Archive for the ‘Reports’ Category

Gig Poster Exhibition

September 21, 2013

Here’s a few snaps from my gig poster exhibition a couple of weeks ago:

Oxfam gig poster

I was glad to be asked to put together the exhibition and took the opportunity to get some good quality prints made up of gig posters I’ve designed in the last few years, 12 of which went up in the barn.

affordable art!

The framed prints looked good together, although it’s funny looking at several pieces of work together for the first time and noticing things like colours I tend to use or not, and a majority of characters facing towards the right (is this due to reading left to right or to being right-handed? Not sure).

affordable art!

A few other things I learnt:

– framing pictures takes a surprisingly long time, even if you double-check for dust on the glass before putting the back on… there’ll still be a speck or two that needs wiped off again.

– it’s very difficult working out how to price at a cost that’s reasonably likely to sell and to allow one to break even! But it’s definitely worth the experience.

– the people of Hitchin love pictures of sheep, and comics about demons.

affordable art!!

Some of the remaining prints will be going up inside the Vic this week; the pub hangs a lot of interesting work from local artists, so I’m pleased to be among them.

The Second International Alternative Press Fair

August 5, 2012

I had a good time visiting the 2nd International Alternative Press Fair at Conway Hall in Holborn yesterday, and picked up a bunch of awesome-looking comics and zines: the new Comix Reader anthology, another comics newspaper collection KUTI from Finland, an unusual book of animal-people drawn by Alessandro Ripane produced by Bradiponauta from Italy, the great new fold-out mini-comic from Steve Tillotson, Christopher Wren’, a Hong Kong sketchbook by James Nash, the new Island 3 by Lando and a bunch of work from Paul Ashley Brown comprising the new Browner Knowle, horror tale ‘The Tall Trees’ and lovely, sad,  scratchy illustrated monologue printed directly from pencil originals, ‘A Life in the Day’. Lots of inspiring work on show, makes me want to crack on with a new collection of my own!

A few other things I liked were the Magic collection by Girls Who Draw and the gorgeous Ellipsis by Tom Humberstone (which I forgot to go back for until the tables were packed up) and a photo-zine composed of close-up shots from Masterchefwhich make the hosts look like something from a horror film… although I couldn’t imagine going back to read that one very often. The anthology which seemed to consist entirely of twisted versions of Popeye was a bit strange as well.

Also a chunky book of colourful strips by John Broadley screenprinted in ink so thick it ponged deliciously. And some lovely work by John Miers again, especially his ‘Circle Man in Rectilinear Town’. Almost too much to look at in one day!

The day was completed with a film screening, a relaxing storytelling hour, a look at the tie-in artwork exhibited in the shop windows of nearby Lamb’s Conduit Street, then to Orbital Comics and a train packed full of enthusing sports fans while reading the day’s purchases.

Posters on my wall

August 24, 2011

It was a great gig by Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard to a sold-out crowd in Brighton, and I was pleased that afterwards I was asked to sign a few copies of my poster! I also got my own signed:

I think it’s the sixth time I’ve seen Jeff after catching various gigs over the last nine years or so at the Adelphi Club in Hull, Brixton Windmill and previously in Brighton at Concorde2.  There were no ‘low-budget music videos’ today (look them up if you’ve not seen them) but in the low-ceilinged venue it would have been difficult for most of the crowd to see Jeff’s sketchpad. Also it allows the rest of the band to play a bit more, and they’ve certainly become a tighter unit over ages of touring. They had just come from a visit to China and Korea, which allowed an excuse to sing some songs half in Korean which Jeff had written years before, which I remember reading about in one of his comic-strip journals. The set also included a cover of ‘White Riot’, and more reflective moments including a song of encouragement to make the most of your time because time will make its mark on you. Jeff is older and hairier but as entertaining as ever.

Here’s a snap of Jeffrey drawing on the bar afterwards:

You can read one of my old gig reviews here if you like.

Getting International

June 3, 2011

I enjoyed the first day of the International Alternative Press Fair at Conway Hall last weekend.  There was lots of good work on show from various places, and it was nice to meet some familiar and some new faces.

