The Comics Break

Good afternoon all!

I’m writing this in the clutches of the latest cold that’s going round, which has me coughing for hours on end, so please send cake and medicine to me whilst splutter out this update…

So, I hope you’re all up for something a bit different today, as I’m going to tell you a story. Make yourselves comfortable! Once upon a time, after Cosmos & Other Stories came out, and after I finished up pieces for Dirty Rotten Comics #10 and The Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2017, I decided to take a short break from comics. I think, doing this kind of work, it’s all too easy to feel like you have to keep churning out work so people don’t lose faith or forget you exist. But after a tough personal spell and using work as a crutch to keep me going, it was time to let my mind go and deal with life, and try to regain my health.

The break from comics didn’t come naturally, and I still worked on commissions both for private clients and other more illustrative work (the Kickstarter print with Emily B. Owen’s Brain Shoodles, and a piece for the Habitat anthology). But, the break from direct comic work was there all the same, and it gave me valuable time to promote the work I’ve already done and work out where best to move next. And, play with some different materials and techniques. Check it out:

Having time to play around with new processes and materials has been golden, and given me a chance just to draw or create for the sake of drawing again. I’ve played with creating stamps from soft lino,drawing with Kuretake Zig Brush pens, the Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen and some Graphitint pencils, as well as other experiments in fabric and dying, clay and wood. Taking that pause really did help to clear my mind and work on new concepts, and it gave me new skills and new challenges to hone in on to keep improving.

And that leads us to my new project! Due to be released in September in time for Thought Bubble Festival, I’ve been working on a small comic which I’ve gone thorough the scripting and layouts of already, when the inking coming next. Have a look at some sketches:

One thing I’ve been taking note of is how my painting accounts for the majority of the atmosphere in my work. So, remove the painting, do I still give that effect? This new project I’m working on is not only vastly different and physical application, but also different from my usual storytelling too, being totally autobiographical rather than based in imagination. It’s been challenging, and new, and exciting all at the same time. And I really hope people like it!

I do miss splashing about with gouache and I’ll definitely keep evolving the way I paint, but for now, get ready for something new and exciting and totally paint-free! -gulp-

And that’s where I leave you for now! I’ll be back soon with more news, but until next time have a good week/weekend everyone. I’m off to visit family and get plied with food to mend this illness once and for all. Laters!

 

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Ubiquity, Upcoming, & More

Good afternoon all,

So, these weeks are flying by aren’t they? It only feels like last week that I boarded my chariot (otherwise known as the Manchester to London Virgin train) for the opening of The Cartoon Museum’s exhibition The Inking Woman. Ending on Sunday 23rd, you only have a few days to go and check it out before it moves on! The opening night back in April was heaving, and the atmosphere was electric so I could barely concentrate on having a look around, so this past Saturday I returned to fully absorb the exhibition before it’s too late. Check it out:

It really is an entertaining selection of work from creators’ old and new, with a mix of original artwork and digital prints. It’s always incredibly interesting to see the original artwork, correction fluid and fresh paper placed over mistakes, paint over panel borders and smudges in the corners. If you have the chance to get down there I’d strongly recommended it!

In other news, sales have started to come through for my mental health print, in support of 42nd Street Manchester! It’s really heart-warming to see people moved by and interested in supporting the causes that 42nd Street, and their arts-venue the Horsfall. You can still get the prints online from my store here, with 50% of the proceeds going to the charity.

Also, I have some updates for my comic’s festival schedule! Sadly, as is the case with highly sought-after events, I didn’t manage to get a table at Bristol Comic & Zine Fair this year, held at The Station on Saturday 7th October. Thankfully for me, I can get in on the action and come along with Good Comics to support them, whilst having a few of my other titles on the communal table. Two weeks later, on Saturday 21st October, I’ve managed to squeeze into Loogabarooga Comics Fair in Loughborough with a last minute slot – party on! I will, of course, also be at Thought Bubble Festival now in its earlier calendar-slot of Saturday 23rd-24th September alongside Sam Williams of Good Comics, and a cardboard cut-out of Paddy (who has family commitments, cuh). So, it’s going to be a busy couple of months!

