Monday, July 25, 2016

ZERO SUM BUBBLEGUM GUEST ARTIST: NEIL PATERSON

DR: What have you been up to artistically since your last comic in Dump?
NP: Thank you for asking me that question David – it reminds me how much drinking I’ve been doing and how many late nights I’ve been working (never a good mix) because I cannot recall exactly when Dump was or what I might have done artistically since then...
Certainly as far as drawing cartoons goes the answer would be mot nuch (sic). Creating cartoons is difficult and enormously time consuming!! I have produced new ‘cartoon’ greetings cards for both Glenesk and Kirriemuir and donated a design for a ‘cartoon’ greetings card of Forfar for Forfar Dramatic Society to help them raise money.

I played Dame again at Arbroath Abbey Theatre Christmas 2015 – my first time as dame at that particular venue. A delight to play to such a small audience in such a compact venue with plenty of scope for ad-libs and interaction.
Otherwise I’ve done a bit of writing for a performance at the Signal Tower Museum and been in ’80 Days Around the World’ in Forfar.
…aaaand also I’ve been doing more writing for ‘The Hardest Chip Shop in Scotland’ to try and develop my character a bit more as opposed to Sweary’s indefatigable foil.
I had a go at creating band ‘The Insulted and Injured’ which faltered due to artistic differences and am having another go at getting ‘POUM’ off the ground. So far got a banjo player and possibly a bassist so always happy for anybody else to join in!
Otherwise onanism takes up a lot of my time.
DR: What's POUM?
NS: Oh honestly – what’s Google for? POUM is the name of my latent new band. Never heard of George Orwell? Tut tut.
DR: You are such a diva.
NS: That's me. Ask me another.
DR: You've been screen acting as well. You showed me a bit of a film you were in. Tell me about that.
NS: Gosh yes David – you’re right. Who does your research?
Well readers I was invited to do a bit of acting in a student’s film for a course. I was playing an old artist (typecast) who is discovered by a younger artist sleeping rough in an abandoned house. For some reason or another that involved lots of cut-aways (as we call them in the film world) I was to end up getting stabbed to death by a crowd of young people played by a bevvy of twenty somethings including my stepson who – bizarrely – had actually once stabbed me in real life.
The film was shot at the old farmhouse outside Brechin where we (the old family) used to live. It has sadly been falling into ruin since we lived there and it caused some reflection to see brambles growing in through the windows of the room where we had once celebrated the kids’ birthdays – ah me…
Anyway – entry and egress was afforded by a broken window that some kindly recyclers had thoughtfully broken in order to get the copper hot water tank out. Whilst climbing through the window I caught my fucking arm on a slice of glass and ended up having to be driven to hospital for stitches. Whined there to the male nurse for a bit about how strangely painful it is to have to get stitches in your forearm while there’s blokes out in Afghanistan etc getting their legs blown off by landmines hardly complaining at all – but I digress.
Anyway I was pretty hacked off with the young director who showed no further interest in my predicament until asking weeks later if I could return to the cottage to finish the shoot. After some stern lecturing (from me) we worked out a compromise and the film was finished. It’s probably on Pinterest or some infernal site somewhere if you google ‘middle aged idiot + overacting + youthful enthusiasm + window + blood’.
DR: That sounds horrible.
NP: Indeed. David Niven told funnier stories about being in films than I do.
DR: And your stepson stabbed you?
NP: Yes – stabbed by my stepson. Like so many things in life – once it’s actually happened it’s far less scary than the anticipation (not that I recommend it…). And it was in the head which is where least harm is done – great big bone in there thankfully to take the blow. All friends now.
DR: That's good. What was the name of that film you were in?
NP: The student one or the porno?
DR: Either. Both.

NP: Well it wasn’t so much of a porno as sexting, and it’s been deleted. However seeing as how you won’t drop the other film here goes:

Ask me another.
DR: Last time I asked you how it was working on a comic with me, you described it as a “piece of piss”. Any behind the scenes thoughts on “I Ain't Feeling It”?
NP: And a piece of piss it was – I was very pleased with what I put into the last cartoon, but there was the opportunity to take the character into the kitchen to look at reflection in teaspoon etc. The character this time was tied to the chair with the newspaper and TV. I found myself squeezing headlines onto the front of an extended newspaper as if it were a strip from ‘The Gambols’. Not very satisfactory.



