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!
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*
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!
Small Press Yearbook 2017 – Cover by Ellice Weaver
A panel from my comic, “At the End of the Garden…”
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.
Brain Shoodles, by Emily B Owen
Brain Shoodles Print
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!
So it’s been another week of early starts and day-trips, with my Saturday kicking off at 5am getting up and ready for the Birmingham Comic Art Festival. This is its first year running the selling event in the much larger Birmingham Comic Festival, which involved a month long series of talks and events. I managed to grab up a whole table and spread out!
Sadly, it was a little quiet and the foot-traffic through the event wasn’t enough to keep the momentum up. But, it was pleasant enough and the people who did swing by were more than happy to have a chat, which made for a pleasant day! I packed up early to spend some time with my parents, before hopping on the Megabus back up north and getting home in time to shove a microwave meal in just before 9pm. Living the high life!
Leading up to this event and with the possibility of more selling/tabling events over the latter part of summer, I scraped together the pennies to get a reprint of Njálla.
Somehow, in just over a year, Njálla has sold out of its first print run of 250 copies. Absolutely amazing. Thank you to everyone who supported the initial Kickstarter campaign (which feels so long ago now!) and everyone who has purchased a copy since. I now have another bundle of second edition books up for sale. I haven’t added any additional content this time, so you first edition folks aren’t missing out on anything new. Just a fresh run to keep me going. Ahh… New comic smell.
So, what a week! It was just as exhausting as I envisioned it being.. but somehow that prior wisdom somehow didn’t help me to cope any better as I grouchily collapsed down into bed at 9pm on Saturday evening. I know, what a party animal. That said, my grouchiness came from a place of happiness from having an excellent time at the two big comic events of the week. And, after a day of doing almost nothing on Sunday I feel relatively back to normal. Hurrah!
The atmosphere was electric as we all gathered with pride to see the exhibition in it’s full glory. Opened officially by Sandi Toksvig, there was a feeling of humour and pride in the air as the Inking Women gathered into the centre of the ground floor for a photo opportunity, before carrying on with celebrating the night. I even got a chance to sign some new copies of Hoax: Psychosis Blues whilst I was there in the museum gift shop, and dropped some more copies of Njálla and Ø at Gosh! Comics whilst I was in the capital – two birds one stone! Andy Oliver at Broken Frontier has written a lovely page about the event which you can check out here.
Next up, on Saturday I headed up to Liverpool for the Craft Comics Festival as a part of the Smithdown Road Festival, held at Chris Welsh and Tom Ward‘s Craft Taproom. It had a different vibe from the usual comic festival type event, with tables dotted around the bar rather than gathered in rows which gave it a more relaxed atmosphere. The guys were excellent hosts (you know it’s good when you get given a gourmet brownie from a local store..) and it was a nice friendly event. Here’s what I had for sale:
Now that busy week is out the way I’m in full-steam-ahead mode to finish up my piece for the upcoming Broken Frontier Yearbook 2017. I’m pretty sure I’ve overrun the deadline by some horrendous amount of time due to having far too many commitments and other life issues getting in the way. But, thankfully Andy Oliver is a good pal and has been incredibly patient with me. The Yearbook isn’t launching for a couple of months yet, so I’m getting this done and over to him before the week it out.
And now I’ve said it publicly, that means I have to get it done before end of day Sunday.
Right.. best get to work.
And that’s where I’m leaving you all! Keep an eye out next week for a far more understandable and non-tired blog with a finished comic, and some other good stuff.. And until then, have a good week/weekend – and don’t forget that this Saturday is the annual Free Comic Book Day! Go ahead and support your local comics store by checking out what they have to offer and picking some other cool stuff up whilst you’re there. You never know what you might discover!
