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Choose Your Own Bad Decision

This comic was printed in the Paper Jam Comics Collective anthology: Bad Decisions… and that. Some of the items used in Arbitrium’s defeat could be found in other pages of the anthology.


The panel below was printed on the back page.

A Hole in the Sky

Observation One

home is too far behind, I have no choice but to go forward, to document what I have seen. Perhaps it will allow others to understand what I do not. A form has appeared which seems within touching distance but at the same time impossibly far. Every instrument tells me it is not there. It gives off no heat, radio waves pass straight through. The only thing that reflects is light. It’s impossible to measure any movement, it seems to remain static while the distant stars twist around it.

Observation Two

The form appears geometric, three dimensional but flat. I have viewed it from all angles and the visible faces remain constant. I cast further light on the shape, this revealed new forms, perhaps they are orbiting it? Transparent discs, at first they were faint but the more I look for them, the more they are there. It is possible my observations have triggered this change.

Observation Three

The original form has not moved, there is a slight change, it appears colder. The light of distant stars continues to twist around it. The discs have a pattern. They blink, come into view, fade, some move. It repeats, each time with more clarity. What I thought was orbit is instead a repetition that moves back and forth. As if they are trying to force their way into existence but have to find the right place and time.

Observation Four

The form has been communicating, attempting to share what it knows. The visible faces remain constant. I will soon pass through the visible into the invisible. I must continue moving forward. Perhaps it will allow others to understand what I do not. the distant stars.

Communication. I understand.


A lot of blue was used in the development of these pieces. Here’s some of my process, and my Invisible Beasts 2 Pinterest board, showing my visual inspirations.

The final pieces appeared as part of A Hidden Cartography: Invisible Beasts 2, curated by Paul Thompson. A book was made to accompany this exhibition and is available to buy. These pieces have inspired me to create another series based on the platonic solids and elements, currently in progress.

Red Riding Hood Paper Cut Art

Invisible Beasts was an exhibition held at Creative Up North in North Shields. It featured the monstrous work of artists from the North East of England. Each artist interpreted the theme and worked on unique pieces specially for the exhibition. A book was made to accompany and document the exhibition, copies can be bought from Paul Thompson, exhibition organiser.

Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood is a cautionary tale about a girl in a red cloak, her journey through the forest to visit her sick grandma and the wolf she meets on the way. The simple interpretation of Red Riding Hood is the standard don’t talk to strangers and follow the advice of your elders. However Red Riding Hood can represent a lot more, the curiosity of children, forging your own path, coming of age, escaping the arbitrary rules of society, the dangers of the wilderness and the bad aspects of human nature. There is a lot of symbolism in the red cloak too – the sun being swallowed by darkness (the wolf) each night, red as a dangerous colour, the colour of blood.

 

The Wolf

Within minutes of travelling down the safe forest path Red Riding Hood, depending on the version you read, is either tempted from the path by the Big Bad Wolf or strays of her own curiosity, to later encounter the wolf. The wolf and the forest are the danger that results from disobedience and not following the existing path. The forest is a place for wild things, outside of the control of humans and the wolf is one of those wild things. The wolf represents the bad aspects of humanity, temptation, gluttony, duality. The wolf acts as a friend to Red Riding Hood, asking where she’s going and why. The Big Bad Wolf decides he’d like to eat not just Red Riding Hood but the basket of food and Grandma too. He convinces Red Riding Hood to stop and pick some flowers while he goes on ahead to deal with Grandma.

Grandma

The wolf arrives at Grandma’s house and eats her whole, putting on his best Grandma disguise to further deceive Red Riding Hood. Grandma spends most of this story inside a wolf’s belly, she represents the fragile nature of life, the consequences of not following the rules but also, eventually survival. Despite being old, sick, frail, eaten by a wolf and then cut out again Grandma survives. She will outlast us all. Red Riding Hood arrives at Grandma’s house with her basket of food and some freshly picked flowers. She’s suspicious of the wolf in Grandma’s clothing but doesn’t have time to figure it out before she’s swallowed whole by the wolf. What a fine end to the story, see what disobeying the rules of society gets you? It gets you eaten.

Where’s The Woodcutter?

In some versions of the story a woodcutter, or hunter happens to be passing Grandma’s house at this point. His role in society is fighting the forest or the wild things that live in it. The woodcutter/hunter cuts the wolf open while it sleeps and frees Red Riding Hood and her Grandma. They then fill the wolf’s stomach with stones, they suppress the bad aspects of humanity under a big pile of rocks. When the wolf wakes up he collapses under all that weight and dies. It seems the woodcutter isn’t so much a character as a device to end the story. Maybe he represents the good aspects of humanity that Red Riding Hood left behind when she strayed into the forest, the opposite to the wolf. Maybe he shows that not all strangers are bad. Either way he lacks the characteristics needed to be depicted as a creature.


Here are some of the developmental sketches for these pieces.

3D Mathematical Shape Activity Kits

I decided to teach myself a little bit of 3D design. I wanted to create something tangible with the results so my 3D paper shape activity kits were born. I started out with some basic mathematical shapes before moving on to more complex irregular shapes and crystal inspired shapes.

I want to increase my skills in this area and do more designs. I have plans for flowers, structures and some more abstract pieces.

The activity kits are available from my Etsy shop. The shapes are great for decorations, mobiles and garlands. You can add a small bit of thread to the top before closing the shape to hang them.

Set one containes an icosahedron, truncated octahedron, tetragonal pyramid, star, hexagonal pyramid and octahedron. Set two contains a cube, cuboctahedron, dodecahedron, hexagonal prism, tetrahedron and truncated tetrahedron. The crystals set is a range of different crystal forms, some designed like cut gems, others like raw ones you’d find in the wild.

Freedom City Comics Website

Freedom City 2017 is a city wide programme marking the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. receiving an honorary degree at Newcastle University. Freedom City Comics anthology presents snapshots of the history of civil rights and politics on Tyneside.

You can read the full comic online at the Freedom City Comics website. The printed comic was distributed to libraries, cultural venues, and other events around Tyneside as part of Freedom City 2017, as well as in the November 2017 issue of The Crack.

This website was built using Newcastle University’s t4 CMS. The layout was kept simple to allow the comic as much focus as possible.

Freedom City Comics Artworking

Freedom City 2017 is a city wide programme marking the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. receiving an honorary degree at Newcastle University. Freedom City Comics anthology presents snapshots of the history of civil rights and politics on Tyneside.

The comic was distributed to libraries, cultural venues, and other events around Tyneside as part of Freedom City 2017, as well as in the November 2017 issue of The Crack. You can also read the full comic online at the Freedom City Comics website.

Working with Lydia Wysocki of Applied Comics Etc I prepared the pages for print and managed the proofing process with Newspaper Club before we did our final print run of 37,000 copies. I also created the credits page as well as a promotional flyer and the Freedom City Comics website to support the project.