Satin and Tat: study sketches

Sometimes it seems like the more you learn about how to make comics, the longer it takes.

While working on Satin and Tat, I’ve changed my habits a bit, placing much more emphasis on preparation. Now, before I even put the final strokes to paper (or screen, since it’s mainly digital work), I’m working on character development, research, study sketches and thumbnailing. I can see for myself the positive effects this all has on the final artwork, but if I used to moan that comic drawing is a full time occupation, well now it really is.

I’m lucky in that I find the details of Satin and Tat‘s era endlessly fascinating; well, I suppose I would, given that the Eighties were my teen years. It’s actually a lot of fun to find reference photos of goth hairstyles and makeup, more mainstream fashions, and the bands of the time, not least because I can now see it all in some kind of context rather than it just being the norm as it was when I was 15 and 16.

Here are some of the study sketches I’ve been working from. Click any picture to see it at a larger size.

Skinheads and eighties haircutsCharacter design attempting to show extroversion. Also – rah rah skirt!

Floppy hats, a crusty style of punk, the more dandified Steve Strange look, and t-shirts split down the sides.

Mosh pits at anarchopunk gigs.

Live Aid – attempts to pin down Bob Geldof and David Bowie’s distinctive looks – plus a backing singer.

Some of these are band members and some of them are people street fighting and it’s quite interesting how interchangeable they are.

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Draw The Line at Sunday Assembly Brighton

I had the great pleasure of talking about Draw The Line to the Brighton Sunday Assembly last weekend.

As I’ve previously mentioned, Sunday Assembly is a monthly meet up that encourages attendees to “Live better, help often, wonder more”. It’s a bit like a church service in format, only instead of hymns you have pop song karaoke, instead of prayers you have conversation and a few minutes’ silence, and instead of sermons you have people giving talks. People like me.

Also on the bill were Extinction Rebellion, who share many of our messages about going out there and getting things changed (in their case, acting on the climate emergency).

I thought I’d keep it relatively simple, so most of my talk consisted of going over some of the many and varied political actions depicted in the Draw The Line project, but it did seem to go down well and I got lots of invitations to speak at other places afterwards, which has to be some sort of endorsement.

I’m always happy to talk about Draw The Line, first to spread its message that anyone can take a small political action and make the world a better place, and secondly in the hope that people will pledge for the Draw The Line book, helping that message reach ever more folk, and especailly those who may never have thought of themselves as activists.

If you’re interested, you can see my slides here and the rough notes to what I said are here. You’re welcome to adapt them to use in a talk of your own, so long as you include all the links to our website etc… and of course, invite your audience to pledge!

Laydeez Do Comics: award and festival

Punks vs skins by Myfanwy Tristram

It’s the Laydeez Do Comics festival this weekend, at the Free Word centre in London. Why not come along?

Laydeez Do Comics is a “women-led but not women-only” organisation with chapters in cities across the UK and beyond. For the past couple of years, they’ve run an award for a graphic work in progress by a female identifying artist, and the festival is a culmination of this year’s award process.

On Sunday, it will be open to the general public so that they can browse all the entries, eat cake, and find out who will be awarded the prize.

I’m proud to say that my own work in progress, working title Satin & Tat, was one of the longlisted works, although it didn’t go on to be shortlisted.

That said, it is very difficult to be anything but grateful for LDC, because they’ve structured the whole award very cleverly to benefit everyone who enters, and not just the winner.

You’re instructed to submit the first twelve pages of your work, both in digital form and as a printed comic. Along with this you must provide your biography and a short summary of the plot. By fulfilling the conditions of entry, you may not realise it, but you are creating everything that would be required were you to pitch your work to a publisher or agent.

And there will be publishers in attendance at the festival – hopefully, publishers on the lookout for new creators to work with.

That’s not all, though: in order to help fund the monetary prize, LDC ran a number of professional development workshops and one-to-one consultations with practising graphic novelists. I went along to a workshop by Karrie Fransman in which she very generously shared her top tips for positioning your work and making it appealing to a publisher.

So now I feel very well equipped to go and give my elevator pitch and share the comic I’ve been working on for over a year, to anyone who might like to hear about it. It does feel like it’s about time it saw the light of day and got some feedback from people outside my own circle of friends and family!

Since creating the comic that I submitted for the award, I’ve continued to refine it, so I’ve actually put together a much fuller pitch package which I’ll be sharing with some publishers soon – ones that seem a good fit for this loss of innocence story that takes place against the background of the goth fashions, music and hairstyles of 1985.

While I was already working away on this graphic novel, I don’t think it would’ve been in anything like such a good state to share without Laydeez Do Comics giving me something to work towards, so great thanks to them.

PS, I should also mention that I’ll have a handful of Satin and Tat zines to sell. These are extra copies of my entry, so they contain the first 12 pages along with a synopsis etc. Talk about a very limited edition: there are only four or five available. As an extra incentive I’ll include a goth cut-out doll and one of the prints of the kimono’d bike rider as well.

Work in progress by Myfanwy Tristram - Satin and Tat

Satin and tat by Myfanwy Tristram

Retreating to Pulborough

Misty trees by Myfanwy Tristram

I’ve just spent the weekend with five other comic artists in a remarkable house in the countryside.

The plan was to go somewhere with few distractions, and indeed Michi Matthias, Rich Pettitt, Zara Slattery, Simon Russell, Hannah Eaton and I spent a couple of days with our heads down, ploughing through our different comic projects.

The views outside the window were delightful – walnut trees, green grass and mists up to Chanctonbury Ring — and when we did need a break, a fifteen minute walk through the fields and lanes took us to the local oak-beamed pub.

Meeting the house’s owners and taking a peek at their studios was also a treat: we saw the oils in progress and the wondrous sketchbooks of Chris Aggs RBA, and Patrice, deep in her prolific work for the Phoenix comic.

Chris Aggs in his studio

Mostly we got on with our drawings.

We were all at very different stages of very different comics:

  • Simon was splashing ink about and experimenting with markmaking as he created the rewards for a recent successful Kickstarter.
  • Hannah was creating complex pencil illustrations that are to be gently animated for The Cabinet of Living Cinema.
  • Rich was building up new stocks of his regular web comic Drizzle Cake.
  • Michi was making progress with her adaptation of a Victorian cycling manual.
  • Zara was off on a wild journey of exploration and research into folklore and collective consciousness to feed into her incredible coma comic.
  • And I have reached a stage in Satin and Tat where I was happily making sketches of people, backgrounds and 80s fashion that I’ll be able to refer to as I thumbnail the next few scenes.

We enjoyed a few extra-curricular activities without deviating from comics.

The first evening we watched Stripped. On Sunday, Zara led us in making plasticine heads of our main characters, an excellent idea as you can then have a model you can draw from every angle with no trouble, and add a light source to see where shadows fall.

We watched Rich’s Patreon video, which is a superb example of how to market yourself. We drew each other without looking at the paper. I tested out a forthcoming talk about Draw The Line on a friendly audience. And in between times we cooked and ate.

If you’re an artist of any kind, I can fully recommend doing something like this. It was fairly simple (easy for me to say when Michi did all the arranging and Zara did all the driving, but…): all we required was a location and a means of getting there.

February is off season so it was very affordable between the six of us; we all brought food and ended up with far more than we needed.

And we all felt we benefited, in one way or another, from having people to bounce ideas off, spark new directions, advise on drawings or just provide good company while we engaged in the normally solitary act of drawing.

Zara Slattery, Rich Pettitt, Hannah Eaton, Michi Matthias, Simon Russell and Myfanwy Tristram

 

Draw The Line: hooray for publicity

Like buses, they all come at once. I’ve had three excellent opportunities to speak about Draw The Line recently, and now you can choose whether to enjoy your update via the medium of print, podcast or in person.

What is Draw The Line, do you ask? Well, you can find out through any of the links below, but the short version is, it’s a project which brings together more than 100 comic artists, each showing a political action anyone can take if they want to make the world a better place. We are currently crowdfunding to publish it as a book.

On air

Panel Borders

Firstly, you can listen to this week’s episode of Panel Borders which broadcast on Resonance FM and is now available in podcast form, titled Comics Activism. It’s split into two parts: in the first section, I chat with presenter Alex Fitch all about Draw The Line, about the connections I made prior to this project with the Finnish comic scene, and about my own work in progress exploring my teen years as a goth down in the rural county of Devon.

In the second part, you can hear an interview with Joe Sacco, king of graphic reportage: it does feel slightly bizarre to be on the same show as such a lauded artist, but I am not complaining!

In print

Then A Place To Hang Your Cape, which as its name suggests, started as a place to discuss the superhero genre but now covers the whole comics scene, has published an interview which you can enjoy here. If you enjoy comics of any kind, there’s plenty more content to enjoy while you’re on the site.

In person

Finally, for those local to Brighton, I will be speaking at Sunday Assembly on March 24th as part of an event themed around Activism. Just five days before Brexit is scheduled to take place, it should be an interesting one!

For those who don’t know, Sunday Assembly is a non-religious monthly gathering which gives you all the community side of church – fellowship, interesting talks, music, charity, cake and tea – but without any religion. The Brighton chapter’s website is here, and you can also follow them on Facebook to be alerted of events before they happen.

I’ll be sharing a number of the Draw The Line images to show some of the more unusual ways you can make political change.

I hope one or more of these updates takes your fancy.

Spreading the word about the project like this helps us attract more pledgers so I’m always keen to hear of any other opportunities. If you know a journalist, publication or event that might be interested, please do let us know on drawthelinecomics@gmail.com. Thanks!

Memories of a teenage goth

Satin and Tat by Myfanwy Tristram, work in progress

I’ve been pretty quiet on here of late, mainly because I’m working away on one massive comics project that will be another several months before it’s ready to share.

I do sometimes post work in progress over at Instagram though, so anyone who follows me there may already know that I’m deeply immersed in my Eighties memories — and in particular, my life as a teenage goth.

Here’s some work in progress (click any image to see it bigger):
Work in progress by Myfanwy Tristram - Satin and Tat

Work in progress by Myfanwy Tristram - Satin and Tat

Remember crimpers? All bunged up with Elnett hairspray…? I sure do.

