It was a valuable and interesting experience for me, and enjoyable too. Most of the questions from the writers early on were about getting an agent, and how you could get on to their books (and Oli was very enlightening on this subject). I got the impression (and I may be wrong) that most of them weren't too interested in the comics aspect, though when I got to explain a bit about how comic creation could work, with someone else as the artist if you yourself couldn't draw, and how the comics market was a very different creature from the generally perceived one of superheroes and children's funnies, there was a lot more interest in the subject, I think. I take the world of comics for granted sometimes, and forget it can be a completely alien world to the uninitiated. Having said that, quite a few of the writers who spoke did have some kind of experience of comics and 'graphic novels'.
Information I disseminated included that it is now quite acceptable for almost any kind of story to be told in comic form (referencing Alice in Sunderland as we were in the north-east), that there are numerous markets for writers to find a place for their scripts (adaptations for Classical Comics, stories for children in The DFC, 'comics-lit' for Jonathan Cape, small press opportunities for experimentation and testing the water), that manga is not all about sex, and that, yes, Persepolis was a story told in comic strip form before it was an animated film.
Afterwards there was a bit of mingling and Q-and-A-ing. One chap had brought along his comic for some advice. It had been drawn on computer with a mouse, with characters drawn once then copied and pasted at different magnifications for close-ups and full-length shots. It wasn't of a professional standard, but from just an endurance point of view I was impressed with the mouse-drawing! And to show how things have changed over the past few years, it's just the kind of thing that would probably get some kind of following as a web-comic - though maybe it was a little text-heavy for the screen (I know... look who's talking).
The train journey home had an interesting moment when a girl on her mobile phone gave away the plot-twist to the novel she had just finished reading, rendering the book (title clearly announced) unreadable to an entire carriage of south-bound travellers. I did try to get a bit of scripting done, but was starting to nod off a bit by then. I had been up that morning at six-thirty and got back home just after nine, with most of the day spent on trains. Huge thanks to Oli for the enjoyable company all day, and to Liv for inviting me to New Writing North.
From Newcastle University's Courier and Pulp... those darn 'goblin and cyclops' comics!
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