The webcomics blog about webcomics

To The Rescue, Like The Boss He Is

So this week, I’m teaching a full five-day class in four days (read: 10+ hour days), in a basement (read: no cell signal), hooked up to a highly-restrictive guest wifi account (read: no webcomics). I am arriving at the client before the sun is up, and gonna be exhausted by the time the day is done. This would ordinarily be a recipe for no content, but these are not ordinary times.

These are times that feature Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who always finds interesting stuff to talk about, and sends it to me at my least-likely-to-post times. Tell us about state of webcomics live performance events in the European Theatre, FSFCPL:

Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend a talk organized by the SOFIA at the Maison de la Poésie, which was about the ways cartooning can be put on stage; to talk on the matter, Boulet and Marion “Professeur Moustache” Montaigne¹ were interviewed by Paul Satis.

Readers of this blog are no doubt aware of events of this kind in comic conventions, most notably the Super Art Fight format created by Jamie Noguchi [Editor’s note: I believe that Ross Nover also deserves mention here], and such events are a regular occurrence in French comic festivals. Photos were shown of such an event a few years back of a format where cartoonists were costumed, in tribute to wrestling competitions, and where Boulet was a contestant (and he remarked that, just like wrestling, the refereeing was rigged).

However, most of the time these events do not conform to a particular format; in fact, Boulet was critical of these festivals that just put two cartoonists in front of one or two easel pads on a stand as a cheap way to create an event, and he added he did not like participating to such “battles” in general, or to similar “challenges” (e.g. quick successive drawings based on a surprise theme) because of the inability to build up towards a goal.

The same went for events where he had to improvise live based on, say, the music the band played: he mentioned having barely settled on what he was going to draw and started it when the mood of the music changed, leaving him always catching up to it and not providing an experience that made sense to the public. He still does live drawing in festivals, but he plans in advance the scene and only the actual drawing is performed live; no improv.

Montaigne mentioned that, unrelated to the challenge of improvisation, there was the matter of some artists having styles that were less suited than others for the exercise, in particular for artists who always rely on an initial sketch; this made Boulet and her sought-after artists for such events, as both can whip up expressive drawings in no time at all. She also mentioned feeling a duty to show up for such events whenever she could, so as to provide representation for female cartoonists for the people this could inspire in the audience.

Boulet then introduced the “drawn music performance” format he performs with band Inglenook. When Lyon BD festival initially asked him whether he could come up with an event combining music and live drawing, he contacted this band who he knew beforehand to see how this could be done.

He mentioned the biggest challenge was to come up with scenes than could each be drawn in the 3-4 minutes of a typical song: the band plays its songs like it would for any other performance, and he adapts to them, a bit like an additional band player who would play with a graphic tablet and a stylus instead of a violin and bow. He based his drawings on the song lyrics — or how he understands them, anyway, as they are often very symbolic. So as to provide some variation, they alternate songs where he draws with songs where he plays a prerecorded animation.

The talk was followed by a full performance of this “drawn music”. I found it pretty enjoyable; without giving too much away (it’s a kind of “you had to be there”-style event anyway), besides the songs where Boulet actually draws, there are others where an animation is being played where lines progressively appear and end up building a scene which feels much like when he draws, only that some light animation (e.g. red scribbles evoking a flame) occur, and lines progressively disappear at the end of each scene before the next scene starts (this also allows having a few scenes for a song, rather than a single one).

And for other songs a completely different “animation” style is used. Lastly, some songs are accompanied with a speed draw, which I found a bit odd: I am used to watching speed drawings set to music on the web, so I ended up paying more attention to the drawing than to the song, which may not be the aim here.

If you want to attend such a performance, I do not know where or when this will happen next, though your best bet would be Lyon BD, in June.

¹ Disappointingly deprived by nature of any facial hair in real life, much like our favorite mechanical engineer

As always, thanks to Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin for his reporting and analysis; as a special bonus treat, we’ll have another post this week regarding the latest on European webcomics crowdfunding. It’s a good’un.

Spam of the day:

Lost Navajo remedy found to reverse hearing loss

So, I’m confused — is “Chief Running Water” (ick … just ick) the “retired NASA engineer” who discovered the lost Navajo remedy? And if not, why is white dude in possession of more Navajo lore than any actual Navajo? It’s the implausible mixed with the irredeemably racist in one horrible, horrible spam. Good jorb!

² Fun fact that FSFCPL could not have known — as a result of supporting Angela Melick’s final Wasted Talent Kickstarter (whose books you non-backers can still obtain until 15 April!), I am (or will be, once shipping happens) the owner of the original of that particular comic. I know! Terrifyingly appropriate!

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