“A has the flesh of a fruit which [he/she/it] begins to eat. B has the seeds, which [he/she/it] plants. A realises that [he/she/it] will have no source of food after eating the fruit. B begins to starve while waiting for a tree to grow. The remainder of the fruit will sustain A and B until a tree grows.”
Comics-maker, illustrator and all-round lovely chap John Miers produces work that intrigues and challenges, often using abstract forms and diagrammatic elements as well as more traditional story-telling methods. He’s currently working on a PhD in Comics (I suspect it has a fancier title than that in reality, but that’s what it is) and I was delighted to be invited to take part in a project that forms part of his studies.
John asked a bunch of comics people to interpret a supplied narrative and produce a one-page comic from it. For half the group (including me), this came in the form of a ‘script’: a set of actions performed by unidentified characters. The creators could add as much extra detail as they liked with respect to setting, character, dialogue and other actions as long as the supplied actions were preserved. My interpretation is above.
The other half of the group were given a ‘score’, a layout which specified where detail and action should occur on the page but with no other information regarding that detail or action, or story or characterisation. A difficult task, and I don’t envy those creators who had to come up with something coherent from such a complex starting point.
The results were put on display last night, as part of an exhibition John curated at the Centre for Recent Drawing in Highbury, London. It was really fascinating to see the different (and sometimes similar) approaches people had taken to the same set of instructions – no doubt plenty of material for John’s thesis. Either way, there was a beautiful selection of comics, and I was very pleased to amongst so many talented people.
The exhibition is part of the Comica Festival – details here.
Dare I say summer is almost over? Such as it was. My blogging rate has fallen short of its target but that is more a sign of busy-ness than laziness (but there’s a bit of that too).
Last February, I wrote this post providing a creative to-do list for the year. Let’s have a recap:
- pitching a children’s chapter book I’ve written to various publishers;
- pitching a whole bunch of other ideas to my agent for other books. I’ll be posting sketches and what-not here;
The very evening after I posted this a rather interesting email landed in my inbox. Then several more. I’m not supposed to talk about this at the moment, but all will be clear soon. It’s something that’s going to keep me busy for a while. I’ve got lots of ideas I think would make good books but time (definitely time) will tell.
- continue working on a book collaboration with Sarah McIntyre which has been bumping around for a while;
- assisting the aforementioned Ms McIntyre in the curation of a kids’ comics festival as part of Pop Up! With Sarah at the helm, I’m sure it will be amazing. Keep the weekend of the 30th June free! Sarah blogs about it here;
The picture book I’m doing with Sarah should kick in soon – our deadline is for early next year. It’s been a bit of a tough ride but I’m hoping a happily ever after is in sight for this particular project.
Pop Up! was huge fun. It was great to see so many children enjoying drawing their own comics with the help of professional comic creators. Here’s Gary Northfield and Jamie Littler having a drawing battle, taking suggestions from the audience:
The venue was wonderful and it was a fabulous, if exhausting, day. Congrats to Sarah on an inspired bit of curating. Here’s her account with lots of pics.
But what about my comics?
Issue #2 is out now – and it really does look great! I’m so proud of this little beauty and so grateful for the wonderful comics that everyone contributed. You can get your copy here. Issue #1 is now sold out.
- working on the committee for Caption, the Oxford comics festival. This year it will take place on the weekend of the 18th August;
And it did! It was a brilliant weekend, in only the way Caption knows how. Informative panels and inspiring workshops – lots of good, constructive comics talk. Lots of new faces attending, too. It was my privilege to be the moderator for the panel on Editing in Comics (with Woodrow Phoenix, Corinne Pearlman, John Anderson and Hannah Berry) and also the panel discussing The Phoenix children’s comic (with a whole bunch of its creators), which proved to be very lively, particularly in the light of the recent loss (in print, at least) of the venerable children’s comic The Dandy. It’s wonderful to see so much enthusiasm for print in defiance of the modern trend – it’s that kind of dynamism that has kept comics going in the UK in the almost complete absence of any kind of industry.
