Wednesday 11 September 2019

An Autumn Triad

I had a great time at the Warsaw Independent Bookfair this past weekend—it was probably my favourite of the non-comics-specific shows at which I've exhibited over the years. It was my first time tabling copies of The Many Not the Few, which seemed to go over well. (I've finally added the book to my Shop—I'll be dispatching orders from the end of the month.) Thanks to everyone who stopped by—you were some very cool people.

My next show will be the International Festival of Comics & Games (MFKiG) in Łódź, which will be taking place on 27–29 September. I've visited the event once as a punter, and enjoyed it—so I'm looking forward to exhibiting there for the first time. (I still haven't explored the city very much, and the comics festival coincides with the city's Light Move Festival, so I'm hoping to make a little holiday of it, too.)

© International Festival of Comics and Games

And then, to round off a trio of Central European shows, I'll be exhibiting at the FRAME Festival in Prague (2–3 November). I've not been to the festival before, so I'm curious to find out what it's like—and it's always nice to be in the Czech capital. (I guess I've had a break from UK shows this year—but I'll probably be about for one or two in 2020. We'll see.)

© No Ordinary Heroes / Centrala

In other news, I'm in the process of finally finishing up the second edition of Killjoy #2—which I started working on way back in the summer of 2017 (but set aside to make The Many Not the Few). I've ended up making more amendments to the artwork than I originally intended—hence the continued delay in its release—but I think it's looking a lot better for it. I'll also be adding an additional story, 'The Tooth Fairy & Me'. I'm hoping to have copies with me in Łódź—and in Prague, too.

Thursday 6 June 2019

Late Spring; Launching

Hello again! I'm delighted to announce the release, this week, of The Many Not the Few: An Illustrated History of Britain Shaped by the People, a new history comic written by Sean Michael Wilson and drawn by yours truly, with a foreword by Jeremy Corbyn. It's an episodic history of people's uprisings and labour movements in Britain from the fourteenth century to the present day, across ten chapters and five-score pages of comics.

On Monday 29th May, we had a lovely launch for the book at the UK Houses of Parliament (!!), during a birthday bash celebrating the 120th anniversary of the founding of the General Federation of Trade Unions (co-publishers, alongside New Internationalist, under their Workable Books imprint). There were some excellent talks on the history of GFTU, and a special appearance by Corbyn, who have a rousing speech – and bought four copies of the book!

Too eager to pose.
Photo by Corinne Pearlman (Myriad)
He thought the Brexit talks were as tedious as it gets... and then he met me.
Photo by Corinne Pearlman (Myriad)

This project has been in development since late 2016, and it's occupied a lot of my time and attention for these last couple-and-a-bit years (hence my online quietude). So, after such a long gestation, I'm excited for you all to see it. I'll be offering (signed/sketched-in) copies for sale soon enough, but if you're eager to buy it now, you can get it from online shops such as New Internationalist's Ethical Shop and, or hop on down to your friendly neighbourhood comic shop, like Page 45. Watch this space for news about an ebook edition.

(I'll also be offering original art sales in due course. Feel free to get in touch with enquiries and/or to bagsy any pages you particularly like.)

Page one – and so, it begins...

Monday 5 June 2017

International Komiksiarz

This past weekend, I exhibited at the Warsaw Comic-Con – apparently the first event of its kind in the city. It was a new experience for me, too: the first time I'd tabled outside the UK, and my first broad fan convention. (I've preferred to exhibit at shows centred on comics or publishing back in the old country.) I'd also never exhibited at an event longer than a weekend, so I expected a four-dayer to be rather grueling – but the duration turned out to be perfectly fine. I met some cool folks and sent out a bunch of comics into the hands and homes of a new crowd of readers. Thanks to everyone that dropped by, bought books, and talked with me (despite my lamentable lack of Polish).

A post shared by Robert Brown (@pygmyking) on

Being a new show, the organisers wanted to try to be everything to everybody, hosting a wide range of exhibits and events relating to comics, games, manga/anime, cult film & television, spec-fic, general pop culture fandom, &c. My little table was nearby a small group of other (larger) comics-related stands, and areas dedicated to relevant workshops and signings, but some people I spoke to had hoped to find more stuff related to independent comics creators – the fundamental aspect of comics culture that was rather under-represented there. On Sunday evening, one of the organisers told me that they want to make the show more about comics in the future – so we can hope that they will build upon the experience of running a solid fan show and provide more for readers seeking comics next time.

(The convention was also twinned with a videogames event, Good Game, that took place in the next building; visitor passes provided entrance to both events. I didn't check out this section – I felt I'd already had my fill of digital gaming events after attending the previous weekend's excellent Pixel Heaven show, and Warsaw Games Week back last October – but I enjoyed the tabletop gaming stalls in the Comic-Con building.)

