The Watch Thief: Chapter 39

You can pay for chapters and over 50 pieces of exclusive content at http://patreon.com/andyluke

Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
Wednesday 23 December, 1925.

The silence was tangible. The houses at night barricaded by wall and leaf were remote and vulnerable. The Triumph bike stood still on the tarmacadam at the front Edward Richards’ home. Ignatius ‘John’ Lincoln was looking from open door into the unlit kitchen. On an overcast morning at Trowbridge Barracks, a soldier devoid of passion stood fixed outside the armoury, his eyes far away. No one spoke their names. Nothing stirred at night in the prison grounds. Wings A through C where silent. William Tyrrell, like many other men and women all across Britain, slept quietly. In Sussex the Home Secretary, Joynson-Hicks, laid back in his easy chair. He did not go to see the King. The rope hung from the ceiling. Margarethe prayed. The silence came from the mouths of those who did not know what they could offer, minds scraping for perfect words to bridge reality with a better state.

The hush was concentrating into pockets. Their first foot-falls in Edward’s home in Victoria Avenue. Clifford Lincoln in the visitors room at HMP Shepton Mallet, Julius next to him, Margarethe’s eyes welling up with tears. In the office of his mirror Tom Pierrepoint buttons his white shirt. The calm was a brief gap in the passage from the basement generator to the upper court. The noise squashed the word on Lord Hewart’s lips and the public gallery. It struck the moments between the nine bells that Tuesday morning.

Ian Stewart’s motorcycle growled out of the barracks and tore the night open. Ignatius held tight as they wound with Victoria Road. The wind was like a barrage of tiny pellets. The cylinder was a vague echo when Ian parked it. The two off-duty bombardiers entered through unlocked back door with less grace. They knew Edward had a gun and it turned up in minutes, Ignatius scraped it by a cupboard door and put in his coat so both sides weighed even. Ian brought out the brandy and glasses. They had their breath warmed and rummaged some more. Bitter and pale ale. They clinked a toast to their prizes, and sunk to the floor. They approved of Edward Richards’ decor. The conservative and modern layout. The comfortable linoleum.

Ian said, “Put the empties back in the crate like they never went anywhere!”

Upstairs was a-creaking. The drunken soldiers raised themselves as steps crossed the landing.

It’s Edward. John, the bike!” Ian pointed to the lounge and broke ahead. The armchair arm pushed him on the way in. Ignatius, beer sloshing, avoided it. Ian swung at the front door lock, shook it left and right.

Edward shouted, “Who’s down there?”

Ignatius pulled out his automatic. “Get back,” he shouted, and fired a bullet into the stairs.

As the bullet thumped dully, Ian defied the urge to wince, his face screwed up from the loud retort of the pistol however and he yelled against the front door – “We are warning you!”

Ignatius blasted twice into the bannister. Ian gave the lock a final shove and then doubled back into the lounge. Ignatius followed. In his haste his foot caught in the folds of the rug, tumbling towards the ground, the darkened room spun before his eyes. In desperation he reached out for support – his hands finding a table, searing pain in sprained wrist. Someone else entered the room with him. He felt the breeze of the open back door. A pistol flashed. A bullet whizzed by and pounded the plaster wall. The pistons hammered on Ian’s bike as he revved it up. Ignatius raised his automatic and fired and fired. He fired until Edward screamed out.

Four officers marched them into Shepton Mallet. The prison housed just fifty; seven per cent of its capacity. Christmas Day was their first day. Acoustics made the carol singing sound like a haunting. But unsettling festivities settled in to something more hopeful, genuinely happy inmates and guards. His sweetheart Lily Morgan visited. She knew him as John. He used the name to avoid the stigma of association. Seeing her took his mind from the depression. At nine o’clock, the lights went out.

Prison’s threat only nibbled at the edges: the Governor’s approval of him; Lily’s visits; New Years Eve. Ignatius had seen the light flicker in Edward’s eyes. He was afraid the feeling of asylum would last the three weeks to his trial. The officer who found the vomit in his cell pressed his nose in it. Later, in mad thought, he was grateful. Each day he followed the bell to inspection and the canteen. On one occasion he recognised Tom Pierrepoint, walking with the Governor. Both were well dressed, large aristocratic figures. He’d heard Pierrepoint didn’t like the American method. He preferred to get the inmate out quickly. They were on their way to the brick building forty-three metres from the prison wall. In the exercise yard, speckled dry concrete led to a metal fence mounting barbed wire, and an enclosure of mottled stone framed portcullises. The steps and walls were cold. There were only stone corners. In A-Wing less people meant guards could watch the walk-way slips and stop any jumpers. The other levels revealed a mirror image of the hive. Ignatius was in a cell on his own. Sat on his bunk, he thought about Edward Richards: his voice; how he knew Ian. What did he do in his twenty-five years? The final shot had lit up the lad’s face with the bullet hole in his skull and the blood streaming out of his eyes. Edward Richards was looking into him. He didn’t know much about Edward, but he knew he killed him. Neither man could lie about that.

In Cologne, Julius Lincoln took his bag from the hall. He closed the door of his house and walked the streets to Trankgasse. At Köln Hauptbahnhof, he bought his ticket for Hamburg and waited. In Hamburg, Margarethe wailed and flung clothes into her case. Four times she checked their passports and emergency certificates. ‘Mother is in dire straits’, Clifford wrote in a letter to John. ‘We all are. Can you get to England?’

The lawyer said they had a good case. The evidence was inconclusive: he should plead not guilty. He nodded obediently to make Lily happy. Edward’s dying cry was with him every moment. Lily seized on the notion he might be released. He asked her not to call for a week. He slept, knowing it was not enough. He slept contented, forgetting what he had done. In the night, the grounds of Shepton Mallet were quiet. Lily wrote to him. He wrote back, even when a jailer warned him not to. In the visitor’s room, Julius said they would get him out of there. Margarethe assured him anyone could see it was an accident. They were praying for him. Clifford said he would be there at the trial, they all would.

The criminal law courts were in Devizes, central Wiltshire, a four-column Grecian building. Custodians led the charges past the chugging generator and stink breath of the boiler. Out of the tunnel, they found the steps into the court. A hundred jarring threads of conversation clustered around their fates. Amid the babble-storm he saw his family and Lily, who smiled with dewy eyes.

“Unfortunate parentage,” said one of the gawkers.

“All rise,” said the clerk.

“Edward was my neighbour,” said Walter.

“You found him, Mr. Stouton?” asked the prosecutor.

“I held his head in my hands an’ went with him to the hospital. Fifteen minutes after we got there, they said he was dead.”

The arresting officer said, “I found them later that morning. The captain at barracks did not release them to us easily.”

The prosecutor told them, “There is an indication joint enterprise might be applied here. Each man went to Mr. Richards home armed, and must face the penalty.”

A reporter called out, “Mr. Lincoln! Mr. Lincoln. Can we have a word? Mrs. Lincoln. Just a moment?”

He saw the family disappear in newsmen before he and Ian stepped down dark stairs to the dust swirling by the flatulent generator at tunnel’s end. The next day was Wednesday 20th January, when court heard from the defence.

“An investigation of the crime scene has shown Mr. Richards fired at Mr. Lincoln at close range.”

Ignatius said, “It was only to protect myself.”

“Objection! Being drunk is no excuse.”

