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Behind-the-Scenes on An Illustrated History of Filmmaking

Infographics meet architecture in Adam Allsuch Boardman’s unique illustrations, which feature detailed line work with diagrammatic accuracy. Demonstrated in his latest book, An Illustrated History of Filmmaking, Adam leads us through the history of one of his favourite subjects. We caught up with Adam to find out more about his creative process as well as discussing his distinctive visual language.

Q. Where was your first port of call for your research?

To begin with, I amassed a healthy stack of books from the library. Whilst reading, I would take notes and begin drawing my own cryptic diagrams for later reference. I found that the much older books tended to contain quite charming illustrations, which I would scan and study. I also watched a whole bunch of documentaries and DVD extras, and listened to podcasts. Absorbing different types of information helped manifest a much clearer idea of the book within my headspace.

Q. Was there anything you couldn’t include in the book that you would have liked to have kept in?

Had I the time to spare, there were a lot of focussed catalogues of information I would have liked to take to the extreme. For example, I began drawing a lot of cinema ticket booths. I really enjoyed how a simplistic and functional cupboard-like room had been reinterpreted in such diverse ways over the last century of cinema architecture. It’s honestly something that’s deserving of its own book!

Q. Your work is quite diagrammatic. What were your main influences as this style progressed?

When I first started out with illustration, I worked frequently with museums and on educational projects. This led me to interpret imagery in what I find is the most literal sense. I like to show the space of things in an easily understood way. The use of clear line has interested me since childhood, having learned to read with the assistance of Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin. I also have a deep fondness for the clarity of illustration present in school exam papers and revision materials.

Q. You have a distinctive way of using perspective in this book. Was this a conscious design decision for this title, or is this something you have been leaning towards?

I find that clarifying an object into a more impartial isometric perspective is very satisfying. The process of repeatedly and obsessively studying an object can be a lot of fun; often the rarer objects can send one down a bizarre rabbit hole of books and websites, just so one can find a better angle of reference… or indeed to go visit a museum solely to see a particular artefact.

Q. If you had the choice to dedicate several pages of this book to just one individual in filmmaking, who would it be and why?

It was incredibly hard not to babble on at length about each filmmaker, and there are so many fantastic lives both in front and behind the lens. I find folk like Jehanne D’Alcy really interesting – as one of the first full-time film actresses, she must have had a really unique experience of the industry, especially during its fledgling years.

Q. Are there any directors or cinematographers whose artistic direction has influenced your own work?

It’s often difficult to put an aesthetic down to one particular person – it’s a team effort after all! But Kazuo Miyagawa and John Alcott are some particular chaps that I find really grand. Many shots in 2001: A Space Odyssey continually amaze me. I am also astounded by the imagery of How the West Was Won. The unique camera trickery that made Cinerama work means that every single frame of information is divided into thirds, which creates a very unique visual language. By most accounts it was a nightmare of a system for everyone involved, but it looked fab.

Q. What was your favourite part of the book to write/illustrate and why?

One of the more trivial details of the book was the need to include furniture and fashion tied to the context of its time period. This included heaps of tangential research that I really enjoyed. In particular I loved looking at 1970s shirts.

Otherwise, the more grand and detailed isometric scenes such as the Vaudeville and orchestral recording were images that I spent a large chunk of time and concentration on. I found it most enjoyable to truly inhabit an imaginary space and flesh it out with believable detail based on various photographic and illustrative references.

Q. If you could do an Illustrated History of anything else, what would you choose and why?

In the intro to An Illustrated History of Filmmaking, I outlined that I deliberately left out animation, as to include it as a tacked-on chapter would have been an absolute disservice to its important role in entertainment. So, I would love to celebrate the history of animation with its own book following much of the same structure, highlighting some of the key folk, events and technology that made it all possible.

Otherwise I have a long list of subjects that I desperately want to conjure into the format of a book. Ufology for one – it would be particularly fun to draw and write about!

Get the book here!


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Moonhead and the Music Machine Launch Party!


Moonhead and the Music Machine Launch Party
Featuring LIVE performance from Andrew Rae & friends!

Thursday 27th July 7pm

​Join us at Libreria Bookshop to celebrate the launch of Moonhead and the Music Machine. A s​ubtle blend between Wayne’s World and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Andrew Rae’s graphic novel is an imaginative and visually poetic take on the high school coming-of-age tale.

