Mental Health in Comics

New Website, New Comic!

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

So, I made another comic. Things have been fairly busy once again since I completed my sci-fi themed comic Lost & Found. I will admit that I took a couple of days to wind down and do silly adult things like clean the apartment and tidy the mounds of drawings and paperwork that had taken over my desk. Anywho, I decided to try another test-run comic in a limit of only one page format this time. The aim was to submit my one-pager to Off Life, which is the UK’s only street press comic. You can read all the issues here. And, this is how they describe themselves;

“We publish a magazine that’s full of short comics from today’s best artists, and distribute free-to-read in bars, galleries, coffee shops and online. Our aim is to provide a platform for up-and-coming talent while opening comics to a whole new audience. Over our past nine issues we’ve featured comics from some of today’s best creators, including: Jack Teagle, Kristyna Baczynski, Kyle Platts, Ana Galvan, Warrick Johnson-Cadwell, Robert Ball, Dan Berry and Joe List.

Off Life accept submissions between 1-4 pages, but I’ve been trying to push myself into shorter stories recently and I figured one sole page is definitely a challenge. So, after being somewhat inspired not only by my own thoughts of seeing my friends glued to their phones, and also seeing slightly more diluted qualities in myself, AND from reading the cold-turkey-social-media-quitting-experiment of my friend James (which is a witty and interesting read, I definitely recommend it) I made this comic.

 

One-page entry for Off Life!
One-page entry for Off Life’s bi-monthly publication

As I was in Manchester this past weekend and I forgot to pack my paints, I had to digitally colour the comic – which is not my favourite way of doing things. I can never quite seem to make it work for comics.. Boba Fett and the snowboard design seemed to work great, but my style of drawing for narrative doesn’t seem to suit digital colouring. Oh well, learning curve strikes again! At some point I will probably colour it in my usual style, but for now, and for the deadline I had it was submitted like so. Feel free to drop me a comment and let me know what you think! In other news, I had an absolutely lovely afternoon on Saturday at MancsterCon! Held in the Northern Quarter of Manchester, MancsterCon is a voluntarily run event bringing together the best of the independant sequential art scene in the North West. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to all the events for the weekend, but I did get to see Pauline Sometime give a presentation of the portrayal of mental health in comics over the past few decades. Although she stated that it was a brief snapshot over the ages, it was still an incredibly interesting talk and has given me comics and names to look at for future reference. I also had a perusal around the stalls of various creatives, the highlights being picking up Girl & Boy by the fiercly talented Andrew Tunney, and Merrick the Sensational Elephantman by the creative team that is writer Tom Ward, artist Luke Parker and letterer Nic J Shaw.

 

L: Girl & Boy    R: Merrick Comic
L: Girl & Boy R: Merrick Comic

I really enjoyed both of these. Girl & Boy definitely appealed to my love of black and white comics, though I haven’t draw anything purely black and white for a while now it definitely still has a place in my heart. I also really love the way Andrew Tunney made the rain in his images, really beautiful. Nice guy, also! Definitely looking forward to whatever he has coming out next, I had to peel myself away from the stunning prints he was selling. Merrick, The Sensational Elephant Man appealed to me with great colour palette used, and from reading it thoroughly tonight I was cracking up in some parts of it, and feeling empathy for the characters in other places.  Some of the hidden gems in the panels are absolutely brilliant, there’s a particular panel on the first page which isn’t obvious to begin with, but I couldn’t stop laughing at. My hamster must think I’m crazy! I shall be eagerly awaiting issue #2, it’s great work and I definitely recommend it.

You may have also noticed that I now have my own website. Yippee! The website I had previously set up through webs.com two months ago was just an epic waste of time. To begin with, their free package is incredibly limited in comparison to what I was used to with Blogspot, and also their blogging set up is absolutely terrible. I came home on Sunday to a message telling me that I’d almost reached my maximum storage, and that was the last straw, so thanks to my computer-whizz partner I’ve set up this site which is MUCH better. Ahh, I can tag blogs again! So, after getting this all set up and the Webs.com blogs transferred across, I’ve celebrated by ordering new business cards as my previous ones were horrendously out of date. Exciting! I also have a few new projects next on the agenda, so keep an eye out for progress from those.

