Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gary Panter's "Zomoid," 1983

(Posted with Gary's permission)

Originally published (on yellow copy paper) as an 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" four-page mini by Ray Zone, as part of his "Zomoid illustories" series of minis. This version from "Zomoid Illustories," a comic-book collection of the minis, 1989.

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Ray Zone, The Comics Journal 102, September 1985:

Though brief, it's one of the earliest and best analyses of what abstract comics can do--or how a work can function on the borderline between comics and gallery art.

I wish I had known of this piece earlier: I would have definitely included it in the anthology. Oh well, this way we know we have good stuff in stock for the (eventual) second volume!

Monday, April 27, 2009


Here's a new one done with ink and watercolor. I have abstract comics fever...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vocabulary of emotion--cumulative results (so far)

In the spirit of Alexey's own work (just you wait till you see his piece in the anthology), I combined the responses so far--Alexey's, Mike's, Joumana's and mine:

Here it is without mine (because those big blots tend to overwhelm everything):

And here are mine and Mike's combined (I thought they worked well together, especially "femininity" and "peacefulness"):

Alexey's moodercise

Here's my response:

It's a bit, umm, conceptual. First I just made marks trying to stay unaware of the caption for each panel. Then in photoshop I moved those marks around, erased some, rotated others, switched them from square to square, until they seemed to echo their captions...

I did this because my first, more straightforward, attempt kind of sucked--it just felt overly literal and obvious. I like this one better, though I'm not sure it fully responds to Alexey's brief.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Trajectory Comic

Quelques dessins


Hello you Jésus
désolé pour la piètre qualité des scans.


Hey Alexey, here's mine:

Vocabulary of Abstraction -- Results

Hey everyone. As promised, below is the result of last week's emotional experiment. Hope that some of you also went through the exercise and will post images below. I'll include them all in the main post, and perhaps combine into something greater.

Note how even though all the images are abstract, we are often using similar visual vocabulary to describe the feeling.






Syntactic Comics 2

Hello everyone,

Well, these are the pages 6 to 11 of my "syntactic/abstract" comic. You'll see that it becomes more and more involved...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Pop Abstracts"

These individual pieces weren't necessarily designed to run as a continuity, but I think the comics influence is stylistically obvious.


A sorta warm-up piece for my book Reykjavik. I was hoping to use it in the book, but in the end it didn't really fit, so I cut it.


A sorta warm-up piece for my book Reykjavik. I was hoping to use it in the book, but, alas, in the end it didn't really fit and was cut.

Abstract Comic Doodle

Andrei's post a few weeks back got me really thinking about making abstract comics again.

I haven't really made any abstract comics in a few years, but after reading the post, I was drawn to the idea of having various abstract imagery implying a narrative.

I doodled a little four panel comic during yesterday's faculty meeting that probably is more in line with the third example from the post.

I have an after school comic making club this afternoon and I might just make a few more of these with my new found "character" while the kids draw their stuff.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Brandl: Tornado Romp

A stone lithograph abstract comic. Titled Tornado Romp. 70 x 100 cm. Two colors. 2001. This was one of the first pieces where I was concentrating extremelly hard on my "iconosequentiality" idea --- wherein the overall presence (a la a "normal iconic painting) and the sequentiality (a la a "normal" comic) are both competely equally contributing to the whole. I printed it with a wonderful (and famous) master printer, Urban Stoob, in St. Gallen, Switzereland. Because he enjoys and masters printerly problems, I decided to print in only two colors (and to save money): yellow and grey --- with the stipulation that I did not want anything to become green (as those of you who know from painting or printing, grey and yellow or black and yellow always create green). We mastered it by getting the yellow and grey ink colors excatly correct, and the drawing on the stone correct (some crayon, some painted, yellow revealed, and grey over yellow), so that I got many hue variations of yellow, blue and a blueish grey.