​We will be selling ice cold beers.​ Life is a peach when you have a moon for a head…

 

 


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Fantasy Sports Wins an Ignatz Award!
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A very big congratulations to our friend Sam Bosma on his incredible win at the Ignatz Awards this past weekend at SPX!

Fantasy Sports No. 1 won the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Comic, and we couldn’t be more excited!

“The Ignatz Award, named for the character in the classic comic strip Krazy Kat by George Herriman, is the festival prize of the Small Press Expo, that since 1997 has recognized outstanding achievement in comics and cartooning. The Ignatz recognizes exceptional work that challenges popular notions of what comics can achieve, both as an art form and as a means of personal expression.”

Sam was nominated along with some genuine giants of comics– Melanie Gillman, John Martz, Daniel Clowes, and Kim Deitch. Congratulations to all the nominees, a big thanks to the folks at SPX and the Ignatz Awards Jury for counting Fantasy Sports among the outstanding comics of the year, and an extra special thanks to all of the attendees who threw in their vote for Fantasy Sports!


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Get to Know the Stars of Geis!
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In the first in Alexis Deacon’s epic supernatural historical trilogy, Geis : A Matter of Life and Death, the story begins as the chief matriarch is drawing her last breath… but who will be worthy to follow on her rule? Fifty souls are summoned in the night, and so begins the first task of their extraordinary trial… Here Alexis introduces some of the key players of this incredible adventure.

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Nemas – The youngest of three brothers from an influential family, Nemas is accustomed to being last in the pecking order.  When the contest begins he is surprised to find that he has talents few others possess.  With the possibility of stepping out from his brothers’ shadow at last within his reach, Nemas is determined to prove himself worthy.  But just how far is he prepared to go to do it?

Niope – A supreme master of a long forgotten art, Niope is a Sorceress of Death.  Where she came from and who she is remains a mystery, but this much is clear: she is a formidable force.  Niope has promised to run the contest to find the island’s new chief but in truth she will respect no power but her own.

Io – The daughter of the Kite Lord, a high commander in Chief Matarka’s army.  Io is surprised to find that she and not her father has been summoned to the contest.  Though small and inoffensive to look at, Io is far from weak. She is resourceful, well trained in her father’s craft and compassionate to a fault.  Even Niope is impressed.  Io may well be the strongest contestant but is she strong enough to save the others from the danger that threatens them all?  Can she overcome the sorceress by herself?

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Ben – An experienced member of Chief Matarka’s court, Ben is a shrewd politician and a skilled orator.  Time and experience have made him cynical of government, however.  Now he cares for little outside of his home, his children and his loving wife.

Nelson – A man of science and medicine, Nelson has a great reverence for all living things, knowing how slender the are threads that bind them to this world.  He is strong willed, knowledgeable, kind and a good friend to all who know him well.

Eloise – What survives of the ancient craft of magic is practised by wizards like Eloise.  She is not as powerful or as learned as the sorceress but she should not be underestimated.  Though Eloise may appear bluff and impassive, she has a great heart and would lay down her life if those she loved were in danger.

Artur – The chief accountant of Matarka’s court, Artur has not seen much of the world outside his office in many a long year.  When he was a young man he served in the army before adopting a sensible, reliable trade as his father advised.  Content to dream of secret liaisons with the kitchen maids and count the pennies piling up, Artur thought the days of action had long since passed him by.  But now a new danger has come, throwing everything he cares for into peril.  Does even the smallest ember still remain of the distant fires of youth?

If that has whet your appetite for more, get your hands on a copy of the Sunday Times Book of the Week now!

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Fantasy Sports 2 Party!
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Los Angeles, CA –

It’s party time!  Wiz and Mug are back for another amazing adventure, and Secret Headquarters is ready to celebrate with none other than Sam Bosma, creator of Fantasy Sports.  Don’t miss your chance to hang out at one of the best comic shops in Los Angeles with one of the most exciting cartoonists out there!  Drinks, new books, and your own signed copy of Fantasy Sports 2 – What more could you need??

FANTASY SPORTS VOL 2 RELEASE PARTY
FRIDAY, JULY 29th
BEGINNING AT 7pm

SECRET HEADQUARTERS
3817 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
 


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CALLING ALL ILLUSTRATORS! The Timberyard Ilustration Award is open for entries!
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Pencils at the ready, we’ve a very exciting competition to announce! We’ve teamed up with the coffee maestros at Timberyard to give you a chance to show your work at their inaugural Art Exhibition. This is a brilliant opportunity for your work to be a part of a exhibition in a busy Central London coffee shop… and as if that wasn’t enough, you could also win a selection of Nobrow books worth £100!

