RAIN, by Mary and Bryan Talbot – out in October 2019

The characters and events of are fictitious but the idea was triggered by the devastating flooding that hit the north of England on Boxing Day in 2015. I began working on the book on the first of January 2016, when the flood waters had barely subsided. You can watch accounts of the Yorkshire floods on YouTube; for example, ‘Waving not Drowning – How Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd fought back after the Boxing Day floods’. My brother Mike is an avid fell-walker in neighbouring Derbyshire. When I told him about the story I was working on, he immediately sent me a copy of Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands. The book’s author, the indefatigable Mark Avery, is a former Conservation Director for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, now a wildlife blogger and tireless campaigner against driven grouse shooting and the illegal killing of wildlife. His book greatly enhanced my understanding of the struggle going on over our upland regions, where I’d chosen to set my story.

Rain centres on one relatively small example of moorland ownership by an elite group that impacts catastrophically on the unlanded majority living in the valley below. But, as the fictitious Rachel says, “There’s a million other valleys need saving.” They need saving not just for the sake of their human inhabitants, but for the insects and plants, birds and mammals and all the other inhabitants large and small that we share this planet with – our non-human fellow earthlings (the nature writer Mark Cocker disarmingly calls them ‘the more-than-human’, displaying a modesty about humanity that is most unusual in our species).

Instead of being despoilers, rapists, of this planet of which we’re a sentient part, we need to learn how to be its custodians. That means learning to think ecologically:

Ecological thinking entails that we see ourselves within nature and that we understand how everything we do has ecological consequences.We can, in truth, never escape nature… We live on a planet where life is only to be found in about a fifteen-mile deep veneer that is wrapped around the surface of the Earth. As far as we have been able to establish in the last 4,000 years, this is the only planet that bears life. We spend our days among the greatest event in all the galaxies (Cocker 2018, pp291-2)

We need to know that we’re part of this living, breathing, awesomely beautiful planet. And that we’re stardust.

The book I’ve quoted from is Mark Cocker’s Our Place: Can we save Britain’s wildlife before it’s too late? Thanks to Dan Franklin, our editor at Jonathan Cape, for sending me a copy. I love it when people send me books!

Rain will be launched at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, in October 2019.

Photos from the launch of Traces de la Grande Guerre

Here, belately, are some images from the the book festival in Albert, where we launched the French edition of the ambitious international collaboration between Kendal and Amiens. This took place the weekend before the Kendal comic festival (see last post). The whole weekend of the Albert book festival was devoted this year to the Traces anthology and to BD more generally. The contributors to the volume spent most of the weekend signing and sketching. Some were also involved in live drawing, appearing on panels etc. It was great to be in the company of Victoria Lomasko and Mikiko, who were sharing a signing table with us.

Victoria Lomasko, Bryan Talbot and Mikiko


Joe Kelly and Edmond Baudoin. Photo: Amiens BD

Jean David Morvan, Mary Talbot, Vincent Marie and Riff Reb’s. Photo: Amiens BD

 

Charlie Adlard

 

Mikiko

When the festival finished, we needed to go straight home to prepare for the one in Kendal, so we missed the visit to the graveyards and battlefields laid on by the organisers. However, we did manage to visit the WW1 Somme museum in Albert.

LICAF 2018 was bigger, better and wetter than ever!

So many people, so much to see, so much wind and rain! Then as the festival approached its end, behold, out came the sun!

The Wildman Gallery welcome from the Chair of South Lakes District Council and Julie Tate, festival director

This year Bryan and I were promoting two publications. We were there for the launch of the English language version of the Traces of the Great War anthology, an international collaboration coordinated by the comics festivals in Kendal and Amiens. The previous weekend we’d attended the launch of the French edition, Traces de la Grande Guerre. What made it special for us was that many of the same contributors were at both launches, so that the second was rather like a continuation of the first. And as ever, as we left the festival, we felt we’d made more friends for life.