The judge said, “A distinction should be made for Mr. Stewart. Since he did not discharge his firearm, the jury should consider acquittal in the charge of murder.”

The prosecutor said, “Your honour, new evidence has surfaced in a letter from Mr. Lincoln to his friend, Miss Morgan. Obtained by the staff at HMP Shepton Mallet, it contains a full confession.”

On Thursday morning, after the clock struck nine times, the jury met. They did not retire long. Stewart would serve a long sentence for burglary. For Lincoln came the black cloth.

“Ignatius Emanuel Napthali Trebitsch Lincoln, I pronounce the only sentence that can be passed for the crime of wilful murder.”

Margarethe sunk her mouth into her handkerchief.

“You will be taken to a place of execution to suffer death by hanging.”

Julius froze as their mother clung to his chest. Clifford gasped. They took Ignatius down.

His father sent a letter nineteen pages long. A friend was bringing money so he expected to set sail from Ceylon within days. The German-Lloyd steamer, SS Coblenz, would take him to Marseilles and he’d fly to England if he had to. He asked forgiveness. There was a terrible regret for the past, for if he had been a better father, none of this might have happened. His sins seem to have been visited upon the head of his favourite son. ‘Nat’ stood by him when they were arrested at the Hotel Viktoria in Vienna; and before that, when in Prague he told his father Czech spies were trailing them. Ignatius remembered them board the train and watch the Czechs get into the next carriage. As the doors were closing, father and son leapt back onto the platform.

Julius raised funds from the public for an appeal the following week. The man from The Times watched him, impressed. The coroner’s jury refused to return a guilty verdict. Lord Chief Justice Hewart rejected that motion and set March 2nd for the date of Lincoln’s execution.

There were echoes in Shepton Mallet. Ignatius saw him still: Edward Richards, his hair matting with blood, looking at his attacker. Ignatius smashed the cut bottle down on his face clawing the tissue. A cold wave spread over him as he did so, and Edward’s head slumped. Twenty-five years old, a representative for a brewery, a hard-working honest man wrenched out of his sleep. Ignatius could feel the weight of his head in his hand: the warmth; the wet. His eyes flickered. The louder cough of the motorbike engine was at the back. He set down Edward. Out to the back yard, out, out, Walter the neighbour shouting, “Hey! You there!”

Ignatius looked right past the open door of his cell. He could still hear the captain and constable bicker. Still Ian Stewart telling him he gets a high from risk. Ian was on a different wing and he tended to avoid him, tactfully. Margarethe rarely got in a visit without crying. His father telegraphed the both of them from the Coblenz each week. Meanwhile, Julius wrote to the Home Secretary to make sure he could come onto British soil. There was a lot of public support, he said. The telegram from Java expressed regret. John hoped to see him in the Summer.

Four weeks later, Thursday 24th, thousands swarmed Trafalgar Square. Placard carrying bodies close to one another sang and prayed. They clustered in lines to sign the petition and talked of what was to be done: activist Quakers and Anglican clergy; miners and dockworkers; a whole spectrum of society. Margarethe was over-whelmed and receptive to journalists’ whys, where’s and hows. One-time manager for Houdini, Colonel Harry Day, found Julius near the steps.

We’ve all been moved by his plight,” said Day. “I will pursue this in the Commons.”

We’ve seen him every day this week,” said Margarethe.

This is murder for manslaughter. Where’s the Edward Richard’s say in this?” said Clifford.

Is it true the boy’s father entered a monastery?”

A paper earlier this week ran an interview from Victoria Station. Can you confirm that?”

Attention! Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming. My name is Julius Lincoln. John Ignatius is my half-brother. He would appreciate this show of protest and solidarity. A man of good nature and humour, your support is getting him through tough times. Like all of us, John served this country in the war. Unfortunately the judge was out to make an example. Out to make an example of my father’s son. The verdict was decided before he set foot in court. The appeals jury disagreed. It is my hope another will grant his reprieve. Please sign the petition which tomorrow, I will present to the Home Secretary.”

Julius took the petition by St. James Park to the Home and Foreign Office building. Over four weeks he’d collected fifty thousand signatures. William Joynson-Hicks was well acquainted with the case. It was he whose constitutional function it was to advise their monarch whether to exercise the prerogative of mercy. The P.M., Baldwin, was a close friend and reacted by praising the Home Secretary’s expertise regarding British prisons. Archbishop Randall Davidson, back from an anti-theosophy conference, said he would pray for him. A telegram from the SS Coblenz begged for a stay of execution.

In another room, Foreign Secretary Austen Chamberlain asked Tyrrell for a report on Trebitsch Lincoln. The file hadn’t been updated since the incident with Mr. Davidson. Basil Thomson had only written of Trebitsch in a stock article he sold to the Northern Whig and Belfast Post. Workaholic Eyre Crowe sailed the Foreign Office through three governments in four years. A vacuum was left after his death the previous April. It was Tyrrell’s opinion Trebitsch should be allowed to see his son. Chamberlain told the House he’d be under guard for three days and leave immediately afterwards.

In the Liberal Club, on-off friends Lloyd George and Asquith spoke of Lincoln. In Piccadilly, the solicitor John Goldstein listened to the report on the radio. At Savoy Hill House BBC Director Jack Pease peered through the glass at his newscaster. Seventy-two year old Conyngham Greene, once minister to Roumania, listened in his Plymouth home until the weather flickered the signal into absence. Basil Thomson read the paragraphs in his parlour, curtains drawn.

In a comfortable bed in Trowbridge, Tom Pierrepoint fancied an early night and loosened his tie. Lily Morgan returned from prison early evening to her home. She was exhausted and asleep within minutes, but woke a few hours later. In Sussex, Joynson-Hicks turned the page of his newspaper. He ignored the nine chimes of the grandfather clock. Through the night he slept without interruption, oblivious to the world.

Ignatius walked to the scaffold without visible emotion, standing rigidly to attention as the noose was adjusted. Until late last night he had waited in the death cell for his father’s promised visit, and when told that it was impossible for him to arrive he broke down and wept.”

– New York Times, 3 March 1926

Homespun Fun Comics

I managed to take some time last month for a social trip around England, kicking off with the Midwinter Comics Retreat, hosted by Sophie in her family home. This year was a bit different as I joined Jay Eales on the writing duties, shipping out scripts to seven artists. The experience was true to the MCR ethos of ‘fun comics’ and I feel enthused and inspired about making comics in the future. Crisis on Infinite Captions should be out from Factor Fiction Press later this year. Thanks particularly to Sophie, Jenni & Richard,  Arsalan, Glenys, Sean, Ciaran & Adrian and Suzanne for making it a holiday I won’t forget.

Helen Gomez runs The Girly Comic Club, an event in which she opens her home to trusted friends to draw comics two or three times a month. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? To come off wet streets and get handed a cup of tea, some cake, and draw comics in comfortable surroundings! Four or five people collaborating on a mini-comic or two, within hours! I’m hoping to try hosting something similar soon. It’ll be a LGBT-friendly called Boys Club, of course.

If you’d like to see what we’ve been up to try a wee comic-zine about Houses, or ones about Jeans or Monkies.

Sam Finnegan has attended a few of these. He’s a cartoonist in Bangor, NI, working out of Boom! Studios, and now SyncSpace in Dufferin. Sam has set up a zine and comics library there, with a great gallery, a regular Flea Market event (on Sundays), and some prog art exhibits planned.

