Travelling Man Manchester

The Quiet Life

Good afternoon all!

So, it’s Wednesday, and for the first time in longer than I can remember.. I haven’t worked on any comics in the past week! Yikes!

I love creating work, and I love working on multiple projects at once, but after three years of constantly making new work at university – even over the summer break with things like Sneaky Business vol. 1, the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2016 and submissions to anthologies including Dirty Rotten Comics – it’s been pretty non-stop. After finishing my degree last summer I’ve carried on working on a variety of things – Sneaky Business vol. 2 and Ø took me up to Thought Bubble 2016, and Cosmos & Other Stories came directly after. Now with the contributions to the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2017 and Dirty Rotten Comics Issue 10 complete, for the first time in my near history I have no comic projects on and it’s giving me a chance to debrief and rest.

Ahh… Free time.

But, don’t despair. I have plenty of illustration-led projects in the pipeline and I’m gently nurturing the beginnings of some ideas for future comic projects, so me and my ramblings aren’t going anywhere!

In comics-related news, Dirty Rotten Comics issue 10 is now available for pre-order from Amazon! And even more exciting, it’s on sale in both paperback and in Kindle format.

The cover art pictured above is by Lucie Ebrey – revealed as the book was formally announced on Broken Frontier last week. DRC 10 will be out on Friday 19th May, so pre-order your copy now or pick it up at one of their stockists after the launch. As I mentioned last month, my piece for the book is a two-pager and I’m really excited to see what you all think. It’s a pretty monumental moment for DRC to be releasing a full colour book, and I for one can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Postcard Par-tay

In other exciting news, I’ve stocked up on some more postcards for selling at events and online! A little while ago I sold some postcard packs on my Etsy store and they sold straight away, so in the coming week or so I’ll have a fresh pack going up including these five designs! So keep an eye out…

Also, those cape-clad gents at A Place to Hang Your Cape have reviewed Cosmos & Other Stories!

Indie creator Rozi Hathaway is back for more on AP2HYC with her latest offering Cosmos & Other Stories. Those of us fortunate enough to have read her previous entry here, Ø, will know that Hathaway is more than capable of bringing out the lonely 11-year old inside all of us, and her newest book is no exception. The story is a collection of comic vignettes that run the gambit of human loss and anxiety before leaving the reader on an uplifting note about seeking the wonderful things that exist in the world.

– Bard Brehon, “Cosmos & Other Stories is a Heartbreaking and Uplifting Journey” on AP2HYP

This review sits nicely next to AP2HYP’s coverage of Ø, which went up on the site last month. Thanks guys! Don’t forget, you can still pick up all my titles over on the ol’ Etsy store, and at selected small-press friendly stores around the UK.

Cosmos and Njálla available at Travelling Man Manchester!

And that rounds it up for now! Keep an eye out next week for the release of the new Dirty Rotten Comics… I might even show you some pictures of my comic in it’s colourful glory.

 

x

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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.

 

x

 

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2015 Reflections

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen!

So, the Christmas cake is dwindling and I’ve eaten my bodyweight in turkey.. It must be that limbo between Christmas and New Year where I’m not quite sure what day it is and what I’m supposed to be doing, with what feels like a brain full of cranberry stuffing. With that in mind, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to reflect on a successful 2015 (as it doesn’t take much brain-power, thankfully)..

Work-wise, it’s been a fantastic year. Of course we can’t have it all, and this year wasn’t without it’s fair share of difficulties, with a small health issue of my own in the first few months of 2015, a friend’s recurring battle with cancer (fingers crossed, all looking good this time!), and the very quick and unexpected loss of my uncle in August. It’s all too easy to have regrets and feel as if being too work-centric has left me with the loss of valuable time before it was too late, but, all I can do it look back on the positives.. I have learnt a lot about the way I work in the past year, and I can only hope that my storytelling and comics work is going from strength to strength with each piece completed. Also, my work on illustrations without narrative has improved tenfold since this time last year, and I have dedication and tough marking at University to thank for that.

