igor kordey: the design of comics + the art of storytelling at belgrade design week

designboom dec 29, 2014


croatian author and illustrator igor kordey defines stories though pictures — intricately hand-drawn, shaded, colored and rendered with a dynamism unlike many others. the graphic novelist has paved his own way in the field, developing new systems to lead a reader through the plot, visually describe action and time, and relay emotion, conflict and personality through drawing. with a genre defined only by himself, kordey find himself as an innovator in the art of comics, redefining the traditional visuals set in place and delivering, instead, a new way of perceiving graphic novels and their message.

during belgrade design week 2014, kordey treated the audience to a captivating discussion and in-depth look at the evolution of his practice, the storytelling techniques he has personally developed and the ways in which the design of comics is intrinsically linked to the art of storytelling.

at belgrade design week, igor kordey talks about the design of comics + the art of storytelling

one of kordey’s recent masterworks is ‘smoke’ written by alex de campi and drawn by himself. the novel is a thriller set in an alternate, dystopian london, about 10 years in the future. in this reality — run by a government both morally and financially bankrupt — an ex-soldier-turned-government-assassin must contend with a crisis in the city, an unusual terrorist group, their even more unusual demands, and a vindictive ex-girlfriend, all as he tries to rebuild his own shattered life.

layouts like the ‘fishbone’ have been developed personally by kordey to relay the movement of time — in this spread, the action toggles back-and-forth between two vertical windows, allowing the reader to visualize two events in succession on a single page. details fixed within a large spread offer a chance for the reader to more clearly understand the small, yet important elements that build up the storyline and fictional world in which it takes place.


long, vertical panels reveal the story for the reader from left to right

his professional career has progressed upward for over 30 years, working with publishers such as heavy metal magazine, marvel, DC comics and dark horse, all over europe, USA, canada and latin america. much of his recent work deals with historical subjects, but from time to time he tackles other genres: themes of dystopia, fantasy, whimsy can be seen widely throughout his books ‘smoke’ and ‘keltos’.


spreads reveal the ‘fishbone’ layout (right), invented by kordey to describe a series of actions


detail of the ‘fishbone’ layout, detailing action-reaction-action-reaction…


the ‘fishbone’ is able to show simultaneous action on a single spread


a detail of the character’s torn face


the spread includes various page layouts that move the readers’ eye around the page


long panels fit in a host of characters and scenes, allowing for a range of visual storytelling on a single page


a detail of the colors and shadows that lead the eye around the page


both horizontal and vertical panels reveal different actions in the overall scene


detail of two actions happening at the same time — a gun resounds, while a man hears the noise on the toilet


stacked horizontal panels move the action downwards, with the final image set a bit larger at the end


small horizontal details between longer ones add a sense of dimension to the page


a spread of multiple vertical layouts reveals the story from left to right


the scene unfolds as the viewer reads the story through text and image


portrait of igor kordey


about belgrade design week:

2014 marks the ninth edition of belgrade design week, an annual, internationally-renowned festival for creative industries and modern business in serbia and throughout the south east european area. since 2005, founder jovan jelovac has successfully forged multicultural connections between artists, designers and entrepreneurs from the region with the greater global design scene. the initiative serves as a platform for creatives to engage in the exchange of ideas across a range of disciplines — advertising, architecture, arts management, communications, design, fashion, marketing, new media and publishing — delivering approximately 30 international speakers who share their perspectives and personal developments in their respective fields.

this year’s conference program ‘brand new world’ sets opens up discussion regarding the creation of new values in today’s fast changing world. on the occasion of this edition, president of the republic of serbia, tomislav nikolic opened the initiative, stressing the importance of the creative industries for the continued development of the country’s economy. local designers stand side by side with some the world’s greatest talents in a rare opportunity to bring the world to belgrade and to present belgrade to the world. find out more about the program, selection of keynote speakers and exhibition sites on designboom, here.

nina azzarello

read the original on designboom

Belgrade Design Week is a one-off – a unique set-up that is free from the corporate atmosphere that so often pervades other such events. The energy, optimism and warmth of Jovan and his team flows through every event – lectures, workshops, meals & drinks alike!   I’ve never been good at sitting in a dark lecture hall for more than an hour or so at a time but found myself doing three lectures back to back at Belgrade – such was the quality of speakers. Timetabling was crazy at times but at BDW everybody seems happy to ‘go with the flow’ – and has an even better time for doing so. The City of Belgrade should be very proud of this gem!