Salford Zine Library

2016 Reflections

Good afternoon ladies and gents!

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.

From CD artwork to competitions, the Small Press Yearbook to Sneaky Business, and all the way from graduating from University in the East Midlands to ending up in the North West. It’s been a busy one. The highlights of this year definitely include being so involved with Broken Frontier as one of the Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015. From creating my short story last year, the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2016 was announced right at the beginning of the year at the Laydeez do Comics event at Gosh! Comics, where I sweated my way through talking in front of an audience about my work, with Danny Noble and Andy Oliver doing a far better job. The launch in April was an incredible experience, with Gosh! Comics being filled to the brim with people here to look at Andy Oliver’s pride and joy, and the buzz remained well into helping out at Comiket and being asked to join in the Drawing Parade. Gosh! Comics has also been a stable feature of 2016 with the June Drink & Draw, and it’s neighbour Orbital Comics having some of us Six to Watch folks behind the table on Small Press Day, where Warren Ellis picked up a copy of Njálla and wrote about it in his newsletter.

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.

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!

 

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Merry and Bright

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

So, it’s very nearly December and even the bah humbug’s amongst us have realised that Christmas is almost upon us. I’ve had my first mulled wine of the year at the European markets here in Albert Square, whilst shoehorned into a corner amongst the Mancunian masses. There’s nothing quite like being uncomfortably sandwiched in between drunk strangers whilst trying to buy a bratwurst – that’s what Christmas is all about, right?

In some exciting news, the mail art I created for the Salford Zine Library‘s PENPAL exhibition that I mentioned last week is up on display! I popped to the Nexus Art Cafe last week to check it out for the first time, and I was pleasantly surprised to see my work there, alongside Alex Hahn‘s (Blop creator and continued Sneaky Business friend) submission too.

How cosy! Having never been to the Nexus Art Cafe before it was a really nice little cosy corner to find in the middle of the Northern Quarter, and I’ll definitely be heading back soon. It’s also conveniently right next to Manchester’s Travelling Man store! Although I didn’t manage to get any photos, Travelling Man Manchester now also has glittery copies of Ø alongside copies of Njálla and Sneaky Business vol. 2. So, pop on down and check out their selection of small press and mainstream comics if you’re in the area, then pop your feet up and read your new purchases in the Nexus Art Cafe next door. Perfect!

In other news, work has continued on the short stories collections I’ll be releasing in the Spring with Good Comics. After the year or more I’ve had of constantly creating something for either a submission or self-publishing, by the time I got to Thought Bubble at the beginning of this month I was all ready to take a long nap through winter and worry about creating something new in the new year. However, my brain doesn’t seem to shut off, and I got so excited at the thought of working alongside those Good Comics chaps that I’ve just been tackling this new collection story by story, piece by piece. I’m not sure how other people go about writing a collection of short stories, but aside from the ones I’ve written and am currently working on, I have no idea what the other ones will be yet. I think my brain currently only has space for one short story at a time, so I’m going with the flow and working hard to make this collection the best thing I’ve ever done, one bit at a time!

Honestly, there’s some bad habits I’ve gotten into in the past – mainly when feeling a bit rushed – in that I don’t refine my sketches enough or I don’t spend enough time working on poses and postures to make sure they’re absolutely correct. I guess it doesn’t help that I get a bit impatient at times, excited to move onto the next stage. But this time I’m actively making sure that all my pencil work is 100% before moving onto inking and painting, and I’m treating each short story the same way I treated Njálla – working on practice colours and tones, playing with size and composition, and trying to push my work to the next level.

It’s made for a lot of redrawing early on, and a lot of refining, but it’s only going to make everything I’m working on now stronger than anything before. It wouldn’t be right to be completely shroud my work in a veil of secrecy, so above are some sneaky shots on some of the things I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks! It’s going to be interesting to complete each comic I’ve worked so hard on and not be able to show anyone for such a long time, but all the hard work will pay off in the end.

Speaking of hard work, the speed at which I’ll be bashing out work will be decreasing shortly as I’ve finally rejoined the land of the working masses with a new job in the city! So, I hope you all haven’t gotten used to the amount of consistent work I’ve been making for the past 3+ years, as you and I are both going to be in for a bit of a shock. But, change is good and I’m excited. Hopefully this’ll also mean I’ll be far more efficient when I do get back to work on my comics… Instead of web-window shopping and getting lost down the research rabbit holes of the internet.

And, that’s where I leave you all for now! I shall be back next week with more progression news and some other bits and bobs, but until then have a good week everyone.

 

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Penpals, Penguins & Small Press

Good afternoon kind readers!

So, another week has vanished and it’s now almost December. When did that happen? All these Christmas adverts keep coming out and all I can think about is how I’m pretty sure it was October last time I looked.. Apparently not. It seems to be getting much gloomier day by day, and Manchester is living up to it’s stereotype of raining all the time – which would make you think that I’d managed to buy an umbrella by now instead of getting rained on all the time. Ha. Well. Maybe tomorrow.

A few weeks ago when I first moved up here I was doing some scooting around, looking for different creative endeavours I could get stuck into. Low & behold I re-stumbled across the Salford Zine Libary, who describe themselves as “a unique archive of self published materials, currently housed at Nexus Art Café on Dale Street in Manchester. It seeks to preserve and provide access to zines from around the world, as well as promoting zines and DIY culture through workshops, exhibitions and other events“. They had a call for submissions up for a Penpals themed mail-art exhibition, so in the blues-infested week of getting back from Thought Bubble when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, I wrote a little love story on an envelope and sent it off! I haven’t managed to get down to the Zine Library yet to see if my work has been selected to be up, but I’ll be getting down there as soon as possible to check it out. The exhibition runs until the end of the month, so if you’re in the area you should pop down and check it out!

Next up, I also spent some time in the recent weeks on a guest strip for Alan Henderson’s Penned Guins, which is his daily comic strip full of dad jokes, bad jokes and everything in between. There have been a few guest appearances in the past, most recently from my good friend of Good ComicsSamuel C. Williams. It took a while to single out a particular pun, but in the end I went with this one.. Which went up on Sunday 13th November!

Ha.. Penguins. What lovable oafs. It was an absolute pleasure to be a guest on Alan’s Penned Guins, and if you want to keep up with the comics you can keep up with them on Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram. There’s a lot to be said for being able to smile at daily gag strips, and I highly recommend you supplement your diet with them.

In other news, if you’ve been on Broken Frontier‘s Facebook or Twitter this week, you may have noticed that a guest piece I wrote for State of the Small Press Nation went up on the site! Andy Oliver kindly asked me whether I wanted to write an article a while back, to which is gratefully agreed and then took way longer than I should’ve done to actually get it back to him. Better late than never, my journey into small press is now up on Broken Frontier’s site, and you can read the article here. It was a bit strange to go back through my old blogs and pick out the highs and lows of my journey into comics, but hopefully my ramblings come of some use to someone.

Probably not, but you never know.

And finally! If you follow me on the array of social media channels then you may have noticed that I’ve released my 2016 Christmas card design! I opted for a more subtle, wintery design this year with the hare and the moon, with the card being available to buy on my Etsy store along with last year’s Christmas robin design, and all the usual comicy suspects. Postage for UK orders runs right up until mid-December, so have a gander and order early to make sure you’re not disappointed!

Anyway, that’s about it for now! I’ll be back as usual next week with more progress on my short stories due for release with Good Comics next year. Until then, I hope you all have a good week – and if you’re in England, keep dry, yeah?

 

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