Draw the Line book – update

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

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

The Draw The Line book:

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

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

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

Get your hands on the Draw The Line book!

Draw The Line logo by Karrie Fransman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building a ship with 50 Shades of Grey: when life imitates art

50 shades ship by Myfanwy Tristram

Here’s a funny thing. In 2013, my entry for the Comica/Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story competition pivoted around a charity shop worker who built a ship out of surplus donations.

Those surplus donations were mainly copies of the book Fifty Shades of Grey.

The whole thing came from my imagination. And yet… fast forward a couple of years to this morning, when I scroll through Twitter over breakfast, only to see:

Mashable: 50 Shades of Grey fort

Is it just me, or is that a bit of a coincidence?

You can read the news story here. And my original strip is at the foot of this post, if you’d like to see how on earth I included this unlikely extremely probable concept.

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?