Gaining Velocity

January 17, 2011 § 33 Comments

“The Velocity Graphic Anthology website is THE place to check out the best up and coming talent from SA and Oz”

That’s quite a hectic statement to make! One that gives you high expectations….

I immediately liked the website. The design is nice, it’s clear and structured and no glitches with opening and scrolling through images. Slightly irritating though how the author explains on every page how to use it. Totally unnecessary. Just move your mouse around and click.

It’s a nice initiative to start collecting work from local comic artists. It does make me a bit sad though because most of the work is not really inspiring. There’s little authenticity, not in the concept, not in the stories and not in the drawing style. I’ve seen most of it before, somewhere, too many in fact.

But not all is doom. Technically, all of them are good. They just need to find a style of their own (and stop reading american comics maybe). A few, on the other hand, are really nice! I love Pete Woo and his fuzzy monsters, Daniel Hugo’s odd creatures and Rayaan Cassiem with his undefined dreary images.

But then again, that’s my personal taste. You might think different. Go check it out.

http://www.gaining-velocity.com/

Pete Woodbridge

Daniel Hugo

Rayaan Cassiem

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§ 33 Responses to Gaining Velocity

  • Rayaan Cassiem says:

    While this may come across as rather biased since I am contributing to the Velocity book, I for one am proud of the efforts of each and every one contributing to this effort of giving artists and writers a showcase for which truly is a labour of love for everyone involved!

    Nobody decides to draw or write comic books because they have nothing better to do! A lot of hard work goes into it and a lot of these artists have day jobs and have decided to band together because they love what they do and frankly, in my opinion, I salute the the pioneering efforts of Moray Rhoda and Neville Howard for bringing some really talented individuals together in order to give other like-minded people and those picking up a comic for the first time a taste of what we as South Africans (and our Australian) can do!

    Yes some of what we do may be influenced by mainstream pop culture and yes there may be room for stories with more of a local flavour but I believe that this is baby steps towards a bigger picture and I fully support any initiative that presents people with an opportunity to do what they love and share it with the world!

    • wandisa says:

      True, artists in SA have a hard time finding money, support and time to keep doing what they love most and not give in to a society that doesn’t really appreciate comic art. With a government that is obsessed with economic progress and party politics, publishers that don’t acknowledge comic art as a literary genre and newspapers that are only interested in cartoons, I loudly applaud the Velocity Anthology initiative! In Europe, for example, grants are made available by a host of institutions, publishers and even the government. Comic artists are pushed to publish, exhibit and take their art international.

      However, you must also know that those artists are working bloody day and night on their art, websites, blogs, networking, marketing, etc. Competition over there is killing! They also have full time day jobs but at night they are spending hours on updating their website and blog and getting their art out. It disappoints me that half of the artists don’t have a website or a blog even. Blogs are free marketing and easy enough to maintain. It also forces you to keep producing and keep exposing yourself to your audience. Look at Bryce Louw, Ez and Daniel Clarke. They all have a blog, they look great and one can see the progress in their work. (Unless the other artists have blogs as well but then it should be mentioned on the site)

      The unfinished pieces I put up are works that I admire and I have no problem putting them up unfinished. It’s good work! Pete Woo is fuzzy and funny, he’s got his own style which totally suits him. Daniel Hugo is very strongly influenced by Moebius and I applaud his effort for experimenting with a style like that. And I also like your Requiem page. I like the layout of your page, the dreary and dark feel, the silence. It makes me curious about the rest of the story.

      I’m sorry to say, but a story with the title ‘A Bad Day in LA’ with an Angelina Jolie look alike does not make it hard to guess where the story is gonna go. I might be totally surprised but I doubt it. If you are influenced by mainstream culture, that’s fine but then learn all the lessons of that culture. Don’t just use symbols and icons that are easy to sell like babes, big guns and fire. Do proper research and learn from the big guys you admire. Work on your detail and try to get the balance right. The way she carries the machine gun makes it look like its plastic. It’s just not convincing…
      Ashley Martin, should you read this. I’m sorry I’m using you here to make a point and I will personally apologise and do a feature on the blog if turns out that your story in the Anthology surprised me!

  • Rayaan Cassiem says:

    Excuse the typo in my earlier post…I meant to say Australian counterparts. Anyway…just another thought:

    Personally I don’t think it’s fair of the Words & Images website to display incomplete works in progress as a true reflection of the calibre of work that will be present in the finished copy of the Velocity anthology. All the images that were posted on your website is unfinished pieces and nowhere in that article was this mentioned at all!

    Also, how can u judge the story content until you have read the finished product?

  • Moray Rhoda says:

    As Ray mentioned in his unbiased and diplomatic way, the art on the website is merely concept: as is explained, the art won’t be in the finished book it is merely there to give the viewer an insight into the artists’ thought processes. Planning sketches – not finished art.

    One of the big aims of velocity is to tell stories that aren’t tied to any specific country. So if someone wants to tell a tale of SA we’d put it in, the only requirement being that the story fits in the fantasy and scifi genre. I think that SA generates enough non-fiction, satire and political commentary in it’s comics and not enough entertaining and storytelling. As organisors then, we looked for artists that had the technical ability and the quality levels we felt would hold up internationally as well as artists that had an interest in the genre.

    On the topic of stories – although story descriptions are added to the individual images, the descriptions are purposely vague. The endings of those stories are not what you expect. Alien invasion – such as Daniel Hugo’s story – we’ve seen that a million times before. How it ends: I can guarantee no-one can guess the direction it will take.

    Perhaps (since we’re all being unbiased and diplomatic) You should re-visit the topic once you’ve seen a printed copy.

    • wandisa says:

      As I said before, I like the website and I honestly support the initiative with a lot of passion and interest. Thanks for your comment and thanks for keeping it diplomatic Moray! But as your audience, I must make a few remarks here.

      When the introduction to the site says: “The Velocity Graphic Anthology website is THE place to check out the best up and coming talent from SA”, I expect to see THE BEST. I expect to see people like Jesse Breytenbach, Sifiso Yalo, Themba Siwela, the Trantraal Bros, Luke Molver, Brendon Hayes, Alistair Laird, Jason Bronkhorst. OK, maybe not all of them are suitable for Fantasy and Scifi.

      Which was also not that clear, that the theme is Fantasy. Yes, I know it’s in the introduction but how many of us actually read everything on a website. I glance over the text and go straight to the images. Maybe the Disney-looking image distracted me there. It’s a great website and I love the design but it doesn’t associate with Fantasy. I think, without having to read the text, you should be able to pick up the theme immediately.

      Which brings me to the issue of sketches and unfinished art. I’m hoping for a lot more sketches on the site to see the actual progress, to see it come alive, to tease me into bookmarking the site and keep coming back until I can buy the final work. However, I must say, a sketch is already 60 to 70% of the final work. It already contains the concept, the story, the style, everything. The initial sketch is the hardest work and already says a lot.

      And to put things right, I like Ray’s sketch. When I said ‘undefined dreary images’ I meant ‘dark and somber’. My apologies there, that was a bad word choice on my part. I actually like his page.

      Lastly, I’ll be happy to re-visit the topic when I’ve seen the printed edition. Can I ask when publication day is?

  • Phreakster says:

    Hey mate,

    Thanks for taking the time to have a look at our site. It’s been up and running for just about 7 days, and besides the fact that it’s the First Phase of what we intend for our site to be, we thought we’d launch it in effort to assist with providing exposure to the artists who invest their time and effort into the book.

    You provide valid, and constructive crit on the site, but we are going for a very informal and interactive feel, and try to make it as assessable and inclusive as possible and once the average viewer is confident with the site me might add a few complexities without providing instruction.

    Don’t be too harsh in providing a verdict on our ‘authenticity’ based on sketchbook samples, and character designs. You need to appreciate that, in effort to be inclusive to our audience we want to provide them with content they are familiar with. We want to entertain, not educate- The last thing we need is for our medium to be hijacked with political or personal motivations and damn-the-man overtones. The intent is for the artists and writers to HAVE FUN with the project, and that will show in the quality of the final product which we are not quite sharing with the public just yet.

    Now, I’m not sure who you are ‘Wandisa’, but bold statements like “(and stop reading american comics maybe)” are for one derogatory, Ask millions of people around the world “What’s your favourite comic character?” and 99 out of 100 would reply with a character from the big three. Regardless of what your perception of ‘real comics’ are, you need to understand the comics driving the market are the comics people identify with, and I can’t think of one artist contributing to our book who don’t read these comics.

    We publish and fund the book, and decided earlier that the direction and theme would be steampunk and fantasy. I’d love for you to provide me with a few fine samples of this theme that can not be related back to mainstream american books.

    Stick with us, you might just be pleasantly surprised. We love what we’re doing, and it will show in the final product. Thanks for taking the time to do a pre-release review. If anything it shows people are taking note!

