Friday, 27 May 2016

You're the Spring in my Step

I was happy to hear that the Comica Comiket was returning this Spring (14 May), as I'd really enjoyed my time with them back in 2012 and 2013. Given the (lamentably) stiff competition for table space at London conventions, it was nice to get a spot at my first comics-specific show in the Big Smoke for two-and-a-half years. Thereat, I released the second edition of Killjoy #1, featuring a redux version of the 'Cub Camp' story adding three pages and grey tone, as well as reworked versions of a couple of panels. (Check out some sample pages over at the Shop.) Comiket took place in the sheltered courtyard of the House of Illustration, in King's Cross, on a mild Spring day; probably due to the event's recent resurrection and fairly late announcement, the footfall was lighter than in the previous years I attended, but it was an enjoyable event nevertheless. I look forward to their future shows.

Proper excited. © Lucy Brown
In my previous post, I mentioned spending a pleasant day pratting about with Gareth Cutter and a video camera. We cut the resultant footage into Gurning Bright, a little teaser for an imaginary film about a talking tiger. Press play, click for HD quality, and watch in glorious full-screen mode (and turn up your volume, too, as I amateurishly set the audio levels a little too low):

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

My Shadowlife

A short autobiographical strip, drawn on 23rd March 2010 - still feeling that obscuration of identity caused by day-jobs, to some degree.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Anxiety of Influence

Another belated post about a comic release! No wonder I'm still nowhere near making my first comics million... The Thought Bubble Festival 2015 convention (14-15 Nov), at which I released Killjoy #4, was great fun, as always. The other half of the table at which I was seated had not been allocated, so I ended up having a whole table to myself - which was quite fortuitous, given that it turned out that arranging four comics in my usual fashion required the extra space.

Thought Bubble 2015 © Charley Wilcock
As always, thanks to everyone who dropped by the table, both pre-planned visitors and impromptu tarriers. It seemed that I encountered more familiar faces than ever before. (Initially I thought it seemed that people were especially chatty this year; eventually I had three long overlapping conversations with visitors to the table, and suddenly realised that I was the garrulous one. Whatever happened to my misanthropic aloofness?) I broke the three-figure mark in takings over the weekend, which I suppose is pretty good for an unknown solely hawking issues of black-and-white childhood memoir comics. I still can't bring myself to make any other merchandise.

The week before, I attended the opening of Orbital Comics' Underneath exhibition, to which Camila had invited me to contribute a piece. In line with the theme of influences & inspirations, I drew a page inspired by Chris Reynolds' Mauretania Comics (especially the story 'Whisper in the Shadows', which is collected in his incomparable Adventures from Mauretania), with his blessing. I exhibited the original art, which I'd not intended to sell, but after a rather fumbling (on my part) negotiation with one of the attendees, I received financial compensation for rehoming it. The show was excellent - thanks for asking me along for the ride, Camila! - and I hope you had the chance to check it out. I plan to publish my piece, 'Whispering Walls', on this site at some point in the near future.

Underneath © Laura Marie Scott
Did I ever tell you that I occasionally do things that aren't (directly) related to comics? One of those things is messing about with video cameras. After plans for shooting scenes for my own film project fell through, my pal Gareth Cutter & I decided to have a bit of fun, one Saturday in February, with a tiger character/costume he's explored in previous performances. We intend to build upon the footage shot with some more semi-improvised material to cobble together into a short film. Watch this space (but not too intently).

Tyger, tyger, gurning bright © Gareth Cutter
At the time of writing, I've just recently undergone a particularly trying home-move (hell, they're always trying) & am preparing to get back into the cartooning groove. Stocks of the 'historic' first edition of Killjoy #1 (printed way back in 2011) are finally dwindling, and so I'm planning a redux edition to build upon the original material & commemorate the fifth anniversary of its release. Thereafter, I'll be planning Killjoy #5, a return to the issue-length story format to cover the events of late summer '97. Before all that, though, I'm going to be working on a strip for the the Histories of Violence project, with Sean Michael Wilson & Brad Evans, about the theories of Michel Foucault. (I previously provided a cover for Hannah Arendt: The Banality of Evil.) Busy-ish times ahead.

