The 2nd Lakes International Comic Art Festival!

comicartThe second Kendal festival is almost upon us. The main programme is online here where tickets are available too. So what are you waiting for?

The dates are 17th – 19th October 2014. The main venue is the same: the Brewery Arts Centre in the heart of Kendal. There’s a host of amazing guests, so the hardest thing will be deciding who to go and see. Check out all the other things going on too. There’s the Comics Clock Tower again, lots of exhibitions and much more. Just look, here! You can still watch Digital Story Engine’s festival trailer on YouTube too.

I’ll be participating in these events:

Saturday 18 October, 18.30 – 19.30, Brewery Arts Centre Warehouse Café
Meet the Creators: Audrey Niffenegger (hosted by Mary Talbot)

ExhibitionPosterSunday 19 October, 10.30am – 12pm, Forbidden Planet in the Brewery Arts Centre Malt Room
Signing at Table 1 with Bryan

Sunday 19 October, 14.30 – 15.30, Brewery Arts Centre 1
Brainstorm: The Art of Bryan Talbot (hosted by Mel Gibson)
Kate Charlesworth and myself will join in at the end of this discussion.

And finally:
Grandville Print now available to pre-order!
This year, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival asked seven artists to produce a piece of artwork each for a special limited festival edition of 60 high quality A3 giclee prints on beautiful paper to raise money for the event. Bryan drew this Alphonse Mucha-inspired poster of Billie from the Grandville series. The other prints are by Sean Phillips, Emma Vieceli, Mark Buckingham, Rian Hughes, Duncan Fegrado, Doug Braithwaite and Junko Mizuno. They will be available from the Brewery Arts Centre during the festival and are available to pre-order now. To see the other prints or to pre-order click here.


Sally in Scotland, Talbots in Lakeland

Here’s the video of the Sally Heathcote Suffragette event at the Edinburgh Book Festival last month. Thanks to Jane Barry for her expert filming and editing.

Badgers for half a mile!On returning from a week’s holiday, for me the Edinburgh film was an opportunity to revisit a very pleasant occasion. Bryan and I have been enjoying a battery-recharging week in and around Keswick, the first proper holiday we’ve had for a couple of years.

We didn’t see any badgers, though. Shame.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg 2


Looking down on Keswick from Latrigg

Looking down on Keswick from Latrigg

Another hazy day

Another hazy day

Another bad hair day!

Another bad hair day!

Grandy Nook

Grandy Nook. A grand place to stay

Edinburgh Book Festival

Edinburgh Festival logoJust back from a busy trip to Edinburgh, at the final weekend of the Edinburgh Fringe and International Book Festival. Straight off the train on Friday, Bryan and I joined Kate Charlesworth at Word Power, a radical bookshop in Nicolson Street, for an hour or so talking about the making of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette. That evening we were all entertained by Freight Books at a launch party for IDP: 2043, a graphic novel produced in collaboration with the Festival. You can listen to two of the contributors, Denise Mina and Adam Murphy, talking about the book in a radio interview on The Culture Studio.

choir tweeted by VintageBooksSaturday 12.30 was our main event about Sally. We were in discussion with Teddy Jamieson in front of a full theatre audience. As the chair finished his preliminary panel introduction, a woman in the crowd called out “Votes for Women!” Then a few moments later, another stood up brandishing an umbrella and shouted again “Votes for Women!” This was the cue for a suffragette choir to march in, singing “The March of the Women” to a drum accompaniment. They were superb. The choir is Edinburgh’s own “Loud and Proud”, of which Kate herself is a member. (The event was filmed and I hope to be able to post a link to it soon.)

Sally @ EIBFThen, after an hour’s lively discussion, we removed to the bookshop for a signing that lasted around an hour and a half. I have no idea how many copies that amounts to.

Sally signing 2



Sally signing @EIBF






Sally signing queue @EIBF


Kate and I had another fixture later the same day. There were two panel discussions with contributors to IDP: 2043, both chaired by Denise Mina. We were in the second of them, along with Barroux and Irvine Welsh, followed again by a signing session (but not another singing session, more’s the pity…)

Left to right: Irvine Welsh, Barroux, Kate Charlesworth, Mary Talbot, Denise Mina

Left to right: Irvine Welsh, Barroux, Kate Charlesworth, Mary Talbot, Denise Mina

IDP2043 signing

IDP2043 signing2IDP2043 signing 4

Photographs by Dianne Barry and Vintage Books.

Loncon 3: 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London

LONCON3_logoIt’s over a week since Loncon 3 ended, but I’m only just able to sit at my desk and reflect on it today. Lovely to meet up with old friends there and, of course, to meet new ones as well. Of the panels I was on, I think the two most enjoyable were Tove Jansson’s Moomins and Writing and Pitching Comics. Thanks to Maura McHugh and Kate Laity for their excellent chairing.

