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.

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Ladies of the Lakes now available in print form

kendal castle by Myfanwy tristram

If you enjoyed reading Ladies of the Lakes, you may like to know that I’ve had a small run printed up, and it’s now for sale in my shop.

The story happens in and around the Lakes Comics Festival, and I’ll be there again this October. It seems likely that these will appeal to the festival-goers in Kendal (well, I hope so!) and that’s why I’ve had them printed, but I’ll also be putting them in a few local comic shops, and of course selling them directly online.

As usual, Rich at Comic Printing UK has done a really superb job with the quality of paper and print — they feel lovely — so while this might be the most redundant recommendation in the Small Press world (I suspect most UK comic makers already know about him) let me get in a quick recommendation for his services, if you’re in the market for printing too.

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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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.

 

Scanning pencil crayon drawings

rats-drawn-in-pencil-crayon-by-myfanwy-tristram-scan-showing-errors

I know I’ve been quiet on here lately, but that’s not because I’m not drawing.

In fact I’ve been drawing quite a bit, between a weekly life drawing class, comic stuff, and even a visit to the museum to sketch with my daughter. I just haven’t managed to blog about it.

I’ve nearly finished my latest comic, which I’m hoping to have ready for sale at the Lakes and Thought Bubble festivals. (By the way, you can see all the other wonderful comics people we’ll be sharing a hall with at Thought Bubble, here.)

While I normally do my comics in inks or watercolour, for some reason I blithely drew this one in pencil crayons, without a moment’s thought about how well it would scan in and print out. That may have been a little foolish, especially given that scanning is always my nemesis.

It turns out that pencil crayons scan horribly. You get all the harsh contrasts and none of the subtleties.

Fortunately, though, after some Googling, I have a couple of plans up my sleeve. First – I might just photograph the images. It turns out that the camera on my phone is pretty good – the resulting pictures certainly look better than the scans.

For example, compare this photo:

wild dogs drawn in pencil crayon by Myfanwy Tristram - photo

With the scanned version:

wild dogs drawn in pencil crayon by Myfanwy Tristram - scanned showing errors

Urk!

Other images are slightly less alarming, but you can certainly see a difference:

rats drawn in pencil crayon by Myfanwy Tristram - photo

Above, photo; below, scan:

rats-drawn-in-pencil-crayon-by-myfanwy-tristram-scan-showing-errors

Second, I read that covering the images with transparent cellophane or acetate can help deflect the light. If the photos don’t work out, I’ll try that.

I’ll let you all know when I’ve finally beaten the reproduction issues into submission and these comics are ready – and of course, any that don’t sell at the comics fairs will be available via my online shop.

Meanwhile, if you’re curious to see some more of the work in progress, you can visit my Instagram account. You might have to pick through pictures of my cats and various flea market finds, but there are plenty of drawings too, promise.

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Salon of Rejects: grab your copy now

Salon of Rejects comic

Ooh look, what have we here? A lovely, shiny high-quality comic with one of my strips in it, that’s what.

It’s a sumptuous, perfect bound 28-page comic featuring cartoons by six creators, including me.

Buy it here!

Why ‘Salon of Rejects’? Because these are all entries to the prestigious Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story contest that didn’t scoop that top prize.

Or.. er, any prize.

But we still think they’re pretty fab. So, like the artists rejected from the Paris Salon, we’ve cocked a snook at the establishment and set up our own display. And now it can be yours!

In this volume you’ll find four-page cartoons by:

Huge thanks to Tom Plant, whose idea it was, and who did all the donkey work in getting it printed (via the ace Comic Printing UK, who are patient and helpful and recommended).

So, buy it online now. I also hope to be selling it – and the project I’m currently working on with my mate and AMAZING illustrator Zara Slattery – at a couple of comic fairs this year.

Can I be a mother and a successful artist? Hmm, let’s see

mother artist

This piece of graffiti is a fairly new addition to an underpass on one of my running routes. I enjoy graffiti and street art well enough, but my goodness, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of it that spoke so directly to my own concerns. I’d like to meet whoever scrawled this and have a good long chat with her.

I’m not sure whether the big ‘NO’ underneath it is in answer, or whether it’s part of a previous piece of graffiti. Either way, it adds some hollow humour that I also enjoy.

Anyway, with all of that in mind, here’s my review of how I did on the ‘artist’ side for 2015 (the parenting side is always a work in progress, and another matter).

Comics

wild flowers by Myfanwy TristramLots of my work comes directly from motherhood and this year that was reflected in two cartoons: one about the school run, and one about my own mum.

In 2014, I drew Underdog, which relates a true experience of sewing with my daughter, and this year it was placed second in a prize, which is very gratifying.

I once again had a shot at the Cape/Comica/Observer graphic short story contest, but feel more and more resigned to the fact that I’ll never make a dent in that one.

I made a four-page comic about what happens when you take synchronised swimming to an extreme.

Feb 3rd brings the annual challenge of Hourly Comics Day. I’m looking forward to this year’s, although as it’s a working day, I’m a bit concerned as to how I’ll manage it…

Clothes

Clovember - illustration by Myfanwy TristramThe 30-pictures-in-30-days Clovember project was also a motherhood project: I drew everything my daughter wore (far more interesting than my own outfits).

This year I was lucky enough to work on a couple of projects with the Swedish fashion label Gudrun Sjoden, purveyors of beautiful, sustainable clothes. In March, I painted customers in their shop, and then of course in August I had an amazing two days pretending to be a model. This has to be the wildest and most incredible reward that drawing has brought me yet.

The sketch diary I made around that trip has had an amazing amount of comments, likes and shares: it’s wonderful to have had it enjoyed by so many. And that’s not the last of it: I’ll be working with Gudrun Sjoden again this year, and I’ll share more details when that happens.

Travel

Barcelona SagradaFamilia by Myfanwy TristramWe had family holidays in Frome and Barcelona, and I drew a sketch diary for each (16 pages and 26 pages respectively). The Stockholm diary added another 12 pages.

I also recorded a trip to Madrid for work (26 pages). I was particularly pleased to find a way to combine my very interesting day job, and my drawing.

I love having my sketch diaries, and I do enjoy the process of making them, but as my drawing ability improves, so do my ambitions, until I am in the silly situation of having to spend a couple of hours a day on them for weeks after our return.

This time could be used for other types of drawing, so this year I will have to think carefully about whether to continue.

As it happens, my favourite type of sketchbook appears to be really thin on the ground at the moment: I haven’t been able to find any in TK Maxx and Homesense, where I usually pick up two or three at a time.

I have two unused ones in a drawer at home and after that it’s entirely possible I won’t be able to find any more, which is a real shame as I’ve never seen any other sketch book that’s quite as well-suited to sketch diaries. Maybe it’s a sign that it really is time to give up.

Other stuff

petting party birthday invitation by Myfanwy TristramAs I only just posted, I drew my daughter’s stocking and all its contents (twice in one year, as it turned out, as I only completed 2014’s stocking on January 3rd 2015).

I also made my daughter’s party invitation – more happy combining of parenthood and drawing.

People and events

This blog was given an incredible boost by WordPress when they featured it in a round-up post at the beginning of the year, and then in a couple of subsequent features. That recognition has brought almost 5,000 subscribers to my blog. That’s great, and makes me think of ‘success’ and ‘exposure’ in entirely new ways.

But sometimes you also have to meet people in the real world, right? Even if parenthood has put you in the habit of staying in of an evening.

I went to a few excellent drawing-related events this year: an talk put on by the Lewes Children’s Book Group, and the inspiring Graphic Brighton conference.

Then there was the Brighton Illustration Fair which had a strong comics slant. This year, I’m going to try and be on the other side of a table.

Finally, I rediscovered Cartoon County, a group specifically for cartoonists, and right on my doorstep – I really should make more effort to go.

So, can you be a successful artist and a mother? To answer that question quite seriously, I’d say that yes, you can.

I’m not pretending that I’m a successful artist myself – that must depend on your definition of ‘successful’, but I’d bet that most people’s definitions would include making a living from it. I am an artist who’s becoming more content with her work, and enjoying a burgeoning readership though, so that must be a good thing.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the anonymous graffiti artist is probably in the early stages of motherhood (or maybe even pregnant, and thinking ahead?). If that’s so, then my answer would be to hang on in there. The first few years of motherhood do not allow for very much else, but that’s not a permanent state. And motherhood will inspire your art in new ways.

 

 

Four graphic novels worth putting your back out for

Drawn and Quarterly 25 years: actual size

Here’s a good tip: if you are going away for Christmas, make sure you give small presents that fit into your luggage.

Or, be like me, and buy your husband a book so vast, and so heavy, that transporting it requires a flat bed truck, seven shire horses and a police escort.

OK, I exaggerate, but barely. Here’s a picture of me with the book in question, so you can see just what scale I’m talking about here:

Drawn and Quarterly 25 years: actual size

Another good Christmas tip is to give your partner something you’d like to read yourself. Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels tells the story of the Canadian micro-publisher in just 776 pages, and proved to be absolutely ideal fodder for snaffling and dipping into while others were watching Christmas TV or preparing the sprouts.

The first lengthy portion consists of first-person accounts of setting up D&Q, finding money and staff, and, of course, cartoonists. There are many descriptions of babies and toddlers playing amongst teetering piles of books: D&Q prides itself on being one of the catalysts that brought women so wholeheartedly into the comics scene.

The second half showcases some of the names they’ve published over the quarter-century.  I have to say that some of the best known names, like Joe Matt, Peter Bagge and Seth leave me pretty cold, and although Julie Doucet and Lynda Barry are names I became familiar with in the very early days of my own forays into comics, they’re not really my thing any more.

But there is still plenty that I found exciting, not least the discovery of Geneviève Castrée, whose work is right up my street:

Geneviève Castrée

One strange side-effect of this volume’s heft is that when you experience that little downcast moment as you approach the last section of a really good book, you realise that in fact, there are still 200 pages left.

While I was grunting and sweating under the weight of my luggage, it turns out that my husband was also lugging some pretty solid gifts, as well. We are united in our lack of practicality.

My presents from him included The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, itself almost 500 pages. Of course, the irony of a good graphic novel is that you race through what must have taken the artist a year or more to draw, and I did get through this in a single evening. I hadn’t previously considered buying it, but I was absorbed and found it a very enjoyable read.

