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THE BLOG AT THE CROSSROADS


Books To Read: Best Graphic Novels November 2014

Posted: September 2, 2014

For my latest advance monthly recommendations for November 2014, the creators and their styles and subjects come not only from the USA and UK but also from as far afield as New Zealand, Lebanon, Korea, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Japan and France. I’m singling out for special mention that rarest of sightings, a new graphic novel from Dylan Horrocks, his exuberant and philosophical gem Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen. Here’s what Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home and Are You My Mother?, has to say about it:

Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen is a tour de force. There’s something very pure about Dylan Horrocks’ comics. That’s perhaps an odd word to describe this book which is so much about desire. But Horrocks’ line and his imagination both seem to flow freely and directly from some primal source. If you’ve ever wished that Hergé had written comics for grown-ups—gorgeously drawn and playful adventures that explore the serious anxieties of midlife—your wish has come true, and then some.”

Which title will be your pick of the litter this time? There’s plenty to look forward to here from around the globe and on your doorstep, so enjoy investigating these upcoming titles and stretching your comfort zone! Check out my PG Tips here…


Watch Moominland Tales: The Life Of Tove Jansson

Posted: August 29, 2014

In this centenary year of her birth, BBC iPlayer are repeating the wonderful documentary about Tove Jansson, world-reknowned for creating the much-loved Moomins. There are still five days left to watch or re-watch this revealing documentary, Moominland Tales: The Life Of Tove Jansson, which I was honoured to play a modest part in.


Save 10% Off Lakes Comic Art Festival Tickets!

Posted: August 29, 2014

With less than 2 months to go, things are really gathering pace for the 2nd Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal on October 17th to 19th 2014. Guests include Eddie Campbell, Becky Cloonan, Scott McCloud, Gail Simone, Jeff Smith, Barbara Stok, Joost Swarte and many more! The organisers are currently offering 10% off all tickets. Simply enter the code COMIC14 when prompted at the checkout. This promotion ends on 31 August and tickets are selling out fast.


Viz Unmasked At Lakes Comic Art Festival Fringe!

Posted: August 28, 2014

Viz stalwarts Graham Dury and Simon Thorp’s The Fat Slags loiter with intent in what looks suspiciously like the same King’s Cross alleyway as Jamie Hewlett’s Lawless Nelly, in their cheeky parody of the Comics Unmasked poster for the British Library’s hugely successful exhibition. This is the poster for Viz Unmasked, a Fringe exhibition at the Lakes Comic Art Festival in Kendal over the weekend of October 17th to 19th. Not to be missed!


Safari Festival New Waves In Contemporary Art And Comics!

Posted: August 28, 2014

Those enterprising bods at Breakdown Press are organising their very first, small but rather nicely formed celebration of the new wave of alternative and art comics from the UK and beyond. Taking place this coming Saturday August 30th from 11am to 6pm, Safari Festival is an opportunity for a curated group of cartoonists and publishers to exhibit and sell their artwork, prints and, primarily, comics, and for attendees to experience the best of UK comics’ avant-garde. The artists exhibiting have been selected for their innovative, fearless, diverse approaches to making comics. The festival will be free to attend, and will take place at Studio 2, the new Shoreditch gallery space of London-based creative agency, Protein at 31 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EY (By train: Shoreditch High Street, Liverpool Street, Old Street. By bus: routes 8, 26, 35, 47, 48, 55, 67, 78, 135, 149, 205, 242, 243, 388.)


Japan Foundation Gekiga Talk with Mitsuhiro Asakawa!

Posted: August 25, 2014

Japan’s mind-blowing comics culture has fascinated me for ages, so I’m really pleased to be invited to join my friend Mitsuhiro Asakawa, an award winning historian of Gekiga, in a conversation at The Japan Foundation, London. To begin the evening, Asakawa will introduce some of Japan’s most influential Gekiga artists, notably Yoshihiro Tatsumi, and reflect on his personal encounters with them, as well as exploring the original source of creativity in Gekiga expression and the social circumstances that resulted in this style.

