A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.
A fixture around the UK comics scene for years, the creative David Baillie has been strongly touted as set to make the jump to television. For those of you unfamiliar, here’s the intro from David’s friendly website,
“His work has appeared in 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine, Tripwire, Redeye, Comics International, Zombies, Robots and a dozen other fabulous places. His screenwriting has recently been nominated for a BAFTA/Rocliffe Award and shortlisted for the hotly-contested Red Planet Prize and Scotland Writes Drama Competition. Exhibitions of his art have been mounted in London, Edinburgh, Paris and Oxford.”
Baillie has recently completed The Casita Situations, with webcomic pioneer Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Italian architect Valerio Ferrari. “A micro-world” within the walls of the children’s mental health clinic at Avicenne Hospital in Paris, Ferrari conceived “a series of interchangeable wall panels…text, written in the diverse range of languages spoken by the young people there.”
Baillie and Goodbrey have thought through the language of visual psychology. The work is uplifting, and by design, engaging. The opportunity for patients to decide on placement allows for them to be a part of creating the environment they are in the care of, and so empowers. Also…dinosaurs, winged men, dog and cat-heads in suits…it’s super-kewl!
Goodbrey has reproduced the Situations online as a randomly generated hypercomic.
Baillie’s stint there seems an extension of this; the production of “an anthology of stories about Colchester and its inhabitants” arrived at through interacting with visitors. He’s to be involved in a master-class there, and I would guess he’ll be pulling extra shifts. Firstsite have decided that April is comics month. Their programme has contributions from writer/editor Pat Mills, historian Richard Reynolds and artists Simon Grennan, Ed Hillyer (Ilya) and Chie Kutsuwada. Boys and girls comics, contemporary art and comics and manga and subversion are to be explored in talks. There are also several schools sessions and activities for the family and children.
Oh, and a screening of Persepolis. All here.
I recently went through David’s website and read a bunch of the handsome, entertaining and free comics there. I was struck by the fact that Baillie is a fantastically great writer. His way with dialogue, particularly in ‘Scribe’ and the World’s Finest pieces, stand out like the shape of a fit model, endowned with intellect and great hips. Likewise “The indiscriminate device”, a powerful work, directed with pace and care.
Like the rest of his website, the comics seem a great lesson in how to present an online portfolio, with something in every medium, genre and style. Television executives, take note.
To end on, my capsule reviews of Baillie’s works to date.
The Belly Button Chronicles (2008) Webcomic diary of a man approaching thirty. Currently running near 300 pages and full of friendly observations, wit and varying shapes. Could so easily be lazy, but not Baillie’s way.
The Final Adventures of RocketBoy (2007) ‘Wittle’ protagonists in pastels and a smattering of computer-aided lettering in this Weekend Cupid Cutefest extravaganza with jetpacks. Occassionally too shallow and sweet, delivers a finale that made me both shed a tear and laugh heartily.
Tongue of the Dead (2007-08) From the first third of the book, a fluently related sword and sorcery adventure. Great page layouts and realised action scenes. Ordering a copy direct from the author via Paypal for only £10 (p&p included) will get you a personalised sketch too!
A Dog’s Tale – Nonsensical fun and fast-moving adventure narrative containing every something you could want out of a stupid comic. Recommended.
The Indiscriminate Device(2004-05) Well rendered scream from the heart.. One of the most affecting comics I’ve ever read.
Kwot – Slow starting science fiction evolves into a 2000AD-esque tale. Super-heroes, Hitmen, Mutants, robots and regular working folk. Dedicated to Will Eisner, containing a lucid and random-ness often found in his work.
Mindy / Pool – The trials of a pool attendant and a famous artist, visualised in classic minimal style. Full of wit, poignancy, sadness and frustration. No ill side effects, these comics have proved very popular with readers on the festival circuit.
Monkey and the Writer – Four shorts: cute and fun.
Scribe – Another brilliant piece of reverse-engineering iconography, or if you prefer, a story about writer’s culture and it’s ability to envelop or remove. Also, taps into universal and hidden notions we get from reading comics. A solid down-to-earth winner.
Just Like Greta Garbo (2005) A thinking, ripping yarn with deeply considered attention in this “World’s Finest” story. Visually disperses with show-off realist flash, opting for a fantastical friendly look, coloured using prettiness. Wholly functional and layers of cleverness. I like it, I like it a lot.
How I Learned To Love The City (2002) A short about the author’s big lifestyle choices. Artistic evolution in topic, content and form, with pleasing results. Optimism out of Drudgery.
Cradle to the Grave – Mini meditation on mortality, with anecdotes and Baillie’s running symbolism.
The Dream – Visuals only mini-comic dream diary. Simple and creepy. (2002)
The Ballad of Jack (2003) Short rhyming character meditation. Sensible words on lifestyle.
You can read most of these works and buy them at David’s website, http://davidbaillie.net