You may have heard that we've collectively been/are still 'sort of in but no one's quite sure really' lockdown.
While life gradually returns to a semblance of normality – albeit one in which we have to give our phone number, star sign and perform one or more of the hits of Westlife to get a pint – it's time to sit back and admire the many brilliant creative projects that have emerged in recent months when many of us have had more time than ever to work on them.
Students have been particularly creative despite their lack of access to their usual studio spaces or tutors, as this gorgeous comic project from the BA & MA Illustration students at Falmouth University proves.
Titled The Promise, the project began before lockdown in January this year but was certainly catalysed by the fact we had little choice when it came to showing and consuming images and so on but to view them online. The Promise takes the form of a free digital comics platform hosting a new collection of webcomics billed as a superb alternative to streaming and "provide relief to the sequential reader in weird times."
The Promise team says that many of the works "inevitably reflect lockdown life while other works offer either pure imaginative fictional escapism or recollections of a pre-Covid 19 world."
Hugh Frost, a Falmouth studio tutor and the project coordinator, says he was blown away by how successfully the "powerful theme" was "so fully realised in its micro-narrative and so far beyond what I'd expected anyone to have at that point a few short weeks into the project." He adds: "Seeing the students find a focus for the project and supporting each other remotely through this extraordinary time has been fantastic."
The site is built to be read fullscreen on mobile or desktop and borrows from and takes inspiration from the much-lauded Mould Map 7 webcomics project in terms of its experimental use of a responsive sequential format.
It's certainly a way of working that seems to have chimed with many of the student participants. "It was exciting to make a comic that responded to the device it was being viewed on and a challenge to think about how the reader would experience the narrative and whether they would see multiple frames at once or just one at a time on desktop or mobile," says Georgia Haywood. "I started to think of the work as one cohesive piece, like a digital concertina of sorts. It makes me excited for the possibility of webcomics as you can access a broader online audience while still having a physical interaction with the page."
And the smart use of digital is obviously something students have to consider now more than ever. As Falmouth BA Illustration Course Leader Nigel Owen says, the project has encouraged students to engage with contemporary social, cultural and political issues actively. "The online webcomic is the perfect vehicle for those students to influence the world in which they live actively," he says.