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Category: Rainbow Orchid | back to blog |
Copenhagen Comics 2015
Monday 15 June 2015
Last Friday (5 June) I flew out of Gatwick on Norwegian Airlines for my first trip to Denmark. This was to attend the Copenhagen Comics festival where the first volume of the Danish edition of The Rainbow Orchid (Jagten På Regnbueorkidéen) would have its official launch.
I'd actually been invited to two other shows this weekend - the Munich Comics Festival, by my German publisher, Salleck, and the Bulles de Mantes La Jolie in Paris, by BD Must - but Copenhagen beat them to it. It's nice to be wanted, and I wish I could have somehow managed all three!

But I'd wanted to attend the Copenhagen event, which is held every two years, for a while now, after hearing positive reports from Colin Mathieson and Dave West of Accent UK, who both thought my book would find an appreciative audience there. When Danish publisher Tellerup added my book to their list late last year, the possibility of attending became a reality - and for that I must thank my champion at Tellerup, Michael Larsen, the Danish Arts Foundation, and Copenhagen Comics themselves.

I'm not a big fan of flying, but - though I'm not religious - there were about 20 or more members of the Salvation Army brass band on my flight, so I knew I'd be okay! Michael met me at the airport and we took the train into Copenhagen, hopped on a bus to my hotel (Hotel Sct. Thomas in Frederiksberg, right next door, it turned out, to Copenhagen's Salvation Army HQ) where I checked in and freshened up, and then we took the bus back into the city where we met the rest of the Tellerup team for dinner, at A Hereford Beefstouw, right next to the famous Tivoli Gardens.

The Tellerup team consisted of Michael, Thomas Schrøder and his wife Lise, Harald and Louise Tellerup, Valdemar Tellerup and one other chap, whose name didn't quite reach my ears (sorry!) [Edit: it was Steen]. They are a wonderful bunch and I feel very pleased indeed to have my work published by them.

After dinner Michael and I took a bus to Nyhavn - the 17th-century harbour that was once home to Hans Christian Andersen. Michael is an excellent tour-guide and he provided tea and good conversation, especially with his interesting insights into acting - something we've both been involved in.

The bus journey back led to a little adventure - Michael got off before me and I remained on board with a man who seemed insistent on informing me about (I think) his savings, the Danish tax rate, and the government (there's to be a general election this month). Whether it was due to this or my own lack of awareness, I wasn't sure which stop to get off at, so I took a chance and then used my 'intuition' to walk in what I thought was the right direction. My intuition was as good as random chance (unsurprisingly) and I soon realised I was going the wrong way. But purely by chance I had come out with a city map in my back pocket, and purely by chance I decided to examine it just as I was about to walk off the edge of it. A 20-minute walk got me back safely to the hotel!

I was staying in the same hotel as Colin and Dave of Accent UK and so I was able to meet them for breakfast the next day. Making up the rest of the Accent UK team were West Noir artist Gary Crutchley, and Colin's son Scott, and all four were terrific company all weekend, starting with breakfast each day.

Day one of the festival was hugely enjoyable - I was busy signing and sketching for most of the day and I met a ton of marvellous comic creators and readers. From my last German trip it was lovely to reacquaint myself with Tatiana Goldberg, also published by Tellerup and whose fantastic book, Anima, was shortlisted for a Ping Award (the winners were to be announced that evening); also Frank Madsen, Sussi Bech and Ingo Milton. I was also delighted to meet (all too briefly) Lars Jakobsen, creator of the fantastic Mortensen books - which Colin had turned me onto a couple of years previously.

At midday I was part of a panel discussion about drawing kids' comics, chaired by Michael Andersen and alongside comics superstars Luke Pearson and Thomas Wellmann. It was interesting that none of us had intentionally created a comic for children, we'd all made comics as something we, ourselves, wanted to read. Being comics for children had more to do with marketing, though all-ages content and clear storytelling were certainly aspects that perhaps made our books more widely accessible - not, we agreed, exclusively for a young demographic, but for a mainstream, even non-comic reading, truly all-ages audience.