But it’s not just set in the past; there are some present-day scenes too, and these have a different colour palette:

Work in progress by Myfanwy Tristram - Satin and Tat

Satin and tat by Myfanwy Tristram, work in progress

Talking of colour palettes: there was one image, in particular, which people on Instagram seemed to really take to; it’s a dream sequence right at the beginning of the story, when the main character (now middle aged) has been taken right back to her youth. She has a very graphic dream about cycling along the riverbanks in her goth finery.

The first version I drew of this was in these colours:

Work in progress by Myfanwy Tristram - Satin and Tat

… but I subsequently changed my mind, because I wanted to differentiate more between the past and the present within the story.

Work in progress by Myfanwy Tristram - Satin and Tat

I’m glad to say that people seem to like them both, and as I won’t have any actual new comics at the Lakes Festival this year I thought I’d offer both colourways as prints. They’ll be nice and affordable because they’re not fancy giclee or anything, just standard digital prints on nice card.

Also as a taster for the forthcoming comic (which SHURELY will be ready for the Lakes NEXT year…), I’m also going to be selling a paper cut-out doll based on all the clothes I wore back then.

So much of my memory of that time is hazy, but I can recall every single item of clothing with crystal clarity. I wanted to share the enjoyment I’ve had as I’ve drawn the leggings, split down the seams and laced back up, or the stripy mohair jumpers that everyone got their grans to knit them, and the pixie boots, oh, the pixie boots.

The dolls come with an extra cartoon (or more of a rant really) on the back — so you’ll have to buy a couple if you want to cut them up. But that’s ok, I’m also planning on making these super-cheap.

If you like these and you won’t be at the Lakes, don’t worry, I proooomise I’ll set up my online shop again after the festival. Just as soon as I’ve stopped having so much fun trawling through old copies of Smash Hits to find authentic hairstyles to draw.

Draw The Line update: catch us at the Lakes festival

Ask me about Draw the Line

Who remembers the Draw The Line project?

For those who need their memories refreshing, Draw The Line brings together more than 100 comic artists, each depicting positive actions that anyone can take to make the world a better place. It started as a website, and now we’re crowdfunding to make it into the most unusual and inspiring book you’ll ever have on your bedside table (pledge from as little as £10 to be part of it, folks!).

All profits go to the charity Help Refugees.

OK, so now we’re all up to speed.

Here’s the latest news about Draw The Line.

A load of the Draw The Line artists will be at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on October 13 and 14.

Not through any prior organisation of our own, you understand, but more because the Lakes is such a fun, friendly, enjoyable event, with so much going on, that it just seems several of us will be in the same place at the same time.

SO: come to the Lakes for a chance to have a chat with Steven Appleby, Rachael Ball, Hunt Emerson, Kripa Joshi, Simon Russell, Michi Mathias, Karen Rubins, Zara Slattery, and me.

Some of us will be wearing big embarrassing badges

So you’ll know we’re available to answer questions or explain more about Draw The Line, we’re putting sartorial concerns to one side. Just look for these whopping beauties on our lapels:

Ask me about Draw The Line

We’ll likely have leaflets too, so you can get the lowdown even if you don’t fancy a natter.

And some of us will be drawing pictures or selling goodies in support of Draw The Line

If pledging for the actual book is out of your budget, you can still come along and pay a little bit less and get something really unique.

At 3 – 4pm on the Saturday, come by our table to meet Steven Appleby and get an original drawing.

At 2.30- 3.30 on the Sunday, come and get a fat cat drawn by Simon Russell – you make an ink blot and Simon will do the rest!
fat cat by Simon Russell

At pretty much any time (‘cos it’s our table), Zara Slattery and I will be there. Zara’s going to be drawing her Alice character from her ‘Radical Roots’ Draw The Line contribution (click to see it at a larger size), and I’ll have notebooks featuring the hopeful cyclist from my ‘travel cross country’ strip.

Zara Slattery Radical RootsTravel Hopefully by Myfanwy Tristram

Here’s a hastily-scrawled indication as to where we’ll be: basically the room on the left on the ground floor as you go into the Clocktower, same position as always:

Check out the windows

As if that’s not exciting enough, several Draw The Line artists will also be having their strips displayed on the windows trail — so look out for them in the shop displays as you walk through lovely Kendal.

Buy an excellent comic

It feels wrong to be putting this last on the list, because it’s so cool, but this is more to do with the Thought Bubble festival, running in Leeds this weekend as I write.

Aneurin Wright, one of Draw The Line’s artists, raced against time to bring out a comic he could sell at Thought Bubble, with proceeds going to Draw The Line.

He’s taken all the nuggets of wisdom he’s gleaned from comic artists speaking at various events, and put them together with illustrations drawn on the spot, so it’s a great way to enjoy the pictures while also learning more about the art of cartooning.

You can read more about it here, and the only reason I’m putting it right at the end like this is that I don’t know if he’ll have any copies left once Thought Bubble is over. The person to ask about that would be Nye himself. and you can buy it online here!

So… wow, that was a lot of information, wasn’t it? I hope I’ll see some of you in Kendal next month!

