Consultancy, Exhibitions & Work For Hire
This section of E-merl is designed to present some of the highlights of my consultancy and work-for-hire gigs as well as documenting the major public exhibitions I’ve been part of. If you’re in need of somebody who can think outside of the traditional comics page then I’m available for hire and bring with me two decades of experience working at the cutting edge of comics. Drop a mail to merlin (at) e-merl.com to get in touch.
Collaborative Partnership Lead
Escola Britânica de Artes Criativas (EBAC), São Paulo, 2017-2019. I spent two years working as the Collaborative Partnership Lead between EBAC in Brazil and the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. During my time in the role I helped EBAC establish successful franchises of Hertfordshire’s Graphics Design & Illustration and Digital Animation & Games degree programmes. I also got to drink lots of really excellent coffee.
Skinny Lips and the Sound Malfunction (SLSM), California, 2017. SLSM are a trombone chamber ensemble that wanted to create ‘The Lesson’ – a live hypercomic performance piece for the 2017 International Trombone Festival. I came on board to help them figure out the technical side of things, taking the artwork and layout they provided and creating a branching hypercomic that could be projected and operated as an element of their live performance.
Electricomics, Northampton, 2014. Electricomics is digital comics research project born out of the mind of Alan Moore and funded by the NESTA Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. We’re trying to figure out just what makes digital comics tick and create an open source toolkit for their creation. I’m one of the project’s two research partners and you can read a summary of our initial investigations over here.
The British Library, London, 2014. Subtitled Art and Anarchy In The UK, Comics Unmasked was the largest comics exhibition ever mounted in the UK and the best attended exhibition the British Library has held to date. I was responsible for curating the digital comics section of the exhibition and putting together a retrospective of significant digital comics by UK creators. More details can be found in the original press release, the reviews or in the official book of the show.
Black Hats In Hell
Central Saint Martins, London, 2013. Black Hats in Hell was a large scale hypercomic installation created as part of my doctoral investigation into how architectural spatiality interacts with the medium of comics. The comic was installed at two locations – The Framework Gallery at the University of Hertfordshire and outside The Platform Theatre at Central Saint Martins. You can learn all about it in my paper on the subject, check out this video of the CSM version or read about the piece in Paul Gravett’s book, Comics Art.
Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland, 2012. I was hired by child psychiatrist Christine Kuhn to help develop a prototype iPad app based on her research group’s idea for an interactive comics jam version of Facebook. The focus of Strangebook is on allowing young people to explore difficult emotions via the medium of collaborative comics. If you’re curious as to what such a thing might look like, you can have a play with a flash-based web version of the prototype here.
Strip Turnhout, Belgium, 2011. In conjunction with The British Council, myself and Karrie Fransman were invited to co-curate an exhibition of experimental comics at the premiere Flemish comics festival in Turnhout. Working alongside comrades Douglas Noble and Rachel Emily Taylor we put together a showcase of the best of British strangeness. For my own part, I created series of print remixes of my digital hypercomic work, including new versions of A Duck Has An Adventure, Jack’s Abstraction and Four Derangements.
inFamous 2: The Fame Strips
Sony Computer Entertainment, London, 2011. I was brought on board by the Margaret London and John Doe agencies to design and build a hypercomic to promote the Sony videogame, inFamous 2. The comic strips involved were written by the great Pat Mills and illustrated by a whole host of talented illustrators.
Cells: Confinement – Configuration – Coding
Interior & Spatial Design, University Of Hertfordshire, 2010. I contributed a new hypercomic installation entitled War On Weird to the Cells Symposium that took place in November. The piece was shown in an exhibition alongside several other artists’ work, each giving their own response to the Cells theme. The web version of War On Weird piece can be seen here.
Hypercomics: The Shape Of Comics To Come
The Pumphouse Gallery, Battersea Park, London, 2010. I was one of four artists invited by curator Paul Gravett to take part in a major exhibit of experimental comics work at the Pumphouse Gallery in London. My piece, The Archivist, occupied the first floor of the gallery as a physical installation and then extended online to right here at E-merl. The Hypercomics show ran through August and September, attracting rave critical reviews that included a 5 star recommendation from Timeout.
The Casita Situations
Hopistal D’Aviency, Biobigny, Paris, 2009. Italian architect Valerio Ferrari contracted myself and artist David Baillie to create an interactive, customisable hypercomic installation for the walls of a children’s mental health clinic in Paris. You can see a web version of the project here, which provides more detail on the project as well as giving a flavour of the installation itself. Also worth a look is David’s account of our final visit to Paris for the grand opening of the installation.
Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption
Online for Ctrl.Alt.Shift, 2009. Ctrl.Alt.Shift hired me to create a new five part webcomic serial to run in conjunction with their Unmasks Corruption anthology and exhibition. My contribution to this anti-corruption initiative focused on the British MP expenses scandal of the time. You can now read all five parts, originally serialised across their blog, here at E-merl.
Seoul International Comic & Animation Festival, South Korea, 2009. I was invited by the organisers of SiCAF 2009 to present a retrospective of my experimental webcomic and hypercomic work. Thirteen of my digital comics were translated into Korean for exhibition in a custom built interactive installation at the show. I created new hypercomic especially for the event called Four Derangements and also contributed a talk to the Digital Comics Conference taking place as part of the festival.
PlayStation Digital Comics
Sony Computer Entertainment, London, 2008. I was hired as a consultant by Sony’s London Studio to help them develop their new PlayStation Comics service. During the consultancy I helped develop the prototype PSP comic reader and wrote and designed the first comics created specifically for delivery via the new system. More detail about what I got up to at Sony can be found in this blog post over here.
Iron Man 2020 & Giant Size Avengers
Marvel Comics, New York, 2007-2008. So far I’ve had two bits of work for hire published by Marvel Comics – the Avengers short story, Emperor None & The Sky Full Of Moons and the six-part Iron Man 2020 serial, Endless Stolen Sky. Both were huge amounts of fun to work on and seemed to be generally quite well received by the fans. The latter Iron Man 2020 serial is also still available to be read online via Marvel’s Digital Comics service.
Clickwheel, Oxford, 2005-2007. I worked as a consultant for this fledgling mobile comics service that brought comics to the iPod back before the iPhone and the iPad were even twinkles in Steve Job’s eye. My own comic, Brain Fist, was one of the first comic serials written specifically for consumption on the iPod (hence each panel exactly matching the dimensions of the old iPod screen). The service since got bought up by 2000AD publishers, Rebellion, under who’s stewardship it continues to this day.
Institute of Contemporary Art, London 2003-2010. I’ve had a long association with the Comica Festival, going right back to it’s beginnings in 2003 where I curated an exhibition of webcomics at the ICA and was part of the group responsible for the groundbreaking hypercomic that debuted at the festival. In 2007 I contributed a talk and a 24 Hypercomic to proceedings and in 2008 I once again contributed to a hypercomic that adorned the wall of the ICA throughout the festival.
University Of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, 2001-Present. I’m currently employed as Principle Lecturer in Narrative & Interaction Design by the University of Hertfordshire and over the years I’ve also taught at the University Of Creative Arts and Westminster University. I teach across a range of subjects from new media, narrative and game design through to comic and hypercomic creation and theory. In 2016 I became the Joint Programme Leader for Hertfordshire’s Digital Animation & Games degree programme, the premiere course of it’s kind in the UK.