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Silvester Strips
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blog of the day 29.04.2004
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Category: Rainbow Orchid | back to blog |
Making a comics page
Monday 17 March 2014
I have published a new audio slideshow with me rambling on about my process of making a page of comics. You can view it in the behind the scenes section of the website here. There's also a YouTube version, but it's not quite as good quality.
If you've read my 'director's commentary' that appeared at the Forbidden Planet International blog a little while back, or have seen me talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, or the Hay Book Festival, or at the British Comic Awards last year, then you'll already be familiar with this material.

As a footnote to this post, there's a rather grumpy review of The Complete Rainbow Orchid up at Amazon.com (US) where the reviewer goes on at some length about the 'pathetic' 'self indulgence' of my making-of material at the back of the book. While I don't mind if someone doesn't like my book - that's fine (and I'm very aware of its imperfections myself) - I do feel that this criticism is a little unfair.

Perhaps things are different here in the UK where many comic creators are actively trying to revive the comics industry by getting young people engaged in the medium, especially at workshops where we help them to create their own comics. I get a lot of interest in how I work - from invitations to do workshops at schools and book festivals, to emails on the subject (often several a month) and queries at comic shows.

It's got nothing to do with thinking me or my creative process is particularly important. It's a different world now - most artists have blogs and show their working methods and many published comics have sketchbook and process sections at the back. Why? Because people are genuinely interested. I love seeing such things myself, from the smallest of small-pressers to the biggest names in the industry.

Now, that's enough self-indulgence!

posted 17.03.14 at 2:02 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


The Astonishing Adventures of Julius Chancer
Monday 3 March 2014
Late last week I had two emails letting me know that there was one of my early self-published Rainbow Orchids for sale on eBay (it ends on March 9th; thanks Linda and Jo). Jo hadn't heard of it and wanted some more information, so I thought I'd turn my answer into a blog post.

I'd always wanted The Rainbow Orchid to be a single book, but in order to give myself some deadlines it was initially published in episodes in BAM! (Bulldog Adventure Magazine), from April 2002 to November 2003. In October 2003, upon the completion of the fifth episode, I decided to collect them all together and self-publish them as 'part one' - something that eventually set the template for Egmont's decision to publish it in three separate volumes a few years later.

I launched the book at the London 'Winterfest' on 1 Nov 2003, at the Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury, and sold almost 100 copies - it was really well received. The rest of the print run (250, I think) sold out fairly quickly afterwards, through the post and at the Bristol Comics Festival in May 2004. I sold the last copy on eBay, in December 2004, along with some sketches, where it eventually went for 79 (with 10 bids). I was amazed it went for so much, so threw in the original of the cover drawing as well. Someone else sold a copy on eBay, by itself, in June 2009 for 12, and I heard that another went on Amazon for nearly 100 (in the wake of an article on my work in Book Collector magazine).

The 2004 eBay lot.

Apart from the cover, the entire book is in black and white and the story is 34 pages long (two pages were added for Egmont's volume 1, as well as some individual panel changes). There are some 'extras' - a character page, not too dissimilar from the layout in the eventual Egmont edition, a single-page scrapbook (again, a precursor to the double-page spread at the end of the Egmont vol. 1), and a page of pencils and roughs - mainly character sketches. The back page featured a couple of early colour panel tests and some quotes from the BAM! letters pages. There are some minor printing errors on the inside-back and back pages due to the printer not flattening transparencies on the PDF.

That's about all there is to know about it, really. I was glad of the opportunity to draw a more dynamic version of the cover for Egmont, and also to lengthen a couple of scenes - especially the last scene with the aircraft taking off, which I finished rather hurriedly originally in order to get the book to the printer before I went off on holiday to Paris. A 'part two' was never published because I decided to serialise the continuing story on my website.

