Wednesday, 18 July 2012


what is maartje doing up this time of night you wonder? i am trying to finish some large scale drawings for the lamb's conduit street takeover, which will run more or less from 21 july till 5 august to coincide with the iapf. the lovely bikefix will be host to a short, but by my and my 0.3 lead's standards big, narrative. exhibiting in a space that isn't a gallery is a good excuse to make something site specific, so i have delved into my family's sordid cycle history for the occasion. 

the excellent company i will keep on lamb's conduit street includes: organiser tanya meditzky, barnaby richards and ellen lindner

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

happy days

today was one of those days, i came home after a long day's work, dog tired and ready to collapse. anticipating bills and bank statements i opened my letterbox only to find the long awaited dog comics anthology that rose robbins put together recently.

such a beautifully made little book. and full of dogs to boot. i have wanted a dog for a long time, maybe a little sausage dog or a whippet or a labrador or an american foxhound...but who needs a dog, when you can come home to a comic about one? although nothing can beat this canine.

you can buy a copy at arnolfini or here gallery in bristol and at gosh! or extra bones in london. should you reside elsewhere, you can also buy directly from the editor herself.


for my own contribution i spent a holiday in shanghai taking photos of man's best friends wherever i could.

rose robbins

i love rose's graphic style and the simplicity of a story that is moving and true.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

rip and gosh!p

first of all rest in peace jean giraud aka moebius.

panel from 'suster bertken'

mike medaglia and mark haylock of thinking comics host a monthly comics discussion group called gosh!p at -you guessed it- gosh. this wednesday they will be discussing david b.'s epileptic and the first issue of the strumpet, the ellen lindner edited anthology that features my short story 'suster bertken'. i will be there to take part in the conversation. come along for what promises to be an interesting evening.

Thursday, 23 February 2012


earlier this month i spent the afternoon sitting on a bench in brancusi's studio next to the centre pompidou in paris.

towards the end of his life brancusi considered his sculptures and the way they were placed in his studio to be one holistic work. individual pieces worked together to create a greater whole. he became reluctant to sell anything and plaster copies replaced any work he did have to part with. when he passed away he left everything to the french state on condition that it be displayed exactly the way it was in his atelier.

the studio had grown organically with brancusi acquiring three spaces adjoining it over the years, two of which became the area where he displayed his sculptures as a large constellation. the other pair functioned as workshop and storage. although he thought of the larger space as the actual work, i was almost more intrigued by the rooms he worked in. 

plaster heads were strewn across shelves and surfaces, waiting to be animated. his tools were arranged across the walls, almost tiny statues themselves. in contrast to the static beauty on the other side of the wall everything here seemed ready to be moved around, embraced or discarded.

i had been working on a one pager for the upcoming third issue of the comix reader, but was struggling to find the right way of rendering it. visiting atelier brancusi made me approach the page as one large panel and also to eliminate the bodies of the characters. i applied a wash of blue-grey watercolour over the entire page and then removed areas of paint to create faces.

short stories suit me well at the moment as i study 2 days a week, work 3 days and have a placement the sixth day. a single page is exceptionally short however and i wasn't sure what to write. i am always on the lookout for narratives, sometimes only realising i have one when telling a friend an anecdote i never even considered rendering as a comic. and that is how my contribution to the comix reader was born.

to pick up a copy or just to have a drink join us at gosh! for the launch party from 19:00 to 21:00 on friday 2 march. an exhibition of original artwork from the comix reader will also be on display.

