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’.

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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).

Ladies of the Lakes, part 1

Ladies of the Lakes by Myfanwy Tristram

As long-time readers will know, I often record holidays in the form of a sketch diary.

Now, my trip up to the town of Kendal in the Lake District last October wasn’t exactly a holiday; I was there for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, selling comics. Nonetheless, so much happened in the 4 days away from home that I felt I wanted to record it.

And while my sketch diaries normally comprise just as much text as they do images, it seemed appropriate to do this one entirely in the form of a comic. That partly explains why it has taken almost six months to finish it: the other reason, of course, was that a few weeks in, admin for Draw The Line started taking up all my spare time and I had to put it aside.

Never mind – it’s done now: all 34 pages of it. I’m going to serialise it in 8 parts and I hope you enjoy it.

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p1

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p2

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p3

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p4

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p5

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p6

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p7

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p8

Read on to part 2

Draw The Line coverage

Draw The Line logo by Karrie Fransman

There’s been quite a bit of press on the launch of Draw The Line, which has really helped spread the word. Some of the more notable examples:

  • Broken Frontier were nice enough to let me natter on at length
  • Forbidden Planet's piece brought us lots of visitors
  • Standard Issue's Jo Neary, who was one of the Draw The Line artists, interviewed me too
  • Our aims obviously chimed very well with Positive News and they’ve been tweeting out the images as well as covering us in this piece

Thanks also to everyone who is sharing Draw The Line on social media — it’s been great to see the images get such wide coverage. As a reminder,they’re all covered under a Creative Commons licence, which means that anyone is welcome to share them on their own website or elsewhere, so long as the artist is credited and the use is non-commercial.

We’re also on pretty much every social media channel ourselves, so if you’d like to see the images at a steady pace of a couple per day, you can follow Draw The Line on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram.

I’ve already shared my own work for Draw The Line so here are a couple more that I really like (although in truth, it is hard to pick: I am fond of so many of them).

Image by Nicholas Sputnik MillerImage by Nicholas Sputnik Miller


Image by Karen Rubins
Image by Karen Rubins

And of course you can see all the rest at www.drawthelinecomics.com.

Draw The Line is live: 120+ artists show positive political actions that anyone can take

As you may remember, back in October, I went for a run and came back with a glimmer of an idea.

Remind me not to go running again: that little seed grew into a project that has taken up every spare moment since then. But today, most of the hard work is over. Today we launch Draw The Line.

Draw The Line

It’s been astonishing to watch, as what I’d conceived as a modest small press project blossomed, and more and more comic artists came on board (139 of them at the final count). Every single one of them is a superstar in my books, but it’s perhaps worth mentioning the bigger names, just to underline how the project grew so much bigger than I’d imagined. So, look out for work by Rachael Ball, Hannah Berry, Kate Charlesworth, Hunt Emerson, Kate Evans, Karrie Fransman, James Harvey, Lucy Knisley, Dave McKean, Fumio Obata, and Nye Wright among many, many other equally deserving but less-known comic artists.

What’s it all about?

The project was a reaction to the nasty politics that is prevalent right now — politics that is leaving ordinary people feeling hopeless, voiceless and powerless. The original aim has stood fast through the project, even as this large group of comic artists worked together to brainstorm the content: every action would show a way to make things a little better, to get your voice heard, to counter the negatives in the current political environment, or to offer support where government is whipping it away.

Draw The Line logo by Karrie Fransman

Each artist was allocated a single action to draw (some took 2), and then came the fun part, as image after image flooded my inbox. Some artists interpreted the brief in a surprising way, some chose to draw a single image, others went for a full-page comic strip, and every one showed thought, attention and intelligence in the way that they translated the action into something visual.

At launch, what do we have? I hope, a toolkit for political action that is also immense fun to dip into. We’ve arranged the actions so that there are ones kids can take, ones you can take if you’re skint, ones that will help women, refugees, minorities, and many many more.

Many of the actions are, of course, obvious: everyone knows how to sign a petition or wear a badge — these will serve as a reminder. Some of them, like the Raging Grannies, were new to me, and a real delight to discover.

