Margreet de Heer

A Calendar of Tales

February 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Events, NBM Blog

Widely beloved author Neil Gaiman has started the project A Calendar of Tales, in which he invites the world to make art with him. Using the tweets of thousands of people as an inspiration, he has written twelve tales, one for each month, and is now inviting artists to illustrate them.

I love this.

Even though I’m busy enough preparing the translation of ‘Science: a Discovery in Comics’ (to be published in September) and the second print of ‘Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics’ (Yay! A second print!) AND the usual assignments and commissions, I’m making time to get into this project, reading and illustrating one tale a day.

Why?

It doesn’t pay anything – and though it may generate some exposure of my work, it’s highly unlikely it will make a big splash amidst the thousands of artworks that are being uploaded.

I’m doing this because it’s FUN – with all capital letters – the kind of fun that working aith others in a studio or 24 Hour Comics Day brings me. It’s the pleasure of working without restrictions, combined with the energy generated by a whole bunch of people doing the same thing, riding the same creative wave. Yes, I know I sound like a hippie, but I can really feel this almost tangible energy that surrounds a project like this. It’s crisp, it’s fresh, it’s positive. It’s thousands of people making stuff that did not exist before. It’s miraculous.

I wish the world could be more like this: simply Creative, without worrying about payments or copyrights. I’m so happy with people like Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer, who are showing the world the power of connectivity and what it can do for art.

Anyway, here are my illustrations so far:

Even though the tales are only about two pages long, Gaiman manages to conjure up such a wealth of imagery. It’s in my comic artist’s blood to try to get as much of the story into my drawing: the soldiers, the forest, the beach, the couple with the champagne, and of course the Unspeakable Things that lurk behind the seconds… You can read the story here.

 

The February Tale became a tryptich. It’s about an old lady who lost a pendant on a beach – but she doesn’t actually feature directly in the story. So I wanted to draw her, and her reaction to what’s happening, something that’s only speculated about.

I surprised myself with this one. Even though I can often picture in my head what kind of drawing I want, it always turns out different. That’s partly, I think, because I never had any formal education in drawing. I have not tried different styles as much as I would have liked to. In the past years, working on my books, I have stuck closely to my “simple” drawing style. After such a long time of full time drawing, I find that I actually have built some skill, a certain routine, a confidence that I can make a drawing work on a page. And now I can apply that confidence to these drawings in a whole new way and style, and here’s actually a realistic-looking Old Woman, that I didn’t know I could draw until now!

 

The March Tale is about pirates and a Southern porch and when I read it, I immediately saw silhouettes, because that reflects the nostalgia as well as the frilliness of the story. But I’ve never really done silhouettes, so again this was a nice experiment, and again I surprised myself! And lo and behold, it also turned out to be a tryptich:

 

It’s my intention to illustrate all of the twelve stories in the coming week. It gives a nice new impulse to my work rhythm. It’s like pushing myself into new territories – full of discoveries and unexpected vistas.

If you want to get in on this project, you can! You should! Artwork can be submitted until March 11. You can read all about it when you click this link.

Join in!

As Neil Gaiman says: “Sure, the world is full of artists, but none of them is YOU. Don’t withhold the world your unique view on things.”

 

 

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