Archive for the ‘ media/news ’ Category

Princes in the Tower – animation for the Tower of London

(This was written ages ago before my shoulder went pop! Also! Sorry to be unprofessional for a brief moment, but… TL;DR version: if you even vaguely know me, you’ll know that when we got the email for this project, I literally shit all my bones and wondered if I had, in fact, died and gone to heaven.)

At the end of 2012, me, Paul and Emma were contacted by the Tower of London to make an animated short based around Edward V and Richard of York, aka. The Princes in the Tower. It was to be screened in the Bloody Tower, where they have the current display focusing around these two: possibly the Tower’s most notorious prisoners guests prisoners short-stay holiday makers prisoners young people, as part of a drive to increase the modernity of the Tower itself. We needed little introduction to this particular piece of history (*COUGHCOUGHCOUGH*) and met up with Tower staff to discuss the outcome and what they hoped to achieve, and what we could realistically produce. I’d like to take a second here and speak about how freakin’ awesome the Tower staff are. (They are super rad and we feel really lucky to have worked with them!)

For those who are not aware of the figures, here’s some info:

Edward V of England
Richard of York
Richard of Gloucester/Richard III of England
Edward IV of England
Elizabeth Woodville (I went briefly to Elizabeth Woodville Primary School in Leicester!)

Our initial idea involving life-sized, animated shadow-play had proved to be impossible due to the physical restrictions of the Bloody Tower, but we took with us the idea of using strong contrast for the final look of the piece. We also hoped that the use of stark red, black and white would avoid the piece looking very dated/aging too quickly, and also allow the animation to be as clear as possible over the texture of the interior of the Tower’s walls (textured like… well, a medieval wall), and the lighting situation (also medieval). We were not really able to use chunks of text or lots of dialogue as so many visitors to the Tower would not have English as their first language, so, it was up to us to try and make something engaging and informative and atmospheric just through pictures, focusing on the more modern aspect that the Tower is working through, making it creepy, keeping it ambiguous due to historical black holes, and so on, and so forth. It was a challenge, for sure, to make this all under 2 minutes. With that in mind, I wanted to try and aim for a sooooort of music video type thing, and took a lot of inspiration from anime openings/endings. We were also really happy that Ewan Parry was able to work with us on the Sound Design for the piece — we’ve worked with Ewan a few times before for various projects, and we’re good friends, and it’s always nice to work with friends!!!

So, obviously, Paul’s done a fair amount of animation before and is really good at it, whereas I have completely not done any and tried to learn as we went under his watchful eye! ^^; I wrote the story out and bashed out a few rough storyboards, and once everyone was happy with the idea, we moved onto making further rough storyboards, and basically just diving straight into developing the thing. Paul handled the 3D and the compositing, and helped out on the 2D. He used 3D StudioMax and AfterEffects, and I did the 2D in Photoshop.

Here’s the initial design Paul made early on as a basis for our style, when we were compiling our pitch for the Tower:

And here are some more designs I made when I started storyboarding:

It was quite refreshing to literally not have the scope to labour over any aspect of the drawings. I had to learn quickly that in order to achieve anything at all, you gotta just GO GO GO DO NOT STOP DO NOT COLLECT £200 KEEP GOING WHAT ARE YOU DOING DRAWING FINGERNAILS STOP THAT KEEP DRAWING. Despite that, the designs for the boys’ hair was too complex really, and the line-thickness issue continued being a bit of an issue, lol. Well, I learned!

Here’s some storyboards-to-final-frames examples:

Here’s the animatic:

One of the important things we built into the piece was the space and potential to expand a few scenes. The animation itself was quite experimental in terms of its actual use for the Tower, and we want to wait for visitor feedback before thinking of expanding it. I’m really hoping we can! I would love to expand on the bit where the boys are playing, maybe add detail to Richard of Gloucester’s short scene, add dialogue perhaps, add bits to the ending… just add detail to make it feel even more lively, really. We’re hoping it gets good feedback! If you’re around in London during the summer, you should totally pop along to the Tower and check it out! Thanks so much everyone who’s asked about how we’re going with this, and giving encouragement, especially when we weren’t able to say what it actually was we were working on. It meant a lot to us… I really hope anyone who gets the chance to see it, really likes it *^_^*

…and as that’s a bit of a tall order for some people, very kindly, HRP have let us show it on YouTube! Please watch it and enjoy it (and pretend it’s massive and in a medieval Tower)!