I was on the end of a table with my regular comic neighbour Joe Decie and three ziners squeezed in besides who had to take turns at the chairs. There’s so much talent at these fairs there’s sometimes not much room to move; one thing I always enjoy at these events is seeing fully-grown adults crawling underneath tables.

It was a quiet day for sales of my own, but I didn’t have a piece to point and shout at “this is new!”, unlike Joe whose new collection The Accidental Salad is now available in shops, from Blank Slate Books and here today and looking awesome, a great lot of sweet and odd ink-and-wash observations and stories, short flights of fancy and walks with pretty scenery.

I was also pleased to be able to buy the new comics from James Nash (whose latest annual diary collection of daily drawn thoughts, conversations and musical interludes Something Reductive uses a new newspaper format that shows off well the bold flow his art is taking), Steve Tillotson (Chris Sandwich, a short work of weird and slapstick three-panel strips starring an unfortunate young professional and a glowing skull) and Gareth Brookes (The Black Project, a compelling and darkly funny illustrated story of maladjusted adolescence) and the new issues of top anthology papers Paper Science (a science fiction special) and the fast-becoming-essential Comix Reader. All recommended. Some perhaps for mature readers only.

The best brand new thing I saw was a collection of various illustrations in all kinds of blues. I think it was called Blue Suede Shoes although it featured a lot of other things apart from blue shoes or indeed a blue Elvis. My least favourite was a collection of black-and-white photographs on yellow paper of a skateboard and a bunch of bananas. I didn’t buy either of them though.

I went along to a discussion staged by big cheese comics journalist Paul Gravett with Phillippe Morin of the Angouleme comics festival, which raised some interesting points on how the comics scene in Britain is becoming more successful, helped by events like today, and how it’s similar to France 20 years ago, where they really love their comics. Both men started out by writing fanzines. Paul Gravett kept having to ask the audience not to steal the examples he’d brought along from his beloved collection.

I enjoyed drawing a page for the Zine-in-a–Day which was compiled from pages which contributors brought along or created that day, and printed by the Footprint Workers Co-op down from Leeds. Our table was nearby and the rhythm of the risograph was an inspiring sound to have in the background, maybe I should start working in a factory.

There was a boy selling his own comic called The Zoom (with his mother’s help). He had one strip showing the same character throughout history, in different clothes, and it reminded me I used to draw the same thing when I was little. So I sort of stole his idea for my Zine-in-a-Day page, but I’d had the same idea first.

Afterwards I retired to the Crown with the Banal Pig gang and small press cub reporter Dickon Harris, who confused the barmaid by talking about comics and her expecting us to tell jokes. Then to Orbital for the exhibition of Slovenia’s top sequential art organ Stripburger. And home quite early due to not having had any dinner.

Next time I will have a new comic and some more food.

Alternative Press

December 2, 2010

Last Sunday I visited the latest Alternative Press Fair at St Aloysius Social Club in Euston, to stock up on new comics and catch up with friends; after exhibiting at a number of conventions in the last few years I’d stepped out in the summer as I wanted to take a break from selling my same old comics and refresh my enthusiasm for drawing them. It was nice to go back and find I’d been missed!

There were a few issues I wanted to catch up on: Shug’s final two of his four-part series Find Comet, Hit Comet, Watch Comet, Sleep; the new showcase from the reliable Banal Pig stable; and the latest Whores of Mensa anthology (the cover of which features a party full of small press creators, myself included!). I also bought The Comix Reader, an ambitious, artist-funded project edited by Richard Cowdry; the new Browner Knowle, impressive work as ever from Paul Ashley Brown, and Paul’s Donald Hamilton collaboration with Peter Lally; a delightful collection of Philippa Rice’s cardboard-cutout comics, and her small zine on vestibules(!); and another good newspaper format comic by Daniel Locke.

