Gareth A Hopkins

These pages will be kept updated with forthcoming gallery shows and news on completed artwork.

Pages from my ongoing surreal/abstracted comic 'The Intercorstal' can be found here: The Intercorstal

My deviantart gallery, chock-full of my art, can be found here: grthink

Stories from my (old) walk to and from work can be found here: Trolleys In Odd Places

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Wolfman's Got Nards

While I had breakfast this morning, I watched the end of The Monster Squad, which was on Sky Movies. It's a film that I used to watch a LOT as a child, back when I lived in Aberaeron (my brother bought his copy on VHS from Aberystwyth's WHSmith) and watching it back now, while it's obviously dated, it's still as good as I remember.

What it also reminded me of was that a while ago -- a year, year-and-a-half, maybe -- I made these two illustrations of an iconic scene from the film for a zine project. But yeah, here I am, finally sharing the pictures I did. As well as the differences in colour between the two, there's also the change in order of the first two panels. Don't know which one I prefer, if I'm honest.

Monday, 28 January 2013

"So, how's things going, with your art?"

I'm often asked how things are going, what I'm working on, etc. Becasue of any number of reasons, I'm quite reticent to share -- occasionally, I can't remember what I'm actually working on because I'm thinking about what I'd rather be working on, for instance. Or I get flustered trying to explain I'm making an abstract comic by drawing on packing labels that I've stuck to pages that I've rescued out of the recycling at work.

So, here's a quick list of what I'm working on, want to work on and should be working on (as much to help me remember as anything else):

Resyk: This is that abstract comic based on pages nicked out of the recycling at work I mentioned above. The pages were double-sided but there was only three of them, so that's 6 finished pages of work. The first two pages are included at the top of this blog. Trivia: The word 'Resyk' is nicked from Judge Dredd, and is the name for the facility in Mega City 1 where dead bodies are sent to retrieve important natural resources like water and carbon.

Vineland: Last year I managed to come into possession of two tattered 1st edition copies of Thomas Pynchon's Vineland (one of my favourite novels). I've just started making inroads into 'working it up' by drawing on each page, inspired by Tom Phillips' "A Humument". So far I've done testers on the blank pages at the back, but soon hope to start on in full.

The Intercorstal: Elipses: I've been promising this for a year and a half now -- a collected retrospective of everything I've done related to The Intercorstal. I've rescanned all the pages, and ow have to go through the arduous task of formatting them all so they print at least consistently. I'll get it done eventually.

The Intercorstal: Ladythings: A long while ago I won some ephemera from the artist Kye Sanga that I promised to turn into a comic. This included a cheap, torrid little romance book, some Piano tuition books, some beads and a few polaroids of total strangers. I've not made a start, as frankly I've got no idea how to start, but will get there eventually.

The Intercorstal: I still need to do some more 'traditional' Intercorstal pages, to keep that side of the whole project moving. I'm too easily distracted by the lure of detournement of exiting images, though.

Secret 7: At Faye West's suggestion I'm going to give this year's Secret 7 a go. No idea which artist to illustrate for, or whether to do more than one, or whether I'll have time to even get one done.

Mr Soft:  Waiting for the final images to be published, but all the works been done and I'm really proud of what I produced. I've blogged about it elsewhere.

Secret Project: I've been invited to be a part of an ambitious project which I've sworn myself to secrecy over. I've completed one image for it, which is one of the best things I've ever done, but still have to do another nine, at least.

Trolleys: It's not really a project, more of an obsession with instagraming pictures of stray trolleys. But I've started to be sent photos by other people, as also happened when I was maintaining the TrolleyBlog, so something might end up coming of it after eventually. Who knows.

Um, I think that's it. But it's quite a lot. Oh, and I've already started collecting more photos from P&O brochures, and they'll probably get done before some of the stuff in this list...

But yeah. I'm busy.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Mr Soft Page X

'Mr Soft Page X' which used to be 'Mr Soft Page 1' until  I replaced it with something different.
The Mr Soft project I've posted about recently is finished. I've completed the images, scanned and cropped them and they're ready to be sent off. Once they appear in print I'll post details of where that is (France, mostly, for those wondering).

Here's the first image I started as part of the project. It's quite a literal illustration of one of the sections in the novel Mr Soft appears in, 'And He The Mother Of Them All'. In this scene, Mr Soft stands and watches the explosion of a bomb he's planted on the other side of the city from the safety of a hotel room. He watches a cloud of toxic gas rise from the explosion, and works out that he's got enough time before the cloud reaches him to... well, he calls hotel reception and gets them to send up a prostitute, as he gets 'the scalpels' from his zebra skin suitcase.

I grew unhappy with this image as I was working on it. I couldn't make Mr Soft ambiguously shaped and really nasty and looking out of a window all at the same time, so this was dumped and replaced with an image made of cut up catalogs, postage stickers and some ink.