Another friendly face present in Copenhagen Comics that weekend was Clíodhna Lyons, who was literally flying the flag for Irish comics, as well as her own gorgeous work. I'd last seen Clíodhna at Angoulême, so even though she only lives 30 miles away from me, we only seem to get to say hello when in mainland Europe. Along with the Accent UK guys and a number of friendly Danes, she was excellent company all weekend - and I owe her a drink in return for the enormous orange juice she treated me to at Cafe Obelix that evening.

The second day of the festival was another good one, perhaps a little slower than the Saturday, but I was still busy enough signing to keep me from clock-watching, with enough space this time to allow me to stretch my legs and have a wander around the Danish comics scene, which, I'm pleased to report, is friendly, full and fascinating.

One nice thing that Tellerup had organised was an exclusive Rainbow Orchid poster, free to anyone who bought the book at the festival. It was a big one - 70 x 100cm - and a common sight was to see people carrying them around in their special Tellerup poster boxes. I'd drawn this in spare moments during a very busy period of work, but was pleased to see that it had come out all right!

I was very pleased to make the acquaintance of another talented Dane, Thomas Friis Pedersen (who uses the pen-name Thop), creator of Flix & Flax and Zombie Kravlenisser (as well as The Great Zardini, which really gave me a good chuckle) and is another Tellerup author. And it was good to meet Árni Beck Gunnarsson too, for whom Thomas and I collaborated on a little jam sketch!

Sunday evening saw a lovely dinner at The London Pub on Godthåbsvej with Clíodhna, Accent UK, and Søren Pedersen, founder of the famous Fantask comics shop, and his wife Vibeke. As with every evening, much conversation was had, including subjects as diverse as Japanese film, potatoes, the Gay Gordons, and, of course, comics.

On Monday morning it was time to return home. A slightly earlier breakfast, again with the magnificent company of the Accent UK team (Colin was torn between a Danish pastry and accompanying me to the station, luckily reason prevailed ... the Danish), before I said my goodbyes and walked off to Copenhagen Central for a train to the airport. Despite a slightly delayed flight I was home by 3pm, and I even managed to summon up the energy to get myself to that night's karate training.

So, did I enjoy my first visit to Denmark? Most certainly. Would I go again? Absolutely. The Danish comics scene was enormously welcoming and I had a terrific time. Huge thanks to Tellerup, especially Michael Larsen who made the whole thing happen, to the Danish Arts Foundation for help with funding, and - by no means least - to Steffen Rayburn-Maarup and the Copenhagen Comics team for having me as a guest. I feel very lucky and honoured that I got the chance to go.

posted 15.06.15 at 11:38 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 12 |


Danish cover
Thursday 7 May 2015
With volume one of the Danish edition of The Rainbow Orchid currently at the printer's, I thought I'd show you the cover.

Yes, I know it's the same cover that's been on all the editions, but I particularly like the title design here - I gave it a slightly larger 'O', even though it's all one word in Danish, and spent a little more time on shaping it overall than I have on some of the other editions (oh how I'd like to rework the English one!).

The book itself will be published by Tellerup on 28 May, and the launch will be at Copenhagen Comics (June 6-7), at which I will be a guest.

I have drawn a new piece of Rainbow Orchid artwork for a promotional poster, but I'll leave that to be revealed by Tellerup at the festival, so no sneaky peeks just yet! Oh, okay, maybe just a little one ...

posted 07.05.15 at 3:04 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 5 |


Upcoming events
Tuesday 14 April 2015
Not many this year, but a couple of good events coming up on the horizon to tell you about.
The first is aimed at librarians and will take place at Crawley Library, West Sussex, on 18 May, where I'll be on a panel addressing the issue of reaching reluctant readers (something comics do very well!). My fellow panelists will be Helen Dennis, Mo O'Hara, and Lisa Williamson. You can book tickets here.

On the weekend of 6-7 June I'll be at Copenhagen Comics in Denmark for the launch of the Danish edition of The Rainbow Orchid vol.1 (Jagten Pa Regnbueorkideen, published by Tellerup). Long before a Danish edition was even a possibility I had wanted to visit this festival, largely thanks to the enthusiastic reports brought back by Colin and Dave of Accent UK, who will also be attending this year. I'm very grateful to the festival, Tellerup, and the Danish Arts Foundation for making this trip a reality.

posted 14.04.15 at 9:59 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


What's happening?
Friday 3 April 2015
To those still watching, you might be wondering what has happened to Julius Chancer since I boldly declared (last September) that I would be blogging the first three pages of his new adventure.
At the end of November I posted some finished art for the first page and suggested that the next two pages might be available to read in the new year, but since then ... nothing! The main reason has been work, work, work.

During the time I was drawing The Rainbow Orchid I experienced quite a downturn in my regular commercial work, and therefore my income. This was because in order to get the comic finished I had to turn away a fair bit of paying work, a difficult decision to make! Since the book has been completed I've had to build things up again, and the last couple of years have not been hugely fruitful.

This year, so far, has been better - things are looking up, at least for the next three months or so, and I've been saying yes to most of the projects that have come my way (and I'm very lucky to have some really nice assignments at the moment). The obvious result of this is that I'm very busy prioritising my paying clients, and that sadly leaves little to no time for my own stuff.

Ordinarily these two aspects of my work should run along nicely together but I have probably taken on a little too much work right now - possibly in reaction to last years' drought, but also because the urgency to earn money has increased, with my wife (a writer and editor) going freelance and with two small children to care for, and who knows if work will keep coming or dry up again for a bit.

I have been trying to think of solutions ... should I dive into the world of crowd funding (eg. KickStarter) or perhaps a system such as Patreon might be better? I'm not sure I'd be able to raise much this way - because of mainstream distribution with The Rainbow Orchid I'm not connected to the majority of my readers online, so I don't know if there's a good support base out there I can reach.

Either way, Julius Chancer is not dead - I'm too excited about this next story. It is better than The Rainbow Orchid, more original, more exciting, more mysterious, and my art and writing have improved a lot (I think). It will happen and I will try my best to get some new stuff to you as soon as I can.

Thanks, as ever, for staying with me!

posted 03.04.15 at 8:10 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 6 |


Scrapbook: the original
Wednesday 4 February 2015
Despite looking at the scrapbook spreads for volumes one, two, three and The Complete Rainbow Orchid (see previous entries), I haven't quite finished with scrapbook posts!
In 2003 I self-published part one in black and white, and as part of the extras I included a page of sketches and a scrapbook, which is where the idea started - you can see it below.

If you'd like to look at some of the scrapbook items in more detail then you can have a look at the Julius Chancer Facebook page where there's an album dedicated to them. If you're not already joined up to it, please do! I often publish little bits and bobs there that don't appear anywhere else.

posted 04.02.15 at 10:50 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


Scrapbook in colour vol. 3
Tuesday 3 February 2015
Unlike the scrapbooks for volumes one and two of The Rainbow Orchid I didn't make any new drawings for black and white 'photos' in volume three - the drawings I did do were kept in colour. Here's the volume three scrapbook spread ...

Volumes two and three, however, did include a 'story so far ...' section at the front, and for these I did drawings for the monochrome photographs. Here are the full colour versions ...

Lily, Julius and Nathaniel about to embark for Portsmouth, but somebody else is on this train ...

Nathaniel, Lily and Julius meet the elephant at Cunningham House, Karachi ...

The Complete Rainbow Orchid also had scrapbooks, gathering all three volumes' material into two spreads ...

posted 03.02.15 at 3:50 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


Scrapbook in colour vol. 2
Sunday 1 February 2015
A couple of days ago I posted some of the original colour images that were then 'antiquated' to become items in the Rainbow Orchid volume one scrapbook.
Volume two had a much smaller single-page spread, and only one full drawing. It shows Nathaniel Crumpole in the Amman desert with his camel and the Breguet 280T and a refuelling truck in the background ...