I was reminded of how different things can seem at the other side of the table, as although a few people remarked the event wasn’t as busy as previous fairs, it certainly seemed busy while trying to get to certain tables. A watched pot never boils…

A good thing about my visiting only trip was that I was able to go off and visit a couple of other shops: I dropped into Orbital and bought the new collections of Solipsistic Pop and Paper Science, and marvelled at the exhibited winning entries to the Observer Graphic Story Prize by Stephen Collins and Anna Mill & Luke Jones. I also flicked through the big hardback Fanzines study by Teal Triggs and was pleased to see a few zines reproduced which I recognised from the late 90s scene including Dancing Chicks and Vacuum Boots. No mention of A Cheery Wave from Stranded Youngsters though.

Then we went back to St Aloysius Social Club to pick up any comics sold on the communal table (one copy of Amusing Paper!) and have a few drinks, which is always one of the best parts of comic fairs.

Shug has an exhibitor report with lots of photos up here. And here’s me enjoying a copy of REET!:

The Secret of the Unicon

April 27, 2010

I was intrigued and excited to hear about the Unicomics event. A comics festival at the University of Hertfordshire, just a short train ride from my own town!

I did wonder what it would be like, though. While London events attract a wide number of visitors from across the metropolis and beyond, this was a small fair at a campus on the edge of a satellite town. Who would be there? Students, I supposed…

Unicon took place in a covered area known as The Street, with the stalls conveniently located for traffic, though somewhat oddly positioned in wide gaps along its length. Decorated with international flags and large portraits of university staff, this corridor played host to talent from the UK comic scene large and small – from X-Men to Beano to DIY small press. I met some local comics enthusiasts, a number of families (brought to the event by a Ben 10 cartoon showing and a comic-making workshop courtesy of Sarah McIntyre), some visitors on a faculty open day and a random old man… and a few students. Not sure where everyone else was.

Though not a very busy day, it was a pleasant time. Give me free cups of tea and I’ll always be happy. It was good to catch up with the comics folk, including my regular table buddy Joe Decie, and I even attended an interesting panel discussion, which I rarely take the time for when manning a table. In this case, I may not have missed much table action even if I’d been at all the talks, but hey, I’m not complaining. The topic of Comics & Music was one which the panellists – writers Kieron Phonogram and Matt Sheret, and comic creator Sean Azzopardi – admitted was too broad to tackle entirely successfully, but they did cover some of the links between the two forms, the crucial difference in these media (time in reading dictated by the reader), and their attempts to capture music in their art (e.g. each page of Phonogram #2.7 choreographed to ‘Wolf Like Me’ by TV on the Radio, and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound influencing a dense panel grid). And not once did they resort to the cross-culture cliché of ‘dancing about architecture’.

The panel ended with inspiring talk of how one subculture can influence another, with mention of Kieron’s DJing at Thought Bubble, Sean’s prior involvement in the late London Underground Comics market stall and Matt’s We Are Words & Pictures group’s touring small-press table, and how these regular meetings encourage each other to produce new and better work (with Tom Humberstone’s Solipsistic Pop anthology an excellent and up-to-date example, launching this week). Certainly makes me want to be more ambitious with my own comics.

I also picked up today a copy of Striptacular 2 by Francesca Cassavetti (an entertaining account of the appearance at the French comic festival Angouleme by Francesca, Sean, Oliver Lambden and Dan Lester, under the name B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S); Sarah’s hilarious Dear Diary mini-comic illustrating her teen journal entries; Many Happy Returns by Jan Wheatley, the effective first part of a serious comic set around a family in the 1970s… and I also bought a second-hand Chris Ware book from Douglas Noble.

After fun at the pub I watched Watchmen (the Director’s Cut, which was good, but very long) before going the short distance home. Although when my friend dropped me at a station I just missed a train, and had to wait an hour for the next one. At least I had plenty to read.

I hope this was just the first of many UniComics festivals; they have the enthusiasm, facilities and location, they just need more promotion. Keep an eye on their activities by clicking here or joining the Facebook group.

My next fair will be the London Zine Symposium in Shoreditch on May 29th!

