So, that festive time of year involving copious amounts of food is over and done, and 2016 is slowly ebbing away too.. Which means it’s time for the yearly round-up! 2016 has been an incredible year for me work-wise, and although 2015 made me pretty dizzy to look back over I think this year has been busier than ever.
Speaking of which, Njálla was pretty much the focal point of my year. From the ideas conception in August/September 2015, I worked on the comic up until May 2016 including the terrifyingly successful Kickstarter campaign which led me to be able to fund the whole print run without any worry about the financial side of things. With Njálla completed and the rest of my work pinned up to boards, I finished my final year of University and graduated with First Class Honours in Illustration – so I guess all the hard work paid off!
Another big highlight of this year has been the festivals; Comika and Small Press Day starting off the year, with Bristol Comic & Zine Fair and Thought Bubble finishing it up in spectacular fashion. Since spending more time behind a table and meeting more comics people I have the best time, and I can’t wait for what 2017 brings.
Waffling aside, here’s a nice bunch of pictures from my 2016, which say it far better than I can.
Event photos by Eileen Long – http://www.eileenlong.co.uk
And that’s where we’re up to now! With my new release with Good Comics scheduled for Spring 2017 and a couple of other smaller projects in the pipeline there’s not much time to relax in the next few months.. But here’s to another excellent year, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed my ramblings. See you on the other side!
Previously alluded to as The Next Big Thing, Njálla (pronounced nyaah-lah) is my latest self-published comic released online on Thursday 2nd June. The printing of Njálla was made entirely possible to to a successful Kickstarter Campaign. What’s it about? Well..
Njálla is an original comic story, based around the myths and legends of the Sámi people, indigenous to northern Europe’s Arctic Circle; which today includes parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. Lieđđi, a young Sámi girl, and her reindeer Unni end up on an unexpected adventure after coming face to face with the guovssahasat, the northern lights. Njálla is an atmospheric and magical comic for all ages, unearthing the legends of the Sámi through friendship, mystery and adventure.
Njálla is an obvious labour of love, respectfully crafted and diligently researched. It also embodies everything I have come to admire and enjoy about Rozi Hathaway’s comics over the last couple of years – their humanity, their empathy and their pure visual splendour. A stunning synthesis of unearthly mystery and endearing innocence, Njálla underlines once again the subtle potency at the heart of Hathaway’s craft.
There’s an image early on of two people sitting around a stove in a lavvu, the tents used by the Sámi, and the way Hathaway’s watercolours cast light and shadow is so effective. A heavily repeated motif is the use of circles. They are everywhere – in the lighting, the movement, the sky, the land, the interiors. They convey so many different things – the excitable energy of a child, the rough forces of nature, the Northern Lights, the enclosed space of a lavvu. It’s this natural, restrained quality that really stands out here – the minimal dialogue allows the images to tell the story, about a child, myths of the Sámi and the Northern Lights. Njálla is a confident, assured book, well worth tracking down.
Huge thanks to all of my wonderful Kickstarter backers who made this happen:
Claire Parmley / Anastasia Hiorns / Alan Henderson / Bridget / Andy Oliver / Chris Bates / Cecily Kennemore / James McLaughlin / Dave White / Ricky Miller / Mike Medaglia / YoMma / Zara / Alex Smith / Richard Redfern / Sueleen McQueen / MarineMonstress / Christina / David Ogley / Simon Wallis / Malcolm / Sandra Bates / Emma Raby / Sarah Crosby / Tim Wiltshire / Mattias Vermeersch / Martin Cooper / NB / Nor Azman / Len Ahgeak / Pippa Bailey / Nicola Edwards / Marlon Mapstone / Paddy Johnston / Rafael / Chris Welsh / Chiara Montresor / Conori Bell-Bhuiyan / Comichaus.com / Michael Huntley / Annie / Selina / Matthieu Boussard / Jordan Franklin / Amy Crawford / lyrik / Andrew Walsh / Tora Stridh / Thomas Henn / Joanna Turner / Billy Dayton / Te Hao Boon / xphiler06 / Lucy McLoughlin / Jordan / Dries Dewulf / Megan Smith / Rebecca / Chantel Beaven / Craig Galloway / Bo Rosén / Alex McNelis / Dimitri Mavroudis / Brittney / Ellen Power / Kim Schwanhaeusser / Rhiannon / iamshirtacus / Sonny Gibson / Jill / Cheryl Fisher / Johanna Wedin / Jasmin / Jennifer Sheer / Derek Freeman / Paul Jordin / Bernadette Siddall / Diane Fox / Milou / Beth Ray / Martyn B. Lorbiecki / Matthew Kuzio / Anje van der Veen / Maaike van Eekelen / Luke Marquart / Froze / Andrew Lee / zombiejojo / Rachel Harris / Douglas Harrower / Amber / JM / Bennett / Jessica Poppke / Peter Evans / Jonne / Carole Fletcher / Lily / Petra Pavlikova / Blake Sykes / Charlotte / Katie Whittle / Ben Dunn / Dave Green / Gius / Peter Hartman / Aninia Schwan / Lucy / Martin / Naomi Rose Johnson / Barbara Gabrys / Lara N / Alexander Gudenau / Ignasi Pizarro / Heidi Elliott / Tze-Wen Chao / Andrew Belding / Mike Meltzer / Markisan Naso / Tamara Slaten / Stephanie Wischhusen / Sam Chi Cken Evans / Vincent Laine / Kasele Deitz / Azucena Cauich / Mer / SecretBaroness / Kamila Tyran / Jeanette Wennerstrand / Chris Banser / Holly Brown / Caitlin Jane Hughes
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!
