Cover of Gully (image courtesy of the artist)

Alston in studio

While in residence, Alston Watson (Roanake Rapids, NC) started and finished Gully, a heist drama told in 30 pages of action. Alston had originally intended to produce a series of paintings, which would handle the genre of New Southern Gothic with “cathartic social critique.” However, days before leaving his studio at NYU he conjured a story told in bold graphic narrative: in a not so distant future, Dirty Bird and ‘Lac are two brothers who devise a drug heist to make ends meet and help their uncle’s struggling junkyard. Alston took on a directorial approach to drawing. Freeze-framing scenes from popular action movies like Kill Bill and Paid in Full provided cinematic composition to the plot. Alston drew on memories of family friends and places from his rural upbringing in North Carolina to bring the brothers’ drama to life. Gully is Alston’s first comic book and foray into the world of graphic narrative.

“I want to tell stories of real people—from incarceration and murder, to tribulation and triumph. This type of black storytelling and cultural documentary are largely missing from the Western canon. I feel responsible for doing whatever I can to fill that void and represent both myself and the people I know in the most capable manner possible. This is for the kids who threw tied up sneakers over telephone poles.” In the world of comic production, Alston has found a powerful manner.

Alston plans to incorporate the healthy workflow he made routine at North Mountain into his daily practice in New York. He intends to create and publish at least three more issues of Gully and revamp his studio’s digital set-up to make the comic’s production efficient. Next spring Alston will complete his degree in NYU’s Studio Art program.

Keep up with the adventures of Gully and Alston’s practice at alstonwatson.com and @ALSTON2008.