Hi Ya’ll, Just back from holidaying and wanted to catch up on my (vastly overdue) blogging about two incredibly inspiring literary festivals I attended in the last couple of months.
CROATIA AND THE FESTIVAL OF EUROPEAN SHORT STORIES
In May I visited Croatia for the first time and travelled to Zagreb for the Festival of European Short Stories. The festival was fantastic. The organisers were young and inspired and created a really special atmosphere that began with Croatia’s most famous writers hosting a roof-top BBQ for the international guests (and yes- cooking as well. Those Croats know how to cook and write equally well!). Each night there was five hours of short story reading (rather like a mammoth bedtime story session- see photograph below) from writers from the many corners of the world including Croatia, Iran, Lebanon, Serbia, France, Spain and Wales who was the guest country this year. Thanks to Martina Kenji for the wonderful photographs.
The reason I was lucky enough to attend this festival is because I had met one of it’s founders- the lovely Roman Simic, in Lebanon at the Hay festival. I was so impressed by his energy (and his fantastic writing!) and we discussed some ways to introduce comics into the festival and Roman enthusiastically made each happen. We managed to find a group of Croatian women comic artists (via the wonderful Women in Comics Europe facebook group) and they agreed to each illustrate 2 of the short stories that were read at the festival. Below is a wee exhibition of the comics which included comics by Lea Kralj Jager, Helena Janečić, Ivana Armanini, Ivana Pipal, Sara Divljak and myself.
I also had the chance to extend my collection of comic artists from all over the world with these two lovely and talented specimens: Robert Solanovic and Lea Kralj Jager. The comics community really is so small and global that i love getting in touch with the comic creators of each new country I visit.
A Huge big thank you to Roman Simic, Andrea Rozic, Jelena Spreicer and all the Festival of European Short Stories team for making my trip so special.
IRELAND AND THE HAY FESTIVAL IN KELLS
The very next month I found myself in Ireland for only the second time in my life for the very first Irish Kells Hay festival in the wonderful town of Kells (home of the illuminated text- the Book of Kells). I was delighted to be accompanied by the wonderful Irish comic and horror writer Maura McHugh who has written a far superior blog on our weekend here.
My talk was the very first one on the Friday so I was happy to get the scary bit out the way and get on with enjoying all the amazing talent the festival had to offer. We watched an amazing talks by Germain Greer andJeanette Winterson who we later met briefly at parties and over breakfast buns at the hotel.
In the evening we watched a wonderful poetry reading under the stars outside a pub and didn’t get rained on once. We took part in a Girley bog walk (which was not girly in the slightest) and we had to escape when we realised we were only half way through after 2 hours. We fled the healthy outdoors for the dark and geeky world of books and attended John Banville’s talk.
Kells itself was the friendliest town I had ever set foot in. Shop owners stopped us in the streets to chat, a lady who’d attend my talk dragged me off to meet her husband on my way to the pub’s loos and an old Irish man got down on their knees in the hotel lobby to kiss my hand. Each any every shop window was crammed with books- from the bike shop (the biook shop?) to the butchers (or bookchers?).
Maura and I chatted away into the wee hours and managed to get a castle visit squeezed into all that conversing. By Sunday I was utterly inspired and exhausted- not from all my partying but from the Irish folk signing in the pub outside our hotel window until 3am. I did not mind a bit having bought silicon earplugs and fell asleep certain that I was experiencing authentic Irish partying (albeit whilst tucked up in my bed). I shared my plane journey home with an old Etonian Tory MP… which sums up the many varied folk you meet at literary events! A huge thank you to Peter Florence, Lyndy Cooke, Rhodri Jones and the whole Hay team for the fantastic weekend.
I heart Belgium. Honestly- where else are so many amazing comic artists and comic lovers packed into such a small place? in the last month I was lucky enough to be invited back twice for two different projects. First up was the world renowned Passa Porta literary festival featuring a host of brilliant writers from all over the world including the wonderful A S Byatt- swoon. We were invited for the festival, to run workshops and give talks and to see our work displayed at the stunning Belgium Strip Centre.
Passa Porta and Ilke Froyen in particular were responsible for bringing the world of comics to the world of literature with the Brussels in Shorts project that I wrote about in an earlier post. It was one of the best organised projects i’ve ever had the pleasure to be part of and included a 2-week residency, published book and exhibition of the 12 international artist’s work. It was great to finally meet the other artists who were brilliant and included: Frederik Van den Stock, Tomáš Kučerovský, Elric Dufau, Stedho, Conz, Paula Bulling, Salissou Maman Oumarou, Eva Hilhorst, Wauter Mannaert, William Goldsmith, Antonio & Carlos Segura Donat.
Next up was the T+A+G event at Beursschouwburg I was invited to along with the wonderful British artist Hannah Berry. It was organised by a group of Belgium students who I had once lectured to on the comic degree at Sint Lukas in Brussels. Each of the 14 artists involved had to design a tote bag which was auctioned off (mine was a blue portrait of Frida Kahlo). The ‘popularity contest’ of an auction was incredibly nerve wrecking for Hannah and I, as I’d never experiences it before. But it was great to see all the fantastic young artists the country keeps churning out and to be able to visit Brussels again.
I also managed to make my first Lino cut at a workshop held by the talented Sien De Luyck and Hannah and I managed to pay a visit to Belgium’s own pee meister as this was her first time in Brussels. Thank you so much to Sarah Vierstraete and the T+A+G team for inviting us!
I was lucky enough to be invited by the British Council to the fantastic Kosmopolis literary festival in Barcelona on March 14th-16th. It’s incredibly exciting to see more and more literary festivals all over the world embracing comics, and even better to see the British council supporting them too! I travelled along with the lovely Paul Gravett, Peter Stanbury, Paul Rainey and Dave Mckean who all provided fantastic conversation over some incredibly tasty dinners.
I ran a workshop titled: ‘Experimenting with comics: from sculpture to digital’ where we looked at how the medium of comics could determine the message. You can read a description of it here (in Spanish… or with the aid of Google Translate!): http://www.cccb.org/kosmopolis/es/noticia?idg=43559. The group who attended where so enthusiastic and thoughtful and that combined with the venue’s breathtaking views over the rooftops of Barcelona as the sunset really left me buzzing! Dave Mckean also popped along and enthusiastically joined in the debate over the definition of ‘comics’.
