Category Archives: drawing

That’s enough for this year. 

Ok here’s this week’s Nadrash/Hansard illustrated interactions, including a dive into the archives on Friday because the current lot knocked off early for Christmas. 

I enjoy doing this peculiar panel-a-weekday project. There’s a fair chance I’ll carry on with it, or something similar, next year. But now for a couple of weeks of more sleeping, less internet, and as much reading/writing as other commitments allow. 

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A parliament of weirdos. 

Look look it’s all animal themed! I’d wondered if a visually themed week of quoted interactions from Hansard was possible*, and here it is. 

Also this week my activity sheets are up on ComicsClub.blog for their monthly Comics Challenge series. If I’m gonna encourage kids to make their own weird comics – because what kids should worry about the possible professional and commercial future of their comics – then I’d better keep up my part if that deal. There are plenty of resources out there to help people make comics. Sometimes it’s the weirdness that needs a boost. 

*said no one else, ever.  


A pattern is emerging. 

This week’s news has been about parallel universes bumping into each other in the foggiest of fogs. 

I like this grid layout though, and am still enjoying doing a panel a day. So maybe not all is lost.

Lords,  noble lord,  lordships. 

Here’s this week’s #nadrash, with sources*:

I think the screenshots of sources are a good move. Takes it from ‘you couldn’t make it up’ to ‘huh, they really said that’. 

*HP Sauce.  FUNNY JOKE

DIY? Because comics, that’s why

There’s a new exhibition, Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories. It’s the work of many comics artist-writers, collectors, and curators. And includes a DIY comic I made, for you. Yes, you.

Here’s a look at the DIY comic. I do not apologise that in most of photos I took, children had already drawn on it. Because that’s the point. You use a DIY comic as a nudge to make your own comic.

One side guides you round the world of comics, with have-a-go activities about setting, character design, art style, panel structure and storytelling.

The other side has blank panels, waiting for you to make your own comic using tips and techniques from the exhibition. And your own ideas.

Two of my favourite pieces in the exhibition are work-in-progress, probably-not-intended-to-be-shared things:  one of Adam Murphy‘s post-it process books, and one of Nigel Auchterlounie‘s cut’n’stick drafts. I’m so glad they’re there, alongside finished artwork. The first time I visited the Cartoon Museum I proper gawped at how many fixes and repairs were visible in some of the original artwork in their collection – part of the real and messy process of making things, but usually invisible in the finished work.  Even more so when working digitally. In the spirit of such honesty, here’s a close-up of one of the many tipp-ex and whoops-better-glue-over-that-bit fixes from my DIY comic:

This exhibition is kinda a big deal. It’s the first time Seven Stories: The National Centre For Children’s Books has developed an exhibition about comics.  It’s good to see national organisations getting involved in comics, particularly with a focus on getting more kids making more comics.

It’s also cheering to see a mix of older and current comics creators, working in a mix of traditional and digital media. There’s no one way to make comics. Hopefully this’ll help more kids (and grown-up kids) figure out their own ways to make their own comics.

BONUS: Yes, those are Comic Swap compilations in with other comics to read. Aww yeah.

Newcastle Chronicle writeup with exhibition photos: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/whats-on/family-kids-news/you-love-comics-could-you-13366687

Down The Tubes summary of what’s in the exhibition: http://downthetubes.net/?p=38666

Seven Stories exhibitions page: https://www.sevenstories.org.uk/exhibitions

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In which our heroine tells us what the heck ‘Departures’ is about. 

Departures is a comic made of drawings that weren’t meant to be comics. Each drawing was done in my travel sketchbook, in a different location, in 2016. Y’all remember 2016? For me it was a year of much travel, many places, usually for work so very short, very busy trips.

Example of a sketchbook drawing:


I like photographing my drawings as it’s faster than scanning as a way to share images of my work online . It also marks a difference between the drawing and the photo of the drawing: partly because I ♥ Walter Benjamin, partly paranoia based on having seen other people’s drawings knocked off by unscrupulous companies and unthinking individuals, partly to show it’s drawn by hand in ink on paper in a book. A digital way to show that it’s analogue. Probably most of all, I like artsy sketchbook photos that give some indication of where I was when I drew the thing. My first big book Celebrity Homes was drawn from photos, and whilst I’m still mega proud of the book I think my drawing is better (better = it looks better to me + I enjoy the process more) when I draw from real things, preferably outdoors.