Thing 2010

March 28, 2010

I remember the first Thing I went to, back in 2005…  I’d been reading fanzines for years and producing my own A Cheery Wave from Stranded Youngsters, but didn’t know so much about DIY comics aside from REET!, its Hull-based precursor Lobster and a few titles found in the small-press section of Gosh! (does anyone remember Living Room comic?) I think I’d found out about the Thing from a flyer in Gosh!, and it introduced me to a wider world of underground publishing. I took along a few copies of my brand new Amusing Paper and I swapped and bought comics from Richard Cowdry, James Nash and Paul Rainey, all of whom are still doing comics now… I remember being a bit in awe of them. These days I’m used to being on the other side of the table and am possibly becoming a jaded old veteran!

It was a tired Team Twelve Eyes that set up stall in the Great Hall at Mile End on Saturday morning – neighbour Hugh ‘Shug’ Raine had travelled down from Yorkshire through the night, while I was just a little sleepy after being out to see art-rock-band Youthmovies the previous evening. My comic-making spirits had been perked up by reading the final issue of Phonogram, but it was a slow start to the day. My first sale was achieved through friendly desperation. “Feel free to browse my comics. Please?”

When Joe Decie arrived and we set up our shared table, I had trouble fitting on all my comics and postcards; if doing the Thing again next year, we might have to expand to our own tables as our range of titles grows. Oddly, though, I’ve found that while I have more issues on offer at each Thing, I’ve sold fewer comics in total. I suspect this is due to there being fewer Thing attendees rather than a decline in my product quality…

The hall certainly seemed less busy than previous years, and perhaps its visitor numbers have declined due to the number of other events at which it’s possible to buy small press, increase in Thing entry cost, or lack of so many ‘big name’ exhibitors this year such as Kate Beaton or Rene Engstrom. Or maybe potential new visitors just didn’t know about the Thing – I hadn’t seen any flyers in comic shops this year, and while it’s hard to gauge how much it helps to advertise, it wouldn’t do any harm.

A major attraction in favour of the Thing though, for exhibitors and visitors, is the themed Anthology produced every year, to which all are encouraged to contribute new work and which is sold cheap at the event. This year’s dinosaur-themed book is a whopping 131 pages, containing more dinosaurs than is entirely sensible, and is well worth a read.

I had a quick scout around the other tables and was pleased to see plenty of products new to me: especially impressed by a glossy mag full of weird illustration by John Miers and an odd little zine called Melon Shrub which drew me in with its eccentric drawing style and clever use of colour. I also bought the latest instalments of David O’Connell’s fantasy detective story Tozo, Paul Rainey’s Milton Keynes-set time travel epic There’s No Time Like the Present and Shug’s comedic end-of-the-world series Find Comet, Hit Comet, Watch Comet, Sleep. It’s obviously effective to publish continuing stories!

A new addition to this year’s Thing was the Dino-Saw-Us passport game thought up by Lizz Lunney and Timothy ‘People I Know’ Winchester. Collecting our stickers seemed popular with kids of all ages. It was also a good way of getting people to stop at our table while we attempted a sales pitch! Most common response: “I’m just browsing, I’ll be back round again later”.

Team Twelve Eyes were pleased when customers actually did come back when they said they would, and when one gent bought a big pile of comics from each of us. He even brought a checklist of previous purchases, so he’d know not to buy the same issue twice.

After a long day, we showed our faces at the ‘Schmurgencon’ (a rival convention/ pub gathering, thrown by mystery Norwegian ‘Schmurgen Jonerhaffs’) before retiring to the traditional Post-Thing Thing for beer and burger and talk with various comics creators, taking in bad puns, dangerous print techniques and Shoe People. We were also treated to free copies of an International sampler comic from German publishers Zwerchfell, which looks and even smells great. Thanks!

It’s always good to see folks and their new wares; so while not a vintage Thing, it was a Thing worth doing.

Brighton Zinefest Zinefayre

February 27, 2010

I had fun last weekend in Brighton!

