September-October update

salonstripa-guestThe past few weeks have been non-stop. Since our Edinburgh Festival weekend at the end of August, we’ve been at festivals in four other countries. I’ve posted about our trip in September to Avilés in Spain already. From 29th September to 2nd October we were in the sunny Serbian capital of Belgrade as guests at Salon Stripa. Our main event there was an on-stage interview, with Žika, our Serbian publisher (on the left in the photo below) and Alex, festival organiser (on the right), taking turns with questions and translation. Here’s some coverage on the Modesty Comics blog.
zika_talbots_uzelac_s
It was our first time in the Balkans and we were unsure what to expect, though we knew we wanted to visit Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Museum.nikola-tesla-museuminside-museum

As well as going to the museum (which turned out to be very close to our hotel) and doing some sightseeing around the Belgrade Fortress, we were pleased to be taken on a Food & Culture Tour of the city, which included some potted history of the region. Belgrade, it seems, has always been poised between East and West. The Fortress sits above the confluence of the Sava and the Danube. You can read a little about its turbulent history here.
fortressfortressdanubetalbots_stasa_zika_skafana-courtyardkafana-cubura-2_s
We did quite a few media interviews, for TV and the press. Here‘s a write-up of one of them (it is, of course, in Serbian).

dedicaces2-copyTwo nights at home, then we were off again. This time to Paris, to promote the French edition of Red Virgin: Louise Michel, La Vierge Rouge. The book’s reception has been excellent. We have some hugely enthusiastic reviews, on Sceneario, BoDoï and the radio station Europe 1, among others, though the review on the radio seems to be most excited about the Jules Verne/Nautilus connection in one of the book’s endnotes. We did a signing in a great BD shop in Bastille and met some lovely people. It isn’t a toy and tuck shop, as you might think from the photo below (and, no, we didn’t touch any of that junk food on the table).
dedicaces
While we were in Paris we also had a couple of interesting informal meetings with journalists. One, Florence Bellet, works for the anarchist radio station Radio Libertaire and gave us a copy of a book she’s written radio-libertaireabout her great-grandfather, who was a teenager in Paris during the shortlived Commune of 1871. Another, Yücel Göktürk, was a Turkish Kurd with an impressive knowledge of literature in English who was amazed, he said, at the Samuel Beckett epigram in Red Virgin. Apparently it has huge resonance in Turkey right now. ‘FAIL AGAIN, FAIL BETTER’ is a current Turkish catchphrase, borne aloft on banners. Also, he wondered, did I have a particular model for utopia in mind? Was it by any chance Kurdistan? It’s well worth being reminded that readers will always bring their own context to books and, in doing so, enrich them beyond measure.

Still in Paris, we had time for a visit to the Grand Palais for the Hergé exhibition that’s on.
grand-palaisnon-a-la-pollution

vive-la-paix
Next, off by train to Blois for an event at a history festival, Les rendez-vous de l’histoire. This is a long-running festival in Blois that’s now in its 19th year. Louise Michel la Vierge Rouge is published by La Librairie Vuibert, a history imprint, not a BD publisher as such. with-michelleperrotThey’d arranged a dual on-stage interview with Nicolas Carreau, a national newspaper reporter, and emeritus professor Michelle Perrot, who is not only a highly esteemed pioneering feminist historian in France but also extremely knowledgeable about Louise Michel and the Paris Commune. They are both, fortunately, also delightful people and hugely positive about our book. In fact, we learned at lunch later that Michelle Perrot had searched out Sally Heathcote Suffragette and loved that too.
blois-signing
The event itself went extremely well, with simultaneous translation through headphones for the audience (just like United Nations!). We found the questions from onstage and the audience clear enough to respond to without having to wait for translation, I’m pleased to say, which kept it moving. Usually translation slows things down a lot.

With Grégory from La Librairie Vuibert

With Grégory from La Librairie Vuibert

In the courtyard of the chateau in Blois

In the courtyard of the chateau in Blois

Blois rooftops

Blois rooftops

That’s all for now. Next post: back home in England for the 4th Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Back soon!

