Collage/Debate (revisited)

This is a digitization of an art project I originally did for my first-year university art classes. It's been 10 years since I first put this up on the Web, and 20 years since I made the original! The assignment was to make a book, and I don't recall any other limitations of the project with respect to size or materials. So this is what I came up with: Collage/Debate.

The intent was to take what is normally considered a kids' item, a comic book, and transform it into a serious metaphysical debate between the characters using recontextualized quotes from other books. The comic book is issue 20 of Mai, the Psychic Girl originally published in English by Eclipse Internataional/Viz Comics in March, 1988. I had been reading a lot of books that year, and these became the sources that the characters quote from.

I scoured the books looking for good material. I think I chose the quotes first, then looked for places where they would fit. Most of the time this worked very well: witness Mai and Turm's exchanges when they meet, and on page 8 when Turm (in the book) boasts of her psychic powers, where in my book, Dr. Science explains the power of suggestion.

I printed the quotes out on my Epson dot-matrix printer in condensed compressed line compressed superscripts. Talk about complicated! I cut out the printouts and glued them onto the pages, obscuring the original dialogue. Rather than leave the comic intact, I cut out all the pages and hand-sewed them into a hardcover book, completing the physical transformation. I then painted the book's cover white and black, and made a new cover image (seen at the top of the page) and cast of characters for the inside cover.

I had already read the complete series of Mai when it came out and was a big fan of Ryoichi Ikegami's other books, picking up a bunch of miscellanous back issues at The Beguiling (a local comic store) for 10 cents apiece. Always on the lookout for cheap art supplies!

I still think this is one of the most fun things I did at University in art, along with most of the other projects I did in first year. Pure inspiration, plus a lot of tedious cutting and typing :)

This book is at turns thought-provoking and silly, which is exactly what most of my art is. I hope you enjoy Collage/Debate, and don't hurt your eyes reading it.*

Notation of changes in character from the Mai Comic to their literary counterparts are made on the Cast page.

10th Anniversary Remastering

As part of my overall site redesign for 2010, I decided that the first thing to be re-done was Collage/Debate. Although I still had all the 300dpi raw scans, half of the typeset pages were simply gone. This also meant that half the text would have to be re-typed, which would have been a good idea anyway to ensure future use.

*To aid legibility, I've changed the font colours to be more distinct from each other, as well as bumped the size up where possible.


  • Chapterhouse: Dune by Frank Herbert
  • First Light by Peter Ackroyd
  • Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
  • Are We Having Fun Yet? by Bill Griffith
  • Dreamland by Edgar Allen Poe
  • The Official Dr. Science Big Book of Science (Simplified) by Dr. Science and Rodney
  • Mai, the Psychic Girl by Kazuya Kudō/illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami