THE BLOG AT THE CROSSROADS
Posted: November 26, 2013
I’ve just given an interview to Comics Bubble about my new book Comics Art from Tate Publishing, and a little bit about my current project, co-curating a major exhibition on British comics for The British Library next summer. Thanks to Richard Graham for the questions and for this photo he took at the Comica Comiket on November 2nd.
Posted: November 25, 2013
Births, burials or ejaculations can be premature, but how about cohabitation? Howard Hardiman knows something of London’s gay escorts, having done a bit of sex work himself. Fascinated by their world and worldview, he began interviewing his friends and developing a play about them, which he eventually realised as The Lengths, a self-published comic, revised and compiled into a graphic novel by Soaring Penguin Press. “Through the interviews, their moments of doubt or fear were never related to conflict, addiction or danger, but hinged on all-too-familiar anxieties about self-worth, attractiveness and missing out. Small, mundane fears. Glimpses of tenderness. These are the stories I’d much rather tell.” Read the rest of this Article and Howard’s brand-new coda strip ‘Premature Cohabitation’ here…
Posted: November 20, 2013
I’m looking forward to an even bigger and better Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds this coming weekend and I’ll be hosting two fascinating fifty-minute panels:
The first is on Saturday afternoon, November 23rd in the Speech Bubble Panel Area, Armouries Square, 1545-1635, (free entry with Saturday/Weekend convention pass, all ages, but please note: Thought Bubble does not control panel content).
Graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero have invited me to chair three creators in conversation about their working methods. Oscar Zarate, Frederik Peeters and Ilya discuss how they see a graphic novel project through from concept to completion. Revealing three different approaches to graphic novel creation, this is a must-see for artists, writers and anyone interested in the creative process.
Oscar Zarate is the author of The Park and is widely known for his collaborations with Alan Moore, Alexei Sayle and others. Frederik Peeters is the creator of the award-winning science fiction series Aama, which makes its English language debut at Thought Bubble 2013. Ilya is widely known for his work for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and others; his latest graphic novel, Room For Love is published by SelfMadeHero.
The second is on Sunday afternoon, November 24th, again in the Speech Bubble Panel Area, Armouries Square, 1540-1630, (free entry with Sunday/Weekend convention pass, all ages, but please note: Thought Bubble does not control panel content).
Join me and meet scientists and engineers from the University of Leeds who are launching Dreams of a Low Carbon Future, a graphic novel created in collaboration with comic artists (James McKay’s vision of a all of tomorrow, above), and with writers and schoolchildren. We’ll explore the important issues facing our society today – such as what could happen if we don’t adapt to climate change, and what could utopia actually look like if we somehow get everything right.
Hope to see you there!
Posted: November 19, 2013
With an astonishing seven out of every ten Algerians today under 25 years old, the country’s vast, vibrant youth offer huge potential but can enough opportunities be created to harness this? Meanwhile, it’s little wonder so many look across the Mediterranean and long for Europe. Despite the Euro crisis, economic slump and political storms over immigration, rising comics artist Sofiane Belaskri (21) knows how much Europe remains a promised land to many of his generation, who dream of getting there somehow, even if they risk arrest or worse on the open sea. Belaskri understands them, because he used to be one of them. “Europe is so close, and for them Europe is what they see on TV and in music videos: beautiful lives, beautiful women… But it wouldn’t be like this if Europe hadn’t closed its doors to these young Third World people and they could have visited, seen the truth and come home again. They are only people who have not accepted their daily lives, where each day is full of “emptiness”. They just want a better life.” Read the rest of my Article here…
Posted: November 15, 2013
As the grand finale from 3.30pm, cultural historian Roger Sabin will be grilling me in a lively Keynote conversation at Comics Forum academic conference on small press and underground comics in Leeds on Friday November 22nd.
And the evening before, in Thursday November 21st from 5pm to 6.30pm I’ll be introducing my new Tate Book Comics Art in Travelling Man’s Leeds store. Do come and join me at one or both of these events as part of Thought Bubble Festival.