Avilés Comics Festival

aviles-posterRecently back from the Jornadas Internationales de Cómic in Avilés, a small, friendly Spanish festival in Asturias that’s now in its 21st year. With the hotel and everything else located in the peaceful old town centre, we had a very tranquil and picturesque place to wander about in for a few days, as you can see from the photos below. Especially once the rain stopped and we were finally blessed with some sunshine. We missed the flooding. I was glad about that.
aviles-street-1
aviles-streetNot as wet as our last visit to the north coast of Spain, though.
aviles-street-2
aviles-church
aviles-town-hall
Our main event was an on-stage interview with Germán Menéndez, with the help, as always, of Diego García’s prodigious translation skills. The first hour covered the wide range of Bryan’s work over the years. Then I joined in for a second hour, when discussion moved on to our recent graphic-novel collaborations.
interview-part-1
interview-part-2
‘El matrimonio Talbot’ did interviews with various journalists too. Here’s a link to one write-up (in Spanish).
signing
I also appeared on a panel on ‘Conquering Spaces: Women in the Comics World’ with Chloé Cruchaudet and Sonia Pulido, chaired by Rebeca Fernández Alonso.
wmcomics-panel
The long, late lunches and late, late dinners were spent getting to know some of the other guests and, of course, the organisers. Here we are with fellow guests (left to right) Rodney Ramos (USA), Mario Alberti (Italy) and George Perez (USA).
rodney-mario-george-bryan-mary
And here with organisers Jorge Ivan Argiz (left) and Germán (right), with Diego (centre):
bryan-jorge-mary-diego-german
And with Jorge again and Rocío Arroca. We were in an old cidrería. In the tile picture in the background, you can just about make out the traditional arms-length cider pouring going on:
rocio-jorge-bryan-mary
Unfortunately the Spanish edition of The Red Virgin, La Virgen Roja, wasn’t out until the following week. The 4th reprint of Sally Heathcote Sufragista was delayed too, so that the book stalls only had a handful of copies. Lots of the Spanish Dotter of her Father’s Eyes, though: La niña de sus ojos. A range of Spanish editions of Bryan’s work too.books

Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal

comicartThe full programme for the 4th Lakes International Comic Art Festival is now online and available to download here. It’s fabulous, packed with an enormous range of events. Tickets are now on sale, so now’s the time to take a good look at what’s on. As in previous years, it takes place in October in in Kendal, in the the south of the beautiful English Lake District. This year it runs from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th.

I’ll be appearing with Bryan to talk about The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia. We’ll be in the Council Chambers in the Comics Clock Tower (aka Town Hall) with Paul Gravett on the Sunday at 2.30 and we’ll be signing outside the Chambers afterwards.

beatrix-potter-reimagined-logoIn the run-up to the festival we have some judging to do for the Beatrix Potter Reimagined competition. All the submissions will be included in a Beatrix Potter Reimagined exhibition at Kendal Library, from 7th to 28th October, sitting alongside some fabulous BP reimagined artworks by Charlie Adlard, Duncan Fegredo, Hannah Berry and Luke McGarry. The winners of the competition will be announced during the festival.

Meanwhile we seem to have only just returned from the Edinburgh International Book Festival and we’re off to the Avilés Comics Festival in Spain. It’s all go at Talbot Towers, I tell you!

Here’s a short report on Edinburgh from Joe Gordon, who chaired our session there.
edbookfest-talk2
Bryan y Mary Talbot y Kate Charlesworth - Sally Heathcote, sufraOn the trip to Avilés that’s coming up we’ll be promoting the Spanish edition of Red Virgin. It’s published in Spain later this month, alongside a fourth printing of the award-winning Sally Heathcote Sufragista, the Spanish edition of Sally Heathcote Suffragette. Both are published by Ediciones La Cúpola in Barcelona.
SpanishRVcover lores

Brewery Arts Centre

Brewery Arts Centre

Brewery Arts Centre

Comics Clock Tower (aka Kendal Town Hall)

Comics Clock Tower (aka Kendal Town Hall)

Foreign language editions in the pipeline…

ViergeRougeTitleLogo2We seem to be finding gainful employment for translators all over the place! The French edition of The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia is released in September from Editions Vuibert. The publishers asked Bryan to recreate the lovely woodcut-style title lettering for its French title: Louise Michel, La Vierge Rouge. In the UK, Louise Michel is almost unheard of. Apparently, in France, a lot of people will recognise the name – there is a metro station and a Parisian square named after her – but she’s still, on the whole, a mysterious revolutionary figure. The Spanish Edition, La Virgen Roja, published by Ediciones La Cúpola, is out in October.

On other fronts, the Portuguese edition of Bryan’s The Tale of One Bad Rat has just been published by Levoir. Grandville Mon Amour will shortly appear in the Czech Republic, Grandville Bête Noire and Grandville Noel in Serbia and Sally Heathcote Suffragette in Sweden. This month also sees the 4th printing of the multiple-award winning Spanish edition of Sally Heathcote: SuCoversfragista.

Later this month we are guests at the Edinburgh International Book Festival where, on the 27th August at 12.30, we’ll be talking about The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia with Joe Gordon.
Page77bottom
FrontCover

Here I Stand

CoverA new teen anthology from Amnesty International, Here I Stand will be published by Walker Books on 4th August 2016 and available here.

