After two and a half years of writing and drawing a weekly (except for holidays and double issues) political cartoon, I’m hanging up my Windsor & Newton and moving on to other projects. There are around 120 cartoons (including things like a Christmas special written by Robin Ince) to go back through and read here if you only caught them now and again.
With the Observations section (In The Frame’s home) going through a bit of a rejig in the coming months, and with a new editor there, In The Frame had sort of reached a natural end. I’m really thankful to everyone at the NS who helped get the comic started and gave me the opportunity in the first place, and obviously everyone who offered invaluable assistance over the past couple of years. There’s a part of me that would have liked to have lasted five years and hit that 200 mark, but this has been a perfectly respectable run. And my god, I don’t have to wake up to the Today programme out of professional obligation anymore!
I’m excited to move on to other things but I’ll also miss this job a lot. There were weeks when I could have been braver, or smarter, or funnier. And there were other weeks when I felt proud to be working on this weird little thing. It was a tough routine to stick to every week, but I got a huge amount out of the process and I think that’s clear when you compare the first comic to the last.
I won’t be moving away from political comics. My plan is to still produce an In The Frame every now and then – when there’s the right story and I can’t help myself – and host it here on the blog. But I mainly want to use this time to produce some long-form pieces. One of which I’m researching right now with journalist Valeria Costa-Kostritsky. This is a comic I really want to read so I hope we get it off the ground.
In the meantime, I produced a comic about the benefits of the EU at some point last year and I think that should be going online very soon now the referendum is getting close. I’ll also be producing an extra four pages to that comic with some additional context – expect to see that over the next few months.
Beyond comics reportage, I’m trying to scratch my itch for poem comics as well. I’m working on a new comic with Chrissy Williams which is currently just a bit of an experiment – something we’re just doing for fun – but if it ever gets anywhere, I hope to share it here. Chrissy and I are also co-editing a book about poem comics which will be released in September.
And I’ve also been keeping busy with lots of illustration/design/storyboard work which I’ve finally added to my website and on this blog so click on the illustration link to the right if you’re curious about what else I’ve been up to.
Thanks for reading. In gratitude, here’s a never-seen-before In The Frame that was produced earlier in the year…
And if you haven’t already, you can order a collection of In The Frame from my online store here.
Use the offer code FINALE to get 10% off. To celebrate, there’s also an option that allows you to order the original artwork for your favourite ITF (just specify the title – if it’s already sold I can hopefully find a suitable back-up!).
The wonderful Tiernan Douieb asked me to illustrate and design his Edinburgh poster/flyer this year. It sounds like it’s going to be a great show and I’m looking forward to seeing it when I go up for the first week of the fringe. Here are the front and back designs:
I developed two designs and experimented with 1/2/3 colour print versions. In the end, I think Josie went with 2 colour prints:
The above illustration is something I made to accompany the Arts Emergency manifesto a few months ago. It’s Josie Long’s quote. On the subject of Arts Emergency – I highly recommend going over there and signing up to help out if you can (and/or donating!).
After the election results a few weeks back, and seeing all the outpouring of disappointment on social media, I wanted to create something that was positive and used all that anger and frustration and energy and funnelled it into something optimistic. Here’s the result – a mailing list for artists to sign up to which pairs them up with charities/NGOs/protest groups who need artwork:
“The next five years are going to be hard.
The conservative government are going to do their best to further dismantle the welfare state and introduce policies that benefit the rich over the rest of us.
But while the right-wing media may be excellent at fear-mongering, we’re pretty certain the left have all the good artists. It’s time to prove it.
If you’re an artist who wants to be involved in helping fight back…
If you’re a party/union/charity/NGO/protest group/demo/organisation/etc. that’s in need of a design/illustrations/logos/any artwork at all…
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the full brief, deadline, and if you have a budget available.