A few words from our friends at Timberyard-
“A show of vibrant contrasts and stimulating styles within three categories, each shown in adjoining rooms at TY Seven Dials in Covent Garden, Central London. The inaugural TY Art Exhibition will provide a platform to display artworks in a variety of mediums, formats and genres by amateur and emerging or established contemporary artists.

The TY Art Exhibition is a concept conceived and curated by Joe Faulkner, a barista by trade but also a talented photographer, who wants to encourage people from all backgrounds to engage and take part in art and photography at any level.  TY is excited to collaborate with Hotshoe Magazine and Nobrow Press who will both be lending their professional guidance and gifting competition prizes this year.”

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SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN!

For the first round of the selection process, amateur artists are asked to submit a digital image of their artwork online. For the next stage of the application process judges will shortlist entries for exhibition in The Communal Space and The Ground Floor at TY Seven Dials.  The exhibit will be on public view for a period of 6 months (when not in private use).  Submissions open on 1 June 2016 and the deadline for entry submissions is 31 July 2016. Finalists will be selected and the winner will be determined w/c 22 August 2016. Artists will be contacted and asked to deliver ‘exhibition ready’ artworks between 22-29 August 2016. Hanging will commence on 29 August 2016 in time for launch and Special Preview on 1 Sept 2016.

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The Prize
All shortlisted artwork will be hung as part of the new TY Art Exhibition (you will need to supply exhibition ready, printed and framed artwork). The exhibition will be on public display for a period of 6 months in The Communal Space and The Ground Floor at TY Seven Dials. All shortlisted artists will be invited to join us at the Special Preview on 1 Sept 2016.

We are also gifting this awesome selection of Nobrow books to the winning artist!

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To enter the NOBROW ILLUSTRATION EXHIBITION:
Send us your entry by email (details below)
Email: [email protected]
Subject: The NOBROW ILLUSTRATION EXHIBITION
Attach: a photo or scan of your illustration. Supporting text may be included if desired – please attach as a word document and limit text to a maximum of 500 words.
Please include: your full name, profession and age. Image be saved with file name in the following format Firstname_Lastname e.g (james_blogs) using Photoshop file ‘save for web’ and saved 900px on the longest side.
FREE TO ENTER. Maximum 3 entries per person.

GOOD LUCK!!

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Luke Healy on How to Survive in the…Wild
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Last month, we released the first book by Luke Healy, How to Survive in the North. In his stunning debut graphic novel, Luke weaves together the true life historical expeditions of Ada Blackjack and Robert Bartlett, with a fictional tale of a modern mid-life crisis; creating an unforgettable journey of love and loss that shows the strength needed to survive in the harshest of conditions.

Here at Nobrow, we are so lucky to work with so many incredibly talented illustrators, but it’s not all sketchbooks, Wacoms and days glued to computer screens for these guys! Largely inspired by his own book, Luke Healy set off on a journey of survival of his very own and being the master storyteller that he is, has chronicled his adventure so far for you…

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In 1914, Captain Robert Bartlett walked 700 miles across the frozen Arctic ocean. He was attempting to reach civilisation and, by extension, rescue the crew of his ship, who were otherwise helplessly stranded on the frigid, desolate Wrangle island. I wrote a book about this.

Just a few weeks ago, I crossed the 700 mile mark on my own long hike. But I wasn’t dealing with freezing temperatures, and the tirelessly shifting Arctic sea ice. I was dealing, in fact, with quite the opposite. A forest fire. And as I ran from the fire, wishing for an end to the heat, and the dryness, and the whole damn desert, little did I know that I would soon be slogging through a whole set of icy wastes. Just like the characters in my book.

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This summer, I’m attempting to walk from Mexico to Canada, along a 2660 mile wilderness trail that runs through national and state parks, paralleling the West coast of the United States. It’s called the Pacific Crest Trail. You might have heard about this trail from the Reese Witherspoon film Wild, or the 2013 book it’s based on by Cheryl Strayed. That’s how I heard about it.

I’ve never been much of an outdoors person before this trip. In fact, researching Captain Bartlett’s walk for two years, while I worked on my book How to Survive in the North, is probably what made me curious about my ability to do something like this. I had just finished up writing How to Survive when I first heard about the PCT.

