Monday, December 12, 2011

True to Form 
collecting inspiration to shape Bill Hart's biography 

excerpt from "Soon the Moon", 2009

This blog has always been intended as a source of information & memories that surround Bill Hart. For you, the reader, to follow my journey and share a glimpse some of the amazing things I've discovered so far about this otherwise mysterious man.

As 2012 dawns upon us, I feel more aware of the choices I will have to face in making this book. One obstacle is returning to South Africa, specifically Johannesburg, a complicated affair if without the support of an artist residency. A pending application for the Bag Factory in Johannesburg could be the ticket to complete the research regarding Bill's life, however, while currently in limbo with few options, I must consider the alternatives. As one friend stated: "There are more then one way to skin a cat" -- mieeouw!

One way to bide time before the next voyage au afrique du sud is to actually START WRITING THE BOOK. I've been thinking...far too much...about the formatting and lay-out of the book. I want to give justice to Bill's artwork and the style of the comic has to have something of a retro 60's feel... It's very difficult for me to even make a little sketch without knowing just what kind of paper it will be printed on!

While searching for inspiration, I was introduced to Cyril Pedrous, who wrote & illustrated a graphic novel about his grandfather's life in Portugal, the book is simply titled "Portugal". His work reminded me that there is a certain level of consciousness in the dosis of auto-biography narrative when writing about influencial family members...

Excerpt from an interview with Cyril Pedrous in ZozoLala (read the full interview here):  

In hoeverre is Autobio autobiografisch?
...ik neem telkens een echte situatie als uitgangspunt, om er dan een aantal zaken aan toe te voegen of te vermengen met de gangbare clichés. En ik sta mezelf ook toe om te liegen! Het moet grappig zijn, dus ik vergroot soms wel het een en ander uit. (lacht)

Cyril concludes that thought with a witty:

Allez, het gaat hier over mijn eigen ervaringen en besognes. Ik begrijp niet dat ze dit opvatten als iets serieus. Bizar. We nemen onszelf toch niet al te serieus, hoop ik? 

A sense of humour is obviously very important!

Cyril was also very good about documenting his work process which he shared in this video:

Another artist who is currently following his path of family roots his JP Kalonji, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Grahamstown, SA during the National Arts Festival. It took us a few days to figure out that we were both on a similar endeavor which ultimately gave us little time to compare notes, as it were, on how each story would unravel.

JP has a very strong graphic technique which I admire for it's simplicity and ease. He uses graphite black pencils and special brush-pens from Japan but that's besides the point! JP has something likeable to comics superstar Will Eisner, by excluding standardized panels and letting the drawings overlap and feel the flow of the story.

African Suite, JP Kalonji
On our last night in Grahamstown, I took the opportunity to visit my aunt's long-time friend, Erin, who had been very welcoming to me at the beginning of my stay there. She didn't mind at all that I wanted to bring two friends along to her house for our last supper in South Africa...

the best lighting was in Erin's kitchen
Later, JP and I shared the 2 bottles of wine that we had brought with us, while Erin searched the house for Bill's artwork, which was given to her at some point or another by Bill himself. I took some photographs but insisted that Erin keep the artwork at her house, as it would have been quite awkward for me to take those pieces back to the Netherlands with me.

All the while I couldn't help but think that I had kidnapped JP, exposing him to real South African family vibes! During our dinner, I received many text messages from the Co/Mix team asking me where was JP!...Sorry guys, this was something that had to be done.

Now it's time to crack the whip and consider the narrative of my comic about Bill Hart: how much auto-bio is permitted in such a book, I wonder?


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