Anyway, I want to thank all you readers for continuing to support my website, and my endeavours overall. Every web hit, email, comment, like and tweet is hugely appreciated and helps to keep me going in the face of the usual creative floundering that besets all comic creators at various times.
With that in mind, I will be announcing a very nice Rainbow Orchid competition sometime in the next couple of weeks - so keep your eye out for it.
In other news, those of you who keep up with the ligne claire scene in Europe may be aware of an exhibition taking place at the Cartoonmuseum in Basel, Switzerland, entitled The Adventures of the Ligne Claire - The Herr G. and Co. Affair.
There is a marvellous poster for it, by Exem, and as I'd only ever seen the one with the title on, I hadn't noticed that Julius Chancer has been generously included amongst the pantheon of ligne claire stars. He may be rather amusingly obscured in the final version, but I'm nonetheless chuffed to see him there at all (by the way, that's another Jules in the window next to him - the creation of Émile Bravo).
Many thanks to Ruwani Weerasinghe for noticing our British representative and letting me know! How many of the others can you name?
October has seen me explode (well, that might be a slight exaggeration) into social action after a fairly quiet year (except for Edinburgh in August), the reason being that my son is now six months old and starting to get to grips with the world, and allowing me to venture out a little more.
Salleck owner and publisher Eckart Schott met me at Düsseldorf airport and we took the train (accidentally the slow train) to Essen, then a taxi to the Hotel Bredeney where we'd be staying for the weekend. Eckart had already been there for two days as Comic Action had started on the Thursday - a four-day show. At dinner I met Eckart's friend and stand-helper, Klaus, and his lovely wife Denise, and another Salleck guest, amazing Italian artist Elena Pianta (there to promote the second book in German of Don Camillo and Peppone - there are five in Italian).
Opening up the Salleck table for business on Saturday, and first sighting of
Die Regenbogen Orchidee: Die Wette.
After a very good breakfast (Germany does very good breakfasts) we all got the bus for the short ride to Messe Essen where Spiel '13 and Comic Action was taking place. The show was absolutely enormous - three massive halls, mostly dedicated to board games and gaming, but with a small comics section, perhaps something a little like the MCM Comic Village - well, smaller I'd say. Despite that, there was an artists' alley, and also some big publishers, including Panini and Carlsen.
Most of my day was spent at the table, signing and sketching, though I did get to look around the huge venue a couple of times. The range of board games was huge and varied, and several big areas were set out for people to play-test new and favourite board games. Stalls demonstrated their wares, sold dice, figures, puzzles, cards, comics, live role-playing weapons and armour, and toys. The place was heaving with people of all ages as well as families. It was quite a long way from the Games Day conventions I attended at the Royal Horticultural Society Hall in the mid-eighties.
One of the playing spaces at Spiel '13.
On Saturday evening we (Eckart, Klaus, Denise, Elena and I) went to Habana - a wonderful Cuban restaurant on Zweigerstrasse. Eckart was an excellent host to Elena and myself - he really believes in looking after his artists and I'm very grateful for his generous hospitality. Back at the hotel, while I made my way to bed, many of the Spiel '13 attendees were just getting down to a serious night's game-playing, using some of the function rooms until past three in the morning.
Sunday at Comic Action was more of the same. It was lovely to meet so many German comic readers - without exception they were courteous, polite, and interested in my work and I was made to feel very welcome. It was great to share a signing spot with Elena as well. Like me, she did not speak German, though unlike me, she did have a second language: English (and every German I met could speak English too). Her sketches - many straight into ink - were masterful, and she was excellent (and funny) company for the weekend.
Salleck signings: Christoph Heuer (doing some lovely Roman character watercolours), myself, and Elena Pianta.
Sunday was our leaving day and fellow Salleck comic artist, Agata Bara, kindly made sure Elena and I got on the correct train at Essen back to Düsseldorf airport, where Elena flew off back to Italy, and I made my way back to a very windy and rainy UK - luckily not being delayed by the incoming storm. (My first job when I got home was to go out in the dark, blustery and rainy night and wrap wire round one particularly troublesome fence panel which always blows out in high winds).
It was a very nice trip, and I must say a big thank you again to Eckart for having me over for the launch of Die Regenbogen Orchidee - I'm very honoured to have it published in German, and by Salleck Publications.
Publisher Eckart Schott sketches in and signs a copy of Die Regenbogen Orchidee, and me and fumettista Elena Pianta with our books.
Volume 1 - Die Wette ('The Bet') will launch at Comic Action in Essen, Germany, which takes place 24-27 October 2013, and I will be there on Sat 26, and maybe for some of Sun 27 as well, depending on travel timings.