At a time when we are seeing a nightmarish surge in hate crimes, this anthology is, unfortunately, all too relevant.
Nicky Parker, Amnesty International

This thought-provoking collection brings together twenty-five leading writers and illustrators. Their stories and poems are poignant, challenging, heartbreaking, angry and haunting. They cover important and relevant issues likely to resonate with teenagers today, such as bullying, race hatred, child sex abuse, freedom of speech, identity and gang honour. All of them touch upon the importance of having the courage to speak up against injustice.

Deed Not Words panelsBryan and I have once again teamed up with Sally Heathcote Suffragette co-creator Kate Charlesworth to create a 6-page strip for the anthology. Deeds Not Words concerns the real-life suffragette Lady Constance Lytton who, some may remember, had a brief cameo appearance in Sally Heathcote Suffragette. Deeds Not Words is produced in the same style that we used for the graphic novel.

Other contributors include John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, poet Jackie Kay, Costa-winners Frances Hardinge and Christie Watson, Carnegie 2016 winner Sarah Crossan, Matt Haig, Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell, AL Kennedy and imprisoned Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
Deeds Not Words text

Reflection and raspberries

Shhh. If we're quiet, Farters-Parters won't get us.

Shhh. If we’re quiet, Farters-Parters won’t get us.

Before the last General Election, Alwyn Talbot and I contributed a 4-page strip to 64 pages of reflection and raspberry blowing published by Disconnected Press. We called it ‘Preparation for Leadership’; the collection was Cross – A Political Satire Anthology.

Amid the omnishambles of the recent referendum, I’ve found myself thinking about it again. It doesn’t relate directly, of course, but it does offer some insights into some of the key players in the whole dismal disaster. ‘Preparation for Leadership’ is a 4-page comic-strip précis of scholarly investigation in the emerging cross-coverdisciplinary field of psychohistory. It was directly inspired by Nick Duffell’s Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and the Entitlement Illusion. You can read about both psychohistory and the book on his website here.

As you’ll gather from Alwyn’s amazing online portfolio here, it was was a big departure from his usual approach and it displays an unexpected talent in caricature. The book Cross is still available on the Disconnected Press website for a reduced price of £5. It’s a small independent publisher run by Lizzie and Conor Doyle, who are lovely people!
Cross p1
Cross p2
Cross p3
Cross p4

Beatrix Potter’s Inspiring Legacy in Kendal Museum

BryanOn Tuesday we went to the launch of an exhibition at the museum in Kendal, Cumbria. Beatrix Potter’s Inspiring Legacy exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of her birth. Rather than focusing on her illustrated children’s books, which are known worldwide, it highlights her lesser-known scientific legacy and her influence on artists today.

Mycologist
Bryan has loaned the museum original artwork from The Tale of One Bad Rat, inspired by Potter’s books. Seven contemporary local artists are also featured.

Bryan’s pages are displayed next to Beatrix Potter’s work. He’s delighted to be in such good company!
artwork
The exhibition also displays some of Potter’s personal collection of paintings by artists she admired, including Randolph Caldicott, on loan from Kendal Town Council.
Mary
Afterwards we caught up on developments for this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival over dinner with Julie Tate, festival organiser, and fellow patron, Sean Phillips. Tickets on sale soon!

Wonderlands in Sunderland and the Bradford litfest

photo by Darryl CunninghamA hectic month has finally come to a close. The weekend before last Bryan and I were guests at the Bradford Literature Festival. For the first time, the festival was running a strand of events devoted to comics, which took place at the University of Bradford. I was on a ‘Comix Creatrix’ panel on the Saturday, in fine company with Kripa Joshi, Corinne Pearlman and Asia Alfasi, chaired by Paul Gravett.

The following day, Bryan and I presented our new book, The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia.

Then last weekend, the University of Sunderland and the Sunderland MAC Trust hosted Wonderlands: the UK Graphic Novel Expo for the second time. And it was splendid ! A lively and busy day, full of talks, panels and workshops, as well as a publishing hall filled with tempting things to browse and buy…
Wonderlands 3
Waterstones
Wonderlands 2

Wonderlands 1
Disconnected Press
Kate&Woodrow
Mary talkI’ve already posted about our promotional activities for the new book in launch week. I was at it again at Wonderlands, while Bryan did his presentation on Grandville and the Anthropomorphic Tradition. I also had the pleasure to be one of five ‘Real Lives’ panellists, alongside Una, Suzy Varty, Kate Charlesworth and Darryl Cunningham. In an experience not unlike speed-dating (as I imagine it!), we were whizzed along efficiently by our moderator, the excellent Mel Gibson:
Mel panel
Una Suzy panel
To finish the day, all our invited guests were treated to an excellent dinner in the new premises of the Funky Indian. We walked over via Sunderland’s spanking new Keel Square. A community police officer happened to be there and she kindly took some group photos for us:
Keel
The square is the site of the Keel Line commemorating Sunderland’s illustrious shipbuilding history. It was designed by Bryan and I’ve posted about it previously here.
dinner B Steve Bell etc

dinner Una Mary

dinner Doug metaphrog
A huge thank you to the Wonderlands organisers for doing such a fantastic job and making all our visitors so welcome.

