Karen Rubins: Comics Artist in Residence (2009)

Karen Rubins is a comics artist specialising in the manga style. She has a particular interest in mythology, dreams and folk tales which are explored in her first full-length solo comic, ‘Tsuchigumo’. Karen was Artist in Residence at the V&A between July and December 2009.

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Goodbye, Studio

Today is my last day as a resident at the V&A. Everything is packed into boxes, ready for me to take home, the walls have now returned to their plain white after having been filled with works in progress and collected postcards. Six months sounds like a long time, but sitting here at the end of it, I can hardly believe the residency is over. To say I didn't want to leave would be an understatement. I've met countless people in Open Studio sessions, run workshops, trawled the NAL's comics collections, co-curated a display, worked with many different individuals and …

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The Playing Cards Project

This is more of a series of blog entries in one, since it is talking about the whole process of this project from beginning to end. Why not write the entries as the thing progresses? Well, one gets caught up in actually doing the thing! The idea came about while I was in the Prints and Drawings Study Room, researching depictions of magic for a story I was writing. I had been told that there was a large collection of playing cards and tarot cards in the Prints collections, along with various other material I might find useful, so I …

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Stories for Humans 3 – The End

Thanks to everyone who added work to the giant comic in the Stories for Humans display. I am hoping to get a digital version on the web, so that it will be possible to read the whole thing. Apologies to those I had to weed out! Non-sequiturs, rude pictures, and "I woz 'ere"s were summarily removed. This is the wall in its final state. It was sad to see the display taken down at the end of November. I have fond memories of walking past and watching students drawing from the comic pages on display, accosting them and asking what …

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Stories for Humans 2 – The Insanity Continues

This panel just about sums it up: How right you are, dear Badger. After a lot of weeding out of random drawings and rude sketches, the comic began to take shape into something narrative, if very bizarre. Now it has reached a length where it covers all of the boards, giving a pleasing effect of completeness. Of course, people are still welcome to add panels, the older ones will just be shunted off the top right corner to make room. The "story" was rendered even more odd by panels falling off and being placed back in a different order. This …

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Mini-project: Comic rebus

For a simple mini-project, I wanted to be able to answer the simple question "So, what do you do?" using a short comic strip which I could then emblazon onto t-shirts or other garments. The strip I came up with follows a long history of rebuses – images to take the place of words or syllables to contain a hidden meaning. For example see this hanging "The Shepheard Buss" from the V&A's collections. Made in around 1600 in England. The symbols and words around the border contain a motto. And this book plate from the 19th Century. The rebus is …

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Manga Day

Yesterday was Manga Day here at the V&A, and in honour of the theme, I would like to share with the world examples of manga hidden among the V&A's collections…. This sculpture of Puck looks remarkably like Goku from iconic manga series Dragonball Z, despite being produced roughly 200 years previously on the other side of the world. This example of stained glass from Britain in the 1940s is incredibly manga-looking. The eyes, particularly are typical of the generic big-eye look associated with manga. I will keep searching for more examples of manga that is not manga!

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Stories for Humans

After many trials and tribulations, my comics-themed display Stories for Humans is now up in Room 220, and has been there about a week. Images from comics and graphic novels I chose from the National Art Library's enormous collection adorn the walls, along with a public participation comic. I selected the content with a few criteria in mind; obviously they should have some appeal to me personally, but I also wanted both a diverse selection, and examples of comics that might appeal to non-comics readers. A week has passed,giving time for visitors to add their panels to the interactive comic. …

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Welcome to my Blog

I knew time would pass quickly during my six months here as an Artist in Residence, but I wasn't quite prepared for just how quickly! Like previous ResidentsI have been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff here in the V&A, running about looking at the galleries, finding my way up into the 'Specials' in the National Art Library and discovering new sections, corridors and hidden staircases in the building itself. Then there is the studio itself. So far, all my drawing has been done at home, and there is nothing like being at home for distracting myself. I'm a …

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