Also under the tree was volume 1 of Sunny, by Taiyo Matsumoto. Volume 5 had been in the mixed bag of goodies that was my prize for the Thought Bubble comics competition, and while I hadn’t come across this Japanese artist before, I instantly fell deeply and irrevocably in love.

(I kind of saw this gift coming, thanks to my husband’s arch questions on the lines of ‘You know that book you really liked? What was it called?’ in the weeks before Christmas – not that I am complaining; it’s the perfect gift).

I can’t state enough how perfect this series is, in style and content both. You read in the Japanese manner, back cover to front, and right to left across the pages, and subtly, in tiny details, the stories of kids in a children’s home unfold.

Not much happens, but the little things that do happen are just the sort of incidents that loom large in a child’s memories and imagination. Honestly, it’s breath-taking, really something to aspire to. I’m probably going to have to buy all the rest in the series.

sunny by taiyo matsumoto

Finally, talking of Japanese graphic novels, I’m going to mention Just So Happens by Fumio Obata. This came out some time ago and I read it then, but Fumio came and spoke at a recent Cartoon County, the Brighton-based comic artists’ meet-up.

I loved it before and I love it just as much on rereading, and having listened to Fumio speaking a bit about it. I found myself gazing at the pictures for ages: they are so skilled and beautiful (that’s not one of them below: that’s my far less skilled and beautiful sketch of Fumio during his talk).

fumio obata by Myfanwy TristramIt was very interesting to hear that he’d been reluctant to trade on the one big thing about himself, the fact of being a Japanese person living abroad, but that eventually he’d decided that was the most authentic and compelling experience he had to draw from.

Similarly, he’s recently been drawing around the Fukushima disaster. Along with other strips that deal with the terrible and yet fascinating things in life, this does lead to a very peculiar train of thought. On the one hand I curse my nice stable lifestyle, which gives me no injustices to rail against or campaigns to turn my pen to the aid of –  while on the other hand I am, of course, exceptionally grateful not to be experiencing hard times.

Fumio also said that he’d entered the Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story competition four times, being shortlisted as a finalist twice. And that really shows how hard it is to win (although Just So Happens was published by Cape, so it did bring him to their attention).

I suppose it depends on your character whether you’d take that as an incentive to keep trying, or a sign that you should give up all together.

So, that’s what has kept me busy over Christmas: now how about you? Any good graphic novels under your tree?

 

 

 

Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story contest – 2015 round-up

banner image by MyfanwyTristramAs usual, I’m attempting to gather as many links as possible to entries for the Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story contest. Apparently there were 200 of them this year. The Observer’s Rachel Cooke says: The standard was the highest it has ever been, and by some distance.

So much work goes into these, even those that are not placed that it feels like a good thing to compile them all in one place. So:

And the shortlisted finalists were (linked where I could find the strip):

The rest

This is a short list (literally short, not a ‘shortlist’) at the moment, but hopefully it will grow as I compile my usual list of links to every entry I can find.

Do let me know if yours is online anywhere, and I’ll be happy to add it to the list.

MOAR comics

While you’re waiting for more strips (do keep checking back), why not look at previous years’ entries?

 

Here we go again – entering the Comica/Cape/Observer graphic short story contest

It’s that time of year again: entries are open for the sixth Observer/Comica/Cape graphic short story competition.

I’ll post my completed entry after the closing date, but for now here are some pictures showing work in progress.

Continue reading “Here we go again – entering the Comica/Cape/Observer graphic short story contest”

Brighton Illustration Fair

BIF wristband by Myfanwy Tristram

I’m really feeling the pressure of time at the moment. It’s a fine old thing to have a drawing blog, but that becomes a bit problematic if you find yourself having the choose between updating it and actually doing some drawing!

So this is a bit of a fly-by post.

I just wanted to tip my hat to the organisers of the Brighton Illustration Fair. This is a brand new event which had its debut couple of weeks back.

The focus was mostly on comics (just the way I like it). I’d just been bemoaning Brighton’s lack of a sizable comics fest with a number of other local cartoonists,  and for us visitors, the event just materialised, like manna falling effortlessly from heaven.

In reality, it must have taken tons of preparation. The hall was so busy for the whole weekend, with talks, screenings and activities, as well as the table top sale of zines and artwork. I think we can safely say that the illustration/graphic novel/zine scene is booming here in Brighton, and rightly so given its famously high-quality art school.

I mean, look at it! Heaving first thing on a Saturday morning (Click to see this picture bigger; yes, guess who just discovered the panoramic function on her phone camera).

BIF panoramic by Myfanwy Tristram

Here are some of the artists I met, listened to or bought stuff from, together with some links so you can find out more.

Catherine Faulkner

catherinedoart

I’ve been following Catherine’s pun-filled Instagram account for a while now (typical example above), so it was lovely to  meet her in person. You can see her website for more.

Lizzy Stewart

Lizzie Stewart travel diaries

I’ve mentioned Lizzy before on this blog, because she does gorgeous sketch diaries. I wish I’d bought more from her, actually, but reading Four Days in Marrakech and Swim was a real treat.

You can buy them on her website.

Maria Herreros

Marianna madriz at Brighton Illustration fair

This was a bizarre thing: I was recently in Madrid with work, and one evening I was very pleased with myself for scouting out a little shop with a back room full of indie comics.

I bought a handful of the most interesting-looking ones (another blog post I haven’t written) and what do you know? The very same comic was sitting on a table at BIF, along with its gracious creator.

This could be a story about how annoying it is to buy something unique while you’re abroad, only to find it’s readily available in your home town, but I’m choosing to think of it more as a beautiful coincidence.

 Luke Drozd

Luke Drozd

Luke had some funny patches that really tickled my Brownie daughter, but I was more taken by his gorgeous poster-size prints, like this one for the Handsome Family.

Eleni Kalorkoti

Elena Kalorkoti

I bought a couple of cards with this grey cat on them, because he looks like our cat Sushi. More here.

Laura Callaghan

I found myself listening to a panel featuring Laura and Marianna (above) and Donya Todd (whose work I hadn’t come across before, but who must be well-known as she was given top billing!).

Laura’s work really won me over when I saw it on the big screen: lots of very detailed interiors which look like they’re done in felt pen, although it’s actually watercolour.

Laura CallghanThis talk really gave me pause: I was sitting watching comics creators who were evidently in their early twenties, saying how comics have changed in the last decade. I thought to myself, argh, I was creating comics *two* decades ago!

The whole scene is different now, though: as with every other sector, the internet has allowed people to organise, to self-publish and to market themselves, and this new generation of young cartoonists have a much brighter prospect. That must be part of why the whole scene seems to be blooming at the moment.

Matt Taylor

Matt taylor

Matt’s comic shows how to create a comic in monotone and still have it come out beautiful.

In summary

That’s not even all. There was a film; there were activities to keep children busy (my daughter loved drawing on the 3D Exquisite Corpse and designing a t-shirt); and there was Warwick Johnson Cadwell talking an audience through how to draw his particularly loopy imagining of Tank Girl. There was Joe Decie (mentioned in blog posts passim) and nice fox pendants.

If you’d like to see more people that I haven’t even mentioned, all exhibitors are listed here.

Yep, that really was a fun weekend. Next year, my supremely talented illustrator and comics friend Zara and I pledge to have a comic PRINTED and FOR SALE so we can be on the other side of one of those tables.

Graphic Brighton: Drawing in the Margins

On Friday night and all of Saturday, I was at Graphic Brighton, a conference about graphic novels and comics creation.

The overarching theme of the conference was “Drawing in the Margins”, and it brought together practitioners who represent some form of minority or marginalised group.

Brighton living up to its name

“I’m going out to a discussion on gay manga” may be the kind of archetypical Brighton sentence that makes most of the country mock us mercilessly, but it was very interesting, and I say that as someone with very little knowledge of the form.

mangapanel2sfwNote: I think I got Inko and Chie mixed up in this picture – apologies

There was quite a bit of talk about Yaoi, comics about gay men, usually drawn by women and aimed at a female readership.

One apparent contradiction I found very interesting: it was said that these comics grew from the longstanding cultural repression of women in Japan, and represent women taking control of their own fantasies.

I asked whether women who drew these comics would be frowned upon, but I was assured that that’s not the case; on the contrary, they are celebrated. The comics are available everywhere, even in corner shops.

And yet, I was told, although ‘everyone reads them, no-one talks about it’. I think there’s something cultural there that I haven’t entirely understood.

Difficult lives make good comics

After the panel, there were five-minute talks by 14 different cartoonists. These also acted as a series of enticing previews of comics I’d like to read (I’ve pinned many of the comics mentioned throughout the event on Pinterest, if you’re interested in doing the same).

5mintalkssfw

Subjects here included working with people with learning difficulties (Brighton’s own Joe Decie); having a child with Down Syndrome (Henny Beaumont, of whom more later); being brought up by a single mum (Wallis Eates); working with the elderly as a doctor (Ian Williams), and motherhood and birthing (kudos to Kate Evans for pointing out that this is not really a minority pursuit, although one can certainly see the case for calling aspects of motherhood marginalised).

fivemintalks2sfw

There was only one downside to listening to people talk about all these fascinating, human-interest topics for their work, and that was being left feeling that my own life isn’t troubled enough to base a graphic novel on!

karrieFreesmansfw

Hustling

The next morning, I met up with my friend (and super-talented illustrator herself) Zara for the luxury of another full day of comics chat.

This began with Karrie Fransman in conversation with Tim Pilcher. Most relevant to the topic was Karrie’s cartoon about a refugee, Over Under Sideways Down, but I also really want to read her The House That Groaned and Death of the Artist now.

I did find Fransman’s approach to getting work interesting: it could basically be summed up the single word, “hustle”. She describes sending her cartoons (which she says, in retrospect, were just scrawls in biro) to every national newspaper in the country, then following up with an email a week later. This bagged her a strip in the Guardian.

She also tried pitching for comic versions of newspaper standbys such as book reviews and articles, but found that papers didn’t want to pay any more than they would a written-word journalist, so that was a non-goer in the end. Pilcher also pointed out that these days, we’re used to a much quicker turnaround on a news story than an artist can provide.