Here is the vol.2 scrapbook page ...

posted 01.02.15 at 5:23 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


Scrapbook in colour vol. 1
Friday 30 January 2015
In each of the volumes of The Rainbow Orchid I put together a scrapbook spread of news clippings, photographs and ephemera. The photographs, being of a 1920s or earlier vintage, were in black and white, but I actually made full colour drawings of these to begin with, and I thought it would be nice to show you some of these.
Here are three from the volume 1 scrapbook: Julius and Chas in Gallipoli ...

Lord Lawrence winning the Fourth Wembley Botanical Competition, with Rudyard Kipling ...

... and Lily Lawrence on set with her friend, Edna Purviance.

This is the full vol. 1 scrapbook spread ...

posted 30.01.15 at 2:23 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 5 |


Sequential sale
Monday 5 January 2015
Digital comics publisher Sequential are currently having a massive winter sale, with 50-80% off a huge range of titles - including The Rainbow Orchid. Their Complete edition includes all my annotations from The Rainbow Orchid Supplement.
You can read more about the Sequential edition of RO here. There's a ton of other really good stuff in the sale too - I've nabbed a couple myself! Fire up those iPads!

Update: the sale ends at midnight tonight (5 Jan)!

posted 05.01.15 at 10:58 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


Happy Christmas 2014
Monday 22 December 2014
I'd like to wish each and every one of you a very happy Christmas and I hope lots of good things come your way in 2015. I'd especially like to say a big and sincere thank you for your support of my work and books over the past year - it's hugely appreciated!

Click image to see bigger
posted 22.12.14 at 12:57 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 2 |


Jagten på Regnbueorkidéen
Wednesday 10 December 2014
Just when I thought The Rainbow Orchid had encountered all the excitement it possibly could in its unexpectedly long life (much more than I ever anticipated), a bit of news comes along to give the book yet another bounce, and a particularly pleasing one too.
I'm delighted to announce that a Danish edition of The Rainbow Orchid is to be published by Forlaget Tellerup. It will be issued in three separate volumes and will be launched perhaps midway in 2015 - I will confirm the date when it is settled. The Danish title is Jagten på Regnbueorkidéen, and it joins the English, Dutch, Spanish, French and German editions.

My sincere thanks go to Michael E. N. Larsen at Tellerup, Hélène Ferey and Oli Munson at A. M. Heath, and Trine Licht at Licht and Burr. I also suspected I should pass on a nod of recognition to the Danish comic artists (Frank Madsen, Sussi Bech, Ingo Milton, and Tatiana Goldberg) I had a very nice dinner with in Erlangen, Germany, earlier this year, as I thought that getting to know them a little better may have had something to do with my coming to the attention of Tellerup! In fact, Mr. Larsen had discovered RO while browsing Amazon, which just goes to show that putting work out there gets it seen, and you never know what will come of it.

posted 10.12.14 at 12:33 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 7 |


New Julius Chancer - finished art
Sunday 30 November 2014
Back in September I showed the thumbnails and the A4 roughs for the first three pages of the new Julius Chancer adventure. I said I'd be blogging the creation of the these first pages more closely, and now, at last, I can move on to the finished drawing stage.
I should apologise for the delay - it was partly due to other work, but I must admit it was also partly due to the big step of actually starting, coupled with the fact that the first panel was a bit of a challenge, having to tackle an establishing shot with a fairly intricate building (and van) in perspective.

One of the things that helped me get started was doing a private commission for a Julius Chancer illustration which acted as a great warm-up. It was a Thirty-Nine Steps-style scenario, with Julius being chased down on the Yorkshire Moors ...

Here, again, are the the thumbnails and A4 roughs for the first half of the first page ...

And here are the panels at the pencil stage ...

Finally, here are the drawings fully inked and coloured ...

This has been my first experience drawing at the new size - A2 (half a page is A3). The building did take longer due to the greater area to cover, but it was much nicer to draw something that required that level of detail with more space available. The following two panels probably took just as long as they would have had I been drawing at A3, as I did with The Rainbow Orchid.