You can see a video (part English, part Spanish) about comics with us all in it here. Although Spain is facing such difficult times economically it is great to see so much enthusiasm at the festival for the importance of culture and storytelling in all it’s forms. Many, many thanks to the lovely Isabella Petith from the British Council and Juan Insua from Kosmopolis for inviting us!
Goodness, have there been a lot of amazing events this month! The kick off of COMICA Festival in November unleashed a torrent of incredible exhibitions, talks, markets and awards which was followed by a Jonathan Cape event in Bristol, Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds and the Book Trust event back in London. Here is the low down:
First up I was invited to host the ‘50 Shades of Comics’ panel with the amazing Aline Kominsky-Crumb (Dirty Laundry, Need More Love, Drawn Together) and novelist Evie Blake (who adapted Guido Crepax’s erotic comic into a novel, Valentina). I suspect I was asked to host it as my book had a few naughty bits in it, but being a bit of a secret prude I was a little nervous about how I’d fair. Melinda Gebbie was also supposed to talk about her collaboration with husband Alan Moore on Lost Girls, but family obligations meant she unfortunately had to pull out. We talked about the inclination for women to have submissive fantasies and the roll of hate in sex and sex in hate. And Aline taught us how yoga can erm… aid oral sex. Fascinating stuff!
We were then invited by the Korean Cultural Centre to another COMICA panel/networking event with 5 fantastic Korean Manhwa artists: Lee Doo-Ho, Hyung Min-Woo, Chae Jung-Taek, Suk Jeong-Hyun and Jude Friday. I was pair up with the wonderful Chae Jung-Taek who I chatted to during the panel. His more recent comic is called Mr Kimchi and his comic about a sex-obsessed high school was turned into a movie. Check out this surreal clip below! It was great to see that Korean Manhwa had such strong ties with their sophisticated film industry. I am now dreaming of visiting!
Next up was a Jonathan Cape Festival of Ideas event held in Bristol. I had the pleasure of appearing alongside Katie Green, Simone Lia, Hannah Berry, Joff Winterheart, Bryan and Mary Talbot, Ravi Thornton and Othon… and Alison-friggin-Bechdel! I gave Alison a copy of my book and then was terrified as she read it on our train journey home. Fortunately she really liked it. Phew! But then I had told her the (true) story of how I wrestled my copy of Fun Home back from a gang of Mexican muggers who made off with my wallet/camera. Check out her new book Are You My Mother?
Then we went up to my old university home of Leeds for Thought Bubble were I shared the Jonathan Cape table with Simone Lia and Hannah Berry and had 1000s of chats with 100s of shiny, happy comicey folk! Man I love you guys. (photos below with Ben Dickson and Hannah Berry).
And finally last night back in London I talked at the Hannah Bery/Comica Book Trust event. Packed out and good to have a few new literary brains to wash in the ways of comicy propaganda Read Hannah Berry’s fantastic and hilarious Book Trust Resident Blog here:http://www.booktrust.org.uk/writing/online-writer-in-residence/blog/
Here’s a photo (left) pre-panel with the lovely Simone Lia and Hannah Berry (Sarah MacIntyre also spoke with us). And (right) later in the pub with rather red looking Megan Donnolley, Posy Simmonds and Simone Lia (Sarah McIntyre was taking the photo!). Pretty dramatic to witness Posy flying across the room to alert a young man whose double base had caught on fire. I kid you not. Could only happen in a pub full of storytellers!
The lovely folk at Comica festival joined forces with Foyles book shop to create a history of Foyles in comic form. I was invited to draw 2 panels alongside some amazing talent such as Steven Appleby, Bryan Talbot, JAKe, Hunt Emerson, John Miers, Krent Able, Woodrow Phoenix, Oliver East, Warren Pleece, Hannah Berry, Rob Davis, Donya Todd and Rian Hughes.
Plus the project got a mention in Creative Review! Congratulations to all involved. Do go check it out on Charing Cross Road next to Foyles.
Just returned from the lovely Shamballa festival to find two of my comics articles have been published:
The first is a 4-page article for the lovely Psychologies Magazine where I lived by four rules for one month (Page76) including giving up social media to giving away my possessions. The second is a 2-page comic for the New Statesman on aggression in comedy in their political comic special (Page 28). I interviewed Josie Long and Robin Ince among others and asked if we should be consuming comedy ethically.
It’s fantastic that more and more papers and magazines are open to the idea of graphic journalism and all it has to offer, and I hope to see more of it! Talking of which do check out this amazing Dutch website which has some fantastic examples of comic journalism sometimes embedded with audio and video. Truly inspiring! http://www.cartoonmovement.com/comic
For those of you who didn’t know, I went fully freelance in April this year having finished my part-time 18 month comic youth project. I must admit I was pretty scared but it’s been a rollercoster ride of unpredictability including trips to Brussels, Moscow, Glasgow, Beirut and Latitude festival and lots of varied jobs (in varied styles!). Below is a sneak peak at a couple of the pieces I may have not shown you before…
This is a comic review of the Hay Literary Festival Beirut I did for their sponsors- The Telegraph.
A wee teaser of the 4-page comic article I wrote for Psychologies Magazine that will be out in September.
Part of a 2-page comic review I did for the wonderful Strumpet anthology out… soon?
A commission in water colours.
Another commission in water coloured pencils.
I recently published an illustrated article with The Guardian’s Comment is Free where I interviewed five graduates about the struggles of life post-uni: debts, being forced to live at home etc. It was fascinating to get to chat to these intelligent, hard working young people but so sad that they’re struggling.
I was more nervous putting this comic than usual as I felt responsible for represnting their stories. But great to see The Guardian’s supporting graphic journalism and showing what we can do with this great medium! I’ve got some similar projects in the pipeline so keep your eyes out!
Here’s a lovely wee interview TV Brussels did about my residency with Het beschrijf. Thank you to Ryan le Garrec for the interview. * sigh* wish I had a life editor to cut all my incoherent ramblings down to 3 second sassy sound bites.
