Historic Hendon Novel: Wiktoria Radkiewicz
As part of the Historic Hendon project, The RAF Museum has partnered with Middlesex University’s Illustration Course to produce a Digital Graphic Novel. Eleven students from across the First, Second and Third year courses are writing and drawing short stories that re-tell events that bring to life stories of Hendon from 1910 to the present day.
This blog gives an insight into the preparation and work of Wiktoria Radkiewicz, who is drawing a story about the RAF pageants that attracted thousands of visitors to Hendon in the 1930s, with an exclusive look at some behind-the-scenes drafts.
Tell us about yourself and your work
My name is Wiktoria Radkiewicz, I’m 26 and it’s my third year studying Illustration BA at Middlesex University. The entry I did for the initial submission for the RAF project was about a Polish pilot. As I was doing research for the RAF project, I realized that how close this subject is to my heart as I’m Polish myself, I never actually did any projects on this bit of history.
As for my work, I mainly colour digitally and work with traditional line art. I love strong colours, and the main topics of my projects are usually heavily historically researched and most often connected to LGBTQA+ topics.
What interests you about the project and your story?
I was delighted to research thoroughly on my period of time. It’s the twenty-year period between the wars, where some of the young didn’t fully know the monstrosity of the First World War. They would be the young boys who would join war efforts quickly, still charmed by the sights they saw as kids during pageants - and this is the main focus of my story. I also wanted to show the variety of British society at the time, not only ending it at the class differences but also show ethnic variety that already existed.
What are your artistic influences?
Pre-Raphaelites, J.C. Leyendecker, Disney artists; indie comic artists such as Emily Carroll, Kate Beaton or Jen Wang as well as about a million artists I follow on Instagram.
What is the most interesting thing you have learned since starting this project?
My comic's story was to do more with society’s reaction to RAF pageants than with RAF itself. The most interesting thing I discovered was learning about diversity in society in the 1920s and 1930s, the First World War’s influence on women’s freedom to work and how the later period until the Second World War shut it off again, and the First World War and homosexuality.
What do you think makes a comic book a great way to tell RAF stories?
All of us are having a lot of fun doing long, interesting panels showing off planes taking off and doing manoeuvres. I think the way we are doing it (with a digital scrolling interface) helps with suspense and makes reading the comics more interesting, as we aren’t really constricted by the edges of a printed page and can go up and down however much we want!
You can find more of Wiktoria’s work online on Instagram or Facebook
The Historic Hendon project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund