THE BLOG AT THE CROSSROADS
Posted: May 22, 2013
The stimulating, innovative literary festival Kosmopolis held in March at the CCCB in Barcelona have just posted the complete one-hour presentation I gave there about 21st Century British Comics. The flattering but lengthy introduction by Javier Calvo is in Spanish but fast forward about seven minutes and you’ll get to the start of my rather frenetic but hopefully informative overview of GB Comics today. The video seems a bit dodgy tho, so you might want to just listen! And muchas gracias again to Kosmopolis and The British Council for inviting me and Karrie Fransman, Dave McKean, Paul Rainey and Peter Stanbury, it was truly inspiring.
I’ll be giving another version of this talk (in French this time) at the Strasbulles European Comics Festival in Strasbourg, France at 3pm Saturday June 8th, hope to see some of you there!
Posted: May 22, 2013
There’s still time left to enter your proposal for the Animate Europe International Comics Competition. The Brussels office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has put out the call for seven graphic short stories on “Europe”. The competition will be carried out in two phases. Phase I will select seven finalists. Professional and amateur comic artists are invited to send in the first two pages of their graphic short story as well as a summary of the story in text form. Entry deadline is Friday, June 14, 2013.
I am among the judges on an international jury who will nominate seven finalists. The finalists are invited to complete their graphic short story of up to eight pages. Each participant will receive a contribution of 500€ for their complete picture story. Entry deadline for the complete picture story is Friday, November 15, 2013. Out of the seven finalists the jury will choose the first prize winner. The contributions of all finalists will be presented to the public during an event including a press conference on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre in Brussels, and the best comics will be published.
So how do you enter? What are they looking for? Here’s some introductory info:
“Who doesn’t know him? Asterix the Gaul who rebelled against the Romans and in his adventures travelled all over Europe. He brought the tea across the Channel, relished Belgian Waterzooi and enjoyed Greek wine. A true European avant la lettre! Other comic strip heroes aren’t much impressed by barriers, be they geographical or mental either. Europe has an eventful past – what does its future look like? Do we even need a European “super hero” to rescue the Union? What do you foresee for Europe?”
Have a go and good luck!
Posted: May 21, 2013
No matter how much you think you know about any subject, there’s always more to learn and all of us are really ‘Initiates’ who can either stay in our comfort zones or consciously decide to keep an open mind and keep on discovering. If you’re curious, ready for something different in your comics reading, and want to explore contemporary comics culture from both side of the Channel, there are few better, or more cool and convivial, ways than visiting BD & Comics Passion at the Institut Français in London. This third annual long weekender celebrates the very finest in British and French graphic novels, once again in association with Comica Festival.
Among the guests, both Étienne Davodeau and Marc-Antoine Mathieu are coming over. Matthieu has had two books in English already, the allegorical Dead Memory from Dark Horse and in The Museum Vaults, a commission from the Louvre Museum no less, from NBM. Mathieu is over on Saturday to talk about his latest translated book, 3” (below), his audacious new graphic novel experiment, launching in English from Jonathan Cape in print and digital versions of a high-velocity whodunnit which lasts an intense three seconds! Are you eagle-eyed enough to solve this mind-expanding mystery? Read the rest of my latest Article here…
Posted: May 19, 2013
I’m looking forward this coming week to being involved in two lively panel discussions of comics and their relationships with art and with literature. This Thursday May 23rd from 7.30pm, as part of the Image Duplicator exhibition on show at the Orbital Comics Gallery, I am joining artists and exhibition co-curators Jason Atomic and Rian Hughes and A&D Gallery director Daniel Brant to discuss the Roy Lichtenstein Controversy and consider whether, and if so when, it is appropriate to ‘appropriate’ popular culture, in particular comics, in art. Come and join in the debate- and yes, it’s free!
And then on Sunday May 26th at 2pm, I am off to the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank to chair Drawing The Story with Mary Talbot, writer and co-author with Bryan Talbot of the Costa Biography prize-winning graphic biography, Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, Glyn Dillon, creator of The Nao of Brown (above), and Stephen Collins, cartoonist for The Guardian and author of the excellent debut graphic novel The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. We’ll be discussing comics status and potential in literature and beyond. Tickets cost £10, hope to see you there!
Posted: May 17, 2013
Crime most definitely did pay in 1945 for publisher Lev Gleason, and presumably also for editors Charles Biro and Bob Wood, as the four issues, #38-41, reprinted in Volume 5 of the Crime Does Not Pay Archive series from Dark Horse Comics, testify. It’s not common practice to give cover billing under the logo to a comic book’s editors. In fact, Biro and Wood also make rare cameo appearances inside Crime Does Not Pay #38 in a ‘Special Inside Comic House’ page (above) to introduce Dick Briefer’s regular Crime Notebook feature, Who Dunnit?, in which readers are challenged to solve a murder mystery. Briefer shows his two editors at ‘Comic House’ in celebratory mood: “We’ve had a big year, Bob. The quality of our books rises higher and higher with every issue.” Biro might have added, “And our sales too”. Read the rest of my Article here…
Posted: May 14, 2013
In my recent article on Pop Art and plagiarism, The Principality of Lichtenstein, I included a preview of WHAAT?, Dave Gibbons’ brand-new sharp satirical take on Roy Lichtenstein’s famous painting WHAAM!, now showing in the retrospective at Tate Modern in London. Visitors to the Comica Comiket and other events on Saturday April 20th were able to see this for the first time in a one-off, large-scale pair of prints, framed in perspex.