In all, there’s a lot of people who have helped and supported my work in 2015, and I couldn’t name them all if I tried – but to everyone who has ever bought a piece of my work, a comic, a postcard or even just had a chat at a convention, thank you. Thanks to Andy Oliver at Broken Frontier for naming me one of his Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015 and for continually supporting and championing my work, helping me with advice when I’ve asked, reviewing my work, and getting us six seen at CECAF. Thanks to Keara Stewart for asking me to be a part of A Bit of Undigested Potato, my first ever anthology comic, and inspiring me to not only take on my own project Sneaky Business, but also for giving my the confidence to apply for Dirty Rotten Comics. Big thanks to my Sneaky Business folks for happily creating work for free, which now sits on comic shelves around the country! Thank you to all those comic shops, Travelling Man Manchester, OK Comics in Leeds, Orbital Comics in London, Gosh! Comics in London, and Nostalgia and Comics in Birmingham for having my work on your lovely shelves. Thanks all the lovely people I’ve met along the way at conventions and selling events, and a special mention to Van Nim and Richy K Chandler for being so wonderfully entertaining at Thought Bubble and keeping me sane. Thank you to my ever patient partner Chris for bring supportive and understanding, to my flatmate for being the best at bouncing ideas off (and supplying me with Jack Daniels), my family, and the supportive bunch of friends I have near and far, so understand when they don’t hear from me for months on end. And, all you readers! You lovely readers, you.. Putting up with my waffling week after week, and making me feel popular. Here’s to 2016 and all the exciting things to come!

I shall be back next week as usual, probably mid-dissertation, in the run up to painting the Laydeez do Comics window display at Gosh! Comics. Woohoo! There is a LOT of exciting things coming up in January and early-February, and my work will be pretty much non-stop. But it’ll be worth it! I’ll have more information on how the year is shaping up next week, but for now I hope you all had wonderful seasonal festivities, and have a Happy New Year! See you next year..!

 

x

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The Lurgy Arrives

Good afternoon ghosts and ghouls,

So, I’m blessing you with my presence today whilst battling a fearsome autumnal cold. I’ve been awaiting this beast that’s been going round for a while, and I’ve been managing to happily avoid it until now. Marvellous. Don’t colds just have a way of appearing at the most awkward time? It’s not like I have presentations to give, with the need to think about complex educational things, right? Instead, the inside of my brain is made of marshmallows and I look like Beetlejuice. But hey, I’ve been eating vegetables galore so hopefully I will battle this demon lurgy in time for the weekend!

This past week I’ve started making some headway on ideas for a new project, the Folio Society and House of Illustration Book Illustration Competition. The Book Illustration Competition is a yearly jobby that’s been going on since 2011, though this year is the first time I’ll be entering. This year’s book is War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, and I shall be creating three inner illustrations and the book cover design for this, for completion is early January. So it’s quite a big task, but an exciting one nevertheless. Last week I made some collagraph printing plates ready to do some illustration backgrounds to draw back into; unfortunately I’ve felt too awful to stand in the print room at University and get inky, but fingers crossed my human-self returns soon and I can get my print on. Below are my printing plates, textures and all, ready to go! Aren’t they lovely.

Also, in my eternal search for new and interesting textures that I can add into my work, I had a go at some DIY nail varnish marbling! Because I’m too frugal to buy marbling inks, and I have a sizeable collection of nail varnish already, I decided to give this method a go after finding it on Pintrest. Now, I didn’t use anywhere near as much colour as in the tutorial (see previous point about frugality) to do mine, but they turned out pretty interesting all the same. These experiments are all going towards the preparations for The Next Big Thing..

Who says illustration just needs to be drawing, huh? All of these types of things I like to scan in and add as a layer behind an image to give it a bit more of a textured and interesting look sometimes. Plus it’s kind of fun to try these things, apart from the inevitability of being gassed in my living room by nail varnish. It’s all part of the fun!

In other news, I popped into Travelling Man in Manchester on Sunday to drop off some copies of Sneaky Business! They now sit alongside a remaining copy of The Red Road (first edition), and right underneath Keara Stewart‘s nightmare anthology I created a comic for, A Bit of Undigested Potato. How EXCITING! Don’t forget, you can pick up the last remaining copies of The Red Road from Gosh London, Travelling Man Manchester, OK Comics in Leeds! Sneaky Business is still available to buy from my rather shiny Etsy store, as well as in Gosh, Orbital Comics and now Travelling Man.

And with The Red Road re-release getting ever closer, I’m slowly getting prepared for the two-day comic bonanza that will be Thought Bubble Festival! For those of you travelling to Leeds for the occasion, the comics festival at the weekend is looking absolutely spectacular. I’ll be in New Dock Hall on table 73b, with lots of lovely and talented people around as shown on the map! I have some exciting things up my sleeve for the event, so be sure to pop by and say hello if you’re in the area.