Friday, April 17, 2009

another abstract comics blog in Finland

this one, very recent, from Jukka-Pekka Kervinen:

I'll be reeeeally impressed when we find some Estonian abstract comics.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Abstract/Comics 2

Jacksohn Sevellock, "Lavender Varmint":

Have a Cigar! no.3 of 3

It is what it is.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Extra points for whoever can guess which comic these pages are based on. 
(Andrei isn't allowed to guess because he has all the answers.)

graphic poetry?

I really like Christine Panushka's drawings here:

the last 2 (one of which is to the left) could be seen as abstract comics, with sequential developments from box to box, or as an ambient feeling emanating from the boxes, in no particular order.

I'm inclined to call the second interpretation "graphic poetry" rather than "abstract comics".

comics & computer programming

Swedish researcher Mikael Kindborg is experimenting with visual programming tools, such as ComiKit (a programming system inspired by comics). He's trying to develop ways for children to program toys.


you can download a version of ComiKit freely.

I've had a quick look, but not achieved anything with it yet.

hope this falls somewhere in the realm of a-s-r-c- c-m-cs.

Vocabulary of Abstraction.

Hi everyone. I propose a small collective project that in my experience has always been a rewarding exercise. Given the level of talent collected here, the result may be pretty spectacular.

Below is a picture that you should stretch to 100% and then print out. In each of the boxes, represent the emotion or idea that is labeled either beneath or above the box. You are not allowed to use any recognizable visual vocabulary: words, smiley faces, landscapes, any realistic objects at all. This is a purely abstract prompt. Also, please do not use any complex rendering techniques: clear black ink on paper is highly preferred.

In a week's time, I will post my entry. Please reply to that entry with your own; don't yet post a response because the suspense is worth it. You will be very surprised how people interpret these (if, of course, we get participation). Readers of the blog are more than encouraged to also participate!


Franz Kirby? Jack Kline?

Finnish abstract comics blog

Satu Kaikkonen
has start'd a blog
of her abstract comics
(abstrakteja sarjakuvia)
see here

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009


This comic, which I made in early 2005, is both French AND Finnish. 

Syntactic (?) Comics

Hello again,

well first I prefer to inform all of you that I usually speak french and that my english may be somewhat shaky from time to time.

When I started to be interested in abstract comics, I took them as a way to investigate the intrinsic narrative power of the language of comics and its tools (frames and speech balloons). I tried to see whether it was possible to tell stories with a very reduced "vocabulary", a little bit in the spirit of Georges Perec when he wrote his novel "La Disparition" without using the letter "e", which is the most frequently used in french. The stories I (tried to) tell involved "characters" (for example squares and circles) and were in a way "concrete" stories, the abstract characters could have been replaced by realistic ones in a lot of cases (as seen in my pages in the Anthology). They are therefore quite different from most of the material that has been posted here, where the narrative content is more related to an esthetic progression or feeling, more in the spirit of poetry than that of a short novel. (I know I am simplifying much, but it is just to stress the different approaches.)

Later I decided to try to push idea as far as I could, that is, tell stories ("concrete" ones) using only the syntactic elements of the comics language: speech balloons and frames. (I know that there are comics without frames and/or without speech balloons, and some other medias use frames and/or speech balloons, but anyway I think that these two syntactic elements are used in comics in such a specific way that they belong to its language in an intrinsic way.) What I found interesting is that the same element, say a word balloon, may be used as a character, then as a syntactic object, then again as a character, etc.

It is however true that this kind of stories are not properly abstract, as nothing but syntactic elements are depicted, so we should maybe call them "syntactic comics", or "syntactical comics", but I find in them an interesting experimental playground worth of more investigation. I have put below the first 5 pages (of 22) of my last story of this kind.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Collaboration with Troy

A while ago, our own troylloyd sent me a number of his little paintings (they're about 4" x 6", on black cardstock, and I couldn't even begin to tell you the medium). I scanned them in and arranged them into the following (by the way, this can also function as an illustration for the second abstract comix exercise I posted below):

A second Finn chimes in!

