Tags: comics jam


another comics jam with viv schwarz

So you might have seen my last mega-blog-post about Thought Bubble comics festival. I went up to Leeds with writer-illustrator Viviane Schwarz on the train, which was a great excuse to get a peek at some of her latest work. You can get a hint at it from her brand-new tattoo (with 'Labora et Amare' lettering by Alexis Deacon):

And here it is, from Walker Books and edited by Lizzie Spratt, still in dummy-book form. It will be called I am Henry Finch and is very much inspired by the birds Viv used to live with. They would fly around the room and chatter incessantly, except when you raised something stick-shaped into the air. Then they'd all go very quiet and stare at you. Viv got lots of her friends to help her with the fingerprints.

And here's the other Comics Jam we did in our hotel room. It is slightly less manic than the first one.

Be sure to check out Viv's other books, they are brilliant. Some of them are comics: The Sleepwalkers, Welcome to Your Awesome Robot and Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure.

I found this in our hotel room after a wild day of comicking. Thanks, lovely room mate!


manchester comics jam

When I went to Manchester, I wasn't sure if anyone would be free to meet up, and I didn't know anyone there very well, except a little bit from the Internet and comics conventions, where we hadn't had much time to talk. So I was slightly nervous when I blogged I'd be at the pub at a certain time on Thursday night, if I'd end up with only one sweaty stranger in a Batman shirt who didn't even want to draw. But it was FINE. In fact, it was much better than fine!

Adam Cadwell (who runs the British Comics Awards I'm helping judge this year) jumped straight in and said he'd be there, then Bevis Musson (who baked the spectacular Morris cake) said he'd come, and I breathed a big sigh of relief. Then Andrew Tunney, Ellie @Frillyart, Andrew Chiu and James Lawrence all showed up. Here we are, drawing!

I drew a picture of Adam:

Here's one of our Comics Jams! We started with the theme of 'Rocket', each drew a panel for five minutes or so, then passed them around for someone else to do the next panel, and so on.

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dublin monster comics jam!

I knew we'd be drawing LOTS OF MONSTERS with LOTS OF KIDS in Dublin, so I did some limbering up by drawing my own monsters before the event. (Thanks for leaving such fab pens at the lodge, Children's Book Ireland people!)

When I arrived at the Green Room at The Ark, I could tell they were a comics-friendly bunch by their selection of tea mugs.

And here was our awesome Comics Jam team! Meet comics creator and illustrator Steve Simpson and writer and illustrator Mary Louise Fitzpatrick!

We started out indoors with the kids, giving them some basic comics-making tips, and having them help us design a monster character all together. Here's Steve drawing a curly monster moustache. Monsters are great for coming up with new characters because no one can tell us that we've drawn it wrong.

Photo by Ber Simpson

And then we went outside to Meeting House Square, and all 90 of the kids drew comics on huge rolls of paper!

It was wild, it was awesome! I'd never led a Comics Jam session that large before, and we made up a template to keep things simple:

1. The kids marked out their drawing territory with a box.
2. They drew a dinner-plate-size circle at the top of the box, one hand-width down from the top line of their box.
3. Monster time! They designed their monster inside the circle. Some of them added a pet or sidekick friend for their monster.
4. They wrote the name of their monster above the circle, and I encouraged them to do it in lettering that tells us something about the monster (hairy, slimy, spotty, etc). If their monster had a sidekick friend, they named the friend, too.
5. They drew a line under the circle and divided this big square into four boxes.
6. They had 8 minutes to start off the comics story in just the first panel. (I encouraged them to make something bad or embarrassing happen to their monster, so the story would have to go somewhere.)
7. We counted down the last ten seconds and then called 'PENCILS IN THE AIR!'
8. Everyone rotated one comic to the left and read the new comic in front of them.
9. They had 8 more minutes to pick up where the last person had left off in this new story and continue it, just in panel 2.
10. We did the same for panels 3 and 4, and at the end, they got to go back and see the original comic they'd started and see what adventure their monster had gone on while they were away.

