An Ode to Sparenting

Good morning all!

Welcome to November. I have something special for you all today, a new comic that I’ve been creating on-and-off since June. Although it’s not that long in pages, it took some time to finish purely because of the subject matter and its personal nature.

Also, it’s in a new format for me. One long, continuous comic that is available online for free, and as of yet I have no plans to print.

For anyone outside of close friends and family, I don’t often talk about the struggles of being in very close, emotional proximity to an ongoing and often unpleasant argument over separation and childcare. Some days I manage just fine, and some days I don’t. But, being in this situation for a couple of years now means I’ve been able to reflect on who I am and what my job title should be.

There’s probably not a huge amount I can say as a foreword to my newest comic Sparenting, but here’s something nice from my good friend and fellow comrade at Good Comics, Dr Paddy Johnston. He wrote this to share Sparenting on the Good Comics blog, but it seems perfect for here too:

This week’s Good Friday is something very different, and very personal for the three of us as publishers. I’m lucky enough to have Sam and Rozi not just as co-publishers, but as close friends too. We all met through comics, but if we were to stop doing it, we’d still be close friends, and there’s so much that we share and have shared on the journey of friendship over the last few years.

As such, I was really touched when Rozi let me be the first person (apart from Sam) to see her latest comic, which totally floored me, and not just because it tackles her own personal emotions and a subject I’m aware of contextually. If I didn’t know her at all this comic would still have really affected me, because it nails the art of sharing the personal and emotional whilst still offering an accessible story. Any one of us could be the person she describes, the exhibit in a museum she draws, the empty name tag stuck partially to a shirt not made for name tags to stick to. 

This is why we do what we do, and why comics are often the best kind of medium for what we at Good Comics want to share. Rozi’s words and her pictures are for all of us here. If you’ve enjoyed Rozi’s previous works such as Cosmos, you’ll be familiar with her style and tone, but I’ve never known her work to be this open or this raw. I really hope you enjoy it and connect with it as much as I did.

Paddy

Without further delay, here’s Sparenting.

x

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Sniffle Syndrome

Afternoon fellow snifflers.

It seems to be fully-loaded cold and flu season in my neck of the woods, and everyone is sniffling and coughing near constantly. Including me. I’m not sure whether mine is down to autumnal hayfever, a low-lying cold that’s waiting to emerge or my entire head being taken over by a goop monster. Who knows?

Anyway, it’s a busy time of year in the run-up to that yet-to-be-mentioned gift-giving holiday that occurs at the end of the year. I’m finishing up a web-comic, launching a top-secret community-based project and tending to general life tasks which now also include catering for my three new gerbil assistants: Peach, Nugget and White-Knuckle Rog (more on them another time). But still, I have things to show you all!

Firstly, the autumn-winter sketchbooks I announced a couple of weeks ago are selling fast! There aren’t many left, so if you’d like to join the club of seasonal strugglers, you can pick up your sketchbook here. Each order is lovingly wrapped in brown wrapping paper and posted in a card envelope so it reaches you safely and can be recycled easily.

If yours arrives and you want to share some of your autumn doodles, please do email me as I’m planning on setting up a gallery to share our autumnal feelings. You can contact me here.

I’ve also put up some risograph prints on my store that I printed with Assembly Press earlier this year. They’re in very limited supply, so pick one up quick! Available in two colours – fluoro pink/orange, and fluoro orange/yellow.

And, that’s about it for now. Keep your eyes peeled next week as I’m planning to finally announce what I’ve spent the past few months working on. I’m equally excited and nervous, so watch this space!

Until next time, stay sniffle free my friends.

x

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The Changing of the Seasons

Summer to Autumn – best shared skimming stones and with freezing toes

Afternoon all,

It’s been a while! The last few months have flown by in a blur, and somehow it’s October. Autumn has a way of catching me off-guard every year, and somehow the days have become suddenly chillier without me noticing until I’ve already set foot out of the door.

So, what have I been up to since my last post aside from being cold? Primarily a new web-format comic about family. But that’s been a difficult, emotional piece to work on as it’s really close to my heart. It’s not too far off from completion, but I’m taking some mental space from it for a few weeks so I’m able to do it justice. Secretive, I know! All will be clear soon.

However, I’ve also been working on a new, exciting project I get to share with you all today!

Some background: It’s the changing of the seasons. And, I struggle.

Don’t get me wrong; the leaves changing is beautiful, the sound of rain is serene, but feeling sleep deprived and having cold extremities is awful. It’s depressing, and it can feel never-ending. 

