Jordan Bolton creates deeply moving comics derived from simple language and imagery
After successfully writing a screenplay for a film but not having the resources to make it, the Manchester-based creative found himself turning to comics.
- Olivia Hingley
- 27 September 2022
If there’s one thing that Jordan Bolton’s comics do, it’s strike a chord. Writing short, poetic stories, Jordan then combines them with storybook-like drawings, creating moving visual narratives that follow subjects doing seemingly everyday things – like waiting for your partner to wake up, or having a solitary yet fulfilling day off work. Discussing the effect his work has on his audience, Jordan shares that he’s been contacted by people who hadn’t experienced the situation in his comic, but that they connected to the feeling of it. “I suppose that is what I hope people feel, that their nuanced feelings are shared by others,” Jordan says. “Art can be a great reminder that there isn’t an emotion you can feel that isn’t being felt by someone else right now, somewhere in the world.”
Perhaps the biggest focus for Jordan is simplicity: using both simple language and simple images to convey emotion. “I only use a few words per panel, so this forces me to be very strict about what I communicate in words and what I communicate in images,” he explains. Moreover, he avoids signalling how a character feels with their words or expression, because, importantly, “I want all the emotion to come from the reader”.
Comic illustration hasn’t always been Jordan’s primary creative output. In fact, it’s a project he started working on just a short time ago. Previously, he was working as a graphic designer, mainly making posters and book covers. It was around two years ago that Jordan began writing a screenplay for a film idea he had. “It was the first time I tried writing anything, and I loved doing it,” Jordan recalls. "But I didn’t have any money to make a film, and I didn’t know anyone in the industry, so it felt pretty unlikely that it would ever get made.” And so, instead, Jordan set himself on making a comic entitled Scenes from Imagined Films, “where I could just write a scene and draw instead of filming”. Now, in the two years that have passed, Jordan has amassed a massive fanbase who eagerly anticipate his next instalment.
Being such a narrative-focused creative project, each comic has its own personal story or journey. Blue Sky Through the Window of a Moving Car, for example, is the comic Jordan sees as being the moment he had achieved the fine balance between poetry and comics, and he now views it as his “North Star” – “proof that this way of making comics could work”. Day Off, however, is the comic Jordan says saw the most drafts. Beginning as a story about a lake, it then morphed into being about a kid in detention, before ending as a comforting tale of the cinema. “There wasn’t anything wrong with those early versions, but I always had a gut feeling it could be better, so I would add little bits to it over time when I felt like it,” Jordan details. “It taught me to follow my intuition; if something doesn’t feel finished, then leave it, work on something else and come back to it.”
Having recently published issue two of Scenes from Imagined Films – featuring a collection of his comics – Jordan has his sights set on bigger things. Going forward, his primary development plan will focus on gradually expanding how he structures his stories. Then, if all goes to plan, he hopes to publish a full-length book.
GalleryJordan Bolton: Day-Off. Scenes From Imagined Films (Copyright © Jordan Bolton, 2022)
GalleryJordan Bolton: Blue Sky Through the Window of a Moving Car. Scenes From Imagined Films (Copyright © Jordan Bolton, 2021)
GalleryJordan Bolton: Love Song. Scenes From Imagined Films (Copyright © Jordan Bolton, 2021)
Jordan Bolton: Beauty. Scenes From Imagined Films (Copyright © Jordan Bolton, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.