28th November 2012

Comic artists assemble

Following up last week’s contribution from Manchester Uni’s Comic Collective, Tobias Weinald traces the development of a truly collective society

It began in March 2010 when some students posted a thread in the Manchester University Japanimation Society (MUJS) forum about finding like-minded people interested in the creation of comic art. What began as an enthusiastic group of just three was almost fated to die instantly, as several organisational problems came together to lead to the group’s shutdown within only a year.

However in September 2011, a young architecture student named Archontia Manolakelli came to the university; she says, “I was always interested in comic arts, and when I found out about this society, I was very disappointed that they weren’t active anymore.” There was life in the old dog yet, it turns out.

“Just before Christmas I received a message that the group was about to reopen and was looked for a secretary, so I applied right away”, she says. Since the thread was still in the Japanimation Society, a lot of the new members brought their anime and manga backgrounds on board, which had a huge impact. Now it’s 2012, and Archontia is President of the collective, which now has over 100 members.

So what’s it all about? Besides the basics – drawing lessons on characters, objects, expressions, and perspective, the focus is also on the wider aspects of comic creation. The actual lesson plan includes storyboarding, writing, using computers and tablets and a basic introduction to formats, panels and pacing. The collective is also present on several conventions and exhibitions, like this year’s London Expo.

There also stands the social aspect, as Archontia points out: “We want to release the creativity of our members by showing them ways to express themselves. We encourage everyone to interact with each other and share their knowledge.”

“Everyone is welcome, regardless of age or technique”, says Jevgenija “Jay” Maramzina, who is the only original member still part of the group today. “Besides our regular lessons we occasionally let members teach about certain subjects. We try to keep things flexible as we believe everyone can learn from anyone here”, agrees Nicholas Wilshaw, age 20, chemistry and management student, who is, besides Jay, one of the collective’s Vice Presidents.

The society restarted on these innovative concepts, which came to fruition with the Art Anthology Vol 1., an anthology published this summer made up of the artworks and comics from several members. Jay remembers, “We already had the idea back in 2011, but bringing together the material and finding a publisher took time.” And it’s for a good cause as all the gains from the book will go to charity. . In the end we were able to self-publish with the website, it was perfect for the Collective because we weren’t interested in a profit or going through an agency. Archontia makes it clear: “The whole point of the book was to bring together the skill and passion of everyone involved. Profit is not what this is about.”

So what are the plans for the future, besides more books, of course? Archontia is ever-optimistic, “my aim for the group is to exchange knowledge and showing that the expression of imagination still has its place in the modern world. I also encourage the members to bind in long term friendships and cooperations, especially as some of us consider professional careers in the comic industry.”
Check out the Manchester University Comic Collective’s Art Anthology Vol.1, which is available on for only £4.00. Support your university’s talent!
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