So, I wanted to make something that inspires creativity during the wetter, shorter days but doesn’t have the same pressure as 160 plain white pages of a new store-bought sketchbook, or any organised drawing challenges you find online.

I hand collated and stitched these little books using GF Smith Colorplan 135g paper (citrine and vellum), kraft offcuts, semi-translucent and natural papers. The sketchbooks are just 16 pages long so there’s no pressure of many pages to fill. They’re roughly A6 size to fit in your pocket or bag, and each sketchbook is hand-printed with the specially designed autumn/winter logo on the front, ready to customize.

I’ve made a limited stock of these sketchbooks, so if you’d like one you can grab it for £4 + free UK shipping (Or £6 incl. shipping everywhere else in the world). Check it out on my store here.

What do you all think? Could you use some relaxing autumnal drawing time? Share your doodles with me and I’ll set up a gallery so we can all see each other’s work and conquer the season together.

And that’s it for now! Until next time, keep dry and toasty.

x

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All ore nothing

Hello, readers!

Did you know it’s August next week? I did not. Where is this year going and what am I doing with myself?

All of these questions and more sponsor this week’s blog, seeming as the panel-a-day comic I started back in LATE-FEBRUARY is finally going to print. Sheesh! Autumn is only a stones-throw away. Wouldn’t it be gneiss to have a new comic out? It’s all too easy to take these long days of summer for granite. Granted. Geddit?

Okay, I’ll stop.

So, as I mentioned, my panel-a-day experiment comic-zine Rocks is finally going to print! It took me a while to figure out exactly how I wanted to print this (mainly because of my ‘art n’ comic stuff’ cash fund being dangerously low…), and in the end I opted to lay the spreads out by hand and have a local printer print the pages onto A3 sheets for me to trim and bind myself.

I went to check out a proof copy last week, check it out:

A rough-and-not-ready proof of Rocks. Published zine coming soon!

I’m really excited to have another zine coming out into the world. Self Care & Vegetables feels like so long ago now (and it was: it came out in 2017!) and it’s really nice to have another more handmade book to add to my collection. The final layouts are still hush-hush for now, and I have some other tricks up my sleeve… so watch this space for the big reveal! Of quartz, you’ll be the first to know. Ahahaha. Haha.

Okay fine, you can stop rolling your collective eyes.


In other news, this weekend is the hotly anticipated Swindon Zine Fest! On Saturday 27th July from 12pm-4pm the Central Community Centre in Swindon will be overrun by zinesters and comic creators… and Good Comics.

Sam and I will be there with our newest title Novelty by Mohar Kalra (check out our interview with Mohar here), as well as some newer distribution titles like Storm Clouds and Ghost Beach by Australian creator Ben Mitchell (who also chatted with us on the latest episode of the Good Comics Podcast). Take a look at our blog to see what we’ve been up to and get a flavour of what amazing stuff is happening in comics – and, if you’re in Swindon on Saturday, come by and say hello!

Lastly, I’d just like to point you in the direction of our Paddy’s new baseball-and-life themed weekly newsletter, Stealing Home. Here’s one of my favourites. Paddy, of Good Comics, is an incredibly gifted writer and even if you’re not that into baseball, his newsletters are insightful and interesting. Plus, Sam, the ⅔ of Good Comics does the beautiful illustrations for it. And I, as the third-third (apparently there’s not a keyboard shortcut for that one) of Good Comics feel like it’s my duty to tell you all how fantastic it is. You can sign up for his newsletter here.

And that’s about it for now! Keep your eyes peeled for Rocks being out in the open, and keep tuned for what’s coming next… (hopefully this one won’t take 5 months to finish)

à bientôt!

x


This week I’ve been reading: Spying on Whales by Nick Pyenson. It’s really good.
This week I’ve been listening to: my newest favourite podcast, Sh*gged, Married Annoyed by Chris and Rosie Ramsey. The married couple talk about life, relationships, arguments, annoyances, parenting, growing up and everything in between. It’s hilarious.
This week I’ve been watching: my muscles grow. Went and got a gym membership didn’t I! Healthy body = healthy mind.

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Now you sea it, now you don’t…

Good afternoon all!

This week I’m going to talk a little about digital painting. Now, as I’m sure you’re all aware by now, I’m a linework-and-paint kinda creator. I have a very set way of working which I’ve used for the past few years, which has made now a perfect time to try something new. Change is the spice of comics, as the saying goes.

Being a sea-dweller, what better to try out digital drawing on than the source of inspiration for so many, and my nearby natural neighbour. Check out the process shots:

The process of making artwork stayed largely the same, aside from using zero paper to create it. It’s definitely a quicker process as there’s no light-box involved and it’s incredibly easy to erase any mistakes or resize elements that aren’t quite right.

I started drawing with a digital file size of A4 but I found the quality of the digital brush I used at that size to be a bit too fuzzy, so I used the first ‘inked’ drawing I did (image 2) and resized it and traced over it onto an A3 digital file. Much better!

LHS: New version / RHS: First inked drawing

Block colouring with flat colours (“flatting”) is a useful tool I’ve used in digital drawing before, although as it doesn’t give the true effect of a nice slap of paint I used a digital watercolour brush over the top to add in some grit.

There are some really amazing benefits to digital painting that I’ve found so far. For one, there’s no buckling effect from wet paint on paper. This usually makes scanning difficult, and involves a lot of post-scan editing (also, digital painting = no scanning!). Also, being able to work on the same document, adjust layers and get rid of things that haven’t worked it a massive bonus. This cut down my creating time massively.

6. Final page

I’ve also been really impressed with the new software I’ve tried. The most common creative package is the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) which is around £50 a month for an individual (gulp), and I can safely say there is nothing I spend that much a month on than household bills. Yikes. Instead, I opted for the Affinity Photo which is a flat licence fee of £50 – though it’s currently on offer with 20% off. I used pre-loaded brushes plus the DAUB Watercolour & Washes set to finish it off.

So.. what do you guys think? Cool, right? It’s definitely been a fun process and I think I’m interested in trying out a few more comics in the same style. Who knows, maybe my next book will be full digital – after I’ve printed my rocks, of course. Which reminds me, I have some printing to do…

Until next time!

x

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Rocks, rain and a refreshed website

Good afternoon happy campers!

Welcome to the shiny new-look for my site! I realised a month-or-so ago that I’d had my existing website theme for nearly 5 years (ways to feel old list, number 6) so it’d been long overdue for a refresher.

It took a while, but here it is! What do you think? Have a browse around and let me know how easy it is to use. Send your answers on a self-addressed envelope to the comments section below.


So, on with the blog! Firstly, let me talk to you about what’s been going on in my head. Aside from this.

I’ve been in a period of reflection recently, in which I’ve looked at how I want to move forward professionally. For one, I’ve been super busy on Good Comics projects – it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience and is changing the way I want to approach my own work. The community spirit and engaging with people is what makes the comics community so great to be a part of, and for me personally, that shouldn’t be hampered by charging for content.

This led me to the decision to end my Patreon creator page and go back to posting work freely on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and here. For some people, it may work really well, but Patreon never quite worked for me. And, the idea of sheltering my work from people unless they paid left me in a morally weird area for a while.

Patreon cancelled and website refreshed, I feel revitalised and ready for future challenges, projects and experiences. Bring it on!


Onto more physical creations, I’ve been carefully editing the large layout sheets I drew and painted my rocks comic onto, and have been setting them up to print. Check these panels out:

Now I’ve cut out each individual panel it’s made it easier to smooth out some of the paper buckling/ridges that occurred from putting watercolour on paper not suited for wet media. It’s still definitely more of a rough-and-ready comic, which is why I’m thinking of printing it DIY style at home instead of through a professional printer. Whatever the method, I’m going to bring it out in time for Swindon Zine Fest at the end of July. Rock on!


In other news, Sam and I had a really fun commission recently from comics scholar Dr Harriet Earle who is writing a book for Routledge’s New Critical Idiom series on comics. She got in touch for a couple of diagrams to go alongside specific areas of the book, and we got to draw up some fun pieces for it! Check out my umbrella of comics:

It may not be the most water-resistant piece of kit, but I’m happy with how it turned out!


And that’s about it for now! I’ve been testing the waters on some digital drawing tools so keep an eye on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) for some previews, and check back here again soon for some progress shots.

Until next time!

x

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May I reintroduce you to…

Hello!

Welcome to May (though, we’re a chunk of the way through already…) and the latest update from HQ. It’s been a busy couple of months as always, but I have plenty to get you up to speed with. So, get comfy and enjoy another creative journey through the workings of my brain.

First, let me tell you more about rocks.
(See last month’s in-depth rock talk here)

After my panel-a-day started, I managed to vaguely keep it to a panel-a-day for two-or-so weeks until life came and sat right on my lap, demanding all of my attention. I’d already progressed with a chunk of the text, and in the end, I pushed life aside and sat down to write the remainder of the content. I sketched it all out, inked it, and then painted it in batches. In short, whilst it started as a panel-a-day it definitely ended in a more “normal” way of batch drawing, inking and painting.

