Beatrix Potter’s Inspiring Legacy in Kendal Museum

BryanOn Tuesday we went to the launch of an exhibition at the museum in Kendal, Cumbria. Beatrix Potter’s Inspiring Legacy exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of her birth. Rather than focusing on her illustrated children’s books, which are known worldwide, it highlights her lesser-known scientific legacy and her influence on artists today.

Bryan has loaned the museum original artwork from The Tale of One Bad Rat, inspired by Potter’s books. Seven contemporary local artists are also featured.

Bryan’s pages are displayed next to Beatrix Potter’s work. He’s delighted to be in such good company!
The exhibition also displays some of Potter’s personal collection of paintings by artists she admired, including Randolph Caldicott, on loan from Kendal Town Council.
Afterwards we caught up on developments for this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival over dinner with Julie Tate, festival organiser, and fellow patron, Sean Phillips. Tickets on sale soon!

September update

outsideCartmelFellSeptember draws to a sunny and fruitful close. At least, it does here in Sunderland. So I guess it’s time for another update. At the beginning of the month we enjoyed a five-day break in Hawkshead in the Lake District. Alwyn came over from Manchester for a hugely welcome overnight visit. We really don’t see him often enough these days, so it was lovely having him stay. Before taking him to the Mason’s Arms for lunch, we called at Cartmel Fell church close by.
Bryan&Alwyn in CartmelFell
Alwyn&Mary at CartmelFell2
Alwyn&Mary at MasonsArms
Both locations may be recognisable from The Tale of One Bad Rat. In the graveyard, Bryan and Alwyn were, as ever, using their cameras to collect textures.
Alwyn in graveyard 2
One shot that Bryan took inspired Alwyn to create this evocative tribute to his deeply missed friend Yo:
The following weekend we had a short trip to St Peter Port, Guernsey’s capital, for a book festival talk and exhibition opening (that I’ve mentioned already here).
Bryan in St Peter Port
Castle Cornet
Mary in St Peter Port
We spent a day there sightseeing, taking in Victor Hugo’s very quirky and interesting house. Here’s Bryan in his garden and me in his workplace up in the garret:
Bryan in Hugo's garden
Mary in Hugo's workplace
comicartSo, what’s in store for October? Well, we’re gearing up for the 3rd Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal. I’ve posted about our contributions already here. Bryan’s ‘How I create a graphic novel’ session is now fully booked, but tickets are still available for the other events. I can’t wait to tell all about the next book! I’ll also have the apples 2pleasure of hosting Karrie Fransman’s event on Sunday morning. Finally, at the end of next month we’re doing a talk on Sally Heathcote Suffragette at Sunderland’s City library as part of the Sunderland Literature Festival. It’s on Halloween but, as it’s at lunchtime, we won’t be finishing off with apple-bobbing.

October update: a month of festivals

“This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever bought!” How I love hearing that!

We’ve been on the move with Sally Heathcote again, starting with Charleston in CharlestonEast Sussex in late September. And, yes, we seem to be making converts as we go. At book signings following our literary festival talks, some people are sure to say: “This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever bought!”

Our Charleston Small Wonder Festival appearance was in an old barn fitted out as a performance space, in the grounds of the Bloomsbury Group’s farmhouse and garden. The house became home to the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in 1916.

Palace GreenKate joined us for a Durham Book Festival event, which was in the Palace Green library close by the castle and cathedral. In the morning I’d been in the equally imposing Durham Town Hall, conducting an interview with Laura Bates on her Everyday Sexism project and book.




ManorHouseAfter that Bryan and I zoomed off to Ilkley for another literary festival. Continuing the architectural theme, Bryan did his graphic-novel masterclass in a lovely old stone place adjacent to the Manor House, a fine Tudor building. Later in the day, we both took to the stage to talk about Sally Heathcote, 

IlkleyPlayHouseSuffragette – and make some more converts – in the Ilkley Playhouse. Someone in the audience (one Jane Aitchison) tweeted enthusiastically about a scene in the book that’s set close by, on Woodhouse Moor. There are some great reviews on the Pickled Egg blog/online magazine. Just look what Jess Haigh and JY Saville have to say about the event.

More new graphic novel readers!

A few days later, we were off to the Cumbrian market town of Kendal for the 2nd Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Julie Tait and her team excelled themselves.  As one reviewer remarked, “this year everything seemed to be ‘more'”. Here’s a sample of reviews: Jeremy Briggs, James Bacon, Lew Stringer, Stephen Holland (Warning: endearing effusiveness in a very long post!) Infectious enthusiasm all round. And badgers.



Bryan and I each hosted an event. I facilitated Audrey Niffenegger’s presentation of artwork in the Brewery Arts Centre Warehouse Café. Bryan did a career interview with Dez Skinn in Screen 1. Kate and I joined Bryan in his own career interview, where I do believe there was a badger in the audience!



Brewery Arts Centre

Brewery Arts Centre












And, yes, more picturesque stone buildings were involved.

Comics Clock Tower (aka Kendal Town Hall)

Comics Clock Tower (aka Kendal Town Hall)

It was a lovely weekend – for us it included a chance to catch up with Jeff and Vijaya Smith, who we hadn’t seen in years. While they were visiting the Lake District, it was a pleasure to take them to some locations from The Tale of One Bad Rat, such as this one: Cartmel Fell Church.















