Belatedly stumbled on some glowing 5-star reviews from across the big pond for my contributions to Jim Joyce’s superb compendium, The Bicycle Book. (Jim is the founder and editor of The Bicycle Exchange, though he recently put that on hold to become a home-parent.) With a percentage of the profits going to three laudable American charities, Jim’s book contains offerings from 20 excellent writers (including Pulitzer Prize nominees and winners) and a handful of cartoonists. Brick doesn’t get a look in, but JSC is the only writer contributing from the UK.
Among the reviews was a curiosity from the Westerville Bicycle Club in Columbus, Ohio, that reads:- The book ends with some inspirational tales of wandering on the bike. Ever think about riding round the Sahara Desert? John Stuart Clark and his wife have done it (‘Saharan Margins’). … Or, for the most vivid images I’ve had evoked by words in a long time, check out Clark’s ‘Desert Storm’, concerning a storm the author could not outrace. Thank you for those kind words, Sharon Heinrich.
Not sure about other retailers, distributors, formats etc, but the Kindle edition is now available worldwide, file size 2545 KB. It is available in other formats (which I’m still trying to get my head round), but since you can download a Kindle reader for PC or Mac for free…
The new maps are a welcomed addition and make following my epic journey a lot easier, and there is talk of now producing an eBook and hardcopy up-date of The Chalke Way, with the addition of a walking route. Just depends if I’m up for flogging down the 400+ miles! Despite their age, both books remain frighteningly relevant today…
After the Gold Rush at Amazon
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