- working on a comic collaboration with Tanya Meditzky. I love Tanya’s sense of humour – check out her work in the Comix Reader and the Strumpet;
Done! It’s very funny – Tanya is one crazy lady. In the good kind of way.
- a strip for a new anthology by the industrious gents of Accent UK
Oops! I’d forgotten that – thanks blog!
- I’ve been thinking about setting up an online archive for people to donate their out-of-print/retired minicomics and zines, allowing them to be downloaded for free. I’m getting some costs/ideas together for that;
Officially shelved. I’d love to see this done but this would eat up all the time I just do not have.
- finishing off the first arc of my webcomic Tozo and collecting it into a single bumper printed edition. I’m probably going to take a year off Tozo after that – it’s been five years and I think I’d benefit from a break;
Done! Well, finishing off the webcomic anyhow. Chapter 5 should be available at Thought Bubble in November, the collected edition in the spring. I loved doing Tozo but I’m enjoying not having the weekly deadline hanging over my head.
- collecting my Queen Mum comics into… um, a collection;
- resurrecting a half-finished children’s novel and completing it;
To do, to do! These may well be on next year’s to do list. We’ll see.
- re-jigging this website;
- doing more portfolio stuff;
- and blogging about everything in more detail than this!
Ongoing, but not very successfully. I’ve never been much of a creature of routine and that’s what this needs. I can feel a daily drawing splurge coming on.
So not bad going, I’d say – at least in terms of doing what I said I was going to do – and there’s still a good chunk of the year left…
No doubt you follow the blog of children’s book illustrator-extraordinaire Sarah McIntyre. If not, why not?! You’ll see that lately she’s been blogging up a whirlwind about the Pop Up Festival of Stories.
This weekend (30th June-1st July), part of the redeveloped Kings Cross area will be turned into a fun-packed festival, with different book creators curating different sections. Sarah has come up with the brilliant idea of the Comics Big Top of AWESOME, taking place on Saturday where a whole area will be devoting to comic-making. Professional comic-makers like Neill Cameron, Gary Northfield, Jamie Smart, Nana Li and Jamie Littler will be on hand to guide through the processes of comic-making from ideas to character design to stories, and putting it all together under a colourful cover. There will also be a lot of other fun activities like drawing battles (a sharpened pencil is a dangerous object) and Comic Consequences. It is going to be… well, AWESOME. And that’s just Sarah’s bit.
I’ve been helping Sarah out with some of the organisational aspects and have seen the huge amount of work everyone has put into creating the event, from the festival organisers to the amazing St Martin’s students who have design and built the sets and staging. It is going to be a fantastic weekend – do come down and join us!
Things I learnt at the bananas-but-wonderful MCM Expo this weekend:
- It’s probably still too early for Hobbit fan-art (click on it for a bigger version).
- Games of Thrones fan-art is hot!
- No one likes Aquaman. Poor Aquaman.
I’m honoured to say that I’ve been included in an exhibition of self-portraits by comic artists, curated by Camila Barboza, that’s taking place at the wonderful Orbital Comics in London. There are pics by a number of small-, medium- and large-press favourites such as Joe Decie, Adam Cadwell, Ellen Lindner and Gary Erskine, as well as me on a giant blue chicken. Here are some photos from the launch, but do take a look in person if you’re in the area. The (free) show runs until the 15th October.
Speaking of comics shops being wonderful, the amazing GOSH! is hosting a comics discussion group in their fantastic new premises, organised by Mike Medaglia and Mark Haylock. They’ve had the innovative idea of discussing one mainstream book and one small press book, and I’m thrilled that they’ve decided to make Tozo their inaugural read alongside the mighty Watchmen. The group kicks off on October 12th. Contact Mike and Mark via Facebook (link only works if you’re logged in to FB) or through thinkingcomics.com. Come along and talk comics!
Some characters from various different projects I seem to find myself working on simultaneously – some in the pipeline, others may never see the light of day. All good fun, though.
