university of northampton

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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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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Tales from the Broken Frontier Table

Good evening ladies and gents!

So, it’s been a nice and busy week as usual, and I think I’ve just about recovered from the fun that was CECAF this past weekend. I’ve still been busy on some top secret thingies, but all will be revealed soon…

CECAF (Crouch End Comic Arts Festival) had it’s second outing this Saturday just gone, finely crafted from the hands of Sean Azzopardi and held in Earl Haig Hall, Crouch End. The festival coincided nicely with the Crouch End Festival and a lovely sunny day to lure in the masses, and although it was a bit quiet at times it was a great day! I was kindly invited to be a part of the ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015’ Broken Frontier table, where I stood alongside Kingpin Andy Oliver, Emma Raby and Danny Noble (who shared a table with Matt Boyce). It really was a fantastic day, and sales-wise it was a vast improvement for me compared to TAKEOVER in early May. And we like sales, don’t we?

I sold six copies of The Red Road, more so than I could’ve hoped for! And the free print for the first four sales didn’t even seem to be a factor, which was pretty awesome. Though, probably confusing for the first four purchasers who I kept handing free stuff to. Huge thanks to Editor in Chief of Broken Frontier Andy Oliver for this fantastic opportunity! As always, Andy’s relentless support of the six of us UK small pressers is incredible, and I’ve been introduced to so many skilled comic’s folk because of it! After 5pm kick-out, we all headed next door to the pub where I filled my face with cheese and bacon fries and wine to end a very happy day with new friends. People have always said how friendly the comics community is, and I can confirm it’s truth.

Even the passing public were lovely, on a quick break I met some guys who have their own web-comics; Doppelganger web-comic by Thibault Kervarech, plus Kordurroi web-comic and Lonely Skeleton by João Duarte Siva. Web-comics is something I’ve never gotten into before, but seeing how people manage to keep up with these new-fangled things, I may have to give some sort of daily comic a go again!

In other news, this week sees the opening and launch of The University of Northampton’s Illustration degree show! Mixtape opens on Thursday evening from 5pm, where I shall be hovering about with free wine helping out with the degree show shop! I’ll be selling comics, zines and prints at the show, so hopefully my stocks of The Red Road continue to dwindle ready for round two’s re-release.

Also, for anyone interested Thought Bubble Festival tickets are now on general sale! The event runs over two days, 14th-15th November and I will be glued to my seat behind the half table all by myself for both days. So, really people who weren’t planning on coming should just pity-attend. Ticket’s can be purchased here!

Finally, I finished my entry today for AccessArt’s Share-a-Bird Project! The project sees entries from artists around the country, voluntarily sending in original artworks which are then dispersed amongst UK schools which join the programme. This is what the website has to say…

THE SHARE-A-BIRD PROJECT HAS TWO MAIN AIMS:

  • To celebrate and highlight the diversity of artists and makers in the UK today.
  • To demonstrate the importance of visual arts education for all.

I picked the male Bullfinch as it’s an all-year-round UK bird that apparently is pretty quiet and unobtrusive. Like myself! Also the colour of the dudes chests is just beautiful.. So here it is! I posted it off today, so hopefully at some point my Bullfinch will be inspiring generations to come at a UK Schools. The project is open to submissions until the end of August, so any creative friends who believe in the cause should definitely join in! My art education in school was boring to tears and in no way prepared me for college. Which I then just about passed. Thankfully it didn’t put me off, but children shouldn’t be discouraged from creativity. Creativity keeps the mind sane! Ish.

Anywho, that’s it for now. Time to dive my face into some cheesecake and hope that this cold-type-illness passes by tomorrow, as it’s going to be another busy week! Over and out.

 

x

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It’s not the destination, it’s the ride.

Good evening my happy followers!

So, another week gone, and a fresh week full of challenges and piles of work await my undivided attention.. It’s getting to that key time where all of my university deadlines fall around the same week of each other, so I’m manically trying to get everything done to the highest possible level that I can do whilst still juggling a few other things and whatever is left of my sanity. On the plus side, I had an incredibly efficient week last week, and although that doesn’t make things that much easier in the run-up to the deadline mine field, it does help a little. One thing I’m really happy to have completed is as follows..

