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.
This humidity/hayfever combination has me all a’funk. Even more so when I sit down to write my blog, and can’t recall what I ate for dinner two days ago let alone what I’ve been doing for the past nearly six weeks. I can hear you all now, reading this, muttering affectionately… “ah, that’s what happens when you start getting older”. Thanks.
Thankfully I’m a lady of lists, so here I am to look back through them all and get you up to date at what’s going on at HQ.
Since we last spoke:
I’ve been researching and writing my keynote speech
My sketchbook for codename: The Biggest One Yet (TBOY) is becoming plumper
I went to Bournemouth University’s Festival of Learning
I’ve been on a copywriting course through my work (expect jazzier headlines in anything I write from now on)
And, drove around my living room swerving to avoiding Pokemon and wild animals*
So! Keynote speech. It sounds impressive, it feels impressive, and a solid 10% of me is not nervous at all.
Genuinely, I’m really looking forward to speaking at the International Graphic Novel and Comic Conference; it’s something I couldn’t have ever dreamed of doing a few years ago, and really, to talk about comics for half an hour to a keen audience is practically a dream. Try introducing yourself as a comics artist to anyone who isn’t a comic artist – it’s exhausting. Even trying to answer the question of ‘what kind of comics do you make?‘ is a tricky one, as really, people only know of a very few genres. Superheroes, political/newspaper cartoons, and possibly if they live in a metropolitan city with an excellent bookshop, they may also know of autobio/biographical and journalistic comics. All-ages-anthropological-sociological-travel-fantasy is a bit of a jumble, let’s face it. So being able to talk to a semi-engaged audience sounds delightful!
The theme of the conference is Retro! Time, Memory, Nostalgia. My speech is on Retrospective Storytelling: From Childhood to Characterisation, on Wednesday 27th June. So if you’re booked onto the conference please do come and say hello! You can find the full programme here.
Next up, I’ve been chugging away slowly at a sketchbook I picked up specifically for working on my next comics’ project in. For The Biggest One Yet (TBOY) I really wanted to grow an idea though sketching and external inspiration, rather than starting with an idea. I have a few things I’d like the story to encompass and a route for it to take, but the finer details are something I’d like to stumble upon during the process. I’ve been posting regular updates and sketchbook pages on Patreon, so if you have FOMO of TBOY then YKWTD: https://www.patreon.com/rozihathaway
I couldn’t possibly leave you with nothing, so here’s a taster:
This past week I also made a special trip on the number 17 bus to Bournemouth University for their Festival of Learning. They’ve had a whole host of interesting events on, but the only one I could make it to was the fantastic Storytelling from India talk from Tara Douglas. Sadly I couldn’t make it to the screening of the animations that the talk was based on, but it was still incredibly interesting all the same. The talk of India’s caste system reminded me a lot of an exhibition I went to a couple of years ago at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool; which, FYI, is a fantastic museum and if you haven’t been there already I highly recommend it. Back to the talk – Tara led us through the process of making a series of animations based on tribal stories, myths and legends. Using local storytellers, narrators and artists it made for a really interesting and beautiful project. If you’re interested, you can see a full article from Bournemouth University here, or check out the website here.
And that just about wraps it up! As I said above, I have been lucky enough to go on a copywriting course with my day job – so have I convinced you through my words? I’m not sure what I would be trying to convince you of… Maybe I need more practice.
Until next time!
*driving around my living room swerving to avoid Pokemon may or may not be in the imagination of myself and four-year-old Saul.
I’m writing this in the clutches of the latest cold that’s going round, which has me coughing for hours on end, so please send cake and medicine to me whilst splutter out this update…
So, I hope you’re all up for something a bit different today, as I’m going to tell you a story. Make yourselves comfortable! Once upon a time, after Cosmos & Other Stories came out, and after I finished up pieces for Dirty Rotten Comics #10 and The Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2017, I decided to take a short break from comics. I think, doing this kind of work, it’s all too easy to feel like you have to keep churning out work so people don’t lose faith or forget you exist. But after a tough personal spell and using work as a crutch to keep me going, it was time to let my mind go and deal with life, and try to regain my health.
The break from comics didn’t come naturally, and I still worked on commissions both for private clients and other more illustrative work (the Kickstarter print with Emily B. Owen’s Brain Shoodles, and a piece for the Habitat anthology). But, the break from direct comic work was there all the same, and it gave me valuable time to promote the work I’ve already done and work out where best to move next. And, play with some different materials and techniques. Check it out:
Zig Brush Pens
Tombow Pen & Graphitint
Tombow Pen & Graphitint
Having time to play around with new processes and materials has been golden, and given me a chance just to draw or create for the sake of drawing again. I’ve played with creating stamps from soft lino,drawing with Kuretake Zig Brush pens, the Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen and some Graphitint pencils, as well as other experiments in fabric and dying, clay and wood. Taking that pause really did help to clear my mind and work on new concepts, and it gave me new skills and new challenges to hone in on to keep improving.
