September update

outsideCartmelFellSeptember draws to a sunny and fruitful close. At least, it does here in Sunderland. So I guess it’s time for another update. At the beginning of the month we enjoyed a five-day break in Hawkshead in the Lake District. Alwyn came over from Manchester for a hugely welcome overnight visit. We really don’t see him often enough these days, so it was lovely having him stay. Before taking him to the Mason’s Arms for lunch, we called at Cartmel Fell church close by.
Bryan&Alwyn in CartmelFell
Alwyn&Mary at CartmelFell2
Alwyn&Mary at MasonsArms
Both locations may be recognisable from The Tale of One Bad Rat. In the graveyard, Bryan and Alwyn were, as ever, using their cameras to collect textures.
Alwyn in graveyard 2
One shot that Bryan took inspired Alwyn to create this evocative tribute to his deeply missed friend Yo:
The following weekend we had a short trip to St Peter Port, Guernsey’s capital, for a book festival talk and exhibition opening (that I’ve mentioned already here).
Bryan in St Peter Port
Castle Cornet
Mary in St Peter Port
We spent a day there sightseeing, taking in Victor Hugo’s very quirky and interesting house. Here’s Bryan in his garden and me in his workplace up in the garret:
Bryan in Hugo's garden
Mary in Hugo's workplace
comicartSo, what’s in store for October? Well, we’re gearing up for the 3rd Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal. I’ve posted about our contributions already here. Bryan’s ‘How I create a graphic novel’ session is now fully booked, but tickets are still available for the other events. I can’t wait to tell all about the next book! I’ll also have the apples 2pleasure of hosting Karrie Fransman’s event on Sunday morning. Finally, at the end of next month we’re doing a talk on Sally Heathcote Suffragette at Sunderland’s City library as part of the Sunderland Literature Festival. It’s on Halloween but, as it’s at lunchtime, we won’t be finishing off with apple-bobbing.

Guernsey Literary Festival

Guernsey logoWell, in just under three weeks, we’re off to Guernsey for two pre- literary festival events. Never been to the Channel Islands before, so we’re looking forward to it very much. Bryan will no doubt be twitchy about leaving his drawing board for more than a few hours, mind. We’re going there for an event on Saturday 12th September called A Life in Graphic Novels at the Guille-Allès Library. They’ve also invited us to the opening of an exhibition in the library later that day on The Art of The Graphic Novel: Adapted & Inspired. In fact, they moved the opening event from the Friday to Saturday,  so that we could attend, which was lovely of them.The exhibition includes some artwork from Bryan’s Alice in Alice in SunderlandSunderland (inspired, of course, by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland), as well as some of Mark Stafford’s pages from The Man Who Laughs (written by David Hine and inspired by Victor Hugo’s L’Homme qui rit).

The Guernsey Literary Festival organisers were no doubt inspired to put on a graphic-novel exhibition by the Hugo connection. Hugo wrote L‘Homme qui rit during his long exile in Guernsey.

So, stealing a quiz question that opens coverage of the exhibition in the Guernsey Press: what’s the link between Guernsey and Batman, eh?

Alice in Cartoonland

Alice in Cartoonland logoLondon’s Cartoon Museum has a new exhibition – Alice in Cartoonland – showcasing a host of diverse Alice-related material. Bryan and I were down there for the opening last Tuesday. There’s some fascinating stuff on display, spanning about 150 years. Well worth a visit. It’s on until 1st November 2015.
Alice talk
There was an event at the museum the following evening – Alice from Wonderland to Sunderland – that involved a brace of Brians, as Bryan Talbot was in conversation with the president of the Lewis Carroll Society, Brian Sibley.
Alice talk 1
If you weren’t there, you missed a treat. After the dinner that followed, Anita O’Brien, director-curator of the museum, presented Brian with an appropriately themed birthday cake.
Pizza Express
Next morning we took a ferry down the Thames as far as Canary Wharf, where the Docklands Museum is located.
on the ferry
on the ferry 1
Bryan, as ever, was collecting photographic reference. Oh look, Inspector Le Brock’s office!
LeBrock's office 1
There’s an exhibition on that I was keen to see called Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom. After an excellent lunch in a restaurant close by, we went into the museum.
Henry's cafe bar
Broom was apparently Britain’s first female press photographer. She started working professionally in 1904, in the early days of the postcard boom. It was her documentation of women’s suffrage rallies and demonstrations that interested me the most; some of the photographs were familiar to me but there are many others that it would have been very useful to have while working on Sally Heathcote Suffragette.
suffragette procession
Home-Makers Demand Votes
MindWhereYouPutYourHookCanary Wharf is a strange place, reminding me of Singapore, all new, shiny and clean and full of finance types. The museum there is great, though; the permanent exhibitions of Docklands and Thames history are well worth a look. And, stevedores, don’t you forget: Mind where you put your hook!