 

 

Draw the Line book – update

The crowdfunder for the Draw The Line book is still running. You can pledge on the Unbound page.

We’ve had a great start, but now we need to get the word further afield, so if you know anyone who a) is into comics, b) worries about the current political climate, c) would like to do something to help the refugee crisis (or perhaps all three) do please share the link with them: http://www.unbound.com/books/draw-the-line.

The Draw The Line book:

  • presents over 100 positive political actions anyone can take, from the obvious to the frankly unusual
  • has brought together over 100 comic artists from many countries, including some big names like Dave McKean, Fumio Obata, Kate Charlesworth, Hunt Emerson and Lucy Knisley
  • will be available as a gorgeous first edition hardback book
  • has waived all creator projects – 50% of all income will go directly to the charity Help Refugees.

As an extra sweetener, there are various add-on options which give pledgers the opportunity to benefit from really unique rewards like commissioned bespoke drawings, original artwork, talks and workshops from one of the Draw The Line artists, and even your own show from the star comedian (and artist) Jo Neary.

And now, please take a few minutes to drop an email, tweet or Facebook message to a person or group who you think might not have heard about Draw the Line. Thank you!

An update on Draw The Line — pledge to get copies of the books, original artwork, and art workshops/talks

Draw The Line artwork

The crowdfunder for the Draw The Line book is up and running. If you haven’t already pledged for your copy, please do go and take a look. For just £20 you can be in line for a hardback first edition of what promises to be a beautiful full-colour high quality volume — plus as a supporter, you get your name printed inside!

In this post I just want to take some time to explain where profits are going, and also, delve into some of the more exciting pledge rewards.

All artists offering commissions, original artwork and comics

All artists offering workshops and talks

Where the money goes

Something I didn’t mention in my last post, because it wasn’t quite arranged at that time, is that all the creator profits will be going to the charity Help Refugees.

This charity was chosen in a vote by all the Draw The Line artists. I was really pleased when I counted up the results, because although all the charity contenders were worthy, Help Refugees in particular reflects the project in a few important ways. First, it operates right across Europe, within many of the countries that our artists come from. Secondly, it’s a non-political, non-partisan charity which gives help to those who need it most. And thirdly, of course, the Draw The Line project contains several practical actions specifically aimed to help refugees and displaced people, including the lovely image by Karrie Fransman that we’ve used across so much of our press coverage and social media.

What do I mean when I say ‘all creator profits’ go to this charity? Well, just like any publishing house, Unbound divide profits between their authors and themselves. In the case of Draw The Line, it’s the author’s portion that will be going to Help Refugees.

So that’s all great — but I think it’s worth pointing out that when you pledge, you can also get something nice for yourself! There’s so much information to convey on the Unbound page that I thought I’d lay out a bit more about the rewards here. Some of them haven’t even been added there yet, in the interests of keeping the page comprehensible, but hopefully this post can act as a reference point.

Rewards

So first there’s the book. Unbound pride themselves on high-quality hardback first editions, so I have no doubt that the Draw The Line book will be a thing of beauty. You can choose to receive just the book, or the book with artist-designed bookplates, or if you’re short of space on your bookshelves, you can opt for the digital edition. All backers get their name included in the back of the book as someone who made the project come to fruition.

If you love the artwork of Draw The Line then you might like the ‘3 actions’ edition or the A4 print. With both of these options you get to choose the images you like the best, either in a pack of 3 small prints (details to be confirmed but I think A6), or as a single high-quality A4 print that you can frame up.

The easiest way to see all the images (so you can pick which ones you like, although I believe you won’t be asked to select them until just before we go into production) is here – just click to see any image at a larger size.

Next, we come onto the (not so) secret strength of Draw The Line: with so many artists in our cohorts, it makes sense for us to offer original artwork as a reward! At the moment we’ve only listed two of the opportunities here: the original A3 artwork from Roger Langridge’s contribution (which would look amazing in any home or public place) and a still life commission by master of ink and wash, Joe Decie.

Loads more of the artists have donated or offered artwork though: you can see them all listed here. But for now, on to the most unique rewards of all…

Artist talks and workshops

To my mind, these are the most exciting pledge rewards that we’re able to offer. If you select a talk or a workshop, a Draw The Line artist will come and give you and your friends/group/school/club/party all the benefit of their expertise.

Artists offering this reward include some really prestigious practitioners, like Woodrow Phoenix, Emily Haworth-Booth, Rachael Ball and David Blumenstein, (to name but a few) and they stretch up and down the UK as well as locations as far afield as Melbourne, Australia; Helsinki, Finland; and New Jersey USA.

There’s also me! My own talk will be about how to run a big, geographically-dispersed comics project like Draw The Line, but will be applicable to any large online project.

You can see all the various workshop and talk opportunities on one page here.

To make your pledge, go to the funding page on the Unbound website and choose ‘artist workshop’ or ‘artist talk’.

You’ll be contacted when the fundraising is complete, at which point we’ll nail down the details of which artist you’d like, and all the other practical details. As with all pledges on Draw The Line, the profits will go to Help Refugees, but in these cases the pledge also includes a small fee for the artist.

