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):
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.
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!
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)