This is Sailortown:
Sailortown 1
Sailortown 2
Sailortown 4
On our way back we stopped for further reference photos. We came upon this rather striking steampunk sculpture called The Navigators located in Hayes Galleria.
TheNavigators in HayesGalleria
TheNavigators in HayesGalleria 1
in the frameBryan’s starting to gear himself up for the fifth and final Grandville book, now that our latest collaboration is completed. He finished the final page of artwork just before we left for London and since we returned home we’ve been finalising the additional material, endpapers etc. I’m bursting to talk about this Arts Council-funded project and will reveal all at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. And after that, of course, on this website!
Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge 1

Wonderlands in Sunderland

Wonderlands table 2Wonderlands WWe’ve just had some photos from friends who were visiting while the UK Graphic Novel Expo was going on. It was a month ago, but not too late to share some pictures.

It was indeed wonderful to have so many creators and publishers together for the one-day event and the university’s Cityspace was a great venue for it. The sports hall became a publishers’ hall for the day and that’s where I spent most of it. I shared a long stretch of tables in there with Bryan and Kate. It didn’t seem particularly busy, but by the end of the day we’d done well.
Wonderlands table
If you haven’t already, you might like to check out these two reports  Down the Tubes 1 and Down the Tubes 2 and the full Wonderlands photo gallery .

The day ended with a great evening of fabulous food and company in the Funky Indian. See who you can spot:

Photographs from Simon Powell and from the Wonderlands photo gallery.

Linda, Mary, Kate, Dianne
Bryan & Simon

Back from Munich Comics Festival

Munich talk 2Rathaus 4Munich logoWe flew back from Munich’s Comics Festival last Monday. Bryan and I had both been invited as, not only are the first three Grandville books out in Germany, but Sally Heathcote Suffragette is due out there later this year as well. The G7 summit was the same week, also taking place in Munich. When we arrived on Thursday, it was swarming with police – there were anti-TTIP demonstrations going on.

Turkish restaurantOn Thursday evening Panini Comics took us out to a Turkish restaurant, which was great. Here we are eating al fresco with a merry bunch of artists and Panini people.
Turkish restaurant 2
Most of the festival took place in the Alte Kongresshalle by Bavaria Park, close to the site of the annual Oktoberfest. Bryan was kept busy signing and doing sketches.
Kongresshalle 2
Kongresshalle inside 2Kongresshalle inside 3signing 2
On the Friday, our second day, there was a festival dinner for guests. It was held  in the beer museum, a very old building in the centre. Here we are sitting down for a very meaty feast with Paul Gravett, Audrey Niffenegger, Eddie Campbell and a gallery curator from Salzburg whose name I’ve now forgotten, I’m afraid:
Museum dinner
With lashings of beer too, of course.
Museum dinner 2
U_3728_1A_ECC_IGNORANTEN.IND7On Saturday we did an interview with Silke Merton from RBB Kultur. It’s for radio broadcast later this year when Egmont publishes Sally Heathcote Suffragette in Germany. We were also interviewed by Egmont people, Christopher Bünte and Julia Oelingrath.

Beer garden
The weather was very warm, so it was great sitting under the chestnut trees in the beer garden. Here we are hanging out with Rob Davis, Rufus Daglow, Claire Adams Ferguson, Clint Langley, Jock and some German fans. Prost, everyone!
Beer garden 2
There was some cos-play going on. I thought this spider-woman was rather striking:
spider 3
Though she was very high maintenance and required a dedicated retinue:
spider 4
On Sunday we were ‘in conversation’ with Paul Gravett. It was an informal event and it’s available to view here:

Over the weekend we managed to get to a couple of the other events: Posy Simmonds with a Munich creator, Barbara Yelin, talking about their own work with Paul Gravett and Dennis Kitchen’s talk on Will Eisner at the Jewish Museum.
DennisKitchen talk
The flight home on our last day wasn’t until late afternoon, so we had time to do some sightseeing in the centre of town.
Teresiensweise statueRathauscity gateway
Where we came across this fellow:
boar 3

Handsome, isn’t he?
Grandville books
Munich talk 3

Keel Square, Sunderland

IMG_1746IMG_1740The laying of the flags for the 1st phase of the new Sunderland city square is almost finished. Bryan and I went over to investigate today.

Based on Bryan’s design, the ‘Keel Line’ runs the length of it, listing the ships built on the Wear with accompanying illustrations about Sunderland history. It has a rope border motif that crosses every fifteen flags, creating areas that contain the illustrations. And it’s in granite! Here’s an illustration of Washington Old Hall and George Washington’s family crest, the origin of the stars and stripes, facing one of keelmen hauling coal up the Wear:


And here’s the first iron bridge over the River Wear and Sunderland hero Jack Crawford nailing Admiral Duncan’s colours to the mast during the Battle of Camperdown, 1797:
If you’ve read Alice in Sunderland, you’ll already be familiar with him, and with many of the other subjects illustrated. The square has fountains too:
There are currently hoardings on the site with explanatory text and previews of the illustrations:

A Vision of Utopia at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival

Tickets are now on sale for LICAF 2015, so if you’re planning to attend it’s time to start browsing the website. I’ll be presenting my next graphic novel, due out next year. I’ve been keeping quiet about it up to now, but Bryan is busily working on it, in fact he’s working on page 94 right now…

But what is it about, you ask? Well, it’s a biography of a powerful, larger-than-life female historical figure, it’ll have 118 pages of artwork plus endnotes. As Bryan’s said, “She’s such an astounding character, we don’t want anyone else quickly researching on her and knocking out a graphic novel before ours!”

