Tuesday, 14 November 2017

In Review - 'Out of Nothing' - Daniel Locke with David Blandy.

Out of Nothing.

Created by Daniel Locke and David Blandy.

Foreword by Professor Brian Cox.

Full Colour - Hardback - 248 pages - £16.99.

The Story - 'Surreal sequences take us from Gutenberg's printing press to Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web, Grand Master Flash and more. Spanning millennia, this ambitious graphic novel explores humanity's inherent 'dreaming mind' and its impact on our world.'

It is also the story of a little blue-skinned alien girl who wanders through the events of time.....

The Review - I often ask a creator the question of why they choose a particular subject or period to make a comic about. It doesn't apply here because these two guys decided to make a comic about every time, both past present and future. This is a brick of a book. It is full of big ideas, the biggest in fact. And places us smack bang in the middle of those ideas as they formed. It is intelligent and thoughtful yet also colourfully fun and dreamlike.

'These humans are no longer just scurrying across the surface.... they are beginning to change it.'

Through the history of the Universe and Planet Earth in particular we see many events. We see the science of the creations and we see that comparable and inseparable to this science is the art of nature and of man. Through art we see the world around us and through the scientific developments of man we see the investigation of physics and biology and chemistry and in the intricate evolutionary designs we see the patterns of artistic beauty. This is a book that makes a whoosh as it pulls you down the time stream. From prehistoric fights with lions to drinking in a cafe in Paris to the sand clouds of Mars.
Out of Nothing makes use of time and space both in the narrative and in the style. Whole pages and sequences are allowed to develop in front of your eyes. We see the strands of DNA hang in the air, the lines of connectivity of the web, the clouds of a nuclear explosion and many, many more. I barely remember turning the pages as the scenes move along with intelligence combined with bright star fields telling us the history of the world and full colour comics.

Locke and Blandy use a guide. An otherworldly blue-skinned female child. She can seemingly go anywhere at any time. Each time jump is prefixed with her eyes opening to a scene. She finds herself in Mainz in 1450 in the workshop of Johannes Gutenberg or watching Braque and Picasso discussing art in the Paris of 1907 and then (in one of my favourite sequences) in the 1970s in New York City dancing to a funk DJ when the 'Get Down' hits. Through this alien girl we get both perspective and a wry winking humour. 

'When two human minds really connect, something truly powerful happens...'

The art is simplistic when it needs to be and then shifts gears and pacing to present more complicated images. The faces of the characters have an indie animation style to their often goggle eyed intensity but you are never at a loss to know who is who. At moments we can laugh at the ridiculousness of the human condition and some panels are played for both gravitas and laughs all at once. Don't think this is an overly serious book, it has big issues at it's heart but is done with a playfulness that makes you want to return to read a bit more.

On page 153 there is something that happens. History is given a little tiny nudge. It raised a smile......

I got to go last night to the launch party for this book at 'The Cube' in Shoreditch (many thanks to Zoe from NoBrow for inviting me) and got to spend some time with the two Daniels. They were both hugely excited about the book finally being released and spoke to me with grins on their faces about tackling such a big subject. They have been friends and comics creators since meeting at University. We spoke about the process of creating something and also the process of observing its formation, standing back and looking at what you have done. It wasn't lost on us all that being at a launch party is itself part of this chain of events.

They described their little blue-skinned guide as both a Muse to figures in history and also the aforementioned observer. She is the glue that holds their story together. She is also be great fun to write and draw.

When I was talking to these two guys I could see the passion they had for their project. They both spoke about the artistic process and their particular take on it with a refreshing thoughtfulness. I'll be looking for more from these guys from now on.

This was the last book launch of the year from Nobrow and yet another triumph. Geis, Dalston Monsterzz and now Out of Nothing. Bloody hell! How much better can their catalogue get? A big thanks to Sam, Zoe and Emma for keeping me in the loop and letting me see some of the best comics out there. Roll on 2018!

David Locke is an artist and graphic novelist based in Brighton. Much of his work has been informed and shaped by the discoveries of comtemporary science.

David Blandy is an artist who works with the image in the digital world; highlighting our relationship with popular culture and investigating what makes us who we are.

Find out more about this book and grab a copy at www.nobrow.net or follow them on Twitter @NobrowPress

Many thanks for reading.

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