Regular readers will be aware that recently I travelled out to Bremen (which is in Germany) to hang and present 'After Smith', a set of Intercorstal pages all based on comics written by John Smith for 2000AD. It's just over a week since opening night, and with that in mind I wanted to relate, like some kind of society diarist, the ins-and-outs of everything that happened.
The reality is, I doubt you'll want to sit through 3,000 words of me saying how much fun I had, so I'll stick to bulletpoints, and if you get bored halfway through you can skip to the next one! It's the internet age, and I live by TLDR, and I'd understand if you do too.
|Projektraum 404 from the outside|
- Bremen is LOVELY. I mean, it could just because I was seeing it through the filter of Gregor (the owner/curator of Projektraum 404) and his group of friends. But I had a great time. A lot of it was spent wondering the streets with my fellow exhibitor Florian, who I embarrased a fair amount by taking pictures of geographical and social features. There're bikes everywhere, and once I'd learned that I was standing on their bit of the pavement all the cyclists stopped being rude to me. Seriously, if you have a free weekend, I'd suggest spending it in Bremen. It's aces. I hope to go back soonish.
- Opening night on the 11th was really fun. (I almost said it 'was a blast' but I don't really feel comfortable with that yet, I just don't think I'm the sort of person who 'has a blast' anywhere). I reckon about 40-50 people turned up. I'd prepared a book of the original 2000AD pages I'd worked from for After Smith and was forever coercing people into using it to compare my pages against. I also scared a few non-English speakers with over-excited 'youawrights' ("You all right?" but condensed) , which I use as a form of greeting but clearly sounded like nonsense to German ears.
'After Smith' on a wall.
- Florian and I were scheduled to give an artist talk on the 13th, which I think we were both quietly dreading. After kind of sorting out a projector, and making sure our selected images looked OK-ish, we quietly waited for everyone who'd said they'd come to materialise... 2 people did. So, in one respect, it was an abject failure. In another though, I had a great time ('having a great time' was pretty much par for the course, mind you). I got to wang on about comics to my heart's desire, and the food served by Kulturkueche was mindblowing.
- I've mentioned Florian - he's a French artist, who lives in Brussels. He's currently working on a 16-chapter comic, which is loosely about time travel, and includes a man becoming a new dimension when his time machine goes wrong. It's FANTASTIC (and also in French) and you should at least do yourself a favour by going to his website. For Abstrakte Comics 2, he'd also made a gigantic 'empty' comic which enriched everyone's lives.
Florian's 'empty comic'. Probably the half-way pint between sculpture and comics?
- The gallery, Projektraum 404 was in many ways my home for the weekend. It's based on the first floor of a house owned by a lovely couple called Jan and Julia and run by Gregor Straube, who I've mentioned. It's ambitious, fearless and also has a jam-packed calendar thanks to Gregor's work. I can't thank everyone involved enough for inviting me out and putting me up, and also putting up with me.
- On the subject of 'putting up with me'. If there's one thing I've learned about myself from my trip is that if I'm allowed to talk unchecked, I'll usually end up eulogising about comics. Gregor and Florian both learned the magic phrase 'You're doing that thing again' but not everyone who turned up on opening night had that luxury, and I wanged on about 2000AD and John Smith to an extent that might be surprising... except from someone who'd just spent three months putting together an exhibition based on how much I love 2000AD and John Smith.
- I also put up 24 pages from Intercorstal 2 which went across really well. People were able to take each page on its own merits, and people looking at them didn't constantly have me directing them to 'the book of originals'. I'm increasingly excited about '683', which is the natural step-up from Intercorstal 2, and is so far more cohesive.
Intercorstal 2 up on a wall
I'll leave it there, now. If you're still here, and don't know what 'After Smith' is, you should go HERE or better yet just download the free PDF, with an introduction to my madness courtesy of Tom Whiteley.
|Page 9 from 'After Smith' based on a page from 'Killing Time' originally by John Smith and Chris Weston.|