My work in progress, Satin and Tat, has been shortlisted for the Myriad First Graphic Novel prize. Surprised? Not as surprised as me. You should have seen me squawk when I got the email.
It means a lot, and here’s why:
Since lockdown began, I haven’t been able to draw any comics at all. I know I’m not alone in this phenomenon; I’ve seen others mention that their creativity has been blocked or stifled in various ways by these unusual times, too.
I’ve also seen the opposite: some people putting out absolutely stunning responses to the situation in hand, seemingly (though I am certain it’s not the case) effortlessly. Among them are Ottilie Hainsworth’s brilliant diaries, Lou Theodore’s sketchbooks, Erica Smith’s toilet paper journals, Holly Casio’s Zoom strip and Rachael House’s poster-sized comics.
When lockdown began, I had just started a new, small project. Satin and Tat was taking so long, and I was beginning to feel so unsure of its worth, that I thought I would stop for a bit and consider. Apart from anything else, I was afraid that everyone would forget who I was if I took several years to complete such a big piece of work!
My plan was to turn to getting something else quick and dirty out, so I’d have a comic to sell at this year’s festivals.
But then there weren’t any physical comics festivals, and also, the new comic was predicated on a way of living that wasn’t actually possible any more. The pandemic was such an unknown and lots of people were saying we might never return to normal, and it seemed foolish to be drawing a piece that might turn out to be a quaint historical artifact rather than the truthful look at modern life it was designed to be.
Lockdown has not been particularly easy in this household, for a number of reasons. I can’t say that we’ve suffered as much as those who have lost a loved one to covid-19 — not even nearly as much, it would be sacrilege to suggest as much — but there have been significant stresses, shall we say. Much of what I took for granted about myself: an ability to get up early, put some work in on comics, go for a run at lunch time, do some more drawing after dinner, has disappeared in the face of a number of physical and mental challenges.
Any energy I’ve had has needed to go into my parenting, my health, my job, and, it seems, a colossal amount of DIY around the house and garden (hence the mural in my last post). Painting the floor and doing up the garden has been my only creative outlet for the last several weeks (one that my great friend Zara Slattery very kindly described as ‘a bit like drawing, just on a much bigger scale’).
As of now, I haven’t looked at or drawn anything for Satin and Tat since I submitted 30 pages of it, in black and white, to Myriad. Doesn’t matter what happens next. Knowing that a panel of judges have assessed it and taken it through to the shortlist is exactly the confidence boost I need right now.
Thank you, judges and Myriad!
My fellow shortlistees are all really interesting as well, so go and check them out: