Sunday, 11 December 2011

December Laydeez do Comics

Hi there Laydeez.
I’m Jade Sarson, an illustrator and comic creator based in Milton Keynes. I recently graduated from the University of Lincoln with a first class honours degree in Illustration, and am currently one of six comic interns at the londonprintstudio (if you went to last months meeting you may have met Shamisa, one of the other interns). I am currently working on developing my first graphic novel alongside the internship, and also frequently update my webcomic Cafe Suada, both of which you can find out more about on my website:
So yup, I’ll be your guide to what happened at this month’s festive meeting.
The evening began with the usual game of introducing yourself and answering a question, this months being “What was your best/worst Christmas present?” There were a lot of interesting answers, including Sarah Lightman’s hilarious cop out of “I’m Jewish, we don’t DO Christmas”, but I think my favourite was the person who declared socks the best gift ever to give or receive. I have to agree, socks are awesome!

Then Rachel Abrams was up. Rachel told us a bit about her illustration work for Turnstone, projects for big mega corporations which have influenced the way she approaches her personal projects. She also explained who her artistic influences are, from Asterix comics to Spiegelmann, as well as cartoons by Matt Groening and projects by RSA Animate. Rachel was humble about her work for large corporations and said that they were nothing in comparison to pitching about her personal projects, which is far scarier because they are just that: they’re PERSONAL.

Her current project is very engaging… she used the phrase “I’ve got this friend who…” to sum up the premise. This new comic of hers aims to take all the tales Rachel has heard about a certain subject and tackle them in an ambivalent way. And the subject?
Female fertility.
Rachel has observed that women everywhere feel a natural unhappiness regarding their own fertility. Society pressures them to have children and lots of women are turning to modern science to solve their problems. IVF treatment and egg freezing procedures are becoming far more commonplace these days, and this is a subject that Rachel is determined to try to explain and question in her new comic project.

However, what was interesting about her talk was that she was very keen to ask the Laydeez about her target market… she was keen to identify who the comic was for, very specifically, so that she could have them in mind when creating the comic. “Is it for young women? Will boyfriends read it? Should I pitch it to drug companies?” she asked us.

The Laydeez piped up at this point. Several attendees were very adamant that this project, though on the fence about the delicate subject matter, is something personal to Rachel, and therefore SHE is the audience. She should write and draw it for herself. Personal projects are done for that exact reason. And the conclusive point made was that by isolating her feelings in this comic, Rachel will in fact draw in MORE readers. I am certainly looking forward to seeing where she takes the project from here, especially after seeing a sample panel which compared female fertility to the fearsome power of a nuclear bomb.
Next up was Sarah Lightman, one of the organisers behind Laydeez Do Comics (the other being Nicola Streeten, who also spoke at the meeting this month). Sarah started by showing us a self portrait that she drew at 15, and explained that from a young age she has been unashamed of being honest about herself, and didn’t beautify herself in any drawings, which I thought was brilliant. Confidence to draw people as-is and see the value in that is amazing, in my opinion. But anyway. Sarah moved on to tell us about her ongoing project, the “Book of Sarah”, which is a comic visually based on Jewish religious texts (her religion has always been an important part of her life). The Book of Sarah is not about religion, however, it is about Sarah’s experiences with finding herself, and expresses how she feels about finding a place in your family and your community. She went on to explain that through finding the comics community, she has found her place (something I and I’m sure many of the other listeners could empathise with). Following on from childhood, the Book of Sarah focuses on romantic interludes and the isolation caused by breakups. What I found most interesting about the book itself was that the narrative was told with a beautiful use of negative space. In the childhood chapters cut out clothing and bodies hint at who is missing or supposed to be somewhere, and in later chapters single objects are placed in a white space to force the reader to interpret the story behind each one. Sparse text is used to guide the reader's interpretations though, as it is Sarah’s story and it wouldn’t do for the reader to interpret the objects too differently to the intent. I wonder when this fantastic conceptual book will be finished. I suppose only Sarah knows. In the meantime we can read her food diary comics and The Reluctant Bride, which use the same techniques crafted just as carefully (Sarah is, after all, from a Fine Art background, and so each drawing is very precise. She loves her graphite pencils, that’s for sure!)