As you may remember I responded to your reminder to get the cartoon done by rather grumpily saying ‘I’ll bloody do it now’ – which I did. I should have given myself more time. I just sat me down at the kitchen table and battered it out after a few rough sketches. Should really have taken more care over it. Sorry mate – I’ll try harder next time.
 
Neil Paterson continues to fester in his local authority role which precludes him from writing, drawing or even reading comics 07873383547

Zero Sum Bubblegum is available here.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

COPY THIS! #29


The latest edition of D.Blake Werts' zine "Copy This!" is out.

It contains loads of updates on what self-publishing cartoonists are up to, including me this time around, making mention of my involvement with Dead Singers Society, Star Jaws, Tin Roof Selected Works, Treehouse Comic and the release of Zero Sum Bubblegum.
If you'd like more information, please contact Blake at bwerts@vnet.net

Monday, July 18, 2016

ZERO SUM BUBBLEGUM GUEST ARTIST INTERVIEW: TIM KELLY

 
DR: Have you always been interested in comics? 
 
TK: Yes.
DR: Okay. Which comics do you first remember reading?
TK: The earliest memory I have is reading a comic book about a bird talking to a bunch of kids. I think he looked like Sonny from Cocoa Puffs, and for all I know it was an ad, but probably not. I was always obsessed with the ads, the ones for the patches of all the '60s and '70s artwork. I still buy the old comics (Tom and Jerry, Sad Sack, Archie) for $1 out here in Bellmore at the outdoor flea market. 

 
So, I bought a Road Runner comic from '75 the other month, and I look at the address to send away for the gag gifts and the building where they used to sell them is on the other side of the train station, walking distance from the flea market. I find that hilarious.
DR: Ha! That is funny. Which work by other people are you a fan of, and has served as an inspiration?
TK: As a teenager, Mike Kazaleh (The Adventures of Captain Jack, before Ren and Stimpy) and Peter Bagge were my favorites. I haven't seen much of Mike lately, probably the DVD art for Bakshi's Mighty Mouse was the last, and I haven't bought a Peter Bagge book in years. I saw Pete years ago at a comic book convention, and he was so enamored with my girlfriend at the time that he signed my book "TO NYC". I thought, well, that's the last time I buy his work!
DR: I guess he's only human. What had been your experience in making comics yourself before your contribution to Zero Sum Bubblegum?
TK: I've been self-publishing for 30 years. I started out using the copiers at my high school, breaking in at night (which I don't recommend), and from there I used a copier in a music store where a friend worked, then Minuteman Press, and I've been using Staples for decades. My latest 8-page mini-comic is a jam I did with my pal Joe Meyer. I was going to call it VHS PARTY, but then I got an email for an event called TIM + JOE DO A TERRIBLE JOB so I just gacked the flyer for the cover. A bit of thievery, but free publicity for them.

DR: That using the photocopier at work story seems to be a bit of a rite of passage. What other artistic pursuits are you involved in?

TK: I've been making films with my brothers for about 15 years now. The latest is the pilot for my brother Terence's web series Graves. One of Alan Arkin's sons was supposed to be in it, but something came up so I got the role, as the owner of a comic book store. We've also been filming puppet shows of my characters Zook and Max for a little over a decade. 

 
My brother Brian did two on actual film, one in black-and-white and the other in color called Two Princes and Loving the Alien, and I finally scripted one a few years ago called Zook Me, I'm Clean. Joe Meyer has a great cameo in that one, and they're all on my YouTube channel.
DR: Didn't you do a Jar Jar Binks one?
 

TK: Yes, Interview with Jar Jar Binks, starring my brother Brian as Jar Jar. I love how I say "Thank you, Jar Jar" and he goes on for another solid three minutes. 7 1/2 minutes total, no script, and the whole thing's hilarious.
 
DR: How did you find the process of drawing "The Joy of Stamps"?



