As a freelancer, I often get asked to work on projects speculatively.
Sometimes the projects go somewhere, sometimes they don’t. I rarely do it as it can be a heartbreaking process when you get invested in a book that reaches a dead-end but it’s all part of the freelance life. I thought it might be nice to share some of the early work I did on a couple of projects that, for various reasons, never went further. I think enough time has passed on both of them that I can share these…
The book I was extremely excited to work on was a comic adaptation of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Those who have read the book will know just how powerful and vital the book is, and I was flattered to be asked to write and draw an adaptation for the publisher with Alexander overseeing it. I had written a rough script and drawn some example pages (see below) but the project ended up going on the indefinite back-burner. The comic was going to be printed in two colours hence the limited palette used here. I can’t recommend the book enough and would also recommend seeking out The House I Live In (a documentary with similar themes, in which Alexander also appears). I’ve not yet watched Ava DuVernay’s 13th on Netflix, but it also looks essential.
I was also asked to illustrate a page for a book about Neuroscience. There are some typos and missing text due to the early draft of the script. In the end, the authors went in a different direction.
Eleri Harris at The Nib asked if I’d like to write a short reaction piece to the Brexit result. After taking a week to finish my tennis comic and get some perspective, I produced a short 12 panel piece which you can read here. Huge thanks to Eleri for her help on this. Short preview below:
Needless to say, it’s been a tough fortnight here.
If you didn’t see my piece about the EU Referendum before the results, it can be read here.
I grew up watching Wimbledon and it would always coincide with the start of my summer holidays. I think, largely because of that, I’ve always had a soft spot for the sport. It’s only been the past few years that I’ve really tried to follow the tour throughout the year, but my love for the sport has grown the more I learn about it.
I was recently talking with my friend, and fantastic writer/journalist, Alex Macpherson – who is much more knowledgable than I am about tennis – and we tried to devise a way for us to collaborate on something tennis related.
This piece for Vox is the result. A 29 panel look at tennis in 2016. Vox don’t cover sport so the we tried to reign ourselves in from the more obscure stories and keep the summary as news-focused as possible.
I really hope we get more opportunities to work together on tennis comics as I had so much fun drawing this. I want to draw an entire comic about Serena Williams. And one about all the up and comers. I also hope I can do some tennis illustrations in the future too. Basically, more drawing about tennis!
Here’s a sneak peek at the piece – the whole thing can be read here. Huge thanks to AD Javier Zarracina for all his help on the piece.
Other tennis related things I’ve been enjoying: The collection of David Foster Wallace essays about tennis – String Theory – is a delight, Alex invited me along to the Roehampton Wimbledon Qualifiers a couple of weeks ago – which I didn’t realise was free to attend – and it was brilliant – loads of new faces and exciting stories, I’m currently reading Love Game: A History of Tennis, from Victorian Pastime to Global Phenomenon which is very interesting, I subscribed to this lovely looking tennis magazine – Racquet, and the Serena documentary on the BBC was great. I’ve also ordered a couple of ESPN 30 For 30 docs – one about Navratilova and Evert’s rivalry, and one about Jimmy Connors. Speaking of 30 For 30 – have you been watching the OJ: Made In America doc? It’s great right? Seek it out if you haven’t!
This comic went live a few days ago on The Nib. I’ve been working on it for a while – trying my hardest to make the forthcoming EU Referendum as accessible and entertaining as possible. It was a huge help working with my editor Eleri Harris who guided me through the process of editing down a potentially sprawling 70-80 panel comic into this relatively succinct 40 panel piece.
You can read the full comic here.
The comic had to to do several things: it needed to communicate the situation to international readers who were not as exposed to the more complex inner workings of UK politics, but it also needed to be useful to those in the UK who were unsure how to vote. I wanted to be as fair and as balanced as possible, presenting the facts and opposing sides clearly – while not being afraid to state my own opinions and disingenuously pretend I didn’t have a bias. I wanted to make sure the comic was honest.
There are all sorts of issues I didn’t cover, and some that I couldn’t spend as much real-estate on as I wanted, but I’m proud of how this came out and hope it’s helpful to people. I hope it provokes deeper dives into some of the issues and concerns it raises and I hope it, at the very least, encourages some more voters to get registered now we have a slightly extended deadline.
If you’re annoyed the comic didn’t discuss a particular issue or skimmed something you think deserved more interrogation, I hope you’ll appreciate that I probably spent days agonising over whether to include it or not, but in the end had to create the EU comic I wanted to see.
Thanks for reading and sharing it if you have already done so.
There are still a few hours left to register to vote if you haven’t yet – the website is here.
And if you want to stay in the EU and want to help out, but don’t know where to start, you could do worse than check out The In Crowd – it has a handy function that helps you find the best way to get involved.
Additional to my Hostile Environment comic which very broadly paints a picture of the far right in the UK, here’s a little more info about asylum seekers. This was created for the 2013 Thought Bubble Anthology. It feels appropriate to be posting it now.
Waking up to another Ukip win today, I thought I might throw this 5 pager online that I produced last year for Matt Bors, on behalf of Pando Quarterly. I pitched it as a guide to the rise of the far-right in the UK. It tries to fit a lot into 5 pages but I’m happy with how it came out in the end. I’m less happy that things don’t seem to be getting any better…
Part one is online here if you missed it.
Part two is here.
All chapters are finished and we’re putting the finishing touches to a printed version that should be available in October/November this year. Part 4 should be online next month.
Part one is online here if you missed it.
I’m starting work on Part 5 of the comic this week. Part 3 should be online next month.
This was the comic I mentioned at the start of the year here.
I’m starting work on Part 4 of the comic next week. I think the chapters are going online monthly, but I might have that wrong.
While working on the New Statesman comics, I’ve also been working on some other projects this past month…
1. I was commissioned by European Movement to produce a four page comic about the EU (and the UK’s part in it) which will be published online and as a physical pamphlet. It was written by Peter Luff at EM. That’s all finished and should be going to print soon I think. Here’s a small preview from page one:
2. And now that’s completed, I’ve just started work on a 48 page comic about the past, present and future of humanitarian aid – on behalf of Cordaid. The comic will be divided into 5 chapters which should be going online over the next few months. The comic is written by Tjeerd Royaards (editor and founder of Cartoon Movement) who is travelling around interviewing people and digging into archives as I type. When the chapters are finished, the comic will be printed as a physical book.
I’ll update the blog when all these go online and are available to read in their entirety. In the meantime, I’ll continue posting new NS comics here every Friday!