Here’s where I need to mention we made a lot of artistic liberties, but we felt we had strong reasons for the majority of these! We are very aware that Richard of York didn’t join Edward until like a month(?) later, after he’d gone to the Tower, but chose to skip over this bit due to a worry of confusing and over-lengthening the plot, and we wanted to focus specifically on the two boys, so that to us, at the time, meant introducing them in the same scene. We skipped over Earl Rivers and Grey’s executions for the same reasons. Apologies for these points. To be frank, there’s such little information about the boys’ stay in the Tower, and it’s often hard to discern what was contemporary source material and what was propaganda.

As a closing note, we had a total blast making this. The Princes in the Tower is one of my personal favourite history subjects/mysteries, and to get to do this was… well, what I wrote in the first paragraph, haha. I think when people get involved in historical fiction it’s easy to get really close to the figures, even if it’s just a tiny thing like making a single illustration, or doing a quick sketch… it brings them to life again suddenly, and brings them through the ages briefly, to exist along with everyone again. I do feel pretty close to these kids by now; it seems like every other year I get to work with them! ^_^ It does make me really sad that we’ll likely never know what happened to the two boys. The speculation about what occurred is fun and all, but at the same time, these were two young children who went missing, almost certainly for political reasons, and that’s really uncomfortable to think about. I do not believe the bones in the Westminster Urn belong to them. I wish we knew more. Every time I draw them or get into a project with them, I worry that I might be cheapening some aspect of their lives and role in history… I hope I’m not.

Interviewbs.

Very nearly done with our animation project! We should be able to talk all about it soon, I’m so excited! ^_^ In other exciting news (well……. exciting for me), I finally got a new monitor, so, hopefully no more embarassing mistakes caused by a less-than-good monitor ;_; Ugh….

So, I did a couple of written interviews recently. These types are my favourite, as I can take it slowly over a couple of days and try and really think about any tricky questions. Or, just have lots of fun with the fun questions!! Here’s my interview with Razberry Juice Magazine, and here’s my interview with Steve of The Beat. These are both pretty comprehensive and were great to do, haha! Thanks so much, RJM and The Beat! ^_^

Okay, Young Avengers #6 is out soon! Omg!!

Places.

I need to update my list of places you can find me! I keep forgetting to put it into my website… let me put it here, hopefully it’ll make me remember.

Twitter / @autojoy (very active!)
Tumblr / schmautojoy (active)
Flickr / autojoy (very inactive…)
This is My Jam / autojoy (active-ish)
ScentBase / autojoy (active-ish)
Google+ / Kate Brown (very inactive…)
Instagram (or Webstagram) / autojoy (active)

In other news, I’ve just completed a set of illustrations for a Phoenix Tale Feather short. I used a different style, and really enjoyed the chance to exercise my illustration skills. I’d like to do more, but illustration gigs don’t come up for me that frequently (probably because…. I’ve not really pursued them, haha). I’ll post the pictures once they’ve been published — to my knowledge, they are going out in the Hallowe’en issue. The story itself was right up my alley (as well Editor Ben knew!!)… very interesting fairy-tale material. I read it several times ^_^

Last week, I was in Dundee, visiting the Comics module they have going on there at the DJCAD. I was very impressed. I met and spoke with Phil and Chris who are running the Comics Module and the Comics MLitt courses, respectively. They both have a deep love of comics, current and past, and seem to have their heads screwed on in terms of what would be useful to the students. A good deal of their budget is set aside to invite professionals currently working in the field to visit and speak with the students, which I think is so vital… we only had the one guest (Paul Grist! :D) come to our course for the Swindon HND SA, and I felt it was exceptionally beneficial, and a serious shame we were unable to have more guests visit. (Also certain tutors may have spoken over the top of said guest a fair bit…………….) The Dundee courses also work towards compiling an anthology of the students’ comics so they have something definite to work towards, are able to learn about print etc., are able to see their work in real print, and are able to take the book along to events and sell it. So! Yeah, I was very impressed, and I wish them the best… I hope it expands into a full-blown BA! I think that’d be excellent! With what’s achieved in the space of 10 weeks for the Module students, imagine what could be done in three years…! Many thanks to Phil and Chris for taking care of me for my visit, I felt very welcome.

