ELCAF

ELCAF, Editing & Early Starts

Good afternoon all,

So, it’s a bit toasty outside, isn’t it? Even rain-blessed Manchester is rather balmy in the sunshine, and I haven’t had to carry my umbrella around with me for a week. A WHOLE WEEK! That’s almost unheard of around these parts.. But alas, despite the weather there has been a lot going on – so put your feet up with a glass of something refreshing and read on..

Last weekend was the sixth annual ELCAF, the East London Comics & Arts Festival, in the sizzling southern heat. Said heat was particularly enjoyable on the Underground, I assure you.. Now, I applied for ELCAF back when tables were announced but sadly I didn’t make the cut. However it left me with an opportunity to head down to the capital for the day and be on the other side of a table for once; dreamily drift around, catching up with old creator pals and making new ones.

I teamed up with one half of the Good Comics micro-publishing duo Samuel C. Williams to spend the day amongst the comic masses, as well as celebrating the latest Good Comics release – Josh Hicks’ Human Garbage (which is excellent, by the way). ELCAF is a festival where I’m happy I didn’t get in. Not because I wouldn’t love to be a part of it – I really would – but how they curated it this year and true breadth of work on offer was new, exciting and visually overwhelming in the best possible way. It was amazing to walk around and talk to people without having to rush back to a table, too! I had a chance to have a brief catch up with the Avery Hill gents, there with Tillie Walden and Ellice Weaver – whose beautiful new book Something City launched on the day. I also finally put faces to the names of the Dirty Rotten Comics crew Gary and Kirk, met and discussed the business of comics with Sam and Simon Moreton of Smoo/Minor Leagues fame, and had a chance to speak to John Riordan and John Cei Douglas (..and his dog).

John Cei Douglas’ dog, an excellent sales tactic and wonderfully friendly pup.

Also amongst the busy aisles of creators and browsers, we bumped into Pete Redrup of The Quietus, who has kindly just reviewed Cosmos & Other Stories on his most recent column Behold! A Comics Round Up For June. Here’s a snippet:

This book shows how Hathaway is developing as an artist. There’s a clear consistency despite differences in panels, lettering styles and colour. One particularly effective technique is the way she follows a densely panelled double page spread with a single two page image overleaf. This somehow opens up the stories, creating a hopeful, positive tone regardless of what has been established before. Cosmos & Other Stories is a beautiful book by a considerable talent.

Pete Redrup, The Quietus

Don’t forget you can pick up Cosmos & Other Stories online from the Good Shop or my Etsy store.

I was also generally pretty well behaved with my spending at ELCAF, with my small but beautiful haul consisting of (L-R) Bianca Bagnarelli‘s comic Daughters, published by Short BoxIcinori‘s beautifully printed Dessus Dessous and Peony Gent‘s A6 short comic Growth – plus a bonus postcard from everyone’s favourite friendly face, Mike Medaglia.

I had the chance to read Daughters and Growth on my coach journey back home on Saturday evening, and I can confirm that they are both equally wonderful books; Growth is a short, poetic narrative with a reassuring tone of looking after your mental health, told in an abstract form through caring for plants – I can definitely recommend this if you’re into poetic comics with that nice warm after-feeling. And.. who isn’t? You can pick up Growth from Peony’s Etsy store here. Daughters is a more traditional start-to-end story, picking up the proceedings in the middle of a family crisis in a dystopian society. Two stories run parallel, one through narration and one through the characters discussions and body language. It’s a thought-provoking short, beautifully told with clean lines and crisp colours. You can pick up a copy on Short Box’s website here.

Phew, lengthy round-up! But there’s more. Maybe time for a quick interlude to go and top up your drink?

In other news, I was kindly asked to produce a print for Emily B. Owen‘s Kickstarter campaign for Brain Schoodles, a comic about anxiety and depression told through doodles. The campaign recently ended on Kickstarter with Emily smashing her target of £250, and the comic will be launching on Saturday 8th July at Small Press Day at the Cardiff Comic Expo! Here’s some working snaps:

My print was commissioned as an addition to the Printorama pledge. So all backers getting that tier reward will receive their copy of the print with their zine. If you missed out, fear not! I will have some of these prints on sale in the coming months with proceeds going towards a Manchester-based mental health charity of my choosing. Big, big thanks to Emily for asking me to do a piece for her campaign. I’m humbled and very happy to be a part of it! See the final piece below:

Brain Shoodles Print. On sale soon!

