Author Archives: John Clark

Illuminating the Dark Night of the Soul

BloomsburyP1The audience for this packed event at the Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury had them hanging from the mezzanine, although the demographic was overwhelmingly white, middle-class women, something that, as the token man on the panel, worried me a tad. I’m assured the discussion around why the five of us had chosen the comics form to make public intensely personal and distressing traumas was fascinating and truly instructive.comics-dark-night-new-786x556 Even as a contributor, I learned things I never appreciated about my book Depresso off the back of what the others revealed about their own working practices.

Touchy-feely I can do, but there was a point when our response to audience questions teetered into embarrassing and ugly self-congratulations. My attempt to righten the boat by suggesting that, truth be told, we were doing nothing new with comics sparked a rush of vigorous and maybe contentious discussion, which I’m sure the audience loved. Certainly the conversations after the event suggested we had stimulated a lot of ideas for the folks to take home and mull over.

And isn’t that what these gigs are all about? Both the gallery and ‘Monts’, our link man from Geek Syndicate, were delighted with the proceedings.

For a far more erudite review of the event, try The Geek Syndicate’s own.

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The Curious Case of Leonardo’s Bicycle

One of the last pages to be drawn. Features Karl Drais collecting his laufmaschine from cartwright Frey.

One of the last pages to be drawn. Features Karl Drais collecting his laufmaschine from cartwright Frey.

It’s DONE, all 260 odd pages of it!!! Or, at least, it’s done until some publisher decides it “needs more work” or spots 23 spelling mistakes or wants panel 25/4/2 redrawn with Stalin positioned right of frame.

Reactions thus far from copy-proofers are good to glowing, but now the hard work of finding a publisher begins. After seven books, it continues to puzzle me why what I do doesn’t interest a publisher sufficiently to support me beyond a single publication. They’ve all made considerably more money out of my efforts than myself, but such is the lot of the creative.

So, anybody out there interested in a totally nerdy romp through one very esoteric fillip of cycling history?

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Bloomsbury Festival 2015


917LfGLB6LL._SL1500_ Probably-Nothing-560x784 26251358 41PawPGBtIL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_ 2010006411_F1Friday 23rd of this month brings together Katie Green, Maria Stoian, Matilda Tristram, Nicola Streeten and myself, the token male, at the Cartoon Museum, London, to discuss comics and their unique ability in ‘Illuminating the Dark Night of the Soul‘. For the witty title and intriguing subject credit goes to our panel leader and Geek Syndicate cornerstone, David Monteith, better known for his podcast meanderings around mainstream comics and trash culture with fellow GS-er, Barry Nugent. I imagine ‘Monts’ will be trying to tease out exactly why the comics form is so well adapted to the telling of intensely personal stories that dig deep into the human psyche – summint like that. If we’re all on form, it should be fascinating. Trauma counsellors will be on hand from 6:30 onwards.

bloomsbury_festival_websitegslogobanner1ncc-logo-2015-websiteheaderThe panel is part of this year’s Bloomsbury Festival, which ranges across the arts and looks very exciting. It would be nice to tarry in ‘the smoke’ and take in some of the events, but I have to be back. Next day, Saturday 24th, is the third incarnation of the Nottingham Comic Con. I’ve missed the previous two but, this year, promised myself a day dodging the dodgy Cosplayers. I’ll probably just go as emotionally knackered comics creator of intensely personal stories that dig… you get the idea.


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Eisner Awards

eisner_awards_displayAs expected, To End All Wars failed to win either the Best Fact-Based Work or Best Anthology award at the Eisners, which takes nothing away from our delight and pride at being nominated. In each category, the winner was totally deserving. Although I’ve not read Ed Piskor’s Hip-Hop Family (Best Reality-Based Work), the muted artwork looks wonderfully reminiscent of the comics I was raised on back in the Fifties and it was, after all, a New York Times best-seller (whereas ours was barely read in the States). In the Best Anthology Award, we were runner up to Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, which is a bit like any modern movie you’d care to name being trounced by Citizen Kane at the Oscars – no problem. Windsor McKay was and remains one of the giants in our discipline and a creator whose work I reread at least once every year, generally with my mouth agog.

But thanks to one of Joe Gordon’s pals, who attended the San Diego convention, we at least have this fabulous photo of our humble submission sat in the nominations cabinet. If that doesn’t spur JC, myself and all our other contributors to strive for a winner in forthcoming Eisners, nothing will.

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THESE SEVEN – unofficial launch

Left to right, Alison Moore, Megan Taylor,  Paula Rawsthorne, Shreya Sen Hadley, John Harvey, Suzi (Brick's dog), David Belbin (reading for Alan Sillitoe) and co-ordinator Sheelagh Gallagher. Missing, as usual, Brick.

Left to right, Alison Moore, Megan Taylor, Paula Rawsthorne, Shreya Sen Hadley, John Harvey, Suzi (Brick’s dog), David Belbin (reading for Alan Sillitoe RIP) and co-ordinator Sheelagh Gallagher. AWOL, as usual, Brick.










Playing to a packed house at Lowdham Book Festival last Saturday, contributors to the showcase of local authors known as These Seven had five minutes each to do whatever to promote both the anthology (published by Five Leaves) and Nottingham’s bid for UNESCO City of Literature. All except the token cartoonist read from their stories. Me, I used the time to make folk aware of the depth the city currently boasts in local practioners of the comics art form.

9781910170205The following wordsmiths have all dipped a pinkie in comics writing, largely as a result of three national and international, locally-spawned projects – UNICEF Children’s Rights Comics, To End All Wars graphic anthology and the Dawn of the Unread on-line anthology. They be Nicola Monaghan, Alison Moore, Michael Eaton, Andrew Mulletproof Graves, Aly Stoneman, James Walker, Pippa Hennessey, David Belbin, Panya Banjoko, Ian Douglas, Adrian Reynolds, and Andrew Jadowski.

