sketches from last night’s talk

Last night I went to hear a talk, ‘How to Make Comics’ at the London Print Studio, organised by Jane Goodsir and John Phillips, and moderated by Paul Gravett as part of the ongoing Comica events.

A full crowd showed up to listen to ‘the godfather of British comics’ Pat Mills, manga artist Nana Li, Rumble Strip and the DFC’s Donny Digits creator Woodrow Phoenix, and the husband-wife team of painter Danusia Schejbal and Royal College of Art professor Andrzej Klimowski.

I was excited to see Nana because I keep running into her at comic conventions while she’s hanging out with the Sweatdrop Studio people, and I never get to have a proper chat with her; so we did some catching up before the event started. Here’s a photo of Nana with Swedish manga artist Asa Ekström. Nana grew up in Sweden and speaks Swedish, even though she was born in China. We compared notes on some of our favourite children’s books, including the Moomins, Pippi Longstockings and the Pettson and Findus books by Sven Nordqvist. Nana’s currently working on the graphic novel Second Sky with writer Fehed Said.

The second photo shows Andrzej and Danusia. I’m really looking forward to their upcoming book together, an autobiographical account of how they met while studying graphic design in Poland between 1974-81, featuring city landscapes that have changed so utterly since the fall of communism. Their last book together was a brave attempt at tackling one of the most popular novels in Russia, The Master and Margarita. I would love to see loads of different comics artist try their hand at each interpreting a chapter of this book. I’d be fascinated to see people giving full attention to single chapter stories in it, and I think the whole book is almost too mammoth a task for anyone. Going to the talk last night made me dig up my copy and start rereading it:

I absolutely loved this book, and Mags, my flatmate in Moscow loved it almost to the point of obsession. (When Mags likes something, she really likes it. She saw the opera Evgeny Onegin eleven times while we were there.) When Stuart and I went to stay with her last Christmas, we watched episodes from the 8.5-hour film version from 2005, directed by Vladimir Bortko, and it was brilliant. I can’t get the scenes out of my head of Margarita in her torturous outfit at Satan’s Ball, the vampire in the toilet, and Margarita and her maid flying on her broom and a pig over Moscow. Lots of directors tried to take on this entire book and failed for various reasons, and the story grew legendary in its reputation for being impossible to film. So when Bortko finished his film, and did it magnificently, Russians were absolutely thrilled. I don’t know why we can’t buy the DVD in Britain, but it’s possible to get it from some sellers on

Here are a few photos from Moscow in 1998, when my friend Laura and I went inside the stairwell at the apartment of the author, Mikhail Bulgakov, and drew the book’s cat on the wall. (In oil pastels!)

That stairwell has a great history of graffiti, and I just found a fascinating article about it on Wikipedia.

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