Been a busy month. One of the pieces I’ve been working on is a self-portrait for Orbital Comics. The fantastic London based comic shop is putting on an exhibition of comic artists’ self-portraits – all of which will be unveiled this Sunday (the 19th September) from 6pm – read the flyer below for further details. The idea of small press comic artists doing self-portraits (many of whom are either auto-bio artists or started out drawing auto-bio comics) is a lovely way of challenging the idea of the self-portrait and challenging the artists to provide something surprising. I have no doubt everyone involved has met the challenge head-on and provided something interesting and unique. I feel intimidated to be involved.
My piece is a relatively standard one page illustration – inked with a secondary gouache ’spot’ colour. Not too dissimilar to the spot colour we’ll be using in the upcoming Solipsistic Pop (but used here for a very different, very specific, illness-based, nausea feeling). Here’s a small preview:
And while I’m talking about Orbital – I was interviewed for their recent podcast and joined the regular hosts (Tom and Simon) for a discussion about comics, Solipsistic Pop and the weeks releases. I had a lot of fun on the day and I hope that translates to an enjoyable listen. It can be found here and you can subscribe to the regular podcast here.
I’ll also be exhibiting the original artwork from my 69 Love Songs comic (Absolutely Cuckoo) at Flashback Records in Crouch End as part of the We Are Words + Pictures music related comic exhibition (organised by Sean Azzopardi). The private view is on Friday 23rd September from 7pm. Maybe see you there!
Sadly, Adam & Joe have taken another break from 6Music on Saturdays. I’d always have their show on as the start to my weekend and it always managed to make me burst out into embarrassing fits of giggles. A highlight of my week – as sad as that sounds. So it’s a shame to see their recent run on the station end so soon.
But luckily, Andrew Collins and Josie Long have stepped in for five weeks and their show is a lot of fun. I was listening to the first show last week when conversation turned to things people found in the street – leading Josie to relate Jack Noel’s strip from Solipsistic Pop 2 and give a nod to the book while doing so. It sounds extremely silly, but I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear mention of the anthology on 6Music in that slot.
Josie asked me if I’d give her a couple of comic artists to recommend the following week and the producer of the show also asked if I would do an illustration for them to use of the website. I was more than happy to do both so here’s the illustration:
I suggested Luke Pearson, NoBrow Press and Kristyna Baczynski as the artists to highlight. Josie was wonderful enough to mention them, the illustration, and Solipsistic Pop again on the show this week, leading to another Saturday of rolling my wheelie chair around the studio in celebration (ah, if only I was kidding) – you can listen to it – this week only – here (listen to the whole delightful show, but if you’re pushed for time it’s at 2 hours 15 mins in).
In other news: It’s been quiet here on the blog lately. Mainly due to the amount of work I have on. Got lots to show, although some of it can’t be revealed until a lot later in the year sadly. Will upload what I can over the next few weeks. Suffice it to say, I think I’ve been doing some of my best comic and illustration work over the past few weeks and can’t wait for people to see it all.
So that was TCAF 2011. My third TCAF now and, again, a wonderful experience. I’ve only just got back and I’m still a little jetlagged but I wanted to throw some thoughts up here while they’re still fresh in my memory.
It all kicked off with a dream panel on Friday night which saw Chester Brown, Seth, Chris Ware and Adrian Tomine talk about their work, the state of comics and generally be charming and funny panelists who are clearly very comfortable with each other. I think someone should make a reality TV series in which Chester Brown and Seth have to live together in a tiny bedsit. I’d watch.
I spent the weekend sharing a table with the talented and wonderful Becky Cloonan who is one of the best tablemates anyone can have the pleasure of sharing with. We both sold well, and Becky spent a lot of the weekend excitedly telling me about the new Thor film with infectious enthusiasm. Here we both are (I look extremely scared for some reason):
It was the busiest I’ve seen TCAF (which is saying something) and everyone I spoke to did very well there. The parties were a whole bunch of fun and I got to pick up some fantastic new comics while speaking to people like Helen Jo, Nate Powell, Lucy Kniseley, Dustin Harbin and Sarah Glidden – all of whom are huge inspirations right now and they are, of course, lovely in person.
Now, so much has been said about why TCAF is so much fun for exhibitors and attendees alike – I’m not sure I have much else to offer at this stage. The key thing is having a downtown, public library as your venue. And free entry. It seems to me that if you’re going to put on a comic event that is going to encourage new readers to take a chance on comics and to see what the medium is all about – then a free festival with an easily accessible and prominent venue is the way to do it.
