Posts Tagged ‘Small press’

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.

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.

London Spex-po

March 6, 2011

I’ll be exhibiting for the first time in ages at the new ‘London Comic & Small Press Expo’ next weekend. I’ll have a host of cards and comics to sell (also available from my website!). There will be a bunch of great artists there including Twelve-Eyed chums Joe Decie and Shug, Sarah McIntyre, David O’Connell, Lizz Lunney and many more.

The fair takes place at Goldsmiths University in the wilds of East London, from 10am-5pm on Saturday 12th March. Afterwards there’s a panel discussion between Dave McKean and Lorenzo Mattotti which is sure to be interesting. There will doubtless also be a trip to a nearby pub.

I’ve been working on a new collection of Amusing Paper, which may be finished, copied and collated ready to sell at the event… or may not. In the absence of new comics here’s a picture of my workspace:

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!:

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

Fun at the Fair

January 17, 2010

Next month sees the return of London’s premier gathering for all things underground and printed, the third Alternative Press Fair. There will be small-press comics, zines, artist books, radical literature and nice merchandise sold by as many creators as can fit in the venue. I’ll be there with comics and postcards; here’s a little flyer from me:

It’s also the first birthday of the Alternative Press team, so they plan a celebration after the stalls have packed up, with music and open-mic for all.

Also in my diary is the Brighton Zinefest on the weekend of 20th February, and a little further off, the annual celebration of comics that is the UK Web & Mini Comix Thing in London on 27th March. See you there!

Thoughts on Thought Bubble

November 23, 2009

Last year’s Thought Bubble was a treat: a convention which happily combined all elements of comics, bringing new talent to a new audience, and rewarding its guests with an exclusive after-party in a local casino! It was definitely an experience worth repeating.

Thought Bubble is part of the month-long Leeds Film Festival, with its own series of films programmed to tie in with the event, so each year I’ve gone up to Leeds a day before the main convention and taken the rare opportunity to catch some anime on the big screen. This time I went to the Hyde Park Picturehouse, a 95-year old cinema, complete with one tiny ticket booth, a tuck-shop style kiosk, and even a balcony – all on a street corner in a residential area! It took some finding, but I got there just in time to see ‘Angel’s Egg’, from 1985. Unfortunately I missed the introductory talk, which might have been helpful; the film didn’t have an easy story to follow, with very little dialogue or action. But like an animated David Lynch film, it successfully drew me in to its eerie mood, and left me with some weird images sure to stay in the mind. Not a film to munch popcorn to, though. The brand new ‘Summer Wars’ was more enjoyable, and I’d recommend it highly: I didn’t think the premise of boy-meets-girl-and-fights-computer-virus too promising, but the story is gripping, emotional and funny in turn, and the animation is just awesome, contrasting more traditional Manga styles with crazy game-inspired visions.

On Saturday, the convention included several panel discussions, guest signings, workshops and competitions, but for me it was all about the small press comics. I was sharing tables with Hugh Raine and Joe Decie, and arrived first to set up stall in good time. Unfortunately I found when Hugh arrived that I had the wrong table, and had to quickly move all my things! We had a good spot between the We Are Words & Pictures band and John Allison of Scary-Go-Round and Bad Machinery fame. There was a steady flow of crowds around the convention hall: occasionally our alley would seem empty, then a few customers would pop along at once and huddle around the tables. As at MCM Expo, we could amuse ourselves by cosplay-watching (best sights: the Penguin with a big stick-on beak of a nose, and the cardboard Transformer girl), and our spirits were kept up by visits from friends and by free Red Bull! I was pleased to meet some repeat customers from last year, a girl who laughed at every page of my Animal Paper, and a guy who asked to interview me for a student documentary… although I just managed to babble a lot about nothing while waving my hands around a great deal.

It was good to meet up with comic friends from all over: honorary member of our twelve-eyed comic team Dale O.F. came from Ireland; Audrey & Julia Morning brought sweet zines and comics from Scotland; I also had a chat with the Paper Jam collective from Newcastle and the comic-creating students from Glyndwr University in North Wales. And of course there were a lot of tourists up from London

I bought a good batch of comics, including the new issues of music/magic series Phonogram, Marc Ellerby’s Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter, Banal Pig’s Ethel Sparrowhawk, and a newspaper-format anthology from We Are Words & Pictures.

After the convention and a home-cooked meal from my friends (thanks Chris & Naomi), it was time for some drinking, drawing and dancing at the Thought Bubble after-party. I was obliged to do a little jumping about to ‘Can I Take U 2 the Cinema’ by Kenickie, ‘Broken Face’ by Pixies, and ‘Where’s Me Jumper?’ by Sultans of Ping FC… it was just a shame the music couldn’t have been louder! There were some big sketch pads by the bar, on which various reprobate artists scribbled things that included a zombie Charlie Brown and a naked Asterix

Before long it was 3am, and since the room seemed to have turned into a 1970s disco I decided it was time to go get some sleep. The next day I enjoyed the Christmas market in town and a couple of beers in the North Bar, decorated with cartoons by Dr Simpo, before heading home. Thanks to the organisers, customers and friends – I’d do it all again next year!

Are You Zine-Friendly?

November 14, 2009

I went along to the Zine Friendly night at the Foundry on 12th November, an Alternative Press evening organised to promote the launch of the Zine Friendly blog. It’s a new venture which encourages venues and events to be ‘Zine Friendly’ by selling small press publications or allowing creators to promote their wares, prospectively opening the scene to a brand new audience. As zine guru Jimi Gherkin says, a lot of people these days don’t know what zines are, even if they have an interest in music or alternative culture, because there are so few places to come across them. The world of zines is wide, interesting and creatively empowering, so it’s something to be recommended.

The basement of the Foundry was host to a communal zine stall, tea and cakes, and a cardboard robot which visitors decorated with sketches, doodles and Pavement lyrics. I caught up with some comics friends and bought a new issue of Browner Knowle – a series of observational fiction by Paul Ashley Brown, this one featuring an introspective artist and a failed romance – and I was even lucky enough to get home in just over an hour, which was better than my failed attempt to get a train to Comiket last Sunday….