TK: Well, to set the mood I put on Grouper's AIA. I'd heard a few minutes of it in an art supply store up in Woodstock a year ago and thought, "I have to draw to this." Music has always helped me focus, otherwise I get too distracted, and that album is like listening to my own mortality. So, I got to work. Used a ruler for the panels, not that you can tell, and then I did the lettering and the drawing. Fortunately, I'd happened to find a Rolling Writer, my favorite pen, that was still in the packaging from years ago. I feel like I must have bought it back in the '90s, and it worked beautifully, just like the old days. I've got to send away for more of those. I never see them in stores anymore.
DR: Things are certainly changing. There are cartoonists now who never touch pens and paper. Are you ever tempted to get involved with the more computerised side of things?

TK: Only for coloring. I haven't had Photoshop in years, but it's on my to-do list. When I drew an EP cover a few years ago for a girlfriend, the same one who's in the last puppet show, I had to ask Joe Meyer to color it for me. I just told him to rip off the colors from the Tom and Jerry cartoon I was ripping off, and of course he did a beautiful job. Actually, that drawing is interesting because it's the only time I ever pencilled before inking with a Rolling Writer.
DR: You don't usually pencil? That may help account for the energy in your drawings.
TK: Thank you. I have pencilled a bunch of stuff, but always inked with other pens. The comics about my daughter Emily (Springtime for Autism and Summer of Nove) were pencilled, except for the cover of the first one, which I traced over a rough sketch. I usually don't do that, either!

DR: Are you working on any comics at the moment?

TK: I'm always writing, planning several projects at once. I'd like to get something done in time for the East Hampton Pop-Up Comic-con on Sunday, August 7th. I've got a couple of scripts I could choose from. Also, Joe's friend Lindsey made these groovy rubber stamps of Zook and Max, so I was thinking of doing a mini-comic just using the stamps. Kind of like a Brien Wayne Powell comic, which are always hilarious, in the sense that each character only has one image that is repeated forever. I suppose if Andy Warhol had done comics, they'd look like Brien's, but they wouldn't be as funny.

 
Tim Kelly has been drawing for 40 years, self-publishing for 30, a Daddy for 20, and doing puppet shows for 10. He has also appeared in films.

Zero Sum Bubblegum is available to buy here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

ZERO SUM BUBBLEGUM GUEST ARTIST INTERVIEW: PADDY JOHNSTON

DR: Have you always been interested in comics?
 
PJ: That's a great question, and it isn't always one that people ask. I guess the answer for me is yes and no. The foundations for a love of comics and cartooning were laid when I was young - some of the first things I can ever remember reading are Beano annuals and Tintin books. Our local library had a really great kids section with the Tintin rocket bookcase, and I remember working my way through all of those. When I was a little older, I guess it would have been 1995, I got a Sega Mega Drive and got really obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog, which had an amazing series of comics attached to it. I don't think I appreciated the power of comics at the time though, as when I hit my early teens I wasn't really reading comics at all. I never got into the superhero stuff, so perhaps if I had that would have sustained me through my teens. But once I started devouring prose fiction - aged around ten, I guess - I didn't read comics much. I liked to doodle, but I was doing terribly at art at school, and I turned to music instead. The focus I had on that didn't leave much room for comics! There were a couple of fantasy adaptations I really liked - Wenzel & Dixon's The Hobbit was one - but mostly I wasn't that bothered.
Comics were always ticking away in the background, though. When I hit my late teens I noticed that my dad had a lot of graphic novels around, and that was when I started getting interested again. I got hooked after reading issue 13 of McSweeney's, which was a comics special edited by Chris Ware. It blew my mind. There were short excerpts from Jeffrey Brown, Charles Burns, Lynda Barry, Daniel Clowes, Julie Doucet, Seth, The Hernandez Brothers, Adrian Tomine, Debbie Drechsler. But it also had essays on the form and its history. It was the first time I appreciated that it was its own art form with its own vibrant heritage.
This got me obsessed with comics again pretty much exactly when I turned 18 and went away to university, so that coincided with wanting to study comics but also with a huge expansion in my reading of them - I tried to make up for lost time! I eventually started drawing again when I was around 20, after reading people like Jeffrey Brown, James Kochalka and John Porcellino, who didn't focus on the technical skill (which I was convinced I didn't have and am still a bit dubious about).



