the pickle + laydeez do comics

Last night I missed the last Tube train by about three minutes and therefore had a very long journey home, involving three night buses. *Groan* So I rolled late out of bed this morning, straight into the studio, where I’m being held captive by an indeterminate courier collection arrival time. Hopefully I’ll get out to do a landscape sketch, otherwise I may have to settle with the courtyard apple tree.

I haven’t had much time to work on this yet, but I really want to get The Pickle going soon. I’m going to come up with a cover, a letter from the editor with content guidelines, and maybe a couple sample pages. Then anyone of any age can contribute their own pages, so we can create an online magazine, set in the world of Vern and Lettuce. I think I’m going to ask Serge the ferret if he’ll take a bit of time out from his tailoring work to be the editor.

Click on the pic or here for a larger version if you fancy giving it some colour!

Last night I went to Brick Lane to hear my fab studio mate Ellen Lindner and DFC chum Patrice Aggs talk about their comics work at the monthly Laydeez Do Comics meeting. I haven’t been able to go for awhile, and missed seeing a special event with Trina Robbins last week (who wrote a book I have on my shelf called The Great Women Cartoonists).

Organisers Nicola Streeten (who’s just got a book deal on her comic with Myriad Editions, yay!) and Sarah Lightman (who’s curating a show in San Francisco next week)

These meetings are great. It’s a chance for comics people to share their work, talk about it, and discover new people who have either been making comics for awhile or are coming from a slightly different field and just beginning to try their hand at it. And somehow the female emphasis seems to change the tone of the meetings. I’ve been to a lot of mostly male comics get-togethers where they all sit around and moan about how comics these days aren’t as good as they used to be (mostly referring to superhero comics), bitch about other comics artists behind their backs, and swap stories about how underappreciated and underpaid they are. The Laydeez meetings are totally different, there’s a very optimistic, forward looking attitude toward comics, with people being genuinely excited about the new things happening in comics and the doors that have begun to open in publishing and self-publishing.

Patrice Aggs with two of her amazing hand-coloured comics etchings… you try lettering all your comics in reverse!

Comics creator, printmaker and illustrator Patrice Aggs has been working in the field for 30 years, and she says it’s never been so good for comics, with people finding all sorts of new ways to express themselves and publishers perking up their ears.

In one of her anecdotes, she referred to a book she did with Philip Pullman in 1991, Count Karlstein and the ride of the demon huntsman. The publishers were wary of having a book that was completely comics, deciding that kids probably wouldn’t be interested in reading, or able to read, a book that was entirely in comics format. (“It was the adults that had issues with it, not the kids,” said Patrice.) So the book was half text and half comics. But the American publishers decided they didn’t think comics would sell at all, and published it as text-only. Aggs said the comic version of the book’s still selling well in Britain and she’s still getting royalties from it; now Americans as well as Brits are coming round to comics.

Ellen Lindner giving her talk, Karrie Fransman, DFC’s John Aggs and Canadian visitor Bart Beaty from The Comics Reporter

Ellen Lindner, co-editor of the Whores of Mensa anthology, gave a great talk about her work, focusing on the role of anthologies in bringing forward emerging talent and building a sense of community. She also discussed the logistics of making an anthology, including working with the contributors, layouts, funding, marketing and the door-opening role of sheer persistence in pushing through the project. Even though I work right next to Ellen Lindner’s desk, I ended up taking quite a lot of notes because it was the first time I’d heard her put all the points together in such a clear way. I could see her being invited to give this talk elsewhere, to people who are interested in building community through similar collective creative work.

Kripa Joshi with ‘Miss Moti and Cotton Candy’ and ‘Miss Moti and the Big Apple’

One of the evening’s unexpected treat was meeting Nepalese comics artist and SVA graduate Kripa Joshi and seeing her Miss Moti books (self-published and available at the Cartoon Museum shop and Gosh! Comics). She draws on a Nepalese folk art to come up with some lovely and unique looking artwork and layouts. The word ‘moti’, when said with soft ‘t’ or a hard ‘t’ can either mean ‘a plump woman’ or ‘pearl’, and I really want to get myself some copies. She gets the books printed in India and they have a lovely feel to them.

Ros Streeten (Rosie Flo); Paul Gravett, Patrice Aggs, Kripa Joshi and Ros

Another lovely surprise was meeting Nicola Streeten’s sister, Ros Streeten, whose self-published Rosie Flo colouring books and greeting card packs I’ve seen in loads of shops. She’s very talented at combining a graphic look with packaging that fits in well from everything to hardcore indie shops to yummy-mummy boutiques. (I often see her work sitting next to Angie Lewin‘s cards.) I have huge respect for her business skills (particularly how she’s managed to distribute her work so well) an her work is lovely, and leaves lots of gaps for people to add their own creativity. Do visit her website, her stuff’s beautiful.

Two other new-to-me people spoke during the evening: Steve White from Derbyshire introduced a new gallery near Matlock/Matlock Bath rail stations called Cromford Contemporary that’s keen to exhibit new artists, including comic artists. And Charlie Bowden from Pickled Ink Illustration Agency talked about The Pickled Award she’s offering, with a prize of £1000 and being taken on by her agency, plus the chance to illustrate a comic by Jenny McDade. (Details here.)

Keep an eye on the Laydeez Do Comics website for future meetings, and have a look at the blog for write-ups and artwork from past events.

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