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Infinite thanks to Iza Ś. for keeping me company for the whole show, and helping me in countless ways (including sharing the burden of wrapping krówki – see above – which was her idea, as an edible 'business card' and a little giveaway for passing guests).

Wednesday 16 November 2016

The Emojification of Culture

During the weekend-before-last, I exhibited at the convention of the Thought Bubble Festival 2016. It was my fourth time at the show, and the third year in a row I'd chosen to be in the Marquee. I keep choosing this venue because it's the 'special' structure erected for the festival, with an atmosphere nicely balanced between the bustling enormity of New Dock (wherein I've never tabled) and the vague marginality I felt in the Royal Armouries when I took a table there way back in 2011. The weekend started a little haltingly with an unusually slow Saturday (for me), but picked up for a comparatively successful Sunday. (It's usually the other way round, but I think this new way is preferable - it beats the dratted Sunday blues.)

Photo courtesy of Michael Lomon
I rather forgot how freezing a tent can be in late Autumn - my feet felt near-frostbitten in my boots by the end of each day - but I had another great weekend, as one expects of the UK's best comics convention. I was allocated a table with Michael Lomon, who proved to be a great table-mate; I haven't got round to reading through my Thought Bubble acquisitions yet, but from a purely superficial assessment, his new webcomic The Palace of Tears is looking lovely.

My next convention will be Robot Con in Sheffield, at the Millenium Gallery on 25th March 2017. I know a couple of people who exhibited at the 2016 show, and it seems to be an interesting new event. Hopefully I'll be seeing you there - with copies of Killjoy #6, which will contain the second part of 'The Great British Summer Holiday'!

I also took part in the academic conference that precedes the convention, Comics Forum. I was there for the Friday, presenting my short talk ('Docu-Comics: An Artist's Perspective') about educational comics & my contribution to Portraits of Violence during the final panel. It was my first ever time at an academic conference, and my first solo presentation since secondary school (I only gave one group presentation during my first year of university - hurrah for arts degrees!). Although I felt very nervous, and fumbled and quavered my way through twenty minutes of blathering, I received some positive feedback & met some swell people. I really enjoyed the other talks - it was an interesting day. I also brought a bunch of copies of Portraits of Violence to the convention, and it caught a lot of people's curiosity. I sold out of my few copies and had to grab a couple more from cool co-contributor Yen Quach, who was also exhibiting in the Marquee (thanks, Yen!).

Fun fact: the hand-drawn elements of the logo were daubed with a discarded toothbrush.
And, also, a small announcement: from today, I'm embarking on a project called EMOJICA, in which I plan to publish a drawing inspired by an emoji (based upon randomised selections from the Unicode standard) on a daily basis. The idea first came to me shortly after Oxford Dictionaries' announcement that their 'Word of the Year' for 2015 was, for the first time, an emoji - namely 'Crying with Laughter'. A number of months later, I decided to launch the project today, the first anniversary of the aforementioned announcement. I'd be grateful if you'd check out the website, and follow/like the various social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook). The first one of my 971 selections that I picked 'out of the hat' (or, more accurately, was provided algorithmically by way of a Google Sheets formula) is only a little premature in its seasonal relevance: emoji number 183 in Unicode 9, 'Santa Claus' (U+1F385).

A photo posted by EMOJICA (@emojica_) on

Sunday 30 October 2016

Five, Alive!

After five weeks of scribbling, from London to Warsaw, I'm now awaiting the delivery of Killjoy #5 from the printers (i.e. the wonderful Comic Printing UK). Hop over to the Shop if you'd like to order a copy. Much of this issue was produced more spontaneously than previous 'medium-length' stories of the Catch a Fairy project - with less pre-planning - and I'm hoping this process results in a pleasing narrative effect. Unfortunately, I broke my rule of keeping every issue of Killjoy self-contained: issue five contains the first instalment of a longer story - which I'm planning to conclude in issue six - 'The Great British Summer Holiday'.

In the technical production of this issue (including flatting and general colouring assistance in the making of the above cover), I was patiently and fruitfully assisted by Iza Świderska, without whom I probably wouldn't have met the print deadline for its planned debut. Many thanks to Mecha-Iś!

(Left) Makeshift studio in kitchen; (Middle) Work-in-progress pages; (Right) Some cartooning apparel.

Speaking of debuts, I'll be sat at table 69 (snigger) in the comiXology Marquee at the convention of the Thought Bubble Festival on 5th-6th November 2016, with the first copies of the new issue to be offered for sale. I'll also be bringing along a few copies of Portraits of Violence: An Illustrated History of Radical Thinking, published by the New Internationalist, for which I illustrated the chapter on Foucault (and drew the title-page portrait of Arendt). I hope to see you there.