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!

Beyond Words Festival, Institut Français

As part of the Beyond Words Festival at the Institut Français, Bryan and I will be appearing with Pénélope Bagieu on 15th May. Pénélope’s graphic novel Brazen (originally published in French as Culottées) presents a series of portraits of 30 incredible women, including Josephine Baker, Peggy Guggenheim and Tove Jansson. She’ll be discussing these rebel ladies with us, as we revisit the life of anarchist and Communarde Louise Michel in The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia. We’ll be joined by DJ Iko Chérie for some Little Trouble Girls sets. The event is chaired by Paul Gravett.

Tuesday 15 May 2018 6.15pm in English and French £7, conc. £5 at Institut Français 17 Queensberry Pl, Kensington, London SW7 2DT.

Tickets available on the Beyond Words website.

Splash Sagunt festival 2018

Bryan and I were at a festival in Sagunto at the weekend. I’m delighted to say that our three books together to date have been well received in Spain. Sufragista, the Spanish version of Sally Heathcote Suffragette, has gone down particularly well, gaining two awards in 2015. It was an honour to receive an award from the festival director, Fran García, for the ‘creative coherence’ of our work together.

It was a great festival with a lively bunch of people. A big thank you to the organisers and volunteers for looking after us and keeping us fed and watered!

Sagunto is an ancient town not far from Valencia. We were treated to a tour of the sights (and the sites) by the creative couple Elena Uriel and Sento Llebell, whose home is right on the doorstep of the Roman amphitheatre there.

It was incredibly windy!

Before and after the festival weekend, we had time for sightseeing in Valencia, both the old city and the new space-age museum and opera-house district.

Celebrating VOTE 100 and International Women’s Day

Thursday 8th March is International Women’s Day and I’ll be at Sunderland University, helping them celebrate the British centenary of the partial franchise for women.

Last week Bryan and I trekked over the snowy landscape (well ok, by train) to Ormskirk, where we were pleased to be the keynote speakers at a Suffragette Symposium. Edge Hill University began as the first non-denominational teacher training college for women and its graduation gowns still proudly display the WSPU suffragette colours of purple, white and green.

Photos tweeted by @GenSexEHU

After our talk there was a screening of Suffragette. You can read my review of the film here.

Traces of the Great War anthology

This is an ambitious international collaboration between the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, and On a Marché sur la Bulle in Amiens, France. It’s commissioned by 14-18 NOW and La Mission du Centenaire de la Première Guerre Mondiale and Bryan and I are among the contributors. There’s more information on the 14-18 Now page, where you can listen to Charlie Adlard and Robbie Morrison talking about the book in a short video (scroll down for the link).

Traces of the Great War is going to be launched in October 2018, at the 7th Salon du Livre d’Albert (Albert, France) and the 6th Lakes International Comic Art Festival (Kendal, UK). It will be accompanied by touring exhibitions and an educational programme. And we’ll be there as well!

Launching Grandville Force Majeure

Here’s a few pics from the launch of Grandville Force Majeure last week. It started at a private do in the Cartoon Museum, London, with kind words from two marvellous people: Dan Franklin (Bryan’s current publisher) and Lee Harris (his first).

The customary pizza afterwards was well attended too…

The following day we had a public event at Orbital Comics, where there is original Grandville artwork on display until 5th December 2017. There’s a great illustrated review of the exhibition by James Bacon at FPI (this link is to an extended version of the review at File 770). The fifth and final Grandville volume has had stunning reviews from Joe Gordon at FPI, Rich Johnson at Bleeding Cool and Stephen Holland at Page 45.

Back in the northeast, launch week continued with signings at Waterstone’s in Sunderland and Forbidden Planet, Newcastle, where there’s another exhibition of Grandville artwork until the end of November.
That’s all, folks!