Thursday, 23 August 2012

Comic Analysis! Shaun Tan

"The Snowman was a big influence on The Arrival."

The Red Tree
Over on his website (see here) Paul Gravett has transcribed an interview he conducted with Shaun Tan. It's always nice to read about Tan's artistic process, but what's particularly interesting is how he talks about The Arrival which is his only work to date to feature sequential art. As it turns out, he was something of a beginner to the medium even as a consumer:

I found I was inadvertently doing comics, especially when I started doing The Arrival. So I thought, “Gee, I better look at comics!”, because from a technical point of view I didn’t know how to go from one panel to the next. So if someone is having a cup of tea, how do you do that? 

What makes this interview so informative on a broader sense is how an artist previously used to working in single images found himself considering comic-based storytelling.

In the beginning, I wondered, how do I slow this down, it’s all going so fast. The moment you add words and captions, there’s a real gravity for a start. People look at them and they believe what the words are saying rather than interpreting them for themselves. That’s a problem. Also it’s got a set pace. Reading has a kind of kinetic flow. Pictures are more like a map. You can wander around them. There’s not a line as such, a beginning, middle and end. There’s actually a big problem when you add text to images. I’m still trying to resolve it. How do I get the two to work together?

Shaun Tan also reveals that although he studied art at college, his focus was on art criticism rather than practise because he didn't feel he could make a living from it...

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