Breathing Space

Good afternoon wonderful readers!

So, it’s time to temporarily relax a little. Formative assessment at Uni is over as of yesterday (as in, the important non-marked one before the REALLY important marked one in May), and the long Easter weekend is on the horizon.. A magical time consisting of three days away from my desk in the northern lands of Leeds drinking cider and eating cheese. Wonderful stuff. Although this one assessment is completed, the work is far from over! Having spent two days collating my work for presentation I’m eager to get back to working on The Next Big Thing and finishing up the remainder of my other project work.

This week I’m also getting to work on my Kickstarter campaign! As I mentioned last week, the launch for my Kickstarter will be on 6th April, so I have two weeks to film and edit a charming video persuading you all to back this project, for the good of mankind.

Funding Campaign3

This is the first project I’m trying to raise funds for through crowdfunding, so it’s an interesting experience to have to wave my face in front of a camcorder when I’m not particularly the most camera-friendly person these days. Back in those 2000’s Myspace days, now that was another story! But now, with age comes a resentment with most forms of camera implements being thrust in my face, unless of course I force it just so family members online can remember what I look like whilst hiding away in my drawing cave. But, regardless of this I will be gracing the screen. According to lots of online-people, crowdfunding pages with videos are far more successful than those without, due to people wanting to know who they’re supporting. So there you have it, taking one for the sake of this comic.

Before working on all the assessment business took over for a few days, I spent some time gathering together my work and photocopying and scanning everything. The photocopies of all the pages are for practice painting – getting a feel for the colour palette before I take to the originals, because I’m a sensible soul like that. I also, before even reaching for my paintbrush, worked on some really terrible digital rough colouring with the scanned pages. I’m not going to show you those, because they look awful – they’re just something I use for reference in working out the colours per spread and how they work together as progressing through the book. Below on the right is also an exciting new development; I printed the uncoloured pages that I’d scanned in, to size and in order to make a little booklet with the correct number of pages to work out the remaining, non-story pages. How exiting! This means for the first time I have a readable copy of the comic which I entrusted my loving partner to read to see what he thought now it was all together. I heard a few giggles, so I’m taking that as good news!

In other news, work has progressed on the Unilever Bright Futures Competition I’ve mentioned a few times before. I realise updates on this particular project have been few and far between, but as it’s my first longer-length animation I’ve been working through it in a methodical fashion and finished up all the pencil work last week. It’s not much to show yet, looking primarily like a stack of 64 pieces of A5 paper with a pencil drawing on each.. However, the painting will be the turning point of it all. Here’s a bit of a look at 9 of the 64 frames being used for this animation, and a snapshot of the colour palette I’ll be working with. Creative Conscience have actually extended the deadline from the 7th April to the 28th, so it gives me a bit more breathing space to make the animation work digitally. As it’s all pretty new to me I’m hoping I have some beginners luck and it all comes together nicely. Fingers crossed!

Finally, I spent a little time yesterday afternoon winding down from assessment by making this little Easter Bunny. Or, as I learnt in Danish, Påskeharen. It was fun little animation to work on – so I hope you all enjoy it too! So on that note, I hope those of you who can enjoy a four-day weekend enjoy it, and those of you who will still be working get extra lovely chocolatey treats to make it worthwhile! I’d better hop back to it – until next week!

Easter-Bunny-gif2

x

 

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The Next Big Shake-Up

Good morning ladies and gents!

So, it’s mid-March already. When did that happen? You’ll have to forgive my lack of an update last week as I came down with a rather nasty cold/flu type thing which had me floored for the most part of a week. I don’t think I’ve been that ill for so long in quite a few years, but I can assure you being healthy again feels amazing! It actually forced me to have at least four days of doing no work as I could barely see straight let alone do anything else, so I’ve had the joy of coming back to everything vaguely fresh-eyed and brimming with animal knowledge from being propped up in front of David Attenborough documentaries.

One large part of work off my plate is my dissertation, which I finished up and submitted on Monday. Woohoo! I had a pretty good time with my dissertation; it was an interesting subject and I planned and researched a lot of it early on in September/October time. Themed on mental illness as portrayed in contemporary graphic novels, it’s right up my alley and hopefully it gets me a good grade. Now that dissertation business is out the way I’m down to just two main projects, the Creative Conscience awards which I’ll post about when it’s a bit more finished, and.. The Next Big Thing!

