I was recently made aware of these short comics whilst in Edinburgh’s Filmhouse. Including topics such as cities, technology and technophobia; the short series gives the reader a history of film theory in a creative and easy to understand style. I enjoyed reading these so much I contacted the creator, Edward Ross, to ask him a few questions about these.
What came first as an interest, the comics or the theory?
My background was definitely films first, then coming into comics later. I was a huge film fan even from a relatively early age, and I wanted to be a film director for a really long time. I made short films as a teenager with friends, and then headed off to university to study film. It was around the same time I started getting into comics. As my passion for comics grew over the next few years, my interest in making films dwindled.
That said, during uni I was really interested in the theory angle of things. My final dissertation was on the subject of food on film and I think that’s the moment that kicked off the idea of Filmish; that is, getting to continue to explore the landscape of film after uni in a fun, non-academic way.
What made you decide to write about these particular subjects?
The first issue of Filmish was based on some shorter ideas, but the concept really came together in the second and third issues where I gave an entire issue’s space to one central theme. In the case of the second issue, the initial inspiration came from a blog article on Die Hard called ‘Nakatomi Space’, which was all about the role of architecture in the original Die Hard film.
From there I began to think about sets and architecture throughout film, and how it’s a relatively unseen thing, but still a hugely important element of a film’s meaning. For most people the setting of a film is merely the backdrop on which the action takes place, but really this backdrop is a powerful conveyor of meaning. This is especially true of sci-fi. Talking about Blade Runner I wanted to go beyond just discussing the way a futuristic world was portrayed by Ridley Scott… I wanted to show that there are deeper things at work, such as the actual physical relationship different characters have with their environment.
Do you have a particular interest in Sci-Fi?
I guess it does, though I’ve never thought of it that way. I do really enjoy films that explore new ideas and unfamilar territory, but this could be as true for documentary as for science fiction. That said, I think Filmish has so far veered towards an interest in sci-fi because I think the themes in sci-fi can often be a lot grander and exciting to the general reader who may not have an already established interest in film theory. And if we’re honest, sci-fi has almost certainly become the dominant mainstream film genre since the 1970s.
Do you have any upcoming work?
At the moment I’m between projects. We’ve just had our first child so I’m pretty preoccupied with being a dad right now. For the last year though I’ve been mainly working on science comics for research groups — these are free to read online: one about Malaria, and one about Stem Cell research. They’ve been really rewarding projects to work on, and an interesting change from the film theory. What’s amazing too is that these projects allow me to reach a completely different audience, and a larger one too! The stem cell comic has had over 100,000 views online to date, which is mind-boggling for an independent artist like myself.
In the near future, I want to get back to doing some more personal projects, hopefully alongside some further public engagement science comics. I’d like to explore some fiction work as well, and maybe do some more short pieces for anthologies like Solipsistic Pop and Paper Science.
For more information please visit:
Ross’ work can be purchased from the following locations:
Edinburgh: The Filmhouse, Avalanche, Deadhead Comics, Fruitmarket Gallery
Glasgow: Glasgow Film Theatre, Plan B Books
London: BFI Southbank, Orbital Comics, Gosh!