Drawing Drama

bendik kaltenborn, Oslo national academy of the arts, department of design

I’ve been making comics since I was a kid and have spent my past eight years drawing
freelance as an illustrator, cartoonist and animator. Wether I make comics or illustrations,
the narration is my key interest in drawing and I always aim to tell a story
no matter how subtle or abstract, if it’s just adding small details in a poster suggesting
that something has happened or will happen in the image, or if it’s linear storytelling
through comics and animation.

One thing that’s common for everything I draw is that it’s more inspired by theater,
ballett, games, movies and real life than by drawings and comics. This is why I want to
initially make a comic that will serve as a lab rat for various narrative experiments,
ultimately leading to a theatre play.

The story I will tell is in itself quite experimental dealing with the search for identity.
It’s a script I’ve had in mind for years, about a business coach who after a personal crisis
loses his memory and becomes a private investigator looking for himself.
The tale will start out as a regular graphic novel, then continue as a boardgame where
the player can interact with the storyline and ultimately end up on a stage as a theatre or
maybe a short movie. I wish to transform a two-dimensional story into a three dimensional
one. I want to see what happens during these transitions regarding visuals, costumes, scenography, makeup, mimic, dialog, sound, time and space as well as the story itself. I have during the years developed a distinctive style that I am curious to transform
into scenography and costumes but also see how the behavior of my characters that
are often exaggerated and extremely intense on paper, will appear when performed by
actors on a stage. Making comics is usually a solo project but how does working in team
with actors, musicians, choreographer and crew affect the story and which possibilities
opens and which closes? And in the end, how will these insights reflect back on me as a

I will at the same time make the opposite transition from «real life» to comics by turning
myself into a cartoon character; I’ll be keeping a rough comic diary throughout the
project to document all aspects of the process; doubts, insights, breakthroughs, failures
as well as meetings and discussions I will have with various people of interest to my
project. This will most likely be published, edited or not, as a standalone publication (a
fanzine), or for all I know get merged into parts of the project.

My original plan was to divide these experiments into three years;
comic – game – theatre, but at this point I’m unsure if I should rather work more
simultaneously in order to have everything interfering with each other as much as