Category Archives: events

Not angry, just disappointed.

Here’s a copy of my email withdrawing from Lakes Comic Art Festival in Kendal, 2017. I’m sharing it here because some other comics creator on the exhibitors’ reserve list may well receive an email saying a stall has become available, and at least this way they can appreciate why.

Dear LICAF organisers,

I am writing to withdraw from exhibiting at Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2017 this coming weekend. This is because I found Sunday evening’s twitter statements from your festival account and associated accounts unacceptable.

My academic work addresses themes of fairness in education, particularly the constructions of ‘race’ and social class, through the specific example of British comics. I need to do my best to ensure that my comics making, publishing, and distribution (as myself, and through my organisation Applied Comics Etc) remains consistent with these themes. This means that I cannot take part in a publicly-funded festival that has made such poor choices of language and tone when discussing issues of ethnicity and diversity.

With this in mind, I would like to offer constructive support when you plan the future of your festival. Please do let me know if my academic work on untangling and addressing issues of fairness – as well as my professional experience in staff development in higher education – is something you would like to make use of, in due course.

For this year’s festival, please could you refund my half-table exhibitor fee. I would also appreciate it if you removed my profile page from your 2017 festival website. I will contact my booked B&B in Kendal to cancel and will request a refund for my advance train ticket.

Best,
Lydia Wysocki

Sad to disappoint all three of my fans, and annoyed at missing opportunities to catch up with people about current and future projects. By all means reuse the wording of my email if it helps draft your own.

For context: link to twitter thread. Photo in this blog post is from when I exhibited at LICAF in 2014 (blog post here). I try not to make a habit of sharing letters online, but it happens.

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Leeeeds coooomics 

See that? That’s my planned table setup for Thought Bubble comics convention 2017. Leeds Town Hall Marquee table 37 might just buckle under the weight of many comics including :

  • Research questionnaire. Fill in a questionnaire about comics you’ve read, get a free sticker and an infocomic and the knowledge that you’ve taken part in my PhD research about reading British comics. The questionnaire is in comics form and will take maybe 7mins to fill in – good if you want a break from wandering round, or want to do something comics-y that doesn’t involve spending money. It’ll take a bit of thought but not too deep – the second stage of my research involves more indepth interviews with comics readers, this questionnaire is a stepping stone to that second stage. 
  • Applied Comics Etc collaborations. Free comics, all made in partnership with researchers, archives, kids, sweeeet comics creators. Promo postcards for Freedom City Comics anthology are hot off the press (launches in Newcastle 1st October) 
  • Comic Swap library. Read the well wikkid comics made by kids’ comics clubs, swapped earlier this year as part of a postal swap run by Hannah Sackett and I.
  • Applied Comics Network. Free badges, free chat about overambitous plans coordinated by John Swogger, Ian Horton and I. 
  • My comics and books. To swap with comics you’ve made, or coffee/tea/snacks, or for sale (various prices from £1 stamp books to £13 double comic). Say the secret password ‘I like your office wallpaper’ and get a free gift with any swap or purchase of my solo work, whilst stocks last.

If you’re around on Thursday/Friday come to Comics Forum conference – I’ll be presenting about my questionnaire & PhD research, and involved in running an Applied Comics Network workshop. 

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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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Packing.

I’m launching two new comics but have still succumbed to the annual scramble to pack some other stuff for my Thought Bubble stall. 

Reminder: new comics are Junk and Departures.

Other stuff is:

  • Portfolio. These are mini-assortments of original drawings, printmaking experiments, and cool bits of paper, chopped and sewn up as books. Each one different. Affordable one-offs are a good thing, and it may well be an idea to revisit in future. There are 8 in this run, £5 each.

  • Hand-bound upcycled geometric hipster artisanal mini books. You know the patterned insides of envelopes? I made some (lots and lots) into little books. It was good sewing practice and good stress relief. I’m like totally over hipster-ness and the plague of colouring books, so I gave them a pretentious name. There’s a bowlful of ’em, £1 each. 