Happy pledging!

Get your hands on the Draw The Line book!

Draw The Line logo by Karrie Fransman

Draw The Line is approaching its next phase, as a printed book — here’s how you can get your hands on one.

You may remember the Draw The Line project, in which more than 100 artists from 16 different countries illustrated positive political actions that anyone can take. Draw The Line launched as a website, but the plan was always to also offer this toolkit of political activism in book form: in fact, my original vision was that you’d be able to read a page a day, get inspired, and then go and try out the action!

From the beginning, one of the nicest things about Draw The Line has been the wonderful community of artists who have generously contributed their time and skills. Now we’re crowdfunding to make the book a reality, and that same generosity means that there are some lovely rewards up for grabs when you pledge.

As we’re working in collaboration with the publisher Unbound, you can be sure that the finished product will be a high-quality, full-colour, hardback first edition. Additionally, you can opt to receive bookplates; prints of your favourite Draw the Line images; original artwork; or even commission a new piece.

The most unusual rewards, though, are those where one of the artists will give you and your friends a talk or a workshop, sharing their skills and knowledge (and you get a bundle of the books as well). These are dependent on where the artists live — each has stated how far they are willing to travel from their home — but as there are Draw The Line contributors in many areas of the UK, and in North and South America, Australia and Europe, we cover a lot of ground. We’ll contact anyone opting for this pledge to sort out the details.

In fact, we have so many different artists all offering so many different rewards, that we’re going to stagger their release. So, if nothing takes your fancy right now, keep coming back to see what’s new. Or pledge anyway, because you can change your pledge at any time during the fundraising period, if you see something you’d rather have chosen.

I’m really excited to see Draw The Line becoming a concrete reality. I hope you’ll also want your own copy of this book to inspire you not to give up hope in the current political climate, with work by Lucy Knisley, Kate Evans, Steven Appleby, Kate Charlesworth, Hannah Berry, Hunt Emerson, Karrie Fransman, Siiri Valjakka, Joe Decie, Nye Wright, Fumio Obata… and me! Not to mention all the many other amazing artists. Here’s where to make your pledge.

Talking about Draw The Line: Laydeez Do Comics, 9 April

Herding Cats by Myfanwy Tristram

Nothing planned this Monday? Then come and hear about the Draw The Line project! I’ll be one of two speakers at the regular Laydeez Do Comics meet-up in Vauxhall, London.

My talk is an extended version of the short one I gave at Caption last year: I’ll be offering practical tips for anyone else who’s thinking of running a big comics project like Draw The Line. Come and find out how to get 100+ artists to submit their work on time, to brief, and in the right format, a process that has been likened to the art of herding cats.

Also speaking will be the French comic book artist Camille Aubry. All are welcome — and in case you’re not familiar with Laydeez Do Comics, it’s important to note that you don’t have to be any kind of lady to attend. Free tickets can be reserved on Eventbrite.

Feminist Comics Residence in Helsinki

Villa Salin by Myfanwy Tristram

I mentioned in my last blog post that I’d had the improbable but wonderful experience of attending a feminist comic artists’ residence on Helsinki, organised by the formidable FEMSKT, Femicomics Finland. The few days gave me a so much: the visual stimulation of a completely new landscape; new friends and contacts; and a window into the practices of two dozen women from many different countries, all making comics for their own reasons and in their own ways.

I’ll write a fuller blog post about it all soon (EDIT: it’s here), together with some links to the several interesting artists and projects I encountered, but for now, here is my response in comic form. It centres around the house we all stayed in, which as I hope is clear, had an extraordinary provenance that made the whole event possible. Click twice on any of the pages to see them at a larger size.

Villa Salin by Myfanwy Tristram p1

Villa Salin by Myfanwy Tristram page3

The Inking Woman: print edition

The Inking Woman, cover

You may remember my mention of the Inking Woman exhibition back in April last year. Well, now the accompanying book is out!

The joint authors are Nicola Streeten and Cath Tate. Among many other achievements, Nicola co-founded the Laydeez do Comics initiative, and Cath was the publisher behind the feminist postcards that graced many a kitchen in the 1980s.

I was unable to attend the launch party as I was (ahem) taking part in a feminist comics residence in Helsinki (about which, more to follow in a future blog post). However, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy the night before my travels, and it was just the thing for the three-hour plane trip — always assuming you don’t mind reading sometimes rather explicit comics while squeezed next to a stranger at a height of 35,000 feet, which apparently I don’t.

Here’s the page with my work on it. Of course, that’s the one I turned to first, but take my word for it that there are 138 other pages all bursting with comics by fantastic female creators, accompanied by that all-important thing, context.

Myfanwy Tristram in the Inking Woman

My lasting impression was that, as well as being a lot of fun to read, this book has done something very important in recording the history that led up to the current explosion in women making comics. It has cemented and legitimised the work of both professional and grassroots female comic makers, and people like me, who draw comics as a sideline*.