An update on the Axel America coverage in form of a reading given at The Book Reserve. It’s from Chapter 10 a.k.a Masculinity Under Threat: The Effeminate Ephemera of FEMA. I also got a nice column in the February edition of Writing Magazine, and a mutual love-and-anger chat with Rob and Janelle Alex of the Authors Talk About It Podcast. And you can now buy Axel America at SyncSpace!

 

Free Comic: The Beastly Box of Bumcrack!

Ooh…

Professor Kraken, Master of the Science of the Supernatural, narrates his study of the village of Bumcrack, where an eldritch box bombards him with adverts from some ethereal plane.

Beastly Box is by Terry Wiley, Lee Kennedy, Motodraconis, Selina Lock, Jay Eales, Lee Kennedy, Jeremy Day, Alan Rowell and yours truly.

Edited by Jay Eales and published by Factor Fiction Press, you can download Beastly Box by clicking on the image below.

beastly-box

20mb download

There’s plans forming for another of these sometime in January. If you’d like to hook up when I’m in London, Oxford or Brighton, make me a message.

Comics and Cartooning: UK Election 2010

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for (now extinct) Alltern8; Comicking.

With the UK general election happening this week, democracy gets opportunity to curtail the taint destructive politicians have left on the world stage. I thought it might be interesting to deliver a round-up of what some British cartoonists have been saying on the matter.

Labour or the Conservatives (or ‘Unionists’, as they used to be known, and sometimes are in Northern Ireland) have held power for 65 years. So, care of Sean Duffield, a four page look at the Labour leader, David Cameron,

Cameron Taxi Driver

Ah yes, Cameron’s friendship with Rupert Murdoch, Google-fearer and owner of the British registered Newscorp (BSkyB, The Sun, The Times), which avoids paying tax in Britain.

Might we be seeing this sort of thing in a Murdoch-Cameron Britain?

Dave Brown The Independent 2009

Um, sorry? Dave Brown, 2009

Marc Roberts of Throbgoblins,
“I’ve been playing around on PhotoShop (other image manipulation programmes are available) and have come up with the following. It’s mostly a tad sinister – UK politics and the pending ecological debacle”

Here’s his ApoCameron-lypse,

ApocalyptoCAMERON(web)

Crazy internet-fearing Murdoch, drawing threats on the BBC, a public service broadcaster funded by the public since 1933 with it’s aim to present fair impartial reporting.
Here’s a cartoon on favourite LibDem Clegg’s victory by Rich Johnston from the 26th April as originally posted to Guido Fawkes.

RichandMark 26 April

And of course, the always admirable Steve Bell in his work for The Guardian,

3007-30-4-10_FINALDEBATE

So, really a televised leadership election debate should have taken place at the BBC rather than being relegated to third place after the commercially funded ITV and Murdoch’s private BSkyB.

6559-26-4-10_BEARDCHANGE

6560-27-4-10_BEARDCHANGE

Above: Two more from Steve Bell and The Guardian.

Now the UK have a chance to lock Murdoch out of UK politics and cut the propaganda that has seen the nation’s Green Parties, the welsh Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party and others locked out of these debates.

Oh, and this guy too.

fascist guy_72dpi

Source: Duffield

2849-28-5-09_GRIFFINPARTY

Source: Bell

The image above by Holocaust-denying racist Nick Griffin, parasite to re-opened multi-party politic talk. It’s another by Sean Duffield: Go and donate a few pounds towards War – The Human Cost, a brilliant BRILLIANT anthology he’s hoping to get out.

The BBC brought us the iconic kids show Bagpuss, and here’s Sean take on Gordon Brown.

sagpuss_page1_with_text_78 sagpuss_page2_mice_and_text_78dpi

Marc Roberts goes for high pitch animals too,

BROWNgorrilla(MINI)(web)

This will be the first UK election since Web 2.0 has fully worked it’s way into British culture. Hopefully we’ll not get any Votergate-type scandals and see elected tolerable agenda for the job.

Murdoch isn’t the only unelected dictator we need to get rid of, after all.

demonicolour468

Source: Mark and Rich, Guido Fawkes

And what of this man?

2593-17-10-07_CLEGG

By Steve Bell

He may very well be the UK’s new Prime Minister.

Modern politics is driven by who you can’t vote for, rather than who you’d like to. Still, being cooped up in Westminster talking only to other politicians is an uneconomical reality to face.

2963-2-2-10_GUILLOTINES

The above cartoons are by Steve Bell. There are some more of them here.

Dave Brown, then Peter Schrank (The Independent) as to how they’re not really of the same thinking state as many of us,

(IMAGES FROM ORIGINAL ARTICLE MISSING)

Some things are just too prescient. Morland Moreton from The Times way back in 2006..

(ORIGINAL IMAGE MISSING)

Please vote on Thursday. Sure they’re all crap, but not voting helps keep them in power. Remember, ‘Hung parliament’ is code for greater democracy.

If you’re interested in similar, less conservative attitudes to British political cartooning try the works of BRICK (aka John Stuart Clark), Kate Evans,Polyp and Kate Charlesworth.

Publisher Tom Humberstone – Launching Solipsistic Pop #2

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.

“Solipsistic Pop is a biannual anthology designed to spotlight the best in alternative Comic art from the UK.”sp2cover

The first issue was part fashionable show-off object full of comics such as,

“Meanwhile”: Robbie Wilkinson’s deranged fantastic Kahlenberg and the fever mind demons of the Social Security Agency offices.

Rachel Reichert beautifully colouring a spider into a butterfly.

Monotone sleepwalking and premonition by Anna Saunders.

Phil Spence’s iconic Ninja Bunny, unconfined in Eastern landscapes

Friendship and stability amongst the televised generation, in Tom Humberstone’s real “Special Guest Appearances”

manifesto pop

Tom is the one of the great folk identified with Solipsistic Pop and with Volume 2 launched only a few days ago, it seemed we might like to read an interview with him.

Andy Luke: Hi Tom, I really enjoyed your American election coverage.

Tom Humberstone: Thanks Andy. That seems like a long time ago now. I really miss it actually. I’m hoping to return to America for a prolonged period of time again as soon as I can. If only for the bagels…

Solipstic Pop Fashion

AL: I get the impression Sol Pop people are all young, thin, talented and incredibly gorgeous. What’s in it for old wrinkly jaded fatties like me?

TH: No, I’m pretty hideous. But if the work implies an inherent beauty within all the contributors, I’ll take that compliment. There are some artists involved in Solipsistic Pop who I’ve only spoken to via the internet. The work is, of course, the most important consideration when putting together the line-up. Physical appearance should have very little to do with the artists or the audience. Maybe I should have gone for a funny answer though…

quadropticon01

AL: In your reading, do you have any particular stand-out favourites? For me Mark Oliver’s “Quadropticon”, a comic which will be readable whichever way up you hold it, is quite seducing…

TH: It’d be unfair for me to single out any particular highlights of either book. Best to leave that to someone more objective. Most reviews of the first book selected different pieces to discuss which is what you hope for with an anthology. Everyone taking part is in there because I love their work and want to publish it so it’s safe to say I’m a massive fan of everyone involved. You’re right though, Mark’s Quadropticon is an amazingly inventive piece and well worth wall space in anyone’s house.

