Expanding the Stanley-verse:


So how do you take a thought or idea, that occurs in your mind, reach out and grab hold of it before it escapes and then turn it into something concrete that you can show to the world?

How do you begin to articulate something you can visualise in your mind as words, or pictures and help people to see what you want them to see?

When you've done that, how do you move that idea forward?

How do you take a seed, grow it and turn it into something more than an idea – a universe full of connected ideas?

Or in my case, the Stanley-verse.

In this series, I'm going to talk about my creative processes, using the example of my Movie Deaths illustrations.

I'm going to tell you were I've been, between head, sketchpad and screen, where I think I'm going (although I do like a sharp left turn into a donut on occasions) and how, to some degree, I'm open to a steer from the people who spend time and effort following me. What would you like to see next?

I like to think I've always been creative. Whether it's doodling, painting, writing short stories and poetry, or even learning guitar in an effort to write a hit song, making something has never been far from the centre of my mind.

Let me take you back to 2011...

My first daughter was a wobbly sack of potatoes, maybe two or three months old, hunched over my shoulder in her favourite sleeping position. It was the middle of the night, and as usual, I was dizzy and a little delirious with sleep deprivation.

My thoughts turned as they often would, and still do, to aligning how I could provide for my family while also taking control of my own destiny – earning a living on my own terms, doing something I love.

As you may already know, I like movies. A lot. Most of my thoughts come back to movies.

I was looking for a way to combine popular film culture with some kind of graphic design, art or illustration in an effective, unique way, that I could serve up as:

There's a missing piece of that particular Venn diagram isn't there?

I knew the media, I knew the subject, but what was the 'what?'

What uniquely hot take could I bring to the table that would make audiences of film scholars and casual appreciators alike nod knowingly at my cool handiwork?

I liked the idea of drawing movie scenes from perspectives that didn't exist as real camera angles in those movies.

Think of a shattered mug seen from the perspective of the floor, china bouncing up away from it, in a wave of coffee, with the word 'Kobayashi' visible.

Something a bit like this, but not this

Think of a view through a car windscreen looking at a 1974 Chevy Nova in front, with blood spattered all over the inside of the back window.

Something a bit like this, but not this

Familiar scenes, but not as you know them.

In my head, these were arty pop culture masterpieces waiting to be realised. I would draw them, and I'd soon be gracing the cover of Empire magazine with my creations.

Before I leapt into anything beyond simple sketches, a bud of a branch broke out of a seed in my head. What if I was to draw the anticipatory lead-up to a moment of explosive drama? The two cinematic moments I've described are pay-offs. What if I drew the calm before the storm? The lead-in to, say, a character's death, maybe?

Not something like this. This.

Was there any value in it? I thought there could be. As a film fan, I would recognise that it was the moment of tension before the climactic release. It could even be humorous if I played it right.

With all of these thoughts attempting to fit into a cohesive plan in my mind, a day or two later, a friend introduced me to the Gashlycrumb Tinies...

Spoiler alert: there's nothing down for these kids

In Expanding the Stanley-verse:Part 2, I'll talk more about this wonderful book, and how it helped me to kick-start my work.

And a bit more about this guy, and how he came about:

See you real soon, folks!