Now this history is in book form, it is ‘official’. It can be put in libraries and cited in academic papers. It provides an easy way for researchers, journalists, and anyone who’s interested to understand what a diversity of women there have been, and still are today, in this ridiculous and often time-consuming endeavour. And, because it’s a lovely hefty hardback volume, it may be just the thing for knocking some sense into all those who shrug and say, ‘Well, there simply are no women making comics’.

It turned out that this was the absolutely ideal book to have read on the way to a feminist comics residence. I’d had the 250 years of history: now here was the future. But as I say, lots more about that later.


*I had to stop and think for quite a while here, over what would be the best word. ‘Hobby’ seems too lame and ‘passion’ seems a bit, well, un-British. I feel as if there may be a French word for something which you are driven to do, out of love for the form. Do comment if you can think of it!


Top image: Myriad Editions

80s comic part 2: what medium?

While thinking about character design, I was also giving lots of thought to what medium I’d use. Here are some experiments with digital colouring.

I was impressed to find that the digital drawing app I use, Leonardo, can do a very convincing pencil crayon effect:

In the end though, I decided I don’t have enough expertise with digital drawing to make a whole comic look as good as I want it to. Always one for the time-consuming and effortful method, I’ve plumped for gouache.

Planning a comic based on the 80s – character design

punks by Myfanwy Tristram

I wouldn’t have said I was a particular expert on anything, but when I started planning a new comic based on my teenage years, I realised that we’re all extremely knowledgeable about one thing: our own lives.

And if you live long enough, that makes you something close to a historian.

Yes, it has come as rather a surprise, but I suppose the eighties can now firmly be described as a historic era — and one that I could probably use as my specialist subject on Mastermind, should that particular nightmare ever become a reality. Dipping back into my memories of those days, I found that I can strongly evoke the clothes I wore, the bands I went to see, and the lengths we went to in styling our hair (cue a half hour reverie about crimpers and backcombing).

crimping by Myfanwy Tristram

And where there are gaps in my memory? I’ve been gratified to find that even though this was, of course, pre-internet, there are plenty of websites whose owners have carefully scanned in pages of Smash Hits (my magazine of choice at the time) and photographs from their own nights out, with which I can complement my own photo albums.

All this is to say that, over the last few weeks, I’ve been living in an age of stripey mohair jumpers, Doc Martens and my old army jacket, complete with old lady-style brooches and CND badges on the lapel. This is turning out to be an absolute joy of a comic to research, and I’m enjoying being able to include all these little details that mean so much to me (and will, I hope, also mean something to its readers, especially if they are of a similar age).

When I say ‘research’, what I mostly mean is gawping at the internet in astonishment that there are blow by blow accounts of a gig I went to in 1984, or looking up what Bananarama were wearing on Channel 4’s the Tube, or trying to find a photo of exactly how we danced when we were trying to look like Morrissey.

Crass by Myfanwy Tristram

But back to the drawing. There’s something about this comic, probably the fact that it’s so close to my own experiences, that means I want to get it right. Of course, with every comic you want it to be better than the ones you’ve done before, but that feels particularly important in this case. So, before making a start on the drawing, I’ve spent a long time in preparation.

I spent ages on the script, and even got my playwright husband’s (very useful) input on it. I thought for a long time about what medium to draw in, trying to consider the cost and time involved with colour illustrations, and how best to depict the two different time periods (the action switches between the 80s and present day).

I began with a long period of sketching to try and get the characters right, working first in pencil crayon for the freedom it affords in terms of how easy it is to overdraw any mistakes. Here are some of those very early sketches.

long fringe by Myfanwy Tristram

mohican by Myfanwy Tristram

teen by Myfanwy Tristram

carryint the tv out the window by Myfanwy Tristram

another mohican  by Myfanwy Tristram

punx by Myfanwy Tristram

punx by Myfanwy Tristram

coloured in punks by Myfanwy Tristram

Hourly Comic Day 2018

Every first of February is Hourly Comic Day, where mad people comic artists attempt to draw a comic, or a frame of a comic, for each hour that they are awake.

It fell on a Thursday this year, which is not ideal for me: during the week, I am sitting at my desk working for most of the day, which does not make for very compelling cartooning. So I cheated (honestly, I think cheating in various ways is all part of the Hourly Comic Day experience; or, let’s say, some creativity and laxity around the rules, such as they are, is encouraged) and did mine at the weekend.

I’ll be treating you to some full-colour beautifully pictures then, will I? You might think so, but I tell you, whether you’re doing Hourly Comic Day on a weekday or a weekend, it’s still tough to even do more than a quick scribble, especially given that you actually have to live your life between images. Some people do put out amazing stuff. I am not one of those people.

So I’m afraid you get some pencil sketches and they’re not even very well reproduced here. But oh well, hopefully they’re legible and still enjoyable.

Hourly Comic Day 7am Myfanwy Tristram7:00 Got up before everyone else – even the cats. Put a wash on. Coffee and posh toast (apricot and walnut)

Hourly Comic Day 8am Myfanwy Tristram8:00 I’m scripting the next big comic I want to make, about my teenage years. It’s such a bizarre experience putting myself back in that time.

Hourly Comic Day 9am Myfanwy Tristram9:00 As usual, it’s such a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute: “I’m a genius! This is going to set the whole world on fire!” Next minute: “…or maybe it’s just a pile of self-obsessed tosh”.