Solipstic Pop Manifesto

Above: An excerpt from Kieron Gillen’s manifesto, full version here.

AL: I really enjoyed the text piece manifestos by yourself and Kieron Gillen. Is that attitude and ethos indicative of how Sol Pop came about? Is everyone involved a drinking buddy with a mutual awesome feel towards each other’s work?

TH: Kieron’s introduction was a wonderful addition to the book and something which still manages to put a smile on my face. The manifesto I wrote with Matthew Sheret was something that was written to lay the groundwork for what we wanted to see happen in the UK comics scene and the comics industry in general. It set an agenda for Solipsistic Pop and Sheret’s We Are Words + Pictures. Most of the points in it are fairly self-evident and those working in comics wouldn’t see anything in there that seemed revolutionary at all. But the point was to collate those thoughts and somehow use them to form a blueprint for what we wanted to achieve over the next few years.

Some of the artists in Solipsistic Pop are good friends who work in entirely different fields but whose work has always seemed appropriate to comics in my opinion. When I set out to make Solipsistic Pop, I knew I wanted the contributors to be a mix of established alternative comics creators, up-and-coming creators, and people working in other media giving comics a try. The result is a a varied mix of surprising and fresh approaches to the medium which I find really exciting.

(SOME IMAGES MISSING)

AL: There’s a conscious decision not to make a comic but a packet of comics, with inserts and inserts. This is a hark back to the comics with free gift days, or calling attention to detail?

TH: It’s not so much trying to mimic a specific ‘free gift’ approach but more about making the most out of a physical object. With so many fantastic digital options available to comic creators and publishers, there really needs to be a *reason* for the comics to exist in print. Beyond the high production values of the organic inks, high quality paperstock, and lithographic printing techniques – I also wanted to make each volume a boutique object that is uniquely suited to the content and theme of each book. The first book contained mini-comics as a nod towards the humble small-press UK comics scene and my fondness for the charm of crude, photocopied booklets. Both books come with a newspaper insert which references a Sunday funnies approach. A tradition which informs the American comics scene and which has thus informed our understanding of the artform too. These additions are carefully considered and, if anything, have more in common with the McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern approach to publishing.

AL: How is it funded? Surely production and distribution costs eat up a lot…. (the free style bag-for-life is kinda pretty)

TH: Yeah, Philippa did a superb job with that design. I fund Solipsistic Pop myself. Using savings and whatever freelance work comes my way on top of my full-time job. It’s a struggle. And it has meant that publishing my own work has had to take a slight backseat. But it’s worth it. I’m incredibly proud of these first two volumes and I’m already excited about my plans for Solipsistic Pop 3.

AL: There’s a question I should have asked you but my girlfriend just broke up with me. What was the question and it’s answer?

TH: Oh… um… wow, this is awkward…

You buy a copy of the newly released Solipsistic Pop via their website. Volume 1 was subtitled and themed “Broken” and the new edition, “Middle”

War and Art – The Human Cost

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.

Easter Monday saw the emergence of an anthology I’ve been awaiting for several years. “War: The Human Cost” features 260 pages of strips and art   from addicted to war - the high cost of militarismfrom 17 countries. The acclaimed Spain Rodriguez contributes a short on faith-based terrorism and Hannes Pasqualini comes in with 8 pages of silent comic on dehumanisation amongst soldiers. Documentaries include the alliance between Francisco Franco and the Catholic Church after the Civil War, Vietnam, Camp X-Ray Guantanamo.

Child Soldier

Above: Excerpt from “Child Soldier”

Paper Tiger Comix editor Sean Duffield,

“The comic strips include well researched stories from around the world (Tibet, Afghanistan, Israel & Palestine, Liberia, Iraq, Uganda, etc.) which cover everything from human rights struggles, war veterans & PTSD, political imprisonment & torture, child soldiers (a narrative based on UNICEF reports), refugees /asylum seekers, peace campaigners, the arms trade, corruption/ conflicts of interest, millitary spending, propaganda to humour & satire.”

There’s also work from “Peter Kuper, Alexsandar Zograf, Ulli Lust, Mazen Kerbaj, Abu Mahjoob, Nelson Evergreen” and other underground cartoonists and established commercial artists.

£1 from every purchase of the not-for-profit book goes to the well-respected NGO, CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade).There’s also a CD included with the package.

“The CD features well known artists who support the project, such as Michael Franti & Spearhead, Sly & Robbie, DJ Spooky, Blue King Brown, Zion Train, The Levellers, Big Youth & Twilight Dub Circus, The Groove Corporation & many more.”

A mammoth project, yes. Paper Tiger have made use of a the interest in such a project in order to bring it to the public.

AK 47 Tale2

AK-47 Tale Page 2

The book has taken many years to get ready for release. In common with other independent comix press, the halting block is one of finances for printing and distribution. In order to publish the work Paper Tiger Comix needs to raise £3000, the final half of the amount needed. See the green box for how they plan to do it,

(Accompanying images in original article: Camp X-Ray Guantanamo and Patronage War)

To my mind it’s taken this project too long to get to this stage. Paper Tiger Comix and Sean Duffield have a strong track record with previous publications. Paper Tiger’s model at Indiegogo appears to allow donations-for-donations sake, donations which encompass a discount on pre-orders (and free shipping to anywhere), and a grander scale of VIP incentives.

The creators of Phonogram, as I commented last week, might have been tempted to produce a 3rd series if the Patronage model of artist sponsorship was more prevalent. The comics industry status quo is to reward (even established commercial) artists several months after product has been sold. By going ‘Patronage’, Paper Tiger is wisely making use of an already existing audience for an unpublished product. There’s every indication that the money raised will surpass that aim fairly quickly. There are many ‘for-profit’ publications which could attract this kind of audience sponsorship.

Expect to see “Patronage” continue to enjoy a resurgence over the next number of years. Smart music industry artists (ie. not the BPI) have been increasingly using this model since the rise of the internet. I suspect progressive independent builders in the digital downloads market will in the future add a Patronage facility to help with pre-production costs for the art and sponsorship of print-on-demand services.

‘War: The Human Cost’ addresses an international audience. Proceeds will go to CAP (Community Art Projects) “a constituted Community Group based in Brighton UK), to fund future activities” The money donated to (London-based) CAAT, will fund their work in regulating arms companies and taking action against illegal arms deals.

And those look like fine comics.

UPDATE: You can still get a copy of this fine collection from http://www.papertigercomix.com/?page_id=9

Comics Pub Meets: Northern England

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.

In the final part of this look at comics pub meets across the UK, we’ll be looking at gatherings towards the North of England. The previous three parts have also looked at Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Birmingham, the beginning of my introduction to comics pub meets, and Tony McGee :

“Founded in 1996 by BugPowder’s Pete Ashton and Jez Higgins, the veteran of pub meets is still going strong. What began as a small press meet up now encompasses the wide world of comics, beer and general pub chat. All are welcome to pop along.”
This is in reference to The Old Fox, Hurst St, opposite Birmingham Hippodrome on the last Saturday of each month, between 4 – 11 pm. Here’s a Facebook listing, You can contact Tony at truestories(at)blueyonder(dot) co(dot)uk and oh look, there’s a Dark Weather collection on the way, along with lots of other indy comics classics!

