Hope you haven’t forgotten that it’s The Lakes International Comic Art Festival this weekend. Kicking off tomorrow, the beautiful town of Kendal will be hosting a whole load of events featuring all our favourite illustrators.
I was privileged recently, to be a guest at Stripped, part of the Edinburgh Book Festival’s celebration of comics and graphic novels where I gave zombie drawing workshops for blood-thirsty kids, discussed my latest Cape published graphic novel, Montague Terrace and was part of a celebratory panel on the history of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic (discuss?), 2000AD. Not only was it a great atmosphere and celebration of storytelling, but it was also rewarding to see comics given the floor space alongside more established authors, who, let’s face it, can’t even draw.
On Friday night, wearing my zombie illustrator’s hat from the Darren Shan Zom-B book series of I’m currently working on, I gave a master class in the best ways to draw half eaten teachers and undead friends to an enthusiastic lot of eager and positively sick kids. I even got the occasional parent and events organiser to dust off previously deceased drawing skills in our ‘drawing gore in black and white therapy session’. This was great fun and the kids produced some truly disgustingly gruesome artwork.
An hour later and dodging past Monty ‘The Don’ Don in the star-studded Author’s yurt, I donned my Cape cape and Montague Terrace hat to share the stage with Harker author Roger Gibson for a conversation on how we both represent and are influenced by London in our respective books. Despite only having just met, it was a good discussion on our shared and differing inspirations, from classic film to 70s Cop shows.
And after a Saturday watching the great Judith Kerr in conversation, scooting around the buzzing city with my wife and son and catching a Leonardo Davinci exhibition, I wound up on the Sunday as part of a panel including fellow Cape authors Robbie Morrison and Jim Murray, creators of recently published Drowntown and writer Dan Abnett to discuss the history of 2000 AD, hosted by former Tharg, David Bishop. A good turn out, some laughs were had and books were signed. Though no 9th Art graphic novel prizes were won. Next year maybe?
A big thank you to all the organisers, the events managers, Robbie and Deb for the stories, everyone I spoke (rambled) to and the guy at the hotel who recommended the Whiskey for making it a truly memorable event.
Jonathan Cape graphic novels available on Sequential
Jonathan Cape now have deluxe digital versions of our graphic novels available on Sequential. This new digital graphic novel storefront is launching with nine Cape graphic novelists, including work from Bryan and Mary Talbot, Rutu Modan, Joff Winterhart, Sarah Herman, Shirley Hughes, Paolo Parisi, Alison Bechdel and Emma Rendel. Sequential is free to download from itunes.
Isabel Greenberg on winning the Graphic Novel Short Story prize in 2011
‘I entered the graphic short story prize for the first time when I was still on my art degree. It was when the competition was still a two page comic. I was a runner up, and then I entered every year from then on. Mainly because it was good practice rather than that I had a particularly good story to tell. But after I graduated I began to formulate an idea for a graphic novel I wanted to write, and I figured winning the prize would be a great way to get some attention and make this happen. The story I entered ‘Love in a very cold Climate’ now forms the prologue to my graphic novel ‘The Encyclopedia of Early Earth’. I think it is fair to say that winning the prize literally launched my career.
Jonathan Cape are now publishing my graphic novel, and it is coming out simultaneously in the US, Canada and Germany. Following the story appearing in the paper I got a book agent and everything then happened very, very, fast. Being in the paper was great because, although I had appeared in small publications and anthologies, none of them were the kind of thing that people outside the illustration/comics scene would have really known about. It was cool that my mum could go into the newsagents and buy a copy (or six!).
I couldn’t recommend entering the prize enough. It was the most important thing that has happened to me. I entered three times before winning, and I would tell anyone to keep trying! It’s hard to fit a complete story into four pages, and still have some character development, and I think it took me that many tries to get close!’
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is published by Isabel Greenberg on Oct 03rd.
If you’re a comics fan, you’re probably going to love Drowntown - the new book from writer and artist team Robbie Morrison and Jim Murray. The first part of Drowntown will be published on 20th June 2013 but until then we’ve got a sneak peek and Q&A with Robbie Morrison to whet your appetite. Read on for more!
1. What was the first comic you wrote?
To be honest, I can’t actually remember the first scripts I wrote when I was starting out, which is probably a good thing as I’m sure they must have been pretty awful. The first script I sold - after a fair few rejection letters - was to that Dundee institution DC Thomson, publishers of The Beano, The Broons and Oor Wullie. The story was a tongue-in-cheek fantasy adventure for a science-fiction comic called Starblazers.
Unfortunately, Starblazers was cancelled about a month before the story was due to be published. I’d written quite a few other stories for them by then as well, all of which bit the dust.
The first script that actually saw print was Judge Dredd: Kinky Boots, in which a pair of boot fetishists named John Speed and Mrs. Peeler attempt to steal the lawman’s big, green boots. Not exactly subtle, I know, but it was beautifully drawn by the artist Paul Grist, and I’m still fond of it.
Stephen Collins: Director's Commentary & Launch Party
Long-form comics, as I have now learned, are a slow business. Where a novelist will write the words “he sat in the living room and looked out of the window”, the cartoonist has to work out exactly what the living room looks like, where the window is in it, what the window looks like, what time of day it is, what ‘he’ is even wearing, etc. Comics are second only to animation in terms of its glacial pace of production versus a shockingly quick speed of consumption (my book of two years’ work takes about 45 minutes to read). It is an obsessive’s art form – stultifying, maddening, labyrinthine, torturous – and I absolutely love it.
Stephen Collins has put together a Director’s Commentary on how his book, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, came together. Head over to the Forbidden Planet website to read the rest!
The book is published next week, on May 9th. If you’re in London then, do come along to the launch party at Gosh! Comics - it’d be nice to meet y’all!