Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Going Dotty!

From Issue #1 of Crisis (1988)
It was Spring, 1990 and having already designed the New Statesmen pages for the fortnightly CRISIS comic a couple of years earlier, the deadline for the collected graphic novel was now looming, and I had to start designing the book and illustrate the extra pages that Steve MacManus had commissioned from me. I had a fascination with how Jim Baikie had portrayed the Meridian character and thought it would be an interesting experiment to try and find a model who actually looked like her to photograph for the first of the pages. Knowing the time constraints and budget, etc; it wasn't really a very practical idea, then with one of those coincidental events that always seem to happen at the right time, I spotted a small photo of just such a person on a piece of discarded newspaper.

From The Complete New Statesmen (1990)
What seemed to be a real artistic challenge at that moment in time, turned into complete h:a:l:f:t:o:n:e: madness when I decided to enlarge the part of her face that looked like Meridian with the pmt machine, then recreate the rest of her with hand drawn halftone dots of various size and spacing. The plan was to reduce her back down to the size of the original clipping once I'd completed the task, so that she once again looked like an actual photograph.

I think I nearly lost either my mind or my eyesight that night with the continuous squinting and deliberate blurring of my vision to see how big or small the new dots had to be. Once I'd started I just couldn't seem to stop and I think it was at least four o'clock in the morning when I finally decided that although it wasn't perfect, I just had to let it go and call it finished. As it turned out, I decided to leave it big, because it looked kind of abstract. I know that I could manipulate an image like this so much better and ten times faster using Photoshop or Illustrator these days, but this was still the analogue era and the only digits involved were my aching fingers.

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