Tony mentions another meet. Seemingly bare steps along Hurst Street is The Dragon, where on the second Thursday of each month, 7:30 – 11 pm, MC2 or the Midlands Comics Collective meet. Tony tells me they “met through Birmingham’s Stripsearch comic art scheme which started in 2005. Although the MC2 have published several anthologies, the current focus is on relaxed meetings and the occasional convention appearance. If you’re a Midlands based creative type, feel free to come along and join in.” He recommends I mail Laura Howell who writes there’s also a “group interest in individual publishing projects”.  The Facebook group is located here or email Mikey or Laura at info(at)comicscollective(dot, as above)

Over in Telford in Shropshire, Distributor at the Crossroads, Shane Chebsey says, “Fraid not mate, unless you count about four of us having coffee in the shop.” Mmm, coffee. The new Smallzone website looks good, Shane. As soon as I’m solvent again….

This next response surprised me. Ten years ago, an active ‘Pool of indy comics, David Goodman updates,
“I don’t know of any Liverpool comics pub meets, I’m afraid. The one I did go to, only a few people went and not everyone could be at every meeting, so it just kind of petered out… It hasn’t been running for several months. Good luck, and if you DO find out about any in Liverpool, I’d be interested in the details too!”

(UPDATE: At time of reblogging, Jan 2013, the Goodmans have a call out for anyone interested in a Liverpool comics pub meet)

Someone, hook a brother up…..please.

The active Manchester Comix Collective have a Drink n Draw once a month at The Sandbar, usually Sundays from about 4pm. Adam Cadwell says,

“The MCC Drink ‘n’ Draw is open to all, artists, writers, readers or anyone with an interest really. ” (source)

You can find the group on Manchester group on Facebook.

There’s also a Manchester Sci-fi Pub Meet at The Moon Under Water on Deansgate, Saturdays once a month from 12pm. Contacts: Taz and Alycia or others on F’Book.

David Nightingale of Thunderbooks, Blackpool mails, “I’m not aware of anything like this happening round these parts!” The closest seems to be in Lancaster, sourced via John Freeman.  Mark Braithwaite of First Age Comics, in King Street, Lancaster confirms this,

“There is a regular comic pub meet held in Lancaster every third Wednesday of the month at 8pm.

The group is called the Uncanny League Of Astonishing Amazers (ULAA) and the meeting place is at the Gregson Centre, Lancaster. As with most groups the attendance from month to month varies however it is always open to newcomers. The conversation features a wide mix of subjects covering anything involving comics (UK and US), tv/film (from modern day or years gone by).

The group is generally advertised on my twitter page  and also has its own facebook section which is featured on the First Age Comics facebook page.”

Orbiting around the shop, Mark says the group helps keep friends and acquaintances in contact who might miss one another during the week.
Sociable Lisa Wood of the Leeds Thought Bubble highlights “Dr Sketchy’s at Travelling Man every other Wed, the dates are here, Plus Travelling man will also be holding regular small press comic nights soon too. Travelling man hold lots of different events in their coffee bar throughout the year, such as cosplay events, comic doc screenings and comic workshops which pop up on there website.”

Both Johnathan Rigby and Lisa point me towards OK Comics’ Jared Myland, facilitator of Doodle-Boozes since at least 2004, according to the BBC.  On the shop forums Jared writes,“There will be another Doodle-Booze, I’m just waiting for a window in Nation of Shopkeepers schedule… “

I like the cut of his jib.

My final respondent is Paul Elke of Amazing Fantasy, way over in more remote Hull : “There’s nothing like that around here as far as I am aware.” It might be fair to recommend folk DIY their own, less centralised areas benefit well from these community links.

Folks, Have a safe drink!

Comics Pub Meets: Southern England

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.

 

In the first parts of this series I made a few points on the comics pub meet across Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Other type gatherings where cartoonists meet in smaller festival (or fistfight) include the well-known Boycott-con and Squat-con, sometimes confused with the Barcamp. Around 2001 a writer in the Rainbow Bridge APA informed his readers of Housecons, which I quite like: organised out-of-town friend visits with dvd parties. The Pubmeet in my time, is at the centre of all this. It doesn’t have to feature sketching or comics on the table. There are anyway a few rules of sociability not obvious. In this column, I’m going to present a round-up of English Comics Pub Meets I know about.

kidson drinks

Along the coast of Southern England is Cartoon County. Meeting “every last Monday in the month (except Bank holidays) from 6pm upstairs at The Cricketers, Black Lion St., Brighton…Bring your work, bring yourselves, any time until closing.” writes Corinne Pearlman on the website’s ‘What’s Going On?” section from March. I have it from good sources that these run more regularly than site updates allow. However, this demonstrates a rule: if you’re not part of a well-knit group, check for up-to-date information. Amsel amelofbrockley(at)yahoo(dot)com may be a good point for getting in touch with the Brighton group.
A few hours up in the capital, PubDraw, made up of quite a few Camden Comics Group members, is now not running frequently. Of course, London is so well populated and linked by transport: seeing other people is a good thing too! It’s highly probable comics meets occur. I also have unconfirmed rumours of a Comic Creators Guild meet somewhere in the capital (website link in) Sci-fi genre enthusiasts may wish to pop by the Shakespeare’s Head on the third or fourth Saturday of the month, 12pm-9pm, second booth on the left. Contact Jackie or Joanna via the Facebook page.

If you happen to be reading this before Valentines Day 2010, Adam Cadwell informs me of a special Drop In and Draw event at the Notting Hill Arts Club, London from 3-6pm. Entry is £1 and only open to the over 18s. Included is the banner ad by Tom Humberstone. For more details on the event, follow this link to Adam’s blog entry.

Oxford‘s meet is weekly and tends to move around, grouping on a Tuesday evening from about 8:30pm. I’ve had many happy experiences with this lot: setting my hair on fire with laughter, heating my hands with the warm glow of genius, studying the constellation of speech bubbles and finding something in me to launch.
This group is joined at the hip with many past and present organisers of Caption, sure to be welcoming. Jenni Scott tells me the current meeting point is at The Magdalen Arms and she’s sent along a hyperlink!

Aaron ‘Smurf’ Murphy tells of Swin City owner Steve Causer in Swindon who runs a monthly group. There’s apparently a strong script-writing base and with the Visual Communications and Comics focus recently at the local college, it’s sure to be an interesting bunch. Aaron says, “(Causer) also promotes the group in Swindon’s listings mag Frequency as well as running the town’s comic printing service (UKomics)” Beer while probably not welcome on the premises, may be consumed afterwards. UPDATE: The link for this isn’t working but you can contact Swincity over Twitter.

From Bristol, Kev F Sutherland writes of good experiences at the now defunct Travelling Man group. Andy Richmond picks up the ball, “I get together with like minded types and plan projects and generally shoot the shit. But, its not organised anymore. Several Years ago we were in full swing, but unfortunately Travelling Man closed in Bristol and as that was our pre-pub meeting place everyone drifted. Fortunately, a lot of us are still doing comics, myself included. Hopefully some interesting SCAR Comics will be published this year.” Much to my delight, he responds to my query about the Puppet Theatre, “The Kochalka’s performing again, now that is an idea.Is the World ready for a couple of middle-aged men knocking seven bells out of each other?Probably, yes…”

Andrew Stitt: “On the Comic Group front: Norfolk Comic Strip Creators, Current planned Meetings – Sunday 2-6pm – March 7th & May 2nd. Taking place at: The Playroom, Norwich Playhouse Bar, St. George’s Street, Norwich”
“It’s usually the first Sunday in the month Feb-November. I haven’t sorted out April’s meeting because that’s Easter Sunday and we’re going to discuss it on Sunday.”

