Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Dan Clowes and Chris Ware - Live and Uncut!

Last night I went and saw Dan Clowes and Chris Ware in conversation with Paul Gravett at the Brighton Dome. The trio had just flown back from Copenhagen’s festival (with Peter Stanbury) and had done a signing at Gosh before heading down to the South Coast. Or rather, they didn’t. Due to a “fatality on the line” the train was delayed by an hour or so. 

Garen Ewing, Patrice Aggs and her husband Chris
Still, the audience got free wine and beer and I got to catch-up with Brighton’s comics-erati such as Warren Pleece (who has forthcoming exhibitions in Brighton and London he’s busy working on), Corinne PearlmanFraser GeesinGavin BurrowsRory WalkerHannah Berry, and Stella Starr. And people came from far and wide to be there including Garen Ewing (Rainbow Orchid) from East Grinstead, Karen Rubins from London, and—most impressively of all—North Wales School of Art & Design graphic novel lecturer Dan Berry who’d come all the way from Shrewsbury for two hours, before heading back!

Karen Rubins
The talk—to a full house—was pleasant, convivial and amusing. A selection of both creators work was shown on a massive screen and Paul kept the whole thing running mellifluously living up to Michael Caine’s mantra of being like a duck: look smooth and graceful on the surface, but paddle furiously underneath.

They talked about Clowes’ new book, Wilson, and examined both their entire oeuvres. Both creators touched personal issues and how they affected their work: Clowes’ open heart surgery and Ware’s coming to terms—or failure of coming to terms—with his absentee father. Clowes’ was definitely the better raconteur, but while Ware’s legendary self-depreciation and awkwardness was still present (sitting on his hands when talking) it was somewhat diminished. 

Left to right: Paul Gravett, Dan Clowes and Chris Ware
Afterwards, there was a massive queue to sign books (no time for sketches) and the Cartoon County crowd—along with Karen Rubins, Peter Stanbury, and Garen Ewing—decamped to Carluccio’s for sandwiches, very generously laid on by Corinne, and hopefully for Clowes and Ware to join us. Alas, time was against them, and they had to catch the last train back to London.
Dan Clowes and Chris Ware
Despite not meeting the stars of the show it was a pleasant night in the company of comics chums.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

And the years fly by like days..

Well, last year it was my 40th birthday and lots of lovely friends all clubbed together and bought me driving lessons. Amazingly, 6 months later, I passed my test and now the streets of Brighton are no longer safe. Thoughtful and generous  though that was, it wasn't really the present I was hoping for! An iPhone perhaps, or some great books maybe, but not driving lessons! I suspect a certain lady in my life influenced that decision!

So, with that in mind, and my birthday less than 4 weeks away, here is the wish list of books I was hoping to get last year. Not that I'm expecting to get any of these, but if there happens to be any lovely people in the publishing world out there (Abrams, DC, Marvel, Titan, etc. - you know who you are!) who happens to be feeling particularly magnanimous (hint, hint) and would love to send me copies I'd be more than happy to review anything sent over and sing your praises from the roof tops!! Go on, make an old man very happy! ;-)
Hellboy Library Edition Volume 2: The Chained Coffin, The Right Hand of Doom, and Others: "The Chained Coffin", "The Right Hand of Doom", and Others v. 2Hellboy Library Edition Volume 1: Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil: Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil v. 1 (Hellboy Library Editions 1)Ethel and ErnestYossel April 19, 1943: April 19, 1943 - A Story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Other books I still need to get are DC Comics/Vertigo graphic novels:

Y the Last Man Vols. 4-10
100 Bullets Vols 6-13
DMZ vols 2-8
Doom Patrol Vols 3-6
Fables Vol 4-12
Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Thursday, 6 May 2010

It's not what you think...

Came across this wonderful ad the other day in Woman's Home Companion magazine (Feb. 1949). 
It's actually for Frank's Red Hot Sauce and all I've done is crop the bottom off. I wish I'd found this when I was writing my Cannabis Cookbook, especially as part of the ad reads, "Taste a little of this spicy hash right from the pan—and know the sudden pleasure of a cook who's about to treat her family!" Ah, how times were so more innocent back then.
Personally I think it'd make a great T-Shirt for the stoner in your life!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

SPX10 report: Day 1

Above: Tom Gauld's image for the SPX 10 poster

On 23 April I was invited over to the SPX10 Small Press Expo in Stockholm to talk about erotic comics. This was my second time at the unique Serieteket [Comic Book Library] in the Kulturhaus in the centre of town. The first time was when I was researching The Essential Guide to World Comics, six years ago. Back then the head of the library, Kristiina Kolehmainen, helped me loads with my Scandinavian research, so it was wonderful to return and see here in her "natural habitat" once more!

