I'm going to Coventry tomorrow.
Because it's the headquarters of the Camping and Caravanning Club of Great Britain.
Which kindly replied to my recent enquiry asking whether they had any more photos of their founder, Thomas Hiram Holding, in addition to the one on their history page on their website.
As Holding was a pioneer of camping in the 1800s and wrote a book in 1897 called Cycle and Camp about the first camping trip by bicycle.
Which I'm turning into a graphic novel.
And I can't wait to see more reference photos and other material from that first trip which will help make my work better. The CCC has an archivist who works there on Tuesdays, and he's already made me a copy of one of Holding's publications from that time which I'm missing.
Then last week, I was thrilled to receive this photo. It came from a lovely woman called Alison, a friend of a friend whom I haven’t even met. She’d seen these on my page, printed them, and then made them - very successfully, it looks like! The very delicious gingerbread recipe came from a friend, and my mother’s great granola recipe was in my files from when I was about eighteen. Alison told me her family enjoys granola a lot, and she hadn’t realised it was so easy to make, and now she wouldn’t have to buy it anymore. Result!
The plan now is to collect all of these graphic recipes and print them as is -- rough drawing, awkward spacing, ink splodges and all -- as a ‘zine. Zines are traditionally handmade and imperfect, so this will do for now. At least the images will be far clearer than the ones posted online so far, as I’ll scan them instead of just photographing them.
If you think you might be interested in a copy when they’re ready, let me know. Or check back here in a couple of weeks or so.
Fountain pen, dip pen, brush pen, brushes.... ink wash, coloured inks, stippling.... the object of the game is to learn to ink better, so that means experimenting, which means some of these are going to be a bit rough!
Well, this is a funny thing. After having a couple of projects on the go for sooo long it seemed doubtful I'd ever really do them, they both got done this summer. (Those two being Up, Down, or Stay the Same? and Just a Normal Day?)
On the right is me talking to Jessica Abel over skype, showing her my work schedule which resulted, however loosely, from the planning techniques I learnt from her Creative Focus Workshop earlier in the summer. And with this plan, the projects actually got done.
Having been such a Class A procrastinator previously, the difference was amazing enough that I got interviewed and featured on Jessica's blog as a case study!
I've got a lot to live up to now! And I'll need all these tools to make headway with my next project, which is much bigger than anything I've done before. More about that one soon.
So this time I knew what to expect, and and did things a little differently. Somehow I was still right up against the deadline, though, and only got the package shipped off via Parcelforce 48 hour service at lunchtime today. It'll be in place at the weekend, at which time all will be revealed! I'll be up there for the festival in a couple weeks, and hope to be happy when I see it in situ for the first time.
Today, this arrived from the printer. Just a Normal Day? - a choose-your-own-pathway interactive comic about small kids and self-employment.
It's the culmination of many years of thinking and planning and starting and stopping, and finally a few very intense months of drafting, drafting, re-drafting, inking, colouring, and formatting.
It's a little hard to believe it's really moved from being mostly in my head for over a decade, to being real little books in my house.
I'm happy to admit this probably wouldn't have happened this year (or even next year or the year after, judging by past experience) without a far more organised approach to getting on with creative work, taught by Jessica Abel earlier this year.
It's all about focus on one thing, asking yourself the right questions, breaking down projects into definable steps, finding a good way to stop losing ideas, figuring out what's really possible in a given time, planning and reviewing and being accountable, and much more. It worked. If you have things you've been meaning to do forever and keep getting stuck, this could really help!
A new Belgian fries restaurant called BeFries which has just opened in Brighton wanted line drawings showing the whole process from potatoes growing to chips in a cone, to be chalked on their blackboard wall three meters wide.
It took some trial and error to get all the elements in reasonable scale relative to each other, and balanced in a way that would flow and make sense with enough spacing including room for the text. It was fun drawing the cool cutting machine (I wanted to write hand-cutting as it's operated by pulling the lever, but that just sounds bad!).
The day of the actual chalking involved a projector, with my line drawings changed to pink so I could see where I was, and joining the whole picture up from two halves as it was too wide to project as one image.
This was a fun job, working for a lovely bunch of guys making a truly delicious product!
Four years ago, I needed to find a project to do for an online course, and I resurrected this idea with one additional element - I would also illustrate each page. Within a month, I'd worked out the twists and turns of a forty-page adventure using post-it notes and arrows on a big board - which was very tricky and so much fun! - and drawn several pages. But again, it got put aside while I did other things.
Then a couple of years ago I began making comics. And I began to think this would be more interesting if I re-worked the whole thing as a choose-your-own-adventure comic, not something I've ever even heard of. So I redrafted the story to make it conversational and active, rough drafted that in more detail, then drew the final pencil draft. Then I used those pencilled pages as a guide while doing the inking onto good Bristol board paper over a light box, as in photo.
Today I finished inking the last of the 40 pages, and now need to do the colour. I have a printer lined up and ready to go - just have to send the files within the fortnight in order to have the books available at my ArtWave exhibition in August! Hard to believe the end is in sight after all these years.
Edit 10 Aug: Now completed and sent to printer. There's a short playable version online here.
For some time I've been noticing people's sketch diaries and thought wow, what a great idea! Looks like a real effort, though...
And guess what? It is. Even to do such a minimal, sketchy one as this. I didn't draw anything on the spot, being with friends, so just tried to remember what I'd seen every evening and draw it from memory.
So it's really more of a memory-jog collection of symbols than anything, but really glad I did it.
For a couple of years I've been wanting one. A long-armed stapler, which lets you make your own zines and booklets, just like a real professional!
The excuse to go and buy one came when I finally finished this prototype version of my science puzzle quiz comic called Up, Down or Stay the Same, which is still open for comments please before I make a slightly improved version.
The right tool for the job is a delight, always has been. This one feels like it might even inspire me to produce a few more random collections of comics and things, just for fun. And why not?
Click to see: What am I doing right NOW?
Note: Two Shillings per Day graphic novel-related posts now appear over here on their own page.