I’m finally back from a whirlwind 3 weeks in Brussels and Moscow and have promised to write a proper blog post about each. So first up is my 2 week residency with the acclaimed literary organisation Het beschrijf in Brussels. Het beschrijf organises book festivals and residencies for many amazing global writers (Including fellow Scott Janice Galloway The Trick is to Keep Breathing and Alan Hollinghurst who wrote The Line of Beauty). Their Brussels in Shorts project was the first time Het beschrijf has opened their doors to comic artists, selecting 10 global artists to each create a 12-page stories set in or around a street in Brussels- Oude Graanmarkt. The 10 stories will be collected in an anthology and published by the fantastic Oogachtend publishers (who have published award winning comic artists Brecht Evens and Randall C).
I was so excited when I heard about this project. How many British organisations fund residencies that allow comic artists time, space and a salary to create? So I worked my proverbial bollocks off on my application creating a pop-up book complete with chocolate bribes (see below) and submitted a story about a magical 5 Euro note that grants your deepest, darkest wish.
If you’ve seen my work, you’ll know I like experimenting with different mediums to tell sequential narratives and so I decided to use paper cut-outs for my story as the narrative was all about objects and paper money. During the residency I managed to write and plan out the full 12 pages and to build the first 3. Below are a few sneak peaks…
It was amazing to have a whole apartment to myself and a little intimidating to suddenly have my hearts desire of enough space, time and money to make what I wanted. So intimidating in fact, that I filled some of that space and time learning about Belgium and the comic scene there. For any of you who don’t know, the Belgium people LOVE their comics. Like the French they refer to it as their ‘9th Art’ and their tiny country is crammed with amazing comic festivals (such as Strip Turnhout where we were guests last December), fantastic comic exhibitions (Belgium Comic Strip Centre, Hergé Museum etc), comic degrees (International students can study BAs and MAs at Saint Lukas), beautiful comic shops (the beautiful Brüsel, Passa Porta and the English Speaking Sterling Books has a great selection) and some of the most brilliant artists in Europe (my ex-intern Shamisa Debroey is one to keep your eye on plus Olivier Schrauwen, Thierry Bouüaert and the afore mentioned Brecht Evens and Randall C). Here’s a fantasticaly informative report my ex londonprintstudio students did about their trip to Brussels last year (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4). How does such a small country produce so much talent? I suspect with proper funding from the government and respect for this art form which is often over looked in the UK.
I found myself living a nocturnal existence; drawing comics all night and keeping myself busy in the day meeting with lovely comic professors, publishers, curators, festival organisers and artists. Having spent a lot of time recently drawing alone in my flat in London, it was great to put myself outside my comfort zone, get out into the big, wide world and meet new people. I also had a radio interview with FM Brussels (where I was terrified about pronouncing the dreaded ‘Het beschrijf’) and a TV interview with TV Brussels (where the lovely cameraman spent a lot of time filming my feet!). I also gave a talk to a packed audience of such lovely folk at Sterling Books and taught a lesson on comics at the British School of Brussels. Jon came out to visit for a weekend and we had a perfect day visiting a huge contemporary art fair, watching silent films with piano accompaniments and eating all the lobster we could muster.
So- hopefully that’s given you a rough idea of my residency. I’ll keep you posted on the other artist’s work and how the anthology comes together. AND you’ll be pleased to know if this project goes well there may be future opportunities for comic artists to apply (although you’ll need to have been published). All that’s left to say is a MASSIVE, MASSIVE thank-you to Het beschrijf (and all their staff including Ilke, Sigrid, Petra, Kristien, Barbara, Piet and Marq) for making me feel so welcome and looked after, and to all the jury for selecting my story to be included in this wonderful project (Ever Meulen, Willem de Graeve, Charles Dierick, Johan Stuyck, Linda Torfs and Annelies Verbeke).
This post has been delayed for a while by the flurry of THTG publicity, but finally I can announce the good news… While in Belgium for the exhibition I was lucky enough to receive a phone call telling me I’d won one of the places on a residency following the Brussels in Shorts Competition. The prize was organised by the literary organisation Het beschrijf who will commission 10 international comic strip artists (from Spain to Czech Republic and including fellow Brit William Goldsmith who I taught at londonprintstudio!) to create and publish a graphic short story on contemporary Brussels with the amazing publishing house Oogachtend. Really looking forward to learning more about the amazing comic scene in Belgium and meeting the other artists! Here is a clip on TV Brussels about the residency.
I will be in Brussels from 12th-26th April and will be doing a signing at Sterling Books on Friday 20th April at 7pm so come on down if you are there! Below is a photo of my application and a sneak peak of my story which is all about a magical 5 Euro note…
I drew an Illustrated Guide to ‘Comics in London’ for Time Out on Monday and it has spread round Twitter and Facebook like wildfire. It covers comic artists, shops such as Foyles, Gosh, Orbital and Nobrow; Groups like Laydeez Do Comics, Comic Gos!ph, COMICA Social Club; conventions such as MCM Expo and COMICA Festival; and arts organisations such as House of Illustration and londonprintstudio. For more info on all the comic events in the UK do check out Paul Gravett’s website.
Great to have the chance to give the talented and enthusiastic London scene a shout-out… just wish I’d had more room to fit more talent in. Please tweet it and pass it around. Thanks!
Phew! What a month. Lots of e-mailing and tweeting and facbooking as the first reviews of The House That Groaned came in. And let me tell you it is scary stuff. So… here in one location is an unadulterated warts and all list of all the reviews (I know of) of my graphic novel thus far.
A big thank you to all the reviewers! And please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like your own copy to review. I’d love to know what you think!
‘KARRIE FRANSMAN breaks all the rules of storytelling; accumulated over the past thousands of years. She creates a confusion at first, that suddenly bursts into the obvious and simplest fact; that all the stories of, and in our lives, are personal and private. Unlinked and unlike anyone else’s…..like our DNA. The only way this wonderful ‘Book’ could have been written is by illustration….not by word…..rather like the hidden stories drawn on the walls of caves. Nicholas Roeg (director of Don’t look Now and Walkabout)
‘The oddball tenants of a shared London house jump off the page in Karrie Fransman’s bleak yet beautiful graphic novel’ The Observer Full Review Here.
