21 January 2011

Boston Comics Roundtable on the Fewcha

Today’s issue of the Boston Phoenix is devoted to the future of Boston. Among other features it includes a page of single-panel comics from the Boston Comics Roundtable. The print version shows nine in black and white, but the online gallery starting here includes sixteen in color, including a modest contribution from me.

The BCR’s introduction to the gallery explains:

We approached this future-Boston project as a sort of moderated "jam comic," an improvised group effort in which one cartoonist draws a panel, then passes it off to another who adds a panel of their own, and so on, usually resulting in a weird, amusing Frankenstein's-monster of a story. In this case, each cartoonist went off on their own and came up with a scene from the coming century, which we then fit together into a sequence.
It was fun to watch this project take shape on a very tight deadline. On the evening of 6 January, Phoenix editors met with everyone who had dropped by the BCR meeting. The group hammered out a basic approach. Dan Mazur was drafted to coordinate everything, Cathy Leamy provided a visual template, and Roho set up an email list.

That weekend a couple of writers broadcast a bunch of picture/caption ideas, and artists began posting their sketches to the email list. The delivery deadline was the 12th, giving time for selection, sequencing, final captioning, and coloring by Dan and Braden D. Lamb.

In thinking about panel ideas and watching the selection grow, two things occurred to me:
  • The urge to find a joke that works in a single panel for a broad audience meant steering away from some provocative aspects of futurism, such as demographic changes and politics, and toward some Boston stand-up stand-bys: parking, sports, Dunkies.
  • As we know, the comics form can be used to tell any type of story or discuss nearly any topic. The BCR itself has published anthologies on the history of Boston, on food, and on other down-to-earth subjects. Nevertheless, when cartoonists get the assignment to picture the future, quite a few grab the chance to draw giant robots fighting.
Of course, it’s not too late for Boston to prepare for giant robot fights.

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