The rest of it – the excellent organisation (I was getting useful information about customs, panels, table layouts etc. every day in the week leading up to the event – that’s just a tiny example of how well run this show was), the inspiring volunteers who ran around offering table cover, coffee, water, change – anything that would make our weekend easier, the amazing panels, the wide-reaching publicising of the event, the fantastic parties and side-events… All of it is a bonus but all adds to the many reasons that every artist had a great time and will do everything they can to come back next year.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We need something like this in the UK. Thought Bubble is the closest we have to it but we need a free comic festival. It just needs to happen.
I was on a panel with the delightful Sam Arthur (of NoBrow Press), Philippa Rice, Adam Cadwell, Kayla Hillier, Joe Decie and Kenny Penman (of BlankSlate) about UK comics. It was titled Her Majesty’s Comics, moderated by American artist Brian Brown and was apparently filmed. It can be watched here if you’re curious. I haven’t seen it and can’t bring myself to watch it but I remember the panel being fun and it may well be worth your time.
Here’s a quick photo I took when people were setting up on the Sunday morning:
I then had a few days to kick around Toronto and enjoy a bit of time off. I spent Monday mooching around bookshops and then enjoyed the sun in High Park. Here’s a quick sketch of a tree I did while there:
As a quick aside, I noticed a poster campaign for a paint company at Bloor station which involved lots of full colour swatches of the various paint colours they offered with minimal text at the bottom detailing the colour code. Such a nice, simple way to advertise your product and also make the train station look designed and pretty rather than cluttered and oppressive. More advertising like this please!
The next day we drove to Angonquin national park and went for a refreshing hike. A world away from the madness of TCAF and much needed. Here’s a photo from our adventures which looks a little like a cover to some prog-rock album from the seventies:
For my final night, there was a special Pen Club (the first one I attended in 2007 was the inspiration for doing a similar thing in London) and I had a chance to speak to Anne Koyama properly after only crossing paths briefly at TCAF. We met back in 2007 and since then Koyama Press has gone on to be an amazing publishing house that continues to delight. It was lovely to hang out and see everyone. Was also the busiest I’ve ever seen it:
I drew a bunch in other people’s sketchbooks but here’s what I managed to do in mine:
And then, before I knew it, it was time to come home.
As always, spending this time at TCAF and in Toronto has left me with a huge amount of hope and enthusiasm for comics. I’m inspired and ready to throw myself straight back into work. Speaking of which… There’s a studio calling my name right now…
No time for small talk and excuses about why I haven’t updated this blog for a while – instead, a quick update of what I’ve been up to and what I plan to be doing over the next few months.
Most of my time and energy has been spent getting the third volume of Solipsistic Pop finished and launched. The launch at The Black Heart in Camden went really well (despite technical problems and a very hot and over-crowded room) and we had a successful UK-wide launch at Thought Bubble in Leeds the following weekend. It’s been an incredibly fun year putting SP together and now, coming to the end of 2010, I’ve had a chance to reflect a little and figure out what i want to do with it in the future. If you’re interested – I’ve blogged over on the Solipsistic Pop website about my plans for year two. Essentially, I’m only planning on producing one SP in 2011 and hope to focus on my own work for a while.
Forgive the slightly scrappy look of the SP website at the moment – Wordpress changed the theme, ruined all my custom CSS and I’ve had to improvise. Will tidy it up when I have a bit more time on my hands.
Speaking of website changes – I’ve had a little bit of a clean over here. You’ll find www.tomhumberstone.com has become a simpler to navigate online portfolio and I’ve tinkered around with this blog a little so I don’t look an entire decade behind the rest of internet. Now I’m about two or three years behind. Let me know what you think or have any suggestions on ways I can make it better.
Some Interviews + Press
I recorded an interview and selected some songs for the WAW+P podcast at London Fields Radio. Host Mike Leader is always a pleasure to chat to and the whole thing was a lot of fun. Closest I’ll ever get to doing Desert Island Discs too – I possibly enjoyed the process of selecting tracks far too much – I think I drove Mike a little mad by constantly changing my mind.
I also recorded an interview for an arts programme on Resonance FM in which a few other SP contributors such as Philippa Rice, Marc Ellerby, Luke Pearson and Lizz Lunney were interviewed. This may be released as a podcast at some point – will edit this blog with a link when I know more.
My 24 hour comic about Crohns Disease was mentioned by Scott McCloud over at his blog the other week which made my month. You can read the comic for free here. I’ve sold out of printed copies of this but will put a free PDF version together for people who want to print it out at home.
Here are a few sketches I found lying at the back of a sketchbook. On a related note – I’ve just picked up Denys Wortman’s New York: A Portrait of the City in the 1930s and 1940s – such a beautiful book and highly recommended. It got me thinking I’d like to see a comic artist document London right now. Dan mentioned the Lenin quote: ”There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen” on Twitter the other day and it occurred to me that someone should be out there transcribing the protests in words and pictures. I’m half tempted to give it a go… Meantime:
Finally, with Christmas just around the corner, Eddie Ross blogged about supporting your favourite small press artists and giving the best present you can give to your loved ones – comics! Have a read of his recommendations and be sure to buy his 100 Tiny Moments as it’s one of the best comics reads of 2010.
