Christmas Card

Penpals, Penguins & Small Press

Good afternoon kind readers!

So, another week has vanished and it’s now almost December. When did that happen? All these Christmas adverts keep coming out and all I can think about is how I’m pretty sure it was October last time I looked.. Apparently not. It seems to be getting much gloomier day by day, and Manchester is living up to it’s stereotype of raining all the time – which would make you think that I’d managed to buy an umbrella by now instead of getting rained on all the time. Ha. Well. Maybe tomorrow.

A few weeks ago when I first moved up here I was doing some scooting around, looking for different creative endeavours I could get stuck into. Low & behold I re-stumbled across the Salford Zine Libary, who describe themselves as “a unique archive of self published materials, currently housed at Nexus Art Café on Dale Street in Manchester. It seeks to preserve and provide access to zines from around the world, as well as promoting zines and DIY culture through workshops, exhibitions and other events“. They had a call for submissions up for a Penpals themed mail-art exhibition, so in the blues-infested week of getting back from Thought Bubble when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, I wrote a little love story on an envelope and sent it off! I haven’t managed to get down to the Zine Library yet to see if my work has been selected to be up, but I’ll be getting down there as soon as possible to check it out. The exhibition runs until the end of the month, so if you’re in the area you should pop down and check it out!

Next up, I also spent some time in the recent weeks on a guest strip for Alan Henderson’s Penned Guins, which is his daily comic strip full of dad jokes, bad jokes and everything in between. There have been a few guest appearances in the past, most recently from my good friend of Good ComicsSamuel C. Williams. It took a while to single out a particular pun, but in the end I went with this one.. Which went up on Sunday 13th November!

Ha.. Penguins. What lovable oafs. It was an absolute pleasure to be a guest on Alan’s Penned Guins, and if you want to keep up with the comics you can keep up with them on Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram. There’s a lot to be said for being able to smile at daily gag strips, and I highly recommend you supplement your diet with them.

In other news, if you’ve been on Broken Frontier‘s Facebook or Twitter this week, you may have noticed that a guest piece I wrote for State of the Small Press Nation went up on the site! Andy Oliver kindly asked me whether I wanted to write an article a while back, to which is gratefully agreed and then took way longer than I should’ve done to actually get it back to him. Better late than never, my journey into small press is now up on Broken Frontier’s site, and you can read the article here. It was a bit strange to go back through my old blogs and pick out the highs and lows of my journey into comics, but hopefully my ramblings come of some use to someone.

Probably not, but you never know.

And finally! If you follow me on the array of social media channels then you may have noticed that I’ve released my 2016 Christmas card design! I opted for a more subtle, wintery design this year with the hare and the moon, with the card being available to buy on my Etsy store along with last year’s Christmas robin design, and all the usual comicy suspects. Postage for UK orders runs right up until mid-December, so have a gander and order early to make sure you’re not disappointed!

Anyway, that’s about it for now! I’ll be back as usual next week with more progress on my short stories due for release with Good Comics next year. Until then, I hope you all have a good week – and if you’re in England, keep dry, yeah?




December Madness and Laydeez do Comics!

Good morning ladies and gents!

So, another week bites the dust and the first round of assessment is looming eerily close by. Although I’m working in a haze which can probably be described as “I’m not really sure what I’m doing anymore”, things are getting ticked off the list and I’m vaguely, quietly confident that I’ll be in good stead by Christmas. Well, as long as I avoid any critique sessions where it’s advised to completely change my work.. Sigh. But anyway, I also decided it would be a marvellous idea to start getting up stupidly early in the week to do some mild exercise or yoga (don’t laugh) before getting to work before 8am, which seems to be helping my productivity somewhat. Though, I’m only on day three so far.. And I ache.



First up, as you may remember from last week, I mentioned that I had something exciting up my sleeve to tell you all. WELL! I am over the moon to announce that I have been asked by the lovely Keara Stewart and Wallis Eates of Laydeez do Comics to speak as a part of the Broken Frontier themed evening, as one of the Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015! With the small press champion Editor-in-Chief Andy Oliver being the reason for so many people getting a chance of recognition and support, it’ll be a great chance to listen to his worldly comics wisdom. Alongside will be the fiercely talented and entertaining Danny Noble, of Ollie and Alan fame, and myself – probably still a bit love-drunk on brandy butter by that point.

Laydeez do Comics London is held in Gosh! Comics in Soho, who are one of the biggest stores to support small press comics creators. Keara and Wallis have stepped up to take over as London Co-ordinators whilst co-founders Sarah Lightman and Nicola Streeten are taking a break to focus on their respective PhDs. here’s a snippet about Laydeez do Comics (LDC) from their website..

“Launched in July 2009 by artists Nicola Streeten and Sarah Lightman, it is the first women led graphic novel forum in the UK. Artists, academics, publishers and fans from around the world are invited to speak. It is a platform for people to test new works and ideas, where emerging artists present their work alongside more established practitioners. The evenings offer an inspiring experience in a social atmosphere for both those new to comics and those already immersed. Laydeez do Comics now has branches in Glasgow,  Bristol, Leeds, Dublin, San Francisco and Chicago.  Pop up events have also taken place in New York, Toronto, Glasgow and Brighton.”

Exciting stuff! The Broken Frontier LDC night is being held on Monday 18th January, and in MORE exciting news I’ve been working together with Gosh and LDC to create a themed window display for the event! At the moment I’ve just been sketching ideas up, but soon I’ll be getting some final designs to both parties and the work will commence the week before the event. Because I’m feeling overly generous, here’s one character from some preliminary sketchbook work for the window design…

Promo Blog

This coming Monday I’ll be attending my first LDC event as a member of the audience, with guest speakers are Mike Medaglia and Rachael Ball. Both are so excellent at what they do, and I can’t wait to be a part of the audience! And also, it’ll be good to see exactly what to expect a month later when I sit the other side of the table. Tickets for LDC are free, but must be booked and disappear incredibly quickly! If you’re interested in attending the Laydeez night in January, then best to pop over to the Laydeez do Comics website and sign up for their mailing list to be alerted when tickets are available (details are on the home page). So if you want to come and watch me pretend to know what I’m talking about, and see my first attempt at window painting.. Sign up now! But in all seriousness, big thanks to Gosh and LDC for letting my represent their values in the form of a window display and asking me to speak as one of the chosen six – I can’t wait!

In other news, you may recall a few weeks ago me referring to one of my projects being the House of Illustration and Folio Society Book Illustration Competition for War Horse! The competition requirements is to produce a set of three internal illustrations and a binding design, to fit into their minimalist graphic style.The competition ends in January, but with assessment looming and final tutorials this week I’ve been working extra hard to get this ready! It’s been a strange project for me to do given that I didn’t particularly want to approach it in the character-centric style I tend to work in, as the general tone of the cheery children’s book is rather dark. Instead, I wanted to focus on the atmosphere, and use certain scenes and textures to give an effect of how very depressing it all was. I mean, the First World War wasn’t exactly all butterflies and flute music, was it? With that in mind, here’s my work in progress on the project to date..

Layout 1

Spine Text

I’m not entirely happy with the binding (front and back cover spread) just yet, but it’s not too far off I don’t think.. Book covers are not something I ever really did before University and I desperately struggled with the last one for Carrie’s War, so I have been determined to get this one right. As for the internal illustrations, I opted to completely avoid using ink lines for this and painted or printed everything using handmade collagraph plates, using Photoshop to put everything together nicely. Again, these aren’t completely 100% finished yet – but not far off.

Finally, after I had a tremendous sell-out of greetings cards at Thought Bubble last month I’ve gotten round to ordering more and putting them up on my Etsy store! There’s a choice of three at the moment, with this year’s Christmas card design and two others. So, for an extra special card this year, pop on over to my Etsy store and check them out.

Well well well, another busy one. I’ll be back next week after a during stressful assessment period, but hopefully with the Christmassy end in sight! Low and behold I have another week of rather important emails, another commission and further uni work progression. So, with that in mind, and the kettle calling my name.. Over and out.