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!

 

MCR 2015: Warm and Fuzzy Comix

A few comics events make my must list each year – Caption, the annual un-convention, 24 Hour Comics Day, and MCR, the Midwinter Comics Festival.

I attended my first in 2005, with bods collected from Oxford, Caption or my Livejournal friends list. The drill is simple and satisfactory: take a bunch of friends, stick them somewhere remote, get em drunk and well fed, and make comics. There’s a few types: the pro-cartoonist/s; the small pressers both diligent and dabbling; a few writers; an animator; and interested friends, who, before MCR, have never considered making comics. I often wonder why I don’t read of more MCRs. Writer’s retreats pop up all over the place. I think the answer is that this is profoundly a friends’ event.

This 2015 weekend, somewhere between Brighton and London, wasn’t a rental, but hosted at the home of Sophie. It was distinctly private, for various reasons. We had take-away food and Alan Rowell cooked morning breakfasts. We had a roaring fire, comfy furniture, cake, plonk, and room to spread out and draw. It felt like an MCR, with folk yammering away on chat from academic thought to personal friends stuff to petty nonsense and daft jokes. Yes, these are all vital to the experience, and the end product, the comic.

Traditionally Jay Eales will craft a tale out of jokes and stories that come up through the weekend, and the art duties split between the others. Traditionally, MCR bods appear as characters in the comic. There’s a recurring joke/maybe-not-joke, that the work make no sense to anyone outside of the group, which doesn’t really matter, because the purpose of having fun getting there is accomplished.

(Apparently called out in my sleep)

Some previous comics: Hellspoon!, The Fiend in Five Dimensions, and Professor Kraken’s Portico of Perverse Possessions, are available as free downloads from Jay & Selina (Lock)’s Factor Fiction Press site here.  You can also buy Project Gogglebox, and Tea and Relative Dimensions In Space as a collection from Lulu.

This weekend we returned to the Professor Kraken story, and format. That is, self-contained pieces by different writers, with Jay on the arc narrative. That’ll be coming down the pipe in the next few months, so watch for it. I can’t tell you what it’s called!

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MCR 2015 by Selina Lock, used without permission. L-R: Alan Rowell, Terry Wiley, Jay Eales, Andy Luke.

I can tell you I’ve written and drawn ‘Speed 0’ and ‘Adverts’, written for Lee Kennedy’s ‘Music Box’, and drawn Alan Rowell’s ‘Vegan Gladiator’. Other comickers have contributed tales on Jeremy Corbyn and lingerie stores, unwelcome and beastly fruit, and bonkers cover versions of classic girls’ comics.

 

Use of internet has crept into our last through gatherings, and this year it pervaded, when Jay mentioned how the MCR hash-tag was fully owned by some band or other.

 

No tweet-back! “Don’t drag me into your pop star trolling”, said Jay. Apparently lead singer Gerard Way is something of a comics maker himself and has done some stuff Jay likes. That didn’t stop Jay nudging Terry into tweeting this,

And when I needed to fill 1/3rd of a page, Jay suggested this…

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My Chemical Romance fans, please don’t hate us. We’re quite nice. Think happy toast.

A Fistletoe Full of Dollars

Hello Your Self!

Oh its been a buggerous few months – no credits, ISP bothers, no credits again, no credits again. When there’s barely heat and light you can’t fault me for not sending Christmas cards. I’ve tried to make up by writing a pantomime in prose for the Belfast Writers Group. It’s a contemporary re-telling of Robin Hood, as Jetfire, Thomas Carnacki and Captain Heller lead a revolt against Daniel Cameron’s Brutally Britannia. Maybe you’ll get to read ‘Christmas, Live!’, here, later.

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Bottomley – Brand of Britian by myself, Ruairi Coleman and John Robbins is ready and complete for To End All Wars, published by Soaring Penguin Press next year. Start saving.

