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.

On the road with Red Virgin: events coming up in May

Page33top Red RosaWith the imminent publication of our new book, we already have a string of promotional events lined up for May. The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia is our latest collaboration and on the 5th – its official release date – there’s what promises to be a fascinating evening at the House of Illustration in London. We’ll be in conversation with Kate Evans and Alex Butterworth. Kate’s recent graphic novel is Red Rosa: a graphic biography of Rosa Luxemburg; Alex’s recent book is The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists and Secret Agents; between us, we’ll be considering the comics medium and what it can bring to our understanding of history, biography and politics. Follow the links in the titles for details of each of these Butterworth bookevents:

Thursday 5th May, 7pm
The Red Virgin and Red Rosa: Radical Graphic Novels.

The evening before that, Bryan and I will be doing a presentation on the Red Virgin at the Cartoon Museum:

Wednesday 4th May, 6.30pm
The Red Virgin.

Later in the month, I’ll be making two appearances at the Bradford Literature Festival. It’s a litfest that we haven’t attended before – pleased to see that there’s a good number of comics-related events there. On the 21st, I’ll be joining Asia Alfasi, Kripa Joshi, Corinne Pearlman on a panel hosted by Paul Gravett:

Saturday 21st May, 11am
Comix Creatrix: Women on the Cutting Edge of Comics.

Then, on the following day, Bryan will join me to talk about our work in general and our latest collaborative project in particular:

Sunday 22nd May, 12.30pm
The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia.

cache_2463273293I’ve posted about Wonderlands returning to Sunderland already. The UK’s Graphic Novel Expo is happening on the last Saturday in May again, which this year is the 28th. Check out the Wonderlands website for the full schedule and guests, including details of the events mentioned below.

In the morning, Bryan will be on a panel with Karrie Fransman, Woodrow Phoenix and Darryl Cunningham. Chaired by Paul Gravett, it’s about creating graphic novels as writer, artist, letterer, colourist and overall designer:

Sunderland CoC Bid 2021 master logoSaturday 28th May
10.30am Graphic Novel Auteurs.

I’ll be presenting our new book again:

12.30pm The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia.

Later in the afternoon, I’ll join a panel of creators who work in the fields of biography and autobiography, to discuss what it’s like to write fact-based stories. The other panellists are KGrandville-Noelate Charlesworth, Una, Darryl Cunningham and Suzy Varty, with Mel Gibson as chair:

2.30pm Real Life Graphic Novels.

Finally, Bryan will wrap up the day with his ever-evolving talk on the Grandville graphic novel series of steampunk detective thrillers and the venerable, ongoing tradition of anthropomorphic characters in illustration and comics from which they have grown:

4.30pm Grandville and the Anthropomorphic Tradition.

We recently put together a ‘Director’s Commentary’ for FPI’s blog about the process of creating Red Virgin, which is available to view here. I’m sure we’ll be fitting in signings in London and elsewhere during the month. Once I have any details of these, I’ll add them into this post and the Events list.FrontCover

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
cake
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
carnation
lottery_png_black1

November: Grandville Noël launch, a graphic novel evening and some lovely people

Sally pageEarlier this month we were in Bristol for Comic Creations, a Jonathan Cape graphic novel evening at the Watershed, along with Fumio Obata, Isabel Greenberg, Nick Hayes and Steve Bell. Part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas, there were some great talks and an appreciative audience (nice little report by Kayleigh Gibbons here). But the highpoint of the evening for us was afterwards, when we went out to eat with Steve and the legendary animator Richard Williams. He’s best known for his work as director of animation on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but I think perhaps his most outstanding was the animation he did for the anti-war film The Charge of the Light Brigade back in the sixties (clips on YouTube).

Cartoon Museum logoThe launch of Grandville Noël at the Cartoon Museum in London was this week’s main event. It was a lovely evening with an interesting mix of people (including Lee Harris and his daughter Amira in the photos below). A couple of days later we were back in the Cartoon Museum, when Bryan did his talk on creating graphic novels. In between he signed what was quite probably Forbidden Planet’s entire stock of Grandville Noël.

Noel launch party

Noel launch

Noel artwork at launch

Bryan signing Noel for James

Noel launch by Will Brooker
Thanks to James Robertson and Will Brooker for the photographs.

Vintage podcast with Sally Heathcote Suffragette

FrontCovercroppedThere was so much going on back in May, when Sally Heathcote Suffragette came out, that I’ve overlooked an interview we did in the Random House building. It was the week we were in London for a spot on BBC’s Woman’s Hour, then a Shoulder to Shoulder conference and related exhibition of Sally art at Birkbeck College. We were also occupied with a busy signing at Gosh! and an event at the Cartoon Museum. This was my write-up of the week’s events: On the road with Sally Heathcote.

Fortunately, the interview is still online as a Vintage podcast. In the podcast we follow Vagenda authors, Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett.

I’ve also just found this nice little review in a blog called Tiny Library. 5 out of 5 for Sally! Thanks, Tiny Library, whoever you are!
Gosh 7

On the road with Sally Heathcote

Woman'sHourA flurry of activity for the Sally Heathcote team last week!