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Portable Cartoonist

This month, I've started making some headway in drawing the fourth issue of Killjoy.

My usual drawing process requires a little preparation before I actually make the first marks on paper - that is, clearing space on my cluttered desk before setting up my drawing board (I use a Reeves' Art and Craft Workstation, A2 size, which is effective and inexpensive) and preparing whatever drawing materials I plan to use. As a result, I've only tended to make 'finished' work during occasional, preplanned sessions on free days or evenings.

As I intend to make single issues of Killjoy a little longer from now on, I'm making use of smaller pockets of free time - lunch breaks, idle café visits, &c. - in the production of comics. To this end, I'm drawing a number of strips in a sketchbook (Daler Rowney Ebony, spiral-bound), with a brush pen (a Kuretake No. 13 filled with Platinum Carbon ink).

Redrawing panels in Manchester's new Chapter One bookshop & café
Some of the benefits of the brush pen are its speed, convenience, and looseness; the last characteristic might be considered a disadvantage in some circumstances, but it helps in remedying the increasing fussiness I've developed in drawing a project that was intended to be freer. (I received some justified criticism of this tendency at last year's Thought Bubble Festival.) Watercolour brushes loaded with Indian ink are always more versatile and precise - especially for controlled wet/dry effects - but I can't just pull them out of my bag and get to work on any available surface during a few stray minutes. (I also think the coffee shop scenes in Jeffrey Brown's comics might've inspired a certain fondness for the idea of café-drawing.)

I must admit to a little former preciousness in respect of art materials - that sketchbooks and pens might not be 'proper' tools for 'serious' drawing, even though I've always theoretically agreed with Derek Kirk Kim's opposite opinion. However, I've become increasingly aware that brush pens are regularly used to brilliant effect by cartoonists whose work I could never hope to match: Frederik Peeters uses the Pentel Pocket Brush to draw his beautiful comics, and Blutch apparently keeps multiple brush pens to hand - and Kaz once told me that he began drawing Underworld with a brush pen in his sketchbook after a move that left him pressed for time. And, of course, to be a tools snob makes one a tool.

The only concerning disadvantage with this method is that bending over a horizontal sketchbook is painfully niggling a trigger point in my back. I'll probably draw about one-third or half of the issue in this manner, before moving back to a static, posture-friendly setup in a month or two.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Alternative to Love

Two-thousand and fifteen is looking to be my busiest year for conventions yet.

In February, I tabled at the inaugural True Believers Comic Festival in my former home, Cheltenham. It was an event predominantly geared towards the pop culture element in comics and couldn't be described as one of my most successful of convention experiences - nevertheless, I enjoyed catching up with old Cheltonian pals and treating a rather jaded girlfriend to the Robert Brown Early Adulthood History Tour. During my trip, I was pleasantly surprised by The Wilson, "Cheltenham's newly extended Art Gallery & Museum" - the somewhat folksy local history museum is now augmented with an agreeably designed gallery of their art collection. Therein, I was particularly beguiled by John Piper's Cheltenham Fantasia. After our visit, we ate chimichangas.

The Artist as a Fatigued Mess (at True Believers Festival - by Laura Scott)
In March, I experienced my first not-explicitly-for-comics fair, the Sheffield Zine Fest. As hoped, it was an interesting event and provided me with a fresh perspective on alternative publishing. The ever-productive Rob Jackson also had a table, and I made an acquaintanceship with Russell Stearman, the creator of Insurrection.

Next up, on 9 May, I'll be taking off to the Metropolis for Takeover 2015, a collaboration between Alternative Press & London Radical Bookfair. I'll also be hoping to squeeze in another event before my my annual last-minute scribbling rush to complete the fourth issue of Killjoy before the ever-brilliant Thought Bubble Festival in November. (Hereafter, I'll be updating my rather self-important Events page with convention plans.)