Produced in association with Daegu Pockets/ Spark Media the Tiger and Bear comics are unique because rather than having one person do all the stories and illustrations James Topple and Colin Riddle(Tiger and Bear) instead decided to create a collaborative experiment, with every strip being written and illustrated by two different people, from a range of backgrounds and nationalities.
No themes or stylistic guidelines were imposed on the writers or illustrators, except that the work should be in the form of a four panel comic based on the Riddle and Topple’s interpretation of the myth of tiger and Bear. The results have been remarkable, with a wide array of themes, ideas and artistic styles.
The contributors feature both illustrators and writers from within and without South Korea, coming from a range of background and nationalities. Some are professional artists or writers, other just do it as a hobby. Some contributors have an intimate knowledge of Korea, its mythology and how the nation is changing, whereas some contributors have a remote and limited amount of information about Korea at their disposal.
As opposed to the comic strips being a vehicle for Riddle and Topple’s ideas about Korea, with a narrow and defined definition of what the project and the art is and is not about the duo have opted for something more generous, giving other people a platform for their ideas and impressions, of Korea, of everyday life and in some cases just a Tiger and a Bear.
Generosity has likewise been warmly given out by the contributors, with the writers donating their talents to give scripts that are often funny, sometimes serious but almost always thought provoking and being open to any visual interpretations that their assigned partner illustrator decides for the piece. Likewise the illustrious have been generous in giving up their time to bring somebody else’s story to life, while the publications and website have been so good as to allocate space to air/print the resulting comics.
Currently the comic strips are being featured in Daegu Pockets, the Korea Herald, theoneonefour.com, Expacked and Seoul Style
What follows is a Q&A with James Topple and Colin Riddle (Tiger and Bear) about the project and how it cam about:
Where did the idea to draw up cartoons come from?
Topple: We were approached by Craig White about writing an ongoing comic strip for Daegu pockets based on our alter ego’s Tiger and Bear. He sent out a call for illustrators to collaborate on the project with us and received interest from about twenty different people. When we were told that so many people were interested in filling the role we thought it would be a shame to turn away so many artists and deny them their chance so we told Daegu Pockets that we would like to find a way to work with all of them and give them a chance to show their work.
The Tiger and Bear project has always been about the reaction of the public and bringing our work into the public domain in innovative ways, so we decided that we would also put the comic project out there for other people to write too. The idea of a straight forward comic from our own perspectives didn’t seem as appealing as trying to push the idea of a comic into a much more conceptual vehicle. We’ve also been working with Dann Gaymer who has written several stories about us in various publications. He has worked with pretty much every form of expat media in Korea so we thought he would be the perfect candidate to curate the project.
Riddle: As T&B seek to fit into an alien environment they decided to ask others in a similar situation to dictate both the story lines and the visual aesthetic. A similar situation could be seen as both a foreigner working in Korea or a Korean who knows more of the history of the T&B myth and how their country has changed. It has also been interesting to receive ideas and illustrations from people who have never actually been to Korea and how they perceive it from what knowledge they have.
Who has been illustrating and writing the strips?
Topple: We’ve been working with so many illustrators and it’s been great. Each artists brings something different to the project, so each comic has it’s own distinctive style. It’s great to have a blend of professional illustrators and amateur enthusiasts. We wanted the project to be open for anyone to participate; it’s just great to see all the different material we receive, even the really strange ones! We are still looking for more illustrators so if anyone is reading this and fancies having a go please don’t hesitate to get in contact.
Riddle: The illustrators are anyone who would like to be involved in a creative project which allows anyone interested to partake. The writers at least come from a vast spectrum from a six year old English girl to a university professor, all experiences differ and so there should be huge degrees of variation as to what each reader finds in each strip.
How should the comic strips be interpreted?
Riddle: The comics can be taken by the readers in whatever way they wish; it will depend upon which comic they read as to what they may gain or learn, if anything at all. Given the vast spectrum of contributors there should be huge degrees of variation as to what each reader finds in each strip.