Sarah finished by talking a little bit about her experience with curating exhibitions such as currently touring  Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women. She feels that it is very important that the history of comics should cover women too, and not just the leading male creators, so her exhibitions aim at exposing the world to female creators’ work and influencing academia – Sarah has spoken at several universities as part of the exhibition. Hopefully the message is being heard. That is, after all, what Laydeez Do Comics is all about.

There was a little break after Sarah’s talk to eat baked goodies and chat… I met Mike Medaglia (everyone had been congratulating him on his wedding that evening, there was a lot of clapping, haha!) and we talked a lot about webcomics and the Gosh!p meets, which I must go to in the future, they sound like a lot of fun. I also managed to grab Paul Gravett for a second (he moves fast!) to mention that myself and the comics interns will be attending Strip Turnhout on the 10th, an event Paul had mentioned that evening in the announcements.

After that quick break it was time for the third speaker of the evening to step up: Marcia Mihotich. Marcia is obsessed with grids! Hahaha. I think you had to be there, but suffice to say, Marcia really does like grids. She is a graphic designer and illustrator, and has designed for architects, animations, magazines, book covers and book illustrations (I believe she has either completed or is in the process of illustrating a book called “How to Stay Sane”), and also draws her own comics. Marcia showed us lots of great examples of her design work, and explained how she is very accustomed to using simple but effective techniques and framing. She uses grids to compose her comic page layouts, and uses techniques such as image layering for colour application and ‘the changing speechbubble’ to tell some very clever narratives. (To explain the changing speechbubble: Only the content of the speechbubble changes, the contents of each panel do not.)
Marcia then told us about how the birth of her son affected her life. “I spent so much time in the park” she remarked dryly. She used this to her advantage, however, creating beautiful graphic artwork of the park from many different perspectives, in different seasons and colours, using a layering technique to separate each aspect. She also made use of the time that her son was playing in the park to observe other people – the mums and their children. Whilst doing a lot of observational sketching she overheard plenty of hilarious life stories, and has made use of them in her comics. She explained a concept known as toxic chatter, which I found particularly fascinating: toxic chatter occurs when you are speaking about something mundane to someone and are putting on a polite fa├žade – inside your head, you say mean, frustrated, irritated things until they go away, and this is what’s known as toxic chatter. I loved being able to finally call it something. I’m afraid this blogger is an avid toxic chatterer! Can’t help these things I suppose.
Aaaanyway. It was very entertaining to listen to Marcia, she is a naturally dark humoured, witty storyteller. She finished her talk with a sneak peak at her in-progress “SPY” comic, which everyone at Laydeez agreed made beautiful use of huge, black shadows and large areas of black inking, for dramatic effect. Cannot wait to see more of this comic, I hope she keeps it going alongside her design work! “I do it when I can, when I can find the time” she said. Well let’s hope she does.

Finally it was time for the other founder of Laydeez to step forward, Nicola Streeten! Nicola has been all over the media recently promoting her new graphic novel, Billy, Me & You, which she talked a lot about in the last speech of the evening. Nicola started drawing again after her son Billy died, starting from the bottom (illustrating greeting cards) and working her way up through the years to illustrating clever map advertisements for local businesses. She eventually moved to Lincolnshire, began printing a zine called Liquorice with help from her young daughter (which is still going) and signed up for a Masters course at the University of Lincoln. (Somehow Nicola navigated the labyrinthine illustration department there and found my degree show, which is how we met a few months back. Small world!)
Nicola then focused a lot on the development of Billy, Me & You over the course of several years, and gave us a privileged look at her notes and sketches she made while developing the story and illustrations. It was also during this time that she met Sarah Lightman. As both Nicola and Sarah have ties to the fine art community – they realised that they knew plenty of people from that community, and decided they wanted to meet more people from the comics community – and that, readers of this here blog, is how Laydeez Do Comics first began!
Nicola followed on from this very chronological talk with lots of design work for B,M&Y. She explained how her literature review (a stage in the creation of a new project where you pretty much look for every other work that is similar to yours, and is often an offputting stage for new creators!) was a great aid to her artistic development. She used techniques inspired by a lot of comics she had read, such as the emotional rendering of Barefoot Gen, in B,M&Y to great effect. Nicola also explained that the passage of time was an important aspect of the graphic novel, and she used photography sparingly to emphasise this. Toxic chatter rears its head again this evening, oddly enough, as Nicola then goes on to analyse the misinterpretations of her own comic. The moments of awkward socialising depicted in the graphic novel, Nicola explains, are interpreted differently by different readers. For example, a panel where a friend moves Billy’s t-shirt out of the way and then metaphorically stabs Nicola and her husband, has also been interpreted as Nicola metaphorically stabbing the friend, which Nicola found odd, and the Laydeez attendees certainly found interesting.