As I worked to finish drawing the book with Nobrow, I knew I was going to attempt the hike. I set the date, and got hiking. I was even on trail when the book was released just one month ago, somewhere near mile 450.

The PCT starts in the desert, right on the USA/Mexican border, an emotionally charged place, for many reasons. But it’s also charged with something else; heat. It couldn’t have been more different than the conditions on Bartlett’s hike. The first section of the PCT, miles 0-700, are classified in all the guidebooks as “The Desert”.

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And it truly is the desert. Cacti, rattlesnakes, a troubling lack of water. Everything you picture. But it also has things you don’t picture, things you don’t expect. Sometimes the trail journeys up to higher elevations, and that means lush pine forests, and vibrant wildflowers, and occasionally even snow.

I got snowed on for the first time only two weeks into my hike, on top of Mt. San Jacinto, a peak that hits almost 10,000 feet. It’s considered a fairly small mountain in California, but it’s nearly three times taller than Ireland’s tallest peak.

I remember thinking “How did they do it? How did Bartlett walk through the snow for 700 miles?! How did Ada Blackjack survive this kind of cold in a tent for two years?”. The desert heat was one thing, but to be cold and numb for such a long time, was something I knew I wouldn’t be able to deal with.

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But still, as I pressed on, I kept the 700 mile mark firmly planted in my head. That’s how far Bartlett went, that’s the end of “The Desert”.

But the desert wasn’t going out without an event. As I neared the 700 mile mark, a wildfire ignited only a mile or two from where I was standing. I hiked 28 miles in one day to escape the smoke. It was the scariest day of my life. As I limped into Kennedy Meadows, a little general store perched near the 700 mile marker, hikers applauded from the porch through the night’s blackness.

I couldn’t help but smile. I had walked 700 miles. I had matched Bartlett’s distance. Even if I had to turn around and go home tomorrow, the trip would have been a success.

Still, my ability to empathise with the characters from How to Survive was only just beginning. As the trail climbed out of the desert and into the High Sierra mountains, I began to see more and more of my dreaded frenemy. Snow. And lots of it this time. Not just the half-inch sprinkling I saw on San Jacinto, but whole fields of the stuff, feet deep, left behind by a good winter.

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And boy was it tough to deal with. As the passes and peaks climbed higher, some over 14,500 feet, the snow grew trickier and trickier.

I remember making an edit late in the process of drawing How to Survive. The earlier drafts had the characters simply standing on top of these fields of snow, as though it were a field of white carpet. But close to the end of production, I thought “That’s not right, their feet should be sunk into the snow”. I was thinking back to my time living in Vermont, where walking through snow only happened after a fresh snowfall, before the plows and street sweepers had come through the town.

Well it turns out I was only half right. In the afternoons and evenings, you did indeed sink through the snow up in the High Sierra. In the mornings, however, the snow was frozen solid, into huge sheets of ice. It was hard, and slick like wet glass. Especially when the trail climbed above the tree-line, and I was left in these desolate, exposed, snowy stretches, clutching my ice axe, microspikes fixed to my shoes, praying I didn’t slip and slide off a cliff, did I think: “I get it”.

For four or five hours per day, I understood, really understood, what it must have been like to be stranded on Wrangle Island, or working my way across the sea like Bartlett and Ada Blackjack.

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I ran out of food, I slipped and injured myself, I was plunged into ice-cold rivers. My tent collapsed in a snow storm as I counted the seconds between the lightning flashes and the thunder booms. Flash…1…2…Boom…Flash…1…Boom.

I could barely handle it psychologically and physically for two weeks. I can’t even begin to imagine how the real-life subjects of How to Survive lived that way for over two years.

As I write this now, I’m sitting in the town of Mammoth California, 906 miles into the trail. I’m almost done with the High Sierra. Almost done with the snow. And my appreciation for Bartlett’s journey and Ada’s fortitude has increased exponentially with every step across an expansive snowfield or icy cliff.

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I can’t imagine the difficulty and danger of Bartlett’s own hike. I can’t imagine the pressure he felt, not only attempting this incredible, near-impossible journey, but having the lives of dozens of people depending on him.

I’m glad I can understand a little better what Bartlett’s journey felt like. I’m excited to continue my hike. But you can bet your bum I’m glad that nobody’s life is depending on it.

If you’re feeling inspired to buy the book, you can grab a copy here (and we ship worldwide) or from any great bookshop. If you’re feeling inspired to set off on an epic adventure of your own, good luck!

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