Comics Back To The Stage Radio With Pictures

It’s a blind date between comics and radio. Radio With Pictures will be performe at the Sydney Opera House this Sunday as part of the Graphic 2013 festival. It is an hour of audiovisual storytelling. The audience will see a stage with microphones, musical instruments, and a Foley sound system. Here, performers will tell a story, while accompanied by a screen that displays images created specifically for the story.

We hope they will feel the thrill of simultaneously listening to a radio broadcast and reading comics. Take a look at this clip taken from Radio With Pictures last year. It a collaboration between radio producer Jon Tjhia, comic artist Lachlan CONN, and it about getting lost in translation in earthquake-torn Japan.

This is not a new way of telling stories, but it’s a very old form. Japanese monks discovered the power of combing illustrated scrolls and narrated messages in the 12th century to educate and inform their often illiterate community.

Kamishibai, literally paper drama, was a direct precursor to the manga tradition. It is a combination of story and image that eventually led to the creation of the kamishibai. In this form, a practitioner would combine a story and rapidly changing images on a small wooden stage.

It was still use in Japan during the Depression and post-war periods to educate and entertain children and disseminate safety and health messages

Kamishibai Manga Comics

Manga comic historians have found a direct connection between kamishibai manga comics and manga comics. These comics evolved to remove the narrator from the image but still retain the ability to tell stories through sequential images. Radio With Pictures is also inspire by the American vaudeville tradition, chalk talk. This late 1800s form visual storytelling was where speakers would quickly draw images to match a monologue. It’s like a live Mr Squiggle.

Winsor McCay is the comics pioneer and creator of Little Nemo In Slumberland, which was one of the most popular comic strips in the entire world. Sketch the Rhyme, a collaboration between visual artists and hip-hop MCs, has recently seen artists draw at a fast pace to match the lyrics of the rappers. The last PowerPoint presentation was, in a sense of the word, a live comic storytelling experience.

Radio With Pictures, now in its second year of existence, is returning to the audio visual experiences that were common across cultures. This year’s illustrators include fine artists such as Gria Shead. Claudia Karvan will be retelling Patti Miller’s autobiographical work The Mind of a Thief. It examines the relationship between missionaries and settlers in the Wellington Valley.

Heartbreaking Work Toormina Video

Pat Grant, comic artist and academic, will read from his heartbreaking work Toormina Video. It is a hilarious, bittersweet, and ultimately forgiving autobiographical tale about a child who watches his father drink.

Marieka Walsh and Don Walker, Cold Chisel’s legendary songwriter, are collaborating on their autobiography Shots. Marieka Walsh’s illustrations are beautiful, textured illustrations that mirror Walker’s powerful voice.

Senthorun Raj, activist and academic, joins hands with Gina McKeon, Walkley Award-winning radio producer, and Sam Wallman (a comic artist whose work is very similar to Joe Sacco’s) to tell the story about an asylum seeker who escapes persecution because of his sexuality. Also, the process of proving that he is gay to Australian authorities.

We wanted to create an environment where image makers were more than just hired illustrators. This is a more collaborative approach that aims at bringing comics back to their roots: on stage.