Page last updated at 00:02 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Comic art visions of wind farms

By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Illustration by Vicky Stonebridge
Artwork by Vicky Stonebridge, one of three illustrators who gave their twist to renewable energy

Hi-Ex, the Highlands and Islands only comic book convention, takes place in Inverness this weekend.

With efforts to harness renewable power in the region, the BBC Scotland news website asked comic book illustrators to give their slant on the drive towards a greater use of "green" energy.

Last Tuesday, it was announced that 10 sites in the Pentland Firth and in the sea around Orkney are to be developed in an effort to to generate enough electricity to supply 750,000 homes by 2020.

There are plans to construct a 55-turbine wind farm at Moy, near Inverness, with the potential to supply electricity to almost 100,000 homes.

Artists Vicky Stonebridge, Mo Ali and Johnny McMonagle have imagined futures where sources of alternative energy have become a necessity, power is generated inside sinister Easter Island-like heads and where wind can even be stolen.


An artist, poet and writer who lives in the south-east of England, Ali has provided illustrations for book covers.

Wind farm where turbines spin in giant heads

He has also created concepts of Doctor Who villains such as the Cybermen and Daleks as well as Marvel comic characters the Green Goblin and Spider-Man.

His version of the 2008 Iron Man movie poster also appeared on the Myspace page of the film's director Jon Favreau.

Ali's take on renewable power is a wind farm where the turbines spin inside the open mouths of giant heads.


Stonebridge, an artist from Lochcarron in the Highlands and a co-organiser of Hi-Ex, has imagined a future where renewable energy is no longer an alternative, but the only option.

While sketching out her ideas the artist said she hit on a "rather pessimistic world view".

Vicky Stonebridge's final choice for her imagined future

She said: "Instead of coming up with glorious gleaming spires of future alternative energy technology, I keep entering a world where the bubble has burst. People are using renewables because they have to."

Among her ideas was an illustration of recycled junk floating through a submerged forest of wind turbines; a bothy made of old television sets and carrier bags; plastic bottle greenhouses; botched junk turbines and people living on platforms built on wind turbine towers.

'Gone wrong'

Stonebridge eventually settled on a child in a barren landscape holding an oak sapling planted in old margarine tub.

The girl looks down on drowned turbines, with a horse drawn junk home and mobile windmill in the background.

Stonebridge, who is a traditional painter as well as a comic strip illustrator, said energy has been a feature of stories in comics such as 2000AD.

She said: "The comic's artists have always been ahead of the times and stories about characters such as Judge Dredd have had energy-efficient, self-sustaining buildings.

"But Judge Dredd is a version of the world after everything has gone wrong.

"Outside the walls of Mega-City One is the polluted Cursed Earth."


Kildare-based illustrator, animator and designer Johnny McMonagle's illustration suggests a future where wind can be stolen from farms by capturing it in huge butterfly nets.

Johnny McConagle's wind energy thieves

McMonagle studied classical animation in Ballyfermot Senior College.

His work has featured in publications such as The Dubliner magazine and Irish Examiner.

The Irish artist's comicbook illustrations have appeared in FutureQuake and The Judge Dredd Megazine.

McMonagle has also produced illustrations for government information leaflets.

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