Complements of organisers with a smile, Kev and Kel Brett, NDC were given a complementary table at this year’s con, which we shared with new local indie comics hub, Magoria Studios, and the more established comics web magazine, INK. Both INK and ourselves were essentially collecting email addresses to expand our mailing lists and spread the good news, but I made a point of trolling round the tables before the floodgates opened to the public to see if there were any local comics creatives present we weren’t aware of. Remarkably, I returned to assume the position with cards from no less that 11 (note 11!!) creators working within striking distance of Nottingham, if not in the city itself. Hopefully we’ll be seeing and even hearing from them at future meetings, but we were also snared by those canny podcasters, Awesome Comics. With a brief firmly locked into the orbit of the small press and indie publishing world, they are a service that is rapidly gaining a reputation for airing fantastic interviews with movers and shakers who aren’t reluctant to offer up advice and warnings about getting into DIY comics. You’ll find our snippet in Podcast 120 (which tells you how long they’ve been going), somewhere around 44:50 in. (Note to self: must do something about my droning voice!!)
Talking to people and from what I overheard, this year’s con was another great success, largely because Kev and Kel put such an emphasis on making it a family event, rather than a hard-nosed selling gig like so many of the other cons in this country that increasingly aspire to San Diego’s commercial standards. As a token of our appreciation, NDC donated £20 to the Poppy Appeal, one of the charities Nottingham Comicon sponsors from its profits. – JSC
Cornered at Nottingham Comicon, NDC blathered into a mic about (guess what) NDC, who and what we are, and some of the stuff that has spun off from our meetings. Awesome Comics provide an entertaining and useful service to small press and indie comics publishers. It’s a bit laddie, but if you can get past the giggling (not difficult) there’s a wealth of excellent information laced through any one podcast. Find them here, and for the NDC bit, you’re after No. 120, 44:50 in.
NDC member, Carol Adlam has been the Djanogly Artist-in-Residence at their Museum of Archaeology since May 2016. The results of her tenure can be seen from 25th November, 2017 – 25th February, 2018 at Lakeside’s Angear Visitor Centre.
The Thinking Room is a multi-layered graphic narrative project that incorporates visitor responses to the museum and its artefacts in a series of reportage illustrations, as well as in a short graphic story called Buried (In the Thinking Room). Both Buried and the overarching Thinking Room project draw on layered narratives, palimpsests, and the real historical narratives that have shaped the Museum and its environs today, from Roman Margidunum to medieval Keighton. Large-scale reportage illustrations and pages from her comic are on display in this exhibition.
Carol is a graduate of the Cambridge School of Art (2014). Her work was shortlisted in the World Illustration Awards 2015 and was nominated in the ‘New Talent’ (Research and Knowledge Communication) category in 2016. She has held residencies at Nottingham Castle Museums and Galleries (2014, 2015), the University of Derby, and the National Army Museum, London. She is the illustrator of the graphic anthologies Ministry of Women (2016), The New Wipers Times (2015), the short graphic novels Amy in Love (2016) and Suzanne’s Story (2014), and several children’s books. More of her work can be seen here.
September’s NDC meeting took a seriously technological bent, characterised by much chin-stroking by the initiated and much head scratching by the less experienced, appropriately introduced by Nottingham Hackspace advocate and web comic aficionado, Nat Titman. It also featured multiple shameless plugs for Nottingham’s excellent Comicon (October 14th)
Our first speakers were Will Starling and Adam Willis, the creative entrepreneurs behind the recently published Filigree comic and fledgling Magoria studios, a newly formed but potentially exquisite beast hoping to plug a gap in the UK’s indie publishing market. They have an ingrained rapport that translated into an amusing presentation, provided interesting feedback on the decision making process they followed when establishing their imprint and the choices a young business of this kind has to make, such as relate to printing and branding.
Thankfully we also got to see lots of Adam’s ethereal artwork. The room responded warmly to their ongoing quest to publish cool stuff, and most were left both juiced up and dangling at the prospect of finally reading What Makes a God, clearly the Moby Dick of the Magoria world. Their presentation perfectly encapsulating the sometimes fractious but obviously fruitful relationship between artist and writer. Was this the 2017 equivalent of catching Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the early days of Marvel? Let’s hope so? Will Magoria be at Nottingham Comicon (by the way – 14th October!)
Next, word from the wonderfully frank Cryoclare about her anarchic Gibson-tinged retro-tech web comic, Drugs and Wires, recommended for fans of downbeat science fiction and 90’s design aesthetic. Her presentation posed the question, ”Is making a web comic a good idea?” My personal response was “definitely not” as the level of technical acumen required is certainly considerable, but many of the group clearly took inspiration from Cryoclare’s practical knowledge of Mastodon, Gravilix, Patreon and other techy things. Her passion for the medium was obvious and matched by her deep level of knowledge, it is clear there is much to learn here.
The relentless mechanics of drip-feeding a web comic to online hordes of quivering, jonesing net-heads seemed like a daunting task, but one that Cryoclare was definitely up for. In more familiar territory the group discussed the practicalities of doing the conventions circuit (if you didn’t know, Nottingham Comicon is 14th October at Trent University Newton Building). The old black and white .v. colour debate came round again, as did the joys of having fans tattoo your artwork on their skin (on this occasion, on their head…their head!)
This year NDC are splashing out with nibbles and drinkies and seven artists drawing live for y’all, talking about stuff as they display their talents. Their styles range from the graphically realistic to the simplified cartoon, and each is very uniquely their own. With a bit of tech help, the process will be projected on screen for all to see, but between each artist we would love it if you, our audience, brought along your favourite under-rated comic, web comic or graphic novel and told us in under 8 minutes why we should make sure it is on our Christmas wish list this year. Finally, if you can bring along some munchies and drink to add to the fuddle, that’d be dandy. See you there!
