Hello 2024

I love a New Year. It’s the list-maker in me; looking through what I’ve done in the last year, having a little dance, and looking forward to the new year and what’s to come. Some years are more difficult than others, for sure, but I genuinely find a new year so refreshing and exciting it’s hard to focus on anything else.

2023 was an incredibly busy year. So much so it makes my head spin – there was a LOT of behind-the-scenes progress on my overall whale project, including webinars, meetings and in-person visits to the Natural History Museum’s cetacea research collection. I also wrote and drew Sermersuaq, my insanely long-but-short comic about the Greenland Ice Sheet. Sam, Paddy and I built a whole new Good Comics website. I attended two weddings, one of which was my own. I had one honeymoon and one familymoon. One complete season as a New Forest baseball player. 33 books read. I shed tears, I laughed a lot, and I have a lot to be thankful for.

There were a few bits I didn’t get around to sharing on here in the last few months of last year, one of which was my linoprint whale oil mini zine!

Any true comic creator will know this scenario well: if you have a show coming up it’s almost essential to have a great idea to make something last-minute. In October I attended Winchester Comics and Zine Fair with Sam on behalf of Good Comics. It wasn’t too much of a rush in the end, and I have no regrets about making this mini-comic about my current whale oil research.

There are three left in my store if you’re interested in getting your hands on one. Every little bit helps support my research!

And that brings me to 2024. What’s next?

Well, I’ve been working on inking up a comic, and it’s nearly through its various rounds of editing for scientific accuracy and readability. This comic is directly related to the Natural History Museum and whale oil, and I may be biased, but I think it’s going to be incredibly cool.

Here are some sneak peeks at the inks so far:

So finishing this comic is my first goal.

Then, I’m working on the idea of self-publishing it together with the now out-of-print Karasu and one other story as a kind of whale collection. Which is a hella cool idea, so hopefully I can pull it off!

Between this, work and life, I’m still reading a lot and working on having some more mini-adventures near where I live. I took a day off last week, making an early visit to Old Harry Rocks, along Dorset’s Jurrasic Coast. Then I headed over to Peveril Point in Swanage for some land-based whale watching. I didn’t spot any dolphins, seals or harbour porpoises sadly, but my dog and I had a great time*.

*me definitely, the dog might have been a bit tired.

That’s it for now. More coming soon!

Rozi x

Cetacean stations

Image of a cropped spreadsheet

Hello! 

It’s been six months to the day since I last updated you all on what I’ve been up to. And it’s been a busy six months, for sure. 

Between tying the knot with my best friend, playing in a handful of baseball games (and consequently being injured a handful of times), reading 20 books (3 of them about whales), continuing my research on whales, rebuilding the Good Comics website, tackling some family mental health crises AND going away a couple of times, it’s been… intense.

Intensity aside, it was a pretty incredible 6 months, and I’m grateful for it all.

(apart from the baseball injuries. Honestly, those things fly at you so fast…)

So, last time I posted an update I’d just finished working on Sermersuaq, and was getting ready to put everything aside to throw a big party thing called a wedding. After honeymooning in Lisbon (yes it was beautiful, and yes I wanted to try and get out to see some dolphins – but sadly it was too windy), it was time to get back on top of everything. 

And first up was arranging a visit to the Natural History Museum’s off-site collection of whale skeletons.

Yep, you read that right.

Earlier this year I got in touch with Richard Sabin, principal curator of mammals at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London to show him my Sato’s beaked whale comic. Luckily for me, he loved it, and invited me along to take a look at the off-site collection. There were already a few artists and illustrators working there, and after an incredible day of conversations and studying the immense amount of bones, I came home excited and exhausted.

And so the visits have continued, travelling up early from the south coast to spend a day looking through the collection, standing face-to-face with Britain’s stranded cetaceans and casualties of our whaling past.

Initially, my focus was to continue looking into my research on the Bryde’s whale complex, which I’d started looking at much earlier in the year. Which I have been doing, but if you know anything about Bryde’s whales, it’s a very complicated story to tell and will take me a while longer to process it all into a story.

Visiting the collection and talking with Richard gave me loads of ideas for other areas I could research, including what I’ve been focussing on for the last couple of months: whale oil still pooling on the bones of skeletons prepared decades ago.