Since then the book has had its three complete volumes published in English, Dutch, Spanish, French and German, collected editions in English and Spanish, an iPad version, it's taken me to the Hay Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, the Cheltenham and Bath Festivals, as well as doing signings in Holland, Germany and, most recently, at Angoulême in France. Who'd have thought? (Not me!)

posted 03.03.14 at 9:56 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


Zack Magazine
Tuesday 25 February 2014
The new issue of German comics magazine Zack (no.177, Mar 2014) is out and features a three-page article on The Rainbow Orchid / Die Regenbogen Orchidee by Peter Nover.
I can't read it, but it looks very nice, so huge thanks to Peter for putting in the work and writing and researching it. It's still to be finally confirmed, but I should be returning to Germany this year for the launch of Salleck's publication of volume 2 - more details nearer the time.

posted 25.02.14 at 1:19 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


Angoulême 41 - Festival International de la Bande Dessinée
Thursday 6 February 2014
At the beginning of December I had a call from Jean-Michel Boxus, my publisher at BD Must in Brussels, inviting me to Angoulême - the biggest and most important European comics festival, and the second largest in the world (after Tokyo's Comiket). I had long wanted to go to Angoulême, but the practicalities and price of arranging transport and accommodation so close to Christmas, and for so soon in the new year, always put me off. This time I decided I would brave the journey - five trains there and five trains back (including the Métro across Paris).
It was an early start on the Thursday - the first day of the festival, but one I would spend travelling - up at 5.45 for a train to East Croydon, then on to St. Pancras for the Eurostar to Paris. I was slightly anxious about the short time I'd have to get from Gare du Nord to Montparnasse for my train to Angoulême, but here's a top tip - I discovered you can buy Métro tickets from the buffet car on the Eurostar, so I got two (one for the return journey) and I was all set to get off the train and scoot right on to the Métro - plenty of time.

I finally reached Angoulême just after 16.30 and made my way up the big hill and into the town centre to find Espace Para-BD, where the BD Must stand was and from where I could collect my pass. I introduced myself to Jean-Michel and his BD Must crew, as well as the artists already signing - Eric Heuvel and Vano from the Netherlands (I had met Eric before), and Patrick Dumas and Nicolas Siner from France. I was also delighted to meet, for the first time, my Spanish publisher, César Espona of Netcom2 Editorial. Half an hour later I was sat down and sketching and signing in books as well.

The festival closed for the day at 7pm, and after wrapping up the stand we drove to a restaurant a few miles outside of Angoulême, where I had the first of three (Thur, Fri and Sat) of the best meals I've had in a long time. And the company was excellent too - Eric and Vano were my fellow non-French speaking, English-speaking travellers, while the French and Belgians had a mix of a little English to very good English. I had a tiny bit of French, which got me by when I needed it, but otherwise I had to rely on, and was very grateful for, the fact that mainland Europeans are so much better at languages than the British.

After that it was back in the car and off to our accommodation. This was at Chateau de la Tranchade, a 14th century castle (with some 16th, 17th and 19th century updates) some miles to the southeast of Angoulême. We weren't in the chateau itself, but a very nice converted farm house in the grounds, each with our own room, en suite, and a communal room with a real fireplace. I had a pretty good night's sleep!

The next day, after breakfast (pain au chocolat, toast, croissant and tea - I am in France, after all), we drove back to town for the start of the show at 10. I was signing from 10 until 1, and when not signing for actual customers, I was sketching in and signing stock for future shows (BD Must do about twenty a year). It was good to meet Thomas Du Caju, Belgian author of Betty and Dodge and Francis Carin, another Belgian author with his latest book, Ennemis de Sang - but I knew him better from his Victor Sackville series (written by François Rivière), and we discussed the Sackville name a little as my home town is connected very strongly with the actual family.

For lunch on Friday I went off with Eric Heuvel and Vano and we grabbed some sandwiches and visited a few of the other tents - Le Monde Des Bulles, which housed the big mainstream publishers and was something akin to a shopping mall with stands like little bookshops, and Le Nouveau Monde, which seemed to house the independent and small press and was full of a huge variety of fascinating material. Here I found some fellow British citizens in the form of the Dessinators - Francesca Cassavetti and Oliver Lambden (Sean Azzopardi and Sally-Anne Hickman were away from the table). I'd also had a welcome visit from Clíodhna Lyons earlier when she stopped by the BD Must stand.