    From Melbourne, Australia,
    Neville Howard

    • wandisa says:

      Hi Neville,

      Thanks for your ‘diplomatic’ reply. I hope you’re reading my replies to Moray and Rayaan as well so I’m not gonna repeat the points I’ve already made.

      Just one more thing I wanna ad here is something I remember Moray writing a long time ago in Igubu. Yes, they are in my collection and I went to the trouble of looking for them in a giant heap of boxes (I’m moving this weekend) to find his article titled “Why South African comics suck”. I quote:

      “South Africans can create the best comics if we focus on good storytelling. Using what we have here is the best way to attack the market, both here and abroad. Our different culture is the perfect source for legends and heroes. Who needs a Superman or Spiderman […] The point is, be as South African as fuck, just don’t be another clone. South African comics will remain a sub-culture, underground phenomenon unless all writers and artists in the medium combine their efforts to change popular perception. To get comics in the mainstream, creators have to research how relevant their stories and art is. While art and writing is always expressing oneself don’t fall into the trap of becoming repetitive..”

      I hope he wasn’t sarcastic here because I absolutely support this argument. I, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, am irritated by the fact that the market in SA is flooded with American comics. Where’s the European, Asian and African stuff? Especially, the African and South African stuff is nowhere to be found. American comics are driving the market and not because there is such a huge demand but because the market is being flooded by cheaply produced American studio products.

      And so, I’m hoping that at least a few of the stories are based in SA. Fuck, if we could have somebody pull of what District 9 pulled of for the SA movie industry, that would be awesome and I would read a lot more Scifi. Because, like you said, people wanna see comics they can identify with. And I for one can not identify with ‘A bad day in LA’.

      But I’m gonna stick with you and hope I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
      People are taking note.

  • Rico says:

    Interesting debate and good points being made all round. (also very diplomatic and grown-up posts — usually a rare thing on the web)
    I applaud the Velocity project — I support anything that’ll help light a fire under the currently still-born SA comics industry.
    I agree with Wandisa’s comments on originality (what’s on show is technically very very good… but I do have a feeking of having seen much of it before) and the need for finding a genuine SA voice for comics. The derivative nature of much of the material is probably partly due to the fact that many artists participating would like nothing better than catch a break in the US or European industry.
    That said – – I wish this project all possible success!

  • Rayaan Cassiem says:

    My final thought…comics are supposed to be fun!

    I understand that there are those that endeavor to create the Next Watchmen or Sandman etc and that’s awesome but I feel that as long as the writers and artist’s enjoyed creating their contributions and that it brought some joy and inspiration to the readers then that is a job well done and everyone concerned should feel proud of their accomplishments.

    Mainstream comics in SA is in it’s infancy but I believe and have faith that we will find our footing as well as our unique voice which will allow us to tell our stories to a global audience.

    Rome, as the saying goes wasn’t built in a day

    God bless

  • moray says:

    Good comments all round – appreciate all that’s been said and while there is hardly room for my head in here after reading that you read that Igubu article, I have to comment 🙂

    Firstly – although I appreciate Jesse Breytenbach, the Trantaal brothers, Sifiso, Themba et al (and I know all of them just to name drop) out of your list, the only ones that have the vaguest interest in Fantasy scifi is Jason Bronkhorst and Brandon Hayes who I’d take in a heartbeat… Alastair Laird can’t draw 🙂

    You left out a lot of other luminaries(Joe Daly, Nikhil Singh, Rob Hooper, Jesca Marisa, Hennie Blaauw and others), but one has to see the genre and then find the artists that are interested and good at it. So while I might ask Rico (of Madam and Eve fame) to be part of issue 2, I would not consider Zapiro or Jeremy Nell. They’re fantastic cartoonists, but not what we’re looking for. (and yes Rico I said that just to suck up 🙂

    There will be an issue 2 with a bunch of new artists: feel free to suggest some and I’ll go knocking on their doors. If they meet the quality levels…

    There will be an issue 3 and so on until sooner or later we WILL have gone through the best up and coming talent. Stick around and see.

    Secondly – the images you chose to put up for Daniel and Pete weren’t done for Velocity: those are images from other projects, so does not really give a good idea of what Velocity is: Daniel’s Moebius inspired stuff is also form years back. He’s better now.

    Thirdly – (this one is our fault) the website does not make it clear that Bad Day in LA, SLR, Dragonbitch and Fuzzy new friend are PINUPS and not full stories. I will fix that – so in that case, if you hate the artwork now, too bad cos those won’t change.

    The Velocity project has a long deadline – first issue is scheduled for July(as we mention on the site) so work is heading to completion, and will be posted – bearing in mind that we are not putting the entire book online, but saving some bits for print.

    My last comment actually addresses two things. One – I wrote that comment about SA comics and believed it. AT THE TIME… Which was 2002 if I’m not mistaken. A lot of time and experience with “the SA comic industry” has passed since. So the second thing I am answering is Rico’s comment about catching a break internationally.

    The sad truth is that SA is not really interested in Fantasy Scifi: and that is fine. While we are hoping to appeal to the faithful few who read comics here, both Neville and I have headed myriad projects with great work that failed simply because it did not find any traction in the SA market. And we’re not the only ones. Joe Daly, Nikhil Singh, Karl Stephan – all these guys made international breakthroughs with their work and are completely unknown in SA (except to us comic fans, but we don’t count).

    The Trantaal brothers are great storytellers -There should be space for them and for instance Jesca Marisa’s Awakenings as much as there should be a space for Mike Scott’s Bru and Boegie. But we choose that Velocity be it’s own thing – same as those artists did.

    Enough time has passed for me to stop my attempts at hacking out a fanbase or creating a bigger SA comic industry. I am hardly as full of p!ss and vinegar as I used to be and hardly as conceited to think that what we do will”revolutionise the way south africans view comics.”

    So from the start (and obviously because of the Oz connection) this was always (and always will be) aimed at the international market. District 9 was great, Spud was great, Tsotsi was great. They all played to their own strengths, they all aimed at specific markets and I enjoyed them all.

    We’re doing this for fans of Fantasy and Scifi: if they happen to be saffas – great, but if it turns out that other countries like the product because it has a more international appeal then I’ll be happy. We’re not looking to tell “great south african stories” – we’re just looking to tell great stories full stop.

    PS – I was just kidding with that Alastair Laird comment: he’s a rockstar 😀

    • wandisa says:

      Well said Moray! Thanks for the reply and I’m glad to hear that there’s gonna be more issues!
      I hope you’ll publish some other genres as well coz truth be told, too few people are publishing. I might not be your biggest fan on the Fantasy issue but I’ll be waiting for more..

      • Karl Stephan says:

        “When the introduction to the site says: “The Velocity Graphic Anthology website is THE place to check out the best up and coming talent from SA”, I expect to see THE BEST. I expect to see people like Jesse Breytenbach, Sifiso Yalo, Themba Siwela, the Trantraal Bros, Luke Molver, Brendon Hayes, Alistair Laird, Jason Bronkhorst. OK, maybe not all of them are suitable for Fantasy and Scifi.”

        Maybe the site should read “The Velocity Graphic Anthology website is THE place to check out the best up and coming SCI FI and FANTASY talent from SA”, although I do think the inference is pretty obvious.

      • Karl Stephan says:

        “When the introduction to the site says: “The Velocity Graphic Anthology website is THE place to check out the best up and coming talent from SA”, I expect to see THE BEST. I expect to see people like Jesse Breytenbach, Sifiso Yalo, Themba Siwela, the Trantraal Bros, Luke Molver, Brendon Hayes, Alistair Laird, Jason Bronkhorst. OK, maybe not all of them are suitable for Fantasy and Scifi.”

        Maybe the site should read “The Velocity Graphic Anthology website is THE place to check out the best up and coming SCI FI and FANTASY talent from SA”, for those not able to grasp the obvious.

    • Rico says:

      Well said, Moray. I kind figured that’s where Velocity was coming from.
      (extra bonus points for “sucking up” 🙂

  • Chris Beukes says:

    Hey guys,

    Just my two cents. As a South african born and bred, I feel no need to “africanize” my work. I made it, Im south african, therefore its an african comic.

    Should I stick some carved wooden animals in the backgrounds, or make all my characters have aids, or endeavour to disguise training in anatomy and perspective in order to make my drawings more “ethnic?” Perhaps I should discard my western sounding name for something more culturally appropriate, like “Wandisa” Miss Lieve Vanleeuw.

    Would that satisfy your rather patronizing idea of what african is? South Africa is an infinitely more complex melting pot of identities than that, and if I consume and regurgitate western styles of comics you are in no position to tell me that its not a valid expression of myself.