It’s taken me a while to get my head around exactly what I want to say in this comic. After a lot of planning and drafts, working closely with my spouse, (fellow Good Comics editor extraordinaire Sam), I have a script. There are a few gaps, but I’m mostly on the way to roughing it out and turning it into a ~40-page comic. Woohoo!

Still, it’s the early days of thumbnail sketches and working out spreads, so I’ll have more to update you on soon.

If you haven’t heard of the NHM’s secret cetacea collection, there’s a really good article about it here. Honestly, it’s one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I’m so lucky to have had the chance to go.

That’s about it on where my head is right now. That and finally revelling in having very few plans and I can finally sit and write, draw, stare lovingly at the dog and enjoy the quiet(ish) life.

Until next time!

Rozi x

Sermersuaq

It’s nearly Spring, friends.

Though, if you live in the UK it probably doesn’t feel like that. I could say that I finished a new comic to coincide with the cold and recently snowy conditions outside, but honestly, I’m not that organised.

This new short comic, Sermersuaq, is about the Greenland Ice Sheet – titled with its Greenlandic name.

I picked up a book at the beginning of January called The Ice at the End of the World by Jon Gertner, which seemed at the time like a good winter read. What I didn’t expect was to be totally absorbed by the mystery and isolation of Greenland, and the stories that came from Americans and Europeans ‘discovering’ and crossing the ice.

One thing that really stood out is those human stories, and in taking a break from whale research I thought I’d turn this into a short comic. Well, short in story length. Long in depth. You’ll see what I mean further down…

But similar to creating whale comics about scientific research, I was again condensing large amounts of information and research into a short, succinct, accessible format. All to tell a love story (aww).

I also chose to use the Greenlandic language terms for both the ice sheet (Sermersuaq) and Greenland itself (Kalaallit Nunaat). You can learn more about the Greenlandic language here.

I had the idea of how to present this comic fairly early on, and once I’d finished it digitally I decided to get it giclee printed as one long piece to read. Nearly 1.5 meters long, to be specific. And it turned out better than I’d hoped! There is a limited run of three copies available to buy online if you’re interested in owning an obscenely long comic folded down into an A4-sized concertina.

For a screen-friendly version, you can check it out below.

Read the hi-res comic in full here

Get a physical copy – limited run

I really enjoyed working on something like this with a totally different final format. And something so largely abstract with paint washes. It felt good!

It’s been an interesting foray into glaciology and history, but it’s time to go back to whales. Following the release of Karasu I’ve had some really interesting conversations with some really interesting people – and I’ll have more to share on that shortly.

Besides, I might also take some time off because I’m getting married soon! And co-founded a new baseball team, with our first season kicking off shortly.

Until next time!

x

Whale hello, 2023

Happy New Year!

What a wild and busy start to the year it’s been.

First up, my Sato’s beaked whale comic Karasu is now out in the world! I printed a handful of copies in time for the Winchester Comics Fair back in November – and you can get a copy online from my Etsy store. It comes complete with a bonus explainer about mitochondrial DNA and how it’s used to confirm whale species.

But that’s not where it ends. Things have gone from great to even more incredible.

You may remember from my last blog, but I first picked up on this as an idea for a comic from Devon Biddal’s brilliant article in Hakai magazine. Once I’d finished the comic and gone through rounds of revisions picking up any pesky errors, I sent it over to the editors at Hakai – and they loved it so much they asked to publish the comic in its entirety online!

You can read the full story via Hakai’s website here.

I’ve been totally blown away by the comments from people all over the globe. Deciding to focus my time solely on creating comics about whales has felt a little lonely at times, but the incredible reception I’ve had for my Sato’s piece has been nothing short of amazing.

And of course, I’m so, so happy these beaked whales and Hal Sato are getting some much-deserved attention! Here’s a selection of the incredible feedback I’ve had on socials:

And that doesn’t even begin to cover the emails I’ve had from whale experts around the world. It all feels like a dream! Thank you to everyone who has reached out, it’s honestly made me so happy and proud to be a part of an incredible scientific and citizen science community 💙

As I mentioned earlier, you can get your hands on a physical copy of Karasu from my Etsy store. Or, if you’re in and around the Oban area, the Ocean Explorer Centre at SAMS (Scottish Association for Marine Science) have a handful of copies. The centre is also an incredible place that deserves your time and attention (and donations).