I'm very grateful to Eckart Schott, proprietor of Salleck, and also to Hélène Ferey and my agent Oli Munson at A M Heath. A special thank you also to César Espona, my Spanish publisher (NetCom2 Editorial), for initiating contact with Salleck. And I must give a special mention to Michael Beck, of Letter Factory, who is working his socks off to get the book ready in time for the launch.
Sequential City is an exhibition of comic art featuring London, hosted by Baxter & Bailey design studio. Alongside a whole raft of top UK comic creators will be an original page of mine from The Rainbow Orchid. I wonder if you can guess which one? Well, you could always pop along and see. It runs from 16-22 September (in other words, it's on now!).
I will be a guest at Nerd Fest in Nottingham on Saturday 5th October. This is a rather late addition to my events list, but I'm delighted to be able to go. Here's a little interview with me on the Nerd Fest blog.
On the 19th and 20th October I'll be at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, an event for which anticipation seems to have been building all year. Will it be the UK's answer to Angouleme? That seems to be the vibe they're going for and the guest list, events and organisation are certainly looking very impressive. It's a bit of a trip for me, but I'm very much looking forward to it.
Edited to add: I will now also be at Comic Action in Essen, Germany, October 26-27.
In other news ... Mrs Tinks are doing a fabulous children's books giveaway. Many fine tomes are up for grabs, including The Complete Rainbow Orchid, so have a look here to see how you can enter.
"One of the most exciting and dynamic graphic novel sequences of recent years, it is to be hoped this is the first of many, many similar exploratory adventures featuring the inimitable Julius Chancer. It is, without doubt, a triumph!"
"What Ewing has fashioned here is a rare example of that seldom seen breed: the genuinely all-ages title ... An absolute humdinger of an adventure story that will appeal to the child in all of us, its absence on the bookshelves of anyone who calls themselves a true aficionado of the medium would be a conspicuous and telling one indeed."
"For those seeking new comics for children I heartily recommend this as an excellent starting place! ... It's fast paced and exciting ... The imagination and attention to detail in all of this just speaks to how much Ewing loves his work - and I have a feeling you will too."
After an early bus ride into Edinburgh and a cup of tea and a pain-au-chocolat in Starbucks on George Street, I headed for the author's yurt and an interview with Craig Naples of Writer Pictures. Craig dumbfounded me by bringing out a copy of one of my old fanzines - Demon Issue from the mid-1980s - a nice surprise actually.
My first event was Seeking the Rainbow Orchid - an illustrated talk on how I made the book, character development, research, inspirations, and even a bit of comics history thrown in too. With The Complete Rainbow Orchid out for a year now, not being a big name, plus a rather limited age-range suggested for my very all-ages book, I was nervous about attendance, but actually the auditorium filled up very nicely and it all went really well, with a good crop of questions at the end. I was surprised at the queue for my signing afterwards; I'd allowed half an hour - it went on for an hour and three-quarters. I missed an interview (sorry Emma!) and I was 45 minutes late for a lunch appointment.
Photograph courtesy Jeremy Briggs.
So things were a little bit of a rush for my next event - Comic Consequences with Vivian French, Nick Sharratt and Dave Sutton. This was a live drawing event where audience members shouted out various things - an emotion, the weather, a place, etc. - and the three of us would have to make up and draw a story on the spot, each given 30 seconds or a minute before Viv rang the bell and the next person took over. It was an absolute blast. Our main story had a robot falling in love with a penguin at a zoo in Switzerland and flying off to Edinburgh where it was swallowed by the Loch Ness Monster, who was emerging from the city's dormant volcano, before being burped out back to Switzerland and becoming an exhibit back at the zoo, now combined with the penguin thanks to a bolt of lightning (I think). My high point was probably Nessie emerging from the volcano, my low point was attempting to draw a hyena, in public, without a safety net.
The four of us had a signing afterwards, as well as giving away some of the flip-pad drawings from the event. I managed to get a book signed by Nick, for my daughter, before our event - we have quite a number of his books in our house. Viv, Nick and Dave were excellent company, I really enjoyed it, even if I originally thought myself bonkers for agreeing to do such an event!
Despite the weekend crawling with comics people, I managed to not see most of them. A quick wave and a hug with Sarah McIntyre, a brief handshake with Philip Reeve, a few words with Paul Gravett and Joe Gordon. I did get to sit down for half-an-hour with Graeme Neil Reid and Jeremy Briggs, and then it was off to my final event, a reading for Amnesty International's Imprisoned Writers series.
Photograph by Elyssa Campbell-Barr.