Monday, 6 February 2012

dogs comic

rose robbins has been working on an anthology of comics on dogs, which launches tomorrow night at café kino, 108 stokes croft, bristol. because it is a week night unfortunately i won't be able to make it there, but i am sure it will be a great evening, so if you're around go have a look.

dogcomic is also the debut publication of often and mistakes

a dog from my contribution

Thursday, 20 October 2011

tom and anders

there is something about attending signings by people whose work you respect. although in many ways you may feel as if you've out-grown teenage awkwardness, when facing some artists you turn into a bumbling 15 year-old, or even an over-eager pup. in theory there is nothing that should cause this unease: on paper you share a taste in comics, philosophy, music and sense of humour. in the flesh however things work differently.

here is someone who has been on the road for weeks, stuck behind a table, signing and drawing and having to be pleasant to every single person that shows up in front of them. a queue of forced conversation and small talk. and as a punter you queue, sometimes for a very long time, to try and connect with someone who you might feel you know, but who of course you don't.

it is a very peculiar power balance. there are difficult to meet expectations, because how much can you say in the two or three minutes it takes to sign a book and make a doodle? if you haven't brought along your entire library of course, something i'd be embarrassed to do. and who cares about a signature, really?

tom, anders, the millenium falcon and a redhead

tom gauld and anders nilsen were at orbital tonight as part of paul gravett's comica festival. the conversation didn't quite flow the way you might expect between friends, but i found myself taking notes. they discussed influences in comics and in literature: chester brown, john porcelino, jason lutes and pär lagerkvist (barabbas) and c.s. lewis (till we have faces) for anders. for tom it was edward gorey, john le carré and magnus mills. the latter for the flatness of his writing and his 'confused men doing pointless things'. they also spoke about the act of drawing, something which was of particular interest. anders mentioned the 'faking' that can creep into your drawing when you've been drawing as long as he has. he regretted not having drawn an actual type of plane in big questions instead of the more generic plane he drew or 'faked'. then there were the birds in his book, which he kept purposefully simple. he experimented with different details to distinguish them from each other, but decided that details were too much for such simple drawings. tom said he does a lot of visual research, but he uses this as inspiration. what interests him is drawing what something does rather than what it looks like. scientific and anatomical drawings were mentioned and so were the lewis chessmen at the british museum. i have lots more notes not to mention thoughts on everything that was discussed, but the word picture ratio of this post is already lopsided. if you're still hungry check out some interviews here and here.

detail from suster bertken

i also attended anders' signing and talk at gosh on saturday and unfortunately acted as described in the first paragraph of this post. after tonight's talk all i did was push some comics into his hands and legged it. i managed to finish my story for the strumpet today and quickly made it into a stand alone mini too, so anders may be the first person to read it.

suster bertken-mini mock up

in spite of all the weirdness that seems part and parcel of signings i had a wonderful time at both tonight's and saturday's events. anders and tom were lovely. and on both nights i bumped into or met some great people: morgan omotoye, rose robbins, barnaby richards and jessica penfold amongst others. 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

strumpets and anchorites

ellen lindner has kindly asked me to contribute to the first issue of whores of mensa’s new guise the strumpet. the theme for this issue is ‘dress up’.

 sketch for 'suster bertken'

for many of us how we dress is a large part of how we define ourselves and others. suster bertken, the subject of my contribution to the strumpet, was not defined by what she wore (‘rough hair cloth’, barefoot) but by the space she inhabited. in 1457, when she was 30 years old, bertken had herself enclosed in a cell attached to the buurkerk in utrecht. she spend the next 57 years, until her death in 1514, confined there, accepting food (no meat or dairy) through a small window and following mass through another small opening looking into the church. she used her time to write religious prose, poetry and songs, to pray, to meditate, to counsel and to craft. she was dependent on people for food and for the disposal of waste, but in turn the local community sought her out for counsel and they adopted the songs, prose and poetry she wrote.

sketch for 'suster bertken'

suster bertken’s choice to confine herself allowed her the freedom to live a life of devotion. devotion to a god maybe, but maybe more so to herself and to her works. it is a choice i have always admired. as i admire it in those around me who are able to choose their art above most (if not all) else.

the dutch composer robert zuidam has written an opera using some of bertken’s poetry.  
go here to listen to extracts from the opera.

if you are so inclined (and i hope you are) you can pre-order the strumpet on kickstarter.