Example of sketchbook photos as shared online:

But a series of drawings (photos of drawings) is not inevitably a comic. I wanted to pull a year of travel into some sort of meaningful collection. The drawings weren’t really background images, and even if they could be used as such, I didn’t much fancy writing a fiction version to link the peculiar series of locations I’d had real-life reasons to visit. I didn’t want to retell all details of why I’d been to each place, partly because of colleagues’ confidentiality and partly because I prefer snippets of autobiography to tell-all confessionals. To an extent I can turn down ‘precise thinking researcher brain’ and turn up ‘no limits artist brain’ for a while, but I don’t want to turn off one in favour of the other. Everything is in everything else

But pictures tend to tell stories. Looking at them, some of my drawings had more of a story in them than others. Cautiously, I cut them open to find out what was inside. I scanned each drawing to do the autopsy digitally: I’ve dissected sketchbooks before and will do so again, but wanted to keep this sketchbook as a travel souvenir. And, I wasn’t sure if the cutting up would work. Digital cutting meant I could try different combinations of what became panels in a series of 1-page comics. Photocopies and scissors would’ve done some of this, but high resolution digital files kept the fine lines and wrinkles clear enough to eventually print.

What does it mean to say something ‘works’ as a comic? Here’s a comic I think works well:

Looking around, seeing a person, getting some sense of a travel hub (airport, or whatever), noticing that the person is looking at or for something (screens, signs, whatever). There’s enough of a story to make it readable.

Here’s a comic I think works a bit:

Left page: crossing a road. Right page: the repetitiveness of going to cafes. Neither one going to change the world, but enough narrative to have some sense of progress.

Here’s a drawing I started cutting up into a comic, but it really didn’t work. So I stopped:

It’s nice, but there’s no story. However you look at it it’s just roofs. It could set the scene for a story, but in itself it ain’t no story.

There’s something about readability. Is there some sort of progression, even if ‘narrative’ is too strong a word? Can a reader hook onto some understanding of what I’m trying to show and tell them? Readability, in these wordless examples, is less about font choice and more about content. Some panels, some pages might be ambiguous enough to trigger multiple possible readings, but overall I wanted enough clarity within which there could be areas of ambiguity. Clear but with fuzzy bits. And bits missing, fragmented, waiting for a reader to fill in the gaps.

Making a double-book (z-fold cover, 2 sets of pages in one book) was a way to keep the original sketches and the remixed comics together-but-separate. Digital printed pages on cylus paper was a way to keep both the clarity of fine lines and a bit of texture. Pamphlet stitched bindings and letterpress labels on the covers was a way to keep a handmadeness in a series of 100 books. All in all,  Departures  is a well-balanced book.

I’ll post more pages on the Tumblr, and/or buy a copy here, and/or read my example copy whenever I’m next at an event (dates will be on Twitter, as and when).

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Tuppence a bag for your thoughts.

A list of reasons why this morning’s comic is among the best I’ve ever made:

  • It’s a comic 
  • That I made
  • In my beautiful sketchbook (bound by @bookbindings)
  • I’ve nearly finished that sketchbook aww yeah 
  • It was straight to ink, no pencil
  • It references Milkshake by Kelis
  • And  Parklife by Blur
  • I got the Phil Daniels “sense of enormous wellbeing” quote wrong
  • Hardly anyone will notice
  • And it only bothers me a little 
  • Whereas it would’ve given younger-me much cause for muso concern 
  • It’s about music
  • Well, music references 
  • Mashed together like a mixtape
  • And feeding the birds
  • Dancing 
  • Education 
  • Fighting for free education 
  • And reminding people that you can, and do, learn and teach all the time, even if you don’t see it as formalised education 
  • Lettering stamped with a 99p rubber stamp kit
  • And my 2kuai red ink pad
  • Like this 
  • Which is still going strong after uhhhh 7years of no longer living in China 
  • Is 2kuai still like 20p or has the world moved on? 
  • See, it’s about currency valuations too
  • And calling BS on a lot of the ‘wellbeing’ products and advertising that’s around at the moment 
  • Because you can’t buy happiness 
  • But you can read free comics
  • Or better, make your own.
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