Despite Iceland’s volcano preventing fellow panel guest Melinda Gebbie, Peter Stanbury, Top Shelf publishers Brett Warnock and Chris Staros, Dash Shaw, and numerous Swedish creators trapped in New York, from getting to the show, we had no problems with the flights.

The erotic comics panel took place on Friday, and because of volcanic ash and the like, wasn’t quite the line-up promised. I bowed out of hosting the panel (a decision, with hindsight I regret) and gave the dubious honour over to Fredrik Stromberg, chairman of the Swedish Comics Association, and author of the excellent Comic Art Propaganda. Lina Neidestam, creator of the neo-feminist Zelda, couldn’t make the panel and so was covered by a last minute replacement, the great Liv Lingborn. Liv is a Swedish artist living in Norway who occasionally draws Yoai/Boy’s Love manga, and who happens to share the same birthday as me and Garen Ewing (except she's 10 years younger, curse her!). The final member of the panel was erotic publisher and academic Carl-Michael Edenborg. He was very knowledgeable about erotica, but sadly knew nothing about erotic comics, so it was difficult for him to contribute massively. However, the crowd was packed and knowledgeable and we managed to yatter on for almost two hours, despite the talk being hijacked on numerous occasions by a bearded, mad Finn—who apparently went on to do the same in practically every other panel.

Left to right: Carl-Michael Edenborg, Fredrik Stromberg, me and Liv Longborn on the Erotic Comics panel.

Above: No, I was having fun, honest!

Ironically, at the same time, there was the launch party for Swedish Comic Sin, an erotic comics anthology by mostly women. The book is excellent and I fortunately managed to catch-up with the creator/editors Natalia Batista and Fanny M. Bystedt later on. As the book is in English I’d thoroughly recommended it as a great example of the new wave of feminist erotic comics that's sweeping the globe at the moment. All the stories have a focus on character and plot and are far more intelligent and sexier than a great deal of the erotic sequential art out there at the moment. Fredrik’s latest book, Swedish Comics History, was also launched at the show and it’s an excellent primer for anyone with a passing interest in the subject, and best of all it’s written in English!

Above: Knockabout Publisher and old friend, Tony Bennett chatting to Sue at the SPX10 launch party.

Above: Jakob Hallin and Fredik Stromberg, co-editors of Bild & Bubba, Sweden's equivilant of The Comics Journal at the launch party

On the launch evening we met cartoonist and professor Joanna Rubin Dranger who very kindly gave me a copy of her 2003 graphic novel, Miss Remarkable & Her Career (below) an insightful look at how career women mentally beat themselves up all the time. Joanna teaches storytelling at University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Konstfack - which also includes creating graphic novels. 

Our wonderful hostess, Kristiina, made a short speech and then we tucked into a traditional Swedish spread of pasties and red wine! Finally a few of us were kicked out and we decamped to the local pub.

Day 2 to follow...

Monday, 3 May 2010

Always the Bridesmaid...

Well, I went up to the Night of the Senses Ball on Friday night to hopefully pick up an Erotic Award for Publication of the Year (for Erotic Comics 1 & 2),but sadly, yet not surprisingly—was pipped to the post by Susan Quilliam's updating of the bearded classic, The New Joy of Sex. However Susan did give the other nominees a lovely nod in her acceptance speech:

The night had some extremely interesting acts including both blind and dwarf striptease acts and Matt the very funny thalidomide compare/comedian. Everyone I met there was absolutely lovely from Dr Antony Lempert (winner of the Academic of the Year) and his wife, Anna, Professor Stephen Guest and his wife. Other award winners included Anna Arrowsmith, the LibDem candidate, for Politician of the Year and Act Art for Club of the Year.

Big thank you to founder Dr Tuppy Owens for being a lovely host and all the volunteers who obviously worked so very hard to put the event together.

The full list of winners is on the website and there's an article appear in tomorrow's Independent Arts' Section (Tuesday 4th May). In the meantime here's a few pics of what you missed at the fashion show element:

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine