Boychild productions book BEAUTIFUL THINGS is a collection of poetic short stories
in comic book form written by Sean Michael Wilson and drawn by various
artists from several countries including Spaniard Pedro Belushi, British
artist Neill Cameron, Argentinean artist Juan Chavarriga and French artist
Benjamin Bouchet. Several pages from the book can be seen opposite, and two reviews of the book can be accessed from links at the bottom of this text.
Each of the poem-comics (or Shi-manga in Japanese) is short (1 to 6 pages only), with the contents sometimes sensual, surreal, odd, humourous, political, innocent and highly personal.
BEAUTIFUL THINGS (BT) is the second comic book written by Edinburgh boy Sean Michael Wilson. He writes:
"The first book I did, ANGEL OF THE WOODS, was pretty much a traditional graphic novel, with a tightly structured and conventional narrative flow. Thatfs fine, its one way of doing comics. But the poem-comics in Beautiful things are closer to my heart.I think they are the best stuff Ive done so far.
Expressionistic, intimate and sensual, difficult, capricious, obscure. They are like lightening flashes in that we only see part of a situation or mood for a brief time, then its gone. In that transitory flash there is an ambiguity that has a richness and lasting appeal. Im not really defending this type of writing as better than a realistic, structured approach. All I'm saying is that, somehow, it just feels good to me.
My key influences in creating this type of poem-comic are Franz Kafka and Jorge Luis Borges. Kafkas early short sketches written around 1904 to 1912 had a huge impact on me when I was a teenager. I spent the winter of 1987/88 in Aberdeen Central Library reading them all day, when my mother thought I was working in a job that I had secretly been fired from!
Borges is astonishing in his erudition and capricious intellectual creativity. I discovered his writings when I was 20, in the LABYRINTHS (1964) collection, still one of my favourite books. And recently I have been reading his short pieces in THE MAKER (1960).
The pieces in BT were not written in an effort to consciously emulate them; more like they were written, trance like, under the spell of Kafka and Borges. They are both deep in my unconscious now. (Yeah,Freud, right next to an image of the sexy Chinese girl standing above the guy with the beard on the cover packaging of that 70s board game ? You know the one I mean? Someone remind me of the name of it please).
A good example of their unconscious influence is the poem-comic in BT, HOMECOMING, drawn by Neill Cameron. Only recently did I realise (or remember) the Kafka short sketch that the feeling of this piece was inspired by. I was surprised to read that the title of the Kafka story is also HOMECOMING. I had not consciously realised that I had even used the same title!
Amongst the comics that have influenced me in this form are the ones that I read in Paul Gravetts ESCAPE anthology in the 80s/early 90s. That was the first time I read short, mature level comics with odd poetic themes; also Eddie Campbells ALEC stuff;Alan Moores more poetic work;Harvey Pekars AMERICAN SPLENDOUR and possibly the most influential were the old MAURETANIA comics by Chris Reynolds. Wonderfully poetic. I believe he is about to get a collection of these published in the UK by Kingly books. Good luck with that. And recently I realised that Adrian Tomine has done a whole load of short, expressionistic comics in his self published days on OPTIC NERVE that have a certain similiarity to some of the pieces in BT. But those cannot be considered an influence, as I only read them last month!
The beauty of the BT title refers not to a picture post card beauty. Nothing so low as Hitchcock once said. Its referring to what Rilke and Baudelaire considered as a kind of beauty that is just the beginning of a force that, if we got very close to, we would be terrified by. Baudelaire says that in studying beauty the artist screams with fear before being defeated. Recently, though, I have not been doing much screaming, my baby boy has being doing that for me.
I have worked with a variety of European artists on Beautiful things, who have brought their own thinking to each poem-comic. As well as those mentioned above it includes Mary Hutchison from Scotland;Tom Buchanan,who despite having a Scottish name is from England; and the enigmatic London artist known as ZEEL. Thanks to them all. It has been a wonderful thing for me to see my ideas come alive through their artistry."
A review of Beautiful things is at:
Another review, by poet and feminist Helen Kitson, is here; where, as a new comer to good comics, she expresses surprise at finding a comic book beyond the superhero mold:
Beautiful things is now available as a downloadable PDF file from LULU.COM for only five US dollars - about 3 UK pounds. If you like sophisticated comic books,its for you - please have a look. The book can be accessed there at: http://www.lulu.com/content/171699
Buy Beautiful Things here for the reduced price of 7 UK pounds or comparable price, and we will post it on to you -