Sunday, 22 January 2023

USUTHO!


Some quiet reflection to remember the 22 January 1879 events in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa which impacted on so many and still echoes in history today. I have previously mentioned the memorable trip I made in returning to the battlefields in 2019 as part of the 140th anniversary and while much has changed, annual commemoration events continue to be held at both iSandlwana and Rorke's Drift. 

This year, I only had the chance to rewatch the movie Zulu Dawn to mark the occasion and from afar,  watched with interest those able to attend this year's activities, fondly recalling my own visits and those I shared the experience with.

The UK's Die Hards at Rorke's Drift 22 January 2019
Making a new friend at the iSandlwana battlefield 2019
The Die Hards preparing to 'hold the line' 

Historian & Author Ian Knight points out the Zulu positions
 at iSandlwana (Jan 2019)

There are some tours and travel planned this year but at the moment, it's sadly unlikely I'll be able to join those overseas but something special much closer to home is looking promising which I'll update further when able and provides a further incentive to release you know what!.


Sunday, 8 January 2023

Bowie

Bowie at his 50th Madison Square Garden Gig

Catching up with this blog, playing David Bowie's music as I so often do, reminds me of his loss back in 2016, just a couple of days after his birthday which is today, the 8th January. Glad to see he's not been forgotten and that his legend is, if anything, growing in the passing years.

I cherish any new material, so was delighted to receive at Christmas both the recent Moonage Daydream documentary and the solo CD edition of 'TOY', a legendary 'lost' album. I'll play and watch these in small doses as you never really know if they will be the final releases. 

I've had almost all his albums in my collection at one time or other but a couple are in formats I can no longer play. I will replace these at some point but am comforted by the thought that there is still something out there for me to find so my appreciation of him can continue :)

Don't look back in anger!

Well one of us had the 'hump' last year!

Happy New Year all, can't believe it's 2023 already! Last year just flew by with an especially busy last few months meaning things rather crept up on me, but we're here now.

The year end can be a time of reflection and with several unscheduled trips to Scotland I'd plenty of time for that accompanied by a fine soundtrack on the car stereo - The Associates, Bowie, Marillion, Gerry Rafferty, Waterboys, Scott Walker keeping my thoughts company.

All in all, I'm fairly happy with how the comic year panned out, despite the demise of our Accent UK comic publishing collective. Sad and unexpected as this was, I was determined not to give up and to carry on with the events and festivals already committed to, buoyed by the many messages of support received. 

Thankfully comic sales were strong and I was flattered by the many encouraging comments about my art style and story themes - one kind chap at a busy London MCM Comic-Con sought me out to say how much my World War 2 story had touched him to the degree he'd brought the comic into work to show and discuss with his colleagues as an example of not knowing what people you meet are going through or have experienced. I was a bit overwhelmed by this to be honest but very grateful he'd taken the time to share with me.

A panel From Moments Vol. 2's 'Smokes' story

It just shows that you never know how your work will be received or what it means to people and I certainly encourage you to pass on your own positive words of support to your favourite comic creators as you may just say the right thing at the right time to help them through a difficult period as this chap had done to me when I had been at a low ebb.


Most of my creative time had gone into producing new art prints and unique watercolour character sketches for my comic packs and while the prints were only a modest success, I struggled at times to keep up with demand for the character sketches which was gratifying.

Positives aside, I won't deny there were a lot of challenges being a newly independent solo artist, particularly at larger events. I think I'd forgotten how logistically tough they could be and again was grateful for the offers of assistance and support received. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself and your work out there, riding the rollercoaster of rejection and praise and I was reminded of the respect all artists should receive for just being there, following their passion, regardless of whether their work is to your taste or not.

I've already a few events lined up this year as I continue my creative journey with it becoming increasingly clear that people are eager for my new material so I'm pleased to say that in-between everything else going on that things are happening - watch this space!

Friday, 18 November 2022

Return To Space!


My busy wee spell of late will come to an enjoyable end this weekend as I return to Steampunks in Space at Leicester's National Space Centre. 

I had a fun time last year in what is an amazing venue, truly out of this world! Including a real thrill seeing the massive rocket tower for real after drawing it for Accent UK's Return to The Asylum anthology comic!

Anyhow, following on the Prisoner theme from this year's Asylum Festival, I'm going to be suitably accommodated within the venue at location Number 6!

Have fun and hope to see some familiar faces there :)

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Floating High on a Thought Bubble!