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Speaking of comics, one more thing: When I arrived home from Dublin last night, I found new paperback copies of Vern and Lettuce waiting for me! I've designed new covers for the paperback edition and I'm really pleased with them. You can buy the book in hardback now, but the paperback will come out this autumn (a little early for the Edinburgh Book Festival). You can read their magazine, The Pickle over on my website.

And Dublin! Keep an eye out for my fabulous studio mate, Gary Northfield, who will be arriving in September to take part in Dún Laoghaire's Mountains to Sea festival. Before he arrives, get a copy of his new book, The Terrible Tales of the TEENYTINYSAURS, and see what awesome comics he makes!

And you can see us talking on RTE2's Elev8 show here.


the oxford children's comic festival 2013

Hurrah for Britain's first children's comics festival! It was awesome, and Oxford's Story Museum totally rocked. For Free Comics Book Day (4 May), The Phoenix Comic joined up with other comics creators to put on a day of comics workshops, drawing activities and convention tables. One of the most exciting parts for me was seeing two kids at their own tables, selling their own self-published comics. You will have already seen Zoom Rockman (right) many times on my blog, and he's been all over the media, including The Independent, Evening Standard and Vogue's 2013 Hot List. But Jordan Vigay, also 12 years old, is newer to the scene - I'd only met him once before, at Animated Exeter - and it was exciting to see him at work!

Here's an interview I did with Jordan, in which he talks about his comic, The Red Crow, now in its third issue:

The Phoenix Comic was out in force! And it's official: Laura Anderson (who creates the Evil Emperor Penguin strip) is taller than Jamie Littler (Cogg & Sprokit) when she has Zoom's giant hamburger on her head.

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a happy chaffy christmas comic

Sam Reeve and I had loads of fun this Christmas and Boxing Day, getting everyone to make comics. Sam LOVES anything drawn by Jamie Smart, and spent much of the holidays drawing Jamie Smart characters into his sketchbook. Here's my drawing of Sam, Chaffy, and his poodle in a Jamie-Smart-McIntyre mash-up sort of way:

"Who's Chaffy?", you might ask. Chaffy is a little white ball of fluff with mismatched ears which we kept finding all over the house and on the moor. Also created by Jamie Smart, for his Find Chaffy and Find Chaffy Now books.

Photos 2-4 by Philip and Sam Reeve

Sam gave me a lovely comic for Christmas, The Hen House a very limited-edition anthology he'd created with three of his neighbour friends and edited by his dad, Philip Reeve, who'd been giving the three of them weekly drawing lessons.

Sam said, "Let's make a comic!" So we did, but we roped in everyone in the house to help us do a Comics Jam, taking turns making each page. Here we are, looking very industrious, and Sam, with all the scanned and printed pages laid out in an assembly line to make ten books.

We got lots of help from Sarah Reeve to print out the pages, and here are our final books! They are 20 pages long, with a single panel per page.

Because there are only ten of them, we will let you read it online:

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bishop's stortford picture book award 2011

Yesterday morning I met Giles Andreae at Liverpool Street Station and we took the train up to Bishop's Stortford, where last year our book Morris the Mankiest Monster won the Bishop's Stortford Picture Book Award. (I blogged about last year here and here.)

Giles Andreae & Sarah McIntyre

We both led a couple workshops at Bishop's Stortford College, then Giles presented this year's award. But first he gave gave a talk and told a few of his own stories, including one which I filmed here, The Knitting Gorilla:

Giles Andreae YouTube link

Lots of writer and illustrators came up for the award ceremony, including Gillian Rogerson! Our book, You Can't Eat a Princess was shortlisted, but unfortunately this year only came in fourth place. (Still, not bad, there was a huge long list.) Here she is, having come down from Leeds, with Scholastic editor Ellie Parkin. Ellie's originally from the north like Gillian, but talks like a Londoner... until the two of them get together; I couldn't help grinning as Ellie's voice starting lilting all over the place.

Ellie Parkin & Gillian Rogerson

And the winner this year was Dave by illustrator Liz Pichon (who's also a writer) and writer Sue Hendra (who's also an illustrator). Their book stars a fat ginger cat who gets stuck in a cat flap until he eats so many baked beans that he manages to blast his way out by farting. (Following on from last year's choice, I can see humour involving bodily functions goes down very well in Bishop's Stortford!)