We ate our lunch at Espace Franquin, where the Dutch contingent (many arriving together in a single coach - their French-dwelling countryman, Willem, was the festival president this year) had set up shop - a print shop to be exact, with a number of artists making daily posters, screen printing them on-site, and then putting them up around the town. While eating our sandwiches here we had an amusing episode: the three of us were sat down when suddenly a piece of paper and a pencil was thrust under my nose. I looked up to see a schoolboy of about 7 or 8 - he didn't say a word but had evidently seen my 'auteur' badge and was hoping for a sketch. As I put pencil to paper, we were quickly and silently surrounded by about ten more children, all with paper and pens (there were a lot of school parties at the festival). We did a couple of sketches, but had to say no to more or we'd have been there all day - I felt bad but we'd already been sketching all morning and had limited time before we had to get back.

But with the little time left before we had to be at the BD Must stand again, we went for a wander and got a little lost, though nicely so, because we saw some of the quieter bits of Angoulême. At one point we came across the cathedral, which also had a comics exhibition in. Vano made me laugh, saying "in every toilet an exhibition!". Not far off ... Angoulême is a true city of comics, from the speech bubble street signs (some named after comic creators), to the statues of Hergé and Corto Maltese, and the numerous permanent comics murals adorning many of the town's buildings. Eric's quote of the day was "our audience grows old with us and dies with us!"

I was signing again from 3-5pm, and for a short while sat next to Henk Kuijpers, creator of the astonishingly good Dutch series, Franka (I've long wished these were in English). He showed me some of the panels in his book, explaining some of the research he'd done and his creative process. I also very briefly met Thim Montaigne, the French artist behind The Third Testament.

Finishing at 5, I had two hours to fill until we went to dinner, and suddenly realised I didn't really know what to do. I wasn't very prepared for what to see at the festival and at first just revisited the big tents for a more detailed look. I thought about seeing the Tardi exhibition, but by the time I found it it was getting late and I knew I wouldn't have enough time. So, though it was nice wandering around, it was a bit of a long (and slightly cold) two hours. Lesson for next time - get to know the festival a bit better beforehand and have plans for free time.

Dinner on the Friday night was in a brasserie in Angoulême, and was, again, delicious, and again, in excellent company. I was learning a lot about the European comics scene from my new continental friends, and was even starting to believe that I may be a legitimate part of it after all - especially after meeting some of the enthusiastic customers for my own book. True, seeing the huge signing queues and marketing forces at work in Le Monde des Bulles reinforced the notion that I was a very very tiny part of it - but then I already knew that!

On Saturday I wasn't required at the BD Must stand until 1pm, so had the morning free. Eric and I went down to the Musée de la BD and had a good look around the main exhibition there. It was a chronological look through comics, with plenty of originals, vintage publications and process videos. I did a double-take when I saw a familiar-looking aircraft appear on a screen as part of a display of Bécassine pages from 1930. I waited until it came round again and, yes, there it was - a Breguet 280T! Only about 21 of these were made, so to see the aircraft I used in The Rainbow Orchid also appear in a classic strip from 1930 was quite a surprise. I overcame my strong sense to not flout rules and took an iPhone photo of the screen.

After that Eric and I took the weight off our feet and enjoyed a hot chocolate in the foyer. Eric was especially kind throughout the weekend, showing me around and being an excellent companion. BD Must have just put together a beautiful six-album set of January Jones, drawn by Eric and written by his mentor (Eric's term), Martin Lodewijk. Eric is a masterful artist of the clear line - and although I own some Dutch softbacks of some of the January Jones albums, I was droollng over the BD Must set (especially the two new works which I hadn't seen).

While Eric had to return to the stand for his next signing slot, I joined the long queue for the Tardi exhibition (Saturday was noticeably busier than the previous days). The queue didn't really seem to be moving, and it was looking very crowded inside, so with time running short I decided to return to the Musée and have a look at Nocturnes - an exhibition of comics relating to dreams and nightmares. And I'm glad I did - starting with prints from the Illustrated London News and a selection of original Winsor McCay pages, it was a very absorbing display. In fact, by the time I got out, I just had time to nip to the loo and buy a quick pressie from the shop for my daughter, and then I had to belt up the hill to make it to my signing session which started at 1pm.

(A note on the Tardi queue - I was later told by a couple of people that I should wave my 'auteur' badge around a lot more - it's apparently a permit to bypass queues, enter through exits, and to make a general VIP of yourself ... it really doesn't come very naturally to an Englishman - if we see a queue we're liable to join it.)