As pointed out by Troy in his comments to the post about the first Finn:


A second abstract comics exercise

Actually, if you are teaching, or doing this for yourself, this one probably should come first, but I thought the one I posted first seemed a bit more interesting, and, well, eye-catching. Not to mention that I don't really have any images of my own to post here (but I will soon post a collaboration with another one of the contributors here which was made on these principles). Again, this was prepared for an experimental-comics class.

Take a stack of index cards, a bottle of ink, and a mark-making tool. It's best for purposes of this exercise not to get a tool that makes too exact marks, so I'd suggest a sumi-e brush, a dip stick, the dropper from the ink bottle, a rolled-up paper towel, or even your fingers. Make a variety of (abstract) doodles (preferably simpler than too complex) on the blank sides of 24 index cards. Important step: let the ink dry! Then spread all the index cards out before you. How many principles of sequencing can you find for them (sequencing keeping the cards all in the same orientation, i.e. either all portrait- or all landscape-oriented)? You can go from the one with the least amount of marks on it to the one with the greatest number of marks (from white to black, as it were). You can go from the one with the most static composition to the one with the most dynamic composition. You can go from the one with the most horizontal marks (if applicable), to the one with the most vertical marks, etc. When you do this last one, keep in mind that by flipping the cards 90 degrees you can have the marks go up, rather than down (or vice versa). Choose what orientation works best.

Go on to create, based on the same principles, not a simple progression but a formal arc. Go from static to dynamic back to static, and so on.

Let's look at layout: try a variety of formats, beginning with a six-panel page. Choose a sequencing principle, then organize the page also by paying attention to non-sequential (paradigmatic) panel-to-panel relationships. From the remaining cards, make another six-panel page based on the same principle. Make a third, then a fourth. Do the later ones work? Do they possibly work better than the first, because the sequencing principle is not so obvious?

For the final exercise, organize the 24 cards into two 12-panel pages. Make sure to give as much attention to page 1 as to page 2, so, if page 1 works perfectly but page 2 is a mess, you may have to sacrifice part of page 1 to use some of those cards to fix page 2. Once you have settled on two final layouts, tape or glue the cards to a larger piece of paper, then feel free to add marks or remove them (with whiteout), to obtain the most satisfying sequence and layouts possible.

Possible variations:

a) begin with a 16 x 24 piece of paper (an 18 x 24 page from which you cut off a 2" strip). Make marks all over it (including going over the edges). Then cut it into 4" squares and proceed with the exercise as before. This allows you to turn each square every which way, and the marks will have more consistency. Only constraint: panels should at no point end up side-by-side in exactly the same configuration in which they were in the uncut piece of paper.

b) for the final exercise, don't make two 12-panel pages, but only one, choosing the best-fitting 12 cards.

c) as a possible take-home assignment, re-draw the final page on a piece of Bristol board, making any changes you see fit to make it work as an abstract comic.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Finns chime in!

Or one of them, at least, Teemu Manninen, with five different pieces.

Since, as far as I can tell, this is the author's first attempt at abstract comics (his earlier work on that site consists of concrete/visual poems)--may I be as bold as to detect reverberations from this blog? Or maybe it's an amazing coincidence.

(BTW, I'm not sure if the first piece there, "A Portrait of Reed Richards," is quite comics, but it's really really funny.)


This was drawn at the Stumptown Comics Fest in 2005.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Abstract 2 Series 2

Abstract 2 from my second series of Abstract comics. I have made about ten so far in this series. You can see the rest at my website drawingsilence. With this series I was interested in exploring using found images as a basis and painting on the gutter of a comic page thus creating the panels. This was early in my experimentation and it didn't quiet work as expected. I thought I could paint the entire image with black and then carefully remove the paint creating panels. However the paint stuck to the paper a lot better than I expected, creating an interesting accident.

Automatic Abstract Comix

Hello everyone,

My friend Andreas Kündig had done this generator of abstract stories a few years ago:


The options are in french but I guess that it is understandable. It is based on the very simple idea of a "worm" that moves by growing and shrinking.

Have a Cigar! no.2 of 3

arf arf