Mini comics

These mini comics – sometimes called “grid comics” – are a mix of news and stream of consciousness, ideas, and short stories. They are sort of visual news – mixed up and selected news – and daily art journals, observing and recording the day and world around me. I like the quality of this work – it’s fast, rough and I can do this well. Hand made, pen, ink, pencil and wash. A lot faster than digital!

These are micro stories, mini comics, quick and expressive, sort of news comics.

Opinionated, comment, political, personal, topical, experiments with narrative.
There is an immediacy in the work – this is very important to me – freshness, quickness, from idea to conception in one day, making and showing at same time.

I’ve been making these since August 23, so there are quite a lot now, but not as many as I’d like. I think would be great if I could do one a week, at least, and it can be a sort of weekly summary of the news, the world, and my thoughts.

Sunak enjoys his flights

Prime Minister Sunak is regularly criticised for choosing the most polluting form of transport – preferring to fly by private jet and helicopter, rather than taking the train, even for quite short journeys. At a time when the climate emergency is becoming increasingly severe, he acts as though he’s above all this, sees himself as some sort of rockstar or jet-setter.

According to the Guardian newspaper:

“The high-carbon travel habits of government ministers have led to doubts about their sincerity when talking about their commitment to protecting the environment. But this government, in rushing to put party before planet and people, is the first to make their environmental U-turns the main theme of their election campaign.

The prime minister has come under fire in the past for his private jet and helicopter habit. Though he says taking private aviation to travel short distances is a more efficient use of his time than using road or rail, many have pointed out the climate – and cost – impacts of his preferred travel methods.

Recent data from the Ministry of Justice showed that Rishi Sunak has used RAF jets and helicopters for domestic flights more frequently than the UK’s previous three prime ministers. The data revealed he took almost one such flight a week during his first seven months in office. Some trips included one by helicopter to Dover, which would have taken just over an hour by train, and another helicopter ride to Southampton, which would come in at one hour 14 minutes by rail.”

Hierarchy of racism

Debates over Dianne Abbotts letter to the Observer newspaper and her subsequent sacking from labour party.

As far as I understand her letter, shes argues a hierachy of racism exists, yet cites example of prejudice against red headed men as a less serious prejudice than anti black racism. 

In my drawing I show a police stop and search of red headed men, an unlikely event, and would be surprising to see. An almost fantastical situation – surreal. It’s nearly always black males.

Based on my own childhood experience, prejudice against red headed men is severe, can be constant, and is serious abuse.

Is flying over?

This artwork was a response to an essay by Richard Murphy, political economist, entitled “Is flying over?”:

He argues that the airline industry will never raise enough funding to make themselves carbon neutral and so cannot survive. I found the essay thought-provoking, and it made me question my own actions, and what sort of future world will we see. Will most people stop flying? Will rich people simply carry on as they do now? Will governments simply bail out the airlines, and ignore the environmental impacts? I could see the UK government doing that.

I felt this was a powerful and shocking argument, and I was moved to do something with it. I wanted to communicate it more widely and make the information more accessible. Instinctively I felt an info comic would be right. The essay consisted of 15 main points, and I felt it suited a graphic novel or comic format, as a series of 15 panels.

So my first version was a one page comic, hand drawn, and shaded with 2B pencil. Sometimes I prefer hand drawn, as quicker to make, is more expressive, and more fun to make.

I was fairly pleased with the work, powerful in its simplicity – though it is rather limited, and repetitive. Does it have much impact? I have a habit of jumping in to make info comics, maybe out of familiarity with the format. Does it communicate? Does it get the message across?

Trying another angle, I used the same material, but took an interactive media approach: http://davemiller.uk/projects/day13/ with a goal of communicating the information in more interesting and eye catching ways.

This work presents each of the main 15 points about the future of the airline industry, and randomises their presentation. Various things change at random – drawings of dirty planes, backgrounds, and the text for each of the 15 points. The work could be taken further, given more time.

Well, I’m only human

Theme: Storytelling in Immersive Media

An experiment in AR aesthetic approaches, and narrative composition in political comics.

This “AR Vignette” is a tiny multimedia comment on the news. The AR effect is a 3D montage of overlapping flat planes, similar to old traditions, particularly Dioramas. These AR montages (through association, positioning and juxtaposition) tell stories in a particular aesthetic.

The technology used is AR.js and A-Frame. AR.js is a lightweight library for AR on the Web. A-Frame allows the creation of 3D Scenes and Virtual Reality experiences.

The subject for the work is the UK Care Homes during the Pandemic. The Government imposed strict rules, no visitors or physical contact. Daily on TV Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced rules from the podium – social distancing, no hugging. Yet at the same time, he was having an affair with his secretary, meeting in secret at Whitehall.

His response was “Well, I’m only human”

Composition analysis

The park alongside Parliament serves as the backdrop and Tracking Image. Scanning the Tracking Image opens up Hancock’s face – big with a transparent mask. We see through where he speaks, which is where we witness his betrayal, secretly embracing his mistress. In front of the mask, we see a care home with a family gathered outside, waving through the window. On the opposite side, Hancock stands at the podium. Hancock apologises throughout.

This experiment into narrative composition and the aesthetics of AR considers narrative possibilities of see-through shapes and over and around layered shapes and objects, exploring foregrounding, depth, layering, and what lies behind. It tells a story through layering and positioning, and transparency within drawings. It explores photocollage, digital drawings, mixed media, multimedia, and narrative composition.

Using your phone, scan the QR code:

Then point your camera at this picture:

Michelle Mone

Narrative composition, graphic novel style, summarising visually the Michelle Mone PPE scandal.

Who is Baroness Mone?

The 51-year-old is a businesswoman and the founder of lingerie company Ultimo.

