I’ve read a few of Tim Bird’s comics and stories in the past couple of years and I keep talking about him as a cartoonist with a huge potential, someone who’s nearly there, but not yet… well although Infrastructure isn’t quite comics in a traditional form, I’m going to go out on a limb here and tell you I could care less… here, and in the recent Grey Area Issue 2 (which I will tell you all about very soon), I think I can truly say Tim Bird has stepped up, and stepped up big time.
Here, in a beautifully presented mini comic from Avery Hill, Bird wanders within the M25 in seventeen illustrations, documenting elements of the transport infrastructure of the capital, observing the obvious and the not so obvious, finding beauty through buildings and structures, through concrete and steel.
Tim Bird has created something truly impressive here, something that we should all be aware of, something we should all view, and reflect upon, and imagine. There’s a solidity about the line here, as Bird draws beautiful buildings and structures in muted tones of oranges and blues, giving the impression of the quiet moments of dusk and dawn light.
Each structural observation takes the right hand page, Birds own observations and reasoning takes the left hand page. The end result is something beautiful, and in its way very magical, observation done perfectly, capturing moments, finding everyday beauty and framing it so well. Bird’s comments and the gallery style presentation of the illustrations practically force the reader to do the hard work and drag every possible ounce of meaning from the pictures presented before us.
To be honest there’s very little else I can say without actually showing you the work…
This is the one that first caught my attention on Bird’s Twitter stream…
“Arnos Grove Underground Station (Piccadilly Line, Zone 4)… the North London suburbs are magical places.”
That’s it, right there, magical places. That’s the idea that infuses all of these illustrations, that’s the idea you should take with you as you construct your own narrative to these things. I’m going to spend a little while for the rest of this piece sharing mine with you, but you’ll have far more fun adding your own…
I am so glad that places such as Arnos Grove exist, buildings made from such simple forms as bare concrete, shaped in the hands of an architect and builders to create such magnificent sweeps of solid shapes such as this. Bird captures that sweep so well, and puts the building before us, empty and waiting, beneath a steel blue sky of early morning expectation, awaiting the hordes to come. But here, just for this moment we have a peaceful interlude.
That’s the sort of thing Bird’s pieces make me think of, that’s the sort of ideas he stimulates. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to do to a reader, don’t you agree?
Now, my favourite of all in here….
“Power cables across the London to Ebbsfleet Line. (Near King’s Cross St. Pancreas)”
“Trains from London to Paris. Escape.”
“Trains from Paris to London. …..”
Here’s that image….
Okay, first ignore the words, just focus on the image. Isn’t that simply beautiful? The confluence of tracks and overhead cables creating something I find simply beautiful. I can stare at the confluence of lines for hours.
Add in Bird’s text, of the line leading out of the country representing escape and the line leading in representing…. something else, and we have something extra added to the mix.
You see what I mean? this has so much the reader can add to it.
Now, it’s your turn. I’m going to give you Birds description and text, and you’re going to do exactly what I’m doing and adding your own thoughts and ideas to these beautiful images…
Crossrail construction, Tottenham Court Road
Investment in the West End. Regeneration. Upgrades. Increased passenger numbers.
My favourite Soho pub – the Nellie Dean of Soho – hangs on behind a wall of demolition.
“Aircraft hanger, Heathrow.”
“West London Edgelands. Where the city starts to give way to open spaces. Where the houses are built beneath flight paths. I walked this way and found a permanent greyness.”
With Infrastructure Tim Bird really pulls everything out. Sure this may not be comics, but dammit, this is beautiful work, Bird creating images that sit there and demand the reader ask questions, images that look gorgeous yet also demand that the reader engage.
Infrastructure is the first step of a comic maker stepping up. I love it when this happens.