Tag Archives: Newcastle

L8r.

The Late Shows is two nights in the year when arts & cultural venues in Newcastle & Gateshead open late, for a public arty party of seeing stuff & doing stuff. I’ve taken part before but this was my first time volunteering at an event.
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It was fun. I was at Northern Print printmaking studio, where I’m a studio member. The activities all had a campfire jamboree theme – partly because it’s an awesomely dorky theme, partly because NP’s building works meant we only had access to part of the building & the marquee out back. 
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There was letterpress printing of postcards home from camp.
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There was knot tying and embossments (tie a knot, then the pressure of the press pushes it into the paper – printing without ink).
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There was screenprinting of fox masks & owl masks.
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There was marshmallow toasting, & admiring the fake campfire& hand-printed bunting.

Each activity was fairly straightforward, which was a very good thing indeed. Letterpress and screenprinting were all set up & ready to print – just pull the handle – which is a great way to have a go at techniques that require a lot of preparation.  Embossing was a simple technique with a lot of scope for individual variation – tie a fancy knot or bow, or twiddle some string into a shape.  All simple and quick for people to have a go at up to 3 different printmaking methods, all free, all just turn up and have a go.

I’d expected to get a little bored explaining the same methods over and over again, but I didn’t. People were willing to have a go so required minimal encouragement, & were interested to chat more about printmaking in general & NP’s courses in particular. Which is a very good thing indeed: whilst NP has a very swish printmaking gallery & some proper class exhibitions, it’s a genuinely friendly studio & an encouraging place to have a go. And then have another go, and another, and keep going. They help you learn methods then let you get on with making what you want to make, which suits me juuuuust fiiiiiine.

Helping at print studio events is a pretty niche form of volunteering. I first visited NP at a Late Shows oooh way back in 2012 and talking with studio members made printmaking seem like a thing I could totally do, not a distant and unachievable art form. Then I did it. I know my own art-ing has benefited from joining in at NP, so I’m particularly glad to now be able to encourage other people to get involved.

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Asteroid Belter and Applied Comics Etc

Asteroid Belter and Applied Comics Etc

[This post was first posted on the Newcastle Science Comic blog]

Comics are awesome.  Comics are also a powerful tool to engage audiences of all ages with factual information.  This is a blog post wrapping up all things Asteroid Belter and introducing Applied Comics Etc to show where we’re going next.


Our beloved Asteroid Belter is just over a year old.  Here are some facts:

  • We launched Asteroid Belter as part of the British Science Festival 2013 hosted by Newcastle University.  This included 10,000 printed copies of a 44-page full-colour newsprint comic (now available to read in full for free online), two exhibitions, a day of workshops, and a school activity pack (free PDF download)
  • As editors we’ve given 3 conference presentations (Graphic Medicine, Comics Forum, and Engage 2013), two other talks (Laydeez Do Comics and Sparks North East), and written one article (Comics Forum).  Full links: http://newcastlesciencecomic.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/tell-me-about-it.html
  • Presenting at Graphic Medicine led to receiving this proper awesome email from Eisner Award-winning comics creator Brian Fies: “Asteroid Belter is the best! I’ve never seen anything like it and am happy to know it exists. The breadth of topics covered is astonishing, from poop to quantum physics. It seems to me that everyone who reads it will pick out different comics they like and others they’re not interested in, and those choices will be different for everyone … I also like the tabloid format and pulp paper; they keep it from being too precious. Asteroid Belter is meant to be read, scribbled on, torn up to make science projects out of! Very nice.”
  • Google’s Blogger stats say our project blog (including the online Asteroid Belter) has been viewed over 18,000 times.  We’re particularly popular in the US, UK, Ukraine, and Germany.  The plan is to keep the Newcastle Science Comic blog largely as it stands, as an archive of the project.  Our blog posts have started to move on to new projects, which brings us to The Future.

More projects are happening.  This means that MORE COMICS are being made and MORE FUN is being had.

Our business identity for this is Applied Comics Etc.  You’re very welcome to have a look around the new website http://www.appliedcomicsetc.com/.  All this is still led by Lydia Wysocki and we’ll still use our Newcastle Science Comic branding when appropriate.

Applied Comics Etc does collaborative projects that integrate comics and factual information, particularly comics + research/education/engagement collaborations.  This is very much the same approach we took with the Newcastle Science Comic project: we’re now looking at projects in all subject areas not only science, and all geographic areas.  We’re ‘applied’ in the sense of applied arts, applied mathematics, or anything else with an express practical purpose; we also have comics scholarship and educational practice, theory, and research in the mix.  We’re ‘comics etc’ because whilst comics are central to what we do, not everything we do will result in the creation of sequential words and pictures.  Comics is an excitingly broad and experimental medium, and ‘comics etc’ shows it can go further still.

Snapshots of our past projects – including Asteroid Belter – are on our website.  We’re currently working with Newcastle City Libraries as a follow up to the Comics Chaos summer partnership between Newcastle, Gateshead, and Stockton libraries.  We’ve also run workshops that use comics – both finished comics, and some of the mechanics of how comics work – to develop communication skills.  We’ll announce new projects when the ink’s dry on the project briefs.