DR: Modest as ever! McSweeney's 13 was an important book. It's good to hear the positive impact it had on you. Tell me about the comics you've made since you started up at age 20.
PJ: My undergraduate years (2006-2009) also coincided, I think, with a real peak in the quality and prominence of webcomics. As well as graphic novels, I was reading a lot of webcomics - American Elf, Scary Go Round, Octopus Pie, Questionable Content, Hark! A Vagrant, Templar AZ, Girls With Slingshots, etc. So my first thing was to try and do a webcomic and to just learn by doing, after practising drawing by making gig posters for a club night I ran in Exeter called Lofi Hifi. I set up a shitty Wordpress site and called the comic "Low Fidelity." It was autobiographical, mostly lame stuff about DJing at the club night, being in bands, listening to records, that sort of thing. I deleted the site a few years ago but you could probably find it on some internet archive if you had the inclination to!
I stayed on to do an MA in Creative Writing in 2010, and was lucky enough to have a supervisor (the criminally underappreciated novelist Sam North) who fostered my interest in comics and encouraged me to draw a graphic novel for my MA thesis. I did this and somehow passed, even though it was terrible - knowing nothing about how to really draw properly, it was all in 2D perspective and the story totally ripped off Scott Pilgrim, which was huge at the time. It was called Small Town Heroes. Again, the few printed/digital copies have been erased as best I can, but I'm sure you could find one if you dug hard enough.


The next few years were slow. I was working, playing in bands, doing other stuff, but I knew I wanted to draw and also that I wanted to study comics. So I started a part-time PhD in comics (technically it's in English Lit, but hey) in 2012. It's not a practice-based PhD, but my supervisor has encouraged me to included elements of my own comics. So through that I started drawing more and writing more, and eventually I deleted all my old comics and started posting new ones on Tumblr and eventually Medium - just short stories and mostly autiobio, but some fiction. I started taking part in challenges including #30dayscomics and Hourly Comic Day, which I found really helpful in pushing myself to create things. Strict constraints can necessitate great art!
These short comics became the foundation for more ambitious work, and in 2014 I released the first issue of my now ongoing comic series Long Divisions. It's about millennial problems, explored through human-cat relations. And the cats can talk. I've always been a sucker for talking cats. I'm working on issue three right now and have no idea how long it will go on for, which is both scary and incredibly liberating. I know the narrative arc in my head, but it leaves a lot of room for invention.



Recently I've founded the micropublisher Good Comics with Samuel C. Williams and Pete Hindle. We put out the first issue of an ongoing zine called Dead Singers Society last year, and issue 2 debuted at this year's DIY Cultures Fair in London (with a wicked contribution from none other than David Robertson). We're launching properly at Thought Bubble this year, with new comics from the three of us and a whole roster of up and coming British talent.
DR: Sounds good. I'll hopefully see you at Thought Bubble this year. 
 
PJ: Yeah, hopefully see you there! We have a full table rather than a half, so that's exciting.
DR: How is your music going - and any other artistic pursuits?
PJ: Music is ticking over slowly. I've been in quite a few bands over the years, but my most recent one (Palomino Club) is probably the best. We released our debut EP at the end of last year and had an amazing sold out launch show, and now we're planning a tour and a follow-up and trying to write some pop hits. That's the hard part. I'm also working on a concept album about the arctic, which is a solo project. I've written about 15 songs for it but can't find the time to record them!
I used to write poetry and flash fiction, and once I hand in my PhD thesis this summer I'll have a lot more time on my hands, so I think I'm going to get back into writing prose fiction. From a very young age I wanted to write novels, and obviously that was a big part of my MA studies. But I'll probably just end up vegetating and watching old baseball clips on YouTube or something.


DR: Seems unlikely, knowing you. How did you find the process of drawing "Victory Lap" for Zero Sum Bubblegum
 
PJ: I really enjoyed it. I think, at least to my immediate memory, that it's the only time I've ever drawn a comic that somebody else has written. Sam and I are collaborating on a forthcoming 60s folk/spy thriller comic that will blow your mind, but the division of labour is more fluid with that. I spend a lot of time on writing, thumbnailing and pencilling when I draw my own comics and tend to get to a place where I'm happy with them, but I still think about the writing when I'm drawing. Without having to think about the writing, I think it made me much more able to be expressive with my drawing. I think the quality of the lines show this, if you compare them to Long Divisions #2 or something else of mine. I love that you provided detailed panel breakdowns, but they didn't feel so rigid as to feel restrictive.
DR: I've found different artists want different things from a writer and figuring that out with the individual is interesting. 
 