Born in Glasgow, she left school with no qualifications at 15 and went on to launch ventures in diet pills, fake tan and cryptocurrency. She became a Conservative life peer in 2015.

What is the PPE controversy?

The row around PPE Medpro started back in 2020, when reporters first began asking questions about Baroness Mone’s apparent links to the company.

In 2021, the government revealed that she had referred PPE Medpro via the VIP lane system, with the company awarded two contracts worth £200m.

Last month, Lady Mone faced allegations that she had profited from the business, a claim she denies.

How did the PPE contract system work?

The VIP lane system saw a separate mailbox set up for MPs to send on offers from firms, but led to the government being criticised for giving preferential treatment to companies with political contacts.

What investigations are under way?

Lady Mone is currently under investigation by the House of Lords commissioner for standards, with parliament’s website saying the probe is over “alleged involvement in procuring contracts for PPE Medpro leading to potential breaches…of the House of Lords code of conduct”.

PPE Medpro has also become the subject of a potential fraud investigation by the National Crime Agency.

What does Baroness Mone say?

Baroness Mone has consistently denied any “role or function” in the company, with lawyers previously saying she is “not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity”.

(From Sky News: https://news.sky.com/story/michelle-mone-who-is-she-and-what-is-the-ppe-controversy-swirling-around-the-tory-peer-12762756)

Londongrad

Graphical composition about Johnson and Lebedev, in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Summarises and condenses the situation in a composition. An informed artwork that incorporates the news, opinions and emotions.

  • We are the London laundromat, where everyone dodgy across the world 
  • comes to launder their dirty money
  • Golden visas for the rich
  • Hostile environment for the poor
  • Londongrad
  • Wealthy Russians
  • Knightsbridge is one big playground
  • Spend a million in Harrods
  • Billionaire friends of the Tories
  • Personal friends of the PM
  • His parties were legendary
  • Now sitting in the house of Lords for services rendered
  • How unbelievable
  • Whatever were they thinking?
  • His dad was a KGB spy
  • But he’s not the same
  • He’s a good guy
  • Then where
  • Did his money come from?
  • To buy the Evening Standard?
  • Never read it.
  • Lavish parties
  • Johnson stoned out of his mind walked back down an Italian mountain
  • Security risk
  • We’re being lied to

No visas delivered in Paris

Refugees – UK response – Calais (April 2022)

UK visa response to Ukrainians “shameful”.

The Home Office turned away Ukrainian refugees escaping the war because they didn’t have the right paperwork.

A Ukrainian woman and her 8-year-old daughter slept rough for 4 days and nights in freezing temperatures to cross the Polish border, only to be refused entry to the UK at Calais. 

We cannot turn our back on those fleeing persecution in Ukraine. The UK must give an ambitious commitment to resettle Ukrainian refugees in the UK. 

In comparison with the rest of Europe the UK government is harsher on Ukrainian refugees but softer on Russian oligarchs.

They dont want to let them in. They pretend we are doing more than everyone else, and lie about it.

For the Tories, demonising foreign “others” has long been a convenient means of diverting working-class anger at economic insecurity away from powerful interests. They have always demonised and scapegoated migrants and refugees. The last thing these people want is more refugees, they think the UK “can’t afford” them and it should “look after its own first”.

Pandemic: A Year of Mistakes

For a book of essays covering politics, media, medicine and more, I researched, complied and drew a series of cartoon strips covering key moments of the Covid Pandemic and the bungling government …

The full comic is published in the book ‘The Pandemic – A Year of Mistakes’ available on Amazon:

From the Amazon description: “Dave Miller has been providing a simply stunning visual guide to the pattern of the UK pandemic in previous volumes. He is the visual Boswell of this modern plague. Here, he tracks the big ups and downs (and there were plenty of those) in the last twelve months in Cartoons. It is a unique record.”

Occupy London with Cartoons

In 2008, there was an ‘Occupy’ site at St Pauls in central London. There were lots of drawings and paintings sellotaped to the walls; the area became a sort of temporary public Art gallery. Works full of slogans and messages, full of passion.

It occurred to me that many people wanted to express their views in this way, and contribute their own art work to express their support and solidarity; but they couldn’t physically be there – at St Pauls.

I built an online cartoon tool to make it easy to collaboratively author your own political/satirical cartoons. Once a week I printed them, went to St Pauls and stuck them on the walls. Some well known artists contributed their work, building up a big stock of ‘ready-made’ fantastic drawings and cartoons – for everyone to remix into their own political cartoons.

The project was a collectively authored and networked satire, giving people a chance to participate/ support/ speak out/ in a creative way.

I am in the process of updating the project code to the latest version of PHP, as it doesnt work anymore. Once this is done I will post a link.

Newscomic

Newscomic (2008) recycles the news, re-mixes it, subverts and distorts it. It takes live news feeds, chops them up, reworks them and places the text into speech bubbles in a comic. The result is a disjointed reading experience, where the words and pictures don’t quite match but create their own meaning from the network.

Newscomic has been described as a generative satire, that takes RSS feeds from major newspapers, uses PHP and databases to chop them up and generate interesting strings, based on the feed content and user input, then puts the resultant text into speech bubbles in a 3-panel comic format. 

The result is a disjointed comic, where the words and pictures don’t quite fit but instead make their own story, blurring fact and fiction. Sometimes the story makes sense, and readers/ users always found it fun to experiment with the stories. Possibly, this early experimental idea seems to be part of what is now referred to as “Conditional Text” in recent interactive story works (Ambient Literature). 

Often the stories generated are quite surreal, and can even be revealing. 

Link to project – Newscomic (2008)

Link to Flickr stream

Please note: sadly newscomic isn’t working properly right now, as PHP has been updated and I need to re-work the code