By Annette Chrysostomou
Imagination is the main ingredient of being a great writer of comic books, and an experience in writing stories also helps.
This is the informed view of Max Sheridan, director of Write CY, a creative space in Old Nicosia dedicated to creative writing and community storytelling.
A current project of Write CY is the comic book project, which has brought local writers and artists together with a unique goal: to work together to produce five original comic books in time for the Cyprus Comic Con 2016 which takes place next weekend in Nicosia. The project – a first on the island – was the brainchild of comic book writers Antonis Bargilly and Max Sheridan, and came out of their eight-week comic book scriptwriting course at Write CY, a community creative writing space in Old Nicosia.
“There were five or six people in the course,” Sheridan said, “and not all of them had experience in telling stories. Except one they were all amateurs. Nevertheless, they did an amazing job considering that comic writing requires a very demanding and intense technique.”
Once they had the scripts, the next step for Bargilly and Sheridan was to find five local artists to bring them to life with their artwork. The open call for collaboration surpassed all expectations and a choice had to be made who of the artists were going to participate.
“Antonis looked at their work and we had a meeting with the writers and together they decided which of the artists matched each person. Soon we found one for each writer and they started to create the books together,” Sheridan explained.
They didn’t quite meet the deadline as only three of the five books will be ready for the Comic Con 2016. The other two will be launched in November. The subjects of the 12-page books vary widely, ranging from vampires to zombies. One is about a punk rocker in an abusive relationship, and another – written by an academic – about an academic going through a crisis. While one is in Greek the rest are in English, as three of the writers are English native speakers.
Though this time around all participants worked for free, the next time the organisers are planning to apply for some funding from the government, to at least be able to give a nominal payment to the participants.
For there to be a next time, they will of course offer another scriptwriting course, and the next one starts in January 2017.
Aspiring comic book writers can try it out at Comic Con on September 3 and 4 when Sheridan and Bargilly will be organising the 48-Hour Comic Book. The two-day event will give aspiring comic book writers and artists the opportunity to learn the basics of comic book scriptwriting and illustrating from professionals and to produce an original 12-page comic book in just two days. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited.
“We have two booths and a room where people can have the five-hour scriptwriting sessions guided by scriptwriters and artists. At one of the booths we will also work in front of the public,” Max Sheridan said. At the booths, Write CY’s completed comic books will also be on sale.
Around 8,000 people are expected to be at the event and Max and his team hope that many of them will discover the challenging, funny world of writing comics.
You would then be able to write about subjects in a very different way, perhaps along the lines of Sheridan’s description of his friend Antonis Bargilly on the Write CY website.
“It was in December 2015 that we first heard rumour of Antonis Bargilly. Some said he was a failed voodooist, others an Italian banker with broken Swiss connections. Still others warned us that Bargilly, who never appeared before 11 in the morning and only in a damp velveteen cape, had been so influenced by vampire comics that his blood had gone cold and he no longer had a reflection.
“But we’d been looking for a comic book writer to teach our first comic book writing course at Write CY and Bargilly seemed to fit the bill. He was organised and punctual and had rare reserves of energy and talent. Enough at least to hide his darker side from us for months.”
Max Sheridan: Max grew up reading comic books and watching a lot of horror movies but ended up becoming a short story writer. His short fiction has appeared in a number of publications in the US, UK and elsewhere. He’s the director of Write CY and co-director of Storyline Creatives, where he helps other people tell their stories. Find him at maxsheridanlit.com. If you have a creative project you’d like to discuss, drop him a line at [email protected]
Antonis Bargilly: Antonis has been storytelling since childhood. Even as he became a professional musician and composer, he continued to tell stories and use different means to craft them. Along with his friend, Antonis Aristodemou, he opened Ant Comics, the first comics shop in Cyprus, almost a decade ago. It was during this period that he founded the Cyprus Comic Society, a two-year project that brought local writers and comics artists together. At Write CY, he is bringing everything together – comics, teaching and storytelling – in his unique comics writing class.