‘Slate Ditko’ was completed for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival’s 2016 Window Trail. It’s the third time I’ve been involved with LICAF’s Window Trail, having previously created ‘After Wainwright‘ and ‘Neighbours Bring Food‘ in 2014 and 2015 respectively. I was paired with the bar ‘Slate‘ in Kendal’s Wainwright’s Yard.
This was a weird one for me. Normally for things like this I start with a concept, work through research, and the images that make up the finished piece are a result of that process. For ‘Slate Ditko’ it was more circular than that. I obsessed with the idea of doing abstracted, Intercorstal drawings of slates, inspired by the bar’s name and little else. I then did a fair amount of research on Kendal slate, focusing on Westmorland Green Slate, with an amazing amount of help from Jonathan Petrie, who I met through exhibiting After Wainwright.
That research didn’t go anywhere, to be honest. So I turned my attention back to the visual, working up some sample pages, and was kindly sent a lot of reference material by my partner on Crosby & Syd, Kate Dowling. And sometime in between I decided that I’d appropriate the layouts from one of comic’s most famous sequences in comics.
The panel layouts are taken from a four-page sequence that originally appeared in The Amazing Spider-man #33 in 1966, drawn by Steve Ditko. By removing all images from the original I wanted to highlight the way the panel layouts move from page to page — whenever I talk about it in person I close my fist and then open it out… that’s the best way I can articulate the effect. I mean…obviously I communicate better visually?
And that’s…it. I’ve actually had some difficult conversations about ‘Slate Ditko’, explaining that I believe it works because of the fact that there’s so little to it. That it’s just some interesting observational drawings of slates, combined with the layouts of some Spider-man comics from the 60’s. I’ll leave it up to you to decide for yourself.