More Creators Than Forty “Mainstream” Comics (And It’s Decodable too)

War: The Human Cost, is a muscular 260 high quality stock pages of great comics from Paper Tiger. Cliodhna Lyons and Ivy, singer from band Axis of Arseholes, represent the Irish contribution, in a work that spans 19 countries.

Richie Bush

 

The project has been several years in the making and is the result of Kickstarter contributions, and collaborations with Campaign Against the Arms Trade and creatives involved in the work of Amnesty International, War on Want and The Red Cross. It’s not light on big names too: Spain Rodriguez, Steve Bell, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Aleksandar Zograf and Sean Michael Wilson to name but a few. There’s also a CD, “War and Peace”, which boasts inclusions of Michael Franti and The Spearheads, Big Youth, Sly & Robbie, The Levellers….

herrschulze - stop the war

 

Given the central polemic (67 creatives on anti-war opinion), anyone would expect the content to move towards arrogantly self-assured. I’m happy to report that any such dogmatic preaching is at it’s bare minimal. Debra Lyn-Williams and Peet Clack’s “War Wounds” shares the hidden narrative ofthe home consequences of military flashbacks, and is one of the many heavy-hitters in this book. Marcel Ruitjers explores the Bush-Nazi connection, a narrative often resigned to the slander of conspiracy theorist, and realises it with right-chord caricature pen proof. Other artists veer off in this direction with traditional cartoon analogy or fables, such as Peter Kuper, Latuff and Lee O Connor

Alejandro Alvarez delivers a relationship between reader and cast, communication and health, mind and power, in a story about Camp X-Ray. It’s one of those based upon real lives, as is Christopher Rainbow’s drawings of interviews with residents of Harmondsworth Detention Centre. This is a particular speciality of Sean Duffield. Together with Lawrence Elwick, he recounts the life of Palden Gyatso (in first person narrative), which acts as a useful tool to teach on the history of 20th century Tibet and the human rights movement there. Thirteen pages proceeded by a two page text introduction is a good example of how Duffield as editor creates unstated chapters in the book, on arms manufacture, detention, propaganda and international relations. His ‘Liberation in Liberia’ charting the women’s civil rights movement, is another on a par with the work of Joe Sacco.

Caging the Snow Lion

 

Liberation in Liberia

 

Obligatory mention to Paul O Connell, best known for The Sound of Drowning and The Muppets Wicker Man. O’ Connell has four pieces in total. The fumetti (photo comic) style for which he’s known is employed in an excellent piece on the cold war, and a wonderfully written short visual essay, “Orwell on War”. There’s divergences too. The anachronistic Boys comic classic painted work right out of Middle class England is jarring ripping serenity. The images narrate a boys journey to war, with a pat on the head from the village shopkeeper and the gentleman recruiter.

I’m not going to get into the cd review. A job for another reviewer. In summary, the flaws I find with “War – The Human Cost” are much as you’d expect from me. It’s not likely to be stocked in most FPI or other comics stores due to either mobility problems in distribution or the small-mindedness on a store-owner’s part. For the same reason, it’s unlikely to win an Eagle Award (which it richly deserves to), because voters are likelier to cite Preacher as best new graphic novel. A digital download version would be a wonderful thing I think.

It’s the system, man.

War: The Human Cost is currently limited to 750 copies and retails p&p inclusive at £12 (UK), £15 (Eire) or £17.69 (Rest of World). Make your decision to buy it soon. £1 from every sale goes towards Campaign Against the Arms Trade

Comicking (news tidbits)

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

 Walking On Broken Diamond

I raised an eyebrow at the serious empathy shown Diamond Distribution when they raised their minimum unit number recently. The cat’s out of the bag though, from this very long story about Checker Comics cutting ties, tweeted by the impressive and often Geoffrey D. Wessel.

People will be keeping an eye to see if this could threaten to dissolve the time-space continuum of comics distribution as we know it.
(Rich Johnston on Steve Geppi’s house-sale)
Solipstic Pop Takes London

Out soon. New work by loads of people.