Here are some pictures of the process:

As it stands, in true juggling style, I finished the comic and scanned it, but then it took around 2 weeks until I had a chance to piece it all together. However, I put it up on Patreon last week for my subscribers to finally see!

From the very beginning I wanted to create something that was more factual but still keeping that ethereal feel that I like to have in my stories., I also wanted to throw myself out of my comfort zone by avoiding thumbnailing or extensive planning, and drawing everything on the one piece of paper from scratch – even without rubbing out the pencil marks!

Rocks comic in full, draw on six A3 sheets of layout paper from February to April.

It was definitely a different tactic, and at times I really enjoyed it (when I wasn’t worried about finding time TO do it). I’d love to turn it into a DIY zine to get people interested about rocks and just how fascinating natural history is, so my task now is to see if I can take my scans and make them look cleaner for printing; the cheap paper I drew on buckled when I applied watercolour, and it’s left lots of ridges in the scanned artwork which need cleaning up, if possible.

After that, I’ll source for quotes on printing to see how cheap I can make the zine, as ideally, I’d like to have some in schools and libraries as well as sending some to the geology expert at the Bournemouth Natural Science Society (BNSS) for his expertise on the local rock formations. Maybe it would be a good idea to sell them with the profits supporting the BNSS or other local charity? What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, and watch this space for updates!


In other news, the skate poster my gnarly step-daughter and I created is now out in the world! Assembly Press did an amazing job printing it for us on their risograph printer. Check it out!

Girls’ Skate Night poster – risograph printed in black, yellow and fluro-orange

There were a couple of colour options we could’ve gone for, but we decided to go for the black, yellow and fluro orange inks.

I’m so, so pleased with how’s it’s turned out, and it’s definitely something I wish I could’ve helped with when I was 9. I wasn’t even brave enough to go to a skate park until I was 28, so feeling like I can maybe help future generations of girly-girls, quiet-girls, bookish-girls, loud-girls and any type of girls grab a board and give it a go gives me all the warm feelsies inside. If you’re in the area, come skate with us!!


What else? Well, back on 31st March Good Comics and I tabled and presented at the Laydeez do Comics Festival at Free Word in London. Paddy and I had the opportunity to talk about Good Comics and how it’s evolved in the last few months, and where we’re going moving forward. I’m incredibly excited to be working in a hands-on editing role for one of our next releases, Mohar Kalra‘s Novelty. We released a preview back in March which was beautifully risograph printed, and the whole book will be out soon!


Finally, at the tail end of last month, I put forward my application to take part in a Japanese creative residency as advertised by the British Council. Now, I’ve not tried applying for any residencies before as I’ve always been waiting for the right one… And this, my friends, is it. I’m incredibly excited at the thought, but I’m also well aware that it’s a slim chance I’ll be chosen as there are so many incredibly talented creators out there who deserve to go too. If you could all keep your fingers and toes crossed for me that’d be lovely.

And that rounds it up! You can still keep an eye on my Instagram for vaguely more regular updates than on here (I’m trying to be better!) and subscribe to my Patreon for full access of everything I’m up to. You can also check out Good Comics on Twitter for what we’re up to there.

Until next time!

x

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Rock and or Roll

Good afternoon, all!

It’s been a pretty busy month here at the Good Comics-Hathaway-Williams residence, but you’ll be glad to know that I have PLENTY to fill you in on, so grab a cuppa and get comfy.

For the past couple of weeks – or 24 days if we’re being specific – I’ve been working on a new, short comic. Unlike anything else I’ve done, I started with just a vague idea of what I wanted it to be about, and I’ve been drawing one panel per day every day since (except when I’ve had to catch-up, but sshhhh..)

Part of this method has meant that I’m not thumbnailing ideas out first or writing a script. I’ve made some notes and have the idea rolling around in my noggin, but aside from that it’s completely unplanned and pencilled, inked and painted on the same pieces of paper. Check out what I have so far!

As you can probably tell, this comic is about ROCKS! I love picking up rocks at the beach, and luckily for me, I have the Jurassic Coast to my west and Highcliffe beach (which is an SSSI (Site of Specific Scientific Interest)) to my east. Ancient rock galore!

I’ve never really had an outstanding interest in geography or geology, but when I’m at a rocky beach I do enjoy finding the most interesting rocks to bring home. From my initial idea, I tried to do some research and struggled to get my head around the age and formation of location specific rocks. Luckily for me AGAIN, I have the Bournemouth Natural Science Society down the road (if you’re local, I strongly recommend you go check them out and support them), and I managed to get in touch with their geology expert to ask him some questions about Highcliffe rocks in particular. And, he very kindly helped me out!

I’m continuing my panel-a-day project for the foreseeable future, and it’s exactly the kind of thing I’ve really enjoyed doing and is different to my usual subject matter. When I’m finished I’m going to look at turning it into a printed comic, so keep your eyes peeled.

If you’re interested in following my progress, check out my Patreon and subscribe for updates.

In other news, my skateboarding-partner-in-crime Livvy and I have been busy working on a poster for our local Girls’ Skate Night! I won’t reveal too much, but I think we have a budding collaborate career ahead of us, and she’s absolutely killing it at the skate-park. And she’s only 9 years old! She’s also a dab-hand at the Wacom tablet.

Finally, things have been all go go go with Good Comics! We have just recorded and released the second episode of the Good Comics Podcast, this time interviewing Josh Hicks of Glorious Wrestling Alliance fame. We also talk to him about the upcoming Cardiff Comics Carnival this weekend which Sam and I will be at.

If you like random anecdotes and comics chat, be sure to check it out. Related to small comics shows, last week I wrote a blog for Good Comics about the end of Bristol Comic & Zine Fair – read it here.

My short comic Bear also made it onto the Good Friday’s blog, so if you fancy a quick read you can see that here.

And that just about sums it up for now! As I mentioned, this Sunday Good Comics be at the Cardiff Comics Carnival and the following Sunday 31st we’ll be at the Laydeez Weekend Festival at Free Word in London. So, if you’re local to either of those, be sure to pop along and say hi!

Until next time! x

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Febru-wary as to why it’s still so cold?

This broadcast is brought to you by the team of thank-heck-it’s-stopped-raining and why-can’t-I-feel-my-shins.

Good afternoon folks!

We’re now mid-way through the shortest month of the year, and the days are getting that little bit longer. Longer days means less time on the cusp of a nap (11-4pm are currently my struggle-hours), which means productivity should be going through the roof come May. Woo-hoo!

Regardless of my drooping lids, it’s been a pretty busy start to the year so far. At Good Comics HQ (not to be confused with GCHQ) we’ve been launching the site, the blog and the podcast, and at Rozi HQ I’ve been splitting my time between sewing projects, zine ideas and an illustration for a magazine submission. Keen to hear more? Keep on reading!

In early January I started working on a new illustration, after seeing a call for submissions for Severine magazine – Severine is a UK-based literary and art journal which both gets printed and is available online. 

The theme was “between”, and I really wanted to work on something fairly mysterious and ethereal that felt like it had a story attached to it. As primarily a comics creator I sometimes struggle to make non-narrative illustrations as I feel like I lack an emotional connection with the character, and therefore feel distant to it all.

For Between, I tried to work on it slowly over a longer period of time and had it hanging up so I could keep looking at it and keep coming back to how she came to be here with her dog. I’m still on the fence as to whether this helped or not! Although, Sam’s darling daughter quipped that it looked like a woman being eaten by an alligator. Does anyone else see this? If so, it totally changes the concept… Between the jaws?

Thanks to a) bruising the bone in my hand falling off my skateboard, and then b) spending a week mostly horizontal clearing up a nasty chest infection with antibiotics, it did take me the entire month to make this piece, scraping in at the last minute to submit. Whether it’s successful or not, we’ll see – fingers crossed everyone! If you’re interested in the entire process of how I created this, down to colour testing and the initial sketches, check out my Patreon page!

In other news, February saw the launch of the brand new Good Comics website! That’s right folks; a brand new site, shop and pitching guidelines are up. What’s more, we’ve announced our next release: Gareth A. Hopkins Petrichor which will be out on the 18th February. Read all about it here on the Good Comics blog, pre-order it right here, and check out the brand new Good Comics podcast where Sam and I talk to Gareth about his new book, his process, and karaoke choices.

It’s been really fun pushing this out to the world, and we didn’t just stop with the website and podcast. We’ve also started a new feature on the blog called Good Fridays, where we’ll be posting up short comics from creators. First up was the excellent Nadiyah Rizkis with her short comic That Time of Year. It’s fantastic – go check it out immediately!

So that wraps up a very busy month and a half. Us three wise folks of Good Comics are also deep into our baseball movie podcast Big Boys Don’t Bunt, so if you’re interested in hearing Paddy, Sam and me talking about baseball movies (it’s more interesting than it sounds. Or, at least I hope it is!) then you can check that out here.

What’s next? I think mid-Feb to March is a time to look at zines and zine art. Maybe make some mini-comics? Who knows! To see what happens as it happens you can subscribe to my Patreon and get all my late-evening creating straight to your inbox. Otherwise, I’ll see you next time!

x

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