One advantage I hadn't anticipated is that drawing the page in A3 halves provides me with smaller targets to complete - half a page is done and can be put aside, instead of a whole page having to be completed before I can tick it as 'done'. That might seem a false equivalence, but it's a psychological trick that actually helps! Giving yourself little targets to complete is great way to keep moving forward with a big project.

I plan to have the first three pages up for you to read at the start of the new year (fingers crossed!).

posted 30.11.14 at 12:33 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 15 |


Jacob's Heirs
Thursday 20 November 2014
Yesterday the following image dropped into my mailbox from Jean-Michel Boxus at BD Must (my Belgian publisher), which he described as Les Héritiers de E.P. Jacobs.
It's for a leaflet that explains how Jacobs was an influence on the three creators featured - Patrick Dumas (Allan MacBride), me (Julius Chancer), and Eric Heuval (Le Mystère Du Temps) - all published, of course, by BD Must.

Jacobs really was the spark that set off The Rainbow Orchid, far more than Tintin. I bought a copy of La Marque Jaune at the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée in Brussels, sometime in the 1990s, and it opened up the horizon for me on the wider world of ligne claire and the possibility of more serious adventure in this format. (I just checked the dates - I went to Brussels in April 1996 and drew the first page of RO in March 1997.)

I certainly wouldn't claim to be an heir, but I'm very happy to be thought of in the same context!

posted 20.11.14 at 4:58 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 4 |


Comicmesse Köln - report
Monday 10 November 2014
I had a late flight on Friday, so the morning saw a family trip to Tunbridge Wells, a quick packing session after lunch, and then off to Gatwick to catch my 6pm flight to Köln-Bonn airport.
As ever I was met by my German publisher, Eckart Schott of Salleck Publishing, and we drove into Mülheim and to our hotel, Hotel Kaiser on Wiener Platz. After dropping our bags off we went out to a little pizzeria (Palazzo) where I had a very nice pizza that I'm sure was meant for four people, not one. Our walk back to the hotel was just short enough to stop my bones from getting too chilled - there was a definite bite in the night air.

While Eckart had an early start to set up his stand at the comics fair, I was able to have a bit of a lie-in (a rare luxury with two small children at home), and I made my way over to the Köln-Mülheim Stadthalle (town hall) at about 10 am, opening time for the show. It was a beautiful November day - sun, blue sky, and not too cold.

The queue to get into the hall was enormous, so I walked round to the side to see if I could find a tradesman's entrance. I did, but was stopped by a door-guard who kept telling me to join the queue at the front despite my attempts to explain that I was there to sign books for Salleck. Luckily, just as I was about to give-up, a chap came up who recognised me and let me through. He turned out to be Thomas Götze, the organiser of Comicmesse Köln, and he gave me safe passage to Salleck's stand. Thank you, Thomas!

I wasn't totally sure if I was there because volume 3 of Die Regenbogenorchidee was now published, but actually that is coming out next May (2015), so I was there just to sign and do sketches for volumes 1 and 2. But that morning Eckart realised he'd forgotten to bring any volume twos! "Ashes on my head!", he said, obviously feeling bad about it. But actually it was fine - a good number of volume one was sold and I was kept very busy sketching - the day flew by. I didn't even have time to look round the hall myself and I didn't manage to take a single photo at the show.

I did meet lots of lovely people though. I always find my German hosts and readers to be hugely polite and friendly and it has made my trips there (previously to Essen and Erlangen) very worthwhile and a complete pleasure. I must offer special thanks to Peter Nover (he wrote the article on me in Zack Magazine at the start of the year) who gave me a complete set of the Erlangen Panini stickers (I'm no. 68!), and the album, as well as a copy of a new magazine he's involved in, Camp (which includes a rare 4-page strip about the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun by Edgar P. Jacbos, from 1964).