Point and shoot

Point and shoot

Rob Talbot with Moomin panellist, Alexander Dan Vilhjålmsson

Rob Talbot with Moomin panellist, Alexander Dan Vilhjålmsson

As Bryan was Artist Guest of Honour, we were in attendance for the whole of the long weekend. It was great that our sons Rob and Alwyn were there too, though Alwyn only stopped for one night and managed to evade all cameras.

Bryan was presenting one of the Hugos in the awards ceremony. When the microphones failed as he approached them, it became an unintended event that for some was the highpoint of the Loncon3 Hugosevening. ‘Just speak into my chest’, said Geoff Ryman, the event host.

Sound was soon restored and Bryan was able to resume. ‘Here I am presenting a Hugo. By Grabthar’s hammer, what an honour!’, he declared, to the huge delight of the vast audience.

Fancy winning a copy of Graphic Novel Man: the Comics of Bryan Talbot?

DigitalStoryEngine logoThere’s a chance to win one of 12 copies of a documentary series about Bryan and his work. Interested? You can enter the competition here. The closing date for submissions is 18th August.

The Graphic Novel Man: the Comics of Bryan Talbot is a lovely tribute from Digital Story Engine creators Russell Wall and James Guy. If you don’t win, well, you can always do the decent thing and buy yourself a copy, can’t you? It’s available here, where you can also take a look at the trailer.

trailer shoot 1Here are some photos that were taken during the trailer filming.

By the third day of filming, the pressure was taking its toll...

By the third day of filming, the pressure was taking its toll…

Arts Council England are offering me a grant!

Arts Council England logoI feel a victory dance coming on! I’ll be one more in that group of fortunate graphic-novel people to be awarded a Grant for the Arts, joining Katie Green, whose Lighter Than My Shadow came out last year, and Hannah Berry and Paula Knight, who have funding for work in progress. There may be others that I can’t recall at the moment.

It’s just four weeks since I put in my application, so I’m very impressed by their speediness (and enlightenment!) I’m most grateful to Paula and to David GrantfortheArtsGaffney from the Arts Council for their invaluable advice. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me to apply if it hadn’t been for an encouraging talk about funding opportunities at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival last October. So I appreciate that too.

Bryan will be working with me on the project and, by a lovely coincidence, the offer arrived yesterday, on the same day he sent off the final files of Grandville: Noël. So it’s a double celebration! How cool is that?

Watch this space!

Raising the flag to celebrate 42 years

WSPU flag badgeIt’s our 42nd wedding anniversary today and Bryan has surprised me with a present! I am now the proud wearer of an antique enamelled brooch in the shape of a flag that bears the slogan ‘Votes for Women’. It’s an authentic piece of merchandising originally sold by the Women’s Social and Political Union.

He arranged to buy it, without my knowledge, when we were in London at the beginning of May. Suffrage historian and antiquarian Elizabeth Crawford supplied with it the following information:

Unusually, it’s possible to date this badge pretty accurately. It is marked on the back with the maker’s name ‘Toye’, which was in usage between 1898 and 1909 when the passing of a new Companies’ Act meant that henceforward it was known as ‘Toye & Co’. Toye produced much of the WSPU merchandise, including the Hunger-Strike medals.

The 31 December 1908 issue of Votes for Women lists all merchandise that the WSPU was selling at that time – and this ‘flag design’ brooch is not included. However, as the WSPU was about to launch its big fund-raising event – the Exhibition at Prince’s Skating Rink – they had clearly added to their wares and the 14 May 1909 issue of Votes for Women included amongst the new items this Brooch – described as ‘Flag (words “Votes for Women”) 1/- each.’

page 62 topThese items are now extremely rare and highly collectable. I’m perfectly certain that Bryan paid vastly more than one shilling for it! I’d admired the design (seen in photographs) and wrote it into a WSPU shop scene in Sally Heathcote, Suffragette. You can see Kate’s loving representation in the first panel on page 62. It’s also one of the items in the box at Sally’s bedside at the beginning and end of the book. I never expected to hold the genuine article in my hands. Wow.

A totally unexpected anniversary gift, though actually he gave it to me around three weeks ago. When the brooch arrived, he was bursting to tell me about it and couldn’t wait! I shall wear it with pride.

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Some upcoming events in July

Another busy month ahead!

Bryan’s going to be at the London Film and Comic Con from the 11th to the 13th. I’ll be travelling down with him, then heading out west for the Telegraph’s literary festival in the picturesque location of Dartington Hall, near Totnes. Then on the 14th we meet up with Kate Charlesworth in Newcastle for a team event at the lovely Lit & Phil. With Bryan’s Brainstorm! exhibition opening at Astley Hall too, there’s plenty going on!

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Saturday 5th July – Sunday 14th September
Brainstorm: The Art of Bryan Talbot
Art Gallery, Astley Hall, Chorley, Lancashire
Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays 12 noon – 4:30pm during School Summer Holidays Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 12 noon – 4:30 pm
Free admission.