My new chum Daryl Shaw reviewed ‘Skin of the Teeth’,

Wow great work! I was immediately pulled in with the detail in your writing, It had me visualising early every line which was great! Loved the references.. it was fast paced which I enjoyed, kept thinking of Peter Davidson/Tennent Doctor doing all the running about while reading this… the amount of detail & description put into this.

You can still buy ‘Twelve‘ from Lulu priced £3.00 digital and £10.00 in paperback.

It looks like Daryl and I are working on ‘The Watch Thief’ together in the New Year. If looks could be gold fortunes.

I’m moving house this winter as of now and a delighted postman giggly brought my first piece there. This notification of address by our most beloved Mr. Sean Duffield, UPDATED TO REFLECT MY NEW NEW ADDRESS (20/03/2014)

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It’s okay Tracey Emin, I got your card.

Tracey Emin

Last, but most importantly is TARDIS, the results of the Midwinter Comics Retreat.

Jennys Bike

We tried to make it as confusing and non-linear as previous MCR comics but I think we failed. It’s a coherent tribute to our late great darling Debra Boyask, Fun Princess of Comics, that she would have been okay with.

Tardis

Tea and Relative Diffusions‘ is a comic by myself, Jay Eales, Selina Lock, Jenny Linn Cole, Lee Kennedy, Terry Wiley,  Sophie Mobbs and Alan Rowell. You can download it for free from http://www.factorfictionpress.co.uk/TeaRelativeweb.pdf

Andys right

Merry Christmas Your Arse xo

UK Midwinter Cartoonists Retreat 2013

A meta-pageant of comixers I was among gathered at the Halford Big Barn in Shropshire this weekend.

In Leicester I chatted with Jay Eales and Selina Lock (The Periodic Adventures of Señor 105) and Terry Wiley (Verity Fairover a hive of books before riding through rain and grey and black and little white lights and nudifying full beams of head-idiots. Already at the cottage were Alan Rowell (regular MCR man) and Jenny Linn-Cole (Shallow Water), were multiple hallways, stairwells, bathrooms, living rooms: Escher’s Relativity, a Tardis quality. We settled with tea and after quiche, chat was divided between the story for the comic we put together: Jay typically writes this but as usual is subjected to  ideas such as

– MCR cars with shrink buttons like in InnerSpace (1987), that navigate ever-tinier passageways en route to the location, with names like Shoebox Lane.

– Amusing names of towns we passed such as Diddlebury, Monslow (Ulster for ‘Cmon, slow!), Horsehay, Dawley Lawley and Much Wenlock.

– Halford Big Barn becomes an industrial rave zone were Alan and Chris yell “Firestarter!” like Prodigy on account of their maintaining our fire, and The (Kitchen Foil) Rastafarian Dancing Robot

– Medieval villages located by Alan on a map, that no longer exist.

– Hulk Jay smashing cars along the motorway as we ride on his back.

And we also caught up. I’d not seen the group in a few years and Jenni Scott (Caption) and Richard Buck (Tortipede) were joined by their juniors Aphra (Climbing Things) and Bruno (Musical Midgetry) They were very well behaved, not at all like those howl-blitzer babies. I caught myself too often laughing with the children’s strange words and sounds; more resolute that it’s good that I haven’t kids as they’d incite me to absurdist insurrection.

Terry, Lee Sophie at MCR

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The three full days of food for eleven adults and two kids came in at around £10 each. I was up first Saturday morning to do some of the clear up which Sophie (Computer Animation) finished. Dishwashing machines are rankly too high-brow for me.

Jay had begun full script using the obelisk from The Five Doctors (1983) So while he wrote on ways to ’round us up’, Jenny, Alan and I made for the village of Craven Arms were we saw some unexpected things.

Amusing signs: Debra Teacake was fond of amusing signs.

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Game birds for sale:
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Unusual grass and mud placement:

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A tiger outfit:

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And right in the heart of the village they called Craven Arms, with , as we’d suspected, a pub – called The Craven Arms.