We aim to use local, national, and international networks of comics creators to bring together the right artist, writer, and editor for each project.  This offers the flexibility to find a voice and art style that works for what each project wants to communicate: the only ‘house style’ is awesome comics.  Some projects will be by invitation and some will be open to new collaborators.  Our past collaborators have been fantastic, and we know that there is interest from equally fantastic people we haven’t yet met.

This has been a long time coming.  The first meeting for what became Asteroid Belterwas in January 2012, with the comic launching in September 2013.  Since then we’ve been running projects and workshops as pilots, presenting about our work, and wrangling Applied Comics Etc into its current form.  We’re grateful to everyone who has been part of this process.

The ‘we’ of this blog post is important in showing that Applied Comics Etc projects are inherently collaborative projects.  Stepping aside from that for a moment, I (Lydia) would like to thank all Asteroid Belter collaborators (click here for a list of all 76) and editors: Paul Thompson, Brittany Coxon, Mike Thompson, Jack Fallows, and Mike Duckett.  It’s been fun so far, and I’m excited about what comes next.


Lydia Wysocki is an educator, artist, editor, and publisher.  She was Editor in Chief of Asteroid Belter:The Newcastle Science Comic and is the founder of Applied Comics Etc.  All that wouldn’t fit on her business card, so it says Comics Boss.

Lydia has extensive experience of teaching, development, and public engagement in Higher Education in the UK, US, and China.  She has also worked in social and market research, as a retail buyer, and as the voice of English language textbooks.  Lydia’s Master’s degree is in Education and she is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

For more about Lydia’s artistic practice in comics, drawing, and printmaking, visit her website.

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Sickeningly late part 2.

Day two of Graphic Medicine 2014 (day one blog post here, if you’re into chronological order).  Breakfast buffet first, and now let’s go.

Today’s keynote was by Art Frank (U of Calgary), on When Bodies Need Stories In Pictures.

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There was plenty more good stuff here on why narratives and memoirs of illness matter.  The idea that stories go round us and through us.  Using Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner’s story in Our Cancer Year to show how illness is a part of life, not the only thing in life: chronicling a story can be about doing something more than only coping with illness.  The idea that one person’s suffering can also be a story that helps other people with their own suffering.

On to panel 4B, Communicating Medicine, Past and Present.

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Meredith Li-Vollmer and David Lasky talked about No Ordinary Flu, their comic using the 1918 influenza pandemic as a starting point to communicate information on how to cope with a possible modern day pandemic.  I liked the tricky bits: using different inkers to show flashbacks in the comic and to manage deadlines, working out the Pantone colour for different skintones for two-colour printing in blue and black, and why using Comic Sans is good.  No, that’s not a typo.  Clarity that met funders’ accessibility requirements, ubiquity on translators’ computers, and no worries with special characters.

Then it was my turn, talking about Epic Themes in Awesome Ways, or the wee and guinea pigs in Asteroid Belter: The Newcastle Science Comic.  Having done a number of talks about Asteroid Belter as a whole I enjoyed the chance to focus on two comics in this anthology as case studies of medical illustration and education (When Wee Goes Bad by Anton Brand and the ICaMB team, who have since gone on to use cartoons in clinical trial information leaflets for adults), and of provider-patient communication (A Guinea Pig’s Guide To Cancer Drug Trials by Sarah AlHazmi, Selina Lock, and Ruth Plummer).  Preparing this talk was valuable to me as an opportunity to ask some of our contributors about their experiences of doing the project (read: now we’ve all recovered from doing an awesome but intense project).  Better still, that they answered honestly: it wasn’t that every part of everything was awesome, but it was a positive journey and contributors invested a lot of themselves in the project.

Then Norm Barker gave a gloriously-illustrated presentation on the advertising of patent medicines.  How glorious?

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Very glorious, both for the chromolithography printing techniques and the unsubtle imagery.  Turns out many patent medicines had so much booze in them there was little space for snake oil.

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Another good buffet lunch, then session 5C on Shared Experience: Time, Transformation and the Unknown.

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Some nice callbacks to Art Frank’s keynote, including the idea of graphic memoirs of illness as postcards: ‘wish you weren’t here’, but seeing as you are maybe I can help you deal with it.  I liked the academic boldness R.Finn quoted about stylistics for analysing texts:

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The space-y backdrop slide seemed appropriate for such epic language.

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Ok, closing keynote by Ellen Forney talking about her book Marbles: mania, depression, Michaelangelo, and me.

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More boldness: this started as a performance or dramatic reading, then became increasingly conversational which I thought was an effective presentation of her work.  Probably the last reference I expected was to the Benny Hill Show soundtrack, but there it was.  Probably the best compliment was when Ellen referred to the conference as full of “brainiac comic geeks”…yeah, definitely a compliment.

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NOTE: that’s my doodle of what Ellen said, not an autograph.

I had to duck out to set up for the comics marketplace so missed the rousing round of applause for Lydia Gregg and all others involved in organising the conference.  I’ll add it here: well done, it was a great event.