“The Norwich Science Fiction Group meets every other Wednesday and discusses all sorts – including comics – as well as having writing and art activity meetings. The next meeting is next Wednesday (24th)”

Chris Askham: “I don’t know of any in Nottingham – either that, or I’m just not invited to any!” Madness, Chris! Jonathan Rigby, partner/manager of Page 45 doesn’t know of any either. “The only things we do are very infrequent around anniversaries or signings. I know Notts Uni has a manga and anime society, but I haven’t got any contact info for them.” He tells me plans are underway to work up Page 45’s trading website with accompanying forum, and unsurprisingly, informal events have been talked about often. “Plus in many ways, we have such a laugh with customers when they come in, we personally don’t need an evening! But at things like our 15th anniversary booze bash last October it is absolutely brilliant to see customers who’ve never met getting on like a house on fire. We did a comics quiz at the booze bash which was a great sucess with customers.”
So, Chris is in good hands. Nearby Derby might have a Drink n Draw group too, it seems. 

The final part of this series on English pub meets will look to the North: in Birmingham, Manchester, Lancaster and Leeds. Drink safe!

No Barcodes Comics Market / Mike Allwood, and Comics Village at the Bristol Expo

Over 2008 I wrote weekly for  ComicsVillage.com, during a very exciting time in the UK comix scene..

My columns are concerned with four aspects surrounding comics – social community, economic factors, festival and exhibition coverage and modes of distribution.

sherridancottage

Welcome to Sheridan Cottage, updated nearly weekly through to June. I’ve been looking at social and economic aspects of comics as typified through festival and distribution. Today, the small and large – from the growing phenomenon of the mini-comics-con to a look at Comics Village at the Bristol Comic Expo, and an interview with organiser Mike Allwood.

The London Zine Symposium takes place next Saturday in London where people can buy their word and pic tonerifficks and exhibit one comic or zine free of charge. And I guess there’s nothing to stop you dealing discreetly and politely out of backpacks, or talking to members of the public about your wares. There’s online radio, workshops, readings, exhibitions, walks and talks to entertain. Filmscreenings and screenprintings. That’s Sunday April 27th at The Rag Factory, 16-18 Heneage Street, London E1 5LJ. There are more details on the website

The Brighton Artists Book Fair at The Phoenix is up this Friday 24th May, and if you can’t make that the exhibition runs accross Brighton from next Saturday (26th) until June 7th. More details athttp://www.phoenixarts.org/exhibitions.htm

Hot off the presses
, the comics entrepreneur pragmatic Oli Smith announces No Barcodes, the Camden Comics Mini-Con from 10-6pm on Saturday 31st May. Featuring cheap food, glorious scenery (see video for more on this). sketching tables, entrance is free, and exhibitors a small fee. There’s also an after-drinks event. If you’d like to exhibit, email camdencomics at hotmail dot.co.uk

Press release available here
Facebook Event listing here

BICE website header

The Bristol Comic Expo runs from the 9th to 11th May this year, and will feature a number of high profile guests and events (http://www.comicexpo.net/ for full details). Comics Village will be on-site with their very own room, opening at noon on Saturday when there’s a comics-related family fun day of sorts. An expo treasure hunt, Guess the Stack O’ Comics, and Design-a-character competition all offer prizes in The Comics Village Fete.
Comics Village Mayor Craig Johnston, “design a brand new character, or a new interpretation of an old favourite, colour in the template and have it pinned on the wall. The judges will pick their favourites and the winners can choose from a large selection of prizes kindly donated by Diamond UK. Colouring pencils and templates will be provided at the Fete, and prizes will be awarded in various age categories”
Theres also a Bric-A-Brac table;
Craig: the cupboards have been cleared out and the shelves are now bare. Superheroes, manga, SF, from hardcovers to paperbacks, it’s a chance to sample something different, to try something new, for a low cost.

The Sunday will retain elements of this at the Village, though feature a more critical edge with a Sheridan Cottage panel, possibly with representatives from Caption, Bugpowder, London Underground Comics. Expect it to include discussion of small venue/large venue, unionisation, and tickling analysis. I’ll also be distributing a special print-only edition of Sheridan Cottage – a biting manifesto that will bring critical cries of “that’s uncalled for”, “that’s harsh, man”, and “Well he kinda has a good point – maybe this is the way forward”. Copies of my comics and the collected Sheridan Cottage print book will be available throughout the weekend. Stay tuned…. If you’d like to be involved contact CraigJohnsonEsq at aol dot com or myself at drew dot luke at gmail.com 

I’ve traditionally kept a low profile at the Bristol Comics Expo so I thought an interview with organiser Mike Allwood might help put the event into perspective.

Andrew Luke: Who is Mike Allwood ? A google gives me someone associated with ‘weed management’, and I know you’ve been involved in comics for absolutely ages.

Mike Allwood : Weed Management? That is what Bill and Ben do is it not?

I did spend over 12 years working in Bristol Comic shops albeit I was involved in shows before then. Now I do not work in the industry, I’m semi retired and am back working with an Interior fabrics company.

The show is a ” hobby” if you like, love doing it and will do as long as it’s FUN to do.

Andrew: How many years have you been running comics events ? Could you take us through a speed history as a participator and as an organiser with some hint to depth and scale ?

Mike: 1ST show was in Taunton 1992 Sci Fi & Fantasy Fair, all of 10 tables and one guest artist!
In 1998 UKCAC had closed its doors and Kev Sutherland suggested that maybe Bristol would be a good place, so Comics 99 was born and we worked together till 2004 when Kev went off to work for the Beano and his school work shops. I took over the show, changed the name to Comic Expo and have been running the show since.
I have over the years been involved with Sci Fi Cons, Doctor Who shows, Marts, the Animated Exeter Festival for the last 4 years, produced the only Arthur C. Clarke convention in 2004. Shop signings etc etc.

Andrew: Can you let us in on a few basic statistics ? What sort of region of footfall have you traditionally seen at this event ?
Mike: Last year over 3,000 fans turned up! Best yet. Previous attendance was circa 2,000 plus.

Andrew:
 How many dealers tables are there ?
Mike: We have over 200 tables and 25 Booths

Andrew: How many of these dealers tables are small pressers tables ?
Mike: I have around 50% off the hall as Indie Press, now we do not use the small press and have not for a couple of years, the standard is waaaay beyond the old term of small press which has that 90s Photocopy feel about it, so we coined the term UK Indie Press.

Andrew: Is there a variation on table prices ?
Mike: Yes Indie Press pay ½ of the Dealer rate

Andrew: You’ve got a film night, and there’s the Eagle Awards dinner for those who can afford it, but can you tell me about the other deliberately inclusive social activities ? What’s the bar atmosphere like for example ?

Mike: We have the ART JAM on the Sat night as an alternative to the dinner. We do not try to have too much organised events outside of the panel programme. There are plenty of Clubs, Bars and much more in Bristol to do!

Andrew: What’s coming up at Bristol new this year or of particular choice in personal recommendation ?