Well, that was fun! My first Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival since 2018 (and its subsequent move to Harrogate), was simply amazing! Thank you to the organisers, volunteers, fellow exhibitors, creators and everyone I met, chatted to or waved at, you all helped make for a wonderful experience.

Although I'm a show veteran now and, (pre-2018), a Thought Bubble regular, I was feeling a little anxious about this one, being as it had been a four-year break, was, to me, a new location and the first time I was 'flying solo' at the UK's largest and best comics focused event. However, with Scott by my side, (when not attending the retailer special events) and a warm reception from everyone I encountered, I was soon at ease and once again blown away by the sheer creative endeavour on display!

I saw so many familiar faces that I hadn't seen for so long and who don't attend the other events I do, that I spent much of the first day just smiling, chatting and waving at folks from behind my table - don't worry I won't attempt to name them all, but if you were among them thank you and sorry for those I missed. With some 400+ tables and exhibitors and guests, its near neigh impossible to see everyone you want, let alone have a decent look round the three, (yes three!) massive halls themselves.  

The prolific Colin Maxwell 
with a couple of his latest
published Commando titles!
It really was incredible to see the rich diversity of creative talents on display with a warm inclusive atmosphere throughout, it really felt like something special, which of course it was and I appreciated being back and part of it.

Of course, working the show, I only saw a small part of it and heavy Friday traffic meant I missed the launch of the Ian Kennedy Art exhibition which I was planning to see, and finding somewhere to eat in the evenings proved challenging. However, I was able to chat with members of Ian's family and the team who had put on his exhibition, which runs to January and may then re-locate elsewhere, so I should be able to visit at a later date, so didn't spoil an otherwise excellent weekend.

The Red Guard - not a lobster as
I mistakenly called her!

Sale wise, I did better than I expected, given the economics and size of the event, not record sales like I experienced at this year's MCM and Asylum Steampunk events but comfortably my best ever Thought Bubble tally so I'm very pleased. There were some lovely comments about my work, art style and enthusiasm for my next project, which is all very encouraging in the scheme of things so I'm rather upbeat about my comics future at the moment.

A fun pair who recognised me
from the Asylum Festival!

On my little sorties from the table, I also managed to buy or receive a rather decent haul of comic goodies - photo to follow - so I've plenty to keep me quiet in the months ahead, albeit I still missed out on getting everything I'd planned to.

So there we go, didn't get to take many photos or get to the epic mid-show party but I greatly enjoyed the event itself and the company of those I met, chatted and dined with, thanks to all and hope to see you next time!

Friday, 11 November 2022

Thought Bubble 2022 - a Return!


Yay, first time at Thought Bubble since their move to Harrogate, if you're there, please drop by and say hello - I'm exhibiting in the Comixology Hall, table 146 :) 

Friday, 4 November 2022

MCM a Smash!

Wow that was something! When you've been doing events for a long time, it's easy to take them for granted in a way but in this new 'living with covid' world, there's been a certain joy in returning to things and enjoying yourselves again. This was certainly the case with last weekend's London MCM Comic-Con event which, like it's earlier spring show, was a blast!

These fine Father Ted folks kept me chuckling for ages! 

I've not heard any official figures, but it felt even busier that the May event, which itself was a record breaker, with huge crowds and increased footfall in our Artist Alley area, meaning good to great sales for most people. Without my new graphic novel, I didn't quite match May's record-breaking tally, but came close to it, so very pleased.

Scott enjoying his break from selling comics at his shop!

Having Scott, (returning to his first MCM since 2019), really helped so I had some company and assistance at the table which makes a difference. That said, I still didn't wander around the show much, other than my favourite TinTin pop-up shop, so didn't really see the event itself or everyone that I would've liked to have caught up with.


There was near constant browsers and conversations at the table and selling out of the little watercolour sketches I do with the Moments packs, meant I had to work hard to quickly prepare more, some to customer order! All great stuff and it's nice to be popular!

Howard & Vicky smashing it!

As always there was some great cosplay and where I could, I got a few snaps, thanks to all for obliging and posing, particularly long-time readers Howard and Vicky who were cosplaying for the first time and did a great job! There was a real friendly vibe at the show despite the crowds with folks really enjoying themselves.

Arthur & The Tick
The Fat Controller

We stayed over Sunday as well to give ourselves a wee break and easier journey home which we needed after a fun and successful weekend, already looking forward to next year, fingers-crossed, when I'll make sure I have some new material and plenty of art prepared!