So, that’s most of my busy start to the year. I have a couple of possible new things up my sleeve, but I’ll share more when I can.

For now, I leave you with how Devon and I have made it into the reference section of Wikipedia’s article on Sato’s beaked whale! Big thanks to Dr Amanda Whitmore at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station Library for this. Fingers crossed it stays in!

Until next time! x

Beaked whales and a recap

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while! With a gap of this long since my last website update, it’s hard to know where to begin. Thirteen months is a long time, and most of it has been spent with my nose in books, journals, articles and other sources of information. And I’ve been loving it, too.

You’ll see from scrolling through the last couple of posts before my hiatus, I’d been working on a bigger, longer project in the background, about whales. I don’t think it was long after my last post that I started putting all my energy into this. There is something oddly addictive about researching a fairly broad group of animals… I recommend giving it a whirl if you have some spare time.

The thing I’d forgotten about researching something so intensely – which I last did at university – is how every single article, book, or piece that you read then leads you to another thread to follow, and before you know it, you have a Miro board that looks like a stationary store has thrown up. (And the below screenshot isn’t even half of my notes.)

And that’s probably how I lost a year.

Well, kind of.

I did bring out a short comic about the changing of the seasons at the very beginning of this year, so if you’re interested in seeing more of that you can check it out on my Etsy store. It’s called This won’t be forever and it’s inspired by very old Japanese travelling poetry and the changes that come with the difference in weather and fluctuating daylight.

With Good Comics, I’ve also been fairly busy. Earlier this year we worked with the local University’s Zine Society, to do a talk about comics publishing, and then opened submissions for their own anthology comic with the students. We’ve also done comics shows, getting straight back into the wonderful atmosphere of talking comics with people after the pandemic brought it all to a close.

So, enough of this catch-up, let’s talk whales. Beaked whales to be precise, and even more precise – Sato’s beaked whales.

Whale go on then

It’s been nearly three years since I started researching whales for a longer-length comic I knew was going to be bigger than I could dream of. And after spending all this time researching so many avenues, species and areas of history I was starting to get completely and totally lost in academia and writing. With not much to show for it, though I have been keeping a sketchbook going.

And then in May, one of the many articles I absorbed kind of stuck with me as something I could do as a short comic. This article was about Sato’s beaked whales, posted by the fantastic Hakai magazine (they always have great articles, so check them out if they align with your interests). And, it got me thinking. Isn’t it nuts that we’re still discovering new species of whales? How did they even do this?

So, as I’d been elbows deep in researching, I thought it might be fun to just make a short comic to get some of these thoughts out. I read what I could of publically-available journal articles and internet articles and just started writing, re-writing and editing a short script for a comic about these mysterious guys.

And now, a few months later and a lot of exciting emails back-and-forth with one of the co-authors of the scientific paper, I am nearly NEARLY finished with this comic. It’s 6-pages long, but it’s changed my whole perspective of what I’m doing with this whole longer-length comic I want to make. And I’m so excited.

I could go on and on, but we all probably need a break from looking at the screen and I need to curb my excitement with some camomile tea. But keep an eye out for the finished comic. Even if you don’t, I probably won’t shut up about it, so you’ll see more soon.

Thanks for reading!

Rozi x

Autumn light

Hi all,

We’re already halfway through October, three-quarters of the way through the year, and I’m about two-thirds of the way through my second coffee of the day. How poetic!

After the madness of the school summer holidays, I’ve spent the last couple of months getting my priorities in order – trying to focus on looking after myself and my goals, whilst juggling work, kids’ school, my relationship and not being an inactive blobfish. I’m in a pretty good place right now, which is a bonus considering the days are closing in and I got rained on yesterday. So here’s a little recap of what I’ve been up to.

Zanna submission

Back in early September, I spotted a call for submissions from a magazine/art collective called Zanna. I first heard of them from an alumni talk by Taya Martin (where I also presented) back in March this year. And I’ve been following them on Instagram ever since!

Zanna has some great opportunities out there, and its ethos is all about breaking down barriers to art and promoting affordability and fun initiatives. This is absolutely necessary, and I am a big supporter!

Back to the submission: as some of you may know, I’ve always been a huge fan of short comics – a lot of my first work was published in places like Dirty Rotten Comics anthologies and the Good Comics Dead Singers Society zines. So this seemed like a fun opportunity to mix things up a bit and work to a new theme/brief: Candyland. I submitted my 2-page comic just in time for the deadline, and I’m thrilled to have been accepted into Issue 10!

