Back from Caption!

Hurrah, another good year of Caption! Thanks, everyone who came to Oxford for the comics festival, and those who worked so hard to make it happen. We got to listen to great talks by V&A Comics Artist in Residence Karen Rubins, Rainbow Orchid creator Garen Ewing and British-Libyan manga artist Asia Alfasi.

Karen Rubins and seannazz

There had been a huge number of people who’d braved the long and complicated V&A application for the comics post, so I was very curious to find out who this person was that they’d picked, and Karen turned out to be lovely and good fun, and we had a nice dinner together at a Chinese place (where I ate something called Wild Ants Climbing Trees Glass Noodles, which disappointingly turned out to be something better named Slimy Noodles with Little Quorn-like Bits Stuck to Them).

Me, Elyssa Campbell-Barr, Garen Ewing, Dave West, DFC dude Neilll Cameron, and Colin Mathieson

We had lunch the next day with Asia, who was great fun and both of us are excited to be doing a joint panel together in Cambridge in October for the Women in Comics Conference. Annoyingly, I forgot about my camera on the second day, so I didn’t get any pictures of Asia… next time! I think my talk about picture book and comics cross-overs went well; I put way too much time into getting it ready, but people were really positive afterward, so I was glad I had.

I could identify with a lot of the stuff Asia was talking about; if you ever get a chance to hear her, do go along. One thing she challenged us to do, as people who draw comics (particularly manga) is not to regurgitate Japanese themes, but use the tools to tell stories based on our own experiences and from within our own cultures. Asia can’t understand why people have such a hard time coming up with material that’s ‘original’; everyone has a different experience and can tell stories their own unique way if they tap into what they know from everyday life. It was fascinating to hear the way that Japanese manga bridged the gap for her between her Libyan upbringing and Scottish schoolmates. (She hadn’t even realised manga was Japanese, just assumed it was Arabic.)

Another highlight was Ellen Lindner (ellenlindner) introducing me to Jason Little. I’ve just had a browse through his website and have ordered a copy of his graphic novel Shutterbug Follies, looks really good.

And the other best thing that happened was a flying visit from a girl named Emma, whose parents I recognised as architects in Paris from Twitter… thanks for coming, guys! Emma showed me her sketchbook and she is remarkably talented with her drawings… I think you’re be seeing more of this girl in the publishing world! Here she is with her little brother and some of her drawings. Serious talent.

Mixing notes on particle physics and drawings (as one does)

Ben Dickson giving his all to the colouring challenge at hand

Mark Stafford brought me fruit! And a coconut! Which we had for breakfast with jinty and tortipede. Thanks for hosting us, guys!

Edit: Caption write-ups by Neill Cameron here (including a pic of Asia as a dinosaur-riding pirate), jinty‘s here (that’s me, gesticulating oddly in the green dress), David O’Connell tozocomic‘s is here, Garen Ewing (rainboworchid)’s notes here, Rich Johnston here, Caption Twittering here

Edit 2: Hey, look, Garen sent me a photo from my talk:

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