Saturday, 19 December 2009

sacco, osamu and helen

it's been a little quiet round these parts while i finished a graduate certificate in design for visual communication at the lcc. but let's not dwell on that: back to comics.

some necessary nourishment these past months came in the form of some talks at the ica as part of the comica festival 2009. because of coursework i did not manage to attend as many talks as i do most years or as many as i would have liked but out of the talks i did see two stood out.

first up was seasoned crowd pleaser joe sacco, who i wouldn't have missed for very many things. it was a joy to hear him talk about his work process and influences, the time he spends with his subjects and how he decides what to include in or exclude from his work. it struck me that although several people tried he refused to be drawn into any overtly political discourse. considering the already political nature of his subject matter and the fact that the politics at hand are so complex, i appreciated his reluctance to enter into discussion. and his work is about people; their stories and accounts of events are what history and politics are made of. i can understand that for sacco there is no need to add to that in any other way than through his storytelling. a recent interview with him can be found here and paul gravett linked to some footage and a more comprehensive review by simon hacking here.

helen mccarthy

next came helen mccarthy (the little portrait above really does not do her justice). although i am not generally inclined to reading manga her talk on osamu tezuka's work was fascinating. full of examples of inspiring frames, panel lay outs and narrative constructions made all the more engrossing by helen's own enthusiasm for his work. most of what i took away from this talk was visual and difficult to verbalize, but it will definitely stay with me for some time to come.

both talks were an excellent way of stirring up the dust that invariably settles in my mind. i already look forward to next year's comica festival offerings.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


today's the guardian features an interesting article by amelia gentleman on the dignitas organisation in switzerland, which assists (but does not promote) people committing suicide.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

graffiti magazine

as mentioned some posts down a while ago piero bagnariol asked me for some contributions for graffiti 76% magazine number 20 and a show he was organizing in october.
i was very pleasantly surprised and honoured to be asked if he could use my drawings for the cover of the magazine. when a parcel arrived in the post the other week i could see how it had all come out. apart from the drawings and the 2 page comic i submitted there is some beautiful and hilarious work by powerpaola whose work graces the poster below and who is also a colleague over at chicks on comics. i have nothing but respect for her draftsmanship as well as her story-lines.

some other interesting and/or beautiful contributions came from marielena, maja vaselinović, júlia zavagli, shiko, carolina mello, d'salete and alves amongst others.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


you may be forgiven for thinking that this blog doesn't have much to do with comics. a lot of the posts i put up don't directly relate to comics. when i think of comics i cannot see them separate from everything else that surrounds me. every thing i see, read, do and experience is informed by everything else i see, read, do and experience. it's easy to get distracted by a museum visit or a newspaper article, which to me is as relevant as the latest comics publication.

some people have informed me of their discontent at not being able to see some more of my latest comic efforts. as eager to please as any woman: here are some extracts from cowards/carnivores. for anyone who has never seen my mini's before and wants to use their mind's-eye to do some visualization: they usually fold into an accordion style booklet, every panel is a page so to speak, and you read down. cowards/carnivores consists of 32 panels in total. 3 panels are grouped onto one piece of a3 paper, so even though the first two groups of 3 panels follow each other here they are presented separately.

panels 1-3

panels 4-6

panels 24-26

Sunday, 20 September 2009

publish and be damned

package of my three most recent comics:
'cowards/carnivores', 'maggie' and 'pigeon'

it's a week till 'publish and be damned':

Publish and Be Damned Fair 2009

Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, Bethnal Green, E2 6HG

27 September 3pm-8pm

Publish and Be Damned are pleased to announce the 6th annual self-publishing fair which will take place at Oxford House in Bethnal Green on Sunday 27 September from 3pm-8pm. Surveying a wide range of independent local, national and international publishers of magazines, fanzines, journals, diaries and periodicals, Publish and Be Damned celebrates publishing as a creative and critical space for presenting artists' work. As with previous years, the fair celebrates experimental approaches to making and distributing the work of artists, writers and musicians outside of the commercial mainstream. In addition we will have room dedicated to performances and talks throughout the afternoon.

This year's fair also marks some new initiatives for Publish and Be Damned. Our recent participation in Subvision in Hamburg as well as the London fair are opportunities for us to collect content for the new publication 'The Damned' which will be distributed to all PABD members. The membership scheme, which has also been implemented this year, enables the creation of a forum or network between members that encourages the exchange of publications and participation in PABD's events throughout the year. The funds received from the membership fees has also allowed us to hire a larger space than in previous years, enabling us to invite more participants as well as help fund the attendance of more international publishers.