Finally, following the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer being released last week, (and subsequently having to sit through it multiple times) I decided my better half’s excitable squealing was too entertaining to pass up on as inspiration, so I put pen to paper and made him this. Pretty spot on, if you ask me! Anywho, that’s it for now. I need to feed myself something magical to run this cold out of town. Until next time, happy Halloween and stay spooky! x

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Second Year Round-Up

Good evening happy campers!

So, after my first week of semi-freedom I’m feeling somewhat rested and ready for the next row of challenges. It’s looking to be a pretty busy summer, so I’m enjoying some breathing space whilst I can. Saying that, I’m really excited to get started. As mentioned last week, I shall cover some of the projects from the last 6 months which I haven’t previously covered. Here we go..

First up is four pieces from a brief that was focused on the Anomalous Psychological Processes department at University. Although contact was limited with the department aside from an initial tour, I created these as a reflection of the studies they research. The first image of a hand holding a brain is a general reflection, secondly the female face is a representation of the Ganzfeld experiment. Thirdly is the telephone telepathy experiments and finally the fourth image is of twin synchronicity.

As with most University assignments, I don’t really know where I stand (useful, right?) but I’m hoping the overseer of the grades is kind to me! Also, I spent some time before last week recreating an editorial illustration brief I’d previously completed back in October/November time. Editorial briefs (one-off illustrations for magazines, newspapers, that kinda thing) are not something I’m overly good at currently. My brain seems to always work in narrative and give names and faces to the characters, with life stories and emotions. But, y’know.. Editorial will pay the bills when the time comes, so re-working this project was important to me.

First attempt – The Wisdom of Crowds
Final, re-worked piece.

My feedback for the original piece was that the crowd was too defined, not dense enough and not really reflective of the tone of the article (which is just one seriously in-depth analysis of the smaller people standing up to the bigger people). So, I think I’ve corrected all that! I’ve slowly been collecting free magazines to look at the way other people (who actually make money from drawing) do their editorial pieces, so my self-set homework for this summer is to work on improving my skills.

Apart from that, most of the other work for this year at University has already been covered! Mennesker er Underlig, the folding self-reflective zine as covered here, Down to Your Skivvies zine which is on sale via Etsy, the Machines exhibition as covered here and of course, the biggun’ of The Red Road. Although I had to re-do some work and projects before assessment I feel pretty positive about my final work for the year. Well, I’ll see how positive I still feel when I get my grades back..! I think I have around a month until the grades are in, so I shall live in my blissful happy bubble for a while yet.

Speaking of The Red Road, I took a wander through Manchester’s Northern Quarter on Saturday with my better half, and we went past Travelling Man so I could spy on how many copies of The Red Road are left in stock.. And low and behold, I’m in the window! Ta-da!

Anywho, I think that’s enough for now. In the next week or so things will be taking shape for my summer of secret plans, so I may be able to reveal the odd one or two next week! Oh! And before I forget, as mentioned last week Keara Stewart’s zine anthology A Bit of Undigested Potato is out now, and it’s for sale online! To get your hands on a copy, click through here. Over and out!

x

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Spring is in the air! Oh no, wait, that’s rain.

Good evening one and all!

So, my prayers have seemingly been answered and a milder air has positioned itself over the UK, or at least – Northampton. Unfortunately that just brings a lot of rain, but at least I’m not being deafened by the sound of my chattering teeth! This past week has been another busy one, and even included a trip to Siberia! Kinda..

First things first, on Saturday I paid a visit to my favourite Manchester-based comic shop – Travelling Man! The ever-so-kind Haroon has taken on stock of The Red Road in his fine establishment, meaning that all of you Mancunians can pop on in, collect your numbered edition of The Red Road and also part with some more of your hard-earned money to visually stimulate your brain with the wonder that is visual narratives, in all its shapes and forms. Look! See!

The Red Road - on the shelves at Travelling Man Manchester!
The Red Road – on the shelves at Travelling Man Manchester!

Now that’s two places in the UK that stock The Red Road, and, as always, you can pick up a copy online via Etsy too. Whilst on the topic of The Red Road, yesterday marked the occasion of it being exactly one month since launch! In the past month I’ve packed up and sent out orders to many, successfully obtained my first review and managed to get stores to stock it in London at Gosh! Comics, and in Manchester at Travelling Man. As it stands, I have 42 copies left in my happy hands ready to distribute to any awaiting readers! In just under two weeks I’ll be hoping to sell some comics, postcards and other goodies to fellow students at a student market at the University Students Union, so keep your fingers and toes crossed everyone!