I’ve realised that one project I’ve not actually mentioned on my own blog is ink+PAPER, a comic magazine I’m editing and publishing, due out in November. I’ll do a proper post on its origins at some point over on i+P blog but for now go and click on the links of some of the people who are taking part – there’s lots of good stuff there and I’m very excited about this particular enterprise. The response has been gratifyingly warm – it seems to be an idea with which people have really connected. More on that in months to come.
In the nearer future, a couple of events: New Cross Turn Left (above) – a comics garden party in the south London neighbourhood of the same name, initiated by Ellen Lindner. It’s free entry and there’ll be comics, cake and even a bit of theatre: the premier of the play, “Derek The Sheep and The Quest for the Googly Glasses” written by Gary Northfield.
Then at the beginning of August comes Caption, the Oxford comics festival. This year’s official t-shirt (above) is now available for pre-order: details here. It’s proving quite popular, so get yours now. There are loads of great guests coming to Caption – including the one and only Paul Gravett. It’ll be my pleasure to interview him, something I’m really looking forward to doing, though the thought of doing it live is a bit scary. Luckily Paul is full of great tales so it should be fun.
I’ll be at the Zine Fair as part of the Birmingham Zine Festival this Saturday afternoon. I’ve not been to this event before but it looks like a lot of fun and an impressive <insert collective noun of choice> of comickers and zinesters will be there. I’m sharing a table with the jolly Mr Winchester. Looking forward to it!
Caption, the Oxford comics festival (with the theme of austerity) will soon be here and we’re looking for artwork for the souvenir programme:
“As usual we will be creating a souvenir programme and are looking for contributions from the comics community. You don’t have to attending Caption to contribute, as in this year of Austerity we know not everyone will be able to make it along. All contributors will receive a copy of the programme.”
The book will be b/w and A5 in size. Send artwork to jay[dot]eales[at]googlemail[dot]com.
As part of the ongoing International Alternative Press Festival, I’m hosting a workshop at the wonderful Orbital Comics shop in London this Thursday from 6:30-8pm. Do come along – no need to book. I’ll be giving a bit of “insight” into my Queen Mum comics, then we shall create STUFF together – it will be a right royal load of fun, plus you can check out Orbital’s wonderful range of goodies too, including their great small press range. Hope to see you there!
Details on all the remaining workshops can be found on this Facebook page.
Next weekend is a chockfull of comics goodness, if you’re in the London area: there’s the first International Alternative Press Festival, an evolution of the brilliant APFs that have been held here regularly for the past couple of years. It all kicks off on Friday with an opening party at The Miller, then on Saturday and Sunday there’s the fair at the Conway Hall. I’m sharing a table at the fair, but it’s not just about selling comics, zines and whatnot: there are also a series of exhibitions, talks and workshops at various venues in the city centre over the following couple of weeks. There’s a wonderfully varied lineup of stuff to get involved with, so do take a look – or check the team out on Facebook.
I’ve loved the previous alternative press fairs I’ve been to. You don’t often get to see comics next to hand-made books or beautiful art prints, and the exposure to the many different approaches to being creative with ink and paper is truly inspirational.
Also on this weekend is the legendary MCM Expo, an extremely well-organised and totally mad-as-a-bucket-of-frogs event, which is lots of fun. Although I won’t be there this time I expect I’ll be popping over to the pub outside for a catchup with everyone. Sometimes there’s just too much on!
My comics are going on a North American tour – without me, however. *sniff!*
MoCCA (9th-10th April)
This weekend is the MoCCA festival in glittering New York City! I’m very pleased to say that there will be a contingent of Irish and UK comickers occupying no less than three tables at the festival. I hear some of our viking cousins have a regular presence at MoCCA so it only seems right that we should aid their Euro-infiltration of such a prestigious event.
Make sure you visit Tables K10-K12! Regular MoCCA exhibitor Cliodhna Lyons is leading the way – thanks to her for organising the tables and whathaveyou. She’ll be alongside honorary UK/Ireland-ers Sarah McIntyre (who’ll have copies of the Airship comic we improvised a few years back and the Birdsong anthology in which we both have stories) and Ellen Lindner – have you read the interview I did with her?
