What really helped me get through 2022? My comics friends and communities, online and in real life. I am grateful for all of you.
There are the monthly Cartoon County pub meetups here in Brighton, in which Alex Fitch interviews a comic artist (you can also hear the recordings he makes on his Panel Borders podcast). It’s nice to be part of the gang who help put this together, even if only a small way – there’s a very well-organised division of tasks and I handle a bit of the admin.
I’m excited about some plans to step up our activities next year and become more formalised as an organisation. I should say ‘become more formalised again’, as Cartoon County has been running for more than 30 years and originally had a constitution, a Treasurer and a Secretary etc. Can’t wait ’til we revive those
boring Board Meetings exhibitions, get to work on an improved website, and can offer increased support for artists.
Out of Cartoon County, I’ve also gained a solid gang of pals who have loosely become Bungaroosh, a comics collective that shared tables and an AirBnB at the Lakes Festival; came out en masse to meet Liz from my publishers Street Noise Books when she was over here in the UK; and even (thanks largely to Simon) organised a whole Christmas fair in Brighton where I sold more comics than I’ve ever sold in a single day before. Big love to all of you.
Allied to Cartoon County – in that it’s also an Alex Fitch enterprise – is the conference Graphic Brighton. This year I offered my sofa to a visiting speaker, Cole Henley, and made a new friend. Not only that, but later in the summer, I looked after his house, fed his cat and walked his dog – both a bargain holiday and a chance to get started on my comic project The Noisy Valley.
The first half of the year was punctuated by fortnightly online meetups, hosted by the ever-inspiring Rachael House. They were a great chance to connect and chat about everything, comics or not, while drawing, or not. Thank you, Rachael, for organising these.
Then LDComics, having taken their meetups online, keep offering a seemingly unending global parade of comic artists with so many different styles, subjects and processes. Often their evening meetings were after a long day at work, when I’d had quite enough of staring at a screen, but it’s always worth it. I reckon all those thoughts and pictures sink into my brain and must surely come out in my work somewhere.
And finally, I feel like I gained a whole new community, and certainly a couple of new firm friends, when I visited the Rhondda Valley for my exhibition Word on the Street at the incredible (and I am not using that word lightly) Workers Gallery But that deserves a post of its own, and I’ll be writing one soon.
Thank you and a very happy Christmas to everyone who’s been there for comics chat, celebration and commiseration this year: Hannah Berry, Joe Decie, Hannah Eaton, Karrie Fransman, Alex Fitch, Liz Frances, Cole Henley, Rachael House, Dan Locke, Michi Mathias, Danny Noble, Corinne Pearlman, Woodrow Phoenix, Gayle Rogers, Simon Russell, Zara Slattery, Nicola Streeten, Chris Williams, Ian Williams, and all the people I’ve no doubt left off this list out of pure forgetfulness. xxx