One of our audience is searching for a local writer to team up with to work on a crime/thriller/noir story set in the city in the 1930s – 1950s. Christopher Held is an artist with a vision and experience working in the gaming industry. He has previous experience of long-term projects (which every comics book is) and envisages it as a production and publishing that will be self-financed. Christopher can be contacted here. And if you are puzzled by his email address, Christopher is German.
Okay, Alan Moore needs our support like God needs a fan club, but he is kinda local and every time he opens his mouth pearls issue forth, most particularly, in this case, his raison d’être for being so firmly rooted and growing in Northampton, something those of us in NDC committed to Nottingham can relate to.
This is a compelling series of eight five-minute films put together for the European culture platform ARTE (co-funded by German and French mainstream media, incidentally) that ranges across Alan’s thoughts on bug-bears like the death of culture, the scourge of Tony Blair, the curse of complexity and, predictably, Brexit (predictably because nobody on the continent can get their head round what the feck us Brits are playing at, and so ARTE were bound to ask the question of the great sage).
At some point in the future we are hoping to entice Alan to NDC, on the understanding we don’t splash his name across a banner trailed behind a Spitfire flying over Slab Square. So look out for some enigmatic blurb in our future events publicity, maybe sometime next year.
Always delighted to promote local selling opportunities for all you zine, indie and self-publishing comics producers.
First up, on 23rd September is the first (I think) Nottingham Independent Print & Publishing Fair to be held at our friends and sponsors the Nottingham Writers Studio down in Hockley. For fuller details and the booking form for a space go to beesmakehoneycc.com/.
Then, naturally, there is the city’s very own Nottingham Comic Convention on 14th October at Trent University’s Conference Centre on Goldsmith’s Street. Tables for this are now fully book but NDC have generously been granted a space by the organisers and we are more than happy to sell locally produced work, provided you dab in with holding the fort during the day so we can stretch our legs. Go to nottinghamcomiccon.co.uk/ for full details.
Our first speaker this evening was Jay Eales, a fixture in the Leicester comics scene, speaking on the realities of collaboration, with special attention paid to the life of a freelancer. Jay’s CV is nothing if not diverse – from 70’s throwback Violent to content in the American Splendour DVD Extras, which sent me scurrying to dust-off my somewhat neglected copy. Specific mention must go to “an introduction to clinical trials for children”, which I think wins the no-prize for most obscure brief for a comic presented to us (so far, anyway). Jay talked us through the sometimes circuitous routes to seeing your own work in print and provided sage advice for would-be collaborators – “Don’t be a d**k!” The group found amusement in excellent references to fibrous stools (you had to be there) and his views on Warren Ellis’ approach to publicity. As an aside, Jay claimed to be reading from a script – if so this was a script full of great improvisations!
Coventry University Course Director Francis Lowe’s enthusiasm for delivering one of the country’s top animation/illustration courses was on display in full force. He discussed his displeasure with the ‘idealised’ (ie semi-pornographic) approach to drawing humans chosen by many students, and emphasised the singular joys of capturing unusual and unconventional body shapes, thus avoiding anodyne approaches to anatomy. His treatise on the nuance of drawing body fat was a revelation! Francis bravely confessed his disturbing habit of sketching strangers in bars and nightclubs but reassured us it was only borderline stalking. His talent and ability to deliver an interesting and funny presentation was obvious – Francis was undoubtedly the lecturer we all wished we had at university – overlooking his habit of demanding to see students’ Moleskins (sketch books), any time, any where, and making them sing if they can’t be produced… scary stuff!
Comic creator and indie publisher Selina Locke posed the question, “What do you mean, there are no women working in comics?”, which just happens to be the title of her forthcoming book from Five Leaves Graphic. Thankfully her title was not rhetorical as the audience were quickly made to appreciate women are and have always been omnipresent, if under-represented. Selina delivered a passionate presentation informed by research for her book covering 200 years of U.K. comics history. We were informed about some female creators who, unfortunately, have been airbrushed from history and learned something new about Ally Sloper, the origins of Rupert the Bear and the mysterious title The Silent Three, an enigmatic strip that demands further research. Selina reminisced about her own contribution to the medium, The Girly Comic, and impressed us with both her collection of underground feminist comics and the relentless progress of the Inking Woman exhibition, leaving the room upbeat about the future prospects for laydeez who do comics!
One of the joys of NDC is being able to alert people to new publications emerging from our streets, especially self-published comics, on-line or hard copy, and this week we have one of each. Filigree is a beautifully coloured and graphically haunting futuristic piece written by Will Starling with art by Adam Willis. It is 16 pages long and published by Magoria Studios, but I have no idea of the price. Having sent me a pdf copy, my reply emails have bounced back, so I know no more than that it is definitely available from Mondo Comico and maybe other Nottingham comic stores. If you are out there Will, please get in touch!
The on-line comic is realised by Cryoclaire, aka Mary Safro, and written by Io Black. Called DRUGS AND WIRES: Everything Went Wrong, it’s about ‘what happens when the future that never was meets the past we… poke fun at’, but you can find much more about the concept and the series on their excellent and very enterprising site here. Also accessible is an earlier incarnation of Drugs and Wire called Dreamspace, which makes imaginative use of the digital medium, plus hard copies of the series (there are currently three in the series) and a selection of striking grunge T-shirts and other merch. Hopefully we can talk Cryoclaire into doing a presentation for NDC towards the end of this year.