As of Monday evening I finished drawing up and inking all 34 pages of story for The Next Big Thing, which is super exciting news – Yay! Although the hard work is far from over, with the next tasks on my list being to scan all the pages in to practice my colour scheme within Photoshop, and at the same time photocopy all the pages so that I can practice colours with paint, and then only when both tasks are complete and I’m happy then I paint my originals. All in all I estimate that this task will take me up to after Easter, into early-mid April. It’s a lot of paint!

I’ve also drawn up and inked the outside cover, but things like the inside pages which don’t contain the story but may have bits of information and title pages, those also need doing. Having never worked on a book of this length before it’s been a pretty long process, especially with having to only work on this for 1-2 days a week whilst working on a load of other projects and preparing for the upcoming Degree Show in June, but it’s starting to feel like the end is in sight!. Especially as I’ve picked the date for my funding..

I can happily announce that my Kickstarter campaign for funding the printing costs of this will begin on Wednesday 6th April! Mark it in your diaries ladies and gents, as for 30-days I will be offering incentives including prints, originals and possibly even my first born to raise the much needed funds to print 250 copies of this project, which has been an integral part of my life since the beginning of the idea’s conception in August 2015. I have poured my heart, soul and everything else I have into making this, and I’ll be excitedly announcing the title along with the launch of the Kickstarter in April. For now, here is the opening two pages of the prelude, uncoloured, because you guys deserve it.

It was incredibly important to me to be able to give some insight into the Sámi people from everything I learnt whilst travelling through Scandinavia, and from books and internet sources, so the prelude (pages 1-2 pictured above) runs over six pages. Think of it like the introduction to a museum exhibit.. But with comics! This part, as you can see, is drawn in a more primeval, rune-like style compared to the rest of the comic which is in my usual way of drawing things. Because I’m feeling generous, here’s some a sneak preview of one of the uncoloured pages mid-way through the comic:

See, don’t say I never give you guys anything! Colour and painting is playing a huge role in this story, so it’s kind of hard to see how it’s going to turn out from scans with no colour, but if you’ve been following my blog for a while when you’ll have seen some hints at what’s coming.

So my life is pretty much being taken over by paint for the coming weeks, although I still have a fair bit of drawing to get through for the Bright Futures Creative Conscience Brief, which I’ve mentioned before. We’re still fundraising for our degree show at UoN too, so if you’re interested in helping to support us pay for the printing of our catalogue and postcard packs then please head over to our GoFundMe page, and check out more of the information on our refreshed website.

AND, before I forget, some exciting news was announced last week! The nine back-up creators for the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook were announced to the world, with such super-duper talents as Mike MedagliaGareth Brookes, Owen D. Pomery and Jessica Martin. Things are hotting up with the Small Press Yearbook, and more details are on the way to being announced soon. It’s really exciting to be a part of something so important, and I can’t wait to get hold of my copy. To keep up with Yearbook, you can follow the #BFSPYearbook hashtag on Twitter, and keep an eye out on Broken Frontier.com.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now! I’d best get back to work otherwise the boss will moan at me. Oh wait… That’s me. Until next time!

x

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Mad March

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

So, it’s been a little while hasn’t it! My apologies for failing to live up to the ‘blog-a-week’ expectations, but unfortunately it’s been rather busy here at HQ and my assistant seems to be hibernating.. Can’t get the staff, I tell you. Regardless of how busy it’s been in the past couple of weeks, there have also been some rather awesome things happening and taking shape! And, as we struggle into March my deadlines are looming closer – which is obviously a bit of a pain, but it means that a large chunk of work will be over soon leaving me to focus on my comic and other fun stuff.

Firstly, and most importantly, this past Friday saw the launch of local Northampton band Jagged Little Thrills new EP ‘The Last Alibi’. AND, what I couldn’t tell you before is that after I designed their t-shirt for them they kindly asked me to design their EP too! I was absolutely over the moon to have the chance to work on a whole CD wraparound cover and inside, and it was such a fun project to work on. The guys gave me an outline of the kind of thing they wanted with some always appreciated creative freedom, and back in January I finished up the design and sent it over. Low and behold, the day finally arrived on the Friday 26th February where I turned up to their launch gig to see people wearing the t-shirt I drew, and a stack of CD’s with the artwork I created. It was surreal! And wonderful. Definitely wonderful. I was kindly given my t-shirt and a copy of the album, and here they are…

How exciting! It really was such a fun night (although I accidentally ate myself into a semi food-coma just before with an impressive burger) and so amazing to see my work printed up and sold. Huge thanks to Jagged Little Thrills for having me involved in their album, and if you’d like to check out the album for yourself you can visit their Facebook page here, with their EP on iTunes here. Also, if you’re after a preview you can listen to previews of some of the tracks for free on Soundcloud too, so be sure to check them out! Here is my tired, happy face grinning like a numpty when I spotted a poster up a few days before the gig.

