Norrie Millar's Duality
It's always been a theme that's interested me. I’m a massive Sci-Fi fan and films like Solaris had a big influence on Duality. I think that what interests me the most about using this theme within the comics medium is that visually, anything is really possible. You can show countless realities in the space of a single panel, each panel could essentially be a world within itself, any sequence of panels that followed could also be alternate realities and worlds. Comics have the potential to show the reader countless worlds, existing at once and that's not even mentioning the negative space between the panels, the gutter, and an infinity of space. It's a really exciting concept and theme to play around with in the comics medium and can make for some really effective compositions and layouts.
Without giving too much away, do you think it’s fair to say the main character, David, is not in control of his life at all?
Absolutely and he was definitely written with that in mind. He's the kind of person who tries to understand and control all the problems in his life but does so in a completely erratic manner. Everything that happens throughout the course of the comic is due to the mistakes he has made. He is trying to make sense of all the decisions happening around him but unfortunately, by making the wrong choices, he becomes the major complication of the book, all up to the point where someone eventually has to step in and say, "Hey, ok, that's enough."
When the character of Matilda breaks the fourth wall and climbs through the panels, it was like she was acting in place of you as the writer. Is Matilda your alter ego in this comic, your split self?
I suppose in a way, yes, ha! When I first started the comic, it was going to be an illustrated version of myself that stepped onto the page but it just never really clicked right. The thinking behind Matilda was to have an omniscient character to serve as the narrator, who was constantly connected to the cosmos, the universe and every living, self-conscious thing.
The idea was that everyone would have a different "version," of how this character should look and with David, Matilda represents something that means a great deal to him, more of a parental figure, someone who is there to help him on his way and help him grow in the right direction.
I think if the character was based on my own appearance it wouldn't have quite the same level of emotional impact for David. At that point, she essentially represents an avatar for him. There is a great deal of trust that David already has with Matilda so I hoped that it was easier for the reader to accept the, admittedly, quite strange occurrences toward the end of the comic. I think that what’s interesting is, despite changing the character I still see large parts of my own personality that remain in the dialogue, whenever I read her sections, I always imagine her, not entirely with my voice but with all my inflections. I don't know what that says about me as a person but it certainly makes things interesting!
Comics are an especially labour intensive art form. How long has Duality been in the making?
Ages! The original idea actually came from a dream that I had a few years ago now that just seem to stick with me and at that time I hadn't even really seriously considered making comics. Drawing comics was something I had played around with at most as I was never super confident in my drawing skills at that point and I had never imagined even writing one but it wasn't until I had started the University of Dundee's, MLitt Comic Studies, that I had the confidence to really try and make something tangible of it.
Once the opportunity to actually create it came up, I jumped at the chance. The script only took a couple of days to write although I was always making little changes as I went along but after a very brief, false start, it was clear that it just wasn't possible at that time to work on it. Once I finished all the commitments I had, I went back into it last November (2014) with a new approach to the visual style and it took roughly 7-8 weeks, spread over the holiday season to have the whole project finished.
You have some positive quotes from other artists on the back of Duality, which must be a great thrill! Are there any comic artists you are a real super fan of?
It was unbelievable to have that kind of feedback. These are creators who I really admire, who have positive things to say about something I created and I find that really quite mind-boggling but also, incredibly encouraging for someone just starting out. Comics have always been a major part of my life and I will always have a place in my heart for artists like Katsuhiro Otomo, Albert Uderzo, Alex Toth and all the incredibly talented individuals who have graced the hallowed halls of 2000AD.
Currently, I'm a super fan of Dan McDaid, so to have him provide a quote for Duality was just the best, I'm also enjoying Francesco Francavilla, Sean Murphy, Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon, Ming Doyle, Cary Nord, Mike Allred, Jeff Lemire, Becky Cloonan, Ramon Perez and that's just off the top of my head! I could go on forever, I just like everything! I'm like a big art sponge.
Tell us a bit of what are you working on now.
I've recently drawn a few short stories, one of which will be placed in the DJCAD's "Anthology," which I believe will be launched at this years DEE-CON, anime convention in April, I'm involved and contribute to TREEHOUSE, a Dundee based, comics anthology and we just had our #5 launch in March and an #6 launch pencilled in for June/July this year I believe.
I'm currently illustrating some more short stories, which are always fun and I'll also be taking over the drawing of a comic called Malachi Jones. As far as my own projects go, I've also got another Sci-Fi comic planned that I'm hoping to work on and finish this year and also some shorter stories about an imp-sized, Grim Reaper to the animals of the forest. I also fit in as many commissions as I can. It's good to keep quite busy.
Tell us how we can get hold of a copy of Duality.
Seeing as it was only intended to have a small printing the number of copies at the moment is quite limited so the easiest way at the moment is through myself directly. I'm hoping to have it an a few smaller retailers in Scotland at as many comics conventions as I can get to!
I can be contacted through my blog and anyone can keep up to date with all the happenings of the availability of Duality through that or Twitter.
Norrie Millar’s comic, Duality is available to buy online for £4 per copy (excluding postage) by contacting him at: norriemillar.wordpress.com