Monday, 24 August 2015

What Is Home ?

I'm very excited to lift the lid a little on a project that's been taking shape over the last couple of months. Lakes International Comic Arts Festival runs a Window Trail each year, in which artists are paired with local businesses, and get to decorate their window fronts in a way that reflect both the comics medium and the business itself.

This year, I've been paired with Kendal YWCA, who operate a Resource centre that includes a cafe and local business resources including a conference room. On the upper floor, Impact Housing Association - also collaborating on this exhibition - provide supported accommodation for young homeless people.

The cafe area has some big, impressive window frontage, with a beautiful curve of 10 panels across the front of the building, and several other full-length surfaces looking onto, and within, the public space of the cafe. It's the closest thing I've encountered in real, physical comics to an infinite canvas! You can see some of the big window in the photos below.

The display will be something between a comic strip, and abstract art installation and a crossword puzzle, readable from both the inside and outside.

Something like this ...

For the subject matter, I've stuck with my improvisation approach, and sent out a questionnaire to the various participants in the building : office staff, residents, the cafe people, and small businesses who use the cafe facilities, getting their ideas on the topic of "home". And, as usual with my improv work, what a lot of interesting answers have come back.

A few (very preliminary) images below, that may end up in the exhibition. They aren't in any particular order here, and won't be arranged in 2x3 grids in their final form (and a few are without words for now). This might look like a lot of images, but it's still a small section of the final exhibition.

This is, as ever, a collaborative work, with the actors from Kendal Community Theatre, and photography from Paul Want, Alan Walker, Julie Walker, Tim Hancock (and myself) all playing a big part.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Overshoot & Collapse

Little bit of system dynamics 'n' wildlife ecology sneaking into one of my comics...

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


More stuff from the streets of Cheltenham (where I'm working just now) making it's way into my art. Pleased with the negative shapes this created

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Sphagnum Moss

Ode to a piece of moss that I found on the street the other day (I've a terrible habit of picking up bits of vegetation and taking them home)

PS: Not completely sure this is Sphagnum Moss, but I like the name...

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Ode to Socks

A poem by Pablo Neruda, illustrated with images by Paul Klee, whose work is perfectly suited for this kind of thing. All I did was stick the two together.

Monday, 27 July 2015


Another quick sketch based on Ken Hultgren's "The Art of Animal Drawing" (he being a lead artist/animator for Disney's Bambi back in the day). Done in a quick drawing session with my kids over the weekend.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Guardian Masterclass with Karrie Fransman

I nipped down to London yesterday for the Guardian Masterclass with Karrie Fransman, someone who I think has a lot of interesting things to say about the current state of comics in the UK, and worldwide. I was not disappointed. (Note to non UK readers - that means I really enjoyed it. Typical British understatement and use of double negatives, you know.)

There was a strong turnout - 30 or 40 people at a guess - ranging from semi-pros to some who were just taking their first steps towards creating comics. Everyone was made welcome, and had the opportunity to get a lot from the evening, I think.

Karrie talked through her own creative process for her first graphic novel, passing round a lot of the original thumbnails, reference sketches and synopses - and discussed how she changed the way she did things for her second. There was also (and this was a key draw for me) a lot of good advice on how to deal with the publishing industry, who to submit to, what to submit, how to stand on, and so on.

The sketch below (rough mix of 2B pencil, Pitt Pen and Pocket Brush) was from a quick exercise that we did, in which a storyline was revealed panel by panel for us to draw - quickly, without thinking too much about it. a riff on the usual "angry person - angry person dresses up - goes to party - wrong sort of party" journey, you know. It was great seeing everyone's different interpretations of this, ranging from the cartoony to expressionist to downright strange. If you work out what my one's meant to be about, let me know, eh?

Anyway, the course is highly recommended. Big thanks to Karrie & to the Guardian masterclass team for hosting.

The crow on the angry guy's hand in the top panel came from a sculpture of some choughs by Terence Coventry in the Pangolin Editions gallery downstairs (thanks to Pangolin for letting me take the photos!) Love the way the blackened metal becomes more polished at their beaks.

Everything is grist for the mill...