PJ: Definitely. I've enjoyed finding that out for myself!
DR: To finish off, I'm interested in anything else you want to tell me about your upcoming comics projects.
PJ: I'm really excited about Dead Singers Society 2, having persuaded some very cool artists to do comics for it. Sam and I collaborated on a comic for that as well, drawing panels side by side, so that was interesting. We're each took on a different dead member of the same cult band. I won't say which one! As well as LD2 I have a more ambitious solo comic I'm working on, which follows on from my #30DaysComics story from 2014 and explores another avenue of my comics interest - the Scandinavian landscape and the potential for magical realism there. It's vaguely influenced by Tove Jansson, but it's a human story at heart. And it still deals with millennial problems. I'm trying to be seen as a talking cat guy less, but I don't think I can get away from being a millennial problems guy.


Paddy Johnston is a cartoonist from London. He is the creator of the series Long Divisions and the co-founder of Good Comics with Samuel C. Williams. As well as drawing comics, he also studies them and is currently finishing a PhD on comics at the University of Sussex. http://paddyjohnston.co.uk

Zero Sum Bubblegum is available here.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

CELEBRATING SMALL PRESS DAY


In anticipation of the inaugural Small Press Day this Saturday, Broken Frontier is running an item called, "Top Comics Recommendations from Small Press Creators".

I'm in there talking about a comic I really enjoyed; Fraser Geesin's "The Cleaner: Man of Destiny".


There are loads of good recommendations in the article. Have a read here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

FUNNY PAGES


I am a workshop facilitator at the Dundee Comics Creative Space.

It's a fun job, as I am constantly surprised and charmed by the ideas and comics that the children write and draw.

Recently we were working on newspaper strip style stories, and the results have been collected together at the website here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

THE AWESOME COMIC


The extended edition of the Glasgow Comic Con Anthology is available now at issuu.com. 

It features over 80 pages of comics from 33 creators. 

I have a four page story in there called "Rights & Responsibilities".

Have a read here

Monday, July 04, 2016

ZERO SUM BUBBLEGUM GUEST ARTIST: EILEEN BUDD


Beginning today is a series of interviews with the guest  artists who are featured in Zero Sum Bubblegum. First up is Eileen Budd…

DR: Have you always been interested in comics?

EB: Yes, as far back as I can remember!

It all started with a road safety film with Tufty the Squirrel in it, projected on a wall in the town hall used for my playgroup. There we were, me and all the other kids sitting in the dark, staring at this blank wall, then suddenly they turned the projector on and the wall came to life. I was 3 and I didn't understand what a projector was, I thought it was some sort of magical device that could send a beam of light to burn through reality, revealing the secret lives of cartoons living in a parallel universe to ours. My mind was blown.

I was an incredibly shy kid so my mum was completely taken aback by how animated and expressive I suddenly became trying to explain what I thought I had seen. A road safety film? What? No! A portal into another dimension! She had no idea what I was babbling on about, I imagine it must have been similar to a cave man (or woman) seeing fire for the first time and having to explain it to others once it had gone out. (Mostly sound effects and arm waving.) But, she picked up some of what I was saying and gave me a Rupert the Bear annual. I was hooked.



The comic book seemed like a low tech version of the projector portal, more of a newspaper version of another reality for those people who aren't playgroup leaders and can't gain access to a projector. And there wasn't just one other reality, I discovered.

Daily trips to the library with my mum and brother introduced me to the world of Asterix, TinTin, Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes. I borrowed them all. I became obsessed with writing and illustrating my own stories.

At primary school, my news jotters filled with stories about stolen vans and pigeon kidnappings, all highly illustrated with crayon and colouring pencil. I would ask other kids at school to do drawings for my stories and asked my family to write new stories I could draw for. I got a camera one birthday and started making photo stories, gluing the photos onto paper and writing captions for them.

