On Monday (3rd April 2017) Bryan and I had the pleasure of participating in this academic conference at the University of London’s Institute of Modern Languages Research. The conference as a whole explored articulations of resistance and revolution in a range of French contexts. We shared a plenary session in the afternoon with Paul Mason, which addressed the life of women in the aftermath of the Paris Commune of 1871and their deportation to New Caledonia. Through the specific case study of Louise Michel, the plenary explored how such revolutionary moments emancipate and politicise women even though the endgame is one of failure.
Paul outlined his new play, Divine Chaos of Starry Things, about Louise Michel’s time in the French penal colony in New Caledonia, finishing with a sample read-though with two of the principal actors. The play opens on 30th April at White Bear Theatre in London and runs until 9th May. We followed, in conversation with Charles Forsdick about The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia. Both talks are available as podcasts at the Backdoor Broadcasting Company here.
We shared a broadcast with Paul last year, on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking, which is still available to listen here.
Bryan will be doing his lavishly illustrated talk on Grandville and the Anthropomorphic Tradition again, this time in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum. It’s on Saturday 11th March at 2pm and it’s is well worth attending, if you haven’t already (or even if you have!) The event is part of the Fabricating History exhibition programme, about all things steampunk. Tickets for the talk are just £2 – available here.
Later in the month I’ll be in Sunderland’s Museum & Winter Gardens doing a presentation on Revolutionary Women: Imagining Louise Michel, along with Dr Laura O’Brien, a historian at Northumbria University. It’s on Friday 24th March at 5pm. The event is jointly hosted by Sunderland University, City Library Sunderland and Waterstones Sunderland. It’s free, but ticketed via eventbrite.
Then, in early April, Bryan and I are both in the line-up for a conference on Francospheres of Resistance and Revolution at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London. We will be ‘in conversation’ with Prof Charles Forsdick (Liverpool) about The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia. ‘Exploring articulations of resistance and revolution across different spaces and times’, the conference as a whole ‘seeks papers which enquire in new and innovative ways about radical politics, activism and resistance expressed in French’.
Finally, at the end of the month, we’re off to Northeast France for Colères du Présent, a book festival in Arras, promoting the French edition of Red Virgin: Louise Michel La Vierge Rouge. Details to follow.
With 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 events:
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.
I’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:
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 Kate 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.
London’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.
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.
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.
Next morning we took a ferry down the Thames as far as Canary Wharf, where the Docklands Museum is located.
Bryan, as ever, was collecting photographic reference. Oh look, Inspector Le Brock’s office!
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.
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.
Canary 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:
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.
Bryan’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!
Back in May, Birkbeck University of London hosted a conference commemorating the 40th anniversary of Shoulder to Shoulder, an extraordinary BBC series on the suffragettes. I was there talking about Sally Heathcote Suffragette, as I’ve mentioned previously. We also had an exhibition in Birkbeck’s Peltz Gallery. There’s now a podcast available of the conference discussion of the making of the Shoulder to Shoulder series. It’s chaired by Joan Bakewell, who leads with observations about women working in the BBC in the early 1970s. The panellists have some fascinating reflections on how making drama for television – and indeed how the BBC itself – has changed since the 70s. (Bryan and I pipe up in the open discussion that follows.)
Angela Down (Sylvia Pankhurst)
Patricia Quinn (Christabel Pankhurst)
Sîan Phillips (Emmeline Pankhurst)
Waris Hussein (director, ‘The Pankhursts’, ‘Annie Kenney’, ‘Lady Constance Lytton’, ‘Sylvia Pankhurst’ episodes)
Moira Armstrong (director, ‘Outrage’, ‘Christabel Pankhurst’ episodes)
Graham Benson (production assistant)
There 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!
Today – 21st May 2014 – marks the centenary of the suffragettes’ attempted entry into Buckingham Palace. By 1914, demonstrations had turned nasty. Some of the demonstrators were armed with clubs and paint bombs, but there were 1,500 police and the crowd on the street was hostile.
Police were suppressing public gatherings by the WSPU, so the deputation to Buckingham Palace involved months of planning in secrecy. A very large empty house in Grosvenor Place, overlooking Buckingham Palace gardens, had been lent to them and 200 women gradually and surreptitiously gathered there (there are interesting first-hand accounts in Antonia Raeburn’s book, The Militant Suffragettes (Michael Joseph 1973)). Then, the day before, the WSPU distributed their customary handbill announcing their plans.
On the day of the demonstration The Times carried a small news item announcing it, then much more substantial coverage of the ‘Suffragist Riot’ the following day. For a horrified observer’s first-hand account, see Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Fry’s Suffrage Diary, edited by Elizabeth Crawford (Francis Boutle 2013).
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.