Category Archives: Blog

Nottingham Does Comics – December 2017 meeting

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Rock’n’Pop – Various Artists

Brick's.Bops.webMy contribution to Tim Bird’s Rock’n’Pop – Various Artists site.

Have a soft spot for music comics, ever since the heady days of the great underground comic Rock’n’Roll Madness. Tim’s excellent project is one to be supported and contributed to.

 

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Guide Stoops of Derbyshire

E13.GS2Anybody who has walked the moors of Derbyshire and South Yorkshire (in them, rather than round their edges) will appreciate how easy it is to get ‘turned around’ on a dull day offering poor visibility. In bad weather, when you can’t see a hand in front of your face, they can be treacherous, though these days steering as straight a course as possible will see you to a tarmac road and feeling safe within a maximum of two or three hours of walking.

As recently as a hundred years ago, crossing the moors by anything other than a valley road was a tricky business, even following tracks. The earliest road signs appeared as a result of pressure from cycling organisations in the 1880s and any way posts that appeared where cyclists didn’t ride were locally knocked-up, painted wood constructions with short lifespans. In the sandstone regions of the Midland’s moors the solution was tall stone pillars engraved with the nearest town facing your direction of travel, and maybe a three-fingered pointing hand.

This short film is an armchair stroll around what are called ‘guide stoops’. At six minutes thirty, it is a little longer than necessary but the wonderful original music composed by Duncan Ward has made it worth adding a postscript about the modern ‘companion stones’ recently created by local artists. Duncan composed the piece in memory of his grandfather, who enjoyed nothing better than stomping around the moors. It’s called Greenhurst Way, the name of the street where his grandpa lived.

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November 2017’s Nottingham Does Comics

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Feel Free…

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…to download or drag’n’drop either of these images, print them off and stick as many of them as you can on college or university noticeboards. Let’s stir things up!

 

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19th Century Graphic Satire Conference Report

DIAMFqwW0AENULQNow and again it is good to dip a toe in the deep still waters of the academic world to see what they’re up to, particularly when the topic under consideration is graphic satire, a subject I get the impression is still quite new to the ivory tower’s canon of research. And this conference promised and delivered some fascinating brain fodder. If it’s still up, the full programme can be read here, and I was certainly absorbed by papers presented on the Scottish caricaturist, William Charles, on Harry Furniss, the powerhouse behind many of the stunning images in the 1880s Punch, and on the story behind the German satirical magazine, Simplicissimus, of the First World War (sorry, 19th Century!?). It is wonderful that intellectuals are doing this work but, dear me, there are problems with this whole field of study, if these presentations are anything to go by.

Don’t get me wrong, the rarely-seen images were fabulous to study (though poorly and briefly displayed, as if we weren’t actually meant to study them at all) and when it came to contextualising the cartoons, the brains trust were on the nose with their history. But the collective knowledge and understanding of the means of production, style and form, the commissioning process, the position (even life, in some cases) of the artists in that society, and their terminology fell so badly short. Nobody seemed too clear what a caricature was, such that cartoons were called caricatures, whether or not they contained a caricature. ‘Comic image’ was used for single panel cartoons and plates that had nothing to do with comics, and when I raised the point it was thought I was talking about comedians. Nobody seemed aware of comics from the period, let alone medieval comics, and there appeared a total lack of understanding that editorial cartoonists (“What’s an editorial cartoonist?”) working during times of war agree not rock the boat or take swipes at national politics for the duration. Suddenly Gillray’s social satires were being talked about as propaganda!

Accepting that the last thing these honourable and cosy (lots of back-slapping and quoting of each other) academics needed in the audience was a know-all cartoonist asking embarrassing questions, it is fair to say that some were actually delighted to have somebody from the trade challenging assumptions and sloppiness, and quietly told me so. Probably I was too loud, but this was a conference opened by ‘The V.C.’ (varsity speak in hallowed tones for Vice Chancellor) that attracted academics from Berlin, Krakow, Dublin, Belfast, Australia and distant cities in Britain. For an audience of around twenty, half of whom were presenting papers or organising the event, the money spent was outrageous.

What Nottingham Does Comics could have done with a tenth of their budget!

 

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Nottingham Does Comics in September

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8th June 2017

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Poster on corner of Huntingdon Street & Mansfield Road, Nottingham

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Nottingham Does Comics in June

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East of Aleppo: Bread, Bombs and Video Clips

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On it’s way to the printers is my latest comics effort, a short story triggered by an unexpected discovery while trying to get my head round what the hell was going on in Syria. Unlike my previous work, this is very much a drama-documentary, low on humour but high on the fog of war. It is being published by a new imprint of the large independent publishers Five Leaves, imaginatively called Five Leaves Graphic, and will be available from the end of next month (June), available through bookshops on 1st September. Price, just a fiver to y’all.

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Five Leaves Graphic’s second publication will be a critical review of UK women comics creators, past and present, currently being completed by Selina Lock, the thrust behind the seminal Girly Comic. Price yet to be decided.

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