‘It’s an enjoyable tale, dark but full of energy, fascinated by the private lives and perversity that bulge beneath suburbia’s facade’ The Guardian Full Review Here.
‘Oddly macabre and moving at the same time, more absurdist magic realism than gritty kitchen-sink drama, few British debut graphic novels have been as audacious and unsettling as this.’ Paul Gravett (Journalist and author of 1001 Comics to Read Before You Die) Full Review Here
‘The House That Groaned is definitely not the usual fare I have come to expect from young women’s graphic novels, those coming-of-age stories replete with weight problems and dates that go wrong. No coming of age here, although we do get some frightening insights into a good number of childhoods. As for bad dates, all the tenants of the rotting Victorian apartment house have dates that go horribly wrong. And let’s not begin to talk about weight problems! So the issues in the typical graphic novel by women are present here, but cleverly twisted, as are the wretched tenants and the groaning house itself. Karrie Fransman’s art style, which can only be described as creepy, augments the general malaise of the story. I recommend this book to all lovers of dark humor.’ Trina Robbins (Writer, Historian of Women’s Comics)
‘The beautifully evocative illustrations remind us of the work of Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) and Alison Bechdel (Fun Home), but the darkly funny story - a tale of urban alienation, hungry women and sexuality - is uniquely Fransman’s. Stylist Editor’s Picks. Full Review Here.
‘But although there’s wonderfully-funny grotesque touches, there is a complexity and a depth to her creations that somehow anchors the whole thing in real life.’ It’s Nice That Full Review Here.
Shout-out in my old home… The Guardian’s G2: Seen Here.
‘The House That Groaned is the type of story that graphic novels are made for. Visually compelling and narratively complex. It’s also a book that challenges the conventions and expectations of what the medium can do. Can we have more books like this? Please!’ Gav Reads (Super blogger) Full Review Here.
RTE Radio Interview: Listen Here at 50:16.
‘Replete with understated yet observant social commentary — dressed up in the trappings of black comedy, surreal pathos and often downbeat drama –The House that Groaned is an exceptional first-time graphic novel. Karrie Fransman is a name to carefully watch in the ever burgeoning U.K. indie graphic novel scene.’Broken Frontier Full Review Here.
‘So all in all it’s a damn fine book; hugely, spectacularly impressive for a debut. But the flaws in it make it more a technical and storytelling success than a really great, engaging, intriguing, fascinating thng.’Richard Burton (Forbidden Planet) Full Review Here.
‘A brave and sophisticated book, The House that Groaned digs deep into the psyche of flat dwellers and what goes on behind their closed doors. It’s exaggerated caricature but it’s stuffed full of social observation. It’s a fantastic read: dramatic, surreal, sophisticated, hilarious and horrific in equal measure.’ Grovel.org.uk. Full Review Here.
‘It is rather ‘adult’ content though and not one to leave around for youngsters to flick through.’ Sarah Broadhurst (Super blogger) Full Review Here.
“The House That Groaned” is an original, well written, and completely enrapturing read that deserves a wide audience.’ Sam Quixote (Amazon Top 50 Reviewer) Full Review Here.
‘It’s also darkly humorous, definitely surreal and very highly recommended.’ Pamflet Full Review Here.
‘It’s a great literary graphic novel that touches upon so many different aspects of life. It is also an utterly beautiful object to hold in your hands and shouts very loudly that physical books aren’t going anywhere.’Dog Ear Discs. Full Review Here.
‘The House The Groaned is a story of fantasy dripped in reality and I recommend you follow the advice of The Midnight Feast Front Woman and gorge yourself on it immediately.’ Graphic Engine Full Review Here.
And one of my favourites…
‘This is a graphic novel I found in an independent bookshop that smells really good. It’s a weird one but I liked it.’ Frankie at Hurry Up Please It’s Time. Found Here.
Now, hurry along and go buy one for yourself. And your nan. And her dog.
I’m still reeling from the fantastic launch party last Thursday at Foyles in Charing Cross Road! Crowds of smiley people shrugged off their back-to-work blues and came to welcome my first graphic novel The House That Groaned into the world. A huge thank you to Susan Yan Mach and Sabrina Dallot-Seguro for the excellent photos below!
We had magician Olive Meech producing flames and water from the book, We had life-sized cartoon characters walking around (thank you Rachel, Suzie and Jules!) and Emily Grogan from Brighton Bakery produced a beautiful house-shaped cake (so good it made me groan!).
You can play with the book, buy the book and meet the neighbours here: http://www.thehousethatgroaned.com/
WHOOOOhooo! So excited! Here at last is Adam Zygadlo’s amazing animation promotion for my new graphic novel ‘The House That Groaned’. Please pass it on, ‘like’ it on Youtube and check out Adams other great work at http://www.jarbrain.com/ Happy Holidays one and all! xx
Last week I returned from an amazing trip to Belgium where digital comic wizard Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and I were invited to curate an exhibition on experimental comics alongside the wonderful Douglas Noble and most talented Rachel Emily Taylor at Strip Turnhout comic festival. This included a wonderful quilt my aunt, Denny Fransman, made of the front cover of my book ‘The House That Groaned’. She’s a brilliant crafts person so watch this space for more collaborations! Britain was the guest country at Strip Turnhout so we were in great company and spent the week hanging out with Paul Gravett, Peter Stanbury, Posy Simmonds (Tamara Drewe and Gemma Bovery), Woodrow Phoenix, Kevin O’ Neil (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and Paul Grist (Kane and Jack Staff) not to mention the Belgium talent like Randall C and Brecht Evans aaand i was lucky enough to be introduced to Charles Burns (Black Hole). Swoon.
Comics are treated with so much respect in Belgium which is why the country probably has some of the best comic artists in Europe. We watched huge comic concerts where artists drew along to the music and visited their massive comic exhibitions. Many many thanks to Koen and his brilliant Strip Turnhout team for inviting us and making our stay so wonderful! Here are some photos of our exhibition (with Rachel’s massive wolf heed)…
… and here is a wee article about me in Strip magazine (…a whole magazine about comics! imagine).
