A Refugee’s Journey: Adapting Nick Sousanis’ “Grid and Gestures”

During the second lesson of the “Imaginative Communication” course [a Comparative Media course in which we explore the theme “To Say the Unutterable” by analyzing and comparing the depiction of Psychic Trauma in various visual media, from comics to animated & live-action movies, tv series or choreographies], I asked my Thai & exchange students at the Faculty of Communication Arts (Chulalongkorn University) to do the “Grid and Gestures” exercise developed by Nick Sousanis, professor of Humanities & Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University, and author of the groundbreaking comics dissertation Unflattening published by Harvard University Press in 2015.

[Course: Imgt Comm, 2800217, International Program, CommArts, Chulalongkorn University, 20 January 2020, with 35 students]

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Above and below: CommArts students at work on the “Grid and Gestures” exercise

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The purpose statement for the exercise provided by Nick Sousanis is as follows:

 “So here’s how to think about Grids & Gestures. Quickly, have a look at your ceiling tiles or other grid-ish things around you. If you then imagine putting these features to music, you might have regular long notes on the tiles, some shorter notes, and maybe rapid staccato beats on a ventilation grill. Ok, now come back to a comics page – and think about the idea that in comics, time is written in space. Comics are static – and it’s in the way we organize the space that we can convey movement and the passage of time. Unlike storyboards, to which comics are frequently compared, in comics we care not only about what goes on in the frame, but we care about the size of the panel, its shape, orientation, what it’s next to, what it’s not, and its overall location within the page composition. The way you orchestrate these elements on the page is significant to the meaning conveyed – there are some strong correspondences between comics and architecture in terms of thinking about the way the entire space operates together.

Having briefly thought about this, I want you to take a single sheet of paper (any size, shape will do) and drawing with a pencil or pen, carve it up in some grid-esque fashion that represents the shape of your day. It can be this day, a recent day, a memorable day, or a typical/amalgamation day. And then inhabit these spaces you’ve drawn on the page with lines, marks, or gestures that represent your activity or emotional state during those times represented. The emphasis here is to do your best to not draw things. (You can always do that later!) And also, you can leave space blank on your page – but that has to mean something. This isn’t writing where you can finish a final sentence mid-page. Every inch of the composition is important in comics – so be aware of that as well. Finally, when I do this in class or with groups, I give people about 5-10 minutes to do it, so they have to make decisions quickly. Try to give yourself a similar limit.”

Nick Sousanis (excerpted from this page)

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Above: CommArts student at work on the “Grid and Gestures” exercise

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“Grid and Gestures” by Thai student Nanz. Description: “(1) I wake up late so I started the page with the cloud shape which refers to my dream. Then I have to hurry to take a shower and prepare myself to go to the University. I go to university by BTS [skytrain] and the station is crowded. When I arrive at the station near the campus, I notice that the sky is gloomy. (2) Suddenly, it starts raining. I’m stuck at the station and I’m worried I’ll be late in class. Moreover, I’m hungry since I forgot to eat something this morning. I have to figure out the way to reach my Faculty on time. I try to book a Grab taxi but there is no response. I have to walk under the rain to try to catch a taxi. (3) Finally, I reach the Faculty and I’m in class on time. When the course is finished, I come back home and take a shower. Before going to bed, I watch a movie on Netflix. Then I go to sleep. :)”


Adapting the exercise to depict a refugee’s journey

After this first exercise was completed, I asked the students to draw a second “Grids and Gestures” page but, instead of depicting a personal day/travel/experience, they had to draw the perilous travel of Syrian refugee Rania Mustafa Ali, 20, who had filmed her journey from the ruins of Kobane in Syria to Austria.

“Her footage shows what many refugees face on their perilous journey to Europe. Rania is cheated by smugglers, teargassed and beaten at the Macedonian border. She risks drowning in the Mediterranean, travelling in a boat meant to hold 15 people but stuffed with over 50. Those with disabilities are carried across raging rivers and muddy fields in their wheelchairs.” (The Guardian).