I had no idea what I was going to read (I thought it was going to be an excerpt from a graphic novel) until some slides arrived at my aunt's the evening before, but that all changed anyway, as at the last minute everything was swapped around and I was given a two page piece penned by A. L. Kennedy to read. My co-readers were Hannah Berry and Rutu Modan, and again, it all went well, including a discussion with questions on getting messages across graphically. Not being very well prepared for such a discussion, I nonetheless managed to add some relevance with a bit about the Tintin book The Blue Lotus, and both Rutu and Hannah had much of interest to say (see the Stripped report here).
All done for the day, Jeremy Briggs kindly walked me to my bus stop, and I had a 20-minute ride back to Colinton before I was able to completely unwind and collapse on my aunt's lovely big sofa. The whole visit was very nice, and both my aunt and uncle, as well as my wife and two year old daughter and four-month old son saw the Comic Consequences event, so that made it a little extra special too.
Congratulations to all involved in the Stripped line of events at the Edinburgh Book Festival - Kirsten Cowie, Hannah Trevarthen and Janet Smyth and others - it was a triumph and a real boon for the UK comics scene. I've heard such good things about so many of the other events.
Not only do you get the new Julius Chancer story, but there's a whole host of other excellent strips that regularly appear in The Phoenix, including Corpse Talk, Gary's Garden, Troy Trailblazer, Simon Swift, Bunny vs. Monkey, and more. Click here to get yours!
I won't say anything about the concluding part as I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that I'm enormously pleased to have Julius Chancer in The Phoenix - an idea I first offered to Ben Sharpe back in August 2011 to his immediate and generous enthusiasm. Since then, both Tim Jones at Egmont and Will Fickling at The Phoenix have been enormously supportive of the idea, and with my agent Oli Munson untangling the contracts, I'm very grateful to all for helping to make it happen.
Don't forget that you can still enter The Phoenix's exclusive Rainbow Orchid competition to win an amazing bundle of comicy prizes - the deadline for entries is 6.00pm on Sat 29 June.
In other news, tickets are now on sale for the Edinburgh International Book Festival, including all their amazing 'Stripped' comic events. You can see my events here - hope you can come along!
If you haven't had a chance to see any of the story yet then you can read the first three pages online - right here. If you like that, then you can buy back issues of The Phoenix to get the whole adventure - issues 75-78 for the complete thing.
I have also put up a character page for The Secret of the Samurai. With The Rainbow Orchid I think I only had one character who was also a real-life person (Mr Banerji), but in Samurai there are four or five.
Albert Koop was the Keeper of Metalwork at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a department that included Japanese armour (he was also editor of the Japan Society's Journal). I don't know what he looked like, so his appearance is from my own imagination.
Another real person was Major Lockett - Vivian Noverre Lockett, to be exact. As well as a Major (later Colonel) in the 17th Lancers he was a gold medal winner for the British polo team at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp. Incidentally, although he doesn't appear, Charles Edward Hay was a real person as well, killed in France in 1918.
A minor character, but one I really like, is Mrs Whitley. To find out who she was, watch this short instructional video.
And lastly, Tanegashima Daizen was a real samurai general. He was the commander of the left vanguard of the Satsuma army during the Shimazu invasion of Okinawa in 1609. I couldn't find much about him, so plenty of artistic license used beyond that!
In the meantime, don't forget this fabulous competition in which you can win a copy of The Rainbow Orchid plus loads of excellent Phoenix goodies.
I returned here to a location that appeared in The Rainbow Orchid, the breakfast room of Sir Alfred's home and headquarters.
Back then, in the early days of the story, I hadn't really mapped out the room which is something I now quite often do, so this time I sketched up a plan on a page of the script. Even if I have a good idea of how a room looks in my head, it still helps with consistency when you're changing the direction of view, so I find putting it down on paper enormously useful.
You can see a related post on planning interior locations here.
A couple of other links for you - here's an interview with me at The Beat about the new Julius Chancer adventure. And if you want to get hold of the first episode of Samurai, then it is now available as a back issue from The Phoenix online shop.
By the way, following on from last week's Tintin tribute - do you recognise which comic this little fellow, who sits on the sideboard in the breakfast room scene above, appears in?
It also features a wonderful spread of other brilliant comics - Bunny vs Monkey, Simon Swift, Gary's Garden, Troy Trailblazer, Von Doogan, and a fabulous Corpse Talk featuring yet more samurai - and ninja (plus a rather amazing board game!).
Here's a little spot for you - a teeny-weeny tribute to Tintin ...
There's also a terrific competition in which you can win a copy of The Complete Rainbow Orchid, as well as a fantastic bundle of Phoenix comic goodies.