Category Archives: this categories system doesn’t really work anymore and never did anyway

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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There ain’t no crafting like  hung parliament stress crafting…


…cos hung parliament stress crafting is a good way to process the news and stop refreshing webpages for the latest shenanigans.

I made a new batch of hipster upcycled artisanal stamp books. They were popular at Leeds Tetley book fair, so these can wait until my comic convention stalls this autumn. 

Use them as mini pattern colouring books if you reeeeeally need a change of focus.

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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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