Come and find out about it in Kendalpage 64 top:

Saturday 17th October 10-11am
A Vision of Utopia – Mary Talbot
Chaired by Dr Mel
Comic Clock Tower
Tickets £8

Bryan will also be making these two appearances:

arkwright-integral-coverSaturday 17th 1-3pm
How I make a Graphic Novel (Workshop) – Bryan Talbot
Brewery Arts Centre: Art Room 2
Tickets £15

Sunday 18th 12-1pm
Arkwright: Where British Graphic Novels Began – Bryan Talbot
Chaired by Peter Kessler
Brewery Arts Centre: Screen Two
Tickets £8

page 24 top

Counting down to Wonderlands

Wonderlands logoWith just over two weeks to go, expectations are high for the U.K’s first ever graphic novel expo, Wonderlands. We’ve a long list of guests that includes Posy Simmonds, Dave Gibbons, Hunt Emerson, Paul Gravett, Steve Bell and Dylan Horrocks, a full day of talks and panels on different aspects of the graphic novel form and an alternative schedule of workshops and master classes, so this promises to be a unique event. The publisher’s hall, hosting a range of exhibitors and publishers from biggies to small press, the showing of the documentary The Graphic Novel Man, the giant graphic novel She Lives being presented throughout the day by creator Woodrow Phoenix and a “how to” forum on self-publishing are all icing on the cake. Being a one-day event means that attenders don’t have to stop overnight and, to top it off, the whole event is FREE, even the panels and workshops, though booking in advance for the workshops – through the website here – is advisable, as places are limited. Schedule organizer, writer/artist Bryan Talbot, who’s also one of the founders of the Lakes International Comics Art Festival, said “For any lovers of the comics medium, or for artists in search of a publisher, this will be an unmissable event.”
Wonderlands covers

I’ll be there, of course, and I’ll be involved in a panel discussion on historical and biographical graphic novels, along with Kate Charlesworth, Darryl Cunningham and Al Davison (chaired by Paul Gravett).

Wonderlands logoAlice in S page 28 crop

Read Regional tour update

As April draws to an end, we’re just over halfway through our tour with Read Regional 2015. We’re delighted that Sally Heathcote Suffragette has been selected for this promotional campaign bringing authors together with readers, especially since it’s the first time a graphic novel has been chosen. I say more about it here and here. We’ve just returned from our fifth event, in Skipton Library:


RailwayMuseumLast week saw us in sunny Bridlington, where we did our our illustrated talk in North Bridlington Library for about forty 13-year-olds from two local schools. We decided to stop overnight in York to break up our journey there. It was an opportunity for Bryan to take lots of reference photos in the Railway Museum (think steampunk detective thrillers) and just to relax walking around the lovely old city.

round building
RoundBuildingOuse&sunsetWhip-ma-Whop-ma-Gate copy
Here we are with some of the Year 9s from our Bridlington audience:
Talbots 1
And here with Edward, one of the two raffle winners:
Edward with the Talbots
And here I am chatting with Ann, one of the librarians, while Bryan sketches in her copy of Sally.
Ann and Talbots
We were also in equally sunny Middlesbrough last week, presenting our illustrated talk for a World Book Night event in Teesside University Library.

For a bit of variety, I thought I’d have a go at throwing my voice. As you can see, here I’m ventriloquising through Bryan while drinking a glass of water:
FromThomasRobinson during
FromThomasRobinson after
For each of these events, thanks to the library staff for their friendly welcome and enthusiasm.

Teesside photographs by @TeesUniLib and Thomas Robinson
Skipton photos by @ScaryClaire
Bridlington photos by David Roberts

Back from Barcelona comics festival

Barcelona Q&A sessionWe had a very pleasant few days in Barcelona last week, where we’d been invited to attend as guests at FICON, the city’s International Comics Fair. With three new books out in Spain, between us we had a lot of promotion to do. The Spanish Sally – Sally Heathcote Suffragista – came out in February, so we were signing copies at the La Cúpola stand, as well as doing two talks and numerous interviews with journalists in the press room. It was good to see that the Spanish Dotter – La Niña de sus Ojos – is still selling well.LaCupola signingLaCupola signing3LaCupola signing2LaCupola signing4

The third and fourth Grandville books have recently been published in Spanish, so Bryan was kept busy at the Astiberri stand too.Astiberri signing
convention centreconvention centre insideJoker standupCaptainAmerica standup

Though we didn’t see much apart from the convention centre, it was great to socialise with our hosts as well as with fellow guests. Here we are out to dinner with some of the Astiberri crew and friends.

Left to right: Bryan, Laureano, Frederik, Jason, me, Héloïse and Javier. Thanks for dinner, Laureano!

The convention centre was just off the Plaza España. On our last afternoon we had time to walk up the hill towards the Catalonia Museum of Art, so we could take in the view.

Then on our last evening we had a quiet meal in the hotel with Scott and Ivy McCloud. The Sculptor sounds like a phenomenal success.
dinner in hotel