For the Saturday afternoon I was scheduled to sign from 1 to 5, but I ended up sketching and signing all the way to the day's end at 8pm (the festival is an hour longer on the Saturday). Dinner that evening was at a very nice little créperie - again, truly delicious. (Most of the restaurants in Angoulême are so busy during the festival that they simplify their menus, often to just 4 or 5 choices or a set 'BD Spécial').

And so came my last day. After breakfast, and with half an hour before the chateau owner's son drove us into Angoulême, Eric, François and I had a little time to look around the castle grounds. It was a lovely misty morning, very atmospheric, and I managed to get a few photos (I never take enough photos at these things).

I was signing from 10 to 2, a lot quieter than the Saturday (Sunday is 'family day'), but when most of the other artists left for lunch at 1 and there was room on the signing table for a little L'Orchidée Arc-en-ciel display, a few more sales were added in my last hour.

After goodbyes and au revoirs, I left for my 3.30pm train and the journey home began ... Angoulême, Paris Montparnasse, the Métro to Gard du Nord, the Eurostar to St Pancras, the Underground to Victoria, and then the last Sunday train home, putting my key in the door just after 11.30 pm. The first thing I did was have giant mug of tea.

So I have at last experienced Angoulême ... 18 hours of travelling, over 17 hours of signing and sketching, a city where comics and their creators are truly celebrated - like nothing in the UK. The festival prizes are widely reported in the mainstream press, taken seriously, and the publishers make the most of those prizes to help sell books, both during the nomination and winning phases. I hope things move that way here too. It's very interesting that the Grand Prix went to Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson - the winner becomes the curator for the next year's festival, but as Watterson retired in 1995 and pretty much disappeared from public life ... well, we'll see what happens.

I wish I'd got to see the Tardi exhibit - he's one of my favourite creators. I wish I'd made better use of my free time on the Friday afternoon. Was I inspired? Yes, to some degree - though I was working quite a bit, I did feel a lot more integrated with the European scene, which was very good for me. The question is, how can you hold on to that inspiration, bring it home and make it last?

A huge thank you to Jean-Michel for inviting me, and to all the BD Must crew, Patrick, François and Philippe, for making me feel so welcome and for looking after me. Thank you to everyone who bought my books! I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I'm sure - I hope - I'll be going back.

posted 06.02.14 at 10:43 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 8 |


Angouleme 2014
Monday 27 January 2014
Thanks to my French/Belgian publisher, BD Must, I am going to be at Angouleme this year. So many times I have intended to go to this, the most famous European comics festival, but I've never managed it. Partly it's been the expense, and partly it's been because it's quite a trek to get to. But this time, I'm going to brave the multiple train journeys and be there.
Most of the time I will be at the BD Must stand (Fri, Sat, Sun a.m., I'm travelling on the Thursday), which is no. H13 in the Espace Para BD (in the Place de Halles, bound by BD Pasteur and Rue de Chat on Place Guillon - see map).

Also at the stand will be Francis Carin (Ennemis de Sang), Thomas Du Caju (Betty and Dodge), Patrick Dumas (Allan MacBride), Eric Heuvel (January Jones), Nicolas Siner (Horacio d'Alba) and Vano (Rhonda).

If you're there too, please do come and say hello!

posted 27.01.14 at 10:44 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 1 |


A Glance back at 2013
Monday 30 December 2013
A few days off over Christmas and it's time to start thinking about the new year. But let's have a little look back over 2013 first ...

The year was very good for The Rainbow Orchid, seeing two new translations - a French language collection from Belgian publisher BD Must, and a German language edition from Salleck Publishing - and in November the book was made available in a digital edition through Sequential for iPad. The Complete Rainbow Orchid was shortlisted for a British Comic Award and - much to my surprise - ended up winning in its category, The Young People's Comic Award.

A new Julius Chancer story, The Secret of the Samurai, was serialised in four episodes in The Phoenix (and Metaphrog very kindly cited it as one of their best of the year over at the Forbidden Planet blog).

At the start of the year I didn't have many events planned, but the second half quickly booked up, with Stripped at the Edinburgh Festival, Nerd Fest, the Lakes Comic Art Festival, and Comic Action in Germany.

So what about 2014? I can already mention two events - the big one will see me at Angouleme in France at the end of January, and then I'll be at DemonCon in Maidstone in the middle of February. There will be more to come, so keep an eye on the events page. I'll also be doing more school events this year (but I tend not to list those).