I also had the chance to lecture to Johan Stuyck’s students at the fantastic Sint Lukas Comics MA and BA. It was a great chance to meet all the talented students I’ve heard so much about. My comic interns at londonprintstudio were lucky enough to visit that weekend and joined me to meet the students and tell them about their programme. Thanks to Susan Yan Mach for the photos below!
Hello! Here are a few things I’ve been meaning to write about. First up is a comic I did for the Young Vic a while back. It’s a pattern comic showing a man growing older while sitting in the audience at the Young Vic theatre and is for their legacy brochure. A really fun job for a great client!
Last Friday I was also incredibly lucky enough to be invited by House of Illustration to a medical illustration masterclass at The Royal College of Surgeons run by Joanna Cameron of the Medical Artists Education Trust. I learnt so much about what medical illustration involves- from digital art, to patient pamphlets (minus the blood and gore!) to facial reconstruction. Apparently the medical illustration students learn more anatomy than medical students! Thanks so much to Joanna and House of Illustration for the opportunity to spend a day learning. Here is some of the dead thing in jars I drew during the class…
It’s really interesting to hear of more artists sitting on the borders of medicine and illustration much like the comic artists, doctors and academics who I met at Ian William’s Graphic Medicine conference. I gave a paper at Graphic Medicine in at Leeds Art Gallery on November 17th titled ‘The Body as a Canvas in Comics: An artists examines the health of the social body in her graphic novel The House That Groaned‘. I’ll upload a wee youtube video of the presentation soon as I did a lot of original art for it. I talked alongside some amazing comic artists: Nicola Steeten, Daryl Cunningham, Paula Knight, Sarah Leavitt (talking about her book Tangels and her mother’s experience of Alzheimers), Andrew Godfery who draws comics about his Cystic Fibrosis, Katie Green whose book ‘Lighter Than My Shadow’ about her battle with anorexia will be published by Cape aaannnd MK Czerwiec whose comic ‘Taking Turns’ really inspired me. It’s a combination of comic memoires and oral history about her experience as a nurse on an AIDS unit in Chicago. It really opened up my eyes to the way we can allow others voices within our comics. Read it now! The talk followed a similar one I gave at the Transitions conference at Birkbeck University of London a few week earlier. Both conferences were a little like spending the day at ‘comic university’ and it was fascinating to listen to lectures from Arabian comics to architectural comics. Inspiring stuff!
It’s been over a month and I still haven’t managed to recount my amazingly inspiring trip to Russia, so here goes…
In October I was incredibly fortunate to be invited out by the International Comic Festival Komissia, The Goethe- Institute Moscow, NCCA Yekaterinburg and The Centre of Contemporary Art Winzavod to Yekaterinburg for their RESPECT project. I was accompanied by gorgeous comic artists Warren Pleece and Rob Davis, who kept me giggling like a hyena throughout the 8 days, and a bunch of incredibly talented comic artists from Germany, Finland, Belgium, France and of course Russia.
The experience is probably best described as social tourism. We were invited to come to Russia and attempt to get to grips with their issues of racism, nationalism, homophobia and sexism, under a blanket theme of ‘Respect’. We were introduced to a whole side of cultural and political life in and received lectures, interviewed and met with a whole host of Russians from human rights activists, journalists and nuns to nationalists and art activists. With Russia’s continuing censorship and corruption it was fascinating to hear the stories of how ordinary Russian people lived.
In addition to our comics being exhibited we were asked to give a master-class and respond to the whole experience with a 15 page comic booklet for Russian teenagers and young adult that explored and addressed the issues of respect. I will post mine once it’s finished and you can judge it yourself!
I felt honoured to be given the opportunity to try to understand a culture very different to my own, particularly as my grandfather (who died before I was born) was Russian. It felt a little like a homecoming and I felt very much like I’d gained a whole host of Russian siblings! Many, many thanks to Ann Vornokova, Heehoos, Seri Sionov, Wolf Iro and all the other staff, translators, volunteers and artists who made our trip so memorable.
I just wanted to write a massive, big THANK YOU to all the generous donors for our comic library for homeless and vulnerable young people at New Horizons Youth Centre following my comic youth project there with House of Illustration. We received over 100 comics and graphic novels from Manga to Super hero comics and Indi. Good stuff!
Many thanks to: Mark Haylock, Karen Rubins, Ellen Lindner, Sean Azzopardi, Mike Medaglia, William Morris, Paul Gravett, Jude Fransman, Jonathan Plackett, Kripa Joshi, Jared and Oliver Pickles and OK comics and to Alex Bowler and Jonathan Cape for their generous support. And a HUGE thank you to Emily Jost and the House of Illustration staff and to New Horizon members and staff… and most of all to Mark Cruise for his endless support and genuine love of comics!
There’s still time to donate by posting your comics to: New Horizon: ‘Comic Book Donation, Mark Cruise, New Horizon Youth Centre,68 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JR’
Many, many Thanks! I hope the following photos will show you how much the young people appreciate it!
I’ll be running a comic workshop at The Big Draw’s Big Splash alongside Quentin Blake, Brian Talbot and many more. It’s a FREE event for all ages celebrating illustration and comics, 12-5pm, Sunday 25 September, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG. Should be fun! http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=182495368485023
Visit http://bit.ly/bigdraw11 for the full programme
All activities and boat rides are free. You are welcome to drop in and join in!
*Doodle Cook (ages 5+): 12.15; 1.45; 3.15
*Let’s Make Some Great Art (ages 6+): 1.00; 2.30; 4.00
*My Wonderful World of Fashion (fashionistas of all ages): 2.30; 2.00; 3.30
*Underwater Bubble-writing (ages 5+):1.15; 2.45; 4.15
*The Animated Zoetrope (families): 12.15; 1.30; 2.45; 4.00
*Make a Comic in a Day: 12.15 - 5pm (teenagers + adults)
*Bryan Talbot Talk: Grandville and the Anthropomorphic Tradition: 2.30
Hi, hope you are well. I am writing to tell you about a small comic library we are trying to set up. Over the last two months I’ve been running a comic youth project with House of Illustration and New Horizon Youth Centre. New Horizon Youth Centre is a day centre working with young people who are vulnerable, homeless or at risk. I’ve been running an eight week comic project with House of Illustration were the young people have been learning to tell their own stories and express themselves through making comics.