Oh, and before I forget! If you would like to subscribe to my blogs and have them arrive in a nice shiny package directly to your inbox, you can do so at the bottom of any of the pages on this site, and you can find it on the left hand side. There are also other nifty things there to have a look at, so mooch around and let me know what you think. For now, over and out. x

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Back to Reality

So, the fun of the HOAX Psychosis Blues launch is well and truly over, as I slump begrudgingly back into reality. Not that it’s all bad, mind you, just not quite as glamorous (though struggling with bags of Aldi shopping could be glamorous if I tried really, really hard…).

It was a fantastic day in Manchester on Saturday, starting off at Travelling Man selling books pre-launch and doing some signing. Out of the ten total illustrators there were four of us on the day, Julian HanshawHannah BerryIan Jones and myself, plus writer/creator/all-round-supertalent Ravi Thornton. I admit, I felt like maybe I was in some sort of surreal dream sat next to such talented and lovely people, but thankfully nerves only got the better of me a couple of times (and hopefully no one noticed!!). The feedback from people who’d already seen the stage show was fantastic, making it all the more exciting for the final run that night. After an interlude of great food with my better half, we were back at the Royal Exchange Theatre for the final show of HOAX My Lonely Heart; the performance was incredibly moving, with Tachia Newell and Olivia Sweeney portraying Rob and Helen. The live music soundtrack from Minute Taker from the side of the stage was a beautiful addition, and the looming presence of Rob’s illness (played by Stephen Myott-Meadows) gave a really sinister feel. The feeling of watching someone mentally unravel in front of my eyes is something I won’t be forgetting for a while.Read the 4* review here! Following the stage show we all piled into Sandinista Bar’s lower floor for the after-party and further signings. And, after a great speech from Andy Oliver of Broken Frontier, and a heartfelt, moving speech from Ravi we all settled in for a night of good company.

So there we are! HOAX Psychosis Blues is published and available for purchase direct from Ziggy’s Wish. It’s on a limited run of 1000 First Edition copies all signed and numbered by the author, and sales from book go towards supporting mental health charities

A small selection of team HOAX! L-R: Myself, Ravi Thornton, Ian Jones, Hannah Berry and Julian Hanshaw
Andy Oliver doing his thing!
Ravi’s moving speech of thanks to everyone involved.
HOAX: Psychosis Blues

So what have I learnt? HOAX as a whole has taught me many things, one of which being caffeine abuse, but in relation to Saturday I have learnt a very important lesson: People will ask in future “Can you draw something too!” in a book when signing, and I really, really need to think of something to fallback on. Needless to say there are a couple of awfully drawn butterflies in people’s books due to my lack of preperation and inability to focus under direct pressure. Oops! There is still lots to learn.
For now, that’s it! x

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HOAX: Psychosis Blues

There’s one creator I haven’t mentioned yet and that’s newcomer Rozi Hathaway who illustrates the last poem. ‘A Load Lifted’ acts as a coda to HOAX Psychosis Blues and makes touching use of one of its recurring motifs as Rob’s story closes in a moment of final release. It’s a pivotal segment and Hathaway imbues it with a majestic sense of grace and liberation; tragedy evolving into a kind of spiritual emancipation. It’s visual storytelling that is assured in poise and confident in technique – an artist to keep an eye out for I feel.

– Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier – Full article here.

HOAX: Psychosis Blues is a graphic memoir by Ravi Thornton, telling the story of her brother Rob’s decline into schizophrenia. In an incredibly moving tale, the story is told through chapters and poems, illustrated by ten different artists including Bryan Talbot, Karrie Fransman and Hannah Berry.

Available to order here


Proceeds from HOAX: Psychosis Blues go towards supporting mental health charities (for more information please visit Ziggy’s Wish)

Also available to buy at Page 45, Travelling Man and Gosh! Comics.

To read more about the project as a whole please visit http://www.ravithornton.com/hoax

(Many updates from this time can be found over at my old blogspot account)

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