In high school I drew comic strips of my friends, making fun of teachers and teenage life in a tiny farming town. It got me in trouble a few times but it was a massively important outlet for my busy brain. Still is.

Comics have always been this magical storytelling medium to me and ever since that wall projection of Tufty the Squirrel I've been trying to make art that tells stories and tell stories using art.

DR: That's a great story, and it was thoughtful of your Mum to give you a Rupert the Bear Annual.

EB: Yeah, I guess a projector was out of the question!

DR: Which work by other people are you a fan of, and has served as an inspiration?

EB: Moebius is a huge inspiration, The Incal is a masterpiece and something I re-read regularly. He's my number 1!


Winsor MacKay's Little Nemo in Slumberland and Bill Waterstone's Calvin & Hobbes. The artwork in both these comics is beautifully coloured and drawn and the daydreaming quality of the stories in both are pretty special.

Mike Mignola because I am a massive Hell Boy fan, I really like how Mignola writes too, not hung up on complex ways of keeping the action going, every now and then a ghost or zombie will just point the way.

Doug Tennapel's Earthboy Jacobus - I have read this so many times, I love it. I'm not going to talk about but if you haven't read it, get a copy.

Kate Beaton's Hark a Vagrant always makes me laugh.

Robert Crumb - the piece he did on Philip K Dick in particular is nuts and so well done.

Dave Sim and Gerhard for Cerebus. Gerhard's line work is superb, the backgrounds are stunning and the stories are ace.

Halo Jones and Tank Girl are two comics I've always loved. They make good Winter reading if that makes sense?

Greg Hinkle, Airboy is a brilliant piece of writing by James Robinson and Hinkle's art is gorgeous.

More recently I've been looking at Greg Tocchini's work in Low because the colour palette is stunning and Zach Howard's art in Wild Blue Yonder - Its a good story and the artwork is really nice combination of things slightly reminiscent of 1950's WWII comic annuals.

I could go on and on before we even touch on the long list of fine artists and illustrators.

DR: What had been your experience in making comics yourself before your contribution to Zero Sum Bubblegum?

EB: My art practise is fine art and illustration, so before you asked me to do a strip for Zero Sum, artistically my experience of creating comic strips was pretty limited.

It's a medium I'm a big fan of so I've always felt I needed to take it seriously and learn more about the discipline and structure before I embarked on making anything I would let anyone else see!

Its only been this past year that I've really started openly venturing into making comic art, starting with a series of 10 strips called Lonely Hearts From History commissioned by the Curator of Comedy website.



I've also been working on a couple of projects of my own, which hopefully you'll see more of towards the end of the year. 

DR: What can you tell me about the comics projects you're working on?

EB: Err, not much right now, but once I've finished this first chapter I'll be ready to share it, so check back in with me in two months time!

DR: How did you find the process of drawing your story for Zero Sum Bubblegum? Any behind the scenes insights to offer?

EB: Insider insights, eh? When I got the script for Zero Sum I started thinking about the photo stories I used to make, the overly posed, awkward teenage acting. It’s that kind of freeze frame action you might create in your mind when you’ve lost an object and are trying to remember where you put it. I wanted to use a bit of that and give it a slightly nostalgic feel. 

So, I got my partner and friend to pose for me while I was working on the character artwork, which was really good fun. A lot of leaping around the flat and pulling faces and a couple of times when I was asked, in total seriousness, “What’s my motivation?” teehee. And, while digging through the kitchen drawers, my method actors found a long lost cookie cutter!

DR: Ha! I'd like to see some of those photos!

And you used to make photo stories? What context were you doing that in?

EB: I made photo stories from when I first got a camera as a kid to probably the end of high school, purely for my own entertainment and before I got into painting. I still do make photo stories from time to time but it's only ever for my own amusement or for that of my friends and family.

 
Eileen Budd is a freelance artist / illustrator from Edinburgh and a serious 
comic book fan. See http://www.eileenbudd.org/ When not making art she's 
writing about it on the artist run website redbirdreview.com. Get in 
touch with her at artist@redbirdreview.com

Sunday, July 03, 2016

JACK SPRAT PRESS


I have a four page story called "You've Been (Cyber) Punked!" online over at the Jack Sprat Press website.

You can read the whole thing for free now by clicking here.