Publish and Be Damned is taking place in conjunction with the Whitechapel Artists Bookfair, which will be held from Fri 25 - Sun 27

i'll be selling my comics there. come along.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


capital d with utrecht dragon
medieval manuscripts never appealed to me that much; they're hard to read, often religious in content, the artwork is repetitive and you're usually not allowed to touch them.
of course i could appreciate them for their craftsmanship, but i always found them less than aesthetically pleasing. to be more precise i always thought they were pretty ugly in the same way i always found olives unpalatable. and, however stupid, there is a certain comfort in dismissing things.
whether my taste has changed or whether i just didn't recognize their genius before, just as i've come round to olives, i have come round to medieval manuscripts. not in the least because of a recent trip to my hometown of utrecht, the netherlands. my sister, hilde, and i decided to take my gran out for the day and so we ended up at the 'museum catharijneconvent', a museum that chronicles the history of christianity in the netherlands and which had an exhibition on medieval manuscripts on.
priest elevating chalice and host to hand of god,
opening page of utrecht sacramentary
the exhibition made me a lot more aware of the craft and passion and playfulness invested in these documents.

the gem encrusted cover of one of the books at the beginning of the exhibition, a codex, reads in latin 'adorned with sparkling gems, i am a gift from bishop ansfridus to martin'. intentional or not there is a sense of humour and beauty in this big solemn book talking to its reader.
'the zwolle bible', a monumental sized bible ordered by the deacon of st mary's chapter in 1464, took 12 years to copy. and that was excluding the time it took to create the 1,700 parchment folios it was written on.
books had a life. because they were so time and labour intensive a book was too valuable to just replace if pages became worn. instead of replacing an entire book individual pages might be replaced with 'new' pages, which may themselves have come from another book which was past its prime. mistakes in a text were either scraped off, corrected in the margin or crossed out. larger pieces of wrongly copied text were removed from a manuscript by cutting out the page it was written on. occasionally however a page of incorrectly copied text was just left.
mistakes in the parchment, made of the skins of sheep, goats and calves, which often turned into oval holes after stretching, would be left in, circled with red pen if the scribe thought they could throw the reader. tears could be sewn and any damaged sheets of parchment or discarded manuscripts would be reused as covers, flyleaves and envelopes.

books would also fall prey to graffiti and vandalism. the aforementioned 'zwolle bible' is a good example; not only did hundreds of people write their names on it, 52 of its 125 initals, adorned with human and animal figures, and entire pages were cut out. only 5 of the historiated initials that went missing have reappeared.

some scribes would underline individual words and explain their meaning in the margin, pieces of text may also be underlined to aid legibility. scribes were also graphic designers and could have their own distinct style, some of them would even double as editor and corrector. several monks might collaborate using each others editing, correction and lay out skills. space would be left for coloured letters and initials, which would be added in at the end. illuminators specialized in the drawing and painting of initials, marginal decorations and miniatures.

cities where manuscripts were manufactured had their own symbols that would be used in the decoration of texts. for utrecht this was a little dragon (draakje) as in the capital letter d above and the r below.
capital r with utrecht dragon
the british library recently acquired the macclesfield alphabet book, which aided scribes in medieval britain, the guardian put up some of its contents here.

the creative cunning of the monks who spent their time manufacturing these books is fascinating and inspiring. and the liveliness of all these manuscripts reminds me of comics. it feels like the time, the passionate patience, the inventive way of working round or with mistakes, the eye for detail are all as much part of transcribing and illuminating a manuscript as they are part of writing and drawing a comic.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

rough draft page 1

i am working on a short comic for graffiti 76% magazine at the moment. piero bagnariol its editor sent me some issues of the magazine and it features some interesting work by guazzelli, guga schultze, luciano irrthum and maja veselinovic among others. i am going on art work alone, because i sadly don't speak spanish.
the story i am working on is fiction i suppose, although for some reason it feels quite truthful to me if that makes sense. the theme of the issue is 'woman', not necessarily my favourite subject, but a challenge. and after finishing my mini-comic and two micro-comics for the alternative press festival it is a welcome way of keeping momentum going.

rough draft page 2

apart from working to a theme my main concern was language. rather than rely on someone else's translation skills i used song lyrics featuring the names of girls and women as the base (or soundtrack) of the comic.