Hourly Comic Day 10am Myfanwy Tristram10:00 Sidetracked researching authentic music for background detail. Ooh perfect, this was released that very month. Oh-oh-oh the Hounds of Love – God, this is really hard to sing along to! A parcel comes from my bro – a late birthday present for Tabs… pins and patches – nice!

Hourly Comic Day 11am Myfanwy Tristram11:00 Tabs is watching slime videos. It’s beyond me – these people poke and prod and review the literally useless medium of slime.. and millions watch! ‘Now this one has a slight smell of walnuts and it’s a bit dry’ *poke poke* *squelch* Let’s go out Tabs, you’ve been indoors all week (she’s had a bad cold).

Hourly Comic Day midday Myfanwy Tristram12:00 Tabs, Joe and I get the bus into town. Tabs is telling me about YouTube stars Dan and Phil. So, every night, millions of little girls are going to sleep dreaming of Dan and Phil? Yes but they’re not dreaming about going out with them – they’re dreaming of them going out with each other! ‘Shipping’ them.
Dan’s ‘soft’. In the head?

Hourly Comic Day 1pm Myfanwy Tristram1:00 Nice second hand jacket – but Tabs preferred this jumper. She spends her Xmas money on it.

Hourly Comic Day 2pm Myfanwy Tristram2:00 We go to E-Kagen for lunch but it’s SO FULL and we are about to turn away when we hear, ‘Hello!’. It’s our old friends Victoria and Dermot and their daughter Kath & they make room for us – so lucky! And we haven’t seen them for ages so we can catch up on all their news – a theatre tour to Mumbai, buying a holiday house near Toulouse, one daughter in NZ. “They gave us a standing ovation for a joke… it wasn’t even a particularly good joke!” “There’s a big attic – we’re going to knock it all open and put a load of single beds up there so everyone’s kids can sleep together when they come to stay”.

Hourly Comic Day 3pm Myfanwy Tristram3:00 It was lovely to see them, but do you ever feel like our lives are a bit… boring in comparison with other people’s?
Nothing wrong with boring.
Reminded me of Posy Simmonds’ ‘Gemma Bovary’
Reminded me of Peter Mayle’s ‘A Year in Provence’.
It’s raining.

 

Hourly Comic Day 4pm Myfanwy Tristram4:00 We bought a scratch post for the cats.  Talking of boring lives…The bus stop was full of people sheltering from the rain so we nipped into Card Factory. Hey look! They have same-sex cards now. That’s good if even the bargain basement shops embrace it as standard. (hums) Oh oh oh oh the hounds of love… Tabs has borrowed my hat.

Hourly Comic Day 5pm Myfanwy Tristram5:00 Playing Animal Crossing Pocket Camp. I’m probably more addicted than is ideal (level 59). Aw Kid Cat. Sorry Joe, I’m afraid to tell you I’m developing strong feelings for Kid Cat… argh, why are there never any pale chub when you need them?

Oh oh oh the hands of love… what is that song?

It’s HOUNDS! Not hands…

Hourly Comic Day 6pm Myfanwy Tristram6:00 A light supper (egg mayo rolls). That’s funny, you know how we were talking about Peter Mayle? Well he died a couple of days ago.
That’s not FUNNY.
What’s that?
Peter Mayle died a couple of days ago.
Oh, that’s funny!
No, it’s not funny, god! Someone died!

Hourly Comic Day 7pm Myfanwy TristramFrom 7:30 -10:30 pm I was just drawing. Oof… wrist ache!

Hourly Comic Day 10.30pm Myfanwy TristramAt 10:30 pm I very sensibly went to bed and straight into a very deep sleep…well, apart from another hour of Animal Crossing… beep boop bip, snorfle.



I also did Hourly Comic Day in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017!

2017 – a year in drawing

Myfanwy Tristram cards

No matter how much time and energy I put in, I never feel like I’m doing quite enough drawing, so it’s always good to look back over the year and realise quite how much paper (and pixels) I’ve stacked up! Here’s a quick run-through of how 2017 looked.

February

On the 1st, I took the Hourly Comic Day challenge, where you draw one frame for every hour you are awake.

Inevitably, my piece reflected some of the day’s political events:

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

I’ve definitely got the Hourly Comic Day bug now, and I hope to participate again on Feb 1st next year.

Draw The Line logo by Karrie Fransman

On the 21st, having been beavering away since October 2016, we launched the Draw The Line project website.

This is the biggest comics project I’ve ever attempted: it brought together 114 artists from many different countries, each depicting a positive political action that anyone can take.

I’m still hoping to put out the print version of Draw The Line, and in the new year I’ll be looking at ways to make that happen.

April

Draw The Line safely launched, I spent the next few months finishing my comic Ladies of the Lakes. Follow that link to read it all online in installments.

Ladies of the Lakes by Myfanwy Tristram

I also had it printed up so I could sell it at various festivals and stalls over the year – as you might expect, the Lakes Festival was where demand was highest.

Julie Gough’s Illustrated Women in History project mounted an exhibition and I contributed a small image of the Boston marathon runner Kathrine Switzer.