And that leads us to my new project! Due to be released in September in time for Thought Bubble Festival, I’ve been working on a small comic which I’ve gone thorough the scripting and layouts of already, when the inking coming next. Have a look at some sketches:
One thing I’ve been taking note of is how my painting accounts for the majority of the atmosphere in my work. So, remove the painting, do I still give that effect? This new project I’m working on is not only vastly different and physical application, but also different from my usual storytelling too, being totally autobiographical rather than based in imagination. It’s been challenging, and new, and exciting all at the same time. And I really hope people like it!
I do miss splashing about with gouache and I’ll definitely keep evolving the way I paint, but for now, get ready for something new and exciting and totally paint-free! -gulp-
And that’s where I leave you for now! I’ll be back soon with more news, but until next time have a good week/weekend everyone. I’m off to visit family and get plied with food to mend this illness once and for all. Laters!
So, after a very long summer since I finished up my first year at University, the second year is finally looming. ‘Back to School’ signs are popping up everywhere, and I get that sinking feeling once more as I realise in a months time life is going to get stressful again for 7-or-so months. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn; Going back into education has been the best decision I’ve ever made, and I am so glad I didn’t listen to all the naysayers when I decided to apply two years ago. However, yeah.. Juggling studies, part time work, a long distance relationship and a social life is quite the challenge, but I’ve never liked to make things too easy for myself. Where’s the fun in an easy life?
Back to business. One of the many things my course has taught me so far is the art of having a good sketchbook. Back in college all those years ago, up until the last year or so, I absolutely detested using a sketchbook; I couldn’t think of anything worse. I’d much rather try and draw something from start to finish in one go. If it looked alright, great. If it looked terrible, I’d get annoyed and brood over how terrible an artist I thought I was. Then feel so down I’d eat a whole sharing bag of Doritos (Cool Original, of course) with mild salsa dip, proceed to feel rather ill and then regret every cool, salsa-y moment of my comfort eating whilst laying in the fetal position. Productive, right? When it came to starting my course at university, they expected all this sketchbook work to support my ideas and show progression. Ughhhhhh, honestly, such a pain. It felt like I was taking 2 weeks to do something I could come up with in 2 days, but all this sketchbook work actually proved valuable. I paid £9’000 for my first year to learn how to use a sketchbook – bargain! But in all seriousness, it has become a staple tool of mine. One huge deciding factor has been on using proper paper sketchbooks. We’re talking Seawhite of Brighton’s extra-strength when wet kind of proper sketchbook. I’ve found even Moleskine’s sketchbooks and the ones you can pick up in the art section of WHSmith’s lack quality. Nowadays, like with my Lost and Found comic, I’ll draw all the artwork in my sketchbook and scan it in from there, I don’t even use ‘final paper’ anymore. But yes, I have learnt that forcing myself to work in a sketchbook first, although may take extra time, actually makes the final pieces look surprisingly better. Still, for some work I’ll just go in all-guns-blazing and completely a piece start to finish with no planning (Boba Fett, for example), and my recent comic-endeavours have been extremely quick turn-around for deadlines so sketchbook work has been limited. But as I approach my last 5 weeks of ‘freedom’ before uni starts up again, I have been utilising my sketchbook for my last three projects of the summer. I’m not quite sure why I keep piling on work for myself, I guess it makes sense to keep a consistent flow so that uni’s 5-projects-at-once doesn’t cause me to have a breakdown.
Currently I’ve been using my sketchbook to work on ideas and scripting for a children’s book commission I’ve been asked to do. I love children’s books, I have no shame in admitting that. Oliver Jeffers is probably one of my favourites, along with Jon Klassen coming in close second. Even better, this book I’ve been asked to do is a Christmas book! So I get to be completely over the top and make it as magical and Christmassy as my imaginations will allow. My preliminary character development and sketchbook work is pretty much complete, so now it’s time to get it drawn up, yay! Here are some snippets of my sketchbook and the characters so far, to keep you all interested;
So, there you have it. The elusive sketchbook. Not a huge amount to update this week as I’ve been super busy with other boring adult things, but hopefully I’ll have more for you all next week. (Yes, if you notice the French translations, I’ve also been using my sketchbook to aid my learning Français. J’ai améliore (I hope)!) For now, I hope you all have a lovely weekend whatever you may be doing. Over and out!