Friday 11th – Sunday 13th July London Film and Comic Con
Tickets here

Ways with Words




Saturday 12th July The Inside Story of the Fight for the Vote
Costa Award-winner Mary Talbot tells the story of maid-of-all-work and militant feminist, Sally Heathcote,and her involvement in the battle to secure the vote for women. She tells of Sally’s life and times and explores how her work shaped the lives of women today.
4.00pm £10 Tickets available here
Ways With Words: Festival of Words and Ideas
The Barn, Dartington Hall, Devon

Lit&Phil logoMonday 14th July Shoulder to Shoulder with Sally Heathcote, Suffragette
Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot in conversation about the making of the historical graphic novel. Sally Heathcote: Suffragette is a gripping inside story of the campaign for votes for women. A tale of loyalty, love and courage, set against a vividly realised backdrop of Edwardian Britain, it follows the fortunes of a maid-of-all-work swept up in the feminist militancy of the era. Sally Heathcote: Suffragette is another stunning collaboration from Costa Award winners, Mary and Bryan Talbot. Teamed up with acclaimed illustrator Kate Charlesworth, Sally Heathcote’s lavish pages bring history to life.
7.00pm FREE
The Lit & Phil,
23 Westgate Road,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
Telephone: 0191 232 0192

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So, here’s my schedule at Loncon 3!

LONCON3_logoIn draft, at least. Loncon 3 is the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention and the first to be held in London since 1965. With Bryan among the Guests of Honour, we’re there for the whole shebang.

Here are the panels I’ll be participating in over the long weekend:


Tove Jansson’s Moomins: Their Legacy and Influence

Thursday 12:00 – 13:00

It’s 100 years since the birth of Finnish author/artist Tove Jansson, the award-winning creator of the beloved Moomins. Moomins appeared in novels, illustrated books, comic book strips and today are celebrated with their own theme park called Muumimaailma (Moomin World).

Why did Jansson’s Moomins capture the attention and affection of the panelists, and how do Moomins continue to fire the imagination of new generations despite being nearly seventy years old?

What is the legacy of the Moomins, and how do they continue to influence European comic books today?

Kate Laity (Moderator), Lynda Rucker, Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson, Mary Talbot and Karrie Fransman

Rewriting Gender Defaults

Thursday 18:00 – 19:00

Several recent novels, including Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice”, Kim Stanley Robinson’s “2312”, Kim Westwood’s “The Courier’s New Bicycle”, Deb Taber’s “A Necessary Ill” and Kameron Hurley’s “God’s War”, have tried to imagine futures with increased gender diversity, or changed gender defaults. This panel will discuss how writers in English approach the technical aspects of challenging and disrupting gender binaries: how do issues such as narrative voice or structure affect our impressions of the worlds created? What are the strengths and weaknesses of different choices?

Roz J Kaveney (Moderator), Alex Dally MacFarlane, Julia Rios, Geoff Ryman and Mary Talbot

Revealing the Real World Through Comics

Saturday 11:00 – 12:00

It can be argued that cartoons have a long tradition of grappling with, and commenting on, poltical and domestic problems through editorial cartoons and illustrated satire.

Yet it’s generally considered that the rise of autobiographical comics came about in the 1960s, and has slowly become popular as an means of expression in the intervening decades – especially after Maus won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992.

Why have comic book journalism, graphic memoirs, and tackling social issues through the medium of comic books and cartoons become so popular? What can we reveal about the real through a medium that often uses abstract or surreal images combined with text to tell a story?

And why will they earn awards from the literary scene, when their fictional counterparts rarely get listed?

Maura McHugh (Moderator), June Madeley, Grá Linnaea and Mary Talbot

Grandville@Loncon3Writing and Pitching Comics

Sunday 11:00 – 12:00

A discussion about creating comic books from the writer’s perspective. Breaking into comic book writing can present a unique challenge for new writers, because the route in is usually different than for artists (there are no portfolio reviews for writers).

Then there are basic issues, such as formatting scripts, which aren’t even clearcut.

How do writers craft the pitches that get them jobs as comic book writers? How do they proceed once they get the gig? What’s it like to liaise with artists, colourists, letterers, and editors?

What are the joys and perils of collaborating with so many people?

Maura McHugh (Moderator), Paul Cornell, Mike Carey, Mary Talbot and Debbie Lynn Smith

Panel Borders podcast of Graphic Lives talk at AusNZ festival

AusNZ fest logoA couple of weeks ago I was in London for a new festival: the inaugural Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature and the Arts taking place at King’s College. I’d been invited to join a panel on ‘Graphic Lives’ with two other creators, namely New Zealander Sarah Laing and Anglo-Australian Evie Wyld. Chairing the session was Alex Fitch from Panel Borders and he’s just released a podcast of the talk, edited and available here. For technical reasons, he was unable to include Evie’s contributions (too much feedback on her mic) so he’ll be interviewing her again at a later date.

Photo tweeted from the audience by @LouiseArtistGraphic Lives pic@JLouiseArtist

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