Split into two separate events, IDP:2043 saw the creative team behind the “climate fiction” graphic novel IDP:2043 gather once more to discuss their thoughts on producing the work, commissioned by the Edinburgh Book Festival as part of last year’s Stripped programme.
Chaired by Denise Mina, who also came up with the overall story concept and edited the novel, the first event saw comics legend Pat Mills join collaborators Hannah Berry, Adam Murphy and Will Morris to talk about working together to produce the near-future dystopian vision they created.
“I’ve probably broken at least two artists,” says Mills, speaking of his infamous reputation as a stickler for detail when working with illustrators, before deferring to the view he’s “ridden on the coat tails of great artists.” He is keen to include Berry in this category, praising the artwork she produced for the first chapter of IDP:2043, written by Mills.
Berry admits she was expecting “absolute excruciating awfulness”, never having collaborated on anything so large as this before, but ended up enjoying the process immensely, though she was “never sure if I was being lazy or polite” when designing the characters for the novel with Murphy. “Hannah’s designs looked like real people,” says Murphy, going on to describe how they each appreciated working together to flesh out the work’s cast of characters.
Morris compares the collaborative approach, where each artist was working on separate chapters simultaneously as “like being given a Rubik’s Cube”, though all agree they are proud of the end result, something Morris thinks presents an “original sense of the experience” of what life after a climate change catastrophe could be like.
The second event, also chaired by Mina, brought together Kate Charlesworth, Mary Talbot, Barroux and Irvine Welsh to share their experiences producing the graphic novel.
“It felt like engaging in a game of consequences,” says Talbot, who penned IDP:2043‘s action-packed finale, a genre she had never been involved in before. “I’m an academic!” she says.
Barroux describes how he aimed for credibility in the sequence he created, stating that “man will be the same in 30 years. Now or in the future,” he says, “it will be the same.”
IDP:2043 was Welsh’s first experience of being involved in a graphic novel. “I didn’t know what I was doing or what I was supposed to do,” he admits, then goes on to praise Dan McDaid, the artist who illustrated Welsh’s story. “It’s about what the artist can bring,” says Welsh. “The story isn’t king.”
They then go on to discuss displacement, one of the main themes of the graphic novel. “I’ve never really felt like I’ve belonged anywhere,” says Charlesworth. “I’ve always felt like an observer.” Talbot says he feels “like I belong wherever I’ve been for a year or two”, then goes on to speak about the graphic novel’s stark vision of the future. “We have more capacity for killing ourselves than ever before,” she says.
Echoing a comment by Pat Mills in the previous session about how quickly IDP:2043 was created without compromising quality, Mina ends by stating how proud she is of the collaborative effort. “It was the first time I’ve ever edited a thing,” she says.
“Hopefully it will appeal to people who don’t normally read comics.”