Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 1 April 2016
Category: Features
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Cannibals and a daring female protagonist feature in a new comic by Falcon Comics' Luis Tolosana. The comic was printed on large-format canvasses and formed the centrepiece of an exhibition to launch Falcon Comics (finally) and showcase Luis' work.

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

South African indie comics creator Luis Tolosana has officially launched his Falcon Comics brand in Cape Town with an exhibition at Knext Art Gallery that is running until 7 April 2016 (the final day coincides with April's First Thursday event in Cape Town). The focus of the exhibition is a new 12-page comic set in his Pinnacle City universe, which has been printed on large-format canvasses that are being sold as limited-edition pieces, and there is also a small selection of original large-format artworks, as well as large-format prints.

The comic, Pinnacle City #1: Fāroh And The Dickhead!! Cannibals, is (if I've counted correctly) the fifth publication from Falcon Comics, after Philo's Wish (2012), Project Tilian Rep (2013), The Way Of Tao And Zen (2014), and The Galactic League #1 (2015).

From what I understand all the comics exist in the same universe and at some point we will start to see the links between the characters, which I am really looking forward to because at the moment everything seems very disconnected as all the individual comics, bar Philo's Wish, which is a standalone story, seem to start something new and then there's never a second issue to continue the story.

The Pinnacle City premise certainly hints at something much bigger:

"Over 9000 years ago [present year 11,016] the earth's magnetic poles reversed making south north and east west. Cape Town now stood at the apex of the planet and the once sleepy port transformed into a mega metropolis and was soon renamed Pinnacle City. The world's economy took notice and quickly shifted to the new nucleus of power. By this time humans had sailed past the safe shores of our solar system and had settled on other lands across our vast galaxy.

"All the while Pinnacle City remained the centre of all trade and industry throughout this cosmic expansion... making it the cultural and financial capital of the known universe."
  - Luis Tolosana's introduction to Pinnacle City

We'll have to wait and see.

Presenting the comic's pages as the series of artworks in an exhibition is a fascinating way to illustrate that there is a link between comic art and fine art. Comic art is often seen as a lower form of art and this presentation puts it firmly at the same level as other art that automatically, and sometimes inexplicably, receives more respect. It's not the first time that this has been done, of course, but this is probably the most publicly accessible and ambitious project that has been showcased in Cape Town.

Just to hammer the point the exhibition also features a selection of prints and original works, all done in Luis Tolosana's same illustration style as the comic pages, that would easily be at home in a gallery space or on a wall in a private collection.

The Launch

Capetonians admirably braved the sudden change of weather (months long heatwave to rain, which they fear more than the wind that can literally knock you off your feet) to attend the opening night at Knext Art Gallery, which featured sponsored beer from Stone Circle Brewery and pizza from Ferdinando's Pizza, and beats by Uppercut DJs.

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic
Above: Luis Tolosana (right) with comics creator and illustrator Danielle Albertyn.
The result was a jovial atmosphere and a general sense of awe at the fantastic result of the comics project, which Luis Tolosana has been working on for months.

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic
Above: Quinton Swano on the decks.

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic
Above: Deon de Lange, the creator of Gofu and the co-creator of Tomica, who has tirelessly been spearheading the Indie Comics SA initiative, and Daniël Hugo, of The Oneironaut And Other Tales, Velocity Graphic Anthology, and Sector, demonstrate responsible brand promotion and embedded marketing.
It was particularly great to see so many local comics creators stop by to see the work because community support is vital to keeping the indie comics industry alive.

The Art

Unfortunately some of the artworks were difficult to photograph due to lights or location so this is just a selection of what's being showcased in the exhibition, which is a mix of original pieces and limited-edition prints. You can glimpse a few other artworks in the official Facebook album documenting the launch.

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

The Comic

Pinnacle City #1: Fāroh And The Dickhead!! Cannibals is a 12-page comic that formally introduces Pinnacle City into Falcon Comics' interlinked universe and what I assume is Pinnacle City's main protagonist, Fāroh. The exhibition features large-format canvas prints of the pages, each in a limited edition of 10. The original hand-drawn pages are smaller (around A3) and safely tucked away in Luis Tolosana's studio.

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

I've included a selection of the pages here but the full comic is best experienced in the room. However, reading a comic at such a massive scale is quite an overwhelming task and also quite difficult if you're surrounded by people (which is why I would suggest you visit the gallery during a lunch hour next week rather than on First Thursday). I was constantly interrupted by having to negotiate physical space to reposition myself around everyone else, who are all also trying to read the comic, so I could reach new panels, and it broke my concentration.

For this reason I actually need to go back to read it again but a few things jumped out at me. First is one of the aspects of Luis Tolosana's work that I particularly love - the detail in the art and the backgrounds (you can see an example above from the original painting "All In" as well as below from page 6 of the comic). There are entire other stories going on in the intricate line work and I love looking at all of it. Unfortunately, and rather counterintuitively, when it's blown up it's actually harder to focus on the details (or it was at the launch), especially since some of the canvasses are mounted quite high up on the wall.

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

Second, the restricted palette is fascinating and used to great effect to focus the reader's attention but also to separate the foreground and background, which are both very busy in most panels and are likely to clash if not handled carefully. This technique is part of Luis Tolosana's colouring style but its effect was especially noticeable in this comic due to the large format.

Finally, you'll notice that another female character is introduced on pages 9 and 10 (below) and she's attired in an open, cropped jacket and... nipple stickers [I've subsequently been informed that she is an alien and those are not nipple stickers, they are her nipples.]. (Also, Fāroh wears pretty short shorts.) Considering that I participated in an entire talk last year at Open Book Comics Fest about male-gaze art I certainly wasn't going to let Luis get away with this without comment.

I asked him about it (he knew I would) and his response was that it's the super future and no one cares about clothes anymore. Yet, somehow, even the cannibals wear more clothes. (Yes, there really are cannibals in the story but I'll leave that to people to discover visually for themselves.) So, I call bullshit. He likes to draw this kind of art and he has every right to do so, whereas I hate seeing women represented this way and I have every right to say so.

Falcon Comics (Officially) Launches With An Exhibition And A New Comic

I am disappointed in the male-gaze aspect of the art but, this aside, it's a great, fun short story with fantastic art. I am hoping Luis Tolosana will eventually print it as a mini comic, hopefully for FanCon Cape Town Comic Con in May, but so far he is undecided.

It would be a shame if all this work eventually only became accessible to people who can afford the canvasses (nevermind the issue of wall space if you want the entire story) and I would like to be able to hold a printed version so I can finally pore over the art and see how much of the world is hidden in the details.

The Falcon Comics exhibition is running until 7 April 2016 at Knext Art Gallery, 115c Harrington Street, Cape Town. Entrance is free.

Luis Tolosana: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Falcon Comics: Blog, Facebook, Instagram
Knext Art Gallery: Facebook
Knobs And Tassels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

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Tags: #arts_and_culture, #cape_town, #comics, #horror, #sacomics, #speculative_fiction

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