Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, Small Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble, Thought Bubble 2010, What is Sequential Art? | Tags: Comics, Kristyna Baczynksi, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Sequential Art, Small Press, UK Conventions, Webcomics
Howdy Hey! A fresh minterview for you all to devour with your eyes. This week we’re talking to the super-cool Kristyna Baczynski, a previous Thought Bubble competition winner, whose entry into the Friends of Thought Bubble canon can be found here. I’d highly recommend checking out her website for further ocular delights! Spect-ocular!
To start off, do you think you could give us an idea of how you first got into sequential art?
Sure, I reckon the seed was planted right back in my formative years – as I’m sure it is for most folks. Reading picture books: illustrations telling a story.
My mum would take us to the library once a week to check out some new pulp; a most treasured activity. It was here that I became enchanted with seeing an image illuminate a story – words transform into being; communicating with pens, paint and paper.
Do you think the general association with children’s stories is perhaps why comics are viewed with a certain amount of derision in some circles?
I think the idea that comics are any less valid as a communicative device than text-only books is ridiculous. Also, the thought that children’s books have nothing to offer if you aren’t a child is pretty demoralising.
Whether it’s a newspaper, hardback novel or broadsheet newspaper there’s still the same amount of shit you have to wade through to reach something you can connect with and find meaningful. Children’s book, comic or otherwise – there’s always a gem to be found – it just takes some looking.
If someone can dismiss a tome simply because it has an air of juvenility, then they are going to miss out on a heap of beautiful things. And by this breath cinema should then be equally scorned. It too combines language and image – but we don’t see cinema as being wholly tainted as juvenile and frivolous. It, too, has the potential to be profound, absorbing and immersive.
Comics are as versatile, descriptive and limitless as any other communicative tool – simultaneously linguistic, visual and most importantly valid.
I do hate it when comics are dismissed as ‘kiddie’ stuff. Do you still read comics to this day? Do they continue to be a source of inspiration to you?
Absolutely – I read comics almost every day. And am continually inspired by their writing and ingenuity.
Your work tends to be infused with a sense of whimsy and a slightly idiosyncratic sense of humour, does this reflect you as a person?
An obscured and refracted reflection, yes… I am hopelessly enamored with language and wordplay, it is true.
You’re appearing at this year’s Thought Bubble, what will you be bringing to the convention?
An amalgamation of avidity and unerring anxiety. But also a spread of new zines, prints, comics, apparel, oddities and assorted occular goodies.
The production HQ (dining table) will be thriving come November.
A fine selection! Have you always worked in multiple media?
Why, thank you.
Not always multiple media. It always starts with mechanical pencils, micron pens and paper – but the more I work the more I tend to turn my hand to. Staving off boredom and stagnancy with adventure and exploration.
Do you enjoy attending events like Thought Bubble?
Absolutely. Thought Bubble 2009 was my first step into the world of conventions and fairs – a day which was so unutterably wonderful, I am forever convinced of my enjoyment for such events.
They manage to summon a treasury of interested, enthused and engaging people, which is rare and heartening… especially to studio-bound recluses.
We do attract an awesome bunch of attendees it has to be said. Any important lessons learned from your first outing?
That a fearful attitude is nothing but a hindrance. Staying indoors drawing is a solitary occupation that can make you a hermit. Going out and meeting a bunch of like-minded and talented denizens is the perfect antidote.
Do you think the UK small press community is welcoming to débutantes? How easy did you find it to establish yourself on the scene?
If there is a ‘scene’ I’m unaware of it, or already a happy member. It’s something quite abstract really, and I don’t know who, what or where it is… I’m just here drawing, printing, blogging and emailing. And I’m very lucky that some people have noticed my work and said some very lovely things. I am indebted to them all.
By making your own comics, you are already a member.
Finally – Thought bubbles or caption boxes?
There is a necessity for both, and a certain loveliness to be achieved with none. Honestly, though, I think I’m a caption box kid.
