Minimal Comics: Introduction

A Brief History Of Minimal Comics

Like most people my twenties were a blur. I spent most of the time travelling and taking photos. I made a few zines, had a few exhibitions but didn’t really do much of anything. Shortly after my thirtieth birthday I was involved in a bad accident and broke my leg. I was immobilised in my house for three months with not much to do except stare out of the window and watch the world float by.

It was around this time I had the idea for Minimal Comics. I realised that even though I could not move, the world was constantly moving around me: the clouds in the sky, the boats in the harbour, the trees in the wind. Everything in the universe is constantly moving, just at different rates of speed. My broken leg was healing, but at the same time my body was slowly growing old and dying.

I started drawing again, simplifying everything down to just three panels: beginning, middle and end. I woke up in the morning, stared out of my window until the idea for a strip came into my head, then tried to capture it on paper in the simplest way, in one take if possible. I started posting the Minimal Comics series online in September 2011. The series ran until December 2013 during which time I drew just over 400 strips, mostly posted daily.

The original Boat comic from 2011

As I was interested in the notion of time passing, I programmed the online comics to fade out, so you could only ever see the current 7 strips of that particular week. After that, they were gone. Readers could subscribe to a mailing list and the comics would be sent to them automatically, which they could then save and look at anytime they wished. New members to the list were not able to see older comics that they had missed. When I finished drawing and uploading the last comic in December 2013 the final 7 strips slowly faded out one by one until they were all gone.

In 2013 when I got back into printing and book-making I collected 40 of my favourite strips into the zine Minimal Comics: Volume One (which is in it’s second printing now and available on my website).

Recently I have seen quite a few copycat comics (some from people who were on the original Minimal Comics mailing list no less)! And for that reason I sometimes regret fading out the original run of the strips.

Recently I thought it was maybe time to re-run the series online again, but when I looked at the original drawings from 2011 I felt a bit embarrassed by how badly drawn and dated some of them were! I am still not the best artist in the world, but I can draw a little better now, so instead of simply re-running the series I have decided to re-draw it again. I will re-draw some of my favourites from the original series and also add in new strips when ideas come to me. Again I will draw the strips with the simplest of tools: pencil, ruler, eraser and pen, and use a brush & ink, and screentone & knife to add the heavy blacks and tones.

Comparison of the original 2011 drawing (left) and the new 2016 version (right).

I will run the new series on the original website again, and also serialise it in various other places online. For Medium I will make weekly digest versions and run them in the publication Minimal Comics.

I hope the new run of the series will be interesting for older readers and new readers alike.

GM, 2016.03.03

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