Finally, the Next Steps page is where the real action is: that’s where we link out to the many organisations doing solid work in these areas, to learn how you can support or even join them.

On a personal level, I have something too: a new network of comics friends and associates; an understanding of how simple (if time-consuming) it is to devise and actualise a project like this; and something approaching optimism, thanks to this concrete proof that there are many others who feel the way that I do.

Share it around

Please do tell everyone you know, via your blog, social media, email and in the street. we’d love this project to reach everyone who needs it. And, after a little break, we’ll be moving onto phase two, which is to see how we can create Draw The Line in book form.

If you’d like to follow Draw The Line elsewhere, we have a Facebook page, a Tumblr, an Instagram account and a Twitter feed.

Many thanks to my co-administrators:

Karrie Fransman
Graeme McGregor
Simon Russell
Zara Slattery
Martin Wright

And now, since this is my blog, I’m going to share the two pieces I drew. If you’d like to see everyone else’s work, of course, you’ll have to visit the Draw The Line site. :)

Eschew the New by Myfanwy Tristram, from the Draw The Line comic project at www.drawthelinecomics.com
Buy second hand. You’ll be benefiting a charity if it’s from a thrift store, or helping out the seller if you buy direct. Either way, you’ll be circumventing big business and shrinking your carbon footprint.

Go Cross Country by Myfanwy Nixon, from the Draw The Line comic project at www.drawthelinecomics.com

Taking fewer flights can be a reward in itself, if you take time to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Work in some extra time to go by train, boat, bus, bicycle, or a combination of all the above.

My #HourlyComicDay 2017 in full

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

I’ve been absolutely up to my neck in the Draw The Line project (comic artists drawing positive political actions that anyone can take), but when Hourly Comic Day rolled around, I couldn’t bear the thought of not taking part.

I’ve participated for the past three years, and the concept chimes very well with my tendency towards diary-based comics. This year though, I’d be in Leeds with work, for an all-day meeting that would neither allow for the luxury of regular drawings and uploads, nor provide very interesting or varied content. So I cheated slightly, and completed my hourlies on the Saturday beforehand.

As with every year, it was slightly stressful and time-consuming, and I ended up feeling a bit unhappy about sharing rough work. But also as with every year, I believe that the narrative supersedes the quality of the drawing in the end.

Anyway, awkward preamble over, here’s my Hourly Comic Day. Click any of the images to see them at a larger size.

If I have time, I hope to do my usual round-up post of other people’s too, but it might not be as quick off the mark as it usually is.

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Well, that escalated quickly

Three weeks ago I had an idea for a collaborative comic book that would bring a few artists together to depict positive actions that anyone can take when faced with hard political times.

I suppose I imagined nine or ten of my comics friends jumping on board. If I was lucky, I thought, some of the bigger small press fish might get involved. We might do a little good.

Fast forward to the present moment, and we have 130 artists signed up. Thanks to the daisychain effect, where my contacts have other contacts who have more contacts, some of them are very big fish indeed. The past few weeks have passed in a blur of Facebook posts, spreadsheets, emailing and copy writing.

We have a committee (thanks so much for all your help, Graeme, Zara, Karrie). We have a new plan: an online presence first, then the book.

The artists all received their briefs this week. Matching them together turned out to be a labour of love: originally, the plan had been to do it entirely randomly, but it soon became evident that the variety of style and the diversity of actions meant that we’d get much better results making our selections manually. Some artists have told me they are thrilled with their picks. That is a very nice feeling.

So, that’s where we are now. Hopefully there’s a bit of breathing space before the submissions start coming in and we have to get them uploaded to our brand new website.

Except that — oh yes, I allocated an action to myself. I’d better get drawing.

What can I do? Collating a comic book for hard political times

what-can-i-do by Myfanwy Tristram

Over the past few days, I’ve seen a lot of my friends, here in the UK, and around the world, reacting with shock to the US election. For liberal-leaning folk on this side of the pond, their messages have a ring of familiarity.