Cue some Bad Wolf music and my resisting the urge to paste startled heads into the collage

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Facing it, the central town sculpture,

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More WhatTheFuckery Signage,

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Maybe it’s a secret capitalist scheme, a hub point for businesses to funnel your lost property and re-sell it as a tourist attraction.

We also spotted a dalek compound,

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And a shaggy pony, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All dumpy and fluffy, a conspiracy pony lovely pony which infiltrated the pages of this year’s comic. The pony showed no interest in us, but there was a horse. We did not go into the horse.

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But it was moving closer..

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((((((AND CLOSER!))))))

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Andy: We won’t be feeding you.

Alan: Oh, he’s going for some ivy anyway. I don’t know if ivy is poisonous to horses or not.

Andy: I guess we’ll find out on the way back.

There was a disused barn opposite the barn we were living in and I shot one from inside the other.

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Back inside, I got my first page of script from Jay, a scene were I’m being tortured and branded by Iain Duncan Smith. The MCR takes in a very simple principle – ‘Fun’, which over-takes paradigms such as “I’m the writer”, “Kirby Vs Disney Studios” and “Everybody must make comics now”. Terry and Sophie were on their third pages by the end of Saturday.

I managed to catch up by the time Sunday evening came around, but by then they each had four in. The UK MCR events were set up by Debra ‘Teacake’ Boyask back in 2003, with the principles fun, community and collaboration. (Three necessarry components in making comics) Usually we’d have about 10-12 cartoonists: a core group of about ten and always a few newbies, unconnected with any trad comics creators scenes. What grew over the years was an extended family environment: there are members of the group I feel awkward with, close to, uncertain at any given time, but it’s no cliche to say I love them all – they exemplify what is great about the UK comics scene. Debra, I doted on, and one of her requests at MCR was that her men bring ties to wear at Sunday dinner. Debra was here in spirit form this year but the time was almost passing too quickly and the shiny blue and white silk remained in my luggage. Thinking about it now, had Debra Teacake been in the flesh with us that weekend, I’d be fretting that someone would have noticed I put six staples in to stop it falling apart. It would have been hilarious for everyone except me, I’d have gotten very embarrassed and then I’d have seen they appreciated the gesture. Debs would have said something consoling and it was a nice tie, so we’d putter on. In any case, I’d brought a spare.

The MCR 2013 comic should materialise in the next month or two and you can see some of the pages at Motodraconis’ livejournal.

Postscript: Jay and Selina drove me back to Derby and “The World’s Safest Car Park”, manned by a tank. At Central Library, we had a Lunch n Listen with leftie horror writer Simon Bestwick and his publisher. Great stuff. Then with Simon in tow we headed for a world buffet were we talked largely about interwar celebrities such as Lady Grace Drummond Hay, Horatio Bottomley and Charles Pemberton-Billing. We got to the airport late and were assured by the Flybe front desk clerk it’d be fine. But it wasn’t. A following day flight had to be paid for, and Jay and Selina drove 45 minutes back so I had a bed. Thanks to them both for putting on a brilliant weekend. Debra would be proud of that.

MCR Group 2013

Bottomley, MCR and Xmas Cards

Well, I’ve had a trip getting back home since Friday and I’m about tired enough to take it easy.

While I’ve been away, Ruairi Coleman has been blogging about our comic,  ‘Bottomley – Brand of Britian’  with a few samples from a page in various stages in construction. Get on over to his blog, ‘Swingin’ The Lead’ and have a look.

There’s a mega-post tomorrow about the Midwinter Comics Retreat as reviewed by Crazycrone and in some more detail by Motodraconis, who has snaps of some of the completed comic pages.

Crazycrone (Lee Kennedy) had some very nice things to say about my Apocalypchristmas card which you can buy from andy-luke.com shop (contact for friends rate), or you can get it from Zazzle (tho I see very little cash from there), and if you’re living in Belfast you can get the complete range very cheaply at the brand new Arts & Disability Forum show.

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