Eckart was also very generous - still feeling bad about the lack of volume two stock, he gave me a present of the two André Juillard Pêle-Mêle artbooks from Pythagore. I'd been drooling over one of these at a friend's house en route to the Lakes Comic Art Festival last year, so this was a wonderfully generous gift (and a rather heavy one, I just about got them into my little bag for the flight home!).

With the day over, I made my way back to the hotel and promptly fell asleep for an hour. At six I met Eckart in the lobby to go out to dinner. He had a very interesting guest with him - Dr. Johannes Wachten, the retired senior curator of the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt. He had helped Eckart with some specialist translation relating to the Israeli Air Force when Salleck published Yann and Juillard's graphic novel, Mezek.

We took the tram across the Rhein into Cologne, and then a walk to the Art'otel on Holzmarkt to meet one of Eckart's stand helpers for the day, Ernst, and his wife. En-route we had a very interesting historical commentary from Dr Wachten, especially in relation to the Roman origins of Cologne (Colonia, or Colony, more fully Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium - the Colony of Claudius and Altar of the Agrippinians!), which helped to keep my thoughts away from the fact that it was getting really quite cold. Also, there was a lovely yellow moon low in the sky across the Rhein as we walked along the redeveloped harbour on Im Zollhafen.

Things were kept interesting when, after a long walk, we reached our restaurant for the evening, Oxin (on Alteburger Strasse), and I had my introduction to Persian cuisine. Not being a very adventurous eater I found it very tasty, though I kept away from the octopus! Eckart said we should all have ice cream next so, despite feeling rather full, I did my best with some kind of mocha-extravaganza at the nearby Eiscafé Forum.

The cold was getting colder and my brain was thinking thoughts bedward, but we decided on a quick tram trip to see Cologne Cathederal late at night - a very impressive structure that survived the Allied bombing of the city in WWII, and Germany's most visited landmark. We then said our gute nachts and Eckart and I made one more tram journey back to the Hotel Kaiser.


Cologne Cathedral at night, Ludwiggalerie Schloss Oberhausen and Burg Vondern

My flight home on Sunday was not until after 4 pm, so Eckart drove us both to Oberhausen (not far from Essen) and to the Ludwiggalerie to see the Streich Auf Streich exhibition - 150 years of German-language comics since Max and Moritz. It was a fascinating display, with many originals and made all the more interesting with Eckart as my personal guide. We followed the visit up with a luxurious lunch in the Kaisergarten Count Westerholt Restaurant (complete with live piano player) and then - though I was getting a little anxious about the time - made a very brief visit to a local moated 15th/16th-century castle, Burg Vondern.

After a little confusion about which direction to take, we got going back on the Autobahn, the traffic was kind, and I was dropped off at Köln-Bonn airport with time to spare for my flight home.

A big thank you, once again, to Eckart Schott for his generous hospitality, and to Ernst for taking me to lunch on the Saturday (and for his and his wife's, and Dr. Wachten's excellent company in the evening). As always, a super-big thank you to everyone who came to get a sketch, buy a book, or even just to chat - danke schon!

posted 10.11.14 at 4:12 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 7 |


Comicmesse Köln
Monday 3 November 2014
Just a quick note to mention that I'll be in Cologne this Saturday (8th November) for the Comic Fair at the Stadthalle Köln-Mülheim on Jan-Wellem-Strasse, courtesy of my German publisher Salleck Publications.
I don't know much more about it - but I do know that Thomas Du Caju (Betty and Dodge) who I met at Angouléme will be there, and so will Diana Sasse, a comic author who I was in touch with in the early days of the web-version of The Rainbow Orchid (she draws amazing horses).

Also in attendance will be Alexis Martinez and Gunther Brodhecker, creators of a little book I picked up a couple of months back called Das Tagebuch des Richardo Castillo, set in the 'New France' of the 18th Century (North America), with beautiful cartooning somewhat resembling the work of Willy Vandersteen, I thought. They have a colour edition coming out in French from BD Must.

See you there?

posted 03.11.14 at 10:53 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |


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