During the 22′ footage, some students drew the “Grids and Gestures” of Rania as her narrative was unfolding while other students preferred to take some notes and draw Rania’s grid right after the end of the film.

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Students watching, drawing and/or taking notes during the projection of Rania’s footage.
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Student Paar drawing Rania’s “Grid and Gestures” during the projection.
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Student drawing Rania’s “Grid and Gestures” during the projection.

The outcome has been positive as students focused [more than usual] their attention on the emotions and struggles experienced by the refugees, trying to capture Rania’s emotional states, and discovering -as they were drawing on a limited space- the physicality and volume of incessant ups-and-downs (hopeful/hopeless…) and turns of events (wait/treks/dead ends/returns) faced during these precarious and usually dramatic odysseys. I’ll try to find time to study the results of this experiment in detail, and see if it tends to raise awareness/mindfulness (Sati/สติ) and empathy towards refugees. A promising exercise.


Here are some of the “grids and gestures” depicting the journey of Syrian refugee Rania Mustafa Ali and composed by CommArts students:

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Ranias’s journey by Thai student Nanz.
Palmmy 02
Ranias’s journey by Thai student Palmmy.
Rika 02
Ranias’s journey by Japanese student Rika.
Paar 02
Ranias’s journey by Thai student Paar.
Meg 02
Ranias’s journey by Dutch exchange student Meg.
Por 02
Ranias’s journey by Thai student Por.
Ink 02

Ranias’s journey by Thai student Ink.
Pure 02
Ranias’s journey by Japanese exchange student Pure.

 

#ToSomeExtentChallenge

#ToSomeExtentChallenge: in-class creative assignment (“Introduction to Communication” course), at the International Program in Communication Design (CommDe, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand) on Monday 13, 2020; the 46 fresh.wo.men were asked to create -in teams of 2 or 3 participants- a graphic narrative within an imposed L-shaped layout, and to consider the spatialization of the narrative elements. Duration: 60′.

The constrained comics exercise was developed for the first “student” edition of the international comics residency-lab at Pierre Feuille Ciseaux on January 2019. The L-shaped layout is based on two comic strips dating from 1895 & 1905 (see below) found on the website Töpfferiana.


Idylle Lucy L-shape
Inspiration: two comic strips dating from 1895 & 1905 (see below) found on the website Töpfferiana.

CommDe fresh.wo.men @ work!


YL 3

YL 7

YL 2

YL 4

YL 6

YL 5

YL 1


And if you want to play with us, here are the 4 different layouts (with 4 or 5 panels).

Click on the layouts for larger sizes:

To Some Extent 4b

To Some Extent 4a

To Some Extent 5bTo Some Extent 5a

Polyptych Workshop in Taiwan (Sept 2019)

It was a challenging but wonderful 4-hour workshop on “Polyptych Constrained Comics” in Taipei with amazing Taiwanese and Malaysian cartoonists on Sunday, 22 September 2019. They did great on one of the most complex comics structure [where narrative sequences unfold on a continuous background]. It was such a pleasure to work and share with these talented folks! Thank you all for participating, Huang Pei-Shan and Slowork Publishing for the invitation, Carole Wenyao for translating, and ASW Tea House for hosting!

Workshop 05

Workshop 01

#UltraVioletChallenge – Part 2

The inaugural post explaining the constraints of the #UltraVioletChallenge exercise is available HERE.

For this post, I wanted to display results by students who never pursued any drawing formation. The 3rd and 4th Year Performing Arts students of my “Imaginative Media” course accepted the challenge, and the results are again interesting and varied… and fun!

#UltraVioletChallenge: “Making Sense of Signs (and Fragments)” in-class creative assignment (“Imaginative Media” course, Thai Program, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University); create a figurative comics based on an imposed abstract comics (duration: 90′). Based on a constrained comics exercise used at Pierre Feuille Ciseaux international comics residency-lab.

 

Imposed abstract comics page #UltraVioletChallenge
Imposed abstract comics page #UltraVioletChallenge
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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Day and Prang.
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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Mean and Save.
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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Mui, Kitty and Dome.
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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Kay and Mew.
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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Gene and Yongyong.
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#UltraVioletChallenge by Performing Arts students Coon, Earth and June.

 

“No Escape” by Patrick McEown, CAN, 1999

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“No Escape” by Patrick McEown. Click on pic for full size. ©1999 Fantagraphics/McEown


No Escape by Patrick McEown (CAN), in: Dave Cooper’s Weasel #1, Fantagraphics Books, US, August 1999.

©1999 Fantagraphics/McEown

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Excerpt of a 10-page non-linear/loop/polyptych comics. Pages 4, 5 and 6 of Patrick McEown’s No Escape. Arrows not in the original. ©1999 Fantagraphics/McEown

To read the story in diaporama:

 

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To read the story in a full-size continuous polyptych, click on the picture below:

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“No Escape” by Patrick McEown. ©1999 Fantagraphics/McEown

By two pages:

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Pages 1 & 2 (out of 10) of Patrick McEown’s No Escape. ©1999 Fantagraphics/McEown
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Pages 3 & 4 (out of 10) of Patrick McEown’s No Escape. ©1999 Fantagraphics/McEown
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Pages 5 & 6 (out of 10) of Patrick McEown’s No Escape. ©1999 Fantagraphics/McEown
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Pages 7 & 8 (out of 10) of Patrick McEown’s No Escape. ©1999 Fantagraphics/McEown
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Pages 9 & 10 (out of 10) of Patrick McEown’s No Escape. ©1999 Fantagraphics/McEown

“Glenn Ganges in: ‘Time Travelling'” by Kevin Huizenga, US, 2006


Glenn Ganges in: “Time Travelling” by Kevin Huizenga (US), in GANGES #1, Fantagraphics Books, USA, 2006. More on Kevin Huizenga’s website (over here) and blog (over there).

Copyright ©2006 Fantagraphics/Huizenga

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Page 1/5 of Glenn Ganges in: “Time Travelling” by Kevin Huizenga. Copyright ©2006 Fantagraphics/Huizenga
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Page 2/5 of Glenn Ganges in: “Time Travelling” by Kevin Huizenga. Copyright ©2006 Fantagraphics/Huizenga
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Page 3/5 of Glenn Ganges in: “Time Travelling” by Kevin Huizenga. Copyright ©2006 Fantagraphics/Huizenga
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Page 4/5 of Glenn Ganges in: “Time Travelling” by Kevin Huizenga. Copyright ©2006 Fantagraphics/Huizenga
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Page 5/5 of Glenn Ganges in: “Time Travelling” by Kevin Huizenga. Copyright ©2006 Fantagraphics/Huizenga

The Prophetic Word (“Le Verbe prophétique”) by Ibn al Rabin, CH, 2012


The Prophetic Word (“Le Verbe Prophétique”) by Ibn al Rabin (aka Mathieu Baillif, CH), in SplendeuRs et MisèRes du VeRbe, L’Association, France, 2012. More on Ibn al Rabin over here.

Copyright ©2012 L’Association/Ibn al Rabin

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Page 1/6 of The Prophetic Word (“Le Verbe Prophétique”) by Ibn al Rabin, CH, 2012. ©2012 L’Association/Ibn al Rabin
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Pages 2 & 3 of The Prophetic Word (“Le Verbe Prophétique”) by Ibn al Rabin, CH, 2012. ©2012 L’Association/Ibn al Rabin
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Pages 4 & 5 of The Prophetic Word (“Le Verbe Prophétique”) by Ibn al Rabin, CH, 2012. ©2012 L’Association/Ibn al Rabin
Ibn al Rabin 4
Page 6/6 of The Prophetic Word (“Le Verbe Prophétique”) by Ibn al Rabin, CH, 2012. ©2012 L’Association/Ibn al Rabin

“Prayoon Chanyawongse’s Cartoon Likay: Amalgamating Likay Theatrical Form and Comics into a Unique Thai Genre” Scholarly Paper

Figure 1 (New)
Inaugural strip of the Cartoon Likay adaptation of Chanthakorop by Thai cartoonist Prayoon Chanyawongse, published in late 1938 in the newspaper Suphapburut. Reproduced from the 1940 collection Katun Likay Rueang Chanthakorop Phak 1, Samnak Ngan Nai Metta, Bangkok. Illustration provided to the author by Soodrak Chanyavongs. © Prayoon Chanyawongse Foundation.

On June 1, 2018, The Comics Grid published my first open-access scholarly paper dedicated to a lost chapter in the History of Comics Art; the creation in 1938 -and 30-year development- of the Cartoon Likay signature comics genre by Thai Comics master khun Prayoon Chanyawongse.

Paper abstract: “By launching in 1938 a series of adaptations of folktales in comics form, Thai cartoonist Prayoon Chanyawongse established the Cartoon Likay genre which places the reader as a member of an audience attending a Likay performance. The local theatrical form frames his graphic narratives where scenes of a play performed on a stage continuously alternate with sequences taking place in the vast realms of epics set in the Ayutthaya period. By introducing key Likay conventions such as recurring humorous interruptions and asides, Chanyawongse could effectively address contemporary social issues and political topics within traditional folktales. This paper explores several Cartoon Likay narratives in the context of the Likay theatrical form and the local folktale repertoire to discuss the nature and development of Chanyawongse’s signature comics genre.”

If I had to compare Prayoon’s Cartoon Likay comics to a better-known comics, it would be to René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo‘s Franco-Belgian series The Adventures of Asterix for their shared humor centered on puns, caricatures, anachronisms and modern-day allusions in period adventurous tales. If Cartoon Likay predates Asterix for about 20 years and if Prayoon’s social & political criticism and aesthetic of disruption (through fascinating fourth-wall breaks yet to be fully explored) are more apparent, Prayoon Chanyawongse and René Goscinny do share a love of language, of often-disregarded ‘common folks’, and such a playful & witty (and kindred) spirit. So much more is to say about the Cartoon Likay comics genre (and about the “Lost Continent” of Thai Comics), as a complete exploration of sophisticated Likay rhymes and play of words is yet to be undertaken, not to mention the dozens of other folktales adapted in comics form by Prayoon Chanyawongse.


My thanks go to The Comics Grid, and the Research Funding  Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to my former and wonderful research assistants mesdemoiselles Tanchanok Ruendhawil & Suttiarpa Koomkrong for their invaluable help and commitment, to Dr. Sukanya Sompiboon for introducing me to Likay, to p’Soodrak Chanyavongs for her time and insights, and to my better-half. My thanks also go to Colin Cheney & Dr. Jirayudh Sinthuphan for suggestions to the content of this paper.

Nicolas Verstappen

Full paper is available in open access on this page of The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship.

Figure copyright 02
The twenty-fifth strip of the Cartoon Likay adaptation of Chanthakorop by Thai cartoonist Prayoon Chanyawongse, published in the late 1938 in the newspaper Suphapburut. Reproduced from Sooklek/Prayoon Chanyawongse (Chanyavongs and Chanyavongse, 2015). © Prayoon Chanyawongse Foundation.

“Adjacent Panels” part 1/2; parallel Comics Open Studios led by Belgian cartoonist Ephameron and American cartoonist Anders Nilsen, with students in Communication Design, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.

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Belgian cartoonist Ephameron’s Graphic Narrative Open Studio at CommDe, Thailand
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American cartoonist Anders Nilsen’s Comics Open Studio at CommDe, Thailand

On May 14-17 2018, some 40 students at the International Program in Communication Design (CommDe, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand) attended in two groups to 4-day parallel “Open Studios” led by Belgian cartoonist and illustrator Ephameron (aka Eva Cardon) and American cartoonist and illustrator Anders Nilsen.