Solipstic

“Book two of Solipsistic Pop contains 64 pages of sequential art from some of the best comic artists, illustrators and designers working in the UK today. With a 12 page newspaper insert, gorgeous gatefold cover and specially designed tote bag, it’s a must have for any comic fan.”

Check the website for details. The images above were put together by Luke Pearson.

 

Comics Festival Fortnight Ireland

Ireland has two comics festivals coming up. In the north, Derry hosts the wildly popular 2D festival, now in its fourth year. Special guests announced include Pat Mills, Leigh Gallagher, Rufus Dayglo, Garry Leach, Jamie McKelvie, Kieron Gillen, Gary Erskine, Colin McNeil, Ilya, Will Simpson, Davy Francis, Bridgeen Gillespie, Phil Barrett, Maeve Clancy, Paddy Brown and this one. For starters. 2D is made possible by the Derry Verbal Arts Centre, David Campbell and a host of hard working volunteers. It caters for the academic nerd and the whole family and does so quite well. Phew. Taking place this year from Thursday 3rd to Saturday 5th June.

The Point Village in Dublin, if this brochure is anything to go by, is a spanking new exhibition centre, a bit big and shiny like Birmingham’s ThinkTank.On Saturday 12th June Hilary Lawler (Longstone Comics, SuperHillbo!) is putting together a special comics festival. I’ll be there with Paddy Brown and many other well-known stars of the Irish comics scene. Special guest Jenika from London will also be there. Jenika is known for creepy lovely vampire goth comics. Also for having a chair at festivals in the hall part of her table for weary travellers to sit. Stylish. Tables are free, contact  02villagefreetable(at)gmail(dot)com for details.

More news on both these events as they emerge over the coming month.

Four Colour Love

Comics Tutor Steve Bissette of the Centre For Cartoon Studies to the comics frat as the cartoonist behind Alan Moore’s ground-breaking run on Swamp Thing and author of the self-published Tyrant, chronicling the early life of a tyrannosaurus rex. Also as publisher of Taboo, the anthology which kick-started From Hell. Oh, and 1963, which with Moore and a host of mainstram and alternative artists brought us the most wonderfully fun superhero comics series of all time.

Retired from the industry, Bissette has no wish to invoke the Moore scotch but wishes to leave a legacy for his children and students. To that end, 1963 characters N-Man, The Fury, The Hypernaut, and Sky Solo are to appear in Tales of the Uncanny – N-Man & Friends: A Naut Comics History, Vol. 1 from About Comics. This 200 page volume  features new work from Bissette and accompanying-universe characters from his students. Contributions are on a work-for-hire contract, Bissette retaining the trademark for characters he has designed and students apparently retaining theirs for new work in the book.

Worth a sponsor I suppose. The book is ready at the end of the year and the preview given out at Mocca can be ordered via paypal from Mr. Bissette while stocks last.

The Above News Story Via Rantin’ Rich Johnston.

Oh, and eventually CBR and TCJ

Why Is Everyone Ignoring Paper Tiger Comix: War – The Human Cost ?

Seems I was wrong on my initial predictions that pre-orders necessarry for publishing this book would be reached within the month

There are still about two weeks left to get a comic that contains a host of professionals such as Spain Rodriguez, an album containing a host of professionals such as  Michael Franti and the Spearheads, and donate to Campaign Against Arms Trade.Pre-subscriptions are required for printing costs. See Paper Tiger Comix and IndieGoGo.

Free Runaway Who

Oli Smith, revolutionary mini-comics dealer has his first Doctor Who book, The Runaway Train, imminent. This Saturday the audio version, voiced by Matt Smith and Karen Gillen, is being given away free with Britain’s Telegraph paper. This is sure to disappear very quickly and probably highly ebayed, launching Oli’s career nationwide. No delays to that platform then.

And hopefully, he’ll not end up looking like Tom Baker when he’s old.

Swipefile.

The new eye-in-the-stalk from Victory of the Daleks, Mid-April.

(Image Missing)

The new comic by Ralph Kidson, Early March.

