Microaviary

Published in Cordite #43: Pumpkin, October, 2013. 

http://cordite.org.au/content/poetry/pumpkin/

The commissioning editor of this online poetry journal, Kent MacCarter, asked me and a few other comics peeps to adapt a contemporary poem into comics form. This was a very interesting challenge: can a form of writing that is so allusive and inspiring of mental visual images withstand being adapted into a visual medium? I have long wanted to try this, so I took the opportunity with both hands, even if it was not going to pay much.

First challenge was to find a poem to adapt. Kent sent me a few to look over and there was one good one by Anna Krien that I seriously considered, but it seemed too long. I asked a friend of mine in the literature Department of Melbourne University to poke about and she came up with Microaviary by her friend in the department, Amanda Frances Johnson. I loved this one immediately, since it was about the use of drones in warfare, a subject that I had been researching for the third volume of my Robert Wells trilogy. In short, the poem inspired an array of associative imagery that lent itself to a visual poem.

One thing I definitely set out to do was not simply illustrate the words; they were to be a point of departure. Also, the comic had to work as a narrative as well, so it was a case of finding stories to tell visually within it. I wrote this visually, allowing those associative images to flow, finding links between them and building stories around them. Hence there was no mention of Leonardo Da Vinci in the poem, but there is a link in the study of birds that the drone designers used for their own work. I had also been fascinated by the idea of a drone pilot who lives an ordinary family life in Las Vegas and goes to work flying his drones and killing people by remote control, as if it were a video game. I just depicted this without editorialising.

I would love to have a go at adapting works from other mediums into comics, such as songs, musicals, dance numbers and more poems, but for now, enjoy this. 

 


Type: Short Story