Comic Book Improvisation Part 2: Forest for the Trees

Forest for the Trees (page 1 by Kevin Mellon, click for bigness)

Last week, I talked about Kurt Busiek’s daunting task to improvise his way through a script for a lost comic book. In that case, Kurt was working with an intractable improv partner because the art he was working off had been drawn and finished a decade earlier. While not impossible, it’s an uphill battle to find something that clicks when dealing with something that can’t adjust to what you’re adding.

Improvisational theater and improvisation in comics works best when two (or more) partners are listening, embracing, responding and adding to what the other is doing. That fluidity and flexibility is fertile ground for creativity and a magical experience for the audience/readers.

Two comic book artists have partnered to create a fully improvised web-comic called Forest for the Trees. John Bivens (Comic Book Tattoo, Popgun) and Kevin Mellon (Comic Book Tattoo, Hack/Slash) take turns adding 1 page a week. As their site explains it, “Each page is done in response to the one before it, neither artist knowing what each will do in response until the finished page is turned in.”

In performance, Kevin Mellon would be considered the initiator of the scene, as his page is the first. He is the first to establish things about the world they’re creating, and it will be John Bivens’ job to not only not contradict or negate these things, but to wholeheartedly embrace and then explore them. John’s first page, page 2 for the story, should go up tomorrow.

I’m really excited to see how they do, and I’ll be checking in with them to see how they’re doing.

(Via Comics Alliance)

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