Independent Comics

Graduates Galore

Good afternoon ladies and gents!

So, it’s the middle of the week again and I think I’ve just about recovered from a busy week back and forth to London last week. Between D&AD New Blood Festival and Small Press Day it was a pretty active week, though I have made up for it so far this week by realising yesterday evening that the only time I’d left my desk in three days was to eat, wash, sleep, and walk to the post box. Oh, the life of a freelancer.

First up, D&AD! The New Blood Festival acts as a showcase to the best talents coming out of design courses from Universities across the UK, and I went down to Shoreditch for the open evening on Tuesday 5th and the entirety of Thursday 7th to represent my portfolio and work on display. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a design festival, but it was very busy and full of keen graduates; having been used to manning tables of my own work and stock at comics festivals over the past year or so it was very surreal to only have one small area for my work. Although I didn’t manage to get any pictures, here are some from fellow graduate and graphic designer Megan Hughes:

In other news, it was the first ever Small Press Day on Saturday! As I mentioned last week, Small Press Day is an “An idea born on twitter led to a series of nationwide events in a matter of weeks. The reaction and the support of our aim (to spotlight the possibilities of small press publishing via store-based events and signings, in the first instance, and to bring its practitioners to the far wider audience they deserve) has been absolutely phenomenal. Join us on 9th July for the inaugural Small Press Day at one of the stores listed on the map below and meet the next generation of superstar comic creators, zine makers, and DIY micro publishers.” (From SmallPressDay.co.uk). Broken Frontier have rounded up the day in their expansive article from yesterday and can probably say it all far better than I can, so check that out for the full details. I didn’t get a chance to do much of the circuit, though I was lucky enough to be a part of the Broken Frontier ‘Six to Watch’ signing table with Editor-in-Chief of Broken Frontier Andy Oliver, and comic artists Emma Raby and Jey Levang at Orbital Comics.

Albeit a short spell behind the table, it was a lot of fun and I can’t wait for Small Press Day next year. Long live comics! Thanks SO much to all the lovely staff at Orbital Comics for being awesome and having us join in the signing fun! As a part of the promotion leading up to the event I also wrote a small recommendation piece for Broken Frontier, amongst other creators, championing other small press work. You can read what we all said here.

In a very welcome relief from a particularly low-spell, I was also alerted by my comics buddy Sam that Njálla had been featured in Warren Ellis’ newsletter Orbital Operations! Warren Ellis. Warren Ellis! How amazing is that?!

warrenellis

You can sign up to his newsletter here, or visit his website here. I’m still happy-dancing around to this news, although I should probably keep that to myself.

In other news, in the efforts to continue expanding my illustration portfolio and trying out new things I’ve been working on a new and exciting week-long project. As some of you avid readers may remember, last summer I spent two weeks backpacking across the main cities of Scandinavia with my better half Chris. A whole load of the research from this trip was fed into Njálla, which took around nine months from start to finish including the Kickstarter and launch. However, it wasn’t all just Noadi’s and lavvu’s, there is a whole wealth of experiences and travels locked up in my head that I’ve been wanting to play with. And, given that my three strongest passions in life are, 1) Drawing, 2) Travelling, and 3) Kettle Chips, I figured that I needed to start combining the first two in some form other than comics. So, let there be maps!

To begin with I’ve picked the three main cities we spent the most time in; Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. From here I’ve designed maps encompassing the main attractions, and I’m just seeing how I can turn these into awesome pieces that could possibly be used as prints, for articles, or more! Above are some of the inks previews, but I’m *almost* finished.. So, keep an eye out next week for the grand reveal. If I never mention it again, it’s because it all went horribly wrong.

Finally, after an enquiry email into Sneaky Business submissions and artists rights I have updated the submissions page! Don’t forget you still have over two months to submit 1-2 page comics to the second volume of Sneaky Business, and I am so excited to see what lands in my inbox between now and then. As I said above, LONG LIVE COMICS! Any-who, that’s about it for now and the kettle is calling me (sadly not the chip variety). Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

x

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The End of the Line

Good afternoon lovely folks,

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.

Huge thanks again to Andy Oliver, Editor-in-Chief of Broken Frontier for creating the idea for the Small Press Yearbook and putting it together into the wonderful book it is. Also thanks to those who helped along the way, Dave of Avery Hill Publishing and Rich of Comic Printing UK, amongst countless support from others. You’re all wonderful! As well as being able to buy the Yearbook from Orbital and Gosh!, you can also purchase your copy online from the dedicated web store! You can read more about my work in the Small Press Yearbook with the search tag ‘Top Secret Project’ or from the dedicated page here. And just above you can see a preview of Afloat in all it’s glory.

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!

x

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February Fun

Good morning ladies and gents!

