• Comic Workshop at the Imagine Festival

    imagine2013

     

    If you know a young person in need of some activity during half-term week, I highly recommend the Imagine Festival being held at the Royal Festival Hall – loads of stuff for kids involving dance, literature, theatre and art.

    I’m delighted to say that I’ve been invited to take part, so I’ll be running two comic-making workshops on February 22nd, at 10:30 and 12:30. With me in the foyer of the Festival Hall will be Sarwat Chadda, author of the Ash Mistry Chronicles, who’s doing a creative writing workshop and Clara Vulliamy, creator of Martha & the Bunny Brothers, who’ll be showing you how to make felt bunnies! Perfect food for monsters. It could be chaos, it could get messy, it WILL be fun! All the booking information can be found here. (Recommended age 7-11)

  • 28 Days to Go!

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    Only 28 days to go until the publication day of MONSTER & CHIPS! I’m afraid I’ll be harping on about this quite a lot but I’m so excited to have my first book for sale! I’ll be posting some sneak peeks here but in the meantime feel free to pre-order at Amazon or other online booksellers (though you should always support your local bookshop if you can). I’ve head the book will be on sale in Asda supermarkets too, which is great news. Need to have a lie down now.

  • Score vs Script

    “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.

  • Monster & Chips

    Monster and Chips

     

    I’ve been keeping this under my hat for about six months, which has been pretty excruciating, but it looks like I’m free to talk about some very exciting creative happenings for me.

    Early in the year I submitted a manuscript for a children’s book to my lovely agent, Jodie Marsh. I assumed there would be a bit of a wait before I heard anything as I know these things can take time, but after a couple of weeks I received an email from her saying that a publisher was interested. Then another. Then another. And then another…
    There followed a week of visits to the different publishers, weighing up their offers and meeting their editorial teams with Jodie as my guide, dispensing words of wisdom and insight along the way. It was a pretty crazy few days. They were all brilliant and I’d have been honoured to have been published by any one of them, but after a lot of thought I’m very happy to say that I’m going to be writing and drawing a three-book series for HarperCollins, the first book due put at the end of February 2013.

    Monster and Chips is the story of a boy who discovers a diner run by monsters, for monsters. Naturally, he gets a job there – with disgustingly slapstick results! Lots of fart jokes and revolting food episodes – it was huge fun to write, and I’m thrilled I got to draw the illustrations too. The team at HC have been wonderful and I’ve really felt at home there. Here’s the blurb from the HC page:

    Meet the amazing monster customers and sample the foul-food served up daily at Fuzzby’s diner – the brilliant setting for this innovative series from debut author and illustrator, David O’Connell.

    Somewhere in suburbia, or maybe smack-bang in the middle of your city, there is a very special diner. What’s so special about it? Well it does the best chips ANYWHERE but also its customers are a little bit ‘unusual’… some people say they are monsters… The diner is hard to find, you have to look carefully, in fact some people say only a special kind of kid can find this special kind of diner. But maybe that kid could be you?

    When Joe the ‘hooman’ gets a job at Fuzzby’s diner, he learns to bake zombie-cupcakes, exploding milkshakes and not to stare at the customers – even the ones who are see-through. He also foils a terrible plan to sabotage the annual Grand Cooking Competition.

    With cartoon strips, ‘find-the-monster’ features and a Special’s Board that’ll make your tummy churn, take a seat at Fuzzby’s and join the fun.

    I’ll posting much more about this as launch day approaches, of course. In the meantime, book one is already available to pre-order on Amazon (I think there will be a Kindle version too), Waterstones, WHSmiths and Blackwells, but of course please support your local independent bookseller if you have one.

    As for me: back to the drawing!

  • Multitasking

    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:

    Gary Northfield vs Jamie Littler Drawing Battle from David O’Connell on Vimeo.

    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?

    • editing the next issue of ink+PAPER. It’s due out in June and has an absolutely amazing line-up. There are still some issues of #1 for sale here.

     

    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.

    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.

    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…

     

  • Paper Science 7

    I should have posted about this a while ago: Paper Science 7 is out now, and I’m delighted to have been asked back to contribute a comic for it. I love the newsprint format for comics and PS has been a particularly impressive example. I talk a bit more about it in a short interview with editor Matt Sheret that was published on the Forbidden Planet blog, and there are further interviews with contributors Marc Ellerby, Josceline Fenton, Philippa Rice and His Majesty the King of Things.

    All the editions of Paper Science can be bought from here, or at good comic shops. Very much recommended.

  • Large calamari to go, please…

    I haven’t updated here in ages… um, happy New Year?

    The above pic was an updated version of a squid-monster-attacks-city scene I drew several years ago but which has always been popular seller as a print at comic conventions. I’ve been giving my portfolio an upgrade (a work-in-progress, as these things tend to be) so I decided to redraw it using the style that I’ve developed since the original was created. You can’t go wrong with squid monsters.

    What else am I up to? Here’s the current “to do” list (in no particular order):

    • 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;
    • 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 May free! Sarah blogs about it here;
    • editing the next issue of ink+PAPER. It’s due out in June and has an absolutely amazing line-up. There are still some issues of #1 for sale here.
    • working on the committee for Caption, the Oxford comics festival. This year it will take place on the weekend of the 21st July;
    • 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;
    • a strip for a new anthology by the industrious gents of Accent UK;
    • 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;
    • 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;
    • collecting my Queen Mum comics into… um, a collection;
    • resurrecting a half-finished children’s novel and completing it;
    • re-jigging this website;
    • doing more portfolio stuff;
    • and blogging about everything in more detail than this!

    Plus redecorate the flat, redesign the garden, etc, etczzzzzzzzzzzzz. That will do for now, perhaps?

  • Flash!

    The Flash! Whizzzz!

    Made you look!

    It’s the MCM Expo this weekend! It’s the UK’s nuttiest comic convention – me and the Flash will be there with a load of (new) fan-art prints. Superheroes? Got it covered. Game of Thrones? Check. Hobbits? Of course! Random nerd stuff? Naturellement.

    I’ll be sharing space with a table buddy of old, Cliodhna Lyons, who I understand will be cosplaying in an outfit that uses an aggressive amount of pink. Come and say hello (and start your Xmas shopping early) at table H3!

  • Nine characters in search of a timeslot

     

    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.

  • Queen Mum workshop @ Orbital Comics

    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.

  • Expo news

    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.

  • It’s a new low.

    Time Out London has published a feature on Royal Wedding memorabilia, featuring my Kate Middleton comic. “This is the royal wedding souvenir we’ve all been waiting for…” it says and who am I to doubt them. It’s available from the shop along with my Queen Mum comics.

  • New Year’s Honours


    The Queen Mum is amongst some very auspicious company in Richard Bruton‘s ‘Best of Year’ list on the wonderful Forbidden Planet blog. Thanks Richard! The FP blog does some excellent work in promoting UK comics so make sure they’re on your favourites list.

    And if you’ve been tempted to check out the QM in action, then I’m happy to say you can still buy her FP-recommended minicomics at the revamped Scribblehound shop.