To conclude the evening, Nicola mentioned some helpful information for other comics creators, which I took careful note of.

She mentioned Myriad Editions, publisher of Billy, Me & You, and how though they call themselves a small publisher, but it is not about size. It is important when you secure a publisher for your work that they have the right contacts for promoting your book, as Myriad have for Nicola. She has already been reviewed by several noted comics shops and newspapers, and was featured on Channel 4 news too. Lots of great press for the launch of the book, then, and something to bare in mind when looking for a publisher for your own project in the future.

And lastly, Nicola mentioned the key things to do when creating your own graphic novel (I was paying a lot of attention at this point, as it is rare that creators will flat out tell you what works and what doesn’t, so this was very good of Nicola for the Laydeez. I’ll elaborate a little on the points she made).

When creating your own graphic novel:
Its important to look at what’s already out there, and identify where your work will fit into the market
Yup, it sounds silly but really. It’s important. The more informed you are, the better your comics will be. Once you've identified your genre within the field, try to work out why there are some works that you don't find quite so great. 
Nicola showed us messy scrawlings which laid out her story, and I myself take up pages and pages to scribble out my narratives. It’s good practise to separate your narrative into the sections or chapters, and then work on the design from there.
Sure, at the end of the day lots of us prefer shutting ourselves away to get final work done, but when you’re developing your comics it is important to get feedback! How can you know it’s any good if you are the only one judging your work? And to reinforce my point earlier, getting out and away from your usual workspace will inform and educate you, and the more informed you are, the more interesting and fun your comics will be to read.

And that’s pretty much it! How educational.
I had a great time at this month's meeting, and learnt a lot. I hope you enjoyed reading about it all! Good luck to Nicola and Sarah with the next Laydeez Do Comics meeting, which will be on Monday 16 Jan - the first one in 2012! And thanks again to Nicola for giving me the role of guest blogger this month, it was fun.

~Jade Sarson

Monday, 28 November 2011

November 2011 Laydeez do ComicA

I am Shamisa Debroey, the guest blogger for November. In my own work I look to push the boundaries between illustration and strip, minimal and colourful, and topics like love and hate. I recently graduated from the infamous Sint Lukas Brussels under the careful supervision of Johan Stuyck, head of publishing house Oogachtend. I am currently working on the London Print Studio Comics internship scheme and I am working on my first semi autobiographical graphic novel ‘The Wanderer’, to be published in 2012 in Belgium and the Netherlands. Here is a link to my work

Tonight's Laydeez do Comics was in association with the annual Comica Festival and the international line up of guests included, Sarah Leavitt, the Canadian author of Tangles (Jonathan Cape), Comic Nurse, AKA MK Czerwiec, over from America and two German comic artists, Mawil and Uli Oesterle whose works have recently been translated into English editions by Blank Slate Books.

Here are the notes I made about the evening...

Sunday, 23 October 2011

October 2011 Meeting

Hello, my name is Nuala Murphy and I'm a comics artist. This is my response to the October meeting of Laydeez do Comics, I hope you enjoy it. You can find more of my work at Thanks!

Illustrator and comic artist

Martin Steenton + Judith Taboy 
Co-editors and contributing writers at Avoid the Future a comprehensive blog about comics and graphic novels
Publicist and translators at Blank Slate Books. They were talking to us about the graphic novel, Luchadoras, by Peggy Adams which they have translated from French to English for the recent UK publication by Blank Slate Books

Joanna Walsh AKA Badaude Writer and illustrator, author of London Walks, published by Tate

Thursday, 6 October 2011

September 2011 Laydeez do Comics

Jumping from Shaolin monks and  the Hiroshima Bomb to David Bowie and Kubrick patterns, we journeyed from one artistic world to another at Laydeez do comics on the 19th of September. I am the guest blogger for this month, my name is Elena Vitagliano (please have a look at my web gallery  :D) and I am going to introduce you to David Blandy and his collaborator Inko, and Rachel Cattle.
Let’s Start with the first two...
A sense of thoughtful  quietness, almost a meditation is something that you can find in David Blandy works, or in his character “the barefoot lone Pilgrim”, that is really “his character”, because this Pilgrim is his manga version, the artwork created by Inko.

David is a young man who talks at his own leisure and has a good sense of humour.
Inko is a young woman, perhaps not a typical Japanese woman, since she has lived in the UK for some years.
For this talk, they presented the work they have done together:

-       The origins of the barefoot lone pilgrim
-       Underground Heroes
-       Child of Atom

David’s first experimentation with the comic form was during a two weeks residency as a hermit at Painshill Park, Surrey in a recreated hermitage.  David related to the audience how the man who originally built the hermitage as part of the landscaped gardens, intended to have a resident hermit living there for 7 years. But 2 weeks later the original hermit was found drunk in a pub! Luckily, Blandy’s results were different: a comic diary (of the two weeks) and the birth of the Barefoot Lone Pilgrim. The BLP wears an orange kung-fu suit, which was from the Shaolin temple in Tufnell Park (a temple where David used to go) and is searching for “soul records”.  He is the main character in some videos and the manga comic. He is a “fighting philosopher” and dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master (a dream that David used to share.) His influences are from  computer games, like Street fighter and from martial art films. David’s quest in his work is for him to identify his own cultural position in this world. Here's an extract from the film he made about The Barefoot Lone Pilgrim...
After making 3 films about the Barefoot Lone Pilgrim, he moved toward others horizons. He decided to explore the origin of the Pilgrim, because every superhero has an origin.
It was from this idea that the making a manga comic based on the film emerged. He meet Manga artist, Inko, who agreed to work with him on the project and so this new adventure began. Inko was given complete freedom with her artistic interpretation of the film and she decided to respect the rhythm of his work. Throughout, with a wise use of black, Inko leads the reader in an atmosphere of meditation. From these pages, the powerful of words are amplified and we are almost able to hear the James Brown song,  “Mind power”, the theme song of the movie as well as of the comics.

 “Art on the Underground” was the next project that involved David and Inko. Based on the theme of  “Underground Heroes”, David and Inko worked with young people from Fairbridge. “Inspired by comic books tales of heroic quests, each young person has created a superhero persona that draws upon their own interests and aspirations”. You can see the full Underground Heroes comic strips here, as it was not possible to show it during the talk.

So we arrived at “Child of Atom”,  David's more recent film about his bond with the Hiroshima Bomb. His late Granfather would not have survived being a Japanese Prisoner of War if the atomic bombing of Hiroshima had not occurred. So, in a way, David can argue that he owes his own life to that bomb and to the death of thousands of people.
The film is a symbolic visit to Hiroshima made by him and his 2 year old daughter to search for their 'origins'. This work too has been adapted into a manga comic by Inko. Unfortunately, this time the budget was very small and the comic contains just 6 pages.
At this point, David invited Inko to talk about other works she made but not in collaboration with David and she mentioned a project that we can find on the web site “Go go – metro”. It consists of a manga personification of the tube stations. So you can meet the sweet Victoria or the small but spicy Angel, the brave and patient Waterloo and more.
This is a work in progress, made in cooperation with 
Chie Kutsuwada.

She asserts that as she feels more like a craft man rather than an artist, she feels more confortable working with someone and having the challenge to turn someone else's stories into images. However she has also worked on her own projects, and has written some short manga stories. Inko is now working on a picture book for kids, "Rachel moves to Brighton", written by Patricia Horne. It includes 16 pages of colourful Manga style illustration. It is about a girl moving from London to Brighton and it will be published at Christmas time.

