I admit it, I’ve been way too slack about keeping our blog up to date, mostly because at both these meetings I was too enthralled with our speakers to remember to take notes. You promise yourself you’ll set to while the memory is still fresh, but then some client notices one of your characters only has three fingers or the Photoshop file you saved with, you believed, 25 layers has somehow become flat as a pancake when you open it! Fear not for the future, though. NDC has finally found somebody enthusiastic and literate to take loving care of this side of our operations. Many thanks, Chaz.
It’s disrespectful to the generosity of the five speakers at these two meetings to gloss over their stimulating presentations this glibly but…
Carol Adlam talked us through a number of projects she’s recently been involved with that might broadly be called educational, including an up-date of The Wipers Times for our own Sherwood Foresters, a challenging commission for the Ministry of Women, and her current work as artist in residence at Djanogly Art Gallery. Working in this genre (what has recently been labelled ‘applied comics’) embroils her in that thorny problem of how to pack in the information while at the same time producing something accessible, engaging and exciting. It is a fine balance that stimulated much discussion among our audience. Nicola Streeten needed no introduction after the runaway success of her Billy, Me and You memoir of the traumas her family went through during and after the loss of their little boy, but it was her work as an academic, researcher and co-founder of Laydeez-Do-Comics that was her focus for the evening. The women’s decision to invade the testosterone-dripping sanctum of the Angoulême International Comics Festival and take it by storm are well chronicled elsewhere (not least in INK!, see below), but she imbued the telling with a spin that raised more than a few belly laughs. It also made this correspondent acutely aware that NDC needed to revisit our gender balance (now almost level pegging, but where are the ‘toonists from the ethnic minorities, I ask?).
The second meeting cranked up the humour as MoT civil servant and keen comics consumer, Chaz Wright, delivered a sort of ‘what I most like about comics’ tirade that made you wonder if, in the light of the lunacies of Brexit, comics were the only thing keeping him sane. The audience was keen to corner him on politics, but no, “I’m sorry, I can’t discuss politics,” which I guess has something to do with his signing some strip of official secrets paper. No such restrain was shown by Steff Humm, creator and caretaker of the new comics website and newsletter, INK! I can’t for the life of me remember what Steff talked about but a slide titled, ‘Can we isolate the books we read from their social context?’ has stuck in my mind, along with a terrifying image of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Either way, the discussion afterwards made me look at anxiously my watch in anticipation of leaving enough time for the great Matt Booker (D’Israeli to the uninitiated) to spread his wings and crash. In a highly amusing presentation (mostly thanks to his wonderful comic timing) he presented his catalogue of breakthrough commissions, almost every one of which was wrapped up with, “I wasn’t invited back.” But after all these crash landings Matt has risen time and again to find himself in his present position of being very much in demand and a mainstay of the British mainstream. His was a heartening, encouraging and tenacious presentation that included the wonderful observation that he still considers the indie world of self publishing and zines, where he started, as akin to the R&D Department of the comics world.