Until the images are published, I won't share them -- I've posted enough details and WIP's on Instagram to give an idea of what I've done, so if you're interested search for the hashtag #mrsoft.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Intercorstal and P&O

I've just cut up a P&O Cruises brochure to get images as a starting point for another Intercorstal project, which I'll do either as the Mr Soft project finishes, or in tandem with it. This new project will be the fourth Intercorstal-related thing I've done which heavily uses P&O promotional material, having already completed:

Witches which was based on a set of 8 promotional postcards
Valentine, based on a brochure
Mr Soft, which uses cut up pages from a P&O brochure to make comics on two of the project's four final pages.

P&O isn't the only company that I've taken promotional images from as a basis to make comics -- Collider used pages from an IKEA catalogue and Butcher's Park was made from an Epic Learning brochure. Oh, and I have a sketchbook made from a Next catalogue. But why do I use these images, and why do I return to P&O so often?

I spend a fair amount of time thinking about this, although precious few people have actually ever asked me. Here's some reasons that I've come up with:

1. The Intercorstal as a project is mostly monotone, and at some point I decided that it needed some colour. I experimented with including colour in the 'traditional' pages, but was never really happy with it. The only 'released' example I can think of is "Taking Advice From Bryan Lee O'Malley" which I did for the second TwitterArtExhibit. So a way to introduce colour is to have it there already, and base the ink work on those. And I think generally it works really well, which is why I keep coming back to it.

2. Those source images are so beautiful in their own right, it seems a shame that they are so easily passed over and dismissed. They're used by the companies involved to inspire particular emotion in order to sell their product -- most people when reading these materials don't pay a great deal of attention to the pictures. Reusing them is my way of appreciating them, making them exist as objects of beauty, rather than just tools to sell cruises/furniture/etc.

3. Nobody does blue sky like P&O. That yawning expanse of pure blue is one of their biggest selling tools -- a place of opportunity, peace, hope, that people can buy into by going on one of their cruises. And it's a great tool to use when you're looking for colour to compliment and act as counterpoint to something like The Intercorstal, which is dense, complicated and often quite violent.

There's probably a hidden psychological aspect, too -- as there is with so much of my work. I mean, I've been on a couple of P&O (one of which I've blogged about here) cruises, and my wife and her family totally love them, but whether there's an emotional reason that I keep returning to them in my art, and responding to their image in the way that I do, is probably best left to a professional to decide.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Describing Mr Soft. 2nd Attempt.

Languishing in my draft posts is my attempt to describe why I've been creating interprative illustrations of Mr Soft. I doubt I'll be publishing it. Instead, here's some source material, taken from "The Complete New Statesmen", written by John Smith. The photo is an illustration by Brendan McCarthy, which I've taken as my cue for my project.

Excerpt from "The Pre-Pubertal Man", taken from "And He The Mother Of Them All".

    Lonnie waved up at Mr Soft with a tiny hand, shiny with amniotic fluid, and gestured for him to sit down.
    "So," Lonnie said, "what can I do for you?"
    "I want a disease, Lonnie. A Kurtzeimer retro."
    "You aren't thinking of hitting Harlem again, are you?"
    Mr Soft shrugged, and scribbled a skull-and-crossbones in the air with the tip of his crook. Lonnie laughed, the speech module turned it inot a funny rattling sound, like gravel in a tin can.
    The laughing must have been uncomfortable for the woman, though, because she moved in her sleep, moaning softly."

Friday, 4 January 2013

Oh, hello 2013

A new year brings with it a new set of promises to myself that I'll blog more. And maybe even update my website. But we'll start with the blogging and move on from there.

I've already started on one front, having posted two blogs to the Abstract Comics blog -- one about Collider and one about a pair of Intercorstal strips I did. 

But I feel kind of disingenuous there, because they both cover old work that I'd forgotten about and come back to, which would normally be the recourse of someone with no new work in the pipeline. Which is, thankfully, totally not the case.

I'm currently working on four images based on the character Mr Soft from the comic New Statesmen by John Smith, Jim Baikie, Sean Phillips and Duncan Fegredo. Getting people excited about this is pretty difficult, as the comic was around in the late 80's/early 90's and nobody really remembers it with any clarity, and Mr Soft wasn't even an actual character in the comic. So my first task, which I endeavor to complete in the next few days, is to put up a post about Mr Soft and The New Statesmen. If you feel particularly eager, I strongly suggest you read these recent reviews of The New Statesmen on the exemplary Suggested For Mature Readers blog:

In the meantime, have a peep at these WIP photos -- the process of making the pictures is being pretty robustly detailed through Instagram at the moment.

Cutting up a picture done on stickers prior to application elsewhere for No4.

Early work on No1.

About halfway through No2, although this image might still be scrapped.

Early work on No3, where pages from a P&O brochure were chopped into comic panels. Excuse the holey sock and toes on show.