Author Archives: John Clark

Leonardo Lecture Success


Although not the first outing for my talk on The Curious Case of Leonardo’s Bicycle, the one recently presented at Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery to accompany the city’s exhibition of Ten Leonardo Drawings from the Royal Collection was by far the most prestigious. It was a real honour to be invited to join the handful of reputable scholars (including Emeritus Professor Martin Kemp, the man on Leonardo) presenting talks on the great ‘Florentine’ and, despite all the shows being fully booked, mine was the one most ticket holders actually turned up for, also an honour.

LeoLectPicHopefully I came up to scratch, despite overrunning by 15 minutes that the vast majority of the audience stayed for. Certainly the comments and emails that followed were very complementary, and my exhaustion at the end indicated I’d earned my meagre money. Sadly, two days later, I received my final rejection from the list of 30-odd publishers I had approached to take on the book, but what a rejection letter! Myriad had solicited critiques from all their staff and a number of outside readers, all of which were positive, even gushing. Problem was, in the current publishing climate, Myriad couldn’t commit to take on the book without a co-sponsor, which they had made (and still are making) every effort to put in place, presently with little success. Their hugely complementary and useful email filled the screen and must’ve taken a good hour to write!

But Myriad’s wasn’t the first rejection note to applaud my esoteric efforts. Roughly 50% of the publishers I’ve approached have come back with comments that range from ‘a masterpiece’ (I kid you not!) down to ‘totally neat’ (from an American publisher, naturally). Across the board, the reason given for not running with the book is that ‘we can’t picture where it would sit in our catalogue’, which is the problem I’ve had with almost every book I’ve ever had published, including To End All Wars.

Will I never learn!? On the other hand, scanning through the lists of what does make it into print, one can’t help but despair. Thank heavens I don’t work in television!


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Early Warning: Leonardo’s Bicycle takes a spin out…


:Book Here:

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Brexit Chaos

Carbohydrates.lowresSo much for an informed electorate and democracy…

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Nottingham Does Comics does Lowdham Book Festival

Flier.2Only our second meeting and already a fixture in the Lowdham programme for Saturday 25th June. A panel of three professionals facilitated by the great James Walker.

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The Somme Centenary Ride


As the UK and Commonwealth steels itself for the forthcoming rememberance of the greatest waste of human life in their histories of warfare, it is fitting to display some choice images taken during my recent tour of the Somme front line.

(The stylish logo at the New Zealanders’ monument at Longueval)


Picardy is a rolling chalk landscape of industrial arable agriculture criss-crossed with tracks that frequently follow the line of allied trenches or light railway beds. Cycling or walking these with a tome like Peter Hart’s The Somme in hand enables visitors to achieve a deep insight into the insanity of this crucial phase of the so-called Great War.

(The fields of Picardy before the Thiepval Monunment to the Missing bearing 17,192 names)


It is a sobering experience to be stood in this beautiful landscape with birdsong ringing in your ears overlooking a valley where, in the space of no more than a few hundred metres, thousands of young men were slaughtered in a matter of minutes and left to rot into the mud.

(The remains of trenches at the Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont Hamel)


While their lords and masters planned one insane offensive after another in the comfort of a chateau fifty miles from the front line (General Haig never left GHQ to visit his troops), ill-equipped, inexperienced but eager volunteers readied themselves to go ‘over the top’ with just one thought in their minds; that death will come suddenly and painlessly.

(Primary School Poppy at Sunken Lane, Beaumont Hamel)


The CWGC cemeteries are lovingly tended and intensely moving islands of calm, but to ride through a working landscape that continues to reveal 100 year old ordinance brings home just how toxic Picardy continues to be. Had World War One been a Napoleonic war, it would have been an ideal battleground.

(Ordinance recently ploughed up in No Man’s Land, Hawthorne Ridge)


But the Battle of the Somme was a modern industrial conflict, with planes and tanks and heavy artillery and, worst of all, water-cooled machine guns that scythed through rows of over-laden canon fodder walking forwards, frequently up to their knees in human bonemeal.

(Headstone for a Chinese labourer, Albert)

And to think our enlightened government had the goddamn nerve to try and privatise or scrap or hive off to G4S the Commonwealth War Graves Commission!!

(Tommy memorial, Sommecourt – Serre Road Cemetery No.2 – CWGC engraver maintaining headstone at Delville Wood – Chorley Pals memorial, Serre)

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Bradford Literature Festival with Brick

Bradford’s Literature Festival surely must be the most ethnically diverse book festival in the UK, and it is a real honour to be invited onto a panel so rich in minority representation. In fact, I will be the minority, which will be nice for a change. So on 21st May I arrive back in the UK after a week touring the Somme battlefield on me push-bike, then it’s a long shower and quick kip before heading north to join in a discussion about Comics and Conflict on 22nd. What timing!
Bradford LitFest

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Nottingham Does Comics – Inaugural Meeting


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WANTED: Illustrator

_71499746_ff4309ad-370b-4c67-aa0a-96a01c2dabb2WANTED: UK-based comics illustrator to work on (hopefully) Arts Council sponsored graphic narrative written by Brick (Depresso, To End All Wars, Leonardo’s Bicycle). Style of artwork needed – similar to Loisel’s (Peter Pan) for caricatured buildings and environment but more realistic characters, closer to style of Tardi (It Was the War of the Trenches). Story set in medieval period. Script written to allow plenty of room for illustrator’s own creativity to shine. Send two sample pages of previous comics work to, subject ‘Mad Day’. Particularly interested in how set piece conversations are handled.

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Nottingham Does Comics

Interested? Know others who might be? Simply drag and drop onto your desktop and embed in your email/s to them.


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Changing Minds at the SouthBank Centre

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 17.10.37 If you are in London on 6th or 7th February and have an interest in mental health and the arts, hurry along to the SouthBank Centre’s huge and encompassing Changing Minds Festival. Brick will be there on a panel that includes performer Celia Knapp and theatre maker Cheryl Martin on the Saturday from 2:00 to 3:00pm discussing the role that sadness and deep depression can play in inspiring art.

If he’s around, maybe Beethoven would like to chip in!

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