On a crisp, autumn night in the city – a forgotten piece of British comics history is waiting patiently for my arrival at London’s kooky Cartoon Museum, and I’m rushing from my day job to make it in time. Doctor Who is poised to peak his historical head over the shoulders of one of its own creators, hoping to inspire a small group of nerds, brought together to marvel at a story told by Dave Gibbons himself in a small space – at the heart of the Doctor Who in Comics exhibition. With original art and Doctor Who memorabilia displayed in glass cases all around us, a number of carefully placed seats slowly start to fill with familiar looking, awkward nerds – and a silent anticipation begins to build.
Dave Gibbons emerges from behind us and – (rather casually) strolls down the centre aisle towards 2 empty chairs with rep from the museum leading him in – there follows a short intro to the life and work of Dave himself, as he sits in (a rare) silence and waits for his turn to speak. Introductions over – Dave begins with stories of his early work on Doctor Who and bleeds into stories of other, comedic collaborations, technical tips AND news of a new project with writer Mark Millar, set for release in February 2012. Dave also revealed a few priceless tips and insights into how he works – the one that sticks in my mind was that, comic artists never ‘finish’ their work… they only abandon it, suggesting that an artist whom is free to work with no deadline – will strive for perfection, a task that’s obviously always, just out of reach (in the mind of a creator anyway). Dave’s obvious experience and wisdom was fascinating and his anecdotes from previous projects kept the room transfixed for the duration.
I’ve actually met Dave Gibbons once before at a drawing tutorial session in his hometown library (St Albans – just outside London) and was lucky enough to get a copy of Watchmen signed at the time. So when the ‘compare’ for the evening asked Dave to stay for a while and sign some books for us all, I realised… I did have ‘something’ on me… that could, potentially become a funny story at some point.
Being an aspiring artist myself (feel free to read/comment on my WebComic Celerity), I’m keen to read and learn how other artists work – and I’ve recently been looking at Bryan Hitch. I just bought a *signed* copy of Bryan’s book – Ultimate Comics Studio – and have been reading/studying it for a while now. So, at this point in the evening I’m already about 6th in the queue to meet Dave Gibbons – with a signed copy of Bryan Hitch’s studio book in hand, and a rather guilty look on my face. I start to wonder what he might say when I arrive at the front to shake his hand – and ask him to sketch in another creators instructional manual?!
Dave was very kind and saw the funny side… I found a suitable page in the book where Hitch explains the process of panel layout, with a small clutch of example (empty) pages panelled out. Dave filled the biggest panel he could find with a fantastic little (3 second) sketch of Rorschach – and was happy to sign it. I hope to meet Bryan Hitch at some point and maybe ask him to answer back with a sketch of his own.
I told Dave where to find this column and he did say he’d check it out… Thanks Dave if you are. 😉 Feel free to leave a comment!