In 2010, Anthony Dortch was a traditional artist manipulating photography to discuss societal issues like poverty. Five years later, his graphic novel, Pure, combines comic art, body painting, manipulated photography, and occasionally even video to create a story that re-contextualizes modern society.
Pure is the story of a futuristic society with various factions like elementals, ghosts, and tech heads. Dortch uses painted models to shoot photos for his comic panels and then uses PhotoShop to give the images a raw, gritty feel. He also collaborates with other artists and photographers to realize his world.
Although he has a core group of models to help keep his story focused, he uses volunteers to help round out his world. One of the benefits of this is that his graphic novel highlights various body types. Another benefit is that as the images come in, the story can shift and morph as he becomes more adept at new techniques or is inspired by what he captures. One of the big lightbulb moments was when he figured out how to make his models fly by literally flipping his perspective and shooting them from above.
Dortch’s way of storytelling is cutting edge, and as he travels, learns, and engages with others, it only continues to expand the depth of his project. And that’s what comics should be.
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