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.

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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!

 

Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story contest – round-up

This Sunday, the winner of the 10th annual Cape/Comica/Observer graphic short story contest will be announced — the (extra long – I’m sure it’s only been 6 previously?) shortlist can be seen on Paul Gravett’s Facebook page or in Orbital Comics in London, and is as follows:

(Edited to add)
The winner: If You’re So Wise, How Come You’re Dead? by Tor Freeman

Runner-up: Dennis and June by EmilyBob

Shortlist:

My first thought? That there are more professional and previously-published comic artists that previously. Also — why do artists never update their blogs? Only one of the above has actually mentioned being on the shortlist as far as I can see.

(Edited to add: I’ve now heard from two of the shortlisted artists that they didn’t know they were on the shortlist – and in one case, only found out when it was too late to see their work on display).

The non-shortlisted entrants

I like to recognise the not insubstantial amount of work and hope that has gone into every entry, even those that didn’t dent the shortlist. In previous years, this exercise has brought to light a wonderful, long list of diverse and highly readable strips that might never otherwise have been evident to many readers. It’s also brought invitations to artists for at least one (that I know of) collaborative comic.

Here are the entries I know about so far. I’ll add more as I find them — and if you would like me to add yours to the list, please send me the link.

Find your way home – a new strip

Still can’t crack the Observer/Cape/Comica contest! Oh well, here’s my entry from this year. Click the pages and then click again to see them at full size.

Find Your Way Home by Myfanwy Tristram p1

Find Your Way Home by Myfanwy Tristram p2

Find Your Way Home by Myfanwy Tristram p3

Find Your Way Home by Myfanwy Tristram p4

I’ll probably do my usual round-up of other entries in a blog post, so let me know if you’ve put yours online and I’ll link to it.

What you’ll be able to buy at the Lakes Comic Arts festival

The Lakes festival is going to be loads of fun this year: not only are there so many great events in the programme, but there will also be some fantastic comic-makers selling their wares.

My partner-in-comics Zara Slattery and I have a table on the ground floor of the clocktower building again; you can see where we’ll be, and everyone else, on this plan (PDF).

So what can you buy?

Well, from me, you’ll be able to get comics, stickers, postcards and posters. Here’s a quick run-down of everything I’m planning to pack into my bulging suitcases.

Comics


Ladies of the Lakes If you enjoyed the serialised story from last year’s festival, now’s your chance to buy it in print form with a beautiful matte cover that makes you want to stroke it all day.


Everything my 10 year-old daughter wore in November The pocket-sized comic with the extra-long name. She’s 12 now, but you can still enjoy this glimpse into a tween’s eccentric clothing habits.

Two Birds by Zara Slattery and Myfanwy Tristram
Two Birds Zara and I are in the process of having our first joint comic reprinted – all the same content, but in a larger format. One for the completist collector — or anyone who found the lettering a little too small in the original.


#HelloWorld A post-apocalyptic short story that (literally) unfolds into an Instagram feed.

Postcards

I have two sets of designs this year. The first are, well, I can best describe them as having a loose theme of ‘things everyone likes’. Everyone likes a picnic, right? No-one hates a rainbow. And who would turn a puffin down?

These are beautifully printed by Moo and also have that matte finish that I love.

 

And the second series are my best-sellers but recoloured for a fresh look. They’re smaller than the ones above, standard postcard size:

Stickers

comics totes count sticker by Myf TristramComics best thing ever Sticker by Myf Tristramcomics literally the best sticker by Myf Tristram

These are just great for sticking on laptops, sketchbooks, skateboards, and anywhere else you want to project a comics-positive message. Give them to your child and then watch it come back to bite you when you tell them to read a prose book for their homework (why yes, I do speak from experience).

… so, I look forward to seeing you at the Lakes, if you can make it. Remember to bring cash, and lots of it — I know from experience that there will be plenty to tempt you beyond our own table.

If you can’t be there

Do not fret. All of these will also be available online after I return.

As you may have noticed (although you’d have to be quite the Myfanwy Tristram superfan if you had, and I’m not sure I have any), I’ve removed my shop from this website for now.

This is because the software I was previously using changed from being a free service to a paid-for one, which is entirely reasonable on their behalf, just not very suitable for people with modest selling ambitions.

Oh yes! I’m in the Thought Bubble anthology

Underdog by Myfanwy Tristram

Sadly, I won’t be at Thought Bubble this weekend — just jealously reading the tweets of everyone who is there, instead. I’m fascinated to know how the new citycentre venue works out, and not least whether the proximity to cashpoints (not a strong point of the previous venue) results in more sales all round!

But I digress. I’m posting because it just occurred to me today that of course, my strip Hashtag Underdog, is in this year’s official anthology. It was actually way back in 2015 that it came second in the Thought Bubble Comic Art competition, but last year’s anthology was a special commemorative edition and didn’t include the winners as it normally would have.

But, wait a year, and here it is (now perhaps you can see why I had forgotten until today).

There’s lots of other good stuff in it as well of course, AND the proceeds go to Barnardo’s, so make sure you pick one up if you’re going to be at the festival. If you’re not, you can buy a digital version here — and it also sounds like they will be available via the major comic shops too.

