comics take the society of authors by storm!
So comics have firmly planted its flag at the august institution that is The Society of Authors. They are very comics friendly! Before last night’s comics event, I had a committee meeting for my chapter of the SoA, the Children’s Writers & Illustrators Group, and this fine beardy fellow peered down at us from his gilt frame. I think he might be one of the founders or something, but everyone calls him Philip because he looks so much like that bearded Ardagh fellow. Here’s the little drawing I made on the meeting agenda.
And here’s our lovely comics panel! From left to right it’s me, comics creator Andi Watson, Walker Books commissioning editor Lizzie Spratt, creator John Aggs, creator Sally Kindberg, The Phoenix Comic editor Will Fickling, creator Patrice Aggs and moderator (and all-round comics expert) Paul Gravett. I rounded ’em up, with Paul’s help and Paul asked the questions. Everyone talked about their own work and the ways they’ve been pushing boundaries in comics publishing. Loads of people in the audience said they were trying to make and get their own comics published, so I hope the evening was helpful. The event was co-hosted by the Comica Festival, so keep an eye on the Comica website for loads more excellent events.
One of the best things about organising this panel was getting to meet two people I’d only heard about. Here’s one of them, Sally Kindberg, whose comics I haven’t really seen in comics circles, the books tend to be more mainstream, but they’re so well drawn that comics people shouldn’t miss them. Sally’s been coming along to Comica Social Club, and it’s great to have an extremely talented woman on the scene. We’re getting more and more of them these days… hello, boys! I actually took this photo when we met each other about a week before the panel, at a talk by Shaun Tan at Waterstone’s Piccadilly. Go have a look at Sally’s website! I’m going to get some of her books and dig into them.
I also love Andi Watson‘s Glister books, so I was chuffed to bits to meet him, and very grateful as he’d come a fairly long distance to be there. He’s been working with Lizzie Spratt at Walker Books on two new Gum Girl books, and we got to have a peek at some of the marvelous pages.
Will Fickling talked about The Phoenix Comic and walked us through some of the things they like to see in submissions. They’re looking for a variety of comics, age appropriate for kids aged 8-11, about seven comics per 32-page weekly magazine. They welcome one-off, 4-page standalone comics as well as continuing serialised comics. But each week’s comic needs to stand on its own, so that if a kid picks up the magazine for the first time, they’ll be able to jump right in. But Will also said they’ll put back issues online so people can catch up once they’ve subscribed. Subscription will be the most cost-effective way to get The Phoenix Comic, but people will also be able to buy single issues for £2.99.
New logo by Laurence Beck, @laurencebeck on Twitter
For people who already make comics or who have related skills in other areas (like me, I came from picture boos) and want to try their hand at comics, these one-off stories can be a great way to start getting published. I noticed from Will’s slides that Jamie Littler is doing a strip for The Phoenix Comic and I’ve only known him as a picture book man. You can find a template on The Phoenix Comic website that lets you know page size and all the practical details.
Paul Gravett’s new book, 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die launches next week and I’ve talked to lots of people who have been helping him do the various write-ups, including my studio mate Ellen Lindner. My other comics studio mate Gary Northfield (who’s also doing a comic with Lizzie Spratt) was most pleased to find his book Derek the Sheep got a whole page! (And even my Vern and Lettuce got a mention at the bottom, as in, ‘if you liked this book, you might like…’) Loads of good stuff packed into that brick of a book, 960 pages.
Thanks for helping me with the panel, Paul! You can pre-order 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die right here. (Or better yet, get it at your local comic book shop.)
Lots of fab creators turned up for the evening! Here’s the amazing Lerryn Korda, comics creator and cartoonist Ros Asquith (who just got nominated for the Roahl Dahl Funny Prize, hurrah!), Gary and Patrice.
Here’s the Society’s lovely Jo McCrum, who helped make everything happen so smoothly. (And check out her vintage dress, I wish you could see more of it here!)
The theme of the evening was ‘Thinking outside the box’ and I was so chuffed when illustrator Shana Neiberg-Suschitzky (aka Shanarama) gave me her new fold-out business card and said she’d been inspired by the title of the talk to make it. Isn’t it lovely? (Please get a website, Shana! Or at least a blog!)
If you’re not already, do go follow Comica Festival – @ComicaFestival – and the Society of Authors on Twitter – @Soc_of_Authors – where, starting today, they’re hosting a Short Story Tweetathon, which writer Ian Rankin started off today, and which will pull in the likes of Neil Gaiman and loads other of your favourites.