〈Anders Nilsen wrote his own account of the 4-day “Chulalongkorn Comics Workshop Phantasmagoria” on this blog post.〉

“It was a remarkable experience in about a hundred different ways, but in particular the students were amazing.” Anders Nilsen (blog post here)

The current post presents the two first days of the Open Studios, and a second post will soon display pics from the last two days of workshop. Students were able to experience two completely different approaches in comics composition during these Open Studios, as Ephameron focused on capturing the essence of a short story and its breakdown and visual adaptation in comics form while Anders Nilsen explored “non-standard” panel layouts and constrained comics exercises (inspired by OuBaPian experiments from the Pierre Feuille Ciseaux international comics residency-laboratory) in order to generate unexpected characters and plots. I do apologize here for the far too invasive presence of my noisy camera, and thank all participants for the patience and understanding. Nicolas

Here are the presentations of Ephameron and Anders Nilsen’s Open Studios by the CommDe program which invited the two artists and hosted the event.

L’image contient peut-être : dessin

Eva Cardon leads CommDe Open Studio on Graphic Narrative. In this open studio on Graphic Narrative each student chooses one of the short stories from American author Raymond Carver collections What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and Cathedral and turns it into a graphic narrative that explores the limits of comics, and experiments with storytelling techniques. Eva works under the pseudonym Ephameron and is based in Flanders. She publishes and exhibits internationally.”

L’image contient peut-être : dessin et texte

Anders Nilsen leads CommDe Open Studio ‘Where Do Your Ideas Come From: A Comics Workshop.’ Anders will lead students to explore their own creativity in developing characters and narratives. Anders Nilsen is the award-winning artist and author of nine books of comics and visual narrative including Big Questions, Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, The End and Tongues. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Chicago Reader, Medium, Kramer’s Ergot and elsewhere. His comics have been translated into numerous languages and his artwork has been shown internationally. He lives in Portland, Oregon.”


DAY 1: MONDAY, MAY 14

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Getting acquainted: Anders Nilsen and student Winnie.

DAY 1 in Ephameron’s Open Studio. Part 01: story-boarding of a Raymond Carver’s short story. The Belgian artist introduced the life and works of Raymond Carver and proposes a warm-up exercise. All students had to break down an imposed short story Why don’t you dance? (from Raymond Carver’s collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love) into a storyboard of 10 illustrations.

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Ephameron introduces the life and works of Raymond Carver.
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Student Noey and her comrades go through the imposed Raymond Carver’s short story Why don’t you dance?.
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Student Darnis, Pin, Cherry and their comrades go through the imposed Raymond Carver’s short story Why don’t you dance?.
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Student Sharon breaks down Raymond Carver’s short story Why don’t you dance? in a 10-panel storyboard.
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Ephameron goes through all the Why don’t you dance? storyboards produced by her students.
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Ephameron provides comment on all the 10-panel storyboards during the first collective review.

DAY 1 in Anders Nilsen’s Open Studio. Part 01: the Comics Loop. Meanwhile in the classroom below, the American cartoonist proposes a first exercise to generate imaginative character designs. Each student randomly draws a name card on which a stock character is named (“beggar child”, “drug dealer”, “elephant”, etc.). Each student is then asked to divide an A4 page in four panels and is given a few minutes to create the character design of his/her assigned character in the first panel. When done, students are given a few more minutes to come up with completely different interpretation and graphic rendition of their assigned character, in order to avoid the obvious/common portrayal they might have provided in the first panel. When the second panel is completed, students must redraw their character in the two last panels but in graphic styles different from their personal style in order to leave their confort zone.

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Student Arty considers her “beggar child” character.

When done, the same exercise is repeated but with name cards of objects, then name cards of settings/sceneries. All character/object/setting designs are then separated and taped to a wall. Each student must then designates his/her 3 favorite character designs, then objects, then settings.

After voting, the three favorite character designs, objects and settings are brought together.