Friday, 7 August 2009

alternative press festival 2009

jimi gherkin putting up banner

it's almost a week ago now that london was filled with small press joy thanks to the organizational efforts of jimi gherkin, peter lally, gareth brookes, saban kazim and many others.

printing always takes up more time and effort than you can possibly imagine and so it was that i had to miss 'are you zine friendly?' on thursday and 'spoken night out!' on friday. saturday and sunday however were great days.

saturday brought us 'collaborama'. visitors and exhibitors were invited to contribute drawings, collages, writings and ramblings to a zine printed on the day by the footprint workers co-operative. there was also a screenprinting workshop, live music and a draw-along to a specially composed piece by resonance fm's radio orchestra.
sunday at st aloysius social club was a more traditional small press fair afair, but no less good.

aside from a feeling of elation what did i take away from the festival?

i remembered browsing through some of gareth brookes and steven tillotson's work as a visitor at previous fairs and dismissing them on account of their density. it wasn't that the work didn't look good, it was the fact that as a visitor you try to take in as much as you can in order to decide what to invest in and what not. it is near impossible to give every thing you see the time and attention it deserves so a comic or zine that takes more than a superficial glance to appreciate is easily dismissed. the same goes for work that on first glance does not esthetically please. hopefully this just illustrates my own shallow way of looking at things.

sharing a table with gareth b, steven t and julia homersham i had the luxury of being able to look at their work more closely and to realize what i had missed on previous perusals. and it made me resolve that in future rather than to try to take in everything at a fair to limit myself to a selection of comics and zines and to give those the time they need.
of course all of the above probably applies to my own work too and it made me think that if other visitors do look at things the way i did, then i should be more aware of how i present my work myself. if i exhibit at fairs in the future i will have to consider more carefully what i need to do to make my work as accessible as possible without compromising the integrity of the work itself.

musetopia, julia homersham

it was my first proper experience as an exhibitor at a fair, so i wasn't quite sure what to expect. i came armed with any- and everything i could imagine needing, including two pairs of scissors (in case of multi-tasking) and a pack of crackers. as a visitor i always feel uncomfortable when people push their work too hard and in the end it seemed that having something to do was the best way to both distract myself and to give visitors the space they needed to look at my wares without feeling pressurized to buy anything.

rabbit love*5, melody lee (really grass green)

on the sunday i found myself next to chris bateson and melody lee. melody's work is very deceptive, soft and dreamy on the outside but deliciously dark and funny on the inside. one of my favourites was rabbit love story*5, which doesn't only contain black humour but also truth.

last but not least thanks very much to all of you who came along!

Monday, 27 July 2009

alternative press fair

time's flown by and it is almost time for the alternative press festival 2009!
i will be attending most of the events and will be peddling not only my own, but also anna bas backer's, ulla loge's, lilli loge's, sam longworth's and lucie galand's wares at the collaborama and the fair.

the events take place at various different venues in london including the foundry, the miller, the griffin and st aloysius social club. more information can be found here.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

ernst and not alan

max ernst 'une semaine de bonte': water (1933)

it's been a some time but for easter i visited my friend sara pape garcia in madrid. whilst there we undertook a trip to the fundacion mapfre for an exhibition of max ernst's series of collages 'une semaine de bonte' ('a week of kindness'). the attention to detail in these collages is amazing, often it is almost impossible to see where one image ends and the next begins. we left the exhibition in awe.

studies for 'tube shelter scene' and 'figure in a shelter' 1940-1941

maybe because of moore's relation to the surrealist movement ernst's collages reminded me of an exhibition i visited at the imperial war museum in 2007 of henry moore's drawings of people taking shelter in london underground stations and tunnels during the second world war and of coalminers. although the image above is the most representative i could find, there was a beautiful series of smaller drawings which worked as a sequential narrative. (as i recall the catalogue was so badly printed i decided not to buy it, maybe i should have.) if i unearth any images of these smaller drawings i'll put them up.

Friday, 29 May 2009

pining for the fjords

so my little piece of pigeon non-fiction is more or less done (real size approx. 20 x 82 cm). and i have just sent it off as an entry for an anthology jimi gherkin is putting together. let's hope it'll make it.

jimi is organizing some crazy shit by the way: a 5-day alternative press festival of comic, zine and small press goodness. it will be on at various locations from 29th july - 2nd august. i'll keep you posted.