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Hey! You can read Issue 2 of online comics magazine Comical Animal now right here! It's jam-packed with fab family-friendly comics from top British creators! Edited by DFC colleague Jim Medway.

comics jam with barnaby richards!

I've been falling behind on my Morning Sketches, but Barnaby Richards is giving me just the kick I need by agreeing to do a Comics Jam with me. Hurrah! We're setting ourselves a one-hour time limit for each panel, just like I did with the Airship comics jam with David O'Connell (You can read that one here.) Barnaby will also be posting our panels over on his blog here. Off we go!

First panel by Barnaby:

Second panel by me:

comics jams at the cartoon museum!

During the first of two 2-hour workshops I led at the Cartoon Museum on Thursday, we started with warm-up sketches. Here's mine, some sort of burping rodent.

The first session was very chilled out, only three kids, and we had a wonderfully companionable time drawing together. They were old enough so I could just keep setting them tasks, then letting them get on with it, which let me take part in the drawing, too. For the warm-up sketches, we started with putting some random eyeballs on a page, drawing a simple shape around the eyeballs, then turning it into a character.

The second workshop had loads more people show up, including two mums who happily mucked in. The day's theme was Comic Jam, so first we designed characters (the way that Emma Vieceli taught us all last year at the Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival), making a list of professions, then a list of animals/objects, and combining the two (hairdresser cat, assassin chicken, chef toilet, etc).

Then I showed them the Airship comics jam I did with my friend David O'Connell (you can read it here on my website) and then they set their own characters off on a four-person comics jam (passing to the left, like with cards). Then we designed mini comics so they could make their own story, inspired by things that had popped up in their comics jam if they wanted.

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mr fart bubble

My Space Hop workshop yesterday at the Paddington Children's Library went well. The librarian Laurence Foe even donned a Storm Trouper outfit and the staff wore antennae so we'd all be space themed! We designed aliens and some of the older kids made space comics. A group of four girls were in stitches with laughter over a comics jam they did together, and they said I could redraw it for my blog today. Here's their version, hee hee!

The writer of You Can't Eat a Princess!, Gillian Rogerson (the other space princess) is meeting up with me for Thought Bubble in Leeds, maybe Mr Fart Bubble will want to come with us.

I'm sitting here at the Fleece Station and just got off the phone with Anne Cottringer, a filmmaker and the writer of our upcoming picture book, When Titus Took the Train. This is almost too good to be true, but Anne is putting in a bid to be honourary Fleece Station member with a documentary about sheep shearing! Here's a fascinating clip about how to shear a sheep. It's awfully therapeutic watching that wool come off.

Anne's Youn Farmers Documentary website link

return of the missing packet

I just found a whole envelope of comics jams from the Hi-Ex festival in Inverness that I thought I'd lost. Whee! They're giving me a real giggle, here's one:

Unicomics festival! I'm leading a Hungry Aliens and Manky Monsters workshop on Sat, 24 April in Hatfield. The organisers said people were booking places fast, but there might be some left here.

Join illustrator and comics creator Sarah McIntyre for a fun hour of weird and wacky monsters. Find out what aliens love best to eat, and watch Sarah draw Morris, the most revolting monster EVER! Create your own monster or alien and jump with your beastie into an exciting storytelling game that will have everyone laughing.

I'll also have a table in the Unicon convention area where you can buy books and comics from me, along with loads of other comic creators.

Garen Ewing has just posted the cover of his new Rainbow Orchid, Volume 2 here! It comes out July 5th and you can pre-order it online at Forbidden Planet International and elsewhere.

Right now I'm listening to an Inkstuds podcast interview of Eleanor Davis (squinkyelo on LiveJournal). The interviewer has a bit of a hard time getting going for awhile after the Kate Bush song in the beginning, but it gets better. Eleanor's awesome, and her website has had a huge revamp since I last saw it. Her Secret Science Alliance book has rightly been nominated for an Eisner Award in the Best Publication for Kids category, but I don't think it's just kids who will love it.