Finally, this Saturday the Birmingham Comic Art Festival graces Birmingham City University, with yours truly behind a table selling the likes of Njálla, Ø and Cosmos & Other Stories, as well as an array of other goodies. There isn’t a huge amount of information to find online, but you can see the key details of the event via the Facebook page. If you’re in or around the West Midlands please do come and say hello! It’ll be another early start for me (Up at 4:30am for ELCAF, and up at 5am on Saturday for BCAF) so I’ll appreciate any company I can get – tickets are free, with registration required here.

And that wraps it up for now! Keep cool everyone, and I shall be back with more (but probably not quite as much) news next time. Peace out!

 

x

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Comiket, Assessment and More!

Good afternoon folks!

So, you’ll have to forgive my tardiness this week in getting the ol’ blog out on time. Yesterday was my final, FINAL ever assessment at University in the form of a 20-minute presentation and unfortunately that took over the entire week. But now, as much as it hasn’t really sunken in yet, my degree is finished. In 2-3 weeks I should find out what classification of a degree I’ve received, then there’s just that pesky business of a Degree Show exhibition to finish preparing for, and then graduation is in July. The sweet feeling of freedom is almost in my tired, sweaty grasp and I can confirm that IT FEELS GOOD.

It slipped my mind to take any pictures of the stacks of project sketchbooks on my desk and images on the wall, but just imagine a few arms full of stuff. And a lavvu in the corner. I’ll write up a better synopsis of my final year of university projects after the degree show, but for now I have PLENTY to keep you entertained with.

First up, Comiket! Last Saturday 14th May I willingly dragged myself away from assessment preparations to spend the day in London with my favourite Editor-in-Chief, Andy Oliver of Broken Frontier on the Small Press ‘Six to Watch‘ table at Comica London’s Comiket! Having never been to a Comica event before I wasn’t quite sure to expect, but situated under the Victorian glass-panelled roof between the Central St. Martin’s College of Art and the House of Illustration it was a quaint little market with a great atmosphere. As I’m on the brink of releasing a new comic, and with Sneaky Business being totally sold out, my section of the table was looking a little anaemic, but in all we had a pretty decent day and sold a lot of Small Press Yearbooks.

Apart from drinking copious amounts of Waitrose coffee to keep warm and manning the Six to Watch table, I was incredibly honoured to be a part of Paul Gravett’s Live Drawing Parade! In 25-minute slots, the Drawing Parade featured a whole host of people including the likes of Paul B. Rainey, Jessica Martin, Sean Azzopardi and JAKe. It’s really great to watch people draw live, with some far more sensible people having a composition ready worked out to ink, and then masochistic people like me who decided to freehand draw a composition right then and there. The Drawing Parade was filmed and also projected onto a screen for an audience to watch (look mum, I’m famous!), and the time-slot also included Paul Gravett doing small interviews with us drawing folk. I opted to work on a drawing of the characters from Njálla – not only as promotion but also as I’m really, really used to drawing lots of foxes at the moment. Big thanks to Andy Oliver for taking some snaps of my serious-work-face whilst drawing and painting away! Yes, yes, sadly I’m one of those people with RBF.

I had such a great day at Comiket. It is always a huge pleasure to spend time with comic folk, catching up with familiar lovely faces and meeting new ones is one of the most rewarding parts of working in comics as everyone is so totally down-to-earth. We’re all just a bunch of tired people who understand what it’s like to spend hours drawing alone at all hours. Best job in the world, mind you. Except maybe the panda-hugger. Sadly due to both personal and degree show commitments I’ll be missing out on DIY Cultures at the end of this month and CECAF/ELCAF in June, so I plonked home after Comiket knowing it’ll be a while until the next one. To read a round-up of both Comiket and other goings-on in the Small Press world check out Broken Frontier’s Small Press Round-Up!

In other exciting news, my humble HQ has seemingly turned into a distribution centre as I am now amid packaging, cellophane envelopes, stickers, prints, colouring books and lots and lots of copies of Njálla. Yay! Three big boxes of comics were the last to arrive yesterday evening, with my new friend the UPS man even carrying them up two flights of stairs for me. Spoilt, I tell you. MASSIVE thanks go out to Rich at Comic Printing UK who not only has made Njálla look supple and wonderful (you just wait till you feel that matte-laminate cover, it’s face-strokeably good) but also has been a source of entertainment and support throughout the whole process. If any of you ever decide to create comics I would encourage you to go and speak to Rich and read all his excellent advice blogs.