On Thursday Bryan and I were in London for a visit to Woman’s Hour in Broadcasting House. Our eight-minute slot with Jenni Murray went out live at about 10.30 am. It’s still available for listeners here. Later that day we joined conference goers at Birkbeck College, University of London. The symposium was in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the excellent but little-known BBC drama on the suffrage movement called Shoulder to Shoulder. Listening to the cast and crew reminisce was delightful and I was thrilled to learn who the producer was: the amazing Verity Lambert of Dr Who fame. I had no idea!
Birkbeck 1
On Friday afternoon I presented Sally Heathcote Suffragette. After my talk, which concluded the conference, Bryan and Kate joined me for a brisk signing session in Birkbeck’s Peltz Gallery. There’s been a lovely exhibition of Sally artwork there which sadly ends tomorrow (23rd May 2014).

 

Birkbeck 6Birkbeck 5Birkbeck 4

 

Two more events on Saturday. Signing for one and a half hours solid at Gosh!

Gosh 20 Gosh 13Gosh 7Gosh 24Gosh 8Gosh 15

Then on to an evening event at the Cartoon Museum, chaired by Hannah Berry.
Cartoon museum 2

With Director-Curator Anita O'Brien and naughty Hannah

With Director-Curator Anita O’Brien and naughty Hannah

Photographs by Dianne Barry

With Dianne Barry. Thanks for the photos!

With Dianne Barry. Thanks for the photos!

The tour wasn’t over for Bryan and me. On Sunday we made our way to Norwich for an appearance at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, in the lovely setting of Norwich cathedral hostry.

 

 

 

A green man

A green man

The gates of hell

The gates of hell

4 demons sharing an Uncle Joe's mint ball (I think)

4 demons sharing an Uncle Joe’s mint ball (I think)

 

Before we went for our train home on Monday, Bryan risked permanent neck injury photographing all the ceiling bosses in the cathedral cloister. Here’s a few.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While there, I learned that Norfolk was the birthplace of the heroic Edith Cavell, World War One nurse and humanitarian. Cavell treated soldiers of all nationalities – friend or foe – and took part in an underground network that helped 200 Allied troups to escape from German-occupied Belgium. Shockingly, she was shot by German firing squad on 12th October 1915.

norwich-cavell-monument-monuments-2010-large

norwich-cavell-monument-monuments-2009-large

Launching Sally Heathcote, Suffragette

FrontCovercroppedMay is going to be a busy month!

Sally‘s official publication date is 1st May, but orders can be placed now. On 2nd May there’s a London launch event in the Conference Centre at the British Library, when we three co-creators will be interviewed by Rachel Cooke from the The Observer (book tickets here). The event begins with a screening of the documentary Graphic Novel Man: The Comics of Bryan Talbot (see the trailer here).

An excerpt from Sally and an interview are scheduled for 4th May in The Observer.

These are some others events lined up in May:
Thursday 8th May
A northeast signing and talk by the creators will be at Waterstone’s, The Bridges, Sunderland at 6pm. Tickets £3 (redeemable against the cost of the book purchased on the night).
12th-23rd May
Sally Heathcote, Suffragette: Remembering Female Suffrage
This exhibition presents artwork from Sally Heathcote, Suffragette by Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot.
Accompanying the art will be a collection of artefacts and extracts from the BBC TV series, Shoulder to Shoulder. These representations of Edwardian female activism produced in the early 1970s explore how the first wave was re-remembered at the time of second wave.
The exhibition takes place in the Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck, in the School of Arts, Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD.
Saturday 17th May
We’ll be signing at Gosh! from 2pm to 3pm. That’s 1 Berwick Street, London W1F 0DR.
In the evening we’ll be in the Cartoon Museum for Shoulder to Shoulder: Sally Heathcote Suffragette. This is an illustrated talk starting at 6.30pm. Free but ticketed (book here)
Sunday 18th May
Bryan and I will be introducing Sally at the Norfolk & Norwich Literary Festival at 4.45pm (details here)

Meanwhile, here are some advance reviews and a directors’ commentary that Kate and I put together for the Forbidden Planet blog:
Page 45 review
Forbidden Planet review
Directors’ Commentary
WSPU BADGE

Sally Heathcote, Suffragette is on her way!

Sally advance copyMy advance copy of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette has arrived. “It’s girl!” I felt like shouting. But I’ve settled down now. The release date is 1st May 2014, though it can be pre-ordered here.

A sample of Sally artwork is included in an exciting exhibition at the British Library called Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK. It’s curated by Paul Gravett and it will be in the PACCAR Gallery from 2nd May – 19th August 2014.

There will also be a mini-exhibition of artwork from 12 -16th May 2014 at the Peltz Gallery in Birkbeck College, London. This exhibition is in conjunction with an academic conference marking the 40th anniversary of the BBC mini-series ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’. You can watch a clip here:

The conference on Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Female Suffrage, Second-Wave Feminism and Feminist TV Drama in the 1970s will take place on 15 – 16th May 2014 at Birkbeck. It brings together some of the original participants to celebrate this key TV text. I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on ‘Waves of Amnesia and Awakening’ which explores how the women’s movement is being remembered today, as well as how early TV work has almost been lost. If you’re interested in attending, you’ll need to check out Birkbeck’s event calendar.

On the 17th May 2014 (the day after the conference) all three Sally co-creators – Kate, Bryan and myself – will be signing at Gosh! from 2-3pm. Then in the evening we’ll be doing a presentation as part of the Cartoon Museum’s Museums at Night event. Shoulder to Shoulder with Sally Heathcote, Suffragette takes place from 6.30-7.30pm. Details to follow.

Rounding off a busy long weekend, Bryan and I will be off to Norwich on Sunday 18th May, to appear at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Details of that to follow too.