Cartoons by the elderly, about the elderly, and for everyone

Next up was a sessions about the representation of old age in comics, with Corinne Pearlman (a cartoonist herself, and also Creative Director at Myriad Editions), Julian Hanshaw (The Art of Pho, mentioned in a previous blog entry) and Muna Al Jawad, who works as a Consultant in Elderly Medicine (the new word for Geriatrics?) and uses comics to educate both colleagues and the wider world about associated issues.

Books I’d like to check out following Corinne’s talk include Paco Roca’s Wrinkles and Roz Chast’s best-seller Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

“Ageing is the new black”, said Corinne, and made the point that a generation of comics artists is entering old age, having become used to chronicling every other stage of life. Meanwhile, Hanshaw pointed out that the subject need not have a limited audience: we middle-aged readers are happy to read comics from younger makers, and there’s no reason that that shouldn’t go both ways.

The Yes! project

yes projectsfw

After lunch, Laura Malacart and Dan Locke talked about a project they’d collaborated on. As you can see from the image above, I found Malacart’s look (and especially her hair) really beguiling to draw, but I just could not quite get it down on paper!

Malacart was commissioned to make a film about a real-life case of a non-verbal person with autism who was found to be able to vocalise through singing.

After filming the footage, she decided that actually, film wasn’t the right format. That’s when she found Locke and they worked together, instead, on a graphic novel, which can be read online at the Yes! project website.

 Challenging the motherhood narrative

motherhood panelsfw

In the final presentation of the day, three women came together to talk about representing motherhood in comics.

Henny Beaumont will shortly have a book out which tells her story of having a child with Down Syndrome. From the excerpts she read and showed in this session and on Friday night, it looks very funny as well as beautifully-rendered.

Beaumont used the Brushes app on her iPad to draw much of the book. Previously, she has worked as a portrait artist, and this showed. There were times when she was standing in front of one of her pictures of herself on the screen, and the posture, face and expression were identical.

This book, like the one about autism, has an interesting side-purpose in that it will inform medical practitioners about how better to approach such scenarios.

Evans (who, I ought to mention, I know from way back when, when we both lived in a Brighton housing co-operative) and Cassavetti both had a similar point to make, really, and that is that motherhood/parenthood can be a massive shock, a time of extreme worry, and an opportunity for everyone to prescribe the One True Way of birthing a baby, keeping them safe, and getting them to sleep through the night.

Given the harsh realities of everything from morning sickness to poopy nappies, it does seem extraordinary, they pointed out, that mainstream publishers still insist on selling us the image of motherhood as a constant source of delight. I have to say, if I’d read Bump instead of Gina Ford, Jools Oliver et al, I might have side-stepped a lot of misery and self-flagellation about the fact that my daughter barely went to sleep for about three years after she was born.

The day ended with a wrapping-up session (plus the question of what topic people might like next year – ‘war’ being mooted), and then I made Kate and Zara come home with me to eat cake and meet the kitten. These being modern times, I knew that the pair of them had hit it off when they followed one another on Twitter.

I could easily have sat through another full day of talks, but it’s probably a good thing that the event ended where it did, as this blog post is already probably longer than anyone will read all the way through.

What happens when your New Year’s resolution is “Draw More”?

Santiago sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

My new year’s resolution for 2014 was a fairly complex one, but in essence it boiled down to two words:

draw more.

…and it has felt like I’ve drawn a lot this year. Not as much as someone who doesn’t have a day-job and a child, of course, but a steady stream of stuff nonetheless.

Some of it I was pleased with. Some of it I was not – and I’ve learned to call that stuff part of the learning process, rather than a failure.

January

It was my husband’s birthday and I made him this card:

Dude birthday by Myfanwy Tristram

February

February first is Hourly Comics Day! I entered into the spirit of things, and tried not to care about putting out unpolished work – after all, that’s what it’s all about.

MyfanwyTristram_Hour3_2014

I’m quite looking forward to the next one already – and let’s face it, February is not usually a month to look forward to.

March

I made another collage in my series of birds’ eye views, this time featuring lots of very small roofs made of stamps:

Birds island by Myfanwy Tristram

April

In April, I really enjoyed doing some life drawing.

Life drawing by Myfanwy TristramThis was also the month that we went to Bath for our family holiday, and I made a holiday sketch diary. Of course, sketch diaries are another form where, if you share them, you have to put out the pages you’re pleased with as well as the ones that didn’t work out quite so well.

Tree by Myfanwy Tristram

May

Straight after we got back from Bath, work sent me to Santiago in Chile! I was working, so keeping up a sketch diary was a bit more of a challenge, and I finished a good bit of it after I got home.

Myfanwy Tristram Santiago sketch diary

July

It looks like I had a month off from drawing in June! In fact, I was starting work on my 4-page graphic short story for the Cape/Comica/Observer competition: you have to start early if your time is limited.

In July, though, I started a series of pictures of the plants that grow alongside Brighton beach, where I go running and also spend a lot of time with my daughter:

Seaplants by Myfanwy Tristram

There are more plant drawings here and here.

August

Those sunny days seem far away now – hard to believe I was sitting drawing on the Level (our local playground) while my daughter mucked about in the fountains.

Sketches by Myfanwy Tristram

The weather turned, naturally, right before our week in Jersey – fortunately there was plenty to do there anyway. Not least,  drawing another sketch diary:

Toop and the telescope by Myfanwy Tristram

September

I shared my graphic short story competition entry:

Giddy_Heights by MyfanwyTristram_page3I’d entered it, all the while knowing it wasn’t quite the right thing to get placed – not polished enough (but I was very pleased, later on, to discover that my friend Beth had been awarded runner-up prize).