So now I’m left with the mammoth task of finishing off original artwork commissions for my 12 generous Kickstarter backers, wait for the money to come in and ship off LOTS of comics to their new forever homes. I start shipping out from next week with all my backers the first to receive their copies, and Njálla launching online on my Etsy store from Thursday 2nd June, with the OFFICIAL launch here in Northampton at the NN Café on Saturday 4th June. Yippee!

In a final snippet of other news, last week I mentioned working on a short one-page comic for Good Comics Dead Singers Society Volume 2. You’ll all be relieved to know that I manage to finish it up and shoot it over to those friendly gents in time, and will be featured in the new Dead Singer’s when it’s released. How exciting! If you want to check out the first volume you can get your hands on a copy through the Good Comics online shop here. But for now, here’s a snippet from my comic in the upcoming volume two..

The next anthology project I’ll be working on is a submission for the newly-announced Dirty Rotten Comics #8. The call for submissions runs up until 30th June so I have time aplenty to work on my next 1-5 page black and white idea. The submission is open to all UK emerging comic artists and after my two-page Rejsen comic was successfully printed in Dirty Rotten Comics #5 I’ve been itching to get into their ace anthology again. After that deadline’s passed I’ll be working on Sneaky Business volume 2, so keep an eye out for news on that coming in the next month or so..

Anyway, I’d best get back to it. I have a whole load of commissions to be working on this weekend so rest safe in the knowledge that I’m upping my caffeine intake accordingly. I’ll be back next week on schedule for Wednesday with more news on Njálla and maybe even some more sneaky peeks.. Ooh err! Until next time, have a good weekend all!

 

x

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The End is in Sight!

Good evening happy campers,

Well, it felt as if this week would never come, but here it is! Just one more presentation at University to go, and the second year of lectures will be over. Sure, there will be some work to do over Easter to improve some assignment work, but no more caffeine-chugging sessions of working 12 hours a day! Well. For a little while, anyway.

This past week has seen the completion of the first ever zine I’ve worked on! Zara Ward, Kamala Roberts and myself created Down to your Skivvies as a part of a University assignment that we’re hoping can be carried forward and continued over summer and into next year! This first issue we’ve looked at celebrating women in illustration and the arts, and touched upon areas of feminism and understanding what it is to be feminist. We have interviews, an article, our own work and also our first submission coming from a first year illustration student. Below is a picture of the zine, and also of the interview I did with Hannah Berry – unfortunately my interview with Hannah was conducted over email so I had to rely on my imagination of how our interview would look if we were face to face. We both agreed that there would be balloons.

The zine will be available for sale shortly via my Etsy site, for three whole Great British pounds sterling. Which, when you think about it, is pretty good for 28 pages of content printed with love*. I shall keep you all posted with when the zine goes up for sale online.

* more like, with increased anger at how the University printers are absolutely, ridiculously awful and drive me insane.

In more zine related news, I’m very happy to have finished my one-page black and white comic for Keara Stewart! I’ve been referring to this project as a zine for a little while as my heads been buried in projects galore, but due to all the interest Keara is making it an anthology – how EXCITING! I’m absolutely honoured to have been asked to contribute, and I had a lot of fun creating my piece for Keara. I believe there will be some Broken Frontier coverage coming up before the anthology is released, so keep your peepers open! Naturally, I’ll allow a little sneak preview….

Sneaky preview... Keara's anthology - coming soon!
Sneaky preview… Keara’s anthology – coming soon!

 

Also, in the world of fairness, I found out last week that I was unfortunately unsuccessful for my application for ELCAF, the East London Comics Arts Festival in June. You can’t win them all, sadly, and although I was really looking forward to this one, they received over 400 applications and only had about 70 tables, so I’m not taking it personally! This morning, however, I received an email from Thought Bubble Festival held in Leeds in November saying I’ve been successful. YAAAAY!! Thought Bubble has to be one of the biggest of the comic art festivals in the UK, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to have a nice half table selling my work! This makes for MancsterCon in August, and Leeds in November, so I’m just waiting to hear back about Alternative Press TAKEOVER 2015 in London, in May! Busy busy busy. I’m really excited to meet some of my idols and acquaintances I’ve made over the past few months, so once I’m back off holiday I’ll be making up my Game Plan for summer 2015. Work Hard / Eat Biscuits Hard. Am I right?

Speaking of holiday, this time next week I’ll be sliding down the French Alps face-first with my snowboard in the air (woooohoo!), so I will be unable to grace you all with my presence. Rest assured, I will be waffling away on my return, and I’ve taken extra precautions this time and have invested in some uncomfortable wrist guards to fit under my snowboard gloves so I don’t damage my hands in any way whilst falling on my bum every 5 minutes. I’m confident that some fresh mountain air and some Jägermeister will rejuvenate the ol’ brain cells, plus people keep saying that relaxing is.. good? What is this ‘relaxing’, thing.. PFFT. I’ll give it a whirl, anyway!

