Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Sicba: Best Newcomer

Best Newcomer is a new award for 2015: since its foundation in 2011, SICBA has aimed to promote exciting comics and support the rise of original talent. The past decade has seen a surge of artists and writers in Scotland who, either in collaboration or as auteurs, have adopted the comic format to their creative needs.
The nominees for Best Newcomer reflect the diversity of contemporary comic content. From the creepy cuteness of Claire Hubbard's The Cats that Stared through to Letty Wilson's explosive colouring on Cosmic #1, the shortlist is evidence that Caledonia's comic community is pushing the art form into new territory. 
The Shortlist
Claire Hubbard (Writer, Artist for The Cats that Stared)
Emma Beeby (co-writer for Robbie Burns: Witch Hunter)
Gary Chudleigh (writer for Plagued: The Miranda Chronicles)
John Grieve (Writer, Artist, Colourist, Letterer, Designer, Editor for The Beast of Barton)
Norrie Miller (Writer, Artist, Colourist, Letterer, Designer, Editor for Duality)
Letty Wilson (Artist, Colourist for Cosmic #1)
The Cats that Stared  is a charming, short tale of an invasion of mysterious cats and how one human deals with what appears to be a threatening and frightening feline presence. Influenced by classic children's illustration but with an adult subtext - which is never unsuitable for all ages, however - Hubbard combines a clarity of line and a gentle wit, that allows the story to come to a happy conclusion without sentimentality. 
Emma Beeby's writing on Robbie Burns: Witch Hunter looks at a mythical episode in the life of Scotland's great Bard - the mysterious years before his poetic success when he took up with a posse of witch hunters. Apart from providing material for Burns' famous Tam O'Shanter poem, these adventures taught Burns about wit - a constant theme in the graphic novel is his inability to pick the right words, suggesting he stole many of his best lines from the supernatural avengers.
Set in a science-fiction dystopia - which has nothing in common with Gary Chudleigh's home city of Glasgow - Plagued has already settled into a comfortable groove that suggests Chudleigh has plenty of stories to tell within this reality. A society where magic and science are not simple categories but markers of political division and ideology, Plagued is a mixture of playful humour - usually provided by a talking dog - and philosophical conflict.
John Grieves takes on all of the roles for his Beast of Barton - whether the myth is a folk tale or his own invention, it has the structure of stories that have lasted around campfires since humans first started making stuff up about the past. His graphic style is approachable, his writing nonchalant and sparse, but he injects enough dramatic tension and wry humour to ensure that this Beast is not easily banished.
Norrie Miller is another auteur: Duality would not be out of place as an episode of The Twilight Zone, and Miller performs writing and art duties to blend together a philosophical reflection with some science fiction drama. Covering emotional domestic scenes and majestic outer-space action, Duality takes advantage of the comic form to switch between the epic and the intimate, and enjoys playing about with time and expectation.
Letty Wilson's art and colouring on Cosmic #1 is a dynamic response to Erin Keeper's story of super-powers and self-discovery. Although perhaps closest to the heroic norm of mainstream comics, Cosmic alternates between intense psychedelia and more gentle scenes of urban life: Wilson has a faux naive style that settles between realist and cartoon styles, bringing a world to life that is both familiar and decidedly alien.  

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