After a break, artist Rachel Cattle  presented her work.
She writes, she draws, she has made 3 films and she makes records of some spoken performances. She uses parts of music, parts of songs in a way that is personal, and thinks that comes from films (for example, she has used a pattern coming from the movie “A Clockwork Orange”). There were some other similarities with David's work. Rachel too likes working in collaboration and often works on projects with Steve Richards. She said that although they have lots of things in common, they also have different attitude to things and different ideas about things. This is why their collaboration is so interesting.

Rachel's first interest is drawing. She affirmed, “I am basically a drawer. I am obsessed by drawing. By the idea of what drawing is. What it does to me and what it suggests to people. I’m not interested just in what I draw but also in why I draw. And what drawing is.”

One of the tasks she imposed to herself was to make 100 pencil drawings. She actually made just 30 of them. She chose unrelated subjects such as: a brownie, a woman, a ladder...
She generally works with 4B pencil, using lot of blackness in her drawings. She enjoys the process and likes being isolated form the world and the technology  as much as she can. She has no internet access in her studio.

Some years ago, talking with a colleague about comics, she was impressed by the idea that a comic is something between a movie and a book and yet is neither of those. And, it is capable of creating a world of its own. So, Rachel made her first comic, drawing it in one night, representing, without any words, a journey into darkness.

Another of her comics was made in collaboration with Steve Richards. Here, speech bubbles are philosophical thoughts, lyrics and speeches from the films that Steve collected.
Although these sentences are not related, all together they make a kind of narration.
This comic is related to a movie made by Rachel and Steve called Same Old Scene (named after the Roxy Music song).
After this, Rachel talked a bit about her movies and her performances and she ended her talk with a reading.

IN ADDITION...An Interview Special with Inko
I was so interested in Inko and her work that after the meeting she agreed to answer some questions...

- What is the origin of the name Inko? (anything related to ink?)
"Inko" sounds like "ink", but actually means "parakeet" in Japanese.
One of my manga artist friends Chie Kutsuwada (Hagakure, As You Like It) named me as a joke, and I started using it as my name on web, finally adopting it as my pen name.

- What' s your story as an artist?
I went to an art university in Kyoto, Japan, also Central Saint Martin's college in London. I grew up reading and drawing manga and was fascinated in art. After graduating, I started self publishing manga and joining manga conventions such as MCM London Expo, Japan Expo Paris with other manga artists as a group Umisen-Yamasen(

- What's the project you are working on at the moment?
There are few:
 "Go Go Metro (" - the personification/anthropomorphism of London tube stations. This is a collaboration with Chie Kutsuwada. We are taking history and the unique stories of stations and turn them into manga characters. Manga strips and sketches are shown on the blog.

"Rachel moves to Brighton" - a picture book for kids written by Patricia Horne. This is a 16 page colouful illustrated story about a girl moving from London to Brighton. Expected to publish at Christmas time.

"Ketsueki" chapter 1 - 5 - an action manga about a female sword fighter with a legendary monster slasher "Ketsueki". Written by Richmond Clements(FutureQuake Press). Expected to be published by Markosia next year.
- Why do you work in the Uk as a manga artist instead of working in Japan, or at least "with" Japan?
As people already know, the manga culture and market is gigantic in Japan, so very competitive. The life style in the UK suits me well and I love being a bridge of different cultures. Being able to work as a manga artist at a time when it is has been so recently introduced to the UK is the luckiest thing for me. 
- What do you think are the qualities of great manga?
I actually learned a lot from manga. Great manga comics suck people's minds and sometimes bend the way people think. It's not just escapism, it is a way of experiencing other character's lives.
Manga has such a wide range of genre, like films. There are light hearted ones and human drama ones based on actual events. Some amazingly well written / drawn manga changes the way you see the world no matter what the genre.

- What are the main differences between manga and the Western graphic novel, in your opinion?It's not a "which is better" argument, but generally speaking, manga differs from western comics in its construction. Comics normally have a story with an objective view, but manga normally has a very subjective and personal point of view. So while comic readers enjoy the whole orchestration like watching a great opera, manga readers enjoy being a part of a story sharing the whole emotional events the characters go though. Great manga comics really drive your emotions and grab your deepest self.