So, another week has passed and I seem to be getting even less done with each week that passes. An excellent feeling, I assure you. I had a really fun week of redoing my entry for the Good Comics Dead Singers Society Vol. 3 zine, with a final number of four attempts and twenty-eight new grey hairs emerging from my head, I managed to get it done just in time for the deadline. If you’re a fan of this particular dead singer’s music then this may be obvious, but here’s a sneaky peek of one of the panels from this musical one-pager..
I still maintain it’s far from the best thing I’ve done and I’d really hoped it’d be a lot better. But, it’s not terrible, and sometimes you just have to put the pens/pencils/paints down and accept that this just wasn’t meant to be anything amazing. Sadly, especially after the numerous binned attempts, I’m glad for it to be over. Hopefully with some time away from it I feel a bit more positive towards it.
In other news, I’m back into the zone of writing the remainder of the short stories I’ll be publishing in a couple of months with Good Comics! I had gotten into the habit of figuring out a story and then writing > drawing > painting > editing it from start to finish all in one go (with food and sleep in between, I promise). But, now I have over half of the total pages mapped out I’m going to change tactics and write all the remaining stories now to fit in around what’s left. Getting the whole collection to flow with individual stories is going to prove challenging, but with half done I have a bit of an easier time to fill in voids now and adapt stories rather than trying to do it all at the end. Does that make sense? I hope that makes sense.
In other news, as a follow up to my winning of the Broken Frontier Breakout Talent Award 2016, Andy Oliver at Broken Frontier wrote an article detailing my comics journey from 2014 up to now. After a particularly bad week and not being very good at that whole ‘taking a break’ thing, it was really nice to read. You can peruse the full article here!
So, we’re now down to less than 24 hours of the Njálla campaign on Kickstarter and things are getting exciting! My palms are slowly getting a bit more clammy as I get that same anxious feeling I had when I launched The Red Road, putting something out into the world that I’ve so lovingly laboured over for months on end. There is something vaguely terrifying about putting new work out to the world, but thankfully(?) with University assessments and final deadlines approaching I don’t really have that much time to sit and think about it, I have a final degree classification to worry about too!
After last week’s long hours I managed to finish up painting the final ten pages of Njálla and get it all scanned in and tweaked, so the story is officially done! This week I’ve been working away on the surrounding pages of the story, the covers, and any hand-lettering that remains. I’m fairly on schedule, with the final pages being sent off to Comic Printing UK tomorrow afternoon. Panic! Also, my lovely backers will have received the schedule for production in their inbox’s this morning, and all is still on track for that..
Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to arrange something special, and I’m delighted to announce that the NN Café, part of the NN Contemporary Gallery in Northampton, is hosting a launch party for Njálla! On Saturday 4th June (two days after the online launch) I will be celebrating the success of the Kickstarter campaign as well as the launch of the comic online and in UK small press friendly comic shops, with drinks and good times. Huge thanks to Peter James Norman, contributor to Sneaky Business, who co-runs the NN Café and has helped me to make this launch happen. For more information and to RSVP to the event please visit the dedicated Facebook event page – all are welcome, so come and join in the fun and celebrate independent comics! I’ll be selling copies of Njálla as well as other goodies, and signing on request too – and depending how many beverages I have, my signings could become more and more abstracted as the night goes on!
Speaking of launches, this past Friday saw the long anticipated launch of the Broken Frontier Anthology and the Small Press Yearbook at Gosh! Comics in London! It was a fantastic night, with the six of us UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015 being all together for the first time ever. A whole host of back-up contributors for the Yearbook also attended, alongside creators from the Broken Frontier Anthology in a joint event with a wonderful atmosphere and a true showcase of the spectrum that Broken Frontier supports. Thank you so much to Gosh! for hosting the event, everyone who attended and especially those who asked me to scribble in their copies of the Yearbook. I won’t go overboard on the details as Broken Frontier posted excellent coverage including photography of the night from Mauricio Molizane De Souza (included in gallery below), but trust me, if you weren’t there you missed out.
