THERE are only a few days left for you to catch the exhibition of the work of Glasgow-based graphic novel duo Metaphrog at the Park Gallery in Callendar House in Falkirk. Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers have been creating comics and graphic novels since the 2990s and the exhibition follows their career from the early days right through to their most recent book, Bluebird.

The Graphic Novel World of Metaphrog offers an insight into the duo’s working methods, and also offers a close-up look at the shimmering beauty of Marrs’s art.

Before the curtain closes on the exhibition, the duo take the time to tell Graphic Content about what and who inspires them:

MUSIC

Music is a huge source of inspiration, but we reckon that it also keeps us sane. For working we listen to jazz and soundtracks – mostly instrumental stuff. Sun Ra has a special place: even his life story is fascinating. Running the Arkestra meant providing structure for lots of musicians, keeping them healthy too. His DIY approach is interesting, like an early punk, only jazz. Chet Baker is another artist that we always go back to. His music has such a beautiful feel to it, and the phrasing is incredible, whether on trumpet or voice. A real emotional depth.

HeraldScotland:

We grew up in different countries and different decades but found we had listened to a lot of the same records. For example, we love Moondog and also Morricone, and recently we’ve been tuning in to Harold Budd. But sometimes at the end of the day we’ll blast something to change our headspace. The Homosexuals made records that are really great – innovative and timeless. In fact, the late 1970s and early 1980s were very fertile periods. Sandra took the time to make a pastel drawing of Mark E. Smith, to celebrate his life and the music of The Fall.

CINEMA

HeraldScotland:

It probably isn’t too surprising, given that we make comics and that’s visual storytelling, but we watch a lot of films. Hitchcock is a favourite – we can re-watch his films repeatedly and always find something new to appreciate. Bergman is incredible, and his work isn’t always necessarily bleak. Fanny and Alexander is a masterpiece we return to annually. It has a great atmosphere. Last year we watched a bunch of oneiric films, like Jan Nemec’s debut, Diamonds of the Night or The Hourglass Sanitorium, directed by Wojciech Jerzy Has, because we are interested in pure cinema and these films are unusually structured too. Some of them are downright trippy and strange like The Saragossa Manuscript.

BOOKS

HeraldScotland: Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, aka MetaphrogSandra Marrs and John Chalmers, aka Metaphrog

The Manuscript Found in Saragossa is an amazing piece of literature. Seems very modern still. We read a lot, particularly recently with the pandemic and lockdowns – it’s calming and almost like an antidote to all the flashing screens of modern life. Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker by James Gavin is a great read, almost supernatural in its power. While Straight Life by Art and Laurie Pepper is remarkable too: the writing has an incredible tone and almost painful honesty. It really is brilliant: up there with James Baldwin. We love his books, particularly Another Country. Both of us re-read The Secret History by Donna Tartt last month because we like the book so much. Vladimir Nabokov is a favourite – not only because of the way he interrogates the form of the novel but also because he writes so beautifully. He also composed poetry and chess problems, and we hid a couple of those in our Louis books.

COMICS

In the world of comics and graphic novels we both love Love and Rockets by the Hernandez brothers: Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario. And, we love Daniel Clowes, Jacques Tardi, Ben Katchor, Charles Burns and also Chris Ware.

One thing we really missed in the last two years was access to art galleries and museums – it’s great to be able to visit those again. Frida Kahlo is a favourite and Sandra enjoyed doing a pastel portrait of her last year.

The Graphic Novel World of Metaphrog at the Park Gallery in Callendar House, Falkirk closes on Sunday