It’ll be on sale soon, so keep your eyes peeled and follow Zanna on Instagram for all the latest.


Whales, whales, whales

As you may have seen in my last blog, I’m currently working pretty intensely on a new comic. It’ll be far longer and in-depth than anything I’ve published to date, and all I’m willing to tell you about for now is that it’s about whales. The big, beautiful mammals that are so admired and yet so alien to our everyday life.

Here are a few more sketchbook pages for now, but rest assured, things are brewing in my ol’ headbox. Big things cometh soon.

A mural for our community garden

Finally, full-admittance that I’m now officially a crazy dog lady. Or, I care about our community garden. Or both!

Earlier this year it was proposed that our local nature-filled community garden should be concreted over, along with adjacent paths and a public car park to make way for more unaffordable flats. Thanks, capitalism. I use the garden a lot with my fur-child Malibu, so as well as petitioning against the proposed development, I decided to make a mural to spruce up the garden and show what it means to me and my dog.

The chipboard I used for the project was free from a neighbour, so all I needed was the primer, paint and waterproof varnish to protect it against the elements. It was pretty new for me to work on a larger scale and with acrylic, but I had a lot of fun doing it. It’s been out in the garden for a couple of months now, and we’re waiting to hear the outcome of our neighbourhood-wide opposition to the building work. Check it out:

And that’s it for now! As always, be sure to check out what we’re up to over at Good Comics and keep my pens and coffee fund well-stocked by visiting my store.

Stay warm and cosy, folks. Until next time.

x


Recent soul-warming books to recommend:

Autumn Light by Pico Iyer
The Day the Whale Came by Lynne Cox
Home Body by Rupi Kaur
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
(please buy books from your local bookshop, hire them from your library, or failing that, Hive is great)

Err, how is it nearly September?

Hello everyone,

I can’t be the only one who feels like 2020 was a bad dream and it should be May 2021 or something? How is it nearly September? So many questions.

Well, since my last update in October, a fair bit has happened. I moved house, Sam and I adopted a beautiful greyhound called Malibu, I took way too many pictures of said dog, we at Good Comics successfully funded our Kickstarter campaign and released five new books because of it, I did an alumni talk at my old University, built a bed, self-published my weekly comics into a new book Eta Carinae, designed more postcards for my friend’s business, got Covid, got over Covid, did a charity run and all the while continued working on my next big comics project.

I feel a bit dizzy listing all of that. So, where to begin?


Since last year I’ve been working on a larger project than I’m used to – a comic, which at the moment, all I can share with you is that it’s about whales. Now, everyone loves whales, right? I’ve been doing a lot of research, reading whale-related books and reading around the subject into other areas such as craft, mythology and poetry. I even read Moby Dick, which was a very long ordeal…

Above: The fold-out whale book I created with trimmed-down cartridge paper, pencil, ink and gouache along with mountboard and hand-dyed muslin covers, using shibori techniques in grey dye

Above: A gallery featuring work from my whales sketchbook, including playing around with inks, textures and researching stitches.

Fun, huh? This is a purely self-motivated project, so it’s great to be able to find new avenues of research and things I’d like to encompass in the story. On the flip side, having no real deadlines or timelines means this has a way of getting put to the bottom of my pile. Between work, kids and Good Comics it’s tough to have my own time. Or to allow me time to work on this.

I think that’s part of the reason I’m writing this now. No, not because I’m procrastinating(!), but to share this kind of weird, purgatory feeling of wanting to dive into a project but having a lot of other responsibilities that tend to come first. But hey, I’m working on my priorities and making a conscious effort to not let my own personal work fall to the bottom of the list.


In other news, I helped my dear friend Bisi with some more marketing materials earlier this year, for her homemade French-inspired foods brand Recettes Sucrées 1859. I’ve created more illustrative work for her before, but this was a lot more simplistic and in the style of some of her own packaging she’s using now. Check it out!

Bisi is always such a passionate person to work with, and her cakes and confisures are incredible. Check out her products here.