I also – of course – completely agree with encouraging people to support their favourite artists and local stores. Go down to your local comic shop and buy a bespoke, hand-stapled comic for a friend. Email an artist and commission a piece of original artwork. You’ll be in possession of a unique Christmas gift and also be a patron of the arts. Most artists have prints, posters, cards and other merchandise available on their websites. Go buy some of it!
Convinced but not sure where to start? Why not buy some gorgeous hand-crafted jewellery from Tuck Shop? Sparkplug Books have got some wonderful comics available, so do Picturebox, maybe you need a Hairy Midget Elf in your life or know someone who does – Lizz Lunney has the answers, you don’t just have to support comics – fancy a bit of comedy? how about an awkward Christmas CD from Helen Arney? Julia Scheele is a fantastic illustrator – why not hire her to draw you a card? NoBrow deserve a few of your pennies, as do Self Made Hero and Blank Slate… I could go on and on. But I should stop. Basically – please go spend some money directly with artists, local stores and small publishers!
Had some very kind and positive reviews of the comics I published earlier this year – How to Date a Girl in 10 Days and Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Crohns Disease – so just wanted to put them all in one place so they’re easy to find for people…
|How to Date a Girl in 10 Days
“A perfect nostalgic look at youth, at the wonder of friendships, at the sheer joy of chasing love and the misery of rejection” – Forbidden Planet International
|Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Crohns Disease
“Without a doubt one of the best creators working in comics today” – Comics Village
His candour, his humour, his honesty – all go towards making this most difficult of subjects eminently readable and enjoyable” – Forbidden Planet International
I’ll update this post with more reviews as and when they turn up rather than blog more self-congratulating posts…
I was lucky enough to be given a shared table with Becky Cloonan in the massive Toronto Reference Library to which TCAF had moved after 2007’s UOT location. Becky was a lovely table mate and her work is definitely worth your time – I’m sure I caught a lot of secondary trade from the long queues waiting for her to sign their books.
The weekend went incredibly well and I met a lot of lovely people during the show and at the after-parties. Thanks to everyone who came and bought something or just said hello.
When it came to Sunday afternoon I realised I’d agreed to be a part of panel talking about studying comics at university. I was ridiculously nervous about it beforehand but by the time I settled into my seat in front of the audience, I managed to descend into my ‘rambling bore’ mode and somehow got through the hour by never shutting the hell up. Ross Campbell and Lucy Knisley joined me and I think/hope we managed to cover a wide spectrum of options, opinions and advice for prospective comic artists. I’m glad I did it and think I might even be less stressed if I ever agree to do another talk.
Among my favourite picks over the weekend were my Michael Cho print, Lucy Knisley’s ‘Pretty Little Book’ (absolutely wonderful – make sure you pick up ‘French Milk‘ as well), Taddle Creek’s comic issue, pretty much all of Tom Kaczynski’s comics, and… well… let’s stop there shall we? I could write several blog posts about the amazing comics that were on display. Inspiring stuff.
A huge thanks to Chris Butcher for inviting me again this year and organising what is possibly the best alternative comics festival ever. Of course, a gentlemanly hat-tip to everyone else who made the event such a success, including all the delightful volunteers – some of whom I feel I should hire as my agents, such was the vigour with which they encouraged people to check out my stuff. It’s possible they just felt a bit sorry for me…
Pen Club TO
I spent a few days after TCAF hanging out in Toronto with friends. As always, I had a wonderful time. Below are a few sketches I doodled in various patio bars, Future Bakery (which is where the Torontonian Pen Club is held), and wandering around High Park.
Here’s a photo from Pen Club. Also pictured: the Oreo cheesecake I had. A foodstuff fit for gods.
Post TCAF press
My visit to TCAF is briefly mentioned on about.com (I was tired. It was early. Excuse the photo) and there’s an interview with me conducted by Pen Club founders Cton, Steve Wilson, and Aaron Leighton on Open Book Toronto.
First off, I’d like to thank everyone who came to the book launch on Friday night.
I was my usual stressed bundle of nerves as expected. But I was genuinely touched by the amount of people who came and the night was incredibly successful, pleasant, and enjoyable. This is mainly thanks to the wonderful staff at Orbital Comics who kept everyone in drinks and stuck around after hours to help out.
At some point soon I’ll find a bit of time to blog some photos from the evening and take copies of the comics to all the London comic shops.
For now, Orbital is the only place with copies. I’ve already restocked the sold out first batch of books for those who couldn’t make it but want to pick up a copy. Those of you looking to order them online may, sadly, have to wait until I return from TCAF before I can focus on getting that side of things ready. But bear with me.
