I hope you will forgive my very large indulgence in this blog post, but Thursday was the continuation of part of the unwritten narrative thread which goes through everything I do within “Images Degrading Forever”, So I hope you don’t mind if I share that here, this is where it belongs after all!
As some of you may know, my first published work was actually within the pages of Glamourpuss issue 12. The core point behind the text piece inside was how ridiculous and overblown so–called “serious” art journals can get when praising work
This was taken to its literal ironic extreme when drawings that I had done barely months after first picking up a pen and of terrible quality was featured as the drawings being hailed as the latest breakthrough in art with Dave Sim going as far to describe me as a “genius”…
With the joke or the source of the irony or parody being very clear – over hyped art critique, hyped to the point where the critique has failed to see the point or the intention of the art or the artist at all, to the degree where you can only conclude that its only worth talking about because they say so, a sort of self-perpetuating loop that keep that kind of art critique and that attitude going
Just to clarify my actual involvement in Glamourpuss is merely a question of happenstance and or luck depending on your point of view
The cover of Glamourpuss 12 had a beautiful drawing by Russ heath, arguably ruined by having my name plastered all over it:-
Following this the notion of Images Degrading Forever was delivered to me fait accompli by Matt Seneca and since then I have continually used and translated that expression by misappropriating quite a number of original works and representing them, but hopefully in a educational and ethical manner
Taylor Lilley of Orbital Comics described me as a “iterative curator” and that seems to be the closest actual description for what I am attempting to do, represent works and add something to them by doing so
So when I was invited to make a submission for Image Duplicators, the exhibition that wishes to take back art that Roy Liechtenstein “misappropriated” and to make new art that would focus on making statements regarding misappropriations- not only was this arguably rather meta for me, but I knew I had to return back a Russ Heath original as a way of apologising to Russ for inadvertently ruining his beautiful art for Glamourpuss 12
It was Chris Thompson who invited me and made this possible...
So this is my submission which you can go and see for yourself in the gallery at orbital comics
Robin Barnard after Russ Heath
Then we have the return of WHAT MEN…
WHAT MEN is very much of out of place within this blog as there was no explanation given, just the pages with the dialogue, there was no other clues - you had to put the whole entire thing together yourself – quite literally and that is exactly where I left it and where I think it should remain
Nonetheless some of my recent notoriety has unsurprisingly come about because of the publication of WHAT MEN
I was of course expecting this to some degree so this is already addressed inside the context of the comic itself
Still I was not expecting the attention of being featured in Orbital Comics Orbiting pod podcast and being interviewed by Chris Thompson at the LSCC
Notoriety aside there was - at least for now - one part of the process that was missing and that was to give Dave Gibbons a copy of WHAT MEN in person
Dave Gibbons was of course the central point of Image Duplicators with his fantastic “WHAAT?” being an perfect encapsulation of the exhibition as a whole:-
"WHAAT?" By Dave Gibbons after Irv Novick
So I brought along the drawing I originally showed Dave Gibbons at Kapow when I told him I would be redrawing all of Watchmen Chapter V by hand - which Dave Gibbons had signed..
and then I handed him the last print copy of WHAT MEN I had:-
Which came complete with a Rorschach hand sketch:-
So yes, I was returning the art back to its original creator, in the middle of an event precisely all about exactly the same thing
Dave Gibbons is of course the most genial person you could hope to meet, he is welcoming, approachable and always positive, and he appeared to be flattered that I had gone to such effort.
I was half expecting him to say “WHAAT?!” …which would have taken the meta irony yet further
I of course was careful to warn Dave with regards the content of WHAT MEN as something he might not like!
Dave did ask if he was featured inside WHAT MEN to which I answered truthfully as yes he appears as the avatar of the creation he is singularly most associated with in Watchmen, Dan Dreiberg…
Who is a combination of a number of things Dave created or has experienced in his career, the most notable being his actual experience of wearing a super hero costume as the Big E in Tornado…
Dave was quick enough to see that WHAT MEN was on some level about “before watchmen” on his own, I only hope that doesn’t colour his experience to much
In all honesty and fairness that is probably the last I will hear, but Dave was kind enough to spend five minutes being positive and was honoured that someone would spend the time recreating his work
Then all us Image Duplicators went outside for a group photo:-
Left to Right: Robin Barnard, Dave Gibbons, Karen Rubins, Garry Leach, Mark Stafford, Mark Blamire, Jason Atomic, Rian Hughes, David Leach, Fufu Frauenwahl, Strictly Kev, Michelle Amir, Loz Atkinson, Graeme Ross and Steve Cook taking the photo.
And by pure circumstance I ended up standing right next to Dave Gibbons, wearing a custom T-shirt of a panel from WHAT MEN
So what happens after all this is anyone’s guess, maybe Strictly Kev can provide an answer…?
Strictly Kev of course did a piece for the Image Duplicators directly inspired by Watchmen and as a reaction to Before Watchmen:-
And… Strictly Kev had actually brought one of the print copies of WHAT MEN!
So Kev and I had quite a number of interesting conversations and Kev was full of suggestions for future projects I might consider – during these conversations I mentioned that I have already redrawn all of the “Tales of the black freighter” panels from Watchmen by hand and these was just sitting in inventory waiting for something to happen to them...
One day, who knows!
Still although this all may sound more than a bit egotistical it is events like this that provide the fuel I need to keep drawing and if you have been following me for a while I maintain that I am not that skilled, so I hope to be a demonstration to anyone who wants to draw, that all its takes is time, persistence and networking
All kinds of wonderful things just seem to happen of their own accord after that, just witness all the above, none of which was planned!
If I can do it, anyone can do it!
The Image Duplicators exhibition is on at Orbital Comics in London until the 31st May 2013, all proceeds are going to The Heroes Initiative
Bleeding Cool was as the launch party and they provide a much better review of the Image Duplicators event
A special and person thanks to Chris Thompson, Rian Hughes, Jason Atomic, Dave Gibbons, Strictly Kev, all the Image Duplicators, and Orbital Comics
Let Image Duplicators last - Forever...!