Each week I brought in loads of new comics and was delighted to see how much the young people loved them! It is easy to see the importance of comics in improving literacy and communicating across different cultures and classes. Of the 2000 young people New Horizon sees every year a number have had negative experiences with formal education, and have issues with numeracy and literacy. There are also a number of immigrant clients for whom English is a second language. You can imagine how well these young people responded to comics such as Shaun Tan’s ‘The Arrival’ and Marjane Satrapi’s ‘Persepolis’.
I am currently trying to set up a small donated library of comic books at New Horizon and would love your support. Like me you probably have a shelf full of comics you no longer read. Any comics or graphic novels you can spare would be fantastic, even just one would do! It would be great if the collection included some classics (Chris Ware, Clowes, Alan Moore, Mccloud etc) if you have any copies to spare. I am starting the collection off with some of my own comics so please join in! Please pass this e-mail on to any comic lovers or publishers you think may have some comics to spare and post it on twitter, facebook or your personal blogs. Thank you!
How To Donate:
1) Bring your comic donations to Laydeez Do Comics on Monday 22nd August where I will be collecting them.
2) Post them to New Horizon: ‘Comic Book Donation, Mark Cruise, New Horizon Youth Centre,68 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JR’
Many thanks for all your help,
The Wonderful Alex Fitch interviewed me this week for Panel Borders, the UK’s only weekly radio show all about comics (aaah…heaven!). You can hear me yabbering away today (Thursday) at 5pm on Resonance 104.4fm. I’m told it will be uploaded as a podcast later this week. Click on the link below to listen:
We had a fantastic launch night last Thursday for our exhibition ’That’s Novel: Lifting Comics off the Page’ at Londonprintstudio. I was exhibiting my comic sculptures, some of my ‘flat’ comics and my dolls house (where you ‘read’ the pages by peaking through the window) alongside some fantastic comic artists. Thanks to Sean Azzopardi for the first two photos and londonprintstudio for the second two. You can still catch the exhibition until December 18th.
More details here: http://www.londonprintstudio.org.uk/Events.html
Hope you’re all well! K x
1) First up London Print Studio is offering a 6 month internship in ‘comics and comic production’ to five enthusiastic 21-25 year olds. They will have the chance to: Run comic workshops, Receive mentoring from top professional comic creators and publishers, Develop their own artistic projects with supervision from mentors, take part in creating a graphic novel publication.
More details and application forms here . Deadline is November 1st!
2) Secondly i’m running a master class in comics on Friday 29th (*new date!) at 6.30pm for The Cartoon Heart Club. To book a place click here: http://www.meetup.com/CartoonHrt/calendar/14998385/
3) And fiiinallly i will be taking part in an exhibition at London Print Studio on 22nd October- December called ‘That’s Novel: lifting comics off the page’. My comic sculptures will be on display there for the first time. Come on down!
That’s all for now folks! K x
Hi People- After much waiting i can finally announce my big news. I’ve signed a deal with Random House’s Square Peg for an advance to publish my first graphic novel: ‘The House That Groaned’. Here’s a sneak peak of the art style above (i know…little eyes- gasp!)
The story is about bodies and the spaces they inhabit. It’s set in a converted Victorian building with six, one-bedroom apartments inhabited by six, lonely individuals. Each has their own story and their own relationship with their bodies; from the Retoucher who can’t touch, to the Grandmother who literally blends into the background.
I’ve really enjoyed thinking up these weird and wonderful characters and playing with their backstories. It’ll be finished May 2011 but check here for further info, teasers and updates. Thanks so much to my brilliant agent Tracy Bohan and to Rose Davidson for having faith in my weird little book.
Here’s a cheesy photo of me signing my book deal (i know. not cool…but i was excited!). Right…back to work. Hope you’re all well!
As we all know the digital era is upon us and Jonathan Plackett and i have been working on some exciting digital projects that use these new technologies to tell beautiful, visual stories. We’ve just finished a short ’Tilt Comic’ application for the iPad and iPhone called ‘The First Witch’. In order to view each frame of the comic, the reader ’tilts’ the iPad up and down, giving the illusion of looking through a window into another world. You can get your own hand-drawn tilt comic for a mear £1.19!
iPhone version: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/the-first-witch/id386649061
iPad version: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/the-first-witch-hd/id385259441
Here it is in action on youTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPUBeJerD_g
Hello again- i’ve been busy finding lots of new ways to tell stories; from clay comic sculptures to cutting edge digital comic apps for the iPad and iPhone.
Firstly i’ve just finished another comic sculpture as part of my ‘Sequential Art‘ series. It’s called ‘3 in a bed’ and shows the same girl sleeping besides 2 different boys before finally finding happiness with the third. I’ve used dolls-house beds as ‘panels’ to show the sequential narrative.
Secondly i’ve been working with the wonderful Jonathan Plackett (who’s digital work has been covered everywhere from The Wall Street Journal to Wired Magazine) on a short ‘Tilt Comic’ application for the iPad/iPhone called ‘The First Witch’. In order to view each frame of the comic, the reader ’tilts’ the iPad up and down, giving the illusion of looking through a window into another world. You can see a video of the app in use by clicking the image below.
That’s all for now. I hope to be exhibiting my Sequential Art pieces this October and will fill you in with the details. More news to come too! Hope you’re all good.
I’ve just finished another comic sculpture entitled Behind The Mirror. It’s my biggest piece in my Sequential Art series to date. I gutted and re-built my childhood dolls house (thanks to my dad and uncle for shlepping it down fom Edinburgh via Derby!). You read the story by looking at the scenes through the windows from top left to bottom right (as you would read a ‘waffle-grid’ comic). It’s all about images of women and is also based on the ‘Bloody Mary’ ghost myth (or the 90’s Candyman horror movie if you’re more into popculture!).