*cough* I will also be bringing out a little(ish) something new in time for Thought Bubble in September, so do watch this space…. *cough*

Finally, I’ve also managed to re-stock in my usual comic haunts, and get some stock in new places! As of this moment in time, you can currently get your hands on my books in Gosh Comics (London), Orbital Comics (London), The Cartoon Museum (London), Gnash Comics (Devon), The Incredible Comic Shop (Swindon), Page 45 (Nottingham) and Travelling Man (Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle & York). There may be some remaining in Nostalgia & Comics Birmingham, though I’m not totally sure what’s left there. Here’s some snaps!

So, as you can see, I’m slowly taking over the World. Or something to that effect.. Huge thanks to all the comics shops and Small Press friendly fans who keep buying my books dotted around the country! Nothing brings me greater joy than a surprise tweet to say someone’s picked up my work in a store or at a festival. It really is the best.

And, that just about rounds things up for now. As I alluded to earlier, I’m working on some top-secret tasks and planning at the moment with more to be revealed soon.. But until then, peace out!

 

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Festivals & Releases

Good afternoon all!

So, it’s almost mid-July. When did that happen?

This past week has seen a surge of releases, first up with the launch of the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2017 on Saturday 8th July at Gosh! Comics in London. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it down south for the launch (trains just keep getting more expensive, right?), but it seems like Gosh! was totally packed out! You can see photos from the night here.

The Yearbook is now on sale at selected comic shops around the UK and also online here for £7.99 plus postage. It features the ‘Six to Watch’ of last year; Rebecca Bagley, Kim Clements, Brigid Deacon, Emily Rose Lambert, Jey Levang and Ellice Weaver, as well as a handful of extra creators with back-up stories, including yours truly. I haven’t had a chance to look through the Yearbook yet, but I just know it’s going to be good.

Next up, Emily Owen’s Kickstarted Brain Shoodles zine is out into the world! Mine arrived yesterday, complete with some prints from my piece I created for one of the reward tiers. Brain Shoodles is a described as a mental health zine, documenting Emily’s struggle with anxiety and depression, and learning sometimes just how to put one foot in front of the other. It’s an accessible, touching read, and if you’d like to get your hands on a copy they are for sale on her online store for £3 plus postage.

Also, Emily kindly sent me some of the prints (pictured above right) which are now up for sale on my Etsy store!

Given the nature of their creation, I am selling the prints with 50% of profits going to 42nd Street, a young-persons mental health charity here in Manchester. 42nd Street supports young people aged 11-25 years with their emotional well-being and mental health, promoting choice and creativity, championing young person centred approaches. They offer counselling, workshops and events to help engage young people, and have offered continued support in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing in May. They’re an excellent cause, and I hope to make as much for them as I can.

The prints are A4, printed on beautiful heavyweight recycled card stock, and on sale for £10. There’s a limited run, so if you’d like one click here.

I’ve also put my A5 print from Cosmos on my Etsy store! Originally released for free alongside pre-orders of the book, the print is just £4 and features one of the more colourful pages from the final story in the collection, ‘Treehouse‘. Click through the image below to see the whole thing!

My Etsy store has had a nice little revamp, so to celebrate all you nice readers of this blog can get 10% off my store for the next week with the code IREADIT – and with no minimum spend! Par-tay!

In other news, this weekend is the first ever South London Comic & Zine Fair! I will be there in spirit, as Paddy Johnston of Good Comics will be manning the stand with Cosmos & Other Stories, Josh Hicks’ Human Garbage and all the rest of Good Comics’ excellent catalogue of releases. Be sure to pop along and say hi if you’re in the area.

And that wraps it up for now! Keep an eye out next week when I’ll be back with more of what I’ve been getting up to.. Until then – have a good week!

 

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