Mike: The HUGE Manga spotlight, we have creators from Japan, China, Germany, USA and Sweden this year. The Panini X factor talent search is new and the winner gets to see his / her story published by Panini. Really there is a packed programme, over 30 hours of talks, events, interviews and I believe one of our best line ups. The 3 headliners, Jim Shooter, Walt Simonson and Jim Starlin are all on stage at some time over the weekend for 1-2-1 interviews.

Andrew: The Expo has a very open-door attitude to the under 16s: kids in for free, 12-16 yr olds for a pound. Do you see much of a move beyond the perception that 30somethings are ‘the last comics generation’ ?

Mike: Yes and No, The fan base is getting older, a lot of us did start reading in the silver age and we’re still around!  Getting the Next Gen long is vital to the show and the industry, what better than free or a £1 way to do that. For the 1st time this year we have DC Thomson along and we have seen adverts in Dandy and Beano, another 1st for the show.

Andrew: How does festival management structure break down in terms of people ? (Is there a shared consensus of responsibility ?)

Mike: Every man for himself! No the show is pretty much what I say I would like to see at a show. Then the team have their say and then we all agree I was right in the 1st place!

Andrew: 
Could you talk a bit about the promotional steps involved related to the expo ?

Mike: 
Advertising is the key on as many levels as we can manage to do, Adverts this year in CI, Neo, Sci Fi Now, Imagine FX, Markosia comics, 2000AD. Huge local press coverage in the lead up. We know the hard core comics fan will be there, it’s the Schools out reach programme, the What’s on guides etc to spread the word! Even local radio, newspapers…..
The website is vital as is all the net based groups, we have the support of a preview site and the comics village in getting the word out across the net.

Andrew: Do you manage to turn a wage for yourself by the festival’s end ?

Mike: That would be nice, but no. The show covers its cost and that is the UK is as good as it gets, Yes the US shows with 70-80,000 fans have full time teams …we get 3,000.
As I said I do not even work in the industry anymore but the support from the Pros / Publishers et all is FANTASTIC. It makes putting the show on a pleasure and I get to meet all my favourite creators!

Andrew: Would you agree that the DIY small press comics scene is predominantly representative of the productive UK comics industry ? And if so how do you go about catering to this ?

Mike: The Indie Press guys in the UK are in my opinion are 2nd to none. That is why half the hall is turned over to these guys. I will cap the number of dealers but will never, while we have space, turn away a Indie creator. I could turn the show into a big mart with guests, but that’s never going to happen at Bristol. They produce work of such quality and the opportunity to work in the Pro UK market are slim, so what a way to showcase these talented people.

Andrew: 
Could you tell us some more about the Diamond UK day and how small pressers could plug themselves into that ?

Mike: The Diamond Day is aimed at the shops and stores, so not really for the indie press. However Diamond have taken space in the main hall, for the 1st time ever just so they can talk to the Indie guys. Again a sign that the Indie press is a force to be reckoned with in the UK!

(There’s word to the contrary from an unrecalled source – To book a place at this small pressers should email Mike Hollman at hmike at diamondcomics dot co dot uk  More details here – Andrew)

Andrew: What sort of comics do you yourself enjoy ? And are there any products or projections you’d like to give a mention to ?

Mike: …Time at the moment is tight and I am going “retro” with my current buying, the DH Magnus reprints ( did you know Walt Simonson has done the Con Book Cover this year, it’s Magnus and yes he’s my all time fave character!)
Dan Dare from Virgin is a delight to read, Death of the News Gods from DC has been superb.
The show will give me the chance to catch up on so many titles, last year I returned hone with long box of Indie, mainsteam , Manga and some cheap Batman packs!
Talking retro I am so looking forward to the new Flash Gordon!

Andrew: Are there any words of advice you’d like to give out to folks planning promotions of comics within a public venue ?

Mike: You have got to WANT to do it. I have been involved,  albeit the voice of caution at the end of a phone ! with Birmingham and the Inverness shows and more than happy to talk about all aspects of running Comic Conventions. Creator based is and always will be my remit. I said above 30 plus hours of events at Expo.

Andrew: Are there things you’d change about the festival that you’ve not had the time to implement this year ?
Mike: This year, well no would not change anything to be honest, after 10 years I would Hope / Think / Pray that the mix is good to go. A lot of the familiar but a few new tangents being added, More Manga, Film Night, DC Thomson along, Diamond talking to the Indie guys. Got to shake it a bit…It’s going to be fun!

Fuller details on the Bristol Comics Expo as and when they emerge at http://www.comicexpo.net/index.html

Down the pub with Igor Guinness (Mini-Comics and PubCons)

Over 2008 I wrote weekly for  ComicsVillage.com, during a very exciting time in the UK comix scene..

My columns are concerned with four aspects surrounding comics – social community, economic factors, festival and exhibition coverage and modes of distribution.

sherridancottage

In a change to my previously planned column, I’m going to look at a mini-comics in pubs, in the recent model of The Gladstone Mini-Comics Con, and a virtal model, The British Webcomics Piss-Up, before going on to consider the aspects of the casual comics pubmeet trend.

The title for today’s column comes from Stephen Caldwell who among other things, once suggested ‘Igor Guiness’ as a psuedonym for Garth Ennis. I recently enjoyed a few jars with him at recommended bar The Angel, St. Giles WC2, mixing pop and politics.

The Glastone Mini Comics Con 

To re-cap on last weeks,
“A free entry festival held in a pub featuring “Glenn Fabry, Paper Tiger Comix, Dr Parsons, The Bedsit Journal, Danny Noble, The Sound Of Drowning and many more comics creators from Brighton and beyond!” It had comics for sale, drawing workshops, drink promotions, live workshops and animation screenings.”

Paper Tiger Comix Sean Duffield has a review of the festivities on his weblog, though I thought I’d ask him a few questions to get more than a partial picture of the day’s events.

Andrew: How did the genesis of the event come about (whys, hows) ?

Sean Duffield: We were fortunate that the second-in-command manager of the Gladstone, the lovely Melissa Cox, is a comics fan and suggested running the event. We had a couple of meetings between her and 6 of us local comic bods and we got together a rough plan of the event, which would include comic workshops, live music, animation screenings etc.

Paper Tiger 4 goodies!

Andrew: How was it organised, on the day (venue, costs, any other information) ?

Sean: The event was totally free, for the punters and for stall holders. So big cheesy grins all round. We’d flyered previously and Melissa and her boyfriend John had put up posters and flyered also. John deserves a medal in that he had been up all night before the event getting animations shows ready and then on the actual day went into to town to flyer outside David’s Comics.

Andrew: How did you feel about the day and what worked so well and what didn’t ?

Sean: I felt the day was a great success. There was a laidback , friendly atmosphere, quite a few people turned up throughout the day, especially after about 2pm.  During the day a lot of kids and adults alike enjoyed doing the fill-in-the-blanks type drawings provided by Mark Stafford. These were displayed on the wall. The only thing that didn’t work was the Glenn Fabry signing. He unfortunately was only there for about 20 mins and had gone by 2pm. I understand that he had his kids with him and couldn’t get a baby sitter and they had been playing up and gotten quite bored and restless so he had to leave. Nobody was too disappointed though, and it was good that an artist of his calibre turned up and supported the event. David’s Comics also provided some Fabry related books for signing purposes.