So, it appears February has arrived, as has the week of my NN Residency alongside my fellow students from the University of Northampton. I shall be taking a break from all comic and other projects business to create my tent/lavvu, and then proceed to hide in it when times of extreme stress arise. As of today, we’re collectively gracing Northampton town centre with our talents and wit at the NN contemporary project space and gallery on Guildhall Road. Different things are going on each day, and if you’re local to the area you should definitely pop round and pay us all a visit.

As I’m in all day tomorrow, I’ve taken some time to make sure I get the basics of my structure prepared today to avoid any unsightly setbacks.. As, you know, I’ve never made a Sámi lavvu before. I know what you’re thinking: who HASN’T made a lavvu?! Although I may well be behind the times I’m using my highly refined organisational skills and coloured markers to be able to recreate the structure in situ at the project space tomorrow, and have my measurements and calculations ready to cut out my fabric for the inner and outer shell. Exciting! Although I mentioned it before, thanks to my wonderful parents for collecting sticks out of their garden for me and helping with the fabric, otherwise I may have been arrested by now for chopping off branches at the local park with a bread knife.

As I mentioned last week, this lavvu I’m creating is related to my upcoming comic release, so far with the name under-wraps and being referred to solely as The Next Big Thing (not in an egotistical way, in a ‘this is MY next big thing to come out’ way, just to clarify that I’m not an uppity plonker). Progress has been going well, and with my schedule set for the next two months I’ll be drawing at least 4 pages per week alongside other final projects for my degree. Busy, busy! I completed my six prelude pages last week and later on today I’ll be continuing progress on pages 7-10, with the hope of making a head start on the next four too. Things are really starting to get moving, and in the coming weeks I’ll be announcing my fundraising campaign for the project!

 

I’m not sure how aware people are or not, but smaller print runs are cheaper initially, but in the long term far more expensive than getting a bigger print run to begin with. For The Red Road I tentatively printed 100 and ran out in 9 months, meaning my costs were far more than they needed to be – whoops! This time, I’m learning from my errors and planning to create The Next Big Thing in a print run of 250 copies. Unfortunately for me, it’s going to be a rather expensive venture, and after some umm-ing and ahh-ing I decided my best course of action is to crowd-fund the total online. This means I’ll be offering not only an option for the book, but also prints, originals and other limited edition goodies that won’t be available after the release in Spring/Summer of this year. So, keep an eye out for my announcement on this soooon… On here, on Facebook, Twitter, all the usual channels!

 

Finally, in very exciting news Down to Your Skivvies Issue #2 has been printed and is almost ready to go! In case you missed it last week, DTYS is being launched this coming Saturday 6th February at the NN Project Space from 4-6pm in Northampton, so come on down and say hello if you’re out and about! This issue is all about writing, writers and the arts, and we have some very special work in there including an interview from a lovely talented gentleman and a short story from a skilled friend of mine currently studying in Liverpool. Crossing the north/south divide one zine at a time! Here’s a sneaky view of the pile of paper I have yet to fold and staple, with the front cover and font designed by yours truly. DTYS #2 will be available to purchase online from Monday 8th February from both Zara’s and my online Etsy shops.

 

I think that’s about it for now! I’d best get back to my fabric trimming business, which is quite a nice change from the usual work of being stooped over a desk for hours on end. Now I’m stooped over fabric, huzzah! I shall be back next week with more updates from The Next Big Thing and some lovely launch photos from Saturday afternoon at Skivvies. And hopefully a successful lavvu! Until next time..

x

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Hello, October

Good afternoon ladies and gents!

So, with a sweep of windy and rainy weather we are now knee-deep in October. University has thrown me into the cold, harsh realities of becoming a final-year student, and with an entire eight months of work laying in front of me it’s all to easy to be intimidated. However! Now I have unshackled the responsibilities of part-time paid shelf-stacking work I am feeling somewhat stressed but also somewhat Zen. I will survive this year. I will. (I hope) -sob-

After a small editorial brief which will conclude next week, most of the work I’ll be producing is long-term projects. With that in mind, I will shortly be taking off my top secret cape! Meaning, you can expect a lot more of the work-in-progress kind of posts from me, along with quiet-yet-public-mental-breakdown posts and drunk-on-camomile-tea posts. Although I have to give a fair amount of concentration to all projects and briefs this year, the main focus of the next eight months is The Next Big Thing. My yet-to-be-named longer length comic will be the final push, incorporating everything I’ve learnt over the past two and a half years since I really started my comics career with HOAX: Psychosis Blues, up until the Top Secret Project which is due to be revealed next month.