A few prints (linocuts and etchings)  too.

Older comics and books are:

  • Trails 
  • Andalusia 
  • Celebrity Homes 
  • UNpearABLE.

The other half of my table will be full of free Applied Comics Etc (including Newcastle Science Comic) delights: 

  • print versions of comics (comics + research/archives collaborations) from this year and recent years
  • zine-y version of a presentation I gave at BCCS this year, on 3 projects using comics as a method 
  • Newcastle Science Comic stickers 
  • the world’s most beautiful business cards.

Limited quantities of free printed copies, free digital versions online, lots of chat and opinions.

More opinions to be had by asking me (and John Swogger, and Ian Horton) about Applied Comics Network, as we’re planning a planning meeting about future plans there. 

This Sat-Sun 5-6 November 2016, Leeds Royal Armouries, New Dock Hall, heading towards the back right corner. See you there innit. 

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Notes on notes.

This week I handed in an essay and also made progress setting up 2 new comics. I’ve been thinking about notes, so here are some notes on notes.

My personal notes seem to be one of three, maybe four, things. Here comes a list:

1. on post-its then typed then annotated, if I’m reading a heavy academic book.

I’m about a year into my part-time PhD in Education, focusing on comics and values and Britishness. Overall it’s great. Sometimes it’s particularly hard. It’s already improved my thinking about the comics I want to make and help others make, which is a large part of why I chose to do it. At this stage I’m reading A Lot. Taking notes in this way helps me digest and remember what I’m reading, and also means I type (write) my opinions and arguments on what I’m reading. So reading and thinking and writing aren’t separate processes. Mind, we’ll see how that goes as it creeps closer to my 2022 (yup, 2022. Part-time takes for-ev-er) completion date.

2. messy and doodley and with pictures, if I’m trying to link things I’ve read (eg to write an essay or plan a comic).

I enjoy planning the content and the form of a thing. Then the actual making or writing of that thing has its ups and downs, then finalising the thing is enjoyable too. My essay plans and comic/project plans are fairly similar. Lots of arrows to show connections between bits and development of ideas, and a mix of words and pictures. Lots of abbreviations. If I need to show these plans to people, it’s typically either with me to talk it through or alongside a more formal version, as evidence of process. Not on their own. Essay, academic, and project plans are just about always carried out. There are a fair few comic plans that are in sketchbooks in boxes – either until time and skills and interest allow, or because in the planning I concluded that they’re not so hot.

3. increasingly minimal, if I’m taking notes on someone else’s talk and will probably show other people the notes afterwards.

Other people’s talks are tricky. Unless the speaker requests otherwise, I think it’s good to make and share notes.  I’m cautious not to share too much, particularly if it’s a ‘work  in progress’ talk. I prefer drawing-writing during a talk and sharing afterwards, rather than trying to livetweet comments. I like drawings that reflect the content of the talk rather than drawing a portrait of the speaker, though crediting the speaker by name is important. I’ve had good and bad experiences of people making notes on talks I’ve given (good: people follow up with questions afterwards, bad: they’ve misreported the facts of the work I’ve done, never mind different interpretations of arguments). Being nominated the Official Notetaker for an event can be a beast as there are so many possible interpretations of what’s been said – try to be neutral, switching off academic brain? report my own take on it? draw cute things and hope for retweets? – but can be worthwhile both personally and for the event community (attendees, organisers, people who couldn’t make it) too.

There are also sketchbook pages, doodles, and diary comics that are probably notes, but more in the sense of remembering things I’ve seen and trying out ideas than trying to understand and share specific content. Though that’s a blurred line. These notes matter too, and they take whatever form I darn well please.

So yeah. Whether text, text and pictures, or mostly pictures, notes are good. Now I need to revisit plans for my next chunk of PhD reading, and get some proofs printed for new comics. That’s good too.

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Big heavy suitcase o’comics.