It’s been a very hectic couple of weeks getting everything together and preparing to host my comic on Kickstarter. Silly me, I thought it’d only take a couple of days.. Between writing about the project for the page, working out the budgets, drawing up titles/diagrams/bookplate designs/print designs, writing a script, filming my big head, and then staring at my big head for hours on end whilst editing the video, I think I may have lost a little sanity. It also took nearly two weeks, but I managed to get it finished up ahead of time to allow for a couple of days of quiet reflection before timidly releasing Njálla to the world.
Special thanks due to all those who put up with me seeking advice and wisdom for the Kickstarter element of this project. Having never tackled anything like this before I felt pretty lost at times! Thanks to comics friends, friends and family for all their input and help, and my ever patient partner (yes, you can see up his nose in my campaign video) for putting up with me talking about this non-stop.
So, the project! Well, if you’ve been keeping up with The Next Big Thing/Njálla then you know that the story is based around the Sámi. Here’s a bit more in-depth information about Njálla direct from my Kickstarter:
Njálla is an original comic story, based around the myths and legends of the Sámi people, indigenous to northern Europe’s Arctic Circle, which today includes parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Lieđđi, a young Sámi girl, and her reindeer Unni end up on an unexpected adventure after coming face to face with the guovssahasat, the northern lights. Njálla is an atmospheric and magical comic for all ages, unearthing the legends of the Sámi through friendship, mystery and adventure.
A relatively unknown culture, the Sámi ancestral history is believed to span thousands of years. I first discovered the Sámi when my partner Chris and I backpacked through parts of Scandinavia last August, spending a lot of time eating amazing food, walking miles and going to various museums and exhibitions. The more I researched and read about the Sámi, the more I realised how I wanted to bring elements of this culture into a comic – not only to enchant people, but also to give a brief insight into such a historic and interesting culture.
If successfully funded in the 30 day period from today, Njálla will be printed as an A5 (148 x 210 mm), 48-page full colour comic, in a limited run of 250 copies, perfect bound. All Kickstarter orders will be ready to ship around the end of May, with the date of release being in early June (specifics to be confirmed). Perfect for when you’re feeling a little too warm in the balmy humid English summer, you’ll be able to read about vast snow-covered lands.. What could be better? I’ve also tried to include a range of rewards beside the comic that span a range of price points and include some prints and originals. If you happen to be feeling incredibly generous and optimistic about my future popularity, original comic spreads are available as a reward too. I have some other rewards up my sleeves, and some nice stretch campaign ideas if the time comes!
In comparison to The Red Road, this time around my page count is far longer which has meant that I get a nice shiny perfect bound cover (with a spine, rather than stapled). I’ve spoken at length over the past few months with Rich at Comic Printing UK over what options I have, and how I could make this comic look the best as physically possible. Also, I spent some time last week coming up with designs for a limited edition bookplate which will be printed in a limited run of 100! Bookplates (otherwise known as ex libris) are a fairly historic practice, but more and more comics creators are opting for these small, high quality printed pieces in addition to their comics. Gosh! in London have a section dedicated to bookplates, some even created specifically for the store. So, y’know, I thought it best to join in the bookplate fun! All bookplates will be hand-numbered too, so you can hold your bookplate and envision the hand cramp that came along with lovingly writing each one out.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, when you pledge for your reward on the right hand column of the page – whether £3 for a digital PDF copy or £50 for an original with the printed comic, your pledge total (including postage) will not be taken from your bank account unless the project is successfully funded. So, if you pledge today, and the project never reaches its funding goal, not only will I go and weep in a corner never to brave the crowd-funding world again, but also the money will never leave your account. However, if at the end date of 6th May the project is successfully funded, and I run around the flat in a fit of excitement waving pages of comic, the money will come out of your account then. Good, isn’t it?
Phew. What a tiring experience! Since getting everything in place I’ve just continued working on the comic, mainly on pages surrounding the actual story like acknowledgements and more information, things like that. I’ve also been getting some promotion into motion, and then working out the practice painting so that I’m ready to rock and roll for the next 30 days and complete the painting! Painting a comic of this length will probably take the best part of a good week, week and a half maybe, but also I’m still working on the Unilever Bright Futures project I’ve mentioned previously, as part of the Creative Conscience awards which has had it’s deadline extended (phew!). Juggling these two large projects with the remainder of my uni work is going to be keeping me busy until… The end of June. Who needs rest though, right?
I think that’s about it for now! For all the information on the Kickstarter visit the link today, and see my big head bob about the screen as I forget what I’m supposed to be saying about twelve times. HUGE thanks to those lovely people who have backed so far today, including the first backer of the day being my comics buddy Sam! Who, coincidently, has a new comic coming out at the end of this month which you should all check out. Big big thanks also to everyone who has shared the project on social media, you are all super awesome. For now, I shall leave you all to bask in the wonders of Njálla, lavvu-pie-charts and badly edited videos. I shall be back next week with an update on how Kickstarter progress is looking after the first week, more work on Njálla as it reaches completion, and the rest! Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support. See you next week!