Monday, 13 August 2012

Music to Watch Pigs Fly

Since 2007, I've been a member of the band Decadence in Berlin, playing bass (and occasionally guitar), shouting & songwriting alongside my pal Graham & sister Lucy. Since Lucy & I moved to Manchester, the act's settled into a largely dormant state, getting together only for one performance up here, and another in Telford to 'promote' the release of our retrospective tape cassette album, Setbacks (released by Graham's record label, Distorted Tapes).

I designed a simple black-on-yellow sleeve intended to be reminiscent of cheap punk gig flyers. We've only produced fifty of them, so if you're interested, pick one up while they're available. Each unit comes with a unique download code for those of you without the obsolete technology necessary to use the tape itself. (Of course, I'm opposed to absolute exclusivity of content, so it'll also be available in a non-physical digital version soon.)

(The title of the blog post is my fanciful title for the album, at which Graham baulked.)

EDIT [21:11]: Apparently the digital version is already available.

EDIT [05/01/2013]: You can now purchase the tape from the Shop page.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Devon Knows I'm Excited

In my bid to exhibit at as many different comic conventions as often as I can afford and/or be bothered to, I'll be heading 'dawn sawf' again, hawking my rags in historic Exeter at the Comic Expo on 23rd September, which is taking place in the Rougemont Thistle Hotel.

© Fantasy Events

I've never attended this con, and so it'll be yet another fresh experience. (Considering my day-job in intelligence, I'm a bit lax with recon.) Mike Allwood of Fantasy Events UK tells me that they've been attracting an increasing number of small press exhibitors each year, and so I'm hoping to be part of a diverse occasion. (I think they're big into cosplay - perhaps I'll set aside my usual curmudgeonly ways & dress up as David Boring?)

If all goes to plan, I'll be releasing Killjoy #2 at the event. The second issue is going to comprise a number of short strips, rather than the issue-length narrative of the first - pursuant to my plan to alternate between the two practices for the first few issues.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Con Artist

Being a Report of the Comica Comiket Spring 2012

21/04/2012: I woke up at a monkish hour to catch a coach to London. By 8.30am I was dazedly wandering the streets of Victoria looking for a place to acquire a score of pound coins for a float and a high-caffeine energy drink to shake off the lethargy following a sleepless 200-mile motorway journey. Then, off to Liverpool Street, towards to the location of the weekend's great cartooning event - the Comica Comiket.

The Great Hall of the Bishopsgate Institute is a lovely location for a comix fair - a pleasing balance of ornament and simplicity, big enough for festivity without the characterless enormity of a commercial convention centre. From the stage, Paul Gravett, the co-organiser of the event and its tireless MC, announced that it would be an event exclusively for independent material, intentionally free of superheroes and cosplay (although theoretically allowable if you really wanted them), stripped of all the extraneous bits of popular culture that are frequently bundled in with 'sequential art', focussing on the best aspect of comics: "comics."

Fake aloofness is cool, but evidently I'm not. Photo  © Camila (Orbital)
I had booked a third of a table, and was (rather self-servingly) pleased to find a little exam desk bearing my reservation card rather than a portion of space to be politely divvied up with strangers. I set up my wares much as I had done at the Thought Bubble Festival last November - for I had nothing new to show. (My table was marked for 'Pygmy King', my occasional alias; I'm not sure whether or not to stress the use of my birth name, but in this instance it didn't matter much.)

It was my first solo convention adventure, and I was lucky to be situated amongst a bunch of lovely creators/publishers - shout-outs to those sharing my modicum of aisle-space, Clíodhna 'Ztoical' Lyons, Robin 'Mogzilla' Price, and Ash Pure, and the two ladies across the thoroughfare, Jenika Ioffreda and Sarah Herman. I couldn't have asked for nicer neighbours. Thanks, too, to all the visitors & fellow exhibitors, fresh and familiar, who came over to chat and buy books. Of the latter concern, I was pretty happy to make enough profit to cover the cost of the table and travel - although probably not quite the food & drink, too. The money doesn't matter but getting the comic into more readers' hands is - well - 'what it's all about'.

Aside from the exhibition tables was the Drawing Parade, for which the stage was set up with a camera balanced above a draughting table, streaming the live sketching of name cartoonists. They were also asked to provide musical accompaniment for their 'performances': the first of the bunch, the esteemed Tom Gauld, chose Leonard Cohen's new album Old Ideas. A couple of my aforementioned comrades weren't happy to start the day with a soundtrack by the 'Bard of the Bedsit', but opening the day with Laughing Len's growl raised my already high spirits and seemed to deliver part of the promise that it would be a unique event in the Brit comix calendar. (Later, by contrast, there was a playlist of classic Eurovision entries - great fun!)

Clíodhna with the ears, me behind her. Photo © Ash Pure
Without a co-exhibitor to share the burden of commerce, I couldn't bring myself to have a proper look-round the hall, and bought only one comic, by Clíodhna. Dan Berry suggested allowing for an 'exhibitor's hour' (my parlance) during which the creators could browse the other tables before the visitors' opening time; I'm not sure how viable this would be, but it would certainly give sellers a chance to experience all the new material, and meet/catch up with peers without the guilt of missed trade.

A few people asked me when to expect the next issue of Killjoy. Darryl Cunningham asked, and I said I'd have it done in a few months. Paul Rainey asked, and I said perhaps summer and almost certainly before Caption. A couple of other people asked later in the day, by which point August, initially a vague estimate, had become an official release date.

So, yes - August. Or perhaps July. Probably August. (Or later.)

[Thanks to brilliant people Camila & Ash for photographs. A compact camera is at the top of my shopping list.]

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Sell Your Labour (Not Your Soul)

I've finished work on my first freelance cartooning commission, in collaboration with writer Sean Michael Wilson. I'm not sure how much information about the project that I should publicise, and so I'll just post one of the panels in place of specific data...

There's still almost two weeks left to contribute to the funding of Sean's graphic novel (drawn by Carl Thompson), Parecomic.

Forthcoming projects of my own include: a strip based on Stephen Merritt's wonderful song 'The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side' for the 69 Love Songs, Illustrated project curated by Julia Scheele; an illustration for the house zine of my old pal Graham's record label, Distorted Tapes; starting Killjoy #2 (finally); researching the (pre-)historical setting of a forthcoming fiction comic; and later in the year, contributing to the great British alt-comix anthology...

But not tonight. I only slept for about 90 minutes last night, & I still haven't taken dinner.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

This Little Piggy Went to Comiket

... or rather, 'Will Be Going'. I'm following the modest debut of Killjoy with a turn at the Comica festival's Comiket in London this April. Like Thought Bubble, I'm exhibiting without having visited the event before. It looks good. I've already booked dirt-cheap coach tickets to the capital, and so should you. Come over and and we can exchange stilted pleasantries.

I probably won't have a second issue to sell. ^  © Paul Gravett, possibly.
Since the release of Killjoy #1, I've become involved in a couple of great cartooning projects, led by comics creators better known than me. This means that: (a) I will be drawing more comics than usual this year; and (b) I have the opportunity to type that great artist-blogger cliché: I can't talk about them yet! Actually, I might be able to - not sure - but one's got to fully exploit the opportunity to sound popular and enigmatic, 'ey?

A final note - Killjoy #1 is available, so far, in ten shops all about England, with a few more to follow - a couple of which will be over the Pond.