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

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