October

Never mind, I waded straight into another comic strip, this time based on recent experiences with a community archaeological dig:

GreenLadyHill_by Myfanwy Tristram – and, at very short notice indeed, I threw together a collage for the Association of Illustrators competition:

Fly Across London by Myfanwy TristramThat was also the month I created the Hashtag Underdog strip. October must have been the peak of my productivity! I should scrutinise what the prevailing conditions were, and try to bottle them.

Underdog by Myfanwy TristramNovember

I didn’t do Clovember but I did paint my daughter in her lovely bright clothes – right at the prescient moment, it turns out, as she’s recently announced a desire to wear only black:

Tabs watercolour by Myfanwy Tristram

I also made a short comic strip about working from home:

Working from Home by Myfanwy TristramDecember

Close friends and family had one of my linocuts bestowed upon them:

IMG_0757

– and I moaned a bit about how long they had taken to make. I must say though, that everyone has been very nice about them, which is what every homemade card creator really wants – so it was all worth it. :D

Clearly, the effort of all that lino-printing has taken it out of me because, other than a couple of sketches of my daughter and husband, I have not drawn since.

Next year

I’m hoping that a similar resolution for 2015 will result in just as much artwork – but I need to do some careful thinking as well, about just what I want out of all this endeavour.

This year brought a couple of commissions. I find these quite stressful, and it made me wonder whether to refuse all commissions from now on (on the other hand, that means relying only on my own inspirations to drive me forward, a situation which, of course, many artists would be envious of, but which may well narrow my horizons).

This was also the first year that I’ve sold my prints online, as well as in Brighton’s Open Houses. While this was not stressful, it did bring home to me how narrow the margins are – at the scale I was operating, and with the time I have to dedicate, you can’t earn much. It can only really be done as an exercise in spreading your name about a bit.

And as for that – spreading my name about – well, I haven’t done as much as I hoped. Reader numbers on this blog are pretty low (though boosted greatly every time someone tweets or shares the link on Pinterest or Facebook, so thank you very much to everyone who did that).

In 2015, I think I will have an additional resolution to get some strips published in existing comics: that means that someone else is doing the distribution and the marketing, and probably doing so far better than I would have time to do myself.

Sounds like a plan…

Giddy Heights, a graphic short story by Myfanwy Tristram

In my last post, I started compiling a list of places where you can see entries to the Comica/Cape/Observer graphic short stories competition. So it seems rather churlish not to share my own – here it is.

Giddy_Heights by MyfanwyTristram_page1
Giddy_Heights by MyfanwyTristram_page2
Giddy_Heights by MyfanwyTristram_page3
Giddy_Heights by MyfanwyTristram_page4

Observer/Comica/Cape Graphic Short Story contest – round-up 2014

Giddy_Heights by MyfanwyTristram_FIHere are links to every entry I can find online. I’ll keep adding more as I find them, and please do feel free to let me know in the comments if you have one I can link to (or if I’ve linked to your WIP below and you have a more finished version).

Fellow contest-obsessives-watchers might be interested to see this comment from Paul Gravett, one of the judges, which was part of an interview with Andy Oliver:

“I helped out again with the judging last Friday and the standard this year, the 8th year, was markedly better, some brilliant entries, many names new to me, and more entries than in the last few years. The challenge with a four-page story is to create enough mood, story and characterisation and to devise a surprising, or at least not familiar conclusion or twist or even open ending.”

Hope we’re all feeling like we did that… :/

Here are some other related bits and bobs to explore:

Comics Unmasked, Posy Simmonds and Steve Bell

Comics Unmasked poster

Comics Unmasked poster “Have you read Posy?” asked the elderly woman who slipped into the seat beside me. “How did you first hear of her?”

I thought back: “Well, the Webers were part of my childhood – my parents took the Guardian”, I said – but I could have added how, later in life, once I’d discovered a passion for illustration and cartooning, she became a hero of mine.

Or how, during the early years of parenting, when it’s hard to fit in any art appreciation, I was still able to admire Simmonds’ deft characterisations, when I read to my daughter from Lulu and the Flying Babies, or Baker Cat.

What I particularly noticed in those years was how she captured the blank, podgy face of a toddler so well, or a baby’s form, all wrapped up in winter layers- representations so pertinent to my own life that I could see how truthful they were.

I might also have mentioned that ‘Posy’ had been high on my list of names, should a second child ever have made an appearance – but by that time the lights had dimmed and the event – a chat between Posy and her contemporary, risqué political cartoonist Steve Bell – was beginning.

 

I travelled up to London on one of the hottest days of the year, leaving the slightly more bearable coastal temperatures to step into the hot soup that was passing for air in the capital. Thankfully, my destination was the British Library, meaning only a five minute walk between air-conditioned station and air-conditioned interior.

I’d booked to see the Comics Unmasked exhibition – an in-depth history of British publications – followed by this talk. The exhibition took, as publicised, a good time to view. With comics, you’re not just glancing at each exhibit, but reading it, a few minutes for each one – and there were hundreds on display.