Finally, I’m running a short bank holiday weekend sale on my Etsy store. 15% off, no minimum spend, and no code needed. Just go to this link and check it out. If you haven’t already got one, you can pick up a copy of my latest comic Eta Carinae for just £3.40 in the sale, plus P&P.

Until next time!

Rozi x

Autumn vibes

It’s October! How did that happen? It’s suddenly very rainy and gloomy in my part of the world, and although it’s not quite the weather for thermals yet, I feel vaguely prepared for it to arrive.

It’s been a little longer since my last blog than I’d planned, but that’s due to being INCREDIBLY busy getting ready for…

The Good Comics Kickstarter!

For the past few months, we three of Good Comics have been preparing like mad for our first-ever Kickstarter, and it’s all coming together nicely. The campaign is due to launch on Monday 6th October, featuring brand new books from RAMZEE, Natasha Natarajan, Emre Altındağ and Niki Bañados, as well as a new Good Comics Reader vol.2 featuring some of our Good friends we’ve published or distributed over the years.

Having run a couple of Kickstarters before for Njálla and Moon, I’ve gone into it knowing it’s a lot of work, but launching one for 5 books has been pretty intense! Thankfully Paddy, Sam and I have an excellent working relationship/huge supply of inside jokes, so we’re totally rocking it.

The campaign preview page should be up in a couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled!


In other news, between work and the Good Kickstarter I’ve been working on getting my weekly comics ready for print. Although it’s been a ridonculously busy month, adding in a little panel painting here and there is easy to fit in, and the book itself 90% finished now.

It’s also really satisfying to see it come together. I’m really excited to be able to share it with you all soon! Here’s a sneak peek of what an early spread looks like.

The only obstacle I have left is the release, as it’d be difficult to launch anytime soon without being overshadowed by the Good Comics Kickstarter. So, unfortunately, I will be pushing back the schedule slightly, but I will keep you all updated with when it will be coming out.


Finally, I’m excited to have had my latest paper delivery to start on the Autumn-Winter 2020 sketchbooks! Can you believe it’s that time of the year already?

Spring-Summer 2020 sketchbooks are still on sale on my Etsy store, and you can pick one up here.

I think that’s it for now! Make sure you’re following Good Comics via Twitter, Instagram or our newsletter to get first-hand info on the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, and I’ll be back with news soon!

Rozi x

Wake me up when September (or 2020) ends

Afternoon all!

It’s September apparently, and there seems to be some vague sense of normality returning to this very weird world we’re living in. The kids are in school, Zoom meetings are the norm and libraries are open. And as the seasons shift again, the evenings are getting much shorter and the nights cooler here. Autumn is in full swing! (Click here to hang onto summer that little bit longer with the spring-summer 2020 sketchbooks, now on sale)

So, what’s next? I’m glad you asked.

After a very busy month-or-so working with AccessArt on their DrawAble campaign, I’ve been diving head-first into some really exciting projects. One of which is finishing up my Weekly Comics (still yet to be named, d’oh).

I’m just about ready to start painting the extra pages, which is a pretty mammoth task in itself. But, once this is done I’ll be very near to completing the book and getting it ready for print. Woop! Above and below are some of the inks I’ve been working on pre-paints.


In other news, I’ve picked back up on working towards writing my next book. Exciting stuff! I’ve mentioned before about working on a big book, and this one I’m allowing plenty of time to get my ideas down and explore what the story could be. Part of figuring out the story is getting all of my random tangents of ideas down on paper, so this week I’ve started the process of hashing everything out with a pen and trying to build on some of the stronger ideas and see how these various bits could combine together. It’s like dumping the contents of your bag out and trying to decide whether it all needs to really be in there or not.

Part of the figuring out process has been drawing on inspiration in the unknown, and after a few really busy weeks I took some time out to wander around Bristol and recharge my creative batteries. It was so very needed!

Thankfully I managed to pick up some new books to help with my story writing whilst I was there, including Travels with a Writing Brush: Classical Japanese Travel Writing from the Manyoshu to Basho which is fascinating so far (and most likely incredibly niche).

Once I have something more substantial I’ll start sharing, but for now it’s all staying very close to my chest.


And finally, big happenings are on the horizon at the collective Good Comics HQ (not to be confused with GCHQ). I can’t reveal any full details yet, but it’s going to be really good… Keep your eyes peeled for announcements in the coming weeks.

And that’s about it for now! Stay safe everyone.

x