There will be new Julius Chancer too. My plan is to start the new book and put the first few pages on the website. I'd like to do another short for The Phoenix (if they'll have me), but let's wait and see. And then I'd like to continue and get the next book well on its way and completed in early 2015. That's the plan anyway ... sometimes things change!

I hope you had a lovely Christmas break - and here's to a happy and prosperous 2014 for all of us!


My lovely Christmas pressies (socks and underpants not included).
posted 30.12.13 at 3:17 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 4 |


The British Comic Awards 2013: Young People's Comic Award
Monday 25 November 2013
On Friday 22 November I travelled up to Leeds for the British Comic Awards' Young People's Comic Award ceremony, which took place at Leeds Town Hall. I'd been enormously surprised to find myself nominated alongside four excellent books: Cindy and Biscuit by Dan White, Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson, Playing Out by Jim Medway, and The Sleepwalkers by Viviane Schwarz.
I couldn't decide which one I thought would win, but I was fairly certain it wouldn't be me! Cindy and Biscuit looked as though it could really appeal to a young audience with its no-nonsense girl protagonist, giant robots and alien encounters; Luke Pearson had won last year with another Hilda book and had already proved himself a deserved favourite; Playing Out looked as though it spoke directly to young people and their real-life experiences, with style; and Viviane's book was a wonderfully original idea, beautifully executed by an author with a track record in quality work.

Photo courtesy Sarah McIntyre ©2013 - with thanks.

Adam Cadwell, the awards' founder, and Debbie Moody, the Leeds Young People's Librarian, were the hosts for the afternoon, with four or five school groups in attendance. The Young People's Award is voted for by actual young readers (the other British Comic Awards categories are voted for by a judging panel). Star author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre gave a fabulous 20-minute talk, focusing on her own work but applying it to how anyone can make their own comics. She also got everyone drawing their own Sea Monkey!

Each of the attending nominated authors then did a brief talk about their book. Dan White spoke eloquently on how he came up with Cindy and Biscuit, talking about creating his tough girl heroine and some of his story-telling techniques. I think I was next, extracting a part of my longer presentation where I concentrate on how I make a page and a few examples of research I'd done. Luke Pearson wasn't able to be there, but his publisher, Nobrow, had sent a set of beautiful Hilda models, one of each given to the school groups and an extra as a raffle prize. Jim Medway was illuminating on the philosophy of his book and on drawing his trademark cat-people. Viviane was last, revealing some intriguing snippets about the origin of her graphic novel and the stories and dreams contained within. It was a really good hour or so of fascinating comics creating information.

At last it was time for Adam Cadwell to open the little golden envelope and to reveal the winner. By now I thought I knew who it was, as when Jim Medway had got up to give his talk there had been a cheer round the room, which I don't think any of us others had, and I thought the winner had been revealed! Instead, however, The Complete Rainbow Orchid was announced. It really was a very big and genuinely unexpected surprise.

I felt a bit embarrassed getting up in place of any of the other worthy nominees, worried there had been a mistake. I made a pretty rubbish acceptance speech - sorry! On my way back to my seat Sarah said to me "all that hard work paid off", and it has been a long road ... I don't know if this is the end of it, but it's certainly a very nice capping of what's turned out to be a pretty good year for RO.

Photo courtesy Sarah McIntyre ©2013 - with thanks.

Unfortunately I had to return home that day, so I missed out on a weekend of selling my book at Thought Bubble as a BCA winner, and also attending the festival's main awards ceremony on the Saturday evening. The other winners were: Best Book - The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon; Best Comic - Winter's Knight by Robert Ball; Emerging Talent - Will Morris; and Hall of Fame - Leo Baxendale.

That will answer the question of why I was in Leeds on the Friday, but not at Thought Bubble for the weekend, which did confuse some people - sorry (see Sarah McIntyre's excellent blog round-up of the festival here). I'd like to clear up another point that has been put my way a couple of times - the question of why The Rainbow Orchid was nominated for a 2013 award when it's been around far longer than that. Well, the award is for The Complete Rainbow Orchid, and that was not completed, published, or available until September 2012 - just within the timeframe for the 2013 awards.