In early February I was approached via Facebook by a charity called Ride for Willen; They have organised a 800 mile charity bike ride from Paris to Nice, over both Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux, with the aim of raising much needed funds for the Willen Hospice in Milton Keynes. Alongside the sponsored bike ride, they have an additional site called Ride.Eat.Drink set up to further support the Willen Hospice by selling illustrated gifts and prints. Naomi, a good friend of mine from Uni, had also been approached to create a piece and she made this incredibly detailed paper-cut original illustration for sale. Now, I was a little late to the party as I needed to get some uni work out of the way first, but thanks to my other good friend known as The Mohawk, cycling king, I finally came up with this piece which I finished on Thursday evening! Check it out;

Donated illustration to charity; Ride for Willen
Donated illustration to charity; Ride for Willen

According to my previously mentioned friend, The Mohawk, the secret behind the enjoyment of cycling is the views – and this really stuck with me. Although I’m not a cyclist myself, I am definitely an appreciator of good views, and after some research and presenting The Mohawk with some ideas, he helped me narrow down my concepts which I then sketched up and refined further. And then, well.. There it is! I tried to really capture the essence of the peace and tranquillity from riding (not the leg-burning pain I was blessed with the last time I used a bike machine at the gym..). I also didn’t want to focus too much on who, or what bike it is, so it’s open to the imagination a little more. Anyway, the Ride.Eat.Drink team seemed to really like the piece, so I’m happy to be able to help! Prints of the piece should be going up for sale in the next couple of days, and you can further support the sponsored bike ride by visiting their donation page here or buying illustrated goodies here. Success!

Talking of finished pieces, I finally finished my submission for The Penguin Random House Design Award last week. As a brief also for a university assignment, I re-designed the book cover for the Puffin book Carrie’s War. It took a lot of critical analysis, re-drawing and re-jigging to get this piece as good as I could get it, and it was an insanely hard piece of work for some reason.. I think my brain is hardwired into narrative, so trying to give an essence of a whole book in one cover, whilst gaining viewer interest and maintaining that hold on the casual browser into picking it up and reading over.. Phew! I’m getting tired just thinking about it again! Props to people who can do it all (book covers, editorial, narrative, gifts, e.t.c), hopefully this book cover has taught me a lot and makes the next attempt a lot easier, but it was definitely a big challenge for me.

Carrie's War
Carrie’s War

I’m not entirely optimistic that it’s a winning entry, there are so many applicants for the competition it’s like being a very small student entry fish in a very large tank of other highly talented student fish. Anyway, regardless of the competition it’s been a healthy change for me to do something different, though I miss comics!

Finally, this past week I submitted my applications for ELCAF (East London Comics and Art Festival) being held on June 20th-21st, and also Thought Bubble Festival held in Leeds on the weekend of 14th-15th November. In the world of comic art festivals (rather than the more well-known Comic-Con’s, which are more aimed towards the mass-market) Thought Bubble is one of the huge hitters. It’s been going since 2006, and rises in popularity every year. Along with the Comic Arts Festival in the Lake District, these two are the kings of festivals in the North of England. ELCAF in London is a fairly new festival, run by the publishers Nobrow. Both of these I would be hugely honoured to be able to attend, and I should find out by the end of the month whether I’ve been successful or not! Teamed with the more independently run MancsterCon that I’ve been confirmed for in August, I’m really hopeful that this year just keeps on getting more awesome! Fingers and toes crossed, everybody!

Right, I shall leave it at that for now. I shall be back with you all like clock-work in the next week for more updates on all the gossip from Rozi-HQ. Over and out! x

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All Systems Are Go!

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

Crikey, another week has flown by, and the second term university deadlines are growing ever-closer.. Though it’s not quite time to panic yet, I can still feel the familiar tension gradually reduce my back muscles to a rather lumpy brick wall – however I’m super excited to show you all what I’ve been working on the next couple of weeks! You’ll  just have to be patient for a little while longer..

Friday sees the launch of a University-based enterprise event that’s being held at the main campus in Northampton, and though it’s only open to students (who, let’s face it, only like to part with money if it involves alcohol and/or Nando’s), I’m hoping that it might drum up a little more comic business! The slight flaw in the University’s plan is that all us arty types are hidden away and locked in a different campus to all the ‘serious’ degrees, so whether a biochemistry student really wants to buy a comic.. Who knows? But if half way through nothing has sold, I may resort to bribing students with cans of Strongbow or whatever cheap beverage those youths drink these days. Any who, if any of you UoN students are reading, I shall be selling copies of my comic The Red Road, some postcards, and some nice little A5 prints! Here’s a nice banner I didn’t make to sum up the occasion;

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IMG_3882

 

Although it’s a student-only event, I’m definitely using this as a trial-run for the (fingers-crossed!!) events I’ll be attending this year. One I’m waiting on a definite confirmation, the other two I’m applying for, you’ll have to wait and see.. Ooh err!

In similar news of awesome-ness and comics, this afternoon the Small Pressganged feature at Broken Frontier, written by Andy Oliver, highlighted the ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015 – Spotlighting the Work of Rozi Hathaway, Jess Milton, Danny Noble, Emma Raby, Alice Urbino and Adam Vian‘. Hey look, there I am! You can click-through to read the full article about some very talented comics folk who I’m looking forward to getting hold of their work! As for me, I am greatly honoured to be considered a ‘one to look out for’, and if anything I shall try even harder to impress this year!! So thank you, Andy, for having such faith in my abilities as always. Bring on the next self published comic *cough* before September *cough*, although I have a lot to live up to!