- What are the difficulties that an artist like you can experience here in Uk?More than 70% of publication connected artists have side jobs to survive, so I do.
Unless artists are in constant demand, everything is hard. once I had a language ability for communicating in English and my visa was sorted out, the promoting finally went smoothly.
About the manga creation, western comics and manga comics are almost like different media in a way of panel layouts, story development speed, time flows. So working with UK writers is almost being a interpreter to transform the original script into manga format. Which is surprisingly hard.
- Would you like to talk a little bit about your activity as a culture and language ambassador with Soas?I have been working as a Japanese language ambassedor for a few years, and basically I teach basic manga drawing techniques and basic Japanese language in one workshop. The idea was to let children have an opportunity to touch other language through these cultural activities such as Chinese + Calligraphy, Spanish + framenco dancing, Greek + Greek cooking, and so on. Combining two different activities together was a challenge, but students seemed to be enjoying leaning Japanese through manga activity. It's great to know that especially aged between 10 - 18, numerous students are mad about manga and thinking of visiting Japan in the future. 
- Is there anything you would you like to add and say?Quite often people associate manga with extreme violence and pornographic contents but please don't think they have just a shocking value for kids to satisfy their curiosity and aggressive selves! There are far more varieties of genre and imaginative, delicate crafts are there. Since graphic novels and comics attract mostly male fans, manga attracts both, so girls, don't be scared to take one, how about starting with "Honey & Clover" or "Natsume book of friends"?

Many thanks to Inko.

Monday, 5 September 2011

August 2011 Laydeez do Comics

Hello! I'm Sally Plowman,
I am a blogger and this Laydeez, I have been asked to be the blog-guest!

Okay, so after the introduction and question that everyone dreads (I quite like it, and as Nicola Streeten pointed out, people can be reminded of the otherwise forgotten names of the regulars) the first speaker
was Howard Hardiman who started off by telling us about his background- involving a few qualifications that somehow ended in him becoming a sign language interpreter. It came across that in the ten years he was doing this job, he was earning lots and lots of money, but didn't feel this was what he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing. Due to the inclination that he should go back to the creative spectrum, and the fact his arms were physically giving in, he started drawing little drawings on post-it notes, which ended up as a comic 'Badger'. After the surprising success of this, he realised he was in the deep end, and decided to do an MA in illustration at Camberwell, accompanied with the advice NOT TO PUBLISH ANYTHING until it was over! So he started thinking... which lead to the revelations of just what he had been up to when he was signing. This was a well paid job, with ridiculously long hours... and the money was 'going up my nose' as he said, every weekend was spent clubbing and he eventually got very into the gay scene. As he described himself as a 'nosy person', he found lots of interesting stories from drug dealers, escorts, porn stars... which seemed to develop in his head as little scenes. After these interviews with these people, his initial idea was to develop it into a play, although after some thought, he realised this would attract the wrong audience, who wouldn't understand what he was trying to say. 
Howard Hardiman
When he found these scripts, whilst studying on his MA, he decided to turn them into comics... But because of the potentially damaging and very honest things these people had said... He decided to turn them into dogs!

Cover of The Lengths, issue 2

"You care more about a dog than you do a person"
So his plan became to finish the first issue of this comic for his MA project, and he would like to get some money at the end of it... so after asking around for publishers, a distributor told him to send it over when he had finished, and they would see what they could do. After expecting some advice, of course as soon as it had been received, the distributors announced they would take it!
This has become "The Lengths". Now with a schedule of a new issue every two months, he is being forced to draw every day, and his paranoia of not being able to draw has had to be pushed to the side as he realised that people really did like his work! It is also acting as an archive, with a recognisable difference in drawing skill between issues. Find out more here.

