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.)

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

They Call Me The Believer

In four-weeks-on-Saturday (i.e. 7th February), I'll be exhibiting at the True Believers Comic Festival in my erstwhile home, Cheltenham, where I'll also be sojourning for the weekend & experiencing many frightful flashbacks of embarrassing events of my university days.
I'll be sitting behind table G15 (see floorplan above, on which my stall's location is marked with inimitable clarity); my old uni coursemate Michelle 'WolfSkullJack' Harvey will be situated at E11, and behind table K12 will be sat representatives of the Pittville Press (the publishing concern of the University of Gloucestershire's BA Illustration course, in which I played a minor role during its inception).

In other news, I've updated the Killjoy #1-3 'Bumper Bag' discount deal to accommodate those fortunate enough to live somewhere other than the UK; stroll over to my Shop, where you can pick up the first three issues of Killjoy for £7 within the UK, or £10 including international postage. (At the time of writing, £10 is equivalent to approx. US $15.19 or €12.70 - source:

(The title of this blog post is taken from the chorus of John Maus' wonderful song 'The Believer'.)