(Image Missing: The story refers to “Dalek Home Guard”, which was created around about the same time as production on “Victory of the Daleks”. Both featured Daleks serving tea from eye-stalks uttering, “Would you like some tea?”)

Hate to say I told you so.

A Comic In 366 Frames

Warsaw cartoonist Dennis Wojda writes,

“I’ve decided to make a comic. I will draw one frame each day during one year plus one day. That’s 366 frames. I have no script and I have no story. It’s an experiment. It’s a flow.”

But who will review all these comics?

Matthew Murray is “Reviewing zines and minicomics every day.” on his 365zines blogspot. He has a stack of unread gear, but is welcoming to trades. (Source: Matt Badham)

Filmish

Matt sent me a copy of ‘Filmish’ by Edward Ross, which appears to be degree assignments on film theory essays in comic strip form. As such it reads too McCloudian on occassion, but for all its flaws I’m very happy that work like this exists. 24 A5 pages of black and white comic book for only £3 plus p+p. Now available with Paypal for UK, European and U.S. customers!

Irish Cthulu


Talesofthe.com is worth a mention. Featuring Stephen Downey and Andrew Croskery of Insomnia in Irish arts freeform. The new site contains comics, paintings and music. Featuring Downey’s debut directing short films with a brilliantly disturbed Malachy Coney in the lead role. Worth a see.

 

In Absentia

The print version of my new comic launched in London and Belfast last week.

Number 25, Quarter Centennial. Check it out in the display in the Hoxton district in London’s East End at Bookart Bookshop before the end of the month. Look for it to appear in Belfast’s Black Market, Derry’s 2D festival and Dublin’s Point Village Market. Interested retailers get in touch.

Contact me for news stories, stuff and things at drew.luke(at)gmail.com or join us on the forums.

 

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

Sheridan Cottage Updates

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 the twentieth Sheridan Cottage, and what is intended to be my final piece of comics journo-ism for some time. Nine months he says mercilessly, ah but with doubt, and oh, hope.

I’d like to say its all down to my involvement in re-launching Crisis (tipping Maxwell’s Earth) The truth is I’m sitting the final year of my degree – a mix made up of modules from Education and Human Development, History of Art, Sociology, Communications Media and Culture, International Relations and Film Studies. Oh, and Japanese.

This column went awright, didn’t it? I thought to round off I’d take a look at some of the areas I’ve covered over the run and see how things have played out.

That Gorramm Boycott

In the first column we reported on the steep issue of table costs at festivals. and the contentious and farcical effects of a small presser boycott. Before the article saw print I discovered I’d been named as a leading boycotter of the Web and Mini Comix Thing by London Underground Comics’ Oli Smith. Co-conspirator Leon Hewitt escaped with only a mild dose of ale tummy. It did get contentious though,
I take a holiday in India (6th-21st Jan)
Oli Smith tells Bugpowder.com’s Dan Fish I’m boycotting a major comics festival (Jan 20)
A thread of about 25 messages appears on the Thing message boards by the 22nd. (Organiser Pat Findlay deletes it and its not mentioned again. By then its gotten the LUC much publicity.)
Feb 2nd – I join the boycott of my own free will, concurring its a good idea.
Cliodhna Lyons and others making all sorts of assumptions about my nature as ‘mad’ and ‘scientist’.

(Pat makes another reference to emails between the two of us. Rather than his re-surfacing of these, they’re online here. Spoilers: It all ends in unpleasantness. Decide yourself.)

Instigator Oli Smith later challenges me with sabotaging ‘Low Energy Day’,
Oli was hoping to avoid overcrowding and create a social space.
Andy Luke was hoping to discuss the functionality of Bugpowder.com in a social space 
I back out, and Oli mentions it constantly, featured in Weekend Friends 2.

Can’t we all just get along ?
Next, happier times,

London Underground Comics

Approximarely a year old next week, Oli and THE Oliver Lambden among others have lined up a rather excellent looking one-year-aversary at the Prince Arthur Pub, London, Euston Station. The mart times with this years 24 Hour Comics Day, and Oli hopes the utility can fill the gap left by Gravett and ICA hosting of 24HR CMX Events. Check out the post here with the useful and informative YouTube vid.