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The three selected characters (therianthropic duck, faceless millipedes-cat and hybrid elephant) after selection by the students, and editorial intervention by Anders and yours truly as two initially picked characters were too similar. As a substitution, the faceless millipedes-cat was imposed for its poetic, graphic and narrative potential.
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Board with the selected character designs; and with picked settings and objects before editorial discussion, intervention and substitution.

As the three selected objects (like the fish can or the anthropomorphic chair) could be turned into characters and would be redundant with the initially selected characters, Anders and I decided to substitute them for a meteorite (which could also be used as a setting), a “bone trapped in a crystal”. The “top of a building” setting was discarded in favor a snow globe, being an object and holding a potential setting. The 9 definitive elements were then used as references, and limitations to maintain coherence, for a collective comics composition assignment -in the form of an exquisite corpse– based on the constrained exercise La Boucle/The Loop developed by the ChiFouMi Association. This exercise had been already implemented at the Faculty of Communication Arts in 2015 with 17 participants, whether professional Thai cartoonists or enthusiasts (more info on this dedicated post). Here is the “protocol” of the constrained exercise. Let’s note here that the story remains “wordless” to facilitate the development of the narrative, as the presence of dialogues might complicate the action of linking the first and last panels together.

Step one: defining 9 elements (3 characters/ 3 objects/ 3 settings). See above.

Step two: each student draws a 6-panel regular grid on an A4 page. Every student must start the action of his/her story in the sixth (and last) panel using one or several of the 9 imposed elements. When done, he/she gives his/her page to the artist on his/her left. Time limit: 15′.

Step three: in the first panel of the page he/she got from his/her seatmate, the artist must continue the action he/she started on the previous page. Time limit: 15′.

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Student Kade reaches the end of the third step as she draws her second panel, using the therianthropic duck character and the “pound with lotus” setting turned into a “desert island”, in the top left panel of a page she received from her seatmate.

Step four: all pages, with only the first panel filled by an artist and the sixth panel filled by another artist, are gathered together. Each student randomly draws a number and -following order of the numbers- can select a page on which he/she will have to fill the four remaining panels (or panels 2 to 5), and link panels 1 and 6 into a somehow coherent narrative.

  Step five: each student must now fill the four empty panels (or panels 2 to 5) on the page he/she picked, and link panels 1 and 6 (each drawn by another student) into a somehow coherent narrative.

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Student Uang connects the imposed first panel (with faceless millipedes-cat drawn by a classmate) and last panel (with hybrid-elephant heads turned into meteorite drawn by another classmate) by filling panels 2 to 5 to form a somehow coherent narrative.

 The Final Story: As presented by the Association ChiFouMi, “the story that is made through all these joints makes an infinite loop, where all the elements that were produced before gives some kind of common road where each author can intend its own singularities and its own imagination, while following a protocol nearly invisible.”

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When the Loop is completed, pages are reassembled in correct order, and Anders Nilsen goes through the final story with the students explaining their often imaginative and exhilarating narrative twists. Here: student Kade explains her plot. Incidentally, this commented and collective reading of the resulting comics evokes the tradition of orally commented 30-meter-long graphic narrative scrolls (know as Bun Phra Wet) in North-Eastern Thailand and Laos.

It is interesting to note that a series of recurring motifs appeared throughout the narrative, without any consultation among the students. If “transformations” are obviously to be expected in order to link two disparate panels together, the frequency of “transformations by digestion” was here quite remarkable. Recurring motifs include ingestion, swallowing, vomiting, excretion (maybe in connection with the importance of food in Thai culture, or with gluttonous Brahmin Chuchok whose belly would burst in the Vessantara Jataka, or Krasue spirit with their internal organs hanging down from the neck?), and some related scatological elements, to which -and quite logically in a Buddhist culture- the recurring lotus flower raising from mud would balance. Karmic retribution, and Inception-like worlds inside worlds, were quite present too. The resulting comics was wild, and hilarious at times, as the following pictures show.