2013 has been a very good year for good British comics. So many other books on the longlist could have been justifiably nominated, and decisions could have gone another way with just a sigh. I'm very grateful to the BCA committee for nominating me from a particularly strong pool of books, and I'm enormously grateful to all the school children and groups who took part in the tough decision of voting. And thank you very much indeed for the avalanche of tweets, emails and Facebook comments with congratulations that poured in over the weekend - I'm not going to lie, it means a lot to me.

The Complete Rainbow Orchid is the British Comic Awards winner of the Young People's Comic Award for 2013. Thank you!

Reports:

The Comics Reporter

The Beat

Forbidden Planet International

Digital Spy

Edit: Here's a blog post about the YPCA voting process up at Forbidden Planet International blog.

posted 25.11.13 at 1:09 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 2 |


Julius Chancer on the iPad
Tuesday 19 November 2013
Today saw the launch of The Rainbow Orchid on iPad through Sequential. This is is in fact the second time that Julius Chancer has been available on the iPad as The Secret of the Samurai was available in The Phoenix earlier this year, also through Panel Nine.
I thought the best way to show you the iPad version of The Rainbow Orchid would be on video, so here's a little recording I made, plus a few screenshots.

Get Sequential for your iPad here (it's free).

posted 19.11.13 at 9:53 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


The Rainbow Orchid goes digital
Friday 15 November 2013
You know, I'm trying to drag out this one book for as long as I can ... but I am very happy with this latest news. The Rainbow Orchid will be available for iPad from Panel Nine via its Sequential platform on Tuesday 19th November.
All three volumes will be available separately (3.99 each) and you can also get The Complete Rainbow Orchid as a single comic (9.99).

But there's something special about the Sequential Complete edition! It includes all my story annotations from The Rainbow Orchid Supplement, available as a modal view that can pop up on the comic page at the touch of a button, making this a unique, perhaps even ultimate, edition.

Enormous thanks to Chloë Pursey and Russell Willis at Panel Nine, and also to Tim Jones and Amy Fletcher at Egmont for helping to make this happen.

I'll have more info next week.

posted 15.11.13 at 9:00 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 1 |


Clear the line!
Wednesday 6 November 2013
At some point during the busyness of the Lakes Comic Festival and Comic Action in Germany, my website received its two millionth hit. I know one million was achieved some time back, but when I stopped publishing my comic online, visits dropped off somewhat, so it's taken a while.
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?

posted 06.11.13 at 12:12 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 2 |


Die Regenbogen Orchidee at Comic Action
Wednesday 30 October 2013
On Friday (25 Oct) I flew to Düsseldorf for my first ever trip to Germany, and also to attend Comic Action at Spiel '13 at the kind invitation of my German publisher, Salleck Publications.
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 little Felix, 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.

posted 30.10.13 at 11:15 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 2 |


Die Regenbogen Orchidee
Wednesday 2 October 2013
The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that I let this news slip a little early, during an interview at the Edinburgh Festival. But now I can say it officially - I'm tremendously pleased to be able to say that there will be a German edition of The Rainbow Orchid, published in three volumes by Salleck Publications.
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.

posted 02.10.13 at 10:12 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 7 |


Upcoming
Tuesday 17 September 2013
A quick blog post to mention some upcoming events ...
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.

I'll end off with some recent reviews that have popped up, one at Broken Frontier, another at Droplets of Ink, and a third at Cherry and Cinnamon.

"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."

posted 17.09.13 at 10:55 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


The Edinburgh International Book Festival - Stripped 2013
Saturday 31 August 2013
This was my second time at the Edinburgh Book Festival (the first being in 2010) and I had a thoroughly good time. I had a wonderful few restful days staying with my aunt and uncle in Colinton, and then on the Sunday I leapt into action with a packed day that saw three very different events.
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.

You can see my Stripped blog interview here; the Stripped overview of The Rainbow Orchid here; and my Stripped RO director's commentary here.

posted 31.08.13 at 9:03 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 4 |


The Phoenix special offer
Wednesday 3 July 2013
The Phoenix have put together a very special offer ... you can buy all four issues that contain the new Julius Chancer adventure - The Secret of the Samurai - for just £7.99 (usual price would be £11.96). They've got international shipping available as well.
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!

posted 03.07.13 at 10:39 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


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Julius Chancer, The Rainbow Orchid, story, artwork, characters and website © 1997 and 2014 Garen Ewing & inkytales