TNBT

Announcing… Njálla!

Good afternoon happy campers,

So, today is the day I’ve been working towards for months.. And months, and months. The Next Big Thing is announced, and the Kickstarter funding campaign is live!

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.

Click here to go through to the Kickstarter Campaign for Njálla

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!

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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.

Left: Bookplate / Right: A5 Print
Left: Bookplate / Right: A5 Print

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?

Page 3-4 PREVIEW2

 

 

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!

x

 

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Campaign Countdown

Good afternoon folks and folkettes,

So, another week has vanished and somehow it’s already Wednesday. When did that happen? The weekend away was definitely needed to recharge my batteries a bit, but doesn’t half make a dent in my working week. Anyway, Kickstarter-induced panic aside, I hope everyone had a lovely bank holiday weekend whatever you were all up to. Personally, I ate too much of everything and am now debating whether I’ll be able to fit into my clothes next week or not.

Since last week’s update I’ve been working pretty solidly on my Kickstarter campaign, ready for launch next week. When I started working on it I had no idea just how much work it takes to do – blimey! Not only is there the whole glaring-into-a-camera thing and getting a script ready for that, but there’s also selling the project as best as possible in the main body of the campaign page. Whilst I’ve been busy working out budgets and pie charts, drawing sub-header titles and reworking my campaign details twenty times, my actual comic and remaining uni work has taken a temporary sideline. Though, I think I’ve almost cracked this whole Kickstarter thing, so as soon as I’ve filmed my work of cinematic genius as a campaign video, I’ll be ready to go!

 

Coming 6th April! Ish.
Coming 6th April! Ish.

 

I’d hoped to launch the campaign on Wednesday 6th, though it looks like once submitted the campaign is up for review which can take up to 3 business days. Because of this, I’ll submit on Monday and hopefully it’ll have launched by Wednesday, if not before. Phew! Saying that, I think I may be worrying about the finer details a little too much, and I’m sure no one really cares if it’s uploaded a day early – I tell you what, this whole crowd-funding thing is a stressful business, although if I ever have to do it again I’ll be far wiser on how to approach it. I hope.

So yes, because of this whole fandango I don’t have a huge amount of work to show you, as staring into my laptop and calculator, scribbling notes on paper and checking emails for the 4 working days between the last update and now isn’t particularly interesting for anyone else but me. I have, however had a chance this morning to start working on photocopies of The Next Big Thing with paint!

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Now, painting onto cheap photocopier paper does hurt my soul quite a bit. It’s smushy, you can’t really blend well, and it’s just a bit pants. But, instead of launching into painting my final, original pages it means I can make mistakes and change my mind on colours and it doesn’t really matter, as I can just make another copy and try again. Above is a sneaky preview of the practice painting photocopy pages I’ve worked on so far. I’m DEFINITELY looking forward to getting stuck into the final paints, I just have to work through the practice bits and the Kickstarter admin bits and then I can sit back, relax and paint to my hearts content.

In some rather excellent news, The Next Big Thing aside, I have been accepted into Thought Bubble 2016! After a very anxious Friday evening where everyone had received their emails and my inbox was still unnervingly empty, I needed not worry. I had SO much fun at Thought Bubble last year, and I can’t wait to be back in Leeds come November to carry on promoting The Next Big Thing, the upcoming Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook, and watch comic-pals do karaoke (I’m not sure what it is about comic artists and karaoke, but apparently it’s a thing).

Thought Bubble Festival 2016! Banner by Emmeline Pidgen, (from thoughtbubble.com)

As I sadly didn’t make it into the Lakes Comic Art Festival in Kendal, Thought Bubble is now my biggest event of the year and my optimum opportunity to get copies of soon-to-be-revealed The Next Big Thing to a new audience. More events are popping up for later in the year all the time, and I have my eye on a couple more events as long as funds can stretch that far. However, with Thought Bubble being one of the biggest comic events in the UK, I’m over the moon to be able to have a half table there again.

So, that’s that! Next week will see the launch of The Next Big Thing Kickstarter campaign, with the big reveal of the title (yes, that’s right, it’s not ACTUALLY called The Next Big Thing) and live pledges available for you to put towards in helping to make this comic a real, physical reality. How exciting! Until then I have a lot of work to do on some finishing touches, so until next week.. Over and out!

x

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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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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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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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