  • My feeling is that we have the talent – but I don’t see the point of local artists drawing a story about the LAPD/NYPD and an American superhero rip off. I think it’s a confidence thing too – local artists need to realise that to create your own voice/style/comic culture is to steer away from the Bisleys, Millers and Bilals of the world (products of their own particular circumstances/geography) and embrace your own experiences and context. Superman was created by a very specific need in two young guys 80 years ago – needs/expectations/context have changed dramatically since then. What also grates is the practice of copying a very successful artist’s style – I realise we admire the rock stars of comicdom but do we have to base our whole approach/repertoire on their work? By all means, immerse oneself in the artistry of others, copy those characters and borrow the page layouts as you develop as an artist – consider it ‘schooling’, but then move on. Success in the rather saturated comic world will only happen when we see original content presented in an original way.

    • Lieve says:

      Exactly my point Jason! I can’t say I alway like your work, you have a pretty acquired taste. But I keep going back for more ’cause I can be sure i’ll be looking at something new and original.

  • Lieve says:

    ok, lazyness on my part. Thanks Chris for pointing out my crap ‘African’ name. The name is Lieve!

  • Haha, I’ll take that as a compliment, thanks Lieve!

    I’m not saying I’m the most original artist, but I do make an effort to wander out of the comfort zone and create something I can live with. Why else would we do this?

  • Andy Mason says:

    Wow! Lieve, you unleashed a fantastic debate here. We are getting to some of the key issues underlying the failure of SA comics to get off the ground (so far).

    I’ve been a comics fan since the sixties, I grew up reading Marvel and DC during the so-called silver age, I followed Spiderman and Thor, I loved Herbie (Pofnecker, I think his name was — the most powerful nerd in the universe, 20 years before the nerds), I discovered Will Eisner’s The Spirit in the bargain bins, I loved Superman more than Spiderman, Green Lantern more than the X-men, but I also read Archie and all the Harvey Comics, and the British weeklies every week, like Lion, Tiger, Hurricane, Hotspur, Beano, and the Battle Picture Library, and then all the Classics Illustrated comics, and then I became addicted to Mad Magazine with Al Jaffee and Jack Davis and Mort Drucker and Dave Berg and Sergio Aragones and the usual gang of idiots, and then I went into the army and forgot about comics and used to lie awake at night listenting to LM radio and The Doors and Cat Stevens and Neil Young and then when I got to varsity I discovered R. Crumb and the Fabulous Furry Freak Bros and I began drawing my own crap underground-style comics which were a blatant copy of Crumb and Shelton and I’ve never really evolved very far beyond that style-wise. But my comics have always been set in Durban and they are about people I know and issues I’ve confronted as a white African, and to me that’s what makes them local, even though they are stylistically inspired by American comix. And I personally don’t see why ‘being South African’ is such a big deal (I enjoyed Chris Beukes’s joke about putting African carvings in the background to make the strip African). For me, the issue is more about being yourself.

    Quite frankly, we live in a globalised world and are consumers of global culture, so it’s hardly surprising that our work betrays these influences. That’s not the point. The point is that derivative unoriginal work disappears without trace. Only what’s authentic, challenging and original is going to survive. South Africa made no significant contribution to world comics until the arrival of Bitterkomix in the early ’90s. Joe Dog and Konradski challenged everyone, not just because their work was so porno — although that was how they attracted attention — but because it was so resoundingly local. But Bitterkomix is history now, Kannemeyer and Botes are fully on the ‘art’ side of the fence, and that leaves the field free for something new to replace Bitterkomix. Someting that’s truly glocal: local content — global resonance.

    I’m a great admirer of Moray’s tireless efforts, and I have most of the comics he’s published over the years, all damn well produced, and it was through them that I came to discover Jesca Marisa, Jesse Breytenbach, Daniel Hugo, Vincent Sammy, Joe Daly and a number of others. The fact is that we have great, I’d even say awesome comic art talent in this country, and, if I’m not mistaken, it’s starting to assert itself quite vigorously.

    At the same time, I do agree with a lot of what Lieve has to say. Being international doesn’t mean have to mean being derivative, just as being local doesn’t have to mean being parochial. My own reading over the last 4 decades has been soaked in American, British, and more recently, French comics, but I’m still a South African, and I really get a kick of reading top quality comics set in South Africa, by South Africans. Joe Daly has so got it down. Talk about fantasy — he’s busy redefining the word, and getting international recognition for doing just that. He’s funny without being a clone, critical without being a pain in the ass. And he’s more popular in Angouleme than he is in his own home town, even though his comics are set right here in some weird fantastical Cape Town version of universal suburbia. Figure that one out.