In other news, amongst all the fun of assignment work I managed to find a smidgen of time to create a short one-page comic for OFF LIFE 13! OFF LIFE is, taken from their website as they say it far better than I could attempt to, “the UK’s only street press comic. We publish a magazine full of indie comics and illustration to help showcase the art form and the incredible talent working within it.” It’s also a huge deal. OFF LIFE features some of the biggest names in comics in the UK and is not only available to read for free online, but also distributed around free-to-read in bars, cafés, and more. Whether my submission gets in or not, I’m not overly confident due to the volume of amazingly talented people who get featured.. But y’know, as always, fingers crossed! And as I always like to give you guys something, here’s a preview;

What else, what else.. Oh right, The Next Big Thing! My comic is still well under way, and today I’m working on drawing up and inking pages 27-30. With the actual story content being at 34 pages, there’s not much more to go now – scary! That being said, the process of colouring such a high volume comic compared to what I’m used to is a whole new mission in itself, and before I even get onto that I’ll be drawing up fill-pages and redrawing up any panels where I’ve made mistakes or want to have another go at something. It’s been a really different experience to work on so many pages (I realise this must sound a bit silly to those who’ve drawn 100 pages + graphic novels), but I’m so excited and nervous to see what people think! The Kickstarter campaign will start in the next few weeks to coincide around the same time of the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook release, so by that point the majority of the book will be done and it’ll just be finishing touches whilst hopefully getting the money together to get it printed!

Anyway, enough of the finer details, here are some more previews!

Phew! Busy busy. Apart from that I’m still working on the animation for the Creative Conscience awards, and my dissertation too, but after a relaxing weekend and birthday celebrations yesterday I’m feeling somewhat refreshed and ready to crack on! I shall be back next week with more progress on The Next Big Thing and more, but until then.. Have a good week all!

x

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Quickly, quickly!

Good morning ladies and gents,

It’s been another busy week over here at HQ, and the never-ending piles of work mean it’ll just be a short one today! (I can hear you all breathe a sigh of relief from here…)

After last week’s update I’m sure you all because overwhelmed with excitement at the fact that I’ve started drawing up my final pages. Well! I’ve been busy, and over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to get ahead of schedule, and successfully so at the moment, in that I’ve now completed over half of my final inks. Woohoo! The painting part will be fairly time consuming in itself, but being safe in the knowledge that I’ve managed 6 pages a week instead of my intended 4 is a nice comfort. Here’s some previews of the pages so far..

My upcoming crowd-funding campaign is in the tentative research stages at the moment, as I’m waiting for a few things to fall in place and the timings to be correct before I set it all up and start pleading for donations towards making this comic a beautiful reality rather than lots and lots of pieces of paper. Next week I’ll be divulging you with more information about The Next Big Thing, so keep an eye out for that one..

In other news, the University Illustration Degree Show planning is in full swing, with all the social media channels up and ready. I’ve tasked myself with taking over the Twitter account as I spend enough time on there anyway trying to promote my own work, so if you’re a Twitter fan and you’d like to follow the Degree Show preparations with my added wit and charm, you can check it out here –

Creative Curiosities Twitter.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr – whichever your preferred method of procrastination is, we have it covered! We’ve also set up a GoFundMe fundraising page to help raise money for the costs of hosting our degree show. The catalogue is the main expense, with printing a high volume to give away for free as well as promo packs, and the actual setting up of the show and making the room look a bit more snazzy than it’s current ageing exterior (yes, still talking about the room, not my ageing exterior). If you can spare any money at all and you’re interested in the work of the future comics creators and illustrators of this course, then please do head over to our fundraising page and help us out. We’ll love you forever! And print your name in the ‘Thanks’ section of the catalogue, if that’s any sort of incentive.

Also, I’m still working away on the animation for the Creative Conscious competitions I mentioned last week – you know, the one where I thought I’d be a fantastic idea to do a 64-panel animation as well as all my other work. Yeah, that one. It’s coming along nicely and I’m sketching up the panels all together to then spend a very long day inking and painting all of them some time at the end of March. Here’s some progress from that..