Darryl Cunningham, creator of the critically-acclaimed Psychiatric Tales will also be there. He’ll be flogging comics by myself (A Corner of Paradise and Kate Middleton), John Miers and sexyman Dr Geoff.
If that’s not enough, the gents of Accent UK will no doubt have a glorious show of books – if you’re into sci-fi of the 2000AD mould then make sure you stop by their table. I’ve been a contributor to one of their anthologies in the past and will be again later this year. I particularly recommend The Man of Glass by Martin Flink who I believe will also be at MoCCA (in the viking camp).
Stumptown (16th-17th April)
Cliodhna, Sarah and Ellen are then heading over to Portland, OR for the Stumptown festival so any comics leftover from MoCCA will be making their way there. Stumptown always has an amazing lineup of exhibitors – I’d love to get over there sometime.
TCAF (7th-8th May)
There’s a small, polite UK invasion of the Toronto Comics Arts Festival this year: Darryl’s UK publisher Blank Slate are exhibiting, as are Nobrow Press and creators Adam Cadwell, Kayla Marie Hillier, Joe Decie (another interviewee of mine), Tom Humberstone, Jamie McKelvie and Philippa Rice. The lineup for this is particularly excellent – it’s obvious why TCAF has developed a reputation as the finest independent convention in North America. I’ve contributed to Tom’s most recent Solipsistic Pop anthology, an excellent series of books showcasing the best in UK independent comics.
More convention news to follow.
I won’t be selling any Queen Mum comics at the expo as I’m currently putting a collection together which will have a load of new material. However, there will be royalty present at the table (or almost-royalty) in the form of our adored future queen:
Kate Middleton minicomics! Containing excerpts from her fabulous diary! The comic comes in two forms: regular and a limited edition bedecked with a shrinky-dink of the radiant bride-to-be, majestically astride the royal unicorn – all printed on a regal shade of light blue. It’s the semi-official wedding souvenir you’ve been waiting for. Here’s a quick glimpse:
The humour doesn’t rise much above this level I’m afraid.
I’ve a few new things at the new Thing, i.e. the London SP Expo which replaces the Webcomix Thing. It’s this Saturday at Goldsmith’s College – details here.
First up is this:
I’ve finally got into print the comic I improvised last year for the 100 days project. I serialised roughly the first half online, and will put the rest online at some point in the future, but for now there will be this 50pp black-and-white-and-red-all-over A5 landscape-oriented comic for you to enjoy. Claire and Benoît meet in a shower of rain and fall in love. But will the past and basic human weakness scupper their future together? It’s a love story in 100 pictures.
Also on sale will be Tozo Chapters 3 and 4 for those who haven’t had a chance to get their hands on them:
Thought Bubble was brilliant. I don’t know what else to say really… it was one of those events where the magic seemed to happen. Here’s a bit of magic – a statuette of the Queen Mum by brilliant cartoonist Rick Eades that was much admired for the rest of the day:
Pic stolen from Sarah McIntyre.
I know this is a cop-out, but here are some reports that show the fun and diversity of the festival far better than I can.
- Ellen Lindner: http://ellenlindner.livejournal.com/47824.html
- Hugh Raine: http://shug-comics.livejournal.com/65577.html
- Sarah McIntyre: http://jabberworks.livejournal.com/346149.html
Thanks to everyone who came and said hello or bought something, and thanks to the organisers for really putting the ‘thought’ in Thought Bubble (oof!) that made it the huge success it was – it really sets the standard for other events. A wonderful way to end the convention year (for me, at any rate).
My final post before I hit the road for Leeds and the Thought Bubble Festival – which is already under way with talks, exhibitions and presentations.
At my table I shall have:
- Tozo Chapters 1-3 – sign up to receive Tozo 4 in the post at a special rate!
- Queen Mum Adventures 1-2 plus a commemorative royal engagement portrait with evey comic!
- Birdsong/Songbird anthology
- Prints – lovely Xmas presents!
- Badges – free!
- A cheery smile
Look forward to seeing you there!