(As it’s difficult to photograph through the window here’s the story: A pretty dolls-house girl looks at herself in the mirror. Behind this one-way mirror is a scary woman called Mary. We see her crouching in the corner of her lair. Next we see the pretty girl reading a magazine. In the lair Mary has covered the walls with drawings of the pretty girl. Finally we see the pretty girl’s room has been smashed up and the mirror has been broken. We look through the last window and Mary is looking straight out at us. On the back wall we can see what terrible fate has befallen the pretty dolls-house girl)
I have a page from my Times story ‘The Night I Lost My Love’ exhibited in The Cartoon Museum. We went along today and checked out their other great exhibits. They have a Viz exhibition on which is worth a visit.
I was really excited to be shortlisted for a generous grant from The Arts Foundation this month, that would allow me to spend next year working on my first graphic novel. Thanks to Ian Rakoff for nominating me and the judges Posy Simmonds, Pat Mills and Paul Gravett for shortlisting me! I gave a presentation at the Institute of Contemporary Arts the other week and had a wee exhibition of my work. I’ve stuck in some photos by the brilliant Helen Boobis and wonderful Andy Konky Kru (aka Andy Bleck)- a big thanks to them! Hope the rest of you are all well. Karrie x
My Times graphic story got a shout-out from the brilliant director Nicolas Roeg (Don’t look Now, Walkabout etc.) on Radio 4 last week. I remember being terrified by ‘Don’t Look Now’ as a kid (although not sure if it was by the ending or the sex scene!). You can hear my (brief) mention here- 21 mins in.
I have just finished building a comic sculpture entitled ‘Death Do Us Part’. It is about a lady who, unable to let go, turns her dead husband into a hat stand. Comic academics Will Eisner and Scott Mccloud defined comics as ‘Seqential Art’, and so i’ve been experimenting with this term and moving comics off the page. I have a few more projects along these lines so keep an eye out!
If you’ve not been to the Secret Garden Party festival you really should. I’ve been for the last 4 years. This year the lovely folk that run it were nice enough to give me a ticket in exchange for a comic review. Click here to see the results… or visit it on their website here.
Ooh…and here were the costumes we made.
Love is in the air and i’ve been asked to do a few wedding invitations. These two use the same idea- portraits of the couples with a boarder of flowers entangling personal items that are symbolic to the couple’s relationship….don’t ask about the Viking’s helmet!
If you’d like me to do one then get proposing and then give me an e-mail at email@example.com
Pevious episodes of The Times story- The Night I Lost My Love will be available to view online next week on Monday 29th June. They will come out on the web a week after they appear in print…so if you want to know what happens next- go buy the paper!
I am excited to announce my graphic stopry starts today in The Times newspaper’s Times2 section, page 6. The story is a 20 episode serial called ‘The Night I Lost My Love‘, with a new episode coming out in the Times2 supplement each Monday.
So- what’s the story about? It’s a psychological thriller about a girl who looses her boyfriend at a bizarre party and journeys through the murky night to find him. On the way she meets a host of eccentric characters and uncovers a web of clues that hint at what has become of him.
So…hopefully a lot to sink your teeth into! The art work is a lot more swish than the scribbly Guardian style (which means a lot more hard work!) but i’m loving the space to write a bigger, ongoing story. Anyway- look out for it next week. Hopefully the episodes will be appearing a week later on this site if you miss one.
That’s it for now. I’ll keep you posted,
I’ve not posted for a while so thought i’d update you on some of the manic creating i’ve been getting up to lately. I made my sister a reversible doll for her birthday. It’s the kind of dolls you get with another upside down doll hidden up her skirt. I find them really creepy. You get children’s ones of Cinderella and the witch hidden up her skirt. But i quite like the symbolism of two sides of the same person- maybe all Cinderellas have a wicked witch part to them? Anyway- i made my sister and her alter ego- a detective…Don’t ask!
I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who wrote in on my departure from G2 this month. It’s been such a pleasure to see how many people, from such a wide range of backgrounds, related to the strips. As a thank you i have stuck in a one off, previously unpublished My Peculiar World strip. Hope you enjoy it and maybe remember some stories of what dangerous things you got up to as kids!
Another bit of good news is i am working on a fictional graphic story that should hit the papers in June. I’ll release more details nearer the time so keep checking the site.
Hope your weekends rock,
Sadly, due to the dastardly recession and cost cuts at G2, my My Peculiar World strip will be ending this Friday. I’ve had a brilliant 8 months there and really appreciate The Guardian taking a chance on my unconventional scribbles and all the lovely people who’ve written in and read them. It’s been the most fun anyone should have while being paid! I’m currently working on a proposal for another paper so I’ll keep you all posted.
Next bit of (vastly overdue news) is that several of my comic stories featured in an exhibition at Zinefest on 24th January. I also did a wee talk on how to make comics and was filmed for an interview on women who self-publish (i’ll stick in a link once i get it). It was all really inspirational. Zines are self-published magazines with articles, comics, poems and pictures that give voices to political or non mainstream opinions. There were everything from anarchist zines to zines dealing with fat politics. Some good ones to look out for are Pamflet and Colouring Outside the Lines. Nice to see girls getting out there and giving counter-culture opinions to the mainstream mags.
Hope you’re all good.
Exhibition at zinefest
Fear not. I am not up on the first, hangover-less and enthusiastically tapping out my newest blog. These babies are post-dated. Either way. Happy 2009! I’m working all holiday on a couple of projects, so in the mean time here are some photos i’ve taken out and about. Hope you find some inspiration or ideas in them…or at least your way to the nearest fry-up making establishment x
Merry Christmas my little Christians. I am cursing the terrible day last week when i learnt to make gingerbread. Thought it would be cool to make a batch of gingerbread Karrie Christmas Cards. But then i got (erhum…) ‘karried’ away and made a gingerbread bride and groom for my cousin’s wedding and an entire family of gingerbread Fransmen for my family and then helped make more for my boyfriend’s family. Ugh. I am so sick of gingerbread. It’s all about the cupcakes now. Anyway, here’s the first batch… x
Hello once again. Here’s a sample of the one-panel project i’ve been working on called ‘Stranger than Fiction’. Each one is a wee, true story from real life. They’re looking for a home so contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested. Karrie x
Hello friends. I’ve been working on a one-panel comic full of story-ettes called ‘Stranger than Fiction’. Each one is a wee, true story from real life. Here’s a sample. They’re looking for a home so contact me at email@example.com if you’re interested. More another in my blog next week. Karrie x
I was interviewed by the lovely Matt Badham for Uk Indi comic website Bugpowder. Lots on my working methods and loads of recommendations for other comiccy types to check out. Read the results here. And a PDF version here: bugpowder-interview1. Hope things are jinggling along merrily for ya’ll.