Other Venues

A smart roundtable by Lyons, Dennis and Duff pushed the boat out further on thinking about new venues for selling comics. Jas Wilson had a rather interesting chat about this with me a few weeks ago. Jas has been shipping his book around as ‘a local product’, capitalising on community networks. Him & Her’s Smuggling Vacation is stocked at local hairdressers.

By Big Football Cup Match Day, Jas has approached landlords of his local pub about stocking copies of HIM AND HER’S somewhere prominent in the bar. I’m told half-time sales are very good.

There was also some talk about Olver and Laurence’s club nights. Some of these have been organised specifically to promote Tales From The Flat, with posters and cut-outs, and TFTF as a central image, and sales have been good. However, I did hear one tale of Oliver and Laurence showing up at a non-TFTF event and selling comics. Through word of mouth, their sales for that evening were in the hundreds. This is from a reliable source, but I’d treat it with a pinch of salt. Tasty.

For those who prefer the traditional route of shopping for comics around other comics venues I’ve also been informed that a leading comics mart dealer is seriously looking into opening mart days up to small pressers. I’m under embargo for divulging more details at present, but prep for it if you think you might like to add more exhibition tour dates in cities.

Maps At The Crossroads

Our two-part Maps At The Crossroads column delivered a snapshot of some of the comics scene on March 22nd in London, and probably generated more interest than anything else I’ve done.

I was told that the use of the Great Hall, Queen Mary University for an arts and crafts fair couldnt be arranged because of new decisions by the board of Governors relating to sales in that space. An Arts and Crafts event fell under the category of ‘non-commercial use’.  I reported that the Web and Mini Comix Thing was likely to be the last in that venue. Several months ago, another researcher got in touch with the news that the venue was now available for rent, at the price of 2,000pounds. This confirms analysis by Oli Smith.

Last weekend Pat Findlay announced the UK Web and Mini Comix Thing 2009 over at http://www.ukwebcomixthing.co.uk
Table costs appear to have remained the same as last year’s controversial hike.on a scale of 50pounds to 70pounds, depending on booking, and 3pounds per additional assistant. This has already generated some response on the forum.

Last year’s Thing, was, depending on who you talk to
“a great time”
“thanks for making it all possible”
“it was just dead”
“Arctic”
“Nothing seemed to be happening..no-one was talking to one another….and what was with that panel ?”
“He treated us all like we were schoolkids”
“There was no coffee…for miles”
“The panel was even quite good”
“There were drawing pads on the stage”

I’ll be boycotting the Thing as an exhibitor this year. Ironically, this column will probably lead to one of the first table bookings!

Where did Jack Brodies Go?

Rich Johnston, Teacake Comics and many others were pretty excited about Jack Brodies, the Camden-based comics shop and gallery which also sold tea, coffee, pastries and cakes. In dialogue with David Bircham, he too was pretty excited. The shop looked great and aesthetically, it was a real pleaser.

David had been talking to me about the official launch party on the 22nd, and “seemed pretty excited by the buzz I’d generated, and the material I’d been linking to.” However, the line went down and Jack Brodies ceased trading sometime after March 16, 2008, less than a month after opening. A London Underground Comics source casually mentioned its closure Mid-May.

Daley Osiyemi stated, “We decided to put Jack Brodies on hold for now while we try and move the publishing side of the business forward”. (May 29) The storefront remains fully decorated with the shutters down.

Growing Your Own Comics Festival

There seemed to me to be a surge in mini-cons or ‘pubcons’ this year. Jimi Gherkin with effort has been promoting theHandmade and Bound Event in London on Saturday 8 November. Ooh, and theres also DJs and bands that evening.

Jimi’s event site has some great links for small press.

Such as the London-based Small Publishers Fair on 24-25 October

Notes On Content

I did a bit of mouthing off about political and ethical content in comics. I’ve not yet bought a copy of Cliodhna Lyons “Sorry I can’t take your call but I’m off saving the world” anthology, but it is out and available from various comic shops, Lyons tour dates and the website, http://www.goalanthology.com/

The Paper Tiger Comix War Anthology in aid of CAAT has still not been released. Its been in development for two years. Sean Duffield is likely to prioritise it if you donate some money or time to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) .

