The surge of interest in comics and their mutation into the more palatable ‘graphic novel’ has resulted in some weird and wonderful associations in the minds of academics. Thus an unmissable exhibition at the Contemporary of James Gillray’s biting cartoons from the Napoleonic era is accompanied by talks and symposiums that, well… make up your own mind by checking out ‘Comic(s) Bodies’. Alan Moore and his burlesque better half, Melinda Gebbie, are always relevant and good value (and the tickets have long gone!), but ‘Bodies’ and other symposiums seem somewhat tangental to Gillray’s mission.
That said, ‘Bodies’ (12 – 5pm, May 25th, free but get tickets) could be fascinating, maybe more for the unadvertised creatives attending, who might just shake up the cosy Guardian caucus on the podium. The excellent Thom Ferrier will be present, as will Brick…
It’s no secret that Brick has had his problems with the insanity of the world, but his breakdowns were more like breakthroughs, lightbulb moments that revealed just how crazy it’s all become and how ill-equipped he was to cope. In his darkest days, certain things gave him hope (some of which are fictionalised in Depresso), not least the stories of fellow sufferers who survived the nightmare of the psychiatric system in the UK.
To give something back, he is now co-editing a compilation book of graphic narratives designed to inspire. The invitation to contribute extends to anybody anywhere, regardless of artistic or literary credentials, so if you have an uplifting story to tell, hit El Bricko now. Deadline for expressions of interest is 31st July.
After too long trying to get this 5-star reviewed book into America, it’s natural home, the publishers have finally embraced the eBook medium and will be releasing it (or should that be re-releasing?) world-wide on 1st May, 2012. The digital version comes with extra maps, enabling readers to follow my route precisely, and will be a darn sight cheaper than the paperback.
States of Independence, Clephan Building, Oxford Street, Leicester LE1 5XY:
The legendary Jay Eales and Selina Lock of Factor Fiction (award-nominated publishers of The Girly Comic) will be talking about the small press comics scene, highlighting the diversity of the medium and their remarkable commitment to both the creation and publishing of mini-comix. A free comic for every attendee! Not to be missed!!
8:00pm Monday 5th March at the Lord Roberts on Broad Street, Nottingham:
Brick will be presenting a brief illustrated talk about the writing, drawing and publishing of ‘Depresso’, and the growth of what’s called Graphic Medicine. This will be followed by an hour of Q&A, which seems excessive but provides plenty of opportunity for folk to express their outrage at his liberal use of the term ‘nutter’!
The hue and cry will be followed by a book signing…
Nottingham’s ‘Word of Mouth: Horror Night’ (Broadway bar, 7:30pm, 30th October) will be kicked off by Brick reading a rewrite of ‘The Godforsaken Year’, from his on-going graphic investigation into ‘Leonardo’s Bicycle’. Slides of the comics chapter will accompany. Other readers will include Nicola Valentine, Megan Taylor, Charlotte Thompson and storyteller Pete Davis, plus works on film by Ray Bradbury (swoon) and M.R. James read by thespians.
On 17th November, Brick goes all intellectual, presenting a paper at the Thought Bubble Festival Conference in Leeds (http://comicsforum.org/comics-forum-2011/) under the banner of ‘Graphic Medicine:Visualising the Stigma of Illness’. My co-presenter will be Associate Professor Theo Stickley from Nottingham University, who has this crazy idea that we should act out sequences from DEPRESSO as an example of challenging the stigma of madness (sorry, mental illness)!
Comics are slowly wheedling their way into academia, possibly on the back of the number of creative writing courses that now include a module on writing for comics. (While the idea of a degree in creative writing is nonsense, there is stuff an aspiring comics creative needs to master, much like an aspiring film maker.) Around the world there are various high-brow comics conferences, academic journals and subscription websites, and a large number of intellectuals are turning out theses on everything from mainstream superhero crap to obscure underground mags from the Sixties, all of which is good news for those of us struggling to make a living in the medium.
One drawback is that, oddly enough, these boffins pay to present a conference paper, presumably on the basis its extra browning on their CV. Up at Leeds they are currently grappling with the concept that impoverished cartoonists are normally paid for giving talks!
For anybody interested in more depth on the comic writing and drawing process, try this post-Lowdham Book Festival interview.
BRICK in Easy Bits
A couple of gigs that might interest fans of ‘Depresso’ and/or aspiring comics creatives in the East Midlands…
25th June – Lowdham Book Festival – an illustrated talk by Brick about the writing, drawing and production process of ‘Depresso’. www.lowdhambookfestival.co.uk
2nd July – Nottingham Writer’s Studio – a day’s workshop on writing for graphic novels, with a dinner thrown in afterwards. Absolutely no drawing skills are required. www.writingeastmidlands.co.uk
The writing and drawing up of my investigation into the hoax of ‘Leonardo’s Bicycle’ continues a pace, but does anybody out there have a take on the business side of the Leonardo industry? The sample shows just some of the tat plastered with his ‘Mona Lisa’, but what about all those exhibitions of models where you almost never see an actual Leonardo? And just how many departments are there in the world bristling with well-paid academics trawling through the poor sod’s work? Like no other artist, Leo is an multi-national industry, but has anybody written about it?