Playful Inversions is a new take on the idea of illustrated fiction, where the illustrations are made first, and the stories are then crafted around them.
Playful Inversions is also an experiment, a way of stretching, stressing, bending and reshaping how collaboration in a creative endeavor works.
My name is Frazer Irving and I’ve been drawing comics since the turn of the century. Over the years I’ve developed a large number of my own ideas, some good, some bad, some just... something else. Due to the time it takes to make even one comic strip, none of these ideas has ever made it to the printed page in any significant format. After all, I’ve had to make a living drawing Batman, the X-Men, Judge Dredd… the list goes on and I’ve been very busy making all of that stuff, very fortunate, too.
My experiences working in collaboration with writers such as Grant Morrison, Brian Bendis, David Hine, Si Spurrier and lots of other top blokes who are all very, very good at what they do has taught me a great deal about how illustrated fiction works. And after many years doing it the traditional way, I’ve decided the time is right to flip it on it’s head and do it backwards.
The process is simple. I make images born out of my vast mental library of “What ifs?” add a cryptic title for guidance, and send this to a select group of writers who respond in a number of ways:
A full story to complement the image,
An opening paragraph to get the ball rolling,
A two line synopsis of a story to be fleshed out by another.
Each of these submissions is read in anonymity in order to preserve a degree of objectivity and to get the most honest reaction from the work, as is every subsequent revision. No playing favourites in this workshop!
What this process allows me to do is then act like a record producer, taking the combined contributions of my “band” and shaping it to fit with my grand vision of Playful Inversions.
The book will be 50 illustrations, each with a single page of text to accompany it. Some stories will be stand alone, others will work together and riff off each other to form a variety of different sequences.
The book will also contain behind the scenes extras such as sketches, interviews with writers, other scrapbook musings from the process and maybe a photo of me as well, you lucky scamps.
Frazer can be found on Twitter and Instagram:
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These people are helping to fund Playful Inversions.