Stripped Event Report: Will Morris and Edward Ross

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Stripped
was the 2013 Edinburgh International Book Festival’s major comics strand which featured many talks and workshops with comics creators both British and from overseas. Stripped had its own blog which featured book reviews, previews of events and post event reports as well as links to video interviews with the guests and some full length video or audio recordings of the 1 hour talks. Not all the event reports made it onto the Stripped blog before it stopped being updated and so downthetubes is taking the opportunity to run some of them here.

British creators Will Morris and Edward Ross were interviewed by Dr Chris Murray for a talk that Stripped entitled ‘A Pair Of Innovators Club Together’.

While the majority of the Stripped events were with creators of many years experience the Edinburgh International Book Festival has a history of promoting new and emerging talents and so the Stripped programme included two local writer/artists, Will Morris and Edward Ross, who have both recently taken the step into professional comic book creation.

Will Morris is the creator of The Silver Darlings, a black and white line and wash graphic novel that explores superstition in the dying days of the Ayrshire fishing industry as well as being an artdroid for a Tharg’s Terror Tale in 2000AD. Edward Ross is the artist for a series of medical research comics, Hope Beyond Hype about stem cells, and Malaria: The Battle Against A Microscopic Killer, as well as producing his own series of comic book essays on film theory entitled Filmish.

Chaired by Dundee University’s Dr Chris Murray, the pair of friends talked about their influences and the inspiration for their work. As a child Edward read The Beano, Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes as well as making his own comics, it was his wife that eventually introduced him to American comics, but his first passion was for film and he did a film course at university. Will, who studied archaeology at university, read superhero comics in his teens but drifted away from them and didn’t really come back to the medium until he read Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis whilst on holiday.

Stem Cells Cover
Film was never far from the discussion and both men agreed that comics were like films except that the creator has to take all the parts both in front and behind the camera. However that allows comics to tell any story as they are not constrained by budgets in the same way that the film industry is. They also agreed to a love of Chris Ware’s work which Will read after Persepolis while Edward described the medium of comics as a language that is not written down and so not fully defined but that Chris Ware is a creator that is expanding its horizons. While Will thought that it was hard to tell if comics and graphic novels were reaching a tipping point in the United Kingdom, he appreciates that there is a great diversity of creators on the comics scene at the moment and that there was certainly a lot of goodwill towards comics as BookFest was showing.

On-line digital comics are seen as a way into the industry for many and they were asked if they had experience of them. Will did do an on-line comic for a while but treated it as a print-style comic that just happened to be on-screen as he prefers to have a book in his hand and get his nose right up to the drawings. Edward considers that digital is a necessity for a lot of people starting up but that web at the moment leads to print. He believes that digital needs to get to a point where the people who create them have grown up with digital comics and therefore more fully understand them as a medium, and that will take a generation.

As for their methods, as The Silver Darlings needed a story arc Will wrote a full script first before wrestling the images onto paper as pencil roughs and then used a light box to transfer that onto board for the inking and wash effects he uses. Edward on the other hand uses a Wacom tablet to draw digitally and while Will has no way back when he uses his ink and wash, Edward’s digital drawing can lead him into the trap of constantly reworking his images. This has taught him to be more precise about what he wants in the first place and his science comics need to be very precise.

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Will Morris, left, and Edward Ross, right, signing at Stripped BookFest

When asked about advice for budding creators, both men gave similar answers. Will believed that however they did it, it was important for new creators to get their work out there so that they could get feedback on it but that they should not do their own project unless they were 100% behind it. Edward’s advice was that aspiring artists should not wait forever for the right project to come along – decide what they felt comfortable doing and do it.

It was a sentiment repeated by many of the Stripped guests over the course of the festival to budding creators – just do it.

There is more information on Will Morris’ work on his website: whmorris.com

You can read an interview with Will Morris on the Stripped blog.

You can read a review of The Silver Darlings on the Stripped blog.

There is more information on Edward Ross’ work on his website: edwardmaross.blogspot.co.uk

You can read Edward Ross’ Malaria at: www.malariacomic.com and his Hope Beyond Hype at: www.eurostemcell.org/hopebeyondhype

You can read Edward Ross’s thoughts on non-fiction comics on the Stripped blog.

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  1. “Filmish”, Edward Ross’ first graphic novel, set to debut in November | downthetubes.net
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