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See that?  That’s roughly what my Thought Bubble stall will look like. Featuring:

* Andalusia: an augmented summer holiday sketchbook (£3; optional extra content online or using free Aurasma app)
* Diner devotional (£10)
UNpearABLE (£2.50 one way, £10 another way)
* Trails: a book about travel, history, and being a slug (£8, with free linocut)
* Pancho & Lefty: a lefthanded comic (swaps only)
* Celebrity Homes: a book of words and pictures of awesome houses and the legendary people who lived in them (£8).

I’ll also have some unmounted prints (hard ground etchings, and letterpress). I haven’t come up with a specific convention offer, so it’ll be something like ‘hey you’ve either bought loads drom me over the years or are buying multiple books today – would you like a print?’

Well, that’s half of it anyway. Here’s what the Applied Comics Etc half of the stall will look like.

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These are all collaborative projects. Featuring:

* Gertrude Bell: Archaeologist, writer, explorer (free digital-online-hyperlinked comics; free printed preview)
* Spineless: The Newcastle Science Comic (free 16-page newsprint comic; also free to read online) + free exhibition postcards
* True War Stories No.1: Thomas Baker Brown (free 12-page printed comic; also free downloadable resources online)
* Draw More Comics: The Thomas Baker Brown WWI comics anthology (anthology of high school students’ comics, £5 cost price).
*examples of our ‘Etc’ work: Comics event scrapbook with Newcastle, Gateshead,  and Stockton libraries,  and Get Your Facts Right research protocol.

See the Applied Comics Etc website for details and full credits for comics creatirs and other collaborators. And/or, stop by and chat – table 96, New Dock Hall, Leeds.

Oh, and really good business cards too.

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Bunting marketing

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I made bunting for use at comics workshops and events. It’s home-made and welcoming. It’s part of developing Applied Comics Etc as an organisation that’s participative and professional, about people enjoying making comics, not a corporate behemoth making business. It’s also made me pay far too much attention to other people’s marketing materials. So here’s a blog post on how to make heavy-duty bunting, mixed with thoughts on bearable marketing.

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Bunting is colourful, flexible to fit different event spaces, and inherently daft. It’s not yet another pull-up banner stand. A few artists use these effectively, but they’re rare exceptions in a plastic forests of high-resolution single images and bad corporate design.

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But is there still bunting to bunt? I thought that, as a world, we’d agreed that the great bunting overload of 2012-ish was finally over and it’s safe to go back to uncool village fete bunting. Alas, no. Since making some 45 metres of home-sewn bunting, I see mass-produced corporate bunting is everywhere. Mass-produced, yet clinging to homey concepts. This bothers me.

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There’s a lingering trend for big businesses to use cutesy, naive-ish art styles for branding and marketing. Sometimes through big advertising agencies, sometimes through young illustrators. There’s a worrying trend for individuals and small organisations to mimic the branding practices of big businesses, rather than making their own decisions.

Cut the PVC into flags. Some cuts need a craft knife, steel rule, and cutting mat; others need scissors. Some flags are logo-shaped, others are triangles cut from comics pages with lots of overlapping

Cut the PVC into flags. Some cuts need a craft knife, steel rule, and cutting mat; others need scissors. Some flags are logo-shaped, others are triangles cut from comics pages with lots of overlapping. Artwork credits are at the bottom of this blog post.

I care about working with people and information, with a business side to facilitate this. Not the other way round.

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So far this means working with different comics creators and subject specialists for specific projects. It means learning from each project, and doing each project differently. The comics we’ve made through Applied Comics Etc and Newcastle Science Comic are all different sizes, art styles, paper types, bindings, and print runs. And working out what this means for digital comics. It’s good news for good comics. It’s a headache for distribution and planning, but right now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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It means doing it ourselves and being proud of it. Homemade bunting is the way to go.

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See Newcastlesciencecomic.blogspot.com for more on Spineless: The Newcastle Science Comic. The comics on the triangular bunting flags are by our awesome team of Spineless artists:

The Newcastle Science Comic logo was designed by Paul Thompson, who’s recently curated an exhibition called Invisible Beasts – worth a look, like.

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