Victoria and Albert Museum

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School Disco

School Disco

A detail and two non-consecutive double-page spreads from a sixty-page wordless graphic novella telling the story of the universal School Disco.

The aim of the project was to tell a detailed story in an entirely visual sequence. I challenged myself to use the form of the book itself, the dividing line of the gutter and the drama of the turning page, as narrative tools. Portraying the subtle emotions and relationships of the teenagers was my main focus. I wanted them to be both humorous and moving, and aimed to convey them through facial expressions and posture, as well as by visual manipulation of pace, rhythm and narrative tension.

The root sequence of the book is the ebb and flow of green and orange over the gutter, which marks the hall’s central invisible boundary. The boys are in green and the girls in orange, representing the almost football team-like division between sexes which occurs at most school discos. The book takes the reader from the uncertain time before anyone starts to dance, through tentative first dance steps when boys and girls dance separately, through the moment a boy first makes the big cross to the girls’ side, through group routines and clumsy snogging, to the poignant final sequence between the boy and girl who never dance, and an ultimately forlorn ending.

It is a story of humour and pathos, which I hope will make anyone who was once a teenager smile. And wince.