    Meanwhile, I’m really looking forward to seeing Velocity evolve. I’m sure this much-needed debate will give the whole project a shot in the arm. Shot to Lieve for starting it up.

  • Regardless of every opinion posted over the past few days, and how democratic the debate might have been, it just points to the immaturity of the market where we all as creators can’t stand united behind a single (self funded) publication due to pre-conceived notions about what ‘Comics’ should be.

    I’ve read thousands upon thousands of comics, and I can tell you, its books with exciting/meaningful stories, and pictures to accompany the literature. Trying to inject anything more into it due to your own motivations of agenda will dilute the product and marginalize your audience.

    District 9 has been mentioned a few times, and I appreciate the success of District 9, but change the geographical context of the movie to New York, or Sydney, and the story would have worked just as well. Had the pin-up causing the stir been called ‘A bad day in Cape Town’, would there have been a fuss made about it?

    We as an institution (And that’s all of us) should for once stand together, and support each other for the effort and love going into the production of these books. The fact that despite all the obstacles thrown as us, we still find the time, and need to create. Throw away your agendas, and notions on your perception of the medium, and support like minded individuals with a passion for what they do.

    In a perfect world where that is possible, we might just get away with at least creators buying each other’s books instead of criticizing them out of principle.

    Nev.

    • Lieve says:

      In reply to Neville, Vincent and Robin. There are critics and there are readers, and both have an opinion! At the end of the day, you want your art to be seen and read. Critics might have a big mouth but your readers also judge. So, if you are just doing it for your own fun, fine. But don’t expect me to read it, let alone buy it. I don’t think you actually want to end up in a situation where one buys your stuff just to support you. Not because they like it but because they’re buying it out of principle. One has to support one another. True, absolutely true, and I will buy the Anthology and support whatever else Moray is doing. But as a reader, I have my opinion. And readers will support you once, maybe twice, if you’re lucky three times but eventually they will move on.
      So, please, stop finding excuses and get serious. People wanna read your stuff and they are waiting for it to come out. So, don’t disappoint us!

  • Vincent says:

    I agree with ole Nev there. Here is 2 guys throwing there money and efforts behind something they believe in , and a couple of artist and writers (Most who probably have day jobs) throwing in a sizable amount of their time and energy into a project they love and believe in. We all have a different approach to how and what we create. The only thing that matters is that it is a quality product we create. We can’t please everyone all the time, but we can at least please the majority with a quality product. And that at the end of the day is the only thing that matters. Its the only thing that the world takes note of. So I salute all those who make an effort and support this venture, because it sure as hell aint easy. It takes passion and hard work. It takes long hours alone by yourself away from your friends and family. It a takes belief in yourself and those with whom you tackle this challenge with. It takes commitment, and it takes guts to put yourself out there to be criticized by others.

    I leave you with a quote from Ratatouille as said by the food critic Anton EGO:

    “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends.”

  • Rayaan Cassiem says:

    Well said Vincent! Like I said, comics should have substance and not be complete fluff, but on the other hand, why can’t it just be fun? Not everything has to be pigeon-holed or dissected to death! Long as we had fun making it and people gain some sort of pleasure from reading it then I say it’s a job well done!

    • Good lordie it’s comic for crying outa loud!

      It’s not Shakespeare, not academic or geographic based, or anything else! It’s comics which has been marketed for the average person who enjoys fantasy, scifi and fun stories in graphic format. It’s entertainment.
      It’s REALLY not that complicated.

      It’s hilarious how a selective few appoint themselves as “comic specialists” and think they are able to dictate what a good comic should be.

      For different people, a GOOD comic is different from one person to a GOOD comic of another.
      I personally judge a comic more on it’s art, others judge it on it’s script, others form the message given (political or other), or on it’s humour … and other just simply like reading a comic!

      I comic is art. In it’s graphics, in it’s story telling and in it’s concept.
      And in art everyone’s tastes differ.
      Even many art master painters had many influences from outside their geographical location & outside their culture & upbringing.
      Comic artist should do WHATEVER they feel they wish to do, how ever they wish to do it.
      Let’s not let a few dictate what does not belong to anyone.

      Long live the freedom of art & creativity *

      • Lieve says:

        Excuse me, but I don’t believe it’s ‘just’ comics, or for the ‘average person’.
        And it certainly is not JUST entertainment. Will Eisner is turning in his grave now!

