Alice Urbino‘s powerful use of visual metaphor in comics to explore mood and state of mind so captured my imagination when I reviewed her self-published series Dimension that she immediately earned a place in what were then my tentative plans to spotlight ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015‘ here at Broken Frontier. I reviewed the first two issues of Dimension – an examination of a young man’s deteriorating mental state as he deals with depression, with fantasy elements thrown into the mix – here earlier this year.
Alice is also part of the Comic Book Slumber Party team up for a British Comic Award this year for their anthology Fairytales for Bad Bitches (also reviewed here at BF). As part of our ongoing series of ‘Small Press Inside Looks‘ where self-publishers discuss their work and artistic process, Alice talks today about Dimension, her graphic medicine comics and her illustration work…
S**t People Say to Chronic Fatigue Sufferers
Something you will notice about my art is that it tends to look different every time I make something new. I feel like I haven’t found my niche yet when it comes to technique, so pretty much every time I make a comic I experiment with different mediums. I’m hoping to find the perfect combination of something not too time consuming yet aesthetically pleasing at the same time. I made this comic very spontaneously, It wasn’t for anything, it was just something I needed to do. It was basically a way to let off steam after being annoyed by a friend. I was upset so I felt like if I wrote it down and put it on paper it would legitimize my feelings.
I was on holiday in Italy at the time and I didn’t have many tools… I found some gross crispy brushes and some old dried up acrylic paint and ended up using that. I kind of like how people think I did it with ink wash, but if you look at the original page, the paint is really thick and chunky.
When it comes to the subject of invisible illnesses, it can get pretty controversial. I feel like I should probably make more comics surrounding this and try to raise more awareness towards a subject that a lot of people misunderstand. The most common reoccurring feeling I see usually revolves around the judgement of others. People can be so quick to make assumptions about sufferers just because you cannot physically see their disability… and this needs to change.
This is probably one of my favourite pages from my ongoing comic series “Dimension”. In this page, the main character, Terry, is having an anxiety attack. He is upset about his recent break-up with his girlfriend, he is stuck in a dead-end job, and his mental health is deteriorating. Sometimes the littlest things can send you off… In this page, him having writer’s block is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and he becomes overwhelmed. My favourite thing to draw has always been people’s expressions. If I could get away with it, every panel would just be a close-up of someone’s face…. But that would be a bit ridiculous.
I think I used pen and ink for the first issue of this comic and I added grey tones in Photoshop. In the second issue, I move to using a brush and ink wash for a more loose feeling to it.
Preview: Dimension #3
Here is a sneak peek of part 3 of Dimension. I really like this opening page and I think it does a good job in showing how my art has improved since part 2. Part of me really wants to fight the urge to draw digitally, as I feel like traditional art is so beautiful, but I just can’t help but struggle with traditional mediums. I feel like this page looks so much better because instead of forcing myself to draw on paper I just casually did it digitally while laying in bed. Drawing with a tablet has always felt so much more natural to me but I really wish I was good at traditional art instead. I’m still struggling with this.
Hopefully part 3 will be the last part in the series. I will probably print it all together in one book once it’s done.
Here is a page from a comic I made for the Jonathan Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story Prize. I pretty much spent one hundred million hours on the first panel and rushed the rest of the comic. I didn’t win. I’m still proud of that opening panel though.
This isn’t a comic page but I always thought it was really cool. I think the best stuff comes out of me when I’m relaxing in bed just drawing whatever comes to mind. No thinking. No stress. No barriers.
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