Kathrine Switzer by Myfanwy Tristram banner

May

The Inking Woman exhibition opened in London’s Cartoon museum, and I was honoured to have a piece included in it. This coming March, an accompanying book will be published.

I was away so I couldn’t make the opening night, but here’s a picture from Myriad publishing’s Corinne, featuring many of the exhibitors (click to see it at a larger size):

and here’s a bit of my exhibited image from when it was still in progress:

go cross country by Myfanwy Tristram

April

This is the month when I shared some life drawing I’d done in pastels. I’ve been going along to life drawing sessions most weeks though, so there are plenty more where that came from. Here are a few (click to see them larger):

life drawing by Myfanwy Tristram

Some weeks I still come away with some awful drawings (and my attempts at the quick 3 or 5 minute poses seem to be getting worse and worse) but on the whole I do feel like I’m making progress.

August

I entered a strip into SelfMadeHero’s Jeremy Corbyn comic. Sadly it wasn’t selected for publication but at least I had fun drawing cat of the moment, El Gato.

Corbyn and el Gato header by Myfanwy Tristram

September

I designed some nice postcards to sell alongside my comics at festivals. I still need to sort out a shop so I can sell these online too! Click to see them bigger.

Myfanwy Tristram cards

October

My love/hate affair with the Comic/Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story contest continues and this year I once again submitted a strip. Needless to say it didn’t elicit even a quiver of notice! As usual, I did my round-up of other unsuccessful (and successful) entries once the shortlist had been announced.

I also spent every day of October doing an ink drawing in the name of Inktober, something I enjoyed (mostly, though it was occasionally a bit of a squeeze finding the time every day) and which I think taught me quite a bit about composition. That was my vague aim so I’ll count that as a win.

November

‘Only’ seven months after returning from a trip to Florence, I finished the sketch diary I’d been drawing. I also sadly concluded that I probably won’t do any more of these in the near future – they just take up way too much time and the result, while very nice to have, doesn’t really help to further my work.

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

This month I also spoke at the Graphic Brighton / Caption event. My topic was Draw The Line and specifically how to organise a large comics project from a distance. I’d like to do more talks like this so I’ll be actively pursuing a few opportunities next year.

herding cats banner image by Myfanwy Tristram

December

Recent readers will recall that I made, and blogged, a four-colour linocut Christmas card. Despite a few hairy moments (literally in some cases, when the cats wandered past still-drying ink) I enjoyed this and would love to have time to get better at working with this medium.

Lino cuts by Myfanwy Tristram

I received the very welcome news that Draw The Line had been nominated for a Broken Frontier award. The results will be revealed in January.

And in my last drawing task of the year, I made a party invitation for my daughter:

It’s been a great year, and one aspect which perhaps isn’t reflected in this account of solitary work sitting at my desk, is how sociable and supportive comics people are. It’s been a pleasure to meet and chat with so many of them this year.

Deserving a special mention are Zara Slattery, who has been my accomplice at pretty much every comics event I’ve attended (not to mention all the lifts home from life-drawing classes!), and Simon Russell, who was on a one-man mission to make small press comic-selling more viable with his pop-up stalls.

And now… forward into 2019! Hope it’s a goodie.

Broken Frontier Awards 2017

I’m delighted and surprised to discover that Draw the Line has been shortlisted for ‘best web comic’ in the Broken Frontier Awards for 2017, which seek to celebrate indie and alternative comic-making.

Read all about it and see the nominees in various categories here — and then click the blue button to cast your vote. There’s no minimum to how many categories you can vote in, and it’s anonymous: you don’t have to register, so it couldn’t be easier.

Graphic Brighton/Caption 2017

herding cats banner image by Myfanwy Tristram

I’ll be one of several comic artists giving a short talk as part of the Graphic Brighton/Caption event this Friday evening. Do come along if you’re local; it looks like it’s going to be fun.

What?

Well, Graphic Brighton is normally a full scale academic comics conference; and Caption is usually an Oxford-based comics festival. I don’t know the reasons why, but I do know that neither of them is running in their normal format this year. Instead they’re coming together for this evening of talks and panels.

Where and when?

At the Phoenix, Brighton’s office-block-turned-artists’-studios, from 6:00 to 10:00 pm on Friday. Admission is free but a £2 donation is appreciated.

What are you talking about, Myf?

Well that’s a question I’m asked often, but let’s assume you meant it literally. I’ll be giving one of the ‘lightning talks’ (we each have just a few minutes) and my chosen topic is the Draw The Line project.

Specifically, I’ll be talking about how to manage a big comics project, a process which more than one person likened to ‘herding cats’, ie quite difficult and potentially chaotic.

Myfanwy Tristram

 

Who else?

This is where it gets really good. You can see the whole programme here.

As you may notice, the rundown includes many of the artists who contributed to Draw The Line, including Rachael Ball, Jaime Huxtable, Daniel Locke, Michi Mathias and Hannah Berry.

What should I bring?

A bit of cash, because all the artists (including me) will be selling their comics, and there may not be a card-paying option. I imagine drinks will be available on the night too.

See you there!