Charlie Adlard, Robbie Morrison, Chair of South Lakes District Council, Mayor and Mayoress of Ulverston, Ian Rankin, Pascal Mériaux, Julie Tait, Orijit Sen, Joe Kelly, Edmond Baudoin, Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Mikiko, Victoria Lomasko, Ken Niimura. Photo: Jo Gamble, Creative Concern

Reimagining History panel, part of the Friday Sessions. Natasa Lackovic in conversation with four contributors to Traces of the Great War: Mary Talbot, Orijit Sen, Joe Kelly and Charlie Adlard. Photo: Oxford Comics Network

Reimagining History panel. No, I’m not asleep. Photo: Helen Kara

We were also billed to give an advance preview of Rain, our next graphic novel together, due out next year. Throughout the talk, it was raining in from the skylight above, which seemed rather appropriate. Here I am being cross-examined in the council chambers before the event:

Photo: John Freeman

As in previous years, on Friday we did a little sightseeing with some international guests. This year we thoroughly enjoyed the company of Orijit, Gurpreet and Pakhi Sen, visitors from India. Here we are at Cartmel Fell church, as seen in The Tale of One Bad Rat.

Following Friday evening’s opening event (the Marvel vs. DC debate) there were two ceremonies, revealing the new comics laureate – Hannah Berry! – and the recipient of the Sergio Aragones International Award for Excellence in Comic Art – Hunt Emerson!

Steve McGarry takes the podium in the Marvel vs. DC debate

Photo: Katie White

Sue and Doug Braithwaite, Tim Pilcher, Gary Millidge,  Mary Talbot and Robbie Williams

Luke and Steve McGarry

Cam Kennedy, Charlie Adlard and Robbie Morrison

At the Knockabout stand. Tony Bennett and Hunt Emerson

Stephen Holland in the Georgian Room

Another wonderful festival, thanks to all the brilliant work of the organisers and their red shirt brigade. Can’t wait for the 7th!
See also Gary Millidge’s blog of his festival experience and Stephen Holland’s joyous, photo-filled post about Page 45’s.

In the bar with Deborah Morrison, John McShane and Mel Gibson

Here comes the Lakes International Comic Art Festival again!

Kendal’s 6th annual festival of comic art is almost upon us. It promises to be bigger and more varied than ever – just check out the range of what’s on! There’s still time to book tickets if you haven’t already.

For my part, the events listed below are what I’m focused on right now: the one’s I’m preparing for. I’ve already posted about Traces of the Great War and its UK launch of during the Kendal festival weekend (plus its French launch in Albert the weekend before). Bryan and I will also be giving an exclusive advance preview of our next graphic novel, Rain:

Friday 12th
11.30 Reimagining history …writers and comic creators (Panel 1, Friday Sessions)
Panellists: Mary Talbot, Orijit Sen, Joe Kelly and Charlie Adlard. Chair: Nataša Lacković
Saturday 13th
12.30 Bryan & Mary Talbot – Preview (hosted by John Freeman)
Council Chamber, Comics Clock Tower
4pm Traces of the Great War – The Official UK Launch (hosted by Nataša Lacković & Pascal Meriaux)
Brewery Arts Centre Theatre

Rain is our fourth book-length collaboration and the second with Arts Council support. It’s a complete departure from our previous books together, being neither biographical nor historically distant. Instead it deals with the here and now of the environmental degradation that threatens us all. It’s scheduled for publication by Jonathan Cape in October 2019.

Launching Traces of the Great War

Coming up in October: British and French editions of this ambitious international anthology commemorating the end of the first world war. Our contribution is a four-pager entitled ‘Make Germany Pay!’ For it I returned to two sources for Sally Heathcote Suffragette, the memoirs of two leaders of the Women’s Social and Political Union: Emmeline and Fred Pethick-Lawrence. Fred and Em were pacifists throughout the Great War. After it, Em campaigned tirelessly against the punitive conditions of the Armistice and the continued hunger blockade of Germany leading up to it.

We’ll be involved in launch events for both editions. The first is in France at the 7th Salon du Livre d’Albert et du Pays du Coquelicot (the land of the red poppy, ie Picardy). That takes place on 6-7th October. The second is at the 6th Lakes International Comic Art Festival which runs from 12-14th October. There are events and exhibitions of artwork at both festivals.