At ‘No Barcodes’ I also picked up the Do You Want To Kiss It Better?  collective’s first comic ‘Green’. “Printed on 100% recycled paper with inks based on vegetable oil from a press powered by wind turbines” It also features work by Rufus Dayglo and Leonie O’ Moore.

Truthfully, theres political agenda cartoonists aplenty if you want to find them – they just don’t bubble to the surface as often as folks more immersed in the comics community as I’ve been reading it..
So as much for me as for you,

John Stuart Clark (aka Brick)  http://www.brickbats.co.uk/ 
Polyp http://www.polyp.org.uk/
Cartoon Kate Evans http://www.cartoonkate.co.uk/
Kate Charlesworth http://www.katecharlesworth.com/
Luke Warm http://autografix.com

Dan Lester

Dan Lester has been making good on his committment to produce one 24hr comic per month for a year. With one “noble failure” and a few close calls under his belt, a few of these are archived at his blog. ‘Who Is Dan Lester?’ and ‘Ivan’s Comic’ join ‘The New Adventures of Bruce Lee’ and ‘Broken Hippos’ at http://sleazydanlester.blogspot.com/

His final piece in this series is due soon.

Comics At Markets

I’ve not yet had an opportunity to re-visit Oxford Market to sell comics, though a few dates from 17th December and another six dates over that period are open to me. Deirdre Ruane, Tom McNally and Aaron Murphy have expressed an interest in being involveed. I’ll put a flag up over Bugpowder.com when something comes up.

Bics 2008

A great success for me in terms of the social success. I got to hang with the organisers, professsionals and professionals. Socially, I was made aware regardless of whether folk have a good time as I did, that theres more of an excessive hedonism potential in large festivals. Small pressers get drunk and revel, but set them amongst professionals with established drinking records and things seem to be a little more uneven. The Friends of Shane Chebsey Foundation have asked that I not focus on  this too much. The Friends of Andy Luke League concur.

I also learned that Shane Chebsey’s Smallzone stake in Infinity & Beyond Comics, Shrewsbury, has within it ‘Heroes’, a coffee shop. Featured are a large white coffee called ‘The White Queen’ and other themed coffees and milkshakes, with names like ‘The Supersoldier Serum’.

Infinity & Beyond, 31 Castle St, Shrewsbury, SY1 2BQ. The mail order website ishttp://www.infinitybeyond.co.uk/store/home.php

Shane tells me that BICS 2008’s financial outcome this year, was that they “didnt lose any money”, and are “in the black”. Chebbo is quite “proud of what were achieved”.

“We all had a good time”, indeed. Most folk there can’t have failed to have been charmed by the two promoters of the Leeds Thought Bubble Festival, who seemed to be working every table in a calm, professional and friendly manner. I’d love to be able to make it this year.

And I got a rather awesome BICS T-Shirt for my gophering efforts.

Likewise with the charm were the reps for Derry’s 2-D Comics Festival. Local cultural sponsorship has enabled them to provide exhibitor space for free again next year. Word coming out of the event last year was quite complimentary. The date has been set (already) as (from recollection) 13-14 June, but why not drop David an email through a website visit to confirm ?

The Jam Factory Oxford

So far there has been no response from the venue regarding my interest in the institution of a written contract between them and their exhibiting artists. Anyone fancy some cyber-activism ?

Out of Office 

Expect to see a one-off Sheridan Cottage roundtable covering the issues raised here in the next six months. Co-hosted by myself and Matt Badham with a plethora of industry figures on board. In the meantime, the comments sections are still there.

I’ll be back, who knows when ? Sometimes folk need to get away from comics talk for a while. My feeling is that comics are the antidote to the rigours, and should remain in the background. Medicalisation is a dangerous game.

That said I’m anxiously anticipating my next comic pick-up, including Lamben and Smith’s Bloc. You wanna see the preview.

-Love and Well Wishes
Andrew Luke
Comics Journalist on Sabbatical