Meanwhile, you can peruse this year’s entries to the competition on the Thought Bubble website, and that’s just what I’m going to do now, to see if I can figure out who is most likely to be featured in the 2018 anthology.

Jeremy Corbyn and El Gato cartoon

Corbyn and el Gato header by Myfanwy Tristram

Judging by some of the comments online, a lot of people find Jeremy Corbyn rather upsetting.

Personally, I find him quite comforting, and it was only recently that I realised why this is: he has a lot in common with my mum.

My mum rides a bike, tucks her trousers into her socks so they don’t get caught in the chain, is an active member of CND, and, for many years she had an allotment.

On balance, I think I’d far rather Jezza than Theresa May, both as a parent and as a PM. If your mum is more into asymmetrical necklines, holding hands with US presidents and running through fields of wheat, I can see how you might feel differently.

Such was my train of thought when I found out that comic publisher SelfMadeHero was calling for strips on the theme of Jeremy Corbyn for a compendium book they’re planning on selling at the Labour Party conference.

In the end, though, I went for a storyline featuring Corbyn’s famous cat El Gato. I just learned yesterday that it hadn’t been selected: it looks like SelfMadeHero had a really whopping response, so although I am sad that Corbyn, not to mention El Gato, won’t get to see my work, I’m not entirely surprised (and besides, I’ll forgive them anything given that they’re about to bring out a graphic biography of my favourite singer of all time).

So never mind: here’s my submission anyway — click each page to see it at a slightly larger size.

If you’re similarly one of the unselected and you’d like people to see your work anyway, do feel free to link to it in the comments below. I’d love to read it!

el gato by Myfanwy Tristram p1

el gato by Myfanwy Tristram p1

Going digital

by Myfanwy Tristram

Now that Ladies of the Lakes is largely out of the way (I am going to redraw two or three frames and add a cover before I send it to the printers), I’ve finally had time to play with my new laptop.

We’re very lucky at my workplace, in that they provide us with a laptop to work on: our choice of model, up to a price limit. If we want to, we can add our own money on top to get a more expensive one, and that’s how I have come into possession of a machine that I’d never have considered buying outright for my own purposes only – the Microsoft Surface Book.

I’m enjoying it for my work needs, and getting used to the fact that it’s a tablet/laptop hybrid: you can remove the screen and use it on its own, and even with the keyboard part attached, you can still navigate and interact via the touchscreen.

But what I’m enjoying it for outside my work hours is the fact that, with the special pen it comes bundled with, you can draw directly onto the screen. Now, it’s not like I’ve never done any digital drawing, but this is different from what I’m used to with my desktop, where I plug in a Wacom tablet sometimes: there, you’re drawing on the flat surface in front of you, but seeing the results come up on the monitor.

I wanted some time to figure out the set-up, and after frustrating experiences finding out, for example, that my version of the Photoshop Elements program wasn’t compatible with the Surface Pen, and researching various other apps, I came across Leonardo, which was specifically developed with the Surface Book in mind.

Cannily, they offer a trial period, perhaps in the knowledge that once you try it out you’ll be hooked. Leonardo doesn’t offer quite everything I’m used to in Photoshop (for example there’s no way to export in CMYK, no importing of brushes, and no clone stamp – plus lots of other features no doubt that I haven’t yet come across) but I do like the ‘infinite canvas’ which ensures you never run out of space to draw on, and I’m finding the shortcut menus really handy.

Here’s me giving it some trial runs:

 

Myfanwy Tristram

Myfanwy Tristram

No need to tell you what my train of thought was at this point – you can see for yourself.

And then I decided to try it out on a cover for Ladies of the Lakes (I drew in pencil, scanned in and then coloured over the top – this is it mid-colouring):

Myfanwy Tristram

and finally I’ve been mucking about with an idea for the flyleaves:

Myfanwy Tristram

Myfanwy Tristram

Still needs a bit of work but I’m impressed with what you can do on  a screen. I think my next challenge is going to be learning how to make brush strokes look a bit more natural and less ‘digital’.

Save

Save

The Inking Woman

The Inking Woman

Go Cross Country by Myfanwy Tristram

It’s quite an odd feeling to package a picture up and hope that it arrives at its destination safely, but I’m delighted to have been asked to loan a drawing to the forthcoming exhibition ‘The Inking Woman’, at the Cartoon Museum in London. Not least because of its excellent name: extra biscuits to whoever thought that up!

The exhibition will show cartoon and comics work by women artists from the 19th and 20th centuries to the present day: I haven’t seen the full list of exhibitors yet, but I know that it will feature lots of my comics friends and associates including the brilliant Zara Slattery, Karrie Fransman, Kate Evans, Paula Knight and Hannah Eaton. It looks like it will also travel briefly, as I’ve loaned my work until the end of 2018.

I’m pleased, because this bright drawing didn’t scan brilliantly and so the version I show on screen isn’t as satisfactory as the original. Those who encounter it in the real world will also be able to see where I stuck paper over messy bits of wording, for a second attempt!

(And yes yes, I’m also pleased because it’s an exhibition that celebrates women in comics! More of this sort of thing).