Thanks to various people in attendance for use of their photographs.Keel 1
Keel Bryan

Looking back at Red Virgin launch week

M, RV, BCreating a graphic novel is a slow process, and most of the time a solitary one. The creation of The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia began, for me, back in 2013, as I embarked on a long trail of research into the life and work of the extraordinary Louise Michel, involving French history and more. I reflect on the origins of the project in a Director’s Commentary here and a short piece for Carabas here. Carabas has also posted a 6-page preview here.

With the publication of Red Virgin last week, we’ve been busy with promotional activities down in London. But most importantly, we were there for the launch party. The work completed, it Bryan, Marywas time to meet up with friends and celebrate!  And it really was a delightful evening in Bloomsbury, generously hosted by the Cartoon Museum and Jonathan Cape, with the Great British Graphic Novel exhibition serving as the perfect backdrop. Lee Harris was there, Bryan’s first publisher back in the 1970s. Dan Franklin, our current publisher, was also present, as was museum director-curator Anita O’Brien. All three spoke warmly about the book; glasses were raised; wine and good cheer were shared by all. A huge thank you to everyone there, for helping us to celebrate this latest collaborative endeavour.

I’m delighted to say that Red Virgin’s reception has been hugely positive. It’s had three glowing reviews so far, which are posted on the Red Virgin page here.

Anita O'Brien speaking

Anita O’Brien speaking

Lee Harris speaking

Lee Harris speaking

Corinne Pearlman and Yomi Ayemi

Corinne Pearlman and Yomi Ayemi

Cape PR people Aidan and Cat - our friendly wine service for the evening!

Cape PR people Aidan and Cat – our friendly wine service for the evening!

David Hine and Mark Stafford

David Hine and Mark Stafford

Dan Franklin speaking

Dan Franklin speaking

crowd

Donald Rooum with Bryan

Donald Rooum with Bryan

SJ Harris and Zika Tamburic

SJ Harris and Zika Tamburic

Mel Gibson

with Mel Gibson

Pizza Express 4

Earlier in the day Bryan and I had visited Broadcasting House to pre-record an interview with Samira Ahmed, Front Row presenter for BBC Radio 4. The day after, we had another trip to Broadcasting House, this time to pre-record an interview with Matthew Sweet, presenter of Radio 3’s Free Thinking. Both were broacast on 10th May. We were back in the Cartoon Museum that evening, when we did an illustrated talk about the new book. We also called in at Orbital Comics in Soho, to record a podcast with Karl and Chris. In the third evening of our London visit, we were over at the House of Illustration in King’s Cross for a panel on writing radical lives with Kate Evans and Alex Butterworth. Back home in Sunderland, we went straight to Waterstone’s bookshop for a lively evening in conversation with a local group of readers. An eventful week!
HoI panel CCHoI signingHoI signing 4

A very silly selfie with that Hannah Berry

A silly selfie with that Hannah Berry

Woodrow Phoenix, Rian Hughes, Hannah Berry's partner Xav, Megan Donnelly

Woodrow Phoenix, Rian Hughes, Hannah Berry’s partner Xav, Megan Donnelly

The Great British Graphic Novel at the Cartoon Museum

GBGN_WEBSITE_BANNERThis exhibition in London really is too good to miss. Curated by Anita O’Brien, director of the museum, and Dr Paul Williams of the University of Exeter, it is substantial and represents its subject meticulously and fully. For this FPI blog reviewer, viewing it seems to have been a quite overwhelming experience. Also check out Down the Tubes and this enthusiastic Spectator review. The exhibition is running until 24th July.

Great-British-Graphic-NovelIt is structured around seven interlocking thematic strands, with Hunt Emerson’s excellent ‘tube map’ to guide you. With William Hogarth’s Harlot’s Progess as its starting point, it tracks the development of an art form and emphasises the diversity and breadth of talent. Fabulous – I must go back and browse when there aren’t so many people in the way! You see, we were at the lively opening night there last week. Here’s a few photos from the evening.
B speakingB&OscarPosy, B&MPosy speakingB&NicolaStreeten2Kates&?
Bryan and I will be back at the Cartoon Museum on the evening of Wednesday 4th May when, in conjunction with the exhibition, we will be presenting our new collaboration, The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia.

Other forthcoming events linked to the exhibition are a Graphic Novel Night on Thursday 12th May and Laydeez Do Comics evenings on Monday 20th June and Monday 18th July.