Early in 2020, Scoop Magazine asked if was interested in illustrating a couple of stories in a comic strip style. I’ve secretly wanted to do something like this for some time so jumped at the chance. Furthermore, the strips were to be activist or historical, which is an approach that I like. My books are inspired by real life, after all.
A couple of stories has become one per issue. Almost every assignment is different from book illustration in the best possible way, of course. It feels like each story is slightly better than the last. I sketch them in pencil and finish digitally.
I am looking forward to finding a digital style. That medium requires a slightly different way of thinking to paint and canvas. I chose to use a tablet, which meant taking a chance and buying one. So it’s more expensive than working traditionally and more time-consuming learning how to make the digital tools do what you want.
The overall effect is that it feels like being a fresh new illustrator who is risking something to make this work. When there is a lot at stake it can be easier to focus and stay focused, which is a good thing. Still caught up in the excitement of each project I can see a bigger picture… a graphic novel one day, perhaps, or some other grand project involving telling a story frame by frame.
The work hasn’t gone unnoticed. One of the assignments was to tell the story of John Blanke, an African in King Henry’s court. It has led to a commission for the John Blanke Project. So on some level, the results are exactly as hoped. And it seems like Scoop readers are enjoying the stories too. Working with a team of people that have the same goal is always a pleasure ad they have been patiently supporting and fine-tuning each story.
Long may it continue.