As for auteurs (writer/artists), their ranks include D’Israeli, INJ Culbard, Phillippa Rice, Luke Pearson, Steve Larder, Mike Raben White, Matt Crowe, Jamie Hewlett, and Brick. Three of these have been Eisner nominees in recent years.

The official launch is at the Nottingham Council House on 17th July. Contact Sheelagh Gallagher if you want in.

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Max Zillion reprint cometh…

Brick.BugleCallRag51zyJmfnIkL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_After the astounding success of his Kickstarter campaign to reprint Calculus Cat, my good friend Hunt Emerson is striding down the same road again to reprint his great Jazz Funnies featuring Max Zillion and Alto Ego. The campaign starts sometime around mid-July, with the reprint pencilled in for release in time for The Lakes, so keep peepers peeled.

As with Calculus Cat, this new edition will feature a gallery section filled with exciting homages by invited ‘toonists to perhaps America’s greatest gift to world culture, namely jazz. The catch-all title for the gallery of ‘Jazz Lounge’ certainly had me scratching my head, but encouraged by Hunt to stop thinking too deeply about it, I conjoured up something around my favourite Benny Goodman number, ‘Bugle Call Rag’, which just had to feature GI’s kickin’ up a storm in a motor-pool.

Watch this space for more details, but while you’re waiting, here’s Benny and the band with Gene Krupa on drums…

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University of Nottingham workshop

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Have just completed my first gig as the university’s School of English Honorary Assistant Professor of Comics. It went extremely well, I’m told, with my efforts garnering such embarrassing endorsements as “brilliant” and “wonderful.” The stories the students devised quite staggered me with their variety and precision, each one containing elements that could only be envisaged in comics form. They have now taken them away to complete in their own time and in their own way.

Bearing in mind several do not have the drawing skills to do their narrative full justice, it was exciting that they didn’t flinch from making a bold fist of their stick illustrations. By September we hope to have a small but perfectly formed on-line anthology of their work.

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Dawn of the Unread Hardcopy

This gallery contains 10 photos.

As the interactive digital comic experience, Dawn of the Unread, moves towards closure bearing accolades from such as the Guardian University Awards (it's a long story involving Trent University), it is good to hear that in a couple of months … Continue reading
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TEAW Eisner Award Nominations


Character sketches for the French platoon in Steve Martin's 'Allies of Reason' story for TEAW.

Character sketches for the French platoon in Steve Martin’s ‘Allies of Reason’ story for TEAW.

There is a telling irony that my most successful comics book to date, in terms of sales, is the one book that will not earn me a bent nickel. With all the contributor’s fees going to MSF for their battle against ebola (see earlier posts), all co-editor Jonathan Clode and myself have to show for 18 months hard graft on To End All Wars is a single copy of the finished anthology and a shedload of experience that reminds us to run a thousand miles from any invitation to repeat such an undertaking… unless it comes dangling a banker’s bonus before it. Now a sharp blow to the body has been inflicted by the announcement that our humble compendium has been nominated for not one but two Eisner Awards – Best Anthology and Best Reality-Based Work.

eisnerawards_logo_12Naturally we are delighted for all those amazing contributors who worked their pinkies to the bone on a project they clearly believed in and, we hope, found immense satisfaction in being a part of. We have already expressed our undying gratitude to one and all, and I would love to think we will walk away with one or t’other award on their behalf. If the judges knew the full story of the ethos behind the project and everybody’s struggle to bring TEAW to fruition, I would have no doubts about it, but I ain’t holding my breath. Sadly the world of professional comics does not embrace rank amateurs and relative beginners, which most of us were, but it is nice to know our combined efforts have been noticed.

If you enjoyed our efforts and are in any way connected with comics, you are eligible to vote in the Eisners at

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Alan Sillitoe Memorial Anthology

Moves are afoot to keep Nottingham’s celebrated author Alan Sillitoe in the public eye by publishing an anthology of writing by other esteemed local authors reflecting on the city, the man and the importance of his work. I never met Alan, but everything I’ve heard since becoming involved in this project points to him being immensely generous towards fledgling writers and utterly scurrilous with regard to the establishment, authority and the publishing industry. He was also a dogged smoker, only giving up in the final years of his life.

So when asked if I would contribute something to the anthology it seemed a no-brainer to pose Alan in a Nottingham bar (the most famous being The Trip to Jerusalem) toting for a light and surrounded by local characters. When it came to the design of the image, it also made some kind of sense to produce a kind of homage to Manet’s famous painting, though I stress the homage begins and ends with the dynamics of the design. For example, the deeper meaning of Manet’s bowl of oranges (apparently underlining that the woman behind the bar is a prostitute) is tempered by changing them to Bramley apples, first grown in Southwell, Nottinghamshire and named after the local butcher!

It is my understanding that this anthology and other proposed initiatives around Sillitoe’s Nottingham legacy is all part of a move to try and get a statue erected to him, which would be a nice fillip for those pursuing the city’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature.

(The other characters seen in the mirror behind Alan are, left to right, busker ‘the xylophone man’, writer and activist Ray Gosling, playwright Stephen Lowe, poet/musician Dave Turner, author DH Lawrence, independent publisher Ross Bradshaw, Forest manager Brian Clough, pub-trader ‘the cockles man’, poet Lord Byron and songwriter Wayne Evans.)

'The Bar at The Trip' by Brick

‘The Bar at The Trip’ by Brick

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