Wherever possible, artists should be paid for their work. However, if you have no budget and no-one else involved is being paid, let us know. Some artists may be okay with voluntarily work if the campaign/issue is important to them and they have time in their schedule.
We’ll send out a newsletter with new jobs every week (or when they come in) so artists can offer to take on the work if they’re available and interested.
An example: Let’s say the FBU are organising a strike in the light of another fire station being closed down. They’re worried the press will try to turn public opinion against the strike so they’d like a poster or comic that succinctly summarises their grievances and aims of the strike. They’re open to ideas on how that could be done and have a small budget for the artist. They email all this to the email above and we add it to the list of possible jobs in a newsletter. That then gets delivered to all the artists who sign up. Anyone interested in the job can get in touch with the FBU directly via an email address provided.“
Follow the Artists Fight Back tumblr to see what sort of work comes out of this. Fingers crossed people take advantage of the goodwill of all the artists who have signed up so far…
I realised I don’t really put storyboard and concept work up here – usually as the work is drawn very quickly for pitches that have to stay secret until the ad/campaign is out – but I thought it should be okay to throw some older work on here (without context):
They had a two-page spread in The Morning Star to advertise it, and asked me if I could provide an illustration for the first page.
I used the red/green/grey colour palette that TPA use for their logo and worked with the designer to make sure it would all work with the text.
Here’s my illustration:
Being a freelance illustrator, you get used to periods of being busy and having absolutely no free time, and periods when the work occasionally dries up for a week or so. The feast and famine is something you get used to, but in order to keep yourself busy and sticking to a routine, it’s nice to have personal work or other projects to move your attention to in these down periods. Ink and Dagger is one of those projects.
Fellow illustrator, Julia Scheele and I were discussing the lack of editorial illustration work that’s out there these days when it occurred to us that we had a lot of freelance writer friends who were probably having a similarly frustrating time getting certain pieces commissioned. We thought maybe we could set up a website which could house spiked articles and previously unseen pieces – and accompany them with bespoke illustrations that we could provide during a quiet period of work.
For now, we’re not planning on finding ways of making it pay, and we’ll most likely only update it very rarely – in between jobs – but it’s nice to have a place for experimenting with illustration briefs and having fun with our friends. It’s also nice to work on a site that shows off how important it is to have good illustrations accompanying articles and how much of a difference it can make when people don’t just use stock photos.
It’s also a great place to host poem comics, comic reportage, and other short comic work so expect to see more of that too.
Go to inkanddagger.net to see what we’ve got up there so far.
Here are my designs for the logo, header and icon:
And here’s another illustration I provided for a Hancox piece about seeing Tiesto in July, 2010:
Here’s a look at the full back/spine/front design:
And the record sleeve (these designs also show up on the CD design):
Very proud of taking this all the way from early concepts through to designing the CD and vinyl packaging myself. I also designed the image that will be printed on the CD and vinyls.
You can pre-order copies directly through Fika here.
And go see Owl & Mouse play with Tigercats and The Smittens at the Shacklewell Arms on July 7th – details here.
Or, follow them on tour by checking out their dates here.
Some friends started an extremely specific podcast about the second season of Community and asked me along on one of the recording days.
I bloody love Community, and have, since getting hooked, discovered more of Dan Harmon’s previous work. I’m still probably not quite enough of a geek about it all to sound like I know what I’m talking about.
I think we watched and talked about 5 episodes over the course of 5 hours, while drinking wine. So if you start listening to the podcast and I repeat myself and sound unintelligible at any point, I’m going to blame it all on the wine and delirium. It was a fun day. I’ve not been able to make any of the recordings since but hope to make another appearance at some point.
I’ve also not been able to bring myself to listen back to the recordings, for fear of discovering additional reasons to hate myself, so have no idea if it’s any fun to listen to. Fingers crossed! Matt – who has been editing the episodes and doing all the admin behind the scenes – asked me if I’d like to help out with a logo, iTunes icon and website headers, and I made these: