The Myfanwy Tristram shop is updated

yay comics postcard by Myfanwy Tristram

I’ve just added new postcard designs and stickers to my online shop — the ones that have previously only been available at comics fairs.

Now’s your chance to send someone a hearty “Yay! Comics” message, or slap a “Comics totally count as reading” sticker on your laptop, so everyone knows exactly where you stand on that issue.

myf stikers
Stickkkkerrrrs!

Other designs include the girl-positive Girls Rock and Girls Rule images, taken from my comic ‘Everything My 10-year-old daughter wore in November” — which you can buy too. Go on, treat yourself!

girls rule postcard by Myfanwy Tristramgirls rock postcard by Myfanwy Tristram

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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?

 

 

 

My entry for the Cape/Comica/Observer graphic short story competition, 2015

It’s that time of the year again, when the shortlisted artists for the Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize will have been notified.

Once again, my email inbox is inexplicably empty (INORITE, some mistake surely), so I’m sure it’s fine to share my entry now. 

As in previous years, I’ll be collecting any others I can find and linking to them in a big round-up post, although, gotta say, I’ve barely seen any mention from other entrants yet. Hopefully everyone else is just waiting like I was, and will start putting them online soon. If you’ve done so, let me know!

Meanwhile, please enjoy “Whatever Works”. As usual, you can click each image to see it more clearly.

Whatever Works by Myfanwy Tristram P1 lowres

Whatever Works by Myfanwy Tristram P2 lowres

Whatever Works by Myfanwy Tristram P3 lowres

Whatever Works by Myfanwy Tristram P4 lowres

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.

Cape/Comica/Observer graphic short story – update

Work in Progress by Myfanwy TristramJust a quick camera phone snap of some work in progress, so that this post has an image – it’s not actually relevant to the rest of the post : )

An update on my attempts to gather together entries for the Cape/Comica/Observer graphic short story contest. Apparently 180 people entered this year. I have managed to find and link to 14 of them (including my own), which is not even 10%.

I can’t believe that anyone who’s a cartoonist or comics artist these days doesn’t put their work online – surely! So perhaps people aren’t labelling them in the same way that I’m Googling. Do let me know if you manage to find more.

I was in Edinburgh last week. For some reason, I was waking insanely early each morning, which did at least give me time to listen to a Guardian podcast about the competition, while my daughter slept.

One of the judges, Rachel Cooke, talked a bit about it. I was hoping for some stunning insights into how they chose the winners, or what sort of strips almost made the grade, but no dice. To be fair, it was very interesting listening to previous winners talking about the projects they’ve gone on to create: Stephen Collins’  The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, and Isabel Greenberg’s Encyclopaedia of Early Earth.

One thing that was mentioned, and which I’ve also seen online, is that there were fewer entries than expected, and they put that down to people being intimidated by the professional-looking entries that won previously. I wonder if that’s why they chose a strip that is technically less polished this year.

Apart from that, I haven’t seen much analysis online, either. There are endless re-announcements of the winner, but I’m not reading people’s thoughts about it, really. Again, maybe I’m just Googlin’ in all the wrong places. I haven’t seen the shortlist yet, either, though there’s a lead in the comments to my last post

While we were in Edinburgh, we experienced a few full-on torrential downpours. One of these rather serendipidously put us through the doors of Forbidden Planet, where they had a special offer on selected books. I picked up Guy Delisle‘s Pyongyang, about his two months as an animator in North Korea.

Ahhh, it was brilliant. Like many, I’m already kind of fascinated by North Korea, and my goodness. People often say that books make you feel like you’ve been to a place yourself – well, this makes it clear that graphic novels can do that for you, too. I gobbled it up, and by the end, I also felt like I’d spent two months in this utterly surreal country.

Shenzen next then, I think.

Jonathan Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story competition

The shortlisted entrants for the Jonathan Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story competiton (that is *such* a mouthful. I think they need to rebrand it as ‘Plonk’ or something) have been decided.

For me, as someone with a history in cartooning, it looms large as ‘THE competition’. This year I was determined to enter, because, apart from anything else, it’s super to have such a well-defined comics project to work on. I’m not sure I’d have the impetus to sit down and work on a four-page graphic short story without a good reason.

Anyway, now that the shortlist has been announced, I feel I can blog my entry – there’s a clause in the rules about the work not having been published anywhere before, and I’m always a bit paranoid that that might mean ‘even on your own blog’.

I’d also like to use this blog post to collect links to other entries – so, if you entered and your work is online, leave a comment. I’ll keep editing the post to add new links as they become apparent. Here’s what I’ve found so far, via a quick Google (there must be LOADS more than this… please shout if you have a strip I can add).

Now here’s mine. It’s called ‘Overstock’. Click to see each page larger.

Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram page 1

Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram page 2

Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram page 3Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram page 4