In other news, I’ve been making progress on a sci-fi themed narrative that is being shown via selected images and 3D objects, ready for a University exhibition on the 19th March! The exhibition is based on the theme of ‘Machines’, and us Illustration bunch plus some elective graphic design students are hosting our own exhibition on campus with our varying interpretations of the word machines. Naturally, I wanted to do a comic, but given the time constraints and exhibition end-goal, I’ve constructed a story around this theme, and a few key images will be displayed at the exhibition which may then lead onto a short story comic if I decide to take it further! For now, I’ll leave you with this sneak peek.. Can you tell what it is yet?

My biggest fan..
My biggest fan..

Ah yes, I mentioned Siberia at the beginning of this blog, didn’t I? On Saturday, aside from the Travelling Man fun, myself and my other half took a trip to the Manchester Museum to see their special exhibition on Siberia! After diving into Colin Thubron’s In Siberia a few months back I’ve found myself fascinated with this obscure place that’s one and a half times bigger than Europe (WOAH, right?!). Although I realise this is far from illustration-related, the exhibition is really interesting and definitely worth a look – it’s on until Sunday 1st March. I did spend a happy few moments trying to draw taxidermy lemmings at the exhibition too, so maybe keep an eye out for some lemmings creeping into my work at some point.. Alive ones, that is. The one saddening fact is that the Manchester Museum gift shop really lacked, so if anyone knows of any excellent books on the folklore and mythology of Siberia then let me know!

Finally, the creation of a zine amongst two of my fellow illustrator classmates (one of whom you can check out her Tumblr here) is coming along nicely! I mentioned previously that a university project led me to interview Hannah Berry, which will be super exiting to have her answers back in the coming weeks, but tonight I also sent off some questions to Northampton based comics creator and illustrator Melinda Gebbie, husband of the infamous Alan Moore! Fingers crossed these two interviews will be able to fit into our zine/journal nicely, with lots of other ideas up our sleeves. Fun times! Anyway, I think that’s it for now! And as my last piece of advice for this chilly Monday evening.. Don’t listen to what writers for The Guardian have to say, as they clearly don’t know where to look for excellent work. Thankfully, you can always rely on the comics creators picked on in such articles to have an excellent sense of humour. Over and out! x

Scott McCloud, our hero.

 

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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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Don’t Compromise, Texturise. Plus HOAX!

So, new website, new blog, potential new audience. Where to start, you ask?

It’s been a while since I had the chance to regularly update my previous blog and no doubt there is lots to go on and on about, but for now I shall just talk about what has been going on most recently. First year of University is over, and I have a whole summer ahead of me of being poor and de-stressed, which gives me the perfect opportunity to spend many lovely hours at my desk. Although the first year of being back in education has been challenging, its given me focus for the coming months to refine my skills ready for the second year starting in September. One of the main reasons for wanting to go to University (not that being a 24 year old juggling work and study amongst partying teenagers isn’t joyful enough as it is) was to gain useful knowledge in using digital software to enhance my work, and that I have learnt! With the basics and some extra free tutorials online I’ve been  experimenting in using textures which has been rather fun. This past week I’ve been playing with acrylic gesso, gouache and clingfilm to make nifty backgrounds for scanning in and putting together with other scanned illustrations.
I’ve already been playing with watercolour washes and scanned linework, which you can see two examples of below! Anyway, that’s what I’m playing about with at the moment. It’s all very hit and miss at the moment but at least it’s pretty fun! Hopefully I’ve have it sussed soon and I can start making better pieces.

Also, this weekend is the official launch of HOAX: Psychosis Blues! You can read all about my work with the project herehere and also here. This is not only the biggest and most important weekend of my career (and life!) because my nearest and dearest have not yet seen my 6-page spread of HOAX, but also because I’m going to be sat alongside a select few of the fellow book illustrators trying not to be a complete fan-girl. Anyway, if anyone is interested in seeing me trying to keep my cool I shall be in Manchester this Saturday:

There will be the book signing at The Travelling Man from 3pm, with the sold out theatre show HOAX My Lonely Heart at the Royal Exchange Theatre and the following late night book launch from 10:30pm. The event page for the launch can be found here. So, if you’re around in Manchester on Saturday then please do come and say hello, it’s going to be a pretty amazing day. Tonight is the opening night for the theatre team so keep your fingers and toes crossed for everyone!

For now though, I shall leave it at that. Over and out.

Entry for ‘Being Human’ – Cheltenham Illustration Awards 2014
Messing around with digital colour and textures
Play time!

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