Nothing in the Rulebook launches a new web comic series from illustrator Dougie Dodds as he embarks on the choppy seas of a postgraduate education into the arts. Come see the artist as a young man do battle with his old foes; fusty student accommodation, impending deadlines and that old hair-puller, writer’s block. Here, Dodds introduces his NITRB column and why anyone in their right mind would commit to such a thing – Billy the Echidna
For the last few days I have been engaged in what seems like futile attempts to not only tidy my room, but maintain some form of order within it.
It impresses me that, despite numerous attempts to put things away in their rightful places, (a concept still fluid it seems) there remains countless items that do not seem to belong anywhere. This mess is predominantly down to me finishing my degree in English Literature at UEA, and the unavoidable move back to the family home, where me, my degree, and the surprising amount of stuff I have accumulated over the past three years now reside.
The mixing of ‘pre-degree’ clutter and ‘degree-clutter’ has been made worse by the steady increase of the new, ‘post-degree’ clutter.
This new clutter comprises of a large amount of pencils, an even larger amount of pens, a cutting mat, watercolours, very strong glue, and a dauntingly large amount of empty sketchbooks.
To those of you wondering what this all has to do with the study of books I very happily reply: not much. I, much like the items scattered around my room, did not belong in the academic world of literature, and after three years of examining the written word to an inch of it’s life (and mine on a few occasions) I’ve finally made the apparently inevitable leap from books to art.
Come the end of September I’ll be travelling down to Cornwall to study the impressively titled Authorial Practice: Illustration course at Falmouth University.
Illustration seemed like the logical option, bridging the gap between literature and art. My time at UEA has not being without artistic opportunities, as in my last year I co-ran the university’s culture magazine, where I would lend myself to the occasional illustration, more often than not in the last few hours of publication.
A few of my modules as well actually gave me the opportunity to write a story and illustrate it myself. It was repeatably drilled into me that ‘you shouldn’t spend too much time on the illustrations, as they will not be marked,’ being solely reliant on the quality of creative writing as well as a critical commentary that went along side it. I however, with slight consequences to my final mark, blissfully ignored their warnings, and devoted, almost obsessively, myself to drawing.
The project that started me on this dangerous spiral was my retelling of the medieval Arthurian tale of Sir Launfal, which I translated from Middle English into modern prose, specifically aimed at younger readers. This project showed me that my interest in medieval literature and illustration do not necessarily have to be two worlds apart, and it was possible to combine them.
This is something I plan to do a lot with my work, to bring these dangerously close to being forgotten, medieval and viking sagas into the modern day. Consequently, my dissertation contained various illustrations where I had translated Shakespeare’s The
Tempest into a wordless graphic novel, something that broke the monotony of writing and actually made the 9,000 word piece enjoyable. I also ended up illustrating my girlfriend’s creative writing dissertation, something I nagged her to let me do ever since she started writing it.
Despite the waffling nature of this article, this is not a biography into the life of Dougie Dodds, a fascinating read I’m sure, but rather an introduction into the type of content I will be bringing you.
Once a month there will be a comic strip giving you snippets of the life of an illustration student in Falmouth. A hopefully humorous account of experiences I have had, and one that plays around with the idea of a student moving from one discipline to another. I hope to bring the two worlds together as best I can, making sure the three years of literature were not wasted, and I will take you along with me.
Read Dougie’s first web comic here
About the author of this post
Dougie Dodds can be seen as the embodiment of indecisiveness, but currently considers himself to be an illustrator and writer, with a keen interest in medieval and viking sagas. He has a BA in English Literature from UEA, and is currently working towards an MA in Authorial Practice: Illustration at Falmouth University. He is a self taught publisher, being the founder and currently soul employee of DoubleDeckerBooks, who have successfully published two poetry compilations and two children’s books. He also dabbles in journalism, having previously co-run the SPA winning student publication VENUE, and really hates beetroot.