twitter) and Tom Brown (tomshqui on Twitter) from Holbrooks Films. They dragged black paint down the wall on bits of cardboard, a bit like screen printing, and their walls looked great.
And here’s one by Japanese game director Keita Takahashi. There was another lovely wall by games artist Barbara Lippe (but due to rearrangements of the space, hers had to go up late and I didn’t get a photo of it, darn).
My one break was getting to visit Nottingham’s comic book shop Page 45, and have tea and cake with one of the managers, Tom Rosin. (Thanks, Tom!) I signed a bunch of Vern and Lettuce books and then sent anyone who was interested in my work over to him.
Here’s graphic design student Gemma, who grabbed a pot of black paint and helped me fill in some of the comics panels. (Thank you, Gemma!)
Photo on left from nottinghamgamecity Flickr photo set
Working on the mural:
Photo and write-up from Tom Rosin’s blog
Some more mural photos:
The walls were primed with a white undercoat, but they still soaked up way more paint than I was expecting. I was using Posca pens, but I really had to scrub at the wall for a long time to get solid, flat coats, which was a bit frustrating. For the larger areas, I went in with paintbrushes and emulsion paint. For some of the black areas, a very fat Sharpie pen turned out to be the best thing, even though the fumes made me giddy.
More by Rex Crowle:
We painted inside a huge tent on Market Square, surrounded by lovely old buildings. Thanks so much to Iain Simons, Mira Arya and all the organisers and people who looked after us at Game City!
Here’s a sketch I started making of John Aggs, until we suddenly realised we were in Nottingham and had to grab our stuff in a rush so we didn’t get shunted away with the train.
And one more thing! A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to comics creator NEILL CAMERON on the launch today of Mo-Bot High! It’s a fabulous comic in the DFC Library series about school robot wars and mobile phones, you absolutely must read it! You can order it with no delivery charge anywhere in the world here from The Book Depository.
Mo-Bot High synopsis: Asha’s new school is insane. Everyone has giant robots that launch out of their mobile phones! She’s only been there five minutes when the school bully challenges her to a fight. So now it’s not just about figuring out who’s cool and who isn’t. She has to learn to pilot her Mo-bot. And fast. But while Asha gets to grips with her Mo-bot’s moves and customises her DMC, she’s being watched…Her piloting skills are about to be put to the ultimate test, and there’s nothing her new friends can do to help. This title presents thrilling titanic battles from the DFC Library.
Come meet Neill, me, the Etherington Brothers (also creators of a book in the DFC Library series, Monkey Nuts) John Aggs, my studio mates Gary Northfield and Lauren O’Farrell and loads more creators this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at London’s MCM Expo, at the ExCel Centre. Last year we had 30,000 visitors in full costume, and this year it’s sure to be amazing! Look out for The Fleece Station (our studio) and The DFC Library tables right next to each other in the Comics Village area.