It was an interesting selection, featuring those comics which loomed large in my own life, from Spellbound and the Beano to Deadline and Crisis, and giving due deference to the UK’s acknowledged masters Alan Moore and Grant Morrison – and introducing many publications that were completely new to me.

Exhibits included political comics through the years: sexually permissive editions from the Seventies, and a strong strand of women’s liberation from the Suffragettes onwards (I would contend that the Suffragette material wasn’t ‘comics’ as such, but it was still interesting to see).

There were two high points for me: seeing plenty of original artwork (just for mundane comparisons with my own work, like whether artists worked at double size, and whether they stuck down the lettering after the artwork was complete), and – a bit of a surprise, this – a fifteenth century bible, done in woodcut cartoon form.

Sometimes you see an ancient artwork that still speaks to you as clearly as it presumably spoke to its intended audience all those centuries ago: the hand-painted colour choices and the thick lines, were just like one of the pulp comics from the Seventies, although they showed angels hovering above dragons, rather than tanks or Action Man.

I had time to bake a little more in the still-oppressive heat before heading into the auditorium for Bell and Simmonds’ talk. It was a genial chat, and they generously spoke for over 90 minutes, accompanied by a dual slideshow of their work, from juvenalia to the present day. posyandsteve bed of watercressAs with the exhibition, the parts I found most fascinating were when Posy (in particular) described her working methods.

She showed many character sketches: “I always work in sketchbooks first”, and spoke of going on location to research not just scenery, but vocabulary too: “I try to get their lingo right, which usually means riding on buses… drawing a graphic novel, you do location, props, make-up… it’s like doing a film”.

And, she said, you can’t just draw a location once: you’ll need it in different weathers – what does it look like in the rain? – and at night.

Simmonds says she works on an A2 pad, and showed us a page divided into three. She writes the dialogue and narrative in one column, then tries to condense it down as much as possible, sometimes going through this process three or four times, because space is so precious: her favourite panels are the ones where she can tell the story without the need for speech balloons.

For stories like Tamara Drewe, she sketches out the floorplan of the houses and a map of the village, so everyone’s always entering from the right direction, etc. posy workings Bell was clearly as much a fan of Simmonds as any of us: “You were the only reason I bought the Guardian” was one of his opening lines, as he revealed, to disbelieving laughter, that his family had always read the Daily Mail.

Steve has drawn all his life – zombies, trains and war as a child, then ‘every station in South Buckinghamshire’ as a teenager.

He puts his early employment as a cartoonist down to ‘dogged persistence, taking my wares around”, and the way he tells it, that certainly seems to be the case, as he went back to see editors several times with his work. The back of Post Simmonds by Myfanwy Tristram (Here’s my sketch of Posy: as you can see, I picked a really lousy spot for actually seeing her face)

After the talk, I bought Tamara Drewe and got it signed – then travelled all the way home to Brighton on a hot train, revelling in it.

I think that Posy Simmonds has just about attained the highest peak of the graphic novel form. When you look at her work, it’s incredible what she’s done: she plots as well as a novelist, but then has to unfold this story, with all its subtleties, through drawings so accurate that you can tell what characters are thinking through the cast of their eyes, or the slant of a mouth.

Often, cartoonists rely on great artwork carrying a weak story, or vice versa – and it’s nice to know the form  can actually still work under these conditions (there were plenty of examples of both in the exhibition, many reassuringly badly drawn, yet still compelling).

But my goodness, when one woman does both, well – you wonder why she hasn’t been elevated to some sort of national treasure status. Maybe because it’s “just cartoons”.

Random House

Comica entry by Myfanwy Tristram

Comica entry by Myfanwy Tristram
I’ve got a Facebook friend who occasionally adds a hashtag to some status update when she’s pulled off a really great piece of karaoke: #sinofpride.

That’s kind of how I feel now: forgive me Padre, for I cannot help the small blossoming of pride in my bosom when I see this cartoon script, printed out and, finally, FINISHED.

I’m sending it off in the post on Monday. I hope it gets there. We had an episode this week with some train tickets that never arrived, so our confidence in the postal service has wavered.

photo(8)

Funnily enough, I walked past Random House with my daughter on Thursday. I told her the joke about it*, which she appreciated.

If only I’d a) finished my strip that little bit earlier, and b) planned ahead, I could have delivered my entry by hand.

 

*A man addresses an envelope to Random House, but the Post Office refuse to accept it, saying that he has to specify the house it’s going to.

 

The art of throwing your work into the void

three pages by Myfanwy Tristram

test drawings by Myfanwy Tristrampencil rough by Myfanwy Tristrampainted in by Myfanwy Tristrampage 2 coming together by Myfanwy Tristrampage two complete by Myfanwy Tristrampage three complete by Myfanwy Tristramframe closeup by Myfanwy Tristramthree pages by Myfanwy Tristram

The last time I shared a drawing with you was on the 30th of May. That is not because I haven’t been drawing. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Since then, I have been dedicating all my free time to creating a four-page comic strip for the Cape/Comica/Observer competition. Every night, I put in between an hour and three hours’ work, depending on whether it’s my turn to put my daughter to bed or not. At weekends, I fit in as many hours as I can between the demands of family life.

I’m not pulling my weight with the housework or with childcare.

This has been going on for four weeks, and the end is in sight. I’ve pencilled, inked and painted three and a half pages. I need to go back and probably redraw the top half of one of those pages, and I also need to do the lettering. After that I’ll also need to do a quick tidy up in Photoshop, and get the darn thing printed out physically, because they only accept entries on paper.

It is a bit scary, how much time it’s taken – but that’s another post.

And what will happen now is this:

  • I will take it to the post office and send it off.
  • I won’t hear anything for a couple of months.
  • Occasionally I will worry about whether my entry even got there safely.
  • One day, I’ll open the Observer (or see a tweet from one of the participating organisations) and see that someone else has won.

Which is fine! Really! Because the only way to go into this competition is with the knowledge that it’s not about the winning. The best reason for doing it is to have another 4-page cartoon in your portfolio, one that is hopefully the best you can do.

Well, that’s my thinking, anyway.

Last year, I and a few of my illustrator pals talked about bundling our unsuccessful entries together and publishing them into a zine. We haven’t done that – but guess what? Now we’ll have double the number. Heh.

BUT. If there’s one thing I wish that Cape/Comica/Observer would do, it’s to send an email to confirm that your entry has arrived.

Assuming that they already collect entrants’ data on some kind of spreadsheet, this needn’t be a lot of effort, and it would at least go some way to making it feel like I was putting all this endeavour into something, before posting it into a black hole where I would never hear from it again.

The secret thing about picture books is that they aren’t for children at all

Mini Grey, Chris Riddell, John Vernon Lord and Emily Gravett by Myfanwy Tristram

I’ve got rather a busy couple of weeks coming up, thanks to the flurry of booking I indulged in a few weeks ago when the Brighton Festival programme came out.

Tonight, I went to see a panel of children’s book illustrators: John Vernon Lord (revered illustrator, to quote the blurb on the back of his Nobrow book) led the conversation and Mini Grey (born in a mini, or so she claims), Chris Riddell (author/illustrator of Goth Girl) and Emily Gravett (Rather Good At Rabbits), all Brighton graduates, chimed in with their experiences.

 Click to see bigger:

Mini Grey, Chris Riddell, John Vernon Lord and Emily Gravett by Myfanwy Tristram

 

Mini Grey, Chris Riddell, John Vernon Lord and Emily Gravett by Myfanwy Tristram

In case you can’t read my handwriting (who could blame you) here are my take-away snappy quotes:

Vernon-Lord (talking about whether he uses digital media): “I like the noise of the nib scratching across the page”.

(talking about how writers can sometimes interfere too much): “I like illustrating dead authors”.

(talking about inspiration): “It’s a lifetime of looking. Looking and listening should be on the school curriculum.”

Riddell: “I’m addicted to Tumblr”

“Kickstarter is a very 18th century way of doing things” (ie, get your sponsors to commit to the work before you make it).

“You can watch people walk past Carluccio’s” (because the branch in Brighton has a huge window you can sit at and observe people walking by, and this is a good source of inspiration).

Grey: “The secret thing about picture books is that they aren’t for children at all” (they are also for the adults who buy and read them, and there aren’t any other channels where you can match illustration and text so perfectly. She was a bit doubtful about graphic novels – too much on the page).

“Sometimes your best ideas come from playing with your food.” [Shows slide depicting a toy dinosaur with a hat made from a raspberry] “Lots of my books feature food going out of control”.

Gravett (talking about where to find inspiration): “What do I fancy drawing?” – ie, draw whatever you feel like drawing.

A few bits and bobs

Frame from Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram

I am back from Chile

Myfanwy Tristram Santiago sketch diary

It was wonderful.

I did expect to have a sketch diary to share with you by now, but work trips are very different from family holidays.

For starters, you’re working rather than drawing – although, I was very pleased when work asked me to draw the conference that I went out for. The trouble was that I also had many other things to do, so while I drew for about half an hour, it didn’t really constitute having a Conference Artist on hand.

And then, with family holidays, you have long evenings where you’re stuck indoors. That wasn’t the case in Chile, so I was either out at night, or trying desperately to catch up on some sleep.

However, I am determined not to let the sketch diary slip away. I will keep working on it, and most likely post it in installments as I finish a batch of pages.

The Open House has started

prints by Myf

The Open House began its run last Saturday. If you haven’t been yet, don’t worry; there are still three more weekends. I haven’t been myself yet! I was travelling home when it opened up.

I have put together a Facebook page for it though, and now you can browse through a gallery showing everyone’s work. Such nice stuff! If you don’t come for the artwork, come for those scrumptious cakes, surely.

Full details are here.

The Cape/Observer/Comica graphic short story competition is open

Frame from Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram

Yes, the contest with the most unwieldy name in comics has rolled round again – I can’t believe it’s been a year.

I do always like to put an entry in, because it is a great opportunity to sit down and create a longer strip that’s as good as I can make it.

If you’re short of inspiration, you might like to look at the round-up of entries I made from last year.

My shop has reopened

Use the link at the top of the page to get to my shop. At the moment you can only buy cards, but once the Open House is over, I’ll be adding any remaining prints.

Or let me know if there is a particular print you would like to buy, and I’ll be in touch to arrange postage.

That’s it for news, I think!