The PDF of the complete loop is downloadable on this link: CommDe Comics Loop.

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Page from the Comics Loop, with panel 1 by a first student, panel 6 by a second student, and panels 2 to 5 completed by a third student. Full story in PDF below.
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Page from the Comics Loop, with panel 1 by a first student, panel 6 by a second student, and panels 2 to 5 completed by a third student. Full story in PDF below.
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Page from the Comics Loop, with panel 1 by a first student, panel 6 by a second student, and panels 2 to 5 completed by a third student. Full story in PDF below.
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Page from the Comics Loop, with panel 1 by a first student, panel 6 by a second student, and panels 2 to 5 completed by a third student. Full story in PDF below.

The PDF of the complete loop is downloadable on this link: CommDe Comics Loop.


  DAY 1 in Anders Nilsen’s Open Studio. Part 02: the comics “scrabble/domino”. Anders Nilsen proposed another exercise to which the students were invited to participate whenever they wanted during the 4-day Open Studio. The American artist scattered some illustrations on different walls and asked the students to add new illustrations after, before, above or below his own in order to generate strips, and narratives which would slowly spread across the walls.

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Anders Nilsen taped his inaugural illustration on the wall and explains the “scrabble/domino” assignment.
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Exactly 2 minutes later, the collaborative strip already takes a… digestive/flatulent turn.
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Collective & improvised “scrabble/domino” comics, by Anders Nilsen and his students.
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Collaborative improvised comics; using characters generated earlier, Anders Nilsen and the students added panels to the strip throughout the day. Never without some cooking.

DAY 1 in Ephameron’s Open Studio. Part 02: figure drawing. Meanwhile Belgian artist Ephameron lets her students release some steam, after a challenging and focused day of short story analysis and story-boarding, by proposing a “figure drawing” session. Each student was invited to draw one of his/her classmates, respecting proportions and attitudes, and exploring various facial expressions.


DAY 2 in Ephameron’s Open Studio. Part 01: comics adaptation of various Raymond Carver’s short stories. At the end of previous day, Ephameron provided each of her students with a different short story written by American author Raymond Carver and mainly taken from the collections What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and Cathedral. Each student has the three remaining days to adapt his/her assigned short story into a comics.

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Students Mim (left) and Sharon (right) with Ephameron.
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Focused. From left to right: students Plye, Lukpear, Fern and Bank.
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Student Fai storyboarding a short story by Raymond Carver.
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Student Lukpear breaks down Raymond Carver’s short story The Calm into a 10-panel storyboard for Ephameron’s Graphic Narrative Open Studio.

DAY 2 in Anders Nilsen’s Open Studio. Part 01: Taming the Beast. As the Comics Loop resulted in a wilder-than-expected exhilarating narrative, the American cartoonist decided to go for an additional exercise in order to “tame the Beast” and channel the energy.

Anders Nilsen presented the students with Daniel Clowes‘ comics page “What Is the Most Important Invention of the 20th Century?” published on October 1989 in the first issue of his comics series EightballThe page is a visual adaptation of “the work of David Greenberger, who asked questions of nursing home residents and transcribed their answers in his zine The Duplex Planet.” Other Duplex Planet-inspired comics -with each story’s title is the question Greenberger asked, e.g., “Where Do Wiseguys Come From?”- appeared in Eightball #2 to 4, and 6 (see below for pics).

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Anders Nilsen presents Daniel Clowes’ “What Is the Most Important Invention of the 20th Century?” (October 1989).
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Daniel Clowes’ “What Is the Most Important Invention of the 20th Century?” published on October 1989 in the first issue of his comics series EightballThe page is a visual adaptation of “the work of David Greenberger, who asked questions of nursing home residents and transcribed their answers in his zine The Duplex Planet.”
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Title panel is left blank (for now). Imposed (and previously discarded) characters 1 to 5 have each to occupy their assigned panel, and explain what they witnessed during the “Event” of the Comics Loop. Students can then choose between characters 6 and 6′, who participated in the “Event”, to fill the final panel. When art is done, students add the imposed title “What Happened?”.