War_Page72dpi

The bands in the evening were fantastic and very different. There was a hardcore punk band, and acoustic singer set, an experimental improvised fusion band which was really mad, and a rock & roll /punk/ experimental duo of duelling, drums, guitars, singing and primal rage. I missed the last band (i left about midnight) as i was off for the Tibet Demo the next day.

I really think the merging of comics, music, workshops etc in an environment where non-converts can come in and see something completely new to them is the way forward for small press and alternative comic people in this country. The fact that it was in a pub didn’t hurt either! Melissa and John said they would be up for doing Quarterly events such as this in the future which would be very welcome.

Sean is the editor of Paper Tiger Comix #4, a High quality 100 page perfect-bound book, 21 track music CD, pin badge and art cards. Its available from www.papertigercomix.com for only £5.50 (£6.99 in the shops!). Also in the late summer, look out for “WAR” an estimated 240 page book with music compilation with over 60 artists from 15 countries. Proceeds will go to Campaign Against Arms Trade.

The British Webcomics Piss-Up (April 23rd)

The British Webcomics Piss-up is a day of comics activism in practice. Integration into interwebs,building cluster and community. The ‘Piss Up’ in question is a virtual one, a toast to E-Nglish Comics. I emailed project originator Ed ‘Bollox Comics’ Bowley and the new co-ordinator, Jon Scrivens, also the artist behind ‘Little Terrors’.Bollox Comix

Andrew: How did the event come about ?

Ed Bowley: What initially inspired the event was when I was touring around various webcomics, I noticed on the links page for one website that it linked to Scary-Go-Round. The caption next to the link said, “One of the best British webcomics around. In face, I think it’s the only British webcomic around.” This shocked me, but then, upon reflection, it’s not that surprising. It’s not overstatement to say the webcomic market is predominately American/Canadian. Ask anyone their top 5 webcomics and there may not be a British one in there at all. The British ones would have a hard time sticking out with the webcomic world already so highly populated. Around the same time, there were reports in the news that people in the UK were complaining there wasn’t enough celebrations for St George’s Day, especially when compared to St Patrick’s Day. So I put the two problems together to form one answer. Make St George’s Day a very fine excuse for a Piss-Up! A British Webcomic Piss-Up! An event for British webcomics only to raise their awareness with a collaborated effort and cross-promotion. There is no “English Pride” in the BWPU. It is intended as “a good excuse for a piss-up” much in the same way as St Patricks Day.

BWPU

The BWCPU has three criteria: the authors must be either currently residing in Britain or British-born, upload their strip on April 23rd and notify the web hub, and adhere to the theme, which this year is ‘Castles’. Bowley and this years organiser Jon Scrivens are presumably excluding non-Brits so as to keep a cap on organising the advertising of the event. All those taking part in the BWCPU event are given free advertising on the website, on a alternating basis.

Andrew : Do you have a list online of who traditionally takes part, and who is taking part this year ?

Ed Bowley: On the website for the BWPU, it lists all the individual webcomics agreeing to take part. It was a bit difficult to get the ball rolling, but now the event is quite well known in webcomic circles and given a great deal of support. Not always from British websites either. Comixpedia/talk and VG Cats are a couple of the supporters over the years. Even if they can’t take part, many of the very popular British webcomics still promote it, such as Scary-Go-Round, Beaver & Steve and Afterstrife. It’s very well received and I have had many emails of thanks from contributing websites saying the BWPU has given them their best day of hits/traffic so far.

Jon Scrivens: In previous years its usually been some of the better known UK webcomics involved. Each year from a contributor standpoint I’ve gotten some great publicity as a british comic, something I’m sure people don’t often think about with webcomics. (The past three) I have seen my hits spike for the day I got involved originally as I was trying to write my webcomic Little Terrors as a typical zombie infection story but with a British twist, I was tired of everything being focused souly across the pond. The site will be going up this week with the starting list of creators taking part, more will be added as people join the Facebook group and respond to my mails.

Andrew: Can you tell us anything about the physical piss-ups this year? Will there be pub-meets outside the suggested one at Camden that might compliment this?

littleterrors

Jon : The lads down at London Underground Comics do a great job at pulling in the punters on a Saturday so it seemed a great place to have it near, (especially as Oliver Lambden of Tales from the Flat, an often involved creator is often down there). Depending on the feedback on the Camden one I think it’d be a task for next year to get creators in other Cities and towns involved in physical pissups.

Andrew: Isn’t there a risk that the comics might become institutionalised in, if you excuse they syntax, a virtual comic space, that doesn’t really proliferate itself to other areas ? Or would that be to miss a point of the flexibility open to web-users ? Are the artists taking part bringing something into it with their own audiences and disparate non-comics heavy readership?
Jon: Webcomics as a whole don’t have a real community for them, there is several news sites but never a real focused point for them, that’s the benefit and curse of webcomics. I’ve found for touring UK small press and comic shows in the last year that there is a community, based around print comics, so i feel it would really be something beneficial to online creators too, to egg each other on from other sides of the country.
BWPU

To join with this years event, contact Jon dot Scrivens at gmail with your name, the title and URL of webcomic, with ’St George’ as your subject line. All the web comics involved with be added to the main list on the front page of this site. Closing date to join is on the day of the event, Wednesday 23rd April. Check out the Facebook group for more details and the possibility of other real world piss-ups.

“Authors taking part in the Piss-Up can submit one 200 pixel wide x 350 pixel tall image of their own design to link to their own sites anytime they want.”

Comics Pubmeets 

Theres a strong tradition of pub meets in the Uk which probably grew out of sci-fi fandom. I tried running one in Belfast which was hit and miss, I’ll pop into the one in Oxford which is high times.

What worked for me in starting one of these was a notice in my local comics shop with the location, an illustration indicating beer and comics, and a time. It ran on Saturday afternoons, the Oxford one runs on Tuesday evenings. A look around at venues in central locations and chatting with bar staff as to footfall provides likely information. Don’t get too upset when only a few folk show up. Even popular pubmeets get that. Chances are you’re probably getting the best more tuned in folk, peoples plans change, and word will spread. A few comics casually on the table (maps) for face unfamiliar.

Best success seems to be built on working with pre-established friendships and of course, making an invite open. Email, twitter and other sms songs help keep folk in the loop. Sometimes a venue might get invaded by a hostile pub quiz or become a sporting event.

Seems to me a good idea might be for someone to set up a sort of blogroll to cover these. I’m thinking, one blog entry list, revised and re-edited every few months. Submissons are accepted from a regular pubmeet attendees (some pub meets may not wish to be discovered), and the new information integrated into the list. Why a blog and not a website ? Because this is the simplest quickest way of doing it. It may take one person two to three hours a year and be a valuable sustainable social networking tool that over-rides clique mentality. A handy side feature along the lines of Gravett’s events link list. Good for visiting cartoonists in your area.

And remember, comics aren’t everything.

Andrew Luke has written lots about comics, self-published over thirty, and is the subject of a recent interview with the hugely popular Alex Fitch of Resonance FM’s Panel Borders, were he can be heard talking about his life with comics. He’s recently returned from a demo with a multitude of communities outside the Sudanese Embassy, were it was very cold and an ugly policeman tried in vain to imitate Russell T. Davies in cartoon form. If you’d like to contact the writer of this piece please get in email or paypal at drew dot luke at gmail dot com. Or leave a comment below.