I think that’s about it for now! I have rather a lot to do in the way of finishing touches for Njálla before I crawl into bed tonight.. Don’t forget, if you haven’t pledged yet you have until 9am Friday morning to do so, and pledges equal freebies! Check out the Kickstarter for more details. Next week I’ll be back with more Njálla news, plus with one assessment complete and preparing for the next one I’ll be potentially a bit greyer and a bit more tired by then too. Until next week!
So, another week has vanished.. Paint has been splashed, brushes have been accidentally dipped in tea, and the bags under my eyes have been growing ever darker. It must be nearing the end! That’s right folks, I’m painting up the last batch of pages for Njálla and my animation for the Creative Conscience Awards is complete and submitted, plus it’s almost May which means my final degree assessments are looming. That said, I don’t have time to panic as there’s too many exciting things going on!
So, that’s all rather exciting! In other news, I’ve been continuing to work away on painting the remaining pages of Njálla ready to send to print next week! The Kickstarter campaign is growing ever stronger, and I’m so grateful to each and every person who has contributed to help make Njálla a real, physical comic. Alongside all that painting and scanning business, I’ve been looking into ways of using the extra pledge money to help give back. Although I have some sneaky things up my sleeve, one thing I will say is that I’m looking at better, stronger packaging than what I’ve previously used for shipping, and other exciting things like that. It’s all go! But, I realise the finalities of postage and packaging aren’t really of interest to anyone but me, so here’s some more sneak previews of completed pages:
I also finished up the Njálla-themed colouring book this past weekend, FREE for all physical pledge backers – woohoo! The A5, 12-page colouring book has images and scenes from the comic, but I’ve also created some new work to go in as well, just to make it all the more exciting.That’s another thing crossed off the list and ready to be sent to print after the Kickstarter campaign has come to a close. The rest of this week is dedicated to finishing up the remaining six pages and working on the non-story pages, which will take me into next week.
Finally, I completed up my animation for the Creative Conscience awards earlier this week. After re-learning how to use Adobe After Effects I managed to do some tweaking and get it ready to convert to film, for submission. It’s certainly been a challenge to create an animation for the first time rather than just a short looping .gif, but it’s certainly been a lot of fun to create. The category it’s for is the Unilever Bright Futures campaign, so fingers crossed..
Phew, it’s been a busy week (month..year..three years)! I think that’s about it for now, I’d best get back to this painting malarky. Remember, there’s 8 days left to pledge for your digital or physical copy of Njálla plus freebies, so if you haven’t already you can pledge here. Have a good Wednesday, everyone. See you next week!
So, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of a week! I think somewhere between staring wide-eyed at my laptop screen in disbelief and taking a casual dance/sprint combo around the living room, I was barely able to comprehend what was going on during Wednesday through to Friday last week. In less than 10 hours (10 hours!) you wonderful people all helped to absolutely smash my project goal of £800 for the printing costs of my upcoming comic Njálla. Apart from confessing my undying gratitude to my backers, I have no idea how to portray exactly how amazed and thankful I am to each and every person who put pennies to their name to help support make this comic a real, physical being. By Thursday I put up a stretch goal which was also smashed by the end of the day, so most of the weekend was spent staring off into the distance trying to comprehend what sort of alternate reality I’ve been placed in. So thank you, THANK YOU, backers, friends and family who have all been real heroes here in helping me to publish this story.
Having covered her work so closely over the last year or so, I’ve observed firsthand Rozi Hathaway’s creative development in that time. Her growing confidence as a storyteller, that assured understanding of the mechanics of her chosen medium, and a willingness to experiment with genre and tone are all hallmarks of a practitioner with a commitment to immersing herself in all aspects of her craft.