Free copies of Asteroid Belter went down well at the marketplace.  I was particularly glad to give copies to James Sturm from The Center for Cartoon Studies and Warren Bernard from SPX, and to swap with Brian Fies for his sciencey, spacey book Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?
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Other sweet sweet swag included David Lasky and Frank M Young’s The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, comics from Boostershot Comics, and Joe Sutliff’s work on stinky storm drains.

Then off to the pub for dinner (yes) with Meredith and David, Finn, Dan Bustillos, Sharon Rosenzweig, and Aaron Freeman where I coerced people into taking part in a jam comic (YES). I thought this was a part of the universal language of comics but a surprising number of folks hadn’t done one before. They done did good, though.
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I foolishly left my sketchbook unattended – it was returned safely, but with this somewhat baffling addition by Ian Williams:
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I haven’t googled it and I’m a little scared to try.

Anyway. The next morning I awoke to the best thing in the world ever.

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Texas french toast with amaretto, bacon, fruit salad, and 4oz of syrup. This is what £9 of Baltimorean room service looks like.

I spent the rest of Sunday touristing around Baltimore, and was glad I did. Hampden in daylight was cool without being hipster-gentrified, and served me Old Bay And Caramel flavour ice cream; the inner harbor and inner harbor east were beautiful with great industrial views; I had my first Five Guys Burger and Fries burger and fries, and renounced some 12 years of allegiance to In-N-Out. Yes, that good. Oh, and I bought a Charm City Cakes t shirt: with all due respect to the American conference-goers who tried to tell me that the show’s been off the air for years and not considered cool, I love it and I don’t care.

So that was Comics & Medicine: from private lives to public health, Graphic Medicine 2014. I’m working on comics from the rest of my trip (North Shields -> NY -> Washington DC -> Baltimore -> Philadelphia -> Atlantic City -> Asbury Park -> NY -> North Shields), and working on The Future of post-Asteroid Belter comics projects. The things I learned and people I met at this conference are already proving a great help.

Thanks again to all those involved in planning and delivering a great conference.  You’re all awesome megadudes.
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This guy.

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This hard ground etching is on his way to Arts Centre Washington for the Print Points North exhibition as part of
International Print Biennale 2014.

His name is ‘Wor Cathedral’ and he’s about the patterns and pilgrimage of St James’s Park, Geordieland’s finest football ground.

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Top of the morning to you.

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First morning’s comics from my small holiday to Dublin.

I decided that drawing scrappy comics on whatever scraps of paper I could find was a good idea. Then decided it was a ridiculous hippy idea, but by then I was doing it and wasn’t gonna redraw what I’d already done.

Anyway. More to follow.

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Hey you look so chilled and there are no bags under your eyes

I’ve been busy, darn it.

I etched for the 20:20 print exchange. My etching is called ‘Can I touch your beard?’ True story: the day after submitting these etchings a pal o’mine was complaining about people touching his beard.
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I upholstered a chair from this:
Can I touch your beard?

to this:
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And have finished upholstering one and a half of two other chairs.

I made a well good pasta bake. Dry macaroni, cauliflower, fried bacon and leeks, cheesey bechamel sauce, grated cheese, in the oven, BOOM.
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OH YEAH AND I EDITOR IN CHIEF’ED 10000 COMICS. Asteroid Belter: The Newcastle Science Comic is a beautiful and wonderful thing made by the 76 best people in the world …ever and it launches on Saturday 7th September at the British Science Festival and it’s free and I have so much to do before launch day I’d better get on with it.
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Better blogging once, y’know, I’ve shifted the 9999 comics that are not the one I’m currently looking longingly at.

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Preparing coffee

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Guess what guess what guess what guess what oh I’d better just tell you then.

Pink Lane Coffee in Newcastle, delightfully caffeinated coffee-heads that they are, are hosting a bijou* exhibition of original ink drawings from my booook, Celebrity Homes. ‘Original’ as in one-off, drawn by my hands, there’s only one of each drawing, there are no prints, no you can’t have it in a choice of colours and sizes and does it match the upholstery.

The best that could happen is that I hang the pictures, the Pink Lane Coffee staff and customers have new pictures at which to look at upon, everybody learns something about houses and celebrities**, maybe some people buy books, maybe some people buy pictures, everybody drinks coffee and leaves slightly happier than before.

Preparing coffee

The worst that could happen is that I get overexcited about having an exhibition and decide to DRINK ALL THE COFFEE in a faintly ridiculous attempt to calm down, then bounce off the very walls upon which I’m supposed to be hanging my drawings on upon alongside and wreck both the drawings and the coffee shop. This is, sadly, a very real danger***.

Uh, yeah. The exhibition begins on Wednesday 29th May 2013. Here’s my brand new tumblr, too.

And I’ve gotten myself some fancy not-very-businesslike business cards for the occasion oooooooh.

Card trick

*small and awesome
**celebrities as in awesome people. Not the losers in this week’s trash magazines.
***but if anyone from Pink Lane Coffee is reading this, please be assured that I’m a very sensible person and promise not to break your very hip coffee shop.

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