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Reporting back from the S.M.A.S.H Comics Pop Up Common Room

Written by Postgraduate Community
Published date 29 November 2016
Text and images by Tari Eguruze,
MA Design Management, London College of Communication
Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

The Postgraduate Community hosted their second Comics themed Pop Up Common Room, this time at the Barbican Centre’s Arts Library. In collaboration with the London Graphic Novel Network and the Dalston Comics (creators) Club. The aim was to provide an environment that fosters creativity and an open community, where the attendees can learn from each other, in order to develop their sequential narrative skills.

The “S.M.A.S.H. Comics Creators Club” workshop was thought up by MA Design Management and Cultures student Tari Eguruze from London College of Communication, as a part of his research into the different ways in which events focused on Comics can be catered towards an audience in terms of both their content and environment. The workshop was the first of two comics events for the day at the Barbican Centre, the second being “S.M.A.S.H. a comic, graphic, novel talkfest” later in the evening.

“[The workshop] pushed me out of my comfort zone. Very playful and weird!”

Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

Led by DC(c)C’s Kieron Baroutchi, he had hoped to encourage the attendees to share in the process of constructing a comic strip narrative. Using examples of comics strips, Kieron encouraged everyone to draw a single panel of their choice within a very short time frame, before switching their paper with someone to their left, and continuing on whatever story the last person had drawn up. Collaboration is key to the process of crafting a comic, and putting everyone into such a high-stakes and close-knit environment only helped to heighten the experience make it more playful.

“I got to work with people that have amazing ideas.”

The attendees of the workshop ranged from Camberwell College of Arts’s MA Illustration students, a few students from a few courses at Central Saint Martins, and even aspiring creatives from the wider comics community across London. Some were bound to have more practical experience than others with drawing and comic making but it was also a good chance for a couple of the attendees, including the students from MA Screen: Directing and MA Applied Imagination in the Creative Industries, to learn about how comics worked and what their appeal was.

“Interesting way of creating a narrative.”

The session ended with a “show & tell” segment once everyone was done with continuing to draw from the panels drawn by the rest of the group. Kieron encouraged everyone to go around the table one-by-one, attempting to explain the shared continuing narrative they had created together on the last sheet of paper they were handed by the end of the session.

Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

The feedback was overwhelming positive and encouraging, with most of the attendees eager to join another comics workshop in the future. It seemed to serve as a good introduction to how comics were made, and gives the attendees the opportunity to meet like-minded comic fans, and inspire their creativity from each other.

“Only that I had a great time and look forward to new events!”

Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

LGNN and Barbican Library staff were also very impressed with the turnout and would be happy to host something again in the future.

“It’s good. It’s nice that we managed to get so many people…It seems like everyone had a good time. And yeah it was nice that everyone spoke to each other and kind of got to know each other a bit better and it seemed like there was good networking and a good sense of community which is what I would like, so hopefully I would do it again in the future.”

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Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

While the attendees didn’t take their work away, all of comics will be posted up online on the DC(c)C’s tumblr page for everyone to see. Dalston Comics (creators) Club also hold similar comics sessions on the last Monday of every month at Dalston CLR James Library in Hackney. So that would be a good place to check out in the meantime.

Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

Photo credit: Tari Eguruze

The London Graphic Novel Network is a community devoted to spreading the word about the various book-groups and events in London’s libraries (and beyond) and connecting people with an interest in graphic novels/comic books.

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The London Graphic Novel Network is a community devoted to spreading the word about the various book-groups and events in London’s libraries (and beyond) and connecting people with an interest in graphic novels/comic books.

Exclusive to UAL’s Postgraduate Community, Pop Up Common Room events assist in the community’s aims for building platforms for skill sharing, networking, collaboration and investigating new communities of practice.