Town Halls have been a bit of a theme recently. A few days after the Lakes we were in Cheshire with Kate for another literary festival. The imposing red sandstone Chester Town Hall was the venue for our event. It was chaired by Mark Lawson, who Bryan and I ‘met’ on Radio 4’s Front Row when Dotter was shortlisted for a Costa Award.























The three of us rounded off the month with a trip to Dundee for the Scottish Book Trust Comics Lab and Dundee Literature Festival, both of which took place at the university. While we were there, Bryan and I saw Woodrow Phoenix’s presentation of his big book, She Lives, which we’d missed in Kendal.WoodrowBigBook

DundeeComicsLab Woodrow'sSheLives
















Next stop: Jonathan Cape’s Comic Creations evening, part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas on 14th November. Bryan and I will be appearing with Isabel Greenberg, Fumio Obata, Nick Hayes and Steve Bell. Maybe see you there?


Helen Barnrat on Tumblr: a tribute to The Tale of One Bad Rat

Badrat awakesA student in Ontario has just created a Tumblr page about Helen Barnrat. That’s the character from Bryan’s Tale of One Bad Rat who features in the Beatrix Potter pastiche at the end. The page is available to view here. Laura Stortz, the Canadian student, says she was ‘deeply moved’ by Bad Rat and ‘decided to choose and review the graphic novel as a part of my course’.

IBadRat atHillTopt’s now twenty years since the book first came out, so it’s wonderful that it still retains its appeal and people continue to discover it. A new generation of people, indeed. Crikey!

It’s my favourite graphic novel of all time (at least, it was until Alice in Sunderland came along – now I’m conflicted). Of course, being partly set in the Lake District, it featured prominently in Bryan’s Brainstorm! exhibition in Kendal that formed part of the inaugural Lakes International Comic Art Festival last year. Remember this poster?



And here are some gratuitous shots of my February front garden. An abundance of snowdrops and hellebore:



Getxo Comics Festival. The rain in Spain falls mainly on Bilbao.


With four books recently published in Spain (Dotter of her Father’s Eyes appeared there last September, the first two Grandville and The Tale of One Bad Rat came out this year), Bryan and I were delighted to be invited to the 12th Getxo Comics Festival.

Yes it rained. And it rained and it rained. Almost continuously. A little like Kendal, only wetter.

The long weekend didn’t start promisingly. We got to the airport early Thursday evening, in ample time, or so we thought. Then we discover that our flight was overbooked. Know that sinking feeling? We were the last to check in, so the plane was already full. As it turned out, we had a pleasant evening in a hotel close by, and all was well. Apart from having to get up before 5 am for the first flight out.

Bryan was kept very busy, sketching in the signing zone and at the Astiberri booth:
And we were interviewed by Jesus, which was nice.
Here’s Bryan signing next to the other international guest, Guy Delisle:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Hanging about eating and drinking is always good and on this occasion it was an opportunity to get to know some of the Spanish guests. Laureano from Astiberri (end of table) was a splendid host. On my left is Alfonso Zapino, whose graphic novel on James Joyce I’m looking forward to reading. There’s an English-language edition, published in Ireland.
Guy and Nadage. The festival organiser, Iñaki, is in the background.
We managed to fit in a little sightseeing. Here’s a couple of shots taken outside the Bilbao Guggenheim. It’s a spectacular building. Not being a fan of conceptual art, I can’t say the same for what’s on exhibition inside!

One thing struck us in particular: the Spanish are seriously into ham. Look!
On Sunday evening, when the festival was over, we waited for the Astiberri people to pack up then went zigzagging back and forth through the sodden streets, in search of a restaurant that wasn’t about to close. How far did we walk that night? Did the restaurants close when they saw us approaching? Who knows? But it took us here, and we zipped across the river by means of this striking suspension bridge/ferry construction:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd there was a hotel and, lo, its restaurant was open. Fabulous food. So good, in fact, that even Bryan ate the seafood. I now have photographic evidence of him enjoying a langoustine.

Our return flight on Monday wasn’t until mid-afternoon, so we spent some time looking around Bilbao before we left. Bryan spotted an Alladin’s cave down a side street. Sadly, we had no space in our luggage, most particularly not for that eight-foot mahogany armoire that caught my eye!
There are plans for Spanish editions of the next two Grandville books, with other possible publications too. So maybe we’ll be back again. And will it still be raining? Probably.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brainstorm! The Art of Bryan Talbot

exhibition1ExhibitionPosterThe Brainstorm! exhibition at the Wildman Gallery in Kendal is open until 10th November 2013. It’s one of the best curated exhibitions I’ve seen. Go along if you can. Meanwhile, here’s a photographic tour of the exhibition.

If you can make it to the gallery, you will also be able to have a sneak preview of a Bryan Talbot documentary by Digital Story Engine. The exclusive video presentation, which includes an introduction by legendary science-fiction author Michael Moorcock, offers fans their first glimpse of the extensive celebration of Bryan’s work to be released in 2014!



Curated by Sharon Tait. Photographs by Paul Atherton, Dianne Barry and Kate Charlesworth.

Helen Perkins at Cumbria Live.
Viv Walker at Kendal College.