        Taste may differ but quality is quality.

  • Rayaan Cassiem says:

    “Good lordie it’s comic for crying outa loud!”

    Nuff said Robin

  • Lieve says:

    My last comment.. is not really a comment.

    It’s a short interview with Aaron Rose where he talks about the greatness of underground art, versus the establishment, about simulations becoming more real than the original, and other stuff.

    Enjoy!

  • moray says:

    phew… uhmm ok.

    I think… it’s a comic book, it’s art, it’s blood sweat and tears, it’s commitment and sleepness nights, it’s a lot of trust and it’s a mountain of belief…

    but so is every other SA comic that has gone before. At the end of the day we all do this (read comics, write comics, draw comics) because even if Velocity wasn’t there, the writers and artists involved would do it in one form or another anyway… I guess that’s why I keep coming back and I guess that’s the reason that Lieve will keep on buying SA comics. The readers are as much part of this as the artists or writers are.

    Besides, at the end of the day we know the time and effort that goes into it, but I have to say that I would probably front of the line saying that something was crap (in a diplomatic way 🙂 if it actually was. I don’t believe that people get better because you praise them, I believe people get better when you’re honest. And diplomatic.

  • Matt Elder says:

    First up, I’m a writer/artist on this book and think all the opinions here and discussion is great. Its showing that people are approaching it from all different directions so hopefully there is something in there for everyone.

    I’m certainly not trying to be derivative art wise of the American stuff and painting my pages in oil paints (which is certainly giving it a unique look). That said, each panel takes 5-10 hours outside of my day job so people may not ‘get it’ as it is different. Give the book a try and we’ll certainly welcome the feedback.

    Cheers,
    Matt

  • Jesca Marisa says:

    (Okay, everytime I try to say something meaningful on this post… my mac switches itself off… Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something.)

    First, I am just going to give my opinions in general.

    What could be considered South African art/films/comics?
    Okay here’s a tricky one and a debate one often encounters in film and art. Is a product (a film/ comicbook) South African because it’s made in South Africa, by South Africans? Would it be South African because it’s funded by South African investors? Is it South African because it tells a local story? And while it might seem that all these aspects would make a product South African, consider this about each of the points:
    -What about international companies coming to SA to use cheaper labour to make products for the international market?
    -What if a product is made by South Africans, but the story bears no South African influences?
    – What if the money for a product comes exclusively from international sources without any local monetary contributions?
    – What if a local story is told/filmed by an overseas company? Like “Invictus” for example?

    So it’s debatable on what is really a truly SA work. But I think we need to rather concern ourselves with increasing the number of comicbooks produced locally and we should we welcome any new work regardless of how pure its local credentials are. I mean for instance an overseas-made book featuring South Africa as a location, firstly gives us exposure and secondly makes SA more viable as a theme for comic books.

    Comicbooks is an art form that has been imported from overseas, so obviously most of our inspirations are going to come from international conventions in story telling and established styles. I think that once we build up a sizable collection of locally produced books, upcoming comicbook artists will have a database of local work to reference as opposed to looking overseas for inspiration. I think this will work because one is often more excited by work your local peers are doing , since it is immediate and tangible and you feel like you can potentially join in should you wish to. So this is just my way of saying all genres and styles are welcome as we trying to establish a culture of comicbook reading and creation in SA. I mean French and Japanese comics write for the local market first most.

    So we should try to establish a market for local comics rather than trying to infiltrate an oversaturated international market. Mostly because our work is more likely to be noticed locally. And try to market comics at more design orientated events, just to try to capture a different crowd.

    Local roots- Global Fruits:
    I’ve had that saying thrown at me several times. It is a valid point, a few years ago I would’ve argued against that statement extensively, but lately I see the point of that. Adding local flavour to a project makes it more marketable and it adds depth to a story. I mean we can tell local stories like no outsider can. But on the other hand I feel that it’s pointless to try and Africanise a story. Last year I wrote a fantasy short fiction and I was asked to Africanise it. So I asked whether I should add proteas and and minibus taxi’s? The other person was not amused, but he also didn’t have an answer to his own question. How do you “africanise something without being blatant and cliched? So if it goes against the grain of a story, do not force “local content ” on it. The story will dictate what it needs. We cannot choose where we find inspiration. But what I do, do is if I have a contemporary story I try to set it within a local setting… and I am often surprised how that changes and ads to the original plotline. But in these cases I do not go outside my realm of experience. My SA story is set on the trains and streets of Cape Town, within the middleclass milieu. So I try to write what I know. And I am not saying you can’t stretch “what-you-know” a little bit, but writing a story set in NY is a bit strange, unless you know the city intimately or possess an unique outsider’s perspective. If you don’t have any of the former you run the risk of becoming derivative.