This event promises to provide an intriguing and insightful scope into Gekiga and alternative comics to Manga in Japan. Join us both on 25 September 2014 from 6.30pm. This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please e-mail your name and reference, Gekiga: The Evolution of Alternative Manga to event[at]jpf.org.uk - see you there!


Comics Unmasked In British Library Book Signings This Saturday!

Posted: August 13, 2014

Come and meet me and ace-co-curator John Harris Dunning, author of the sublimely strange graphic novel Salem Brownstone: Along The Watchtowers, at the Comica Comiket, the free Independent Comics Market, taking over the entrance hall of The British Library all day on Saturday August 16th.

We’ll be signing the last remaining paperback editions of our book to accompany the wildly popular exhibition Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK from high noon to 12.30 in the British Library Bookshop. The hardcover edition has completely sold out and the softcover is specially discounted as the BL’s Book of the Month from £25 to a mere £15. John and I look forward to seeing lots of you there.

And our signing is one of four great half-hour signings held in the Bookshop through the day, starting with Matilda Tristram’s Probably Nothing at 11am, then after us Mark Buckingham of Fables and Dead Boy Detectives fame from 1pm, and finally from 2pm Dutch superstar Jan Cleijne, author of the best-selling Tour de France graphic history, Legends of The Tour.

These great comics artists will be happy to sign and sketch in your copy and personalise it just for you. Don’t miss this opportunity!


Getting Stripped Again at Edinburgh International Book Festival!

Posted: August 11, 2014

Last summer, for its 30th Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival celebrated with a major focus on comics and graphic novels, under the label Stripped! This year, as the 2014 festival gets underway from August 9th, comics are still being highlighted with guests like Charlie Adlard, Mike Carey, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Katie Green, Mary and Bryan Talbot, Reinhard Kleist, and many more.

One exciting launch will be for the Festival’s very own commissioned graphic novel, a shared future-vision of Scotland thirty years ahead when rising sea levels have transformed the landscape and everyone’s lives. On IDP: 2043 from Freight Books, the writer and graphic novelist Denise Mina edits and contributes alongside an impressive roster of talent including Kate Charlesworth, Will Morris (below), Barroux, Hannah Berry (above) and Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh.

EIBF has kindly invited me back to join co-curator John Harris Dunning for a Stripped 2014 event around The British Library exhibition Comics Unmasked. Under the title ‘Art and Anarchy in the UK’, John and I will be celebrating the tradition of sedition in British comics from their roots in the past to their latest shoots and branches as webcomics and other new forms. This is on Sunday August 24th, 8.30-9.30pm in the Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre and tickets cost £7 or £5 concs. Here’s the whole Stripped 2014 programme… See you there!


Shirley Bellwood - Draw Misty For Me

Posted: August 11, 2014

None of her thousands of avid readers ever knew her name. Her signature never appeared on any of her moody, memorable Misty covers, like this Summer Holiday Special. Worse still, all of her original artwork was casually destroyed by her publishers. But this coming Sunday, August 17th, we can all get a little Misty-eyed when Shirley Bellwood, the brilliant artist behind these illustrations and her very own model, finally gets a bit of the acclaim she so long deserved, Shirley will be making a very special appearance as part of Comica Conversations at The British Library, talking with Pat Mills, legendary creator and editor of the spooky girls’ weekly and one of its principal writers. Joining them will be Dr. Julia Round, co-editor of the academic journal Studies in Comics and a lifelong Misty reader. Book your tickets for this now, it’s one of five Comica Conversations running through the day in the Conference Centre from 11am to 7pm (with breaks for refreshments and signings!).


Matilda Tristram - Probably Nothing, Definitely Something

Posted: August 9, 2014


Coping with either pregnancy or cancer would be enough for most people, but in February 2013, when Matilda Tristram was 18 weeks pregnant with her first child, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. That month, she began keeping a diary in comics form of her experiences and feelings and made them public online to a growing global readership as Probably Nothing. Read the rest of my profile of Matilda and her brand-new postscript, a two-page comic entitled ‘Definitely Something’, commissioned by ArtReview magazine, here…


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