Finally, remember the t-shirt design I created for Northampton band Jagged Little Thrills? Well, if you’re local to the area, their new EP launch night is coming up fast! Next week, on Friday 26th February at The Charles Bradlaugh and Saturday 27th at The Victoria Inn, Jagged Little Thrills will be launching their new EP and merchandise and I guarantee it’ll be an awesome couple of gigs with some rather snazzy merchandise, if I may say so myself.. You can check out the band here on Facebook, and on Twitter.

The first of two commissions, this one for local band Jagged Little Thrills' merchandise

Right, that’s about all I have time for! Until next time..

x

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Light Up My Lavvu

Good morning ladies and gentlemen!

So, another week has passed by already? Working in the project space last week at the NN Contemporary Gallery feels like a very long time ago, and working 7 days a week is slowly making me lose track of what day it actually is anyway. However, if you were reading last week you’ll be thrilled to know that my Sámi-esque lavvu worked excellently, exactly how I envisioned it and even better – it didn’t fall apart. Success! I’ve also been working away on the final pages of The Next Big Thing, working on setting up my funding campaign on Kickstarter, and tackling my final new project of my university degree. Busy, busy!

First up, prior to heading to the NN Project Space to work as an artist in residence, I decided to do the maths and set up the framework to my lavvu first. In order to measure what size the outer fabric shell needed to be, I used masking tape to mark the base on the carpet and lots of string to hold the frame together. I worked out the top and bottom circumference then divided by four to create my triangular panels, and used graph paper to create my panel template. Using this, I cut out the outer hessian/burlap pieces ahead of time at home, saving me time. I also tagged my branches as per what position they sit best in, just for that extra level of organisational madness. This meant that the technical stuff was all out the way and I could pretend to know what I was doing whilst at the NN! On Thursday in the project space I started by cutting up an old flat bed sheet to use as a semi-blackout lining for the lavvu, and then stitched the four panels together leaving a gap at the front for an opening. After this I used the same template with some beautifully coloured organza to create my northern lights effect inside, and hooked up some LED white Christmas tree lights to make stars. And, here it is!

Sadly it’s not quite big enough to sit in, but if you lay with your head inside looking up it makes for a very pleasant and relaxing experience which I will probably re-set up at home for intense times of stress. I wouldn’t recommend sticking your head in it if you’ve had a few drinks, though. My lavvu sat in the NN Project Space until Sunday, but will be reinstated for the degree show from 9th June. So, if you’d like your own Northampton experience of the aurora borealis I would definitely suggest a trip here for the occasion. To see more of the work that other students created through their own practice and workshops, have a look at the Diverge website here.

IMG_5802

To coincide with the residency we three ladies of the Skivvies also held a small launch of Down to Your Skivvies #2 on Saturday afternoon! And, as of Monday issue 2 is now available to buy online from Etsy! A small run of the first issue is also back in stock, and to celebrate the launch of Skivvies #2 I’m offering FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING on all orders on my online store with the code “SHIPMEFORFREE”. Available until Sunday, pick up your new copy of Skivvies #2 now!

In other news, work is progressing on The Next Big Thing and I’ve moved onto drafting up the final pages! It’s quite a hefty process, going from a small roughly sketched mock-up book to a draft true-to-size copy, and then transferring that through to final durable paper for inking – and once all the pages are drawn up, painting. My schedule for university assessments has me working on four A4 pages a week, or two double spreads. Some are obviously more fiddly than others, but my hope is to be working ahead of my planned four so that if I suddenly come down with some lurgy I won’t be dragging myself to the desk to make sure I don’t get behind. It’s hard work, but really, really fun. I haven’t drawn any new comics since last summer with the Top Secret Project – recently announced to appear in the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook. Here’s some sneaky previews of my work from last week, including my wonderful new light box which is making my job 10x easier.

More on The Next Big Thing in the weeks to come! As I mentioned earlier, I’ve also started my last new project of my degree – yikes! This final project is going to be an animation, which makes it even more scary. Along with the window display for Gosh! and Laydeez do Comics, and my secret submission for Secret 7″, the final chapter of my illustration projects module is an entry for the Creative Conscience awards. If you’re familiar with my work rather than a passing visitor, you’ll know that a large percentage of my work covers emotional themes and because of this, although the workload is terrifying, I thought I could really make something special which appeals to the values of the Creative Conscience as well as my own. It’s a mammoth task with around 64 frames to do in 8 weeks, but hopefully it will be completely worth it.

Here’s a picture of my storyboard roughs from last week – which are most likely completely incomprehensible to anyone apart from me – and I’ve been moving onto my eight images for the week this week, though as with The Next Big Thing, I’m trying to get ahead of my weekly quota just in case cows start falling from the sky and I need to take a week off to remove one from the roof, or something.

As is expected with the most pinnacle term of my degree course, it’s rather busy over here but it’s all going as smoothly as I could hope for. Phew. I shall endeavour to be back next week with more updates from The Next Big Thing and the Creative Conscience animation plans, but until then I’d best get back to work. See you at the same time, next week! Over and out.

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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Skivvies Launch, Residency, and More.

Good morning ladies and gents!

Crikey, is it really almost February already? January is usually referred to as the long month, and although it has been a bit cold/wet/blowy time doesn’t half fly in the most pinnacle term of the final year of my degree. Nothing like the smell of drying paint and caffeine in the morning! It’s been another hectic week here at HQ, to the point where I can’t quite believe that Laydeez do Comics was only just over a week ago, but low and behold it’s that time of the week again where I grace you all with my wisdom. Or something like that..

First things first, we have a launch date for Down to Your Skivvies Issue #2! After having to keep pushing it back over the past month or so, we’ve managed to coincide the launch with a University-planned residency taking place in Northampton town centre (more about that shortly). As I’ve mentioned before, the first issue of DTYS was released back in April 2015, with a long break between issues unfortunately down to trying to get everyone in one place at the same time. Reviewed by Broken Frontier’s Andy Oliver back in September as a part of the Zinewatch feature, the first issue run of Skivvies sold out of current stock at the end of last year. Though, to coincide with the release of issue #2 we will have fresh stock of issue #1 ready for anyone who missed it! Issue #2, themed around WRITERS AND THE ARTS will be released at the NN Contemporary Project Space in Northampton on Saturday 6th February, from 4-6pm with the three of us creators there to talk about the zine and answer any questions, and from Monday 8th the zines will be available to buy from my Etsy store. Issue #2 is a good one.. More details to be announced nearer the time.

As mentioned above, next week will see myself and fellow Illustration students from the University of Northampton embarking on a residency within the NN Contemporary Gallery Project Space, working on experimental projects. Relating to but not directly involving our final major project work, from Wednesday-Sunday we’ll be creating wonderful things, giving talks, workshops and having open discussions in the attic space at NN. You can read all about the project space and our intentions here on the newly set up website/blog, and definitely come on down if you’re local! If you were reading last week and saw me mention making a lávvu, wondering what on earth I was on about.. Well, that would be for this project space!

fabric

I’d had this genius idea before Christmas to create a 3D element to the launch of my comic, and I’ve been organising bits and pieces well in advance so that I can make this idea a reality. Also, as a big-kid in a stressed mid-twenties body I’m really excited to have my own tee-pee structure to crawl inside when I want to escape from adulthood. Sounds amazing, right? The plan is to have my wonderful (I hope) lávvu next to my comic work (The Next Big Thing) in my degree show, giving a tactile and real element to my exploration into Sámi culture. And, a fortnight ago, armed with sketches and sleep-deprivation, I headed to Birmingham to meet my sewing-aficionado mum for an adventure in the famous indoor rag market. Above you can see some lovely fabric-y things just ready and waiting to be used for my tent-like structure, so keep an eye out in the coming weeks for more details..

Image from Broken Frontier
Image from Broken Frontier

In other news, as the flaming baton is passed from one bunch of creators to the other, Broken Frontier have announced their new Six Small Press Creators to Watch in 2016! They’ve picked some very talented folks this year, and speaking as someone who received a great deal of support and exposure thanks to being one of the Six to Watch in 2015, I can definitely say I’m excited to see what’s coming next from these ladies! Keep an eye out on Andy Oliver’s Small Pressganged if you’re interested in all things Small Press Comics, or even just wonderful artists and stories, because wonderful creators and creations are aplenty!

Finally, I’ve been busy working away on a commission for some awesome folks this week (to be announced soon), but also I’ve been getting stuck into the prelude for The Next Big Thing, as seen above. Work is slowly creeping out and taking over more of the room rather than being confined to the desk, and things are getting really serious now. Crowdfunding for The Next Big thing alongside it’s title will be released in the coming months, and final pages are starting to be drawn. Along with a handful of other projects, by Easter I will most likely be grey-haired and half made of coffee.. With that in mind, that’s about all I have time for this week! I will be back next week with lavvú business and more, so until then – have a good week everyone! Over and out.

x

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The Laydeez Who Comic

Good morning laydeez and gentlemen!

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.