But where her work truly stands out is that strand to her practice that concentrates on pensive, very human narratives. She has an astonishing ability to evoke an emotional response in her readership with little or no exposition, pulling her audience into the lives and experiences of her protagonists through both the deftest visual characterisation and that hauntingly empathetic atmosphere to her pages. It’s very much in evidence in The Red Road, in ‘Afloat’ in the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook, and in her slice-of-life tale ‘Rejsen’ in Dirty Rotten Comics #5.
As the goal of £800 has been reached, Njálla is going to print! Woohoo! This means that as the Kickstarter ends on Friday 6th May, I will have sent all the files over to Rich at Comic Printing UK who will be creating a physical proof copy for me to check over, and once that’s all fine and dandy he will be printing the run of 250 books to arrive at my door mid-late May. As my final university assessment is on Thursday 19th May I’ll be scurrying around like a woman on a mission until the following week, when all Kickstarter-backed orders will be posted.
In further exciting news, the online launch date is announced! On Thursday 2nd June Njálla will be available to buy online through my Etsy store, and in selected comic shops around the UK (to be announced nearer the time). So, if you have some long-term rivalry with Kickstarter or if you just fancy waiting, you’ll be able to get a copy of Njálla in just over 7 weeks.. I’d best get to work!
As I mentioned above, after smashing the project target in less than I day, I decided to put up a stretch goal to try and get some extra goodies out of the campaign for all my lovely backers. So, what are stretch goals..? A stretch goal is a funding target set BEYOND the original goal. The project is still very much complete and funded, stretch goals are just some fun extras that I can add in as a way of saying an additional thank you, in the form of physical goods! Those aforementioned physical goods are in the form of a FREE colouring book and sticker for all my backers! The colouring book is something fun; at 12-pages in length it will feature pages of lavvu’s, Arctic foxes, reindeer and more, with some additional Northern Sámi words and phrases in there too. Who doesn’t love a bit of casual colouring, whilst learning? Not to leave my digital PDF pledgers out, they will be sent a few pages that can be printed out and coloured in as well.
You can follow all the updates on the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook’s online release date via the usual channels of Facebook and Twitter, through the hashtag #BFSPYearbook, if you’re into that kinda thing. #Downwiththekids
I think that’s about it for now! Aside from excitedly running up and down, I have spent the last week painting away on Njálla, scanning in and dropping into the page templates to get it all ready for printing in a few weeks. Panic! I’ve never before had to tackle painting quite so many pages at once, but it’s all good fun and getting exciting to see how the pages will look when they’re printed.. I’d better crack back to it! I will be back as usual next week, so until then, have a good week all!
So, another week bites the dust and Laydeez do Comics has been and gone! It was possibly one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my feeble existence; standing in front of a room full of eager-eyed people actually wanting to hear what I had to say (or at least pretending to, anyway). Even with my neatly arranged cue cards I’m sure I probably missed something important, but overall it was a really fun evening – more about that shortly. In other news, university projects are getting busier than ever and in the next couple of weeks I’ll be starting to draw up the final pages of The Next Big Thing! I’m keeping my working title under-wraps for now, though the reveal will be coming shortly. I’m also debating at the moment whether to move the blog to a fortnightly effort instead of weekly for the duration of this term, just to give myself an extra bit of time to work on my incredibly long to-do list, BUT I’m still mulling it over. So, I’ll let you all know! Now, down to business..
As you may remember from last week, I spend Sunday 10th creating the window display at Gosh! Comics in readiness for the LDC night this past Monday. Somehow the week between doing the windows and turning up to talk went past like a lightening bolt! I settled onto the warm and cosy train to London on Monday night with an 300-man army of butterflies in my stomach – no, not some strange new recipe, just nerves – and bolted across to Soho to meet with Andy Oliver (Editor-in-Chief of Broken Frontier and Danny Noble (Munday Morning, Ollie & Alan) for a calming beverage before the evening’s fun began. Gosh! Comics were wonderful hosts yet again for the Laydeez do Comics evening, and there were many familiar and friendly faces bobbing about. Andy Oliver took the reins for the evening and spoke first about the wonderful work he does at Broken Frontier, and the small press/independent creator focus they look at compared to the largely mainstream comics industry. Next up was my turn, and armed with my carefully designed presentation I managed to bumble on for probably far less time than I was meant to – aside from shaking like a leaf the whole way through I probably spoke at lightening speed too. Agh! After a short break, the last speaker was Danny Noble who entertained us all with her honest and witty comics, whilst talking about her practice and how she uses panels in a really interesting and diverse way. Inspiring stuff! HUGE thanks to Keara and Wallis for having us, and everyone who came out to see us talk!