This blow-up is now about to adorn Orbital Comics as part of an exciting exhibition entitled Image Duplicator from May 16th to 31st which Rian Hughes and Jason Atomic have curated. Courtesy of Dave and Print process, a signed and limited edition of this image will be available with all funds raised going to the Hero Initiative to help comics creators in need.
Dave Gibbons, artist on Watchmen (and many other fine comics), has given a bit of background on WHAAT? and the ideas behind it and this show:
“I’ve spoken out in the past about my dislike, on both aesthetic and ethical grounds, of the “appropriation” of comic strip images by “pop art”. The feeling amongst the comics community is pretty much unanimous: we feel patronised, and we feel that several of our revered elders have been, frankly, robbed.
“To us, their creativity and skilled labour has been discounted by considering their work as being merely, in the jargon of the art world, “found”, and they have received no credit or recompense for what amounts to celebrated and expensive copies of their creations. The current exhibition of such images at the Tate Modern in London has prompted a new consideration of these matters, and I was invited to speak on a recent TV show about my views.
”However, it was Rian Hughes, another vociferous critic of the art establishment’s attitude who came up with the brilliant idea of our comic community using its own medium to make the point. Under the title IMAGE DUPLICATOR, the response has been very heartening and we are staging an exhibition of several dozen images in the gallery space at Orbital Comics.
“Naturally, I’m very pleased to support this project and have created an image for exhibition and subsequent auction sale. Entitled “WHAAT?”, it’s framed in diptych format, measuring 41” x 94”, and is my very own “re-reappropriation” of an image originally created by Irv Novick.
“Whilst he and nearly all of the artists mistreated in the past are no longer with us to beneﬁt, all proﬁts from the IMAGE DUPLICATOR venture will, appropriately, be donated to the Hero Initiative. This is a US-based charity which exists to help living comic artists and their families who ﬁnd themselves in ﬁnancial difﬁculty due to age or ill-health.
“So, not only will IMAGE DUPLICATOR make a cultural statement on behalf of the medium which we love but will also have a positive and practical beneﬁt for those in our community who have given of their creativity for often poor rewards.”
Be sure to see this show and support comics creators in need by buying this and other prints from Print-Process on sale through this Orbital exhibition.
Posted: May 8, 2013
It’s a pleasure to be invited back to Islington’s annual festival, this year celebrating reading, writing and freedom of expression, to give another free illustrated lecture about comics. I will be asking what lies behind the moral panics, media scares and strict censorship that have besieged comics in Britain and around the world? Why have they been repeatedly the targets of campaigns and censorship? Is there something inherently dangerous, or radicalising, about the form’s weaving of words and pictures?
From their 19th century precursors in Penny Dreadfuls to the Fifties Horror Comics, from the taboo-smashing Undergrounds to Manga and Graphic Novels today, I’ll explore the controversies behind the comics medium’s often fraught maturing process and the continuing issues of political correctness and the right to offend. Admission free subject to capacity and adults only please - for more details see the festival website.
When: 6.30-8.00pm on Wednesday May 15th
Where: Islington Central Library, 2 Fieldway Crescent, Islington, London N5 1PF
Posted: May 6, 2013
Graphic Scotland and the Edinburgh International Book Festival are pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the inaugural 9th Art Award for Graphic Literature. The 9th Art Award will choose the best work of graphic literature originally written and published in English between May 2012 and July 2013, from anywhere in the world.
I am delighted to join acclaimed arts critic and writer Hannah McGill, Freight Books publisher Adrian Searle and Costa award-winning co-author of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, Mary Talbot, in judging the prize this year. A casting vote will be given to Graphic Scotland chair John McShane in the event of a tie. The award will be presented during an event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.
Graphic Scotland Co-Director Gordon Robertson believes the prize could become a fixture on the international arts scene, and as important to sequential art as the Man Booker Prize is to literary fiction: “The 9th Art Award will be a significant annual award for recognition of excellence in the field of Graphic Literature. Its introduction as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival recognises graphic literature’s rightful status as an art form.”
Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “We have featured graphic novel authors and illustrators in our programme at the Edinburgh International Book Festival for a number of years now and I believe that this new Award will give the genre the wider recognition that it deserves.”
The deadline for entries is 31 July 2013. For details of how to enter your graphic novel, see the submission guidelines on the website. You can also find and follow 9th Art on Facebook, and on Twitter: @9thArtAward. Please direct all enquiries to info[at]9thartfestival.com .
I look forward to meeting some of you at EIBF on August 23rd, when, amongst other things, I’ll be giving an illustrated presentation at 5pm about my forthcoming book Comics Art from Tate Publishing.
Posted: May 5, 2013
Not every autobiographical comics artist is driven to create their own private book from the Bible. Sarah Lightman’s motivation came from her brother and sister having the Book of Daniel and the Scroll of Esther named after them, but there was no Book of Sarah, until now. A winner of the Slade Life Drawing Prize, Lightman began her diary drawings in 1995 at London’s Slade School of Fine Art, which she displayed as projections and accompanied with her spoken texts. Looking back, she thinks, “I am not sure if I could have survived my life without also drawing it. Often I make art about questions and situations in my life before I have even discussed them with friends and family”. Read the rest of my Article and a web-exclusive interview with Sarah here…
Posted: May 1, 2013
And another Free Comic Book Day stunt this Saturday May 4th is Paul Collicutt‘s cross-London run to sign and promote copies of his excellent period mystery The Murder Mile from SelfMadeHero. Here’s the route map and ETA timetable of where he’ll be showing up along the way - catch him if you can! And here’s a link to the Guardian running blog about it.