Next up was Jenny Linn-Cole, currently a volunteer at the Cartoon Museum and a regular Laydeez do Comics attendee. She started her talk by showing us an inventive animation of drawings of all the doctors, from Doctor Who, merging together. This was created in three days for a Doctor Who exhibit at the Cartoon Museum. After flicking through pictures of previous comics and drawings she'd done, including a small strip about her mother's cat, pencil sketches of the Laydeez (Sarah Lightman and Nicola Streeten), detective spoofs and fantasy scenes of pirate ships and old pubs, she moved onto a funny, real life story about a conversation she had with her son.
"Mum, I want to try dope..."
After this almost unbelievable converstion being read out, and all of us having a chuckle, she started talking about her latest drawings, about her father's stroke and her own experience of depression that followed. These had the extra charm of being hand painted, instead of being drawn in photoshop, which she normally uses. With rough sketches trying to describe what depression felt like, she showed us how she eventually came to the conclusion it was like she was a shadow of her former self, and she was losing definition. She then went on to show us the spread of 'her depression', which was a beautifully inked shadow of herself which she had collaged using photoshop, with drawings from stages throughout her life on the opposite page, including motorbikes which she did in university. She finished her talk by showing us the aftermath- an explosion of an attic which they had to sort through.... ughh nightmare!
Recent work by Jenny Linn-Cole

And now... Time for a slice (or two) of Sarah's cake, and a browse through the graphic novels and comics up for sale.

Francesca Mancuso, the next speaker, is an Italian Manga and cartoon enthusiast who draws little cartoons for fun. As she started talking, it was revealed that her love of Japanese illustration started off as a child, when Italian 80's TV was broadcasting a whole load of anime. In her teens, they started bringing out the Manga comics of TV shows of her childhood, which she began spending all her money on. She bought a book, by Manga artist, Suzue Miuchi, that was really influential for her, but when she tried to look for a an English fan site, she couldn't find one. This made her quite frustrated,  inclining her to make her own website... because of this book, web design is now her occupation!

Her first creative love was oil colours, although she hasn't painted that many canvases as she doesn't have space for them all. The next thing she tried was acrylics- both on paper and canvas- which she found more difficult, but still enjoyed. The quickest and best way to add a splash of colour to her sketches right now, however, is watercolours.

She then went on to show us some of her own cartoons and cards for her friends and family and the next slide was slightly different... they were emotional paintings, with soft tones and smooth lines, which had apparently been criticised for lack of anatomical knowledge, but had seemed to get the most response from the audience and critics, and let her display her emotions and feelings more.
At the very end of her presentation, she showed some very skilful sketches, from real life, of people at a cartoon club/meet up.
Sketches by Francesca Mancuso

The final speaker was Mike Medaglia, who introduced himself as a “Taoist Artist”. Originally from Canada, he is presently based in London, working as a massage therapist as well as developing his drawing. He began by showing us a variety of his Taoist Mountainscapes, showing a variety of mark making. Alongside the influence of the Taoist way and concepts such as Yin and Yang, Mike’s influence within the world of comics was from the Manga work of Osamu Tezuka.

His first foray into comics was the production of “Wet Ashes” that he created with his partner, soon to be wife, Lisa Woynarski, who did the writing. They made a story about a group of characters and their lives and relationships with each other. Mike was on drawing and used a fairly crude drawing style. Some years on they have just produced the next in the “Wet Ashes” series, with a more sophisticated drawing style. A spread that was popular with the audience was one showing one of his character’s obsession with Bonsai trees. The drawing shows the influence of Chris Ware on Mike’s developing style.

Mike told us how he is keen to improve his drawing skills. He set himself the task of drawing a face a day for 333 days. Why that number? He has a thing about random numbers. He mentioned that on 11.11.11 he and Lisa will be getting married. Brilliant! So...back to Mike’s numbers… Once he decides on the number for a project he sticks to it. And with only a few days to go, Mike’s next task will be 333 faces in colour this time. He draws from photos and we were able to recognize some of his models.

Mike is a natural collaborator and experimenter. One new collaboration is “Dot Comics” with Elliot Baggott  He showed us a page, which has been coloured by fellow comics artist, John Riordan.  They hope to launch it at Thought Bubble Festival in November. Another collaborative project is with Mark Haylock. They are planning to start a monthly comic book club, maybe at the new Gosh, or maybe at ISW. The foundations are being laid and they hope to kick off in the autumn. Perhaps the most interesting collaboration was Mike’s work on abstract comics. He showed us a panelled page of marks. He told us how it started when he was playing around with his 8 year old nephew. The liberated way his nephew drew so freely and imaginatively, offering Mike commentaries on abstract marks, has inspired Mike to consider developing the idea further. Yes, please do! And so the end of another inspiring evening...sweet dreams...
Spread from Wet Ashes, by Mike Medaglia