Another ensemble of sketchiness for you….
-There was an old lady who swallowed half a dozen small, fat men.
- I love !950’s Chinese advertising. Where Eastern traditionalism meets Western consumerism. My house is full of these posters.
-I imagined these flamingos in a little animation. Their long necks would all twist and tangle in time to some scratchy old music. Kinda like those creepy, old cartoons (another obsession) that go round on a repeated loop. Now…where to find an animator…
Hello my jelly babies.
I don’t just draw stories. Sometimes i also draw pictures. Sometimes those pictures turn into stories (or at least picture stories). Um…so…not sure what my original point was…but here are some bits and bobs i pulled out my sketchbook. Hope your week’s being kind to you!
-A wee sketch i did that turned into the ‘Boy with the big mouth’story. It was in my illustration class and i was thinking about how some people are predominantly governed by one sense.
-This is Mr Longinthetooth. I find him pretty scary. By night he chops small children to pieces. But it’s morning now, he’s spent hours cleaning his teeth and he’s off to bed.
-yes- i don’t just draw cartoons!
I was in thelondonpaper last week in Em’s comic strip (written by the delightful Maria Smedstad). Yup. There is another British-based-female-autobiographical-comic-strip-writer-and-artist out there. Her stuff is witty and smart- a lot more text based than mine and nicely reflective of life in London for the 20 somethings. Check it out.
When i first decided i wanted to go pro i got in contact with Maria and she gave me some tips and a lot of enthusiasm. We met up for the first time a month or so ago. It was funny to be able to chat to someone about aspects of the job such as the ethical dilemmas of autobiographical strip writing (ie. do you sell your own mother for the sake of a gag? I’m still undecided- i’d sell my own mother for a doughnut some days). Later she told me her idea for the strip below, i sent her a wee drawing of me. The results are below.
Hm. Reckon i could get used to hitching free rides on the back of other people’s comic strips. Maybe one day Steve Bell will let me appear in one of his comics dressed as a penguin. One can but only dream. Karrie x
Published in thelondonpaper
People oft tell me i don’t really look like how i draw myself in my cartoons.
Nonsense say i!
Why just the other week, while on the train returning from visiting my aunt, i was spotted by a girl with an old copy of my strip in that Friday’s Guardian. O.k, so that’s the first time that has ever happened, and she may have guessed it was my strip as i was busy scribbling my next strip. BUT i would like to believe it was the simple fact that I bare a striking resemblance to my cartoon self. Wouldn’t you agree?
People are always asking me how true my comics are, so a wee while ago i put up some proof that my My Peculiar World comic strips are indeed autobiographical. I’ve been collecting a few more so here are the latest…
Fig 1: Yes. My parents did indeed give me a pop-up sex ed book;
Fig 2: Yes. They do put security stickers on the smoked salmon in my local supermarket:
Fig 3: Yes. I have one phenomenally large calf muscle. Please do not mention it on meeting me: (actually this fact appears to be a bit of a lie as the photo clearly shows it’s a humungous right calf. Moving on, moving on…).
Fig 4: Yes. I did have a teacher who sang ‘Don’t call Maggie a bitch…’ songs: Actually, after this strip was published my old teacher, Nancy Nicolson, got in contact with me having randomly recognised herself in the strip. It had been 20 years so I’d long forgotten her name to credit her, but it was brilliant to hear from her. She’s lovely and has many equally brilliant political and Scottish songs. Click on her picture below for her website.
Figure 4: Yes, my ex did have an affair with the Orange Answerphone lady. (At least he did…in my mind)
O.k, o.k- i know you believe me by now. But i’m Jewish. I have a persecution complex. Till next time mein khaver!
Remember Where’s Wally? Or Kit Williams with his picture books full of hidden animals? I loved those dudes and thus have been secretly ripping them off by hiding things in my MY Peculiar World strips. SO…if you’ve got some time that needs wasting and a keen eye, then see if you can spot the following things hidden in the strips. Let me know if you get them all!
Can you spot…
Welcome to my NEW website. A big thanks to Phil Spence for patiently getting me there and to Jon Plackett for the flash, er, flash. So…what to expect on the new site?
@ A new, weekly blog (updated every Thursday) with news/pictures/sketches/info on other artists doing their thang…and a sizable chunk of me yapping on about what i ate for breakfast.
£ A regularly updated gallery.
% An exciting, new zoomy mechanism to view my Comic Stories in all their messy glory (or just to add a movie element to my comics by doing ‘extreeeme close-ups’!).
$ An easy-to-read Comic Strip section for my Guardian comic strip ‘My Peculiar World’ Comics (updated every Sunday) complete with Archive.
* A Guestbook…so we can chat more!
Please link to me, pass on my site or let me know feedback on how the new site’s doing. Thanks!
Spent a lovely last Saturday at the comic creators convention: Caption in Oxford where I sat on a Panel discussing the state of the small press UK comic scene and got to catch up with lots of passionate people creating some really great things.
I am now uploading My Peculiar World comic strips each Sunday (about 10 days after they’ve appeared in G2) in case you missed them. Check them out here.
This week The Guardian’s G2 section is launching my autobiographical comic strip ‘My Peculiar World’ which will appear every Friday (in glorious Technicolour) on the back page. There’s also an interveiw and 4 more strips on pages 14-15 which are on the articles/press page. I am rather chuffed about this new job and hope ya’ll enjoy it too.
I received this rather nice review in Red Eye magazine for my comic stories.
I’ve just finished a 5 week, Saturday drawing class at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. It’s very much back to basics with a lot of line, tone and colour work. But it’s good practice for someone who spends too much time drawing from her head!
Finished my ‘illustration workshop’ night classes at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Mighty good fun and got a lot of work out of it.