(with thanks to Paul Gravett): The Hypercomics Exhibition in Pump House Gallery in London’s Battersea Park has just been picked as exhibition of the week and given five stars by Time Out London.
For innovative comics creator Daniel Merlin Goodbrey a hyperomic can be defined as “a webcomic with a multi-cursal narrative structure.
“In a hypercomic the choices made by the reader may influence the sequence of events, the outcome of events or the point of view through which events are seen… it’s that element of reader choice and interaction that makes a hypercomic a hypercomic.”
Paul Gravett, who has been pushing the comics form for over 25 years through projects such as the fondly-remembered Escape magazine, is enthused by the Hypercomics concept and will be giving a talk on it tonight (Wednesday 15th September) as part of the SW11 Literary Festival.
“For me, the key to Hypercomics is their ability to branch off into multi-linear yet interrelated storylines and push against the traditional constraints of the page format, reading order or panel layouts we’re used to,” he notes on his web site.
“Comics have been defined for so long by their print incarnations, and even now most webcomics conform to individual ‘pages’ within the standard rectangular computer screen. Hypercomics explore where the medium might be heading next, especially with the growth of iPhones, iPads and other Readers and the scope of greater interactivity. I’m convinced that there’s massive potential still to be unlocked in how we create and experience ‘the shapes of comics to come’.”
“If comics were once the preserve of spotty teens, the culture of the modern graphic novel has come of age,” notes JJ Charlesworth in the Time Out review.”…’Hypercomics’, curated by comics impresario Paul Gravett, is a superb exhibition of work by comic artists who experiment with non-linear narrative forms, while using the three dimensions of the gallery space as a sort of expanded canvas.”
The exhibition features the work of Jerwood Prize-winning artist Adam Dant, who has transformed the top mezzanine level of the gallery into the period tromp l’oeil library of a Doctor London; Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, with a piece called ‘The Archivist’, createing an alternate history for the gallery as an archive for infamous glam-rock dictator Hieronymus Pop and charting the facets of its lone archivist at work, at play and in dreams (this can also be viewed online at http://e-merl.com/archivist); Dave McKean‘s ‘The Rut’ presents three characters’ viewpoints of an assault in the park: Perpetrator, Victim and Witness; and Warren Pleece’s animated installation ‘Montague Terrace’, through which the audience can to pry into the lives of four dysfunctional tenants: Marvo the magic bunny, the insidious Puppeteer, Paul Gregory the wannabe celebrity and Babushka an unlikely covert spy.
Pleece imagines the Pump House redeveloped as the Montague Terrace apartments and turns the gallery space into a fifth seedy flat from which to spy on the other ‘inmates’.Working with Nick Kalpony, Paul chose the Pump House Gallery – a huge tall pump house built in 1861 – for its unique location, describing it as “a hidden gem, a quirky four-floor tower tucked away in Battersea Park.”The location came first and I saw it as defining the exhibition, as both a space and a setting. I asked all four artists to respond in some way to it in their pieces, imagining their stories around it, creating an alternative existence, past, present or future, for the building.
“The other proviso behind the Hypercomics exhibition was to encourage the artists to explore different forms and formats of comics. During their print incarnation, comics have conformed to the page and book, but their origins go right back to the very first art galleries, caves. What happens when we liberate comics from the confines of the standardised uniform page and the system of reading only one, singular story from beginning to middle to end?”
If you’re in London, this is a ground-breaking exhibition clearly worth visiting. For more on the background and some stunning photographs of the exhibition and launch event, visit Paul’s web site.
• Paul Gravett will be giving an illustrated talk about the Hypercomics show tonight (Wednesday 15th September) at 7.00pm, as part of the SW11 Literary Festival, entitled More Than Words Can Say: The Future Is Graphic.
• Hypercomics runs till Sunday 26th September (closed Monday and Tuesday). More details: www.pumphousegallery.org.uk. There’s also an ipad app and a mini site at www.hypercomics.info to compliment the show