Monday, 6 April 2009


birds... they aren't easy to draw and anders nilsen hasn't made it any easier for anybody. in his 'big questions'-series a lot of the characters are birds. i would go as far as to say that when people think of birds in comics they think of nilsen's birds. they are good birds in a good story, no doubt about it.

sketch for pigeon non-fiction

on my way to work the other day i came across a piece of non-fiction involving a pigeon. it was too good not to make into a short comic and so i google-image-searched the web, observed a visitor to our garden and got to work.
i've drawn my pigeon the only way i know how. all i can do is hope that noone will compare my pigeon to anders' birds.

i also came across the image below, which i have tried to stop myself from posting. you have to choose your battles carefully, i suppose.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

news of all varieties

20th century first holy communion card

when i went to sleep last night i promised myself a lie-in. i was still tired from meeting a deadline for a course i am doing and i felt as if i was coming down with something.
at 0930 hrs this morning there was a knock on the door. still groggy and far from fully rested i stumbled downstairs to open the door to what i was hoping to be the postman with a parcel. instead two kind individuals were wanting to bring me good news. not wanting to encourage anybody instead of my usual 'sorry, i am an atheist' i went with 'sorry, i'm not interested'. they nodded and moved on.

however much i wanted and needed i could not get back to sleep. so i got up, made myself some breakfast and started reading the new york times. there i first came across this article, and then this. coincidentally both articles mention the influence of the in this case roman catholic church on respectively women's and children's rights and science.

two friends

although i could not find the excellent guardian supplement on abortion, which i think was published in 2006 and which featured one or more very eloquent articles by zoe williams. some other articles she wrote for the guardian on the subject of abortion and reproductive rights can be found here.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

serious business

jimi gherkin made me aware of the fact that chapter 2 article 49 of the coroners and justice bill is currently being reviewed by parliament. there is some concern as to how this may affect comic artists, writers, publishers, readers and retailers.

please sign this petition to ask the prime minister to take these concerns into account.

Monday, 23 March 2009

quality is not a chance

this weekend i ended up joining hin chua on one of his photographic exploits along the thames. we stocked up on pasties and jumped on the train to gravesend from where we wandered to higham. it was a bit of a trek but the sun was out, the company good and the food mediocre, what more could anyone ask for?

the aptly named gravesend owes its fame to being the last resting place of pocahontas. who we found immortalised in a mural just outside the station. (that's her on top of the bearded ginger white man on the left.)

on our way to the thames we passed an industrial area, where on the side of a van we found the following sage advice:

a couple of meters on we took this short course in hand signaling:

and rambling and clambering on, passing a power station and shooting grounds, dangerous waters and three separate forts we encountered some more signage. i was impressed with the trepidation of the wee man looking over the edge at the water and the other little man's balancing act.

it's not quite gravesend but in february i spent half a day in amsterdam and came across the image below outside of madam tussauds. if i'd had some time to spare i would have taken barry up on the offer.

i like knowing that all of the text and images above were carefully crafted by someone somewhere. someone woke up one morning and half asleep thought 'chance...choice...quality... eureka! quality is not a chance it is a choice!' then they got up and spent the rest of the day feeling chuffed.

we do what we can.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

anders nilsen on a roll

so anders nilsen has been at it again. 'monologues for calculating the density of black holes' the follow up to his stream of consciousness comic 'monologues for the coming plague' is out. now. go get it.

if you are willing to flog your bike and ipod you might also be able to afford sammy harkham's latest editorial effort 'kramers ergot 7'. it is big and i haven't dared look inside it yet, but it is supposed to be good.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


last night i made it through the slush of trodden snow to a front row seat at an adrian tomine talk at the ica. toby litt led the talk, which covered adrian's own work as well as his work as the editor of drawn and quarterly's yoshihiro tatsumi series. after the talk tomine signed books in the shop and i had the chance to not only talk to him briefly, but also to have a chat with paul gravett.
paul organized the talk and although i had seen him at just about every comics related event i've been to in london i'd never had the pleasure to speak with him. it was lovely talking with him, and i left the ica full of encouragement and positivity.

since my bike is broken and i didn't know what bus to get the small spring in my step helped me on my way home. pondering the evenings events i walked from the mall to shoreditch, there i jumped onto the 149 with some vietnamese takeaway tucked underneath my arm.

it's difficult to put into words what i take away from these evenings but they always result in new considerations and observations.

the same goes for a meeting i had today with sarah mcintyre, who i met at one of last year's comica events. we had been meaning to meet for lunch for months and today we finally got round to it. over sarah's blt and my spanish omelette we chatted about comics, people in our lives and self-censorship. and she gave me an excellent idea for promoting my comic. altogether a luxury lunch.