On the subject of TCAF – I’ll be making my way to Toronto tomorrow morning in preparation for the weekend of comic book goodness. I honestly haven’t seen such an amazing line-up of alternative and independent comic creators like this before. I am beyond excited.
Check out the current line-up here.
I’ve also been asked to be part of a panel discussing the pros and cons of studying comics at art school. This will be on the Sunday afternoon. Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself:
1:30pm-2:30pm: Going to School For Comics
Are there benefits to going to an institute of higher educated in order to learn… comic books? We’ll meet several graduates of art, illustration, and comics-specific programs who do comics, as they talk about their experiences in art school, and how they’ve applied them to their comics career. Panelists include Lucy Knisely, Ross Campbell, Ginette LaPalme, Tom Humberstone. Moderated by Douglas Wolk.
Check out the rest of the impossibly impressive schedule of events here.
You can also read a short interview with me (and several other attending artists) via Toronto’s National Post here.
I’ll be hanging out in Toronto for a few days afterwards – hopefully catching a Toronto Pen Club and attempting to sneak into the Scott Pilgrim sets. If you happen to be in the area and want to say “hi” (and possibly other, preferably encouraging, words) during TCAF, please do!
That’s right, I’ve sent the files off to the printer and I should have the books back within a week. Before I go to TCAF with the collected How to Date a Girl in 10 Days and Everything You Never wanted To Know About Crohns Disease, I want to have a small London-based book launch (considering what How to Date is about). Orbital Comics have kindly obliged:
Friday May 1st from 7.30pm
@ Orbital Comics, 8 Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JA (gmap)
With music, drink, original artwork in the gallery, and a chance to get your copy signed.
Print out the flyer (above) to ensure entry on the night.
“I’m a 33 year old man in a stable relationship and am about as sensitive as an extra-safe condom. How To Date A Girl In 10 days reminds me of when I wasn’t – when fear of boys with guitars, of meta, of balloons, of everything filled my life and made it worth living – or, at least, made it the life I was living and I knew damn well I didn’t have (or want) a choice. It’s full of blessed friends who know nothing, blessed friends who are righter than you’ll ever be and blessed, blessed London. It’s funny and true and necessary.”
- Kieron Gillen (Phonogram)
“Touching, awkward, funny, a beautifully drawn slice of real life.”
- Leah Moore (Wild Girl, Doctor Who)
Also available on the night: the printed edition of Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Crohns Disease
“I thought it captured perfectly that discomfort/fear/anxiety that you have in the back of your mind in social situations”
- Jeffrey Brown (Unlikely, Little Things)
“This is a truly great comic and a real achievement”
- Paul Gravett (Graphic Novels: Stories to Change Your Life)
For those outside London or unable to come, the books will be available to buy at TCAF and then from my website (which will undergo a redesign) upon my return. I’ll also be announcing a couple of new projects around this time.
Alex Fitch, presenter of the Resonance FM comic conversation show Panel Borders, recently asked me if I’d like to take the opportunity to interview Adrain Tomine for the show. Naturally I jumped at the chance. Tomine’s work was a huge inspiration to me when I first discovered him back in my early teens and his work continues to be some of the most subtle, well observed and intimate storytelling in comics. If anyone could be blamed for me wanting to draw comics in the first place, Tomine would be your most likely suspect.
Of course, come the day of the interview, I was a nervous wreck and I’m afraid it shows (audibly speaking) in the interview. It was the first interview I’d ever conducted and I think it’s fair to say I don’t have a great voice for radio.
Nonetheless, Tomine was charming and very patient with my amateur interviewing techniques. We discussed his fascination with comics, the possibility of a movie adaptation of his work, flirting, his plans for forthcoming issues of Optic Nerve, and the future of comics in the age of this sort of thing.
It’s broadcast today at 5pm, Resonance 104.4FM (London) – which is streamed at www.resonancefm.com if you’re not based in London. It will be repeated at 11.30pm on Sunday night.
Yes, that Alan Partridge quote can only mean one thing… More audible ramblings from me.
First up – An interview with the lovely fellows at Indie Spinner Rack for their latest podcast about politics-related comics. I talked to them about My Fellow Americans just a couple of hours ahead of the final Presidential debate last week. They’re based in New York so the phoneline quality is fairly poor and we had some technical difficulties during the interview but hopefully you can hear enough for it to make sense. We recorded it quite late – to accommodate the time difference – so I doubt I make much sense anyway.
Listen to it here.
Next up – if you’re not sick of my voice already – is another podcast for Electric Sheep Magazine and Panel Borders. Alex Fitch and I review a collection of David Lynch shorts and discuss the use of animation in his work, the relevance of experimental short films, and the back catalogue of Lynch’s work. We recorded it outside a pub in New Cross – hence the regular interruptions from police sirens.
That’s all for now.