One of the main focuses of the evening was Andy Oliver’s announcements.. Sadly, after almost a year, the title of ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015‘ is being filed away and the new Six have been announced! Us 2015 lot are being flung into the wide open world with our belongings in a bindle and are shunted out in to the cold harsh realities of life. Or, something like that. The new Six have been announced at LDC and will be announced officially on Broken Frontier in the coming days. They’re a talented bunch!
In the second batch of wonderful news that was announced by the Patron Saint of Comics, the Broken Frontier Yearbook has been revealed! Here’s a snippet from the press release yesterday on Broken Frontier, which sums it up far more eloquently than I possibly could:
Last night at London’s Gosh! Comics a very special announcement was made to the sell-out audience at the Broken Frontier special edition of the monthly Laydeez do Comics meeting. We’re very excited today to share that news on the site with the extended BF readership.
Currently in pre-production, our inaugural Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook will be available in the early part of this year. A near 100-page publication, it celebrates the work of our ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015’ – Rozi Hathaway, Jess Milton, Danny Noble, Emma Raby, Alice Urbino and Adam Vian – in both colour and black & white. Each creator has contributed an 8-10 page story on the theme of “breaking frontiers” and interpreted that broad starting point with their own ever distinctive artistic voices.
A natural extension of a year’s worth of dedicated coverage of these six very talented creators, the Yearbook is the ultimate expression of this column’s philosophy of “unearthing the gems of the small press”, and of bringing the work of comickers we have championed to a far wider audience. In due course you will be able to buy the book both online and from certain UK stores. But the prime philosophy of the Yearbook is to provide a promotional showcase for last year’s participants in our ‘Six to Watch’ initiative. To that end we’ll be sending out copies to selected publishers, micropublishers, and comics commentators as we seek to raise the profile of 2015’s half dozen stars-in-the-making across the medium.
Follow the link to read all about it and even see a sample page from each of us! Which now means (for those of you avid readers who remember my ramblings) THE TOP SECRET PROJECT IS NO LONGER SECRET. WOOHOO! From May to September of last year I was working on this project, and although I could hint at it and show some images along the way, I couldn’t really say what it was for or when it’d be released. Low and behold, the 10-page silent comic which Andy kindly spoke of as my ‘best work to date’ will be released in coming months in the bumper Small Press Yearbook alongside the talents of Danny Noble, Emma Raby and more. Alongside the ‘Six’ are other top-name creators who have supplied work to support the project, being announced in the coming weeks – so keep an eye out on Broken Frontier’s Twitter and website for all the details.. Here’s a reminder of some of the work I created, and you can read more about the project from my previous blog post here.
With LDC behind me it’s now full-speed with University work in the run up to Easter (I know, it’s only January.. I have a very busy few months ahead). My dissertation needs finishing, the Next Big Thing needs drawing up, a couple of other competitions need doing, written assignment work needs completing, another commission needs doing, and somewhere between all that some kind of sleep would be marvellous. Oh, and I’m making a lávvu. More about that in a couple of weeks, though! For the meanwhile, here’s another sneaky peek of some development/practice figuring out the best composition before I start on the final pages. Exciting!
And that wraps it up for this week! Back to the grindstone for another week of fun-times, and I shall be back next week with hopefully some more bits ticked off my very large list and more things to show you. For now, over and out.