Monday, 2 February 2009

alternative press fair and snow or viceversa

view from my window, snowcovered rubber cat on washing line, view of the garden

when i woke up at 0645 this morning my eyes were still heavy. the golden pink light i had noticed coming from the window during the night had all but faded and when i opened the curtains i did not expect much more than a thin layer of snow to greet me. i was wrong.
for a moment i paused to consider how much earlier i would have to leave the house to get to the bus stop in time and then i got myself some breakfast.

as usual i perused the guardian online while eating my cereal and i was struck by a small sentence in an article on the weather, it mentioned public transport not working. so on i went to the transport for london site: all buses have been withdrawn from service due to adverse weather and dangerous road conditions.

the rest of the day consisted of snow-fights, hot chocolate, more snow-fights, chips, hot chocolate and some more snow-fights. i honed my skills, turned my competitive disadvantages into advantages, plotted and employed the most ruthless of tactics. a large part of my strategy was based on the flooding of parts of the netherlands by the dutch during the siege of leiden in their fight against the spanish occupation in the 16th century.

we'll see what weather and bus services tomorrow brings. but first: the past.
yesterday i finally got to know what it is like to push your wares at a comics and zines fair. after checking out what else was on offer i helped out at the 'communal' table for a couple of hours.

watching people shuffle past, picking up every- and anybody's comic or zine but yours is quite a sobering experience. at one point my faith in humanity was severely compromised, when even people who looked like they might like my comic on account of their coat or hairstyle didn't go near it. in the end i did sell and swap some copies and my faith was redeemed.
next time i'll have to put some more effort into promotion, maybe a wee stand will help.

some of the work i picked up by virtue of it being well-drawn, funny, disturbing or something else includes: a malcy duff story in 'tegne' issue 2, 'the smoking eyebrow' by chiu, 'curtis and terrorist' by mr. l, 'up a blind alley, part one' by scott smith, 'giant clam 3' by ralph kidson and 'where i come from that makes you a bully and a coward' by andy luke (i was behind the table with andy and ralph).
the lovely sarah mcintyre was there as well and she gave me issue 14 of the dfc, which has characters from her comic 'vern and lettuce' gracing its cover.

the day ended with an open mic nite hosted by the man who (together with peter lally) organized the whole event: jimi gherkin. opening act was twent or trent miller, who played some feeling cash-esque diddies and who on closer inspection turned out to be an italian named gabriel. it is him in the photo above. i didn't stay much longer, but i boarded the bus home with a feeling of camaraderie and joy.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

oh kevin...

from kevin huizenga's blog:

I've decided that Or Else (the series) is done. It doesn't make sense to do it this way anymore. Drawn and Quarterly have been great and I want to thank them. For sure I will still be putting out a lot of books and zines, forever, so save your pennies, and watch this space for more news as it becomes available. Thanks for reading.

(Or Else #6 will not be published, but this was going to be the cover.)

some things just don't make sense.

female desire

once every so often i come across bbc radio 4's women's hour or some newspapers women's supplement. to my frustration the topics discussed in these media are more often than not as relevant to men as they are to women.
as i was taking a break from cleaning my room today and having already spent enough time researching the new bike i desire i stumbled upon this article on the new york times website. rather than being stuffed into a part of the paper directed only at women, it graces the cover of their magazine this weekend.

the image by francis picabia that has been lying around on my desk couldn't be better suited if it tried.

Friday, 23 January 2009

february is waiting for us

let's face it: january is in its death throes and february is showing more than just a bit of ankle.

on sunday the 1st of feb things kick off with the alternative press fair in euston (see also a couple of posts down). i'm not sure whether i'll be selling my mini there, but if not i will definitely be skulking around, checking out the work on sale.

then the ica follows things up by hosting talks by adrian tomine and jeffrey lewis in february. toby litt will be talking to tomine about 'shortcomings' his latest collection of 'optic nerve'-issues on the 3rd and jeffrey will be talking about alan moore's 'watchmen' on the 24th. tickets are going fast so get a move on if you want to attend.

for those of you who are interested in such things: paul hornschemeier did the cover art for toby litt's 'hospital'. (i gave it to my mum for christmas last year. she read it. she liked the cover.)

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

beethoven and schulz

when we were very little my big sister collected peanuts related books, figurines, towels and other bits and pieces. not really understanding peanuts or the idea of collecting, but wanting to emulate her i embarked on a mission to collect mickey mouse and walt disney related merchandise.
in spite of the charms of mickey mouse shaped piggybanks and minnie mouse dotted bikini bottoms (sized for 5-7 year-olds), not to mention a very politically incorrect mickey mouse cardgame (in which mickey discovers a 'negro' inside a box delivering an elephant from africa), my sisters collection was always going to age better than mine.

the other day i came across this article on the new york times website, which increased my respect for both my sister's good taste as well as schulz' creation even more.
as it turns out schroeder, the piano playing character in peanuts, plays existing pieces of beethoven in the comic strip. furthermore the pieces schulz chose for schroeder to play actually add to the meaning of the stories he wrote.

Sunday, 4 January 2009


i am slowly but steadily approaching the end of my new comic. here's a tiny illegible mock up i included in an application for the comic artist residency at the v&a. the deadline for which closes today.