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.

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.