First things first, this past rainy Monday I headed on down to The Big Smoke for half a day to visit the bees knees of comics shops! Sneaky Business is now available at both Orbital Comics and Gosh! Comics in London – yay! Don’t forget that Sneaky Business is still available from my online Etsy shop for just £2, perfect for those people who have everything, yet you still need to get them something for Christmas. Cuh, you know, THOSE people. Awkward souls.. Anyway, whilst I was in Gosh I dropped off the final five copies of The Red Road in a proud yet slightly sad moment. My children have flown the nest, and are all out there in the great wide world! So, that’s it folks. All one hundred copies are gone, with a few remaining at Gosh!, Travelling Man in Manchester (and last time I checked, there was one copy left at Nostalgia & Comics in Birmingham).

Final Page Image

Do not fear, though; Bear, Coyote and Lark are far too special to disappear forever. Keep an eye out on my social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) over the next couple of weeks for some exciting news, and of course here on the blog you’ll get all the insider gossip too!

November is turning out to be a pretty exciting month, with Thought Bubble on the horizon and Top Secret Project’s grand reveal.. and now some The Red Road news? Well, who needs Christmas! On that note, time to get back to the grind! Don’t forget to back the Nepal Art Aid Anthology if you haven’t already – the clock is ticking. For now, as always, over and out.

x

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Top Secret Project

Good morning you lovely people, you!

So, it appears to be autumn. I’m not quite warm enough, University is looming once more and my list of jobs to do before third year starts is slowing depleting.. Though I keep thinking of things to add to it, which doesn’t help. Thankfully, stress is low and my stocks of camomile tea are high, so here’s to a good few weeks before the teeth-grinding, alcohol comforted, crying into sketchbooks era of Third Year begins.

Amongst the delights of laughing at my own history of terrible drawings last week, and celebrating the wonders of MancsterCon, you may have seen mentions of the Top Secret Project having reached completion. Now, the Top Secret Project started back around May, though it still feels like a blur of thinking and drawing, with the final painting of my 10 pages taking a week to complete. I still can’t divulge any more details about the Top Secret Project (in case you hadn’t already guessed from the title), but if you can all hold onto your hats for just a couple more months, all will be revealed… For now, though, here are some of the final images; from final inks to varying stages of painted completion. I’m still resting in that uncomfortable zone of “is-this-actually-terrible-and-people-will-laugh-at-me-and-I’ll-have-to-change-my-name-and-become-a-hand-model-and-move-to-a-village-and-hide-forever”, but I’ve come to realise that the fears and worries are a good thing. Emotional investment equals fear of other peoples opinions, and emotional investment means I’ve done the best I can. So, let’s just hope it’s not a flop.

Similarly to The Red Road, I drew all my pages out in pencil, went over them in fancy ink pen, and painted them in varying shades of gouache. Unlike The Red Road, however, I drew everything 100% larger than it’s due to be printed; it’s something my lecturers at University kept telling me I should do to improve my figure drawing, and I actually listened. I’ve been drawing double the size of print since Rejsen, with my comic in Sneaky Business also being double the size of print too. I’m not sure if it’s making me a better illustrator/artist or not, but it works well enough and doesn’t take any extra time.

The one thing I did do different this time, is that I worked on all the pages from rough form on separate paper first, then once the pencils were done-ish I used the light-box to draw everything up on the final fancy paper in pencil again, tightened it all up and inked. The good thing about doing it like this, is that the paper wasn’t left with a multitude of rubbed-out mistakes, and no pencil indents too. I IS LEARNING, LIKE. But yes, with every new project comes a new set of wisdom, and the completion of the Top Secret Project has left me feeling comfortable in the set of processes I have for my upcoming Final Major Project at University (cue: fear).

Last week also saw the review of Down to Your Skivvies #1, by Broken Frontier in Andy Oliver’s new Zinewatch feature! DTYS#1, created by Kamala Roberts, Zara Ward and myself earlier in the year is about celebrating women in the arts, and though #2 is in the making, it’s great to have a little boost with this review – thanks Andy! You can read his review of DTYS here, and purchase a copy on Etsy, here.

Old school zine-style in presentation, Down to Your Skivvies! is an eclectic mix of material that, nevertheless, retains a consistent thematic approach and voice.
– Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier.

Aside from this, the past week has actually been pretty busy with non-work related things, although a couple of lovely new shiny projects have come my way which will give me plenty to do this week, along with that damn pre-uni, ever growing check-list. So, I shall leave you all rest-assured that I am continuing my delicate balance of staying warm, drawing lots, and doing my very best not to go into hibernation mode. I am off on a few day escape to Amsterdam next week so I will be back with my blog on Friday instead of it’s usual mid-week presence, but picture me happily cycling around canals in the rain whilst stuffing my face full of poffertjes and wheels of gouda. Until next week!

x

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Return of the Blog

Good afternoon ladies and gents,

So, it’s been a while! Two weeks of adventuring around Norway, Sweden and Denmark had a wonderfully calming and refreshing effect, with the 8-10 miles of walking a day leaving me with a svelte lady Viking figure. My partner and I had a wonderful time, it was physically tiring at times but the amount we saw with only a couple of days in each city is pretty remarkable. And, even better, I have LOTS of photos and ideas mulling around in my break for The Next Big Thing..