I travelled down with Shabs (Alternative Press designer, comic-maker and stand-up comic) and Dickon (Zine Picnic chef and Panel Borders interviewer). We entertained a stranger on the train with some zines. Or maybe we just confused her. As it was a rare sunny day, we took a quick detour to the beach before going up to the Zine fair; here’s a sketch I made earlier…


The fair was part of a four-day zinefest including gigs, films, cabaret and social events organised by a special collective in Brighton. It seems to be a very healthy scene in the city. Unfortunately I didn’t get to any of the other dates, and while at the fair I spent most of my time behind my own table, but such is the way of small-press.

On sale today on two floors of the Hanover Community Centre were self-published comics, personal zines, political pamphlets, a few of the better (more humorous) art books (see Coachwerks anthology from a converted bus garage), and even good old-fashioned music mags (I picked up Shebang on a previous trip). I was sharing a table and candy-striped cloth with Steve ‘Rum Lad’ Larder and Isy Morgenmuffel (unfortunately Herman Peaks Comics, who I was due to share with, couldn’t make it to the fair). Both are well worth looking up – Steve’s output is part travel diary and part sketchbook and wholly attractive to look at, lots of detail in his handwritten articles and ink drawing. Isy too draws accounts of her own life at punk / DIY / protest events but in the form of cute comic strips. They have a shared zine ‘Rum Muffel’ if you want a taste of both.

The fair was busy throughout the day and I sold quite a few comics, with my Music Paper #1 being especially popular – unsurprisingly as it’s all about the life of a zine editor. Brighton was more of a zine fest than comic fest, though I think the distinctions between the two terms are quite blurred: there is more of a political edge to the zine scene than the comics world, but there’s crossover between them (zine publishers Last Hours, for instance, have just put out a few comic anthologies, including Excessive Force which is an anti-Police collection).Comics can be as personal as zines, they just use more pictures; zines can be as silly as some comics. It’s all small-press, it can be whatever its creators want.

After the fair, a large number of our small-press army invaded a neighbouring chip shop then a local pub. Subjects on the table included the most offensive cartoons we’ve ever thought up, and what happens when arts graduates meet boxers.

Later, I visited friends and fell asleep watching a Vincent Gallo film. Next day I bought a bunch of second-hand Tintin books and a Gabrielle Bell comic half about doing comic fairs and half about being kidnapped by a giant. It was raining, so then I went home. But it was a good weekend.

Below is a cartoon based on observations at this and other fairs…

Thanks to the Brighton Zinefest Collective for their work!

Small-Press Scene, no. 1

February 27, 2010

comics and zines

Alternative Press Fair

February 14, 2010

I had fun at the Alternative Press Fair yesterday. I was sharing a table with long-term small-press advocate Gavin Burrows (whose ‘Lucid Frenzy’ blog covers a variety of alternative culture and is well worth a read) and Tom and Joe from Mallard Small Press. Sales were reasonable, comics were discussed, beer was drunk.

Highlights of the day included:

– watching how eye-catching my Friendly Demon comic seemed to be. Either colour covers are the way forward, or small press enthusiasts are all Satanists

– thinking we were onto a sale when a girl in front of our table opened up her handbag… but pulled out a phone and went away.

– embarrassment in mixing up the members of the Mallard team, Chris (who writes dense and intriguing prose fiction) and Joe (who draws cartoons of stick men). Joe’s postcards seemed to sell well, but sadly the zines didn’t move so fast (you can read more on their blog)

– Saban ‘Shabs’ Kazim’s stand-up comedy set – the open-mic and poetry evening was a little hit-and-miss this time around, but Shabs’ true-life stories are always worth hearing

– buying some new comics: Pissing in the Wind by Joe Decie (a collection defining uses of the word ‘piss’); Birdsong/Songbird anthology by Will Kirkby, Sarah McIntyre, David O’Connell and friends; and James Nash’s 2009 Diary Comic, in which I was amused to find myself making a small cameo at a Bearsuit gig…

Thanks to Peter Lally, Gareth Brookes, Jimi Gherkin and the rest of the Alternative Press team for organising another fine day!

UPDATE: Richy K. Chandler of Tempo Lush fame also has a blog report complete with pictures: see if you can spot the difference between my cartoon and his photo!