“I’m scared for the poor, the marginalised, the oppressed”, “These values are not my values” and “We have to organise, take action” — these are all sentiments that UK citizens have already seen two times around: once with the election of our Conservative government and once after the Brexit referendum.

Well, here’s an something we can do. I’m crowd-sourcing ideas for concrete actions anyone can take when the prevailing political atmosphere is one they don’t agree with. They can be small, simple actions like putting a poster in your window, or bigger ones like volunteering for a cause that needs your help — or even standing for election.

At the same time I am collecting comic artists together who will illustrate these actions. We’ll create a week-by-week action plan for anyone who feels lost as to how they can make a difference in these times.

How you can get involved

There are several ways to get involved. We’re discussing logistics on this Facebook group (apologies to those who hate Facebook, but there’s no denying it makes this sort of project a lot easier).

If you’re a comic artist

Please add your name to this spreadsheet if you’d like to be considered for inclusion. A small committee of artists will ensure a uniform quality to the project by helping me assess the applicants.

If your application is successful, I’ll be contacting you between 5 and 11 December to let you know what text you are illustrating, and to give details of proportions, colour requirements etc.

All artists will retain copyright of their own work and will of course be credited in the book. We’ll also cost up the project to ensure that you get at least one copy of the final book for yourself.

If you would like to contribute ideas for actions

We’re brainstorming ideas on this document – feel free to add more. The kind of actions we are looking for are:

a) Universal: they can be applied by anyone, no matter where they live.

b) Non-partisan: yes, we happen to be living in a time where power is leaning to the right. But if you can look at your action and see how it could be applicable even if the political situation were reversed, then it’s particularly suitable for inclusion.

In short, this will be a book about how to take action against inequality, unfairness, poverty, hate, and discrimination, no matter where or how it arises.

If you would like to support the project

Hold tight. We’ll be launching it as a Kickstarter once we’ve got all the logistics bolted down, and I will of course be sharing details here as soon as they are ready.

See you at Thought Bubble

Thought Bubble

Things are moving much too fast at the moment: I need to tell you about so many recent events. First though, let me remind you about the massive comics festival Thought Bubble, next weekend in Leeds.

If you’re planning on coming, do drop into the New Dock Hall, where you’ll find me and Zara on table 96a:

dockmapfinal-719x1024

Here are your instructions:

  1. Go to cashpoint. Take out lots of lovely comics dosh (yes, BRING CASH – most stalls won’t have card facilities)
  2. Take out a bit more. You know you’ll always come across that one comic you really wish you still had money for :)
  3. Proceed to New Dock Hall. Follow the nice yellow dotted line that I’ve helpfully added above, direct to table 96a.
  4. Look for these faces (you may need to add further bags under the eyes and some heavy yawning for total accuracy, given the rate and intensity of the past couple of weeks…!):

Myfanwy Tristramzara slattery

5. Engage chat facility while browsing our selection of lovely comics, postcards, posters and stickers. Buy them all (optional but highly recommended).

6. Check out all the other wonderful comic makers in the hall. Here are my top picks for this room (but there are also plenty I haven’t come across before and I’ll be enjoying exploring them too):

  • Felt Mistress Monsters made of felt and Jonathan Edwards Amazing illustrations. Table 140
  • Joe Decie Fellow Brightonian and subtly surreal comic artist. Table 123
  • Katriona Chapman Delicate comics about travel and gentle pleasures. Table 160
  • Lucy Bellwood Stateside boat enthusiast whose recent interview on Make It Then Tell Everybody had me astonished at so much comics wisdom being contained within one so (as it turns out) young. You should listen to that. (It’s possible I’m being stupid but I can’t actually see what table Lucy will be on – however I’m sure it will be findable)
  • And of course that very Dan Berry himself. Table 122
  • Phillipa Rice Paper cutout comics and more. Table 126b
  • Jade Sarson Recent winner of the Myriad first graphic novel prize. Table 61
  • Wobbly Rock Next door to us! Large scale, intricate comics. Table 97
  • Hanna-Pirita Lehkonen Thanks to my recent visitors I have a whole list of recommended Finnish comic artists to share, and that’s another post — but I have already gobbled up Hanna-Pirita’s wonderful Immortal Nerd web comic and will be hightailing it to table 68 at the first opportunity.