Mt Fløyen – Bergen, Norway.

Before I left for the Scandi-lands, I left you all with the visions of Sneaky Business zine and what was to come. Well, last week I picked up a lovely box of Sneaky Businesses from the local printers and pre-order is officially open! Andy Oliver from Broken Frontier kindly reviewed Sneaky Business for me, and you can see what he says here!

There’s something incredibly appealing about the almost ephemeral zine-like approach of Sneaky Business; something smaller scale that, nevertheless, acts as a concise showcase for a number of self-publishing talents in one affordable and welcoming package.” – Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier review of Sneaky Business.

Sneaky Business is now available for pre-order from my Etsy store, with official launch this coming Saturday 29th August at MancsterCon!

Talking of MancsterCon, it’s now only three days to go until the event itself! I’m really excited to be attending as a seller rather than a viewer this year, and the organisers kindly have adopted me as an honorary Northerner to Manchester’s celebration of indie sequential art in the North West. There are a whole host of events going on between 10am-5pm, and if you’re in Manchester you should definitely pop along and say hello! I’ll also be sitting alongside Tom Ward, Chris Welsh, Andrew Tunney and Debbie Jenkinson on the “So you want to get into comics?” panel! Here’s what they say about it..

“We’re all here because we love indie comics, but how do you actually become an indie comics artist? Where do you start from? What’s the mark of success (or failure for that matter)? What exactly is a non-repro blue pencil? These talented, award winning indie comic artists reveal their secrets and bestow some advice for the up and coming comic artist.”

Should be fun! If there’s one thing I can talk about to no end, it’s my own work. Because, y’know. It’s all I do. So in case you’d forgotten, MancsterCon is this Saturday 29th August 2015 at the Salford University, Media City campus in Salford Quays, Manchester. Pre-holiday I’d also been busy ordering new supplies and goodies, so hopefully it’s a really successful day for all of us.

 

In other news, in my last update before holiday I talked about my Top Secret Project! Low and behold, in three days I managed to fully ink all nine pages and spend my evenings with an ice pack on my wrist – but I did it! Hurray! On return from the lands of blondes and Vikings, I’ve been hard at work painting the pages up, so here are some more sneaky progress shots from my current work.

 

 

The deadline remains as 1st September, so I have my work cut out to finish this and prepare for MancsterCon this weekend! But it’s a really exciting project, and although I’m nervous as to how it’ll be received I’m also excited to see it finished, bound and in people’s loving arms.

Finally, I was thrilled to arrive home last week to a shiny copy of Dirty Rotten Comics sitting on my desk! Don’t worry, the postman didn’t break into my home, my well trained flatmate carefully positioned it away from any pots of paint and water containers. It’s been a wild ride to see my work in print, from the first time in June 2014 with HOAX, to my first self published works in The Red Road earlier in the year. The feeling of pride and excitement never dwindles to see my work in print, almost more-so when hand-picked by someone else. Thank you so much to the guys at Dirty Rotten Comics for putting Rejsen to fame! My dreams were made even more so by being highlighted as one of the top comics in the anthology by Richard Bruton at Forbidden Planet and Andy Oliver at Broken Frontier;

“And finally, last but certainly not least, Rozi Hathaway. Her ‘Rejsen‘ tells a simple 2-page tale of meeting up, of waiting, of longing, of counting the days. It’s a fragment thing, each panel disconnected from the text that recounts the reason the woman is dragging a case around a railway station, but the interaction of text and Hathaway’s lovely artwork is spot on…” – Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet Blog

Rozi Hathaway – another of that now legendary six – also goes the slice-of-life route with her account of a long-distance relationship. It’s a beautifully personal piece that has a haunting, almost lyrical quality to it – the weary passage of time and the inhospitable nature of public transport fading into insignificance in a heartwarming, joyous final panel.” – Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier

 

Success! Though I shouldn’t get too used to these kind things people say; it’s coming up to a month until my third year of University starts, and I need to be prepared to be thoroughly verbally destroyed by several lecturers whilst weeping into my fifth coffee of the day. However, I have a month of peace and quiet until all hell breaks loose and I wonder why I spend £40k on a degree. And peaceful, quiet and busy it shall be. Until next week!

x

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