…I’m going to be shunned as a defector now, aren’t I?
While we’re never ones to call for ostracism following the denouncement of the humble thought bubble, we do find that those who partake in the act tend to meet their comeuppance. Mark my words. My ominous, ominous words…
In other news, our friends over at Comika are having an exhibition! If you’re in our nation’s fair capital you should go check it out. You know you want to. Details on the flyer (below)
That’s all for now! Check back soon for another minterview. See ya!
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Film and Sequential Art, Thought Bubble 2010, What is Sequential Art? | Tags: Anime, Comics, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Sequential Art, Small Press, UK Conventions, Webcomics
Alright guys, this is a big one, we’ve got a lot to get through and we’re losing daylight here people. Read like you’ve got a purpose! WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MAL- sorry, sorry, started channeling R Lee Ermey. Again. Seriously though, we’ve got a whole bunch of news for you in this here post, and it’s all pretty dang BIG.
Ok, We’re now able to officially reveal the two TOP SECRET newly announced side-projects that Thought Bubble has had up its sleeves for this year.
The first is the Northern Sequential Art Competition – a contest we’re running in association with Travelling Man comic shops, Imagine FX, and 2000AD – open to all artists/writers (12 years old +) in the United Kingdom. There are some great prizes on offer, and we can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. ALL entries will also be displayed as part of a digital exhibition in venues across Leeds and the surrounding areas in the two weeks prior to this year’s Festival. To the drawing boards!
The second is related to the first (and is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while now), namely compiling a Free Comic Book Day Anthology. This will feature big name contributors from across the sequential art spectrum, as well as our competition winners, and will be launched on May 2011’s FCBD! Thought Bubble will bring the comics to YOU. (Yes, you)
Next up is the heartening news that Thought Bubble 2010 is well on the way to full lock down – we finalised the programme for this year’s festival at the weekend (and it’s looking pretty spiffy if we do say so ourselves), and there should be some shiny new flyers and brochures winging their way across the country soon.
A few things to be said on this note – first is that pre-order tickets are selling fast. If you want guaranteed entry to the Saturday evening’s after-party (as conferred by the first 500 pre-booked tickets) – with music provided by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Team Phonogram and the Thought Bubble Soundsystem – then don’t delay. We’ll put out an announcement once they’re gone.
The second is that we’re now running very low on exhibitor tables for the Saturday convention. If you’re still planning on attending with your wares then get in touch quick to bagsie one of the remaining few. Again, an announcement will be made when they’re all gone.
In related event news, our friends at the Anime League are running their Alcon again next month and it should be a blast!
Alcon will run from the 9th-12th September at De Montfort University in Leicester!
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Art by Guests, Film and Sequential Art, Minterviews, Thought Bubble 2010, What is Sequential Art? | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Sequential Art, Small Press, Tom Humberstone
Fresh Minterview for you! Today we’re talking to the eminently talented Tom ‘Ventedspleen’ Humberstone, whose work has long been a favourite here in the lofty spires of Thought Bubble Towers. You can find the profile we did a while back on Tom here, and I urge you all to check out his 100 Days comic project. It’s ACES.
To start off, do you think you could give us an idea of how you first got into sequential art?
Comics! Call them comics! 🙂
I started making comics at art college when I became disillusioned with some of my peers and frustrated with the few seconds of animation I was producing each week despite extremely long hours in the studio. To me, making a comic was a wonderful exercise in instant gratification. Which, as time has gone by and I attempt more ambitious work, seems laughably naive in retrospect.
Regardless, I started photocopying these vicious little character assassinations called Art School Scum on the way into college and plastered them throughout the halls under the pseudonym of Ventedspleen. To my surprise the comic proved extremely popular and a couple of friends convinced me to publish a collection of the comics.
That was my first taste of the small press. Since then I’ve dipped in and out of comics and the alternative press scene here in the UK – only treating it