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!

 

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on 19th Century Graphic Satire Conference Report

Nottingham Does Comics in September

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Nottingham Does Comics in September

8th June 2017

MayThreat.lowres

Poster on corner of Huntingdon Street & Mansfield Road, Nottingham

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on 8th June 2017

Nottingham Does Comics in June

NDC.Flier.8.lowres

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Nottingham Does Comics in June

East of Aleppo: Bread, Bombs and Video Clips

FrontCover.CMYK.sample.lowres
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.

WomenInComics.cover.lowres
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.

FLGraphic

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on East of Aleppo: Bread, Bombs and Video Clips

Nottingham Does Comics in April

NDC.Flier.7

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Nottingham Does Comics in April

East of Aleppo – the comic

FrontCover.lowres

P1.lowresP17.lowresP26.lowres

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just completed the 26 page story East of Aleppo: Bread, Bombs and Video Clips. It’s been a bit of a battle, not just because the possibly true story has been harvested from a number of loose threads I stumbled on in alternatives to our mainstream press, but also because I’ve had to hold my tendency to go for humour in check to tell this documentary story. Then there was the pain of getting the art close as possible to the actual (not easy for a cartoonist) and the tricky bit of having three different locations that, on the surface, look and do pretty much the same thing.

I have no particular publisher in mind and might just go for self-publishing. We’ll see.

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on East of Aleppo – the comic

London Power Walk

LondonFinanceNightThe idea for an overnight ‘power walk’ through London came while crossing Waterloo Bridge after a late gig at the Southbank Centre. It was winter and a vicious wind sharp with ice barrelled down the Thames. Either side huddles of pedestrians sheltered beside buildings to monitor how the adventurous fared before following their stagger across the span. I hunched my shoulders and turned my back to it, crab-walking with a wide gait to prevent being flipped arse over tit. My gaze fixed on the modest skyscrapers glowing like Roman candles planted in the financial district. They looked exciting and alluring, like a freeze-frame of Goose Fair in full swing.

Braving frost-nip, I turned to look upstream. Where the steel and glass castles of the money manipulators shined from the inside out, the stone bastions of old power lining the north bank were floodlit, bathed in a mellow but morose light. Their heyday was over, the Empire gone and the centre of power floated downstream. But they are hanging in there, playing at old school politics like it is still relevant.

DickensPlqueSt.Panc.NightSo my idea was to plot a route through the big city taking in the financial, trade, cultural, governmental, royal and legal (in that order) seats of power and just see what I could see in the course of a meander from 11:00pm Saturday to 9:00am Sunday. I had no expectations except the joy of wandering through a London bereft of hordes of hell-bent pedestrians on a mission. A friend joined me and added an overture taking in some of ‘Dickens’ London’, starting from the great Victorian wanderer’s home on Doughty Street, a stepping stone from our propitious start and finish at the wonderful St. Pancras station.

Here’s the map and, in deference to Henry Thoreau, we travelled clockwise.

PowerWalk.1

It was a fabulous perambulation, with so many spacial oddities, human cameos and revelations of urban wildlife, so many sights best seen at night and architectural surprises, even in areas I thought I knew. But the route needs honing, partly because sections were closed for the night, notably The Temple, but mostly because it proved to be a psychogeographer’s dream for somebody like myself. Once walked, it threw up tantalising alternatives and potential improvements that need exploring further to pump the Power Walk up a notch.

And it seems others are equally fascinated by this alien cityscape, this pocket of the UK unlike any I recognise as my homeland. A few folks have asked me to take them on the journey. None were dissuaded by my terms and conditions; that it happens close as possible to the winter equinox and we go (equipped) regardless of weather or smog. I’ve experienced London at its worst and, for out-of-towners, this is an expedition.

But a hot flask and chewy sarnie at five in the morning sat in St. James’ Park between Buck’ Palace and the Foreign Office is an experience, and as foreign as they come.

Posted in The Nott’m Walker | Comments Off on London Power Walk

Postie Dave

IMG_2044 Today our postman retired and the estate went out of its way to let him know he will be greatly missed. Of course letters and parcels will continue to be delivered, along with the reams of fliers and tat he was unstintingly scathing about, but it’s unlikely our replacement regular postie will fill Dave’s well-worn shoes anytime soon. More than a postman, Dave was our ‘village pump’. A cheeky chappie, short, bespectacled and ever dapper (it had to be sub-tropical before Dave would contemplate wearing shorts), he always had time for a chat on the doorstep or street and undoubtably knew more about what was going off in the hood than any resident. More than once he had raised the alarm, most notably when one of our elderly neighbours took a tumble downstairs. Through the slit of her letterbox, he had seen her tangled legs and called an ambulance, sadly too late.

IMG_2041Dave was a committed Labour man, a staunch unionist and humanitarian never short of a scathing but witty comment about the life and times of the Big Bad World. He hated Margaret Thatcher with a passion, saw through Theresa May long before she made it into Downing Street, and could barely contain himself when Her Majesty’s Royal Mail was finally privatised. His thoughts on Brexit and Trump were heavily laced with expletives, the only time I think I ever heard him swear. Aside from his family, I think his great joy was reading, particularly ‘old stuff’. He had an soft spot for Jerome K. Jerome. What he hated was decorating, something his wife generally had lined up for him on his time off.

One day I gave Dave a pedometer to measure his daily stomp. Rounded down, it measured 7.5 miles. In the 18 years he serviced the estate, Dave walked roughly 32,400 miles up and down our streets, from and to the depot. That’s the equivalent of 1.3 times round the circumference of the globe!

Dave the Post and Brick the Toon

Dave the Post and Brick the Toon

On the day he retired, at a gathering of well-wishers round the postbox outside my house, one of my neighbours told me he had a pal who was now a postie and suffering. Every evening after work, all he wanted was to go to bed, and he wasn’t sure he could stomach the job much longer. He was twenty years younger than Dave and had been in the job for six months. I think our estate was a second home for Dave and a refuge from rollers and wallpaper paste.

The retirement of a professional Nott’m walker was a good time to start this walking blog, something I’ve been meaning to do for years. Thanks for the inducement, Dave.

Posted in The Nott’m Walker | Comments Off on Postie Dave

Just a couple o’ toons…

Democracy.web Multiculture.web

 

Two of ten toons recently produced for Irish development agency 80:20 and published in their excellent Development in an Unequal World, co-sponsored by New Internationalist.

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Just a couple o’ toons…