Posted: November 12, 2013
Last year, a friend asked me if I had a copy of Superman #9 (1940, iconic cover by Fred Ray) which I might lend to an exhibition on Pop Art Design. As it happened, I did and was happy to help the Vitra Design Museum out and for it to be reproduced in their catalogue. Little did I know that the show would end up coming to the Barbican Gallery, London and that I would be able to lend them three more of my American comic books for display, all from the Swinging Pop Art Sixties: Giant Superman Annual #7 (1963, cover by Curt Swan); The Avengers #20 (1965, cover by Jack Kirby and Wally Wood, ‘A Marvel Pop Art Production’); and Captain America #111 (1969, cover by Jim Steranko). I’m truly chuffed that this quartet of mine are included in this excellent exhibition and their illustrators are getting the credit they deserve.
Posted: November 12, 2013
True, it’s a bit too early to be wishing you all a Happy New Year, but from my selections of this coming January’s releases, 2014 is going to be a Happy one for readers of great comics. My monthly PG Tips below span from the very beginnings of comics’ origins to the latest online experiments, taking in major creators like Dave McKean, Bastien Vivès and Michael Deforge, the bande dessinée source of new Korean movie Snowpiercer, and an innovative biography of Zelda Fitzgerald along the way. There’s also the long-awaited reissue of Marvelman/Miracleman written by Alan Moore, repackaged ironically by Marvel and with Moore’s credit replaced by ‘The Original Writer’. Now that much is correct, as Alan was most definitely being highly ‘Original’ working on this modern superhero classic. Kimota! My top tip goes to McKean’s Pictures That Tick Volume 2, which includes not only his ‘Black Holes’ docu-comic made for Comica Festival and Ctrl.Alt.Shift’s Unmasks Corruption anthology, but also the print adaptation of his acclaimed Hypercomic gallery installation ‘The Rut’ (sample spread above). This is an essential gatherum by one of the most innovative multi-media storytellers on the planet! Read my PG Previews here…
Posted: November 10, 2013
I am a bit chuffed, because my brand-new book Comics Art (cover above by Joost Swarte, a detail from his cover to Raw Vol 1, No. 2, coloured by Françoise Mouly) is being launched on November 9th from 6.30-8.30pm at Foyles (the American edition of Comics Art is being published in February 2014 by Yale University Press). I chaired a Comica Conversation with five cutting-edge British innovators who are all illustrated and discussed in the book: Gareth Brookes, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Katie Green, John Miers and Woodrow Phoenix (snap courtesy of Corinne Pearlman below).
Comics Art joins a prestigious list of accessible introductory studies from Tate Publishing, the ‘Contemporary Art’ series, all with the word ‘Art’ in their title (eg. Land Art, Street Art, Design Art, Installation Art etc). It was originally going to be titled Comic Art, but this term had been already used by Tate Britain in the subtitle of their 2010 exhibition Rude Britannia, looking at humour in British visual arts, including comics from H.M. Bateman and Leo Baxendale to Viz. I was brought in as a consultant for this show and wrote this essay for the catalogue, which in turn led to this Tate commision for Comics Art. It’s one of the perennial problems in the English language that ‘comics’ strongly implies comedy. To perhaps sidestep this, Peter Stanbury, who once more designed this book, and I came up with the alternative term ‘comics art’ which derives from the idea that comics, in the singular, IS a medium and not limited to being humorous. Of course, we call comedians and comediennes ‘comics’ as well, so it’s still open for misinterpretation. Read the rest of my Article here…
Posted: November 5, 2013
Whenever a pencil touches paper and we pay attention to the varying weight and texture of the marks it makes, our awareness is heightened of the human being behind them. Pencil has become the preferred medium of Hong Kong comics artist Chihoi, in intense, exquisite comics and in larger gallery pieces. “Its tip reflects the force of the hand, and the force from the heart. Everybody is familiar with this simple tool because pencil and paper are among the first tools that a kid uses, it’s a more direct tool than a brush. It can be a fast tool when you do sketches. But it can be a very slow tool if you want to fill out the space on the paper. It’s challenging to make a big drawing with pencil. And pencil is among the cheapest tool in an art materials shop. One doesn’t have to learn or become professional to use it.” Read the rest of my new article and Chihoi’s new strip here…
Posted: November 4, 2013
Hello from Prague! I am here with publishers Plus to help promote the brand-new Czech edition of 1001 Comics. Last night, we had a great launch at the superstore Comics Point, and today I am being interviewed on Czech TV - Studio 6 this morning, and then on Cro Vitava radio from 3pm and another TV talkshow, Na plovarne with Marek Eben from 4.30pm. Lots of interest here, it’s been picked as one of this season’s twelve hottest books. Thanks to everyone Plus for organising so much media coverage.