Now, last week I spoke a little about the project I’ve been working on as a University assignment on the theme of ‘machines’, which I turned into a sci-fi style narrative. I finished up typing my blurb for work at the tale end of last week, so I’m happy to announce the story behind it all..;

01/03/2026
Two years ago, the Kepler 2 Telescope caught sight of an exo-planet displaying similar characteristics to our own planet Earth. Following this discovery, a curiosity rover had been sent to this new planet, newly named by our NASA team as the planet ‘Spyryt’. Sent through an open wormhole, the Spyryt curiosity rover shuttle accelerated through time and recently landed on the barren wasteland. Nobody here expected what images started to be sent back…

If this sounds interesting to you, then definitely keep an eye out for my blogs in the coming weeks as I’ll be posting more images as the project takes shape for the deadline of 16th March. How exciting!

Finally, I also have an upcoming short-comic for a zine that I’m working on for Keara Stewart! I am absolutely chuffed to have been asked a couple of weeks back, and I started drawing up some thumbnails last night. She’s making a collaborative zine to be sold online and in zine fairs, with a whole load of contributors, and I really can’t wait to start drawing it all up. I also have a short-story comic for the University-based zine I’m creating, so it’s all zine ahoy at the moment, and I couldn’t think of anything better. Oh – and one LAST thing – I heard from the very lovely Steve at Gosh! Comics in London, and The Red Road has been promoted to the table! For those who haven’t been in Gosh! Comics, the table is absolutely huge and contains some of the most popular and intriguing titles, so I’m massively excited to know that my story is sitting there amongst such talent – yay! Anyway, it’s time again to get back to the drawing board, quite literally, so for now – Peace 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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Hello, darker nights.

Good evening ladies and gents,

Well well well, what a busy six weeks its been since Brussels, it only feels like yesterday that I was dragging myself merrily back to University for the start of the term. The second year of University lives up to its busy hype, and so far it’s taken me so long to get back to posting on this here website I’d almost forgotten what I was doing. Oh yes! Drawing. That’s what I’ve been doing. Instead of waffling on about every single project I’ve done so far I’ve decided to give an efficient, brief overview of any vaguely good stuff I’ve made so far, so I don’t bore you all into a coma.

1. Gifs! I made a gif based on a Chinese poem about a leaf floating and lots of moody things (‘Seeking a Mooring’ by Wang Wei, it’s actually quite nice if you’re into that sort of thing). It’s fairly simple but I quite like staring at it longingly when my brain is overspilling with ideas and I want to cry into a large plate of cake. It’s soothing, try it! (With cake, ideally.)

An illustrated .gif based on the poem 'Seeking a Mooring' by Wang Wei
An illustrated .gif based on the poem ‘Seeking a Mooring’ by Wang Wei. Ooooh, spinney.

2. I made an angry scene of people for an editorial piece, that I liked, but my lecturers didn’t. Ironically, this is also what my fellow students and I look like when they casually give us extra work to do with no forewarning or briefing. Also, what I imagine Manchester looks like after the football yesterday.

The Wisdom of Crowds.. Supposedly.
The Wisdom of Crowds.. Supposedly.

3. I’m making an 7″ vinyl cover for a University cover band who will be preforming The Cure’s ‘Friday I’m in Love’ live at the end of the month whilst I stand in the back and point at my artwork jumping up and down shouting “Look mum, I’m famous!” to no one in particular. It will look something like this.

Friday I'm in Loooove! Doo-de-doo, la la laa!
Friday I’m in Loooove! Doo-de-doo, la la laa!

4. Aaaand finally I’m currently writing and illustrating a 26 page comic which is due in 5 weeks time. So, I have rather a lot of work do for that, as we’re only 3 weeks in. If anyone here’s some sort of maniacal, delirious ranting coming from my apartment or the studios at University – it’s okay. It’s just me giving myself quite a lot to do. Just send coffee my way and give me a gentle hug, I’ll be fine. Even just a gentle pat on the head will be appreciated. Anywho, I don’t want to give away too much, so here’s just a sneak peek of some initial sketches I produced for last Tuesday, though all steam ahead for the rest of the project to be done in time. Cooffeeeeeeeeee!!

 

Well, I think that’s it for now. I’ve been drawing and scripting all day for this aforementioned comic, and I feel worn out something chronic. So, time to power on through before dinner and put my concentration to the test. Woo! I shall endeavour to be back with updates sooner than every six weeks so do keep an eye out. I’ve had to make a Tumblr blog as a part of my course, so I’ve added a link to the menu bar at the top, and that’s updated a bit more regularly (only because it’s graded, my allegiance still holds with this marvellous place!) with general waffle and my inspiration rather than my work. So feel free to have a look around on there too. For now, over and out x

 

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