7. Go home and enjoy reading all the lovely, lovely comics you bought.

See you next weekend!

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It’s really really soon now, you guys

Woah, those Finns are arriving pretty soon!

In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you might like to catch up on the history of my madcap idea to bring two complete strangers over to the UK to sleep on my sofa and talk about comics — hopefully to an audience, which is of course where you come in.

You can see Siiri Viljakka and Lauri Tuomi-Nikula speaking at four events in Brighton, London and Hastings, next week.

I’m pretty sure these are going to be the best Finnish-comic-and-FOI-related events ever held in the UK (and possibly the only ones) so I’d advise you to grab a ticket while you can.

See you at the Lakes – & I’ll have a new comic with me

featured-image-by-myfanwy-tristram

It’s not long now until my compadre in comics, Zara Slattery, and I hop onto a train to make the long journey to the Lakes International Comics Art Festival. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll come and see us.

lakes-map

Here’s a map of the Clocktower building (click to see bigger) — we’ll be on the ground floor, not far from the entrance. And here’s a very large photo of my face so that you can recognise me.

I’ll be selling comics I’ve mentioned on here before: Two Birds, Everything My 10-year-Old Daughter Wore In November, and Salon of Rejects, plus postcards and stickers. All being well, I’ll also have Hello World, a brand new comic about Instagram.

If you follow me on Instagram itself, you’ll have seen some of the drawing process and, far more challenging, the cutting, sticking, unsticking and resticking that ensued when it dawned on me that a comic about Instagram could only really have one format: it needed to be a vertical scroll. Cue lots of rough print-outs and mock copies in various configurations.

hello-world-workings-by-myfanwy-tristram

hello-world-artwork-by-myfanwy-tristram

hello-world-mockup-by-myfanwy-tristram

This proved to be a more difficult printing job than I’d anticipated. Fortunately, Rich at Comic Printing UK was far more patient than he needed to be for such a small print run, and after several emails back and forth we hatched a plan which means it won’t be impossibly expensive to produce (partly because it is to be printed in three parts, which I’ll be gluing together myself) — and therefore, crucially, won’t need an impossibly high price tag either.

While I’m talking technical stuff, this is also the first comic I photographed rather than scanning: you may remember my recent blog post when I compared the results of the two methods and how scanning negatively impacted some of the pencil crayon drawings.

The comic deals with a mobile phone app and was shot via a mobile phone camera: how’s that for consistency? Maybe I should pretend it was all part of a high-concept plan.

 

We did it! Finnish cartoonists incoming

The crowdfunder to bring the Finnish cartoonists over to the UK was successful. Thanks so much to everyone who donated or helped spread the word — every tweet, email and penny helped. We launched the campaign at 13:53 on Thursday, and actually hit target on Friday at 16:17, which was a much speedier result than I dared to anticipate!

I’ve been in touch with Siiri and Lauri and they are delighted. In fact, we basically exchanged emails which read as variations of “Wooooooarrrghhhh!”.

We’ll be consolidating all the plans over the next couple of weeks, and contacting anyone who qualifies for one of the rewards.

The crowdfunding page is still active, for a couple of reasons. First, the final donation came from the Hastings Cartoon Festival, and was paid directly. Secondly, I’ll be happy to raise a bit extra just to cover any fluctuations in flights and train prices, and if there’s still some left over, we can use it to fund food and drink at the events.

Now, if you want to see Siiri and Lauri speak, which of course you do, here are the penciled-in dates. Once we’ve had absolute confirmation regarding travel arrangements and venues, I’ll advertise these again, with links to proper event pages, but for now it’s probably looking like this:

Monday 24 October – Cartoon County in Brighton

Tuesday 25 October – Citizen Beta in London

Wednesday 26 October – Gosh Comics in London

Thursday 27 October – Cartoon festival in Hastings
Image by Siiri Viljakka and Lauri Tuomi-Nikula