For now, I wish you all a happy Easter! I hope you all manage to have successful egg hunts in the garden whilst trying to chase the dog. Oh wait, that’s just my family?

See you all in two weeks!! Peace out! x

Sometimes I pretend to be cool.

 

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It’s not the destination, it’s the ride.

Good evening my happy followers!

So, another week gone, and a fresh week full of challenges and piles of work await my undivided attention.. It’s getting to that key time where all of my university deadlines fall around the same week of each other, so I’m manically trying to get everything done to the highest possible level that I can do whilst still juggling a few other things and whatever is left of my sanity. On the plus side, I had an incredibly efficient week last week, and although that doesn’t make things that much easier in the run-up to the deadline mine field, it does help a little. One thing I’m really happy to have completed is as follows..

In early February I was approached via Facebook by a charity called Ride for Willen; They have organised a 800 mile charity bike ride from Paris to Nice, over both Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux, with the aim of raising much needed funds for the Willen Hospice in Milton Keynes. Alongside the sponsored bike ride, they have an additional site called Ride.Eat.Drink set up to further support the Willen Hospice by selling illustrated gifts and prints. Naomi, a good friend of mine from Uni, had also been approached to create a piece and she made this incredibly detailed paper-cut original illustration for sale. Now, I was a little late to the party as I needed to get some uni work out of the way first, but thanks to my other good friend known as The Mohawk, cycling king, I finally came up with this piece which I finished on Thursday evening! Check it out;

Donated illustration to charity; Ride for Willen
Donated illustration to charity; Ride for Willen

According to my previously mentioned friend, The Mohawk, the secret behind the enjoyment of cycling is the views – and this really stuck with me. Although I’m not a cyclist myself, I am definitely an appreciator of good views, and after some research and presenting The Mohawk with some ideas, he helped me narrow down my concepts which I then sketched up and refined further. And then, well.. There it is! I tried to really capture the essence of the peace and tranquillity from riding (not the leg-burning pain I was blessed with the last time I used a bike machine at the gym..). I also didn’t want to focus too much on who, or what bike it is, so it’s open to the imagination a little more. Anyway, the Ride.Eat.Drink team seemed to really like the piece, so I’m happy to be able to help! Prints of the piece should be going up for sale in the next couple of days, and you can further support the sponsored bike ride by visiting their donation page here or buying illustrated goodies here. Success!

Talking of finished pieces, I finally finished my submission for The Penguin Random House Design Award last week. As a brief also for a university assignment, I re-designed the book cover for the Puffin book Carrie’s War. It took a lot of critical analysis, re-drawing and re-jigging to get this piece as good as I could get it, and it was an insanely hard piece of work for some reason.. I think my brain is hardwired into narrative, so trying to give an essence of a whole book in one cover, whilst gaining viewer interest and maintaining that hold on the casual browser into picking it up and reading over.. Phew! I’m getting tired just thinking about it again! Props to people who can do it all (book covers, editorial, narrative, gifts, e.t.c), hopefully this book cover has taught me a lot and makes the next attempt a lot easier, but it was definitely a big challenge for me.

Carrie's War
Carrie’s War

I’m not entirely optimistic that it’s a winning entry, there are so many applicants for the competition it’s like being a very small student entry fish in a very large tank of other highly talented student fish. Anyway, regardless of the competition it’s been a healthy change for me to do something different, though I miss comics!

Finally, this past week I submitted my applications for ELCAF (East London Comics and Art Festival) being held on June 20th-21st, and also Thought Bubble Festival held in Leeds on the weekend of 14th-15th November. In the world of comic art festivals (rather than the more well-known Comic-Con’s, which are more aimed towards the mass-market) Thought Bubble is one of the huge hitters. It’s been going since 2006, and rises in popularity every year. Along with the Comic Arts Festival in the Lake District, these two are the kings of festivals in the North of England. ELCAF in London is a fairly new festival, run by the publishers Nobrow. Both of these I would be hugely honoured to be able to attend, and I should find out by the end of the month whether I’ve been successful or not! Teamed with the more independently run MancsterCon that I’ve been confirmed for in August, I’m really hopeful that this year just keeps on getting more awesome! Fingers and toes crossed, everybody!

Right, I shall leave it at that for now. I shall be back with you all like clock-work in the next week for more updates on all the gossip from Rozi-HQ. Over and out! x

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