Friday, 16 November 2018

In Preview - ‘The Intercorstal: EXTENSION’ by Gareth A. Hopkins.

The Intercorstal : EXTENSION.

Created by Gareth A. Hopkins.

56 Pages - £4.00 - Black and White.

‘It started as a drawing experiment, by accident, to see if I could literally extend the pages of 'The Intercorstal 2' by relearning to draw to match each page's style.

Then it took on a life of its own, and became a study of haunting, dreams and fear of the mundane, specifically drawing on reports of 'The Enfield Poltergeist', interspersed with personal observations and modern recordings of ghost hunts.’

A comic or just a piece of art should always take a while to process. This is always true of the work I see from Mr Hopkins. I make it clear from the outset of this review that I find his work emotionally complex. It is often complicated and complex in image and intent and can be viewed from a number of levels. Or at least that is how I approach and ingest this comic and others he has produced. 

I admit that I took a long time on each double page spread of this new work. I wrote this review after my third read through. Once for myself, once to interpret and again enjoy and once to somehow put into words what I felt and what I saw.

A piece of art (again with my overblown attempt at definition) should be something that is in some way existent but also emotional. It should hit some nerves of some kind somewhere. It is an imagining of something else and in this case this reimagining comes in the form of shapes in black and white on a comic page with a narration (of sorts) adjacent and coexisting.

I am personally dealing with this comic as a series of images, a poetry of a type visual and literary and also I see it as a series of chapters/short stories in a book. You may wish to deal with your reading otherwise?

I fear that I am not making that much sense so I have decided to begin at the start and write as it occurs to me. The emotional responses as they come along. 

Let’s start with the cover.

In many ways you can view the cover as a plain counterpoint to the complications that occur from within. It is mostly in inky black with marks and shapes that look like a kid has banged against a painted wall and left the marks of toys, scooters, bikes, kicked off shoes that reveal the whiteness below. The odd shape seems to have an intent but otherwise it seems to be a happy accident of shape and form and black/white coverings. Written onto this is simply the title and the credit. I note that the title is split between normal syntax and capitals to speak itself out loud with a whisper and a shout.

If the cover is a minimalistic shield of protection the first double page spread is a Pandora’s box of abstract that attacks the eye. Hypnotic and mesmeric in it’s detail. The first page begins as a whirl of image and movement. The lines are sharp and clean but cross and grow and merge in ways that will leave you watching it rotate and thrive for hours and return to later.

The opening words leave me agog:

‘It’s supposed to stop when the sun’s out.

It’s worse at night, obviously.

But it’s only at night.’

Combine the above with the image and yes you get something that is both cerebral and haunting. An intelligent encapsulation of a mood, a feeling, a mechanism.

As I turn the pages I am trying to interpret the visually angular and looped styles and shapes. What is it that I see? What is it that I am trying to intellectualise? What makes it such a rich reading experience. Gareth seems to grab moments from the day, something that creeps in when you are sitting thinking and turning the moment or day over in your mind. Some of them are merely single thoughts or annoyances or reflections and some are more complicated. 

‘The laugh you use at work.’


‘Clip Clop mouth noises.’

It’s almost like he has kept a record of those thoughts that are fleeting to most of us and we wave them aside and then consider what sandwich to get for lunch or if the trains are on time. Gareth turns these often banal moments into something more. From these moments he travels onwards and also deals often with the world below these thoughts, the dreams and the subconscious world.

‘Dream about a favourite book and wake to find it doesn’t exist.’

This is a comic that plays in the sandpit of so many themes. You dwell in feelings and mood and (to me the most important theme in this book) that of memory. Sounds and spikes and lies and truths and the machine that lays beneath us and amongst us. A machine that is us.

‘Rise and Repeat.’

Each double page is a story of itself. Gareth tears open the world and reveals tunnels and hidden workings. He grows the creatures and plants and buildings and faces that we see when we look at his pages and panels and hidden words and meanings. There is also a deep darkness at the edge of this world. An inkily filled void that rests like a star field without it’s stars at the edge of the art. 

Buy this fucking book!

This is getting a release at the upcoming Catford Comics and Zine Fair on the 9th of December at The Blythe Hill Tavern. Here’s a link

Find out more about Mr Hopkins at this link and follow him on Twitter @grthink

Many thanks for reading.

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