    Fantasy is a different beast altogether. The power of fantasy (and sci-fi) lies in its ability to enable us to export problems/ideas/concept into a fake reality and explore these ideas freed from emotive ties to the real world. So I think it’s a good genre for Velocity to explore. It allows a lot of freedom for the creatives and a means to side step the local content debate ( and I am including Oz as an honourary part/colony of The Republic of ZAR)

    Entertainment versus Art.

    Okay some people might claim they do work purely for entertainment sake. Unless you’re Michael Bay this is simply not true. One can never separate one’s work from your opinions about the world around you and if you’re voicing an opinion you are making art. Nothing made with passion and energy is ever without depth.

    Conversely, if you are making art just for art’s sake you are limiting yourself. Why make something that’s only going to be appreciated by a handful of art aficionados , if you could strive to reach the maximum potential audience while retaining your artistic integrity? I think it’s possible to be both artistic and commercial simultaneously and that’s what I plan to strive for in the future.

    To the end of making art/film/comic book more commercial one can work along the following lines without- in my opinion -compromising on artistic integrity:

    -Technical excellence- the way the comicbook is created. Get the best production value you can afford. Best paper, best printing, go through the script writing process, design the layout and typography to the best of your ability , or get help to do so, professionally rendered graphics/illustrations.
    – Know your market – Have someone in mind for whom you are writing the comicbook.
    – Type of story you choose to tell – Certain genres are more popular at times than others – can you use this? If you write stories within a local setting it might be easier to gain publicity for your work from newspapers looking for local interest stories.
    – Conventions in story telling- I mean each genre has its conventions and creates certain expectations within the readership. It’s good to play to these expectations to a certain degree. Also there are certain formulas which work well in scriptwriting (like that ole chestnut- the hero’s journey). You have to know the formulas and patterns to be able to circumvent them. These things work for a reason – like starting a story with “once upon a time” And a formula is afterall just a starting point – like a clothing hook from which to drape your story. The trick is to furnish a tried and true recipe with your own original ideas. You give people something familiar with the new, to help the new concepts go down smoothly.

    – Marketing – Marketing the book is more work than making the actual comic book. Market outside your comfort zone. If you usually sell your work at comicbook meets try to things like craft markets, design festivals, and events geared more towards fine arts. I mean try to reach people who might be interested in creative work, but who might not necessarily attend comicbook conventions.

    All the above is just my opinion on various debates. Not that I ever follow any of my own rules anyway. Like Alice says; ” I give myself very good advice, but I seldom listen”. Yeah, they’re just ideas to keep in mind.

    I think the velocity project is amazing and I’ve been very excited by the work produced by the artists so far. If the stories match the pictures, we’re in for a real treat. Two thumbs up guys!

    -JM

  • moray says:

    Wow Jesca – that was a mouthful and I will be plagiarising it sometime in the future. I know it comes from the invaluable experience of self-publishing and marketing your book in a country that is largely unaware that SA comics even exist.

    I agree with a lot of things that you said but I have to correct one massive incorrect statement you made: I am sorry, but what Michael Bay does is not entertaining.

    You hit the nail on the head though, when you said:
    “Fantasy is a different beast altogether. The power of fantasy (and sci-fi) lies in its ability to enable us to export problems/ideas/concept into a fake reality and explore these ideas freed from emotive ties to the real world … It allows a lot of freedom for the creatives and a means to side step the local content debate…”

    We intended Velocity to give the artists exactly that kind of leeway. Place/setting might be important in some of the Velocity stories, but in none of them does it define the story itself (or the characters therein). The plot is the thing or so the saying goes.

    The other important thing you touched on was marketing and how important that is to any comic project: Neville and I are striving to step outside and beyond all other promotion methods we have followed before.

    I won’t bore you with details, but our basic rule for this is: if no-one knows it exists then that’s who will buy it. So we’re pulling ut the stops to ensure that when the tree falls, there will be enough people around to hear it – and twitter about it too 🙂

  • Luke Molver says:

    “Reality continues to ruin my life.”

    – Calvin, to Hobbes

    The motto of a cartoonist’s existence…

    I think Gaining Velocity is a great idea. I look forward to seeing it in print, and hope to contribute to future issues.

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