These are the launch events we’re involved in (that we know about so far!):

Saturday 6th October
3pm Quelles sources aujourd’hui pour parler de la Grande Guerre? (What sources today to talk about the Great War?)
with Mary Talbot, Kris, Jean David Morvan & Joe Kelly

Friday 12th
11.30 Reimagining history …writers and comic creators (Panel 1, Friday Sessions)
Panellists: Mary Talbot, Orijit Sen, Joe Kelly and Charlie Adlard. Chair: Nataša Lacković

Saturday 13th
4pm Traces of the Great War – The Official UK Launch (hosted by Nataša Lacković & Pascal Meriaux)

The anthology is a collaboration between the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, and the Amiens BD festival On a Marché sur la Bulle. It’s commissioned by 14-18 NOW and La Mission du Centenaire de la Première Guerre Mondiale.

An eye for an eye and the world only ends up blind.
Mahatma Ghandi

Vote 100 – Suffrage in Stories at Portcullis House, Westminster

A hundred years ago this year, a number of women were eligible, for the first time ever, to vote in the UK general election. There are quite a few centenary celebrations of women’s partial suffrage going on and I’m pleased to have been invited to take part in this one, organised by UK Parliament Education and Engagement Service (click on the link below):

VOTE 100 – Suffrage in Stories

The event is free but ticketed. Tickets available via the website. If you’re in London on the 12th September, come along!

Farewell to Tall Ships Sunderland 2018

I love it when the City of Sunderland really really gets things right and this was an event to remember. Last week the riverside welcomed the 2018 Tall Ship Race contenders – 53 vessels in all. The most impressive, by far the largest, was the Russian ship Mir, seen leading the departure on Saturday in the photo above.The whole waterfront was in festival mode. It was very odd seeing my old workplace transformed into a funfair!Bryan and I didn’t go to many of the events over the three days. We missed a reenactment of Jack Crawford, Hero of Camperdown, nailing his colours to the mast (as represented in Alice in Sunderland). But the highwire act over the Wear sounded too good to miss. The fireworks on the bridge afterwards were spectacular.Fair winds, tall ships! We’ll miss you.Photos of Mir’s departure and Friday’s highwire act and fireworks from @TallShipsSunderland.

Bryan Talbot, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature!

On Wednesday, Bryan formally accepted his election as a Fellow, by signing the roll of the Royal Society of Literature. He followed his old collaborator, Neil Gaiman, at the short induction ceremony in the British Library in London. New Fellows are offered a choice between TS Eliot’s fountain pen, or the dip pens of either George Eliot or Lord Byron. Bryan used Byron’s pen and wore his Byronic Big Shirt for the occasion!

Immediately before there had been the induction of 40 new Fellows under 40 years old, including our good friend, comic writer/artist Hannah Berry. the events were followed by a reception in the bright and sunny Garden Room.
While we were in town, we were able to take up invitations to two book launches. On Tuesday, Knockabout launched Martin Rowson’s collection of ‘silent stories’ at the Cartoon Museum:
where we also had the pleasure of meeting Alex Cox:
and Ken Livingstone:On Thursday, we were at Gosh for Selfmade Hero’s launch of Tumult by John Harris Dunning and Michael Kennedy.
In between we ambled about London in the sunshine, stopping off to admire the new statue in Parliament Square. Here’s Millicent Fawcett, women’s suffrage campaigner for over 40 years:We also went to admire the splendour of the Natural History Museum:
Photos in the Cartoon Museum from Duncan Leatherdale and Mark Stafford.

23rd Amiens Comic Festival – On a marché sur la bulle

At the beginning of June we were among the guests at the Rendez-vous de la bande-dessinée d’Amiens, where we did a French version of our Red Virgin presentation, followed by a Q&A and several signings. Amiens is in Picardy, in the Hauts-de-France, and the festival took place in the Halle Freyssinet, Gare la Vallée, pictured here:

Jeremy Bastian, creator of The Cursed Pirate Girl

Amiens is a great place. It has an enormous cathedral, with some curious carvings, including this one depicting an ancester of Dinsdale!:We spent a few days acclimatizing in Lille before the festival. Well worth a visit.Thanks for all the conversation practice, Lucie!