ALSO DUNDEE HAS A VOLCANO OMG!!!!!!!!

British Comic Awards – Young People’s Comic Awards

Well, wow!! I was super surprised and rather shocked that The Lost Boy is up on the nominee list for the YPCA this year! The other nominees are rather super, so I’m really quite flattered to be up there with them. I wish everyone the best of luck! It’s great that the BCAs/YPCAs are doing ace work getting these comics into the hands of school-age children… it must be pretty fun to be one of the young people judging the awards, eh :D

Whilst the YPCAs have been running sucessfully for a couple of years now, this is the first British Comic Awards ceremony we will see. I am very excited to see who will be nominated in the categories, and so happy to see such enthusiasm and great care taken over UK comics! Go Brit Comics! :D

Sexism in Comics

The highly skilled and articulate Paul Duffield has written a large essay regarding his views on the issue of sexism in comics. I think it’s an essential read, actually. It’s here: http://www.paulduffield.blogspot.com/2012/03/sexism-in-comics.html

I’m really keen for people to add to his data collection… there was only so much he could do counting and analysing our personal collection, and the couple of stores in the town centre that sell comics.

GFF and GRC

(Don’t they sound like sound effects…? I must use Grc! at some stage… :D)

I’m looking forward to next month’s Glasgow Film Festival. I’ve not visited Glasgow before, so that should be fun! I’m doing a one-woman panel and a multi-woman panel. I should have a few of copies of Fish + Chocolate along with me, should anyone wish to purchase them post-panel.

My interview at Girls Read Comics Too went up recently as well. The “secret project” I’m talking about was The Lost Boy – I completed the interview a while back, before I was able to talk about the project for reals.

That’s about all, in terms of news… sorry. Um… our laptop got a horrid virus? I nearly lost some files? I suppose that’s sort of dramatic. In a way. (Sorry).

Events, reviews, interviews

(Well, that’s a… pretty descriptive title! Um… here we go!)

I’m very excited to be a guest at Malta Comic Con, which I have heard many good things about! I’ll be there along with good company. If you’re looking to go to the convention, I’ve been assured that they organisers are able to offer some great transfer and accommodation rates for travellers, so do give them a buzz on info@maltacomic-con.com!

You may also wish to check out the Co-Promotional Scheme the organisers are running, which looks like a great opportunity ^_^

In bookish news, I went along to the Turnaround warehouse recently to sign and sketch a pile of Fish + Chocolates! :D It was really interesting to see the inside of a distribution warehouse. For my sketch, I drew a unique potato smile in each one, haha! Look out for these special potato-ed editions! :D I wanted to collect a couple of things related to Fish + Chocolate here, too…

Interview for Fat Quarter Magazine: Bloody Mothers. I really enjoyed doing this one!

Review (in Spanish – use Google Translate) by Little Nemo’s Kat: Tortured Motherhood. Note that it also pimps Page 45, which is one of my fave comic shops and certainly worth the visit if you’re in or around Nottingham! :D

Sigh. Comic shops. Oxford used to have a Comics Showcase, but that shut down. There are a few floppies and random tankoubon in Truck shop on Cowley Road, but it’s not quite the same as having a COMIC SHOP. I think our closest one is in London. That’s depressing, guys. Really depressing.

That said, the comic shops I’ve been to recently have all been THE SHIT. If notions of gloomy, pungent, cramped, un-woman-friendly comic shops still lie in the mind of the public conscious… it can slope off into the corner now. I don’t think I’ve been to a poor comic shop for years.

In other news, I’m still working hard on The Lost Boy for The Phoenix! I’m having lots of fun. I hope it will be as much fun to read! :D