Here are some results from the “What Happened? – Clowes/Greenberger” assignment by the students.

What Winnie 05
“What Happened?” constrained comics by student Winnie.
What Bamie 01
“What Happened?” constrained comics by student Bamie.
What Arty 02
“What Happened?” constrained comics by student Arty.
What Rit 04
“What Happened?” constrained comics by student Rit.
What Punn 06
“What Happened?” constrained comics by student Punn.
What Wee 07
“What Happened?” constrained comics by student Wee.
What Kade 03
“What Happened?” constrained comics by student Kade.

And an extra constrained comics assignment:


DAY 2 in Anders Nilsen’s Open Studio. Part 02: Finding Anders Nilsen.  The American cartoonist did a short presentation of his journey as an artist, with the various defining steps and realizations mapping out his career path, such as stressing the importance of his sketchbooks in all aspects of his numerous projects. Some 25 of his books (from zines to graphic novels or collaborative productions) were on display in the classroom for the students to consult.

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Finding Anders Nilsen: some 25 books -from Anders’ early zines to latest graphic novels, sketchbook facsimile, coloring book or ChiFouMi collective projects- were available for consultation.

DAY 2 in Anders Nilsen’s Open Studio. Part 03: “I Almost Died!” assignment.  After a lot of fun, students were asked to work on a more dramatic and/or intimate (or humorous if preferred) 8-panel comics page starring two characters. The first character would talk about a time that they almost died. The other character only speaks once, to ask a question. Seven panels show the two characters, and one panel (selected by the student) shows something else.

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Getting serious, or trying. Anders Nilsen and student Kade discovering the “I Almost Died!” constrained comics.
Almost Died Kade 05
“I Almost Died!” constrained comics by student Kade.
Almost Died Bamie 03
“I Almost Died!” constrained comics by student Bamie.
Almost Died Rit 06
“I Almost Died!” constrained comics by student Rit.
Almost Died Arty 01
“I Almost Died!” constrained comics by student Arty.
Almost Died Punn 02
“I Almost Died!” constrained comics by student Punn
Almost Died Wee 04
“I Almost Died!” constrained comics by student Wee
Almost Died Tongkla 07
“I Almost Died!” constrained comics by student Tonkla

DAY 2 in Ephameron’s Open Studio. Part 02: comics adaptation of various Raymond Carver’s short stories. Students pursue their comics adaptations of assigned short story written by American author Raymond Carver and mainly taken from the collections What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and Cathedral.

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Ephameron and student Lukpear discuss the breakdown of Raymond Carver’s short story The Calm.
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Student Oom at work on the page breakdown of the Raymond Carver’s short story she was assigned: Tell the Woman We’re Going.

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After an exhausting second day, students Sam and Kade need a well-deserved rest…

PART 2/2 COMING SOON…


 

The Arrival: launching the Comics Studies section at the Library of the Faculty of Communication Arts

Comics Studies Chulalongkorn
Launching the Comics Studies section at the Library of  the Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University, with a first selection of comics-related essays and graphic novels.

It was about time to launch a modest Comics Studies section at the Library of the Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. First part of the inaugural order has already arrived with Hillary Chute’s Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form and Graphic Women: Life Narrative & Contemporary Comics, Barbara Postema’s Making Sense of Fragments: Narrative Structure in Comics, Matt Madden’s 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style, Nick Sousanis’ Unflattening, Thierry Smolderen’s The Origins of Comics: from William Hogarth to Winsor McCay, Thierry Groesteen’s Comics and Narration and The System of Comics, Neil Cohn’s The Visual Language of Comics: Introduction to the Structure and Cognition of Sequential Images, and the comics Deserter’s Masquerade by Chloé Cruchaudet and The Arrival by Shaun Tan. These books join the dozens of comics, manga, graphic novels and essays already available in Chula libraries; most of them are listed on THIS PAGE of our blog. More to come soon!