Andy Oliver – Broken Frontier: Announcing the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook – Championing our 2015 ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch’ in Print!

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.

Top Secret Project - announced!
Top Secret Project – announced!

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.

x

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Window Scribbles & Other Tales

Good morning happy campers!

So, I have survived! I endured an entire week of dissertation writing and come out the other side of it, albeit slightly greyer and possibly a bit more eloquent, innit. I must admit, by Thursday I was starting to lose the plot a bit and took some time out to refine my sketches for the Gosh! London window display (more about that shortly), but I powered through difficult circumstances and have 85% of my dissertation done, with two months now to finish it off and polish it up a bit. Phew! I don’t think I’d recommend any creative folk to put down their pencils for an entire week, as I did feel like I was gradually losing my soul.. But hey, it’s most likely the last essay I’ll every write. *air punch*

On Sunday I had the fantastic excuse to put down my books and get an early train down to London, ready for the window-painting bonanza of Gosh! and Laydeez do Comics, which I mentioned previously in my blog here. I arrived in London early and plonked myself down in a coffee shop to read the wonderful Save our Souls magazine (which had been patiently awaiting my attention for well over a week, whoops!), and after I was feeling suitably caffeinated and inspired by David Ziggy Greene’s newest venture, I made my way down to Gosh for it’s opening time. Everyone at Gosh is so lovely, and they helped me out with cleaning off the previous window art and supplying me with a big box of paints and pens, and gave me tips along the way. In the end it took around four-and-a-half hours to create the window, with most of the time taken up with creating the Laydeez do Comics and Broken Frontier text, and getting the proportions correct of the biggest figure. Have a look!

A quick peek from where I was standing inside.
A quick peek from where I was standing inside.
Outside view
Outside view
Another figure just by the door.
Another figure just by the door.

I had a lot of fun working on the windows. It was quite freeing just to be able to draw and colour in something I’d been planning for ages, in public, with a passing audience (and also, it was great entertainment for me to see people looking at what I was doing instead of where they were going, and bumping into other unsuspecting pedestrians). Special thanks to Tom and Nora for helping me out and taking photos!

Photo credit: Gosh! Comics Twitter
Photo credit: Gosh! Comics Twitter

As you may be able to make out in the background on the floor I pre-made some props at home to bring with me, of Danny Noble‘s and my work to jazz the display up a bit – I’ll get some photos of those on the night. Speaking of which, this coming Monday is hurtling towards us at record speed! The Laydeez do Comics evening on Monday 18th is going to be quite the place to be, if I may say so. The Broken Frontier themed special will see talks from Andy Oliver, Editor-in-Chief of Broken Frontier and champion of all things small-press related, Danny Noble, the creative force to be reckoned with, and myself. As I mentioned last week, tickets are all sold out but you can keep an eye out on Twitter for any last-minute cancellations. And, for those of you who miss the wonderful fun we’re all going to have (sorry), as always there will be a guest blogger to take account of everything, which will go up on the site in the weeks after. Andy Oliver will also be excitedly making two announcements on Monday evening, so keep an eye out for the public announcements in the following days!

Although it feels like I’ve barely had a break, University term started up again yesterday after spending Monday doing more of my dissertation, so I have a list as long as my arm of things to do. This includes my presentation for Laydeez do Comics, so I shall endeavour to get cracking on that shortly! Aside from the windows there isn’t that much I can show you all unfortunately, with that pesky essay getting in the way all of last week. I did spend a bit of time yesterday following my tutorials and research time doing some long-missed work on The Next Big Thing, with more to come next week.. Here’s a sneaky peek of some practice page layouts I’ve been working on:

Finally, in more super news, The Red Road has just this morning been named by Broken Frontier as one of the ‘Ten UK Small Press Comics You Need to Own!’ 2015! Alongside the likes of Tillie Walden, Rachael Smith and more talented individuals, it’s a huge honour to be listed. It’s hard to believe that The Red Road was first released to the world almost a year ago, and with it’s second print run over half-sold it’s great to have such positive reinforcement from Andy Oliver and the Broken Frontier team. Thanks all!! Don’t forget you can pick up your super-second edition bumper copy in-store from Gosh!, Travelling Man Manchester, Orbital Comics and Nostalgia & Comics, plus online from my web-store.

But anyway, as my father enjoys saying so much; time is of the essence! And back to work I go. Next week’s update will have all the gossip from Laydeez do Comics and whether I managed to entertain or send to sleep the audience – place your bets! Have a good week everyone. Over and out!

x

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