Category Archives: small books

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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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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Departing, travelling, sometimes arriving.

My new book is called Departures.
Departures is a double-book. See that Z-folded cover? There’s one set of pages in the front half, and one set of pages in the back half. There’s a reason for that…

The back pages are my travel sketchbook drawings from various places I’ve been this year. I’ve been to many places for ‘day job’ work, comics work, comics fun, and (rarely) for frivolous and sociable reasons.

The front pages are one-page comics, each made from a travel sketchbook drawing. I digitally chopped up each drawing to see what narrative I could first find in the drawing and then remake in the form of a comic. They weren’t originally intended as stories, but looking back at each drawing I reckon there’s narrative in there. Which comics helped pull out.

Not every travel sketch from this year made it into Departures, because not every travel sketch was remixable as a comic. I’ll post some examples when I’m back from my current trip (she casually blogged from the airport cafe). Some worked (I mean there’s a narrative that can be constructed by reading one panel after another), some didn’t (I mean there’s just a picture chopped into squares, there’s nowt to read). Some were inbetween. Just because it’s in boxes doesn’t mean it’s a comic, y’knaaa.

I like the sketches as they are but wanted to do something more with them than only printing a replica sketchbook. Reasons include: the original drawings are spread across multiple sketchbooks, my pal Paddy Johnston encouraged me to do something with the drawings, the drawings seemed more than ‘just’ background images onto which to then superimpose people and talking, I like weird book designs and I like books that have a reason to be as they are, I like seeing what comics can do that other mediums can’t, and I’m so horrifically busy at the moment heck why not add another complicated project to the list.

Departures‘ covers are covered in handprinted letterpress luggage-label-esque labels, which is how my dream suitcase looks. They’re also a bit record/CD sticker-y, as a lover of bsides/imports/rarities. The bindings are hand-sewn, 5-hole pamphlet stitch, using linen thread. The pages are digitally printed on Cyclus recycled paper. Double-book + good paper + handprinted covers + lots of hand sewing = £13 a copy.

I’ve made 100 copies, by which I mean I’ve printed 100 sets of pages and covers, sewn a few, and will sew the rest at comics events like some sort of live action bookmaker. I’ll bring Departures to Thought Bubble, then sort out an online shop later this year here’s my online shop http://www.comicsy.co.uk/hellolyd/. And some sort of previews on http://lydw.tumblr.com/, which is also where I post live-as-it-happened photos of sketches done when out and about.

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Junk junk junk junk junk.

My new book is called Junk.

Junk is full of sketchbook and diary comics from 2010-2016.

Junk is pretty. Handprinted letterpress covers (2 shades of pink ink on a purple background). Greyscale digital printing on pale purple pages, 20 leaves at A6 size. Hand-sewn bindings using maroon linen thread. It’s a teenage dream of all things pinky-purple and beautiful.

Junk is messy. These comics came out of old sketchbooks and diaries, which are currently in moving boxes because they’re not junk, they’re precious enough to be kept for a while. I’ve scanned and cleaned each comic so that the lines print legibly. Other than that, they’re still as sketchy as the day(s) they were drawn.

I’m still, and increasingly, interested in comics as a process (medium, method, way of thinking things through) more than specific drawing styles. But I still love a good-looking book. Make comics fast and leave a good-looking book, I reckon.

I enjoy letterpress printing more when I think of it as printroom labour, not printstudio fine art. Clanging around with heavy machinery and drawers of metal type is a good counterbalance to other ways to spend a day. Playing about with how much to overlap the colours (spoiler: each cover is slightly different).  Learning to sew proper bindings is good too.

I’ll bring Junk to Thought Bubble this November to sell for £5 each, then sort out an online shop link after that here’s my online shop http://www.comicsy.co.uk/hellolyd/. Times are busy, and I’m still labouring under the delusion that I’ll finish another book this year too.

I’ll gradually post pictures of Junk pages over on lydw.tumblr.com. The photos were taken after work,  walking home through the local shopping centre at closing time. Just like a real teenager.

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Hench bench.

imageYesterday I took part in a 2-and-a-bit hour bookbinding workshop run by Deirdre Thompson. Yup, I made all those books, small ones and tiny ones (see the numbers on the cutting board? they’re centimetres). It was proper well good and this is what I learned:

  • Basic bookbinding is easy; good bookbinding is highly skilled, difficult, precise work
  • I like attending workshops that are delivered in a similar style to workshops I lead (show&tell a bit, lead everyone in doing a basic task, let people get on using that basic skill to make what they want with help as needed). Enough but not too much structure, and help to figure out what you actually want to make rather than everyone trying to copy one example
  • My bookmaking skills have come a heck of a long way and there’s still plenty left to learn
  • I used to use scissors to cut paper but now I usually use a guillotine or a craft knife and cutting mat. It was weeeird to use scissors in the workshop
  • The teddybear of beeswax is for waxing thread, but it’s also entertaining to yank thread across the shape of a cutesy animal. I suspect a wax block or candle wouldn’t be as much fun
  • Even though my diary is ridonkulously busy I still need to make time to make things. Sometimes an hour or so of drawing will tide me over but it’s not the same as making things with tools and materials.
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Anda nother one.

This year I had an honest-to-goodness summer holiday. I went to Andalusia (southern Spain), it was sunny and glorious, and I drew. It wasn’t a work trip, and it wasn’t a few days of holiday added to a conference or convention. It was a holiday.

Here’s the photo version of my sketchbook: http://lydw.tumblr.com/search/andalusia

And here’s more about the fancy augmented printed version of my sketchbook.

Here’s how the magic in the video works:

  1. buy the printed sketchbook for £3 (I’ll have printed sketchbooks at Thought Bubble (table 96, New Dock Hall), then at Paperjammening, then will sort online shop stuff after that)
  2. download the free Aurasma app, and find my channel (username: lyd_w)
  3. using the app, take a picture of the last panel of each sketch to see magically (technologically) augmented content.
  4. fiddle with the app settings until step 3 works (note: this book is an experiment. It might need some fiddling).

This only works from the printed sketchbook, not from the photos. But here are some photos anyway:

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That’s Plaza de Espana, in Fuengirola.

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That’s Plaza de Espana, Seville (site of the 1929 Expo).

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That’s Calle Espana in Fuengirola, from the post office steps.

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That’s the plane home.

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Hopelessly.

My new book is called Diner devotional. It’s a very handmade small book about diners.

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The 12 images are linocuts based on sketches of 12 real life diner counters. The diners are in New York,  Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. I ate at each of them during my summer 2014 travels around the east coast of America. Lots of eating, and lots of walking to balance it out.

Scroll back far enough on http://lydw.tumblr.com/ and you’ll find photos of my original sketches. And here’s a slideshow of the finished book:

I hope that slideshow shows my dislike of over-styled photos of uneaten food. I ate that breakfast.

I cut each of the 12 linocuts in individual pieces of lino, to then ink and print on one long strip of Japanese paper. I used the great big electric press at Northern Print.

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diners

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For the covers/endpapers of the book I set individual metal type (letter by letter). Then I printed this using the Adana press, again at Northern Print.

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Assembling each book took a while to trim and glue. I printed extra pages and covers so I’d have a few trial goes, and was glad I did: both the printing and the glueing were tricky to do cleanly and neatly. Which is weird,  because I was ever so good at the eating that started the whole project.

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So aye. There are 12 books, all the same and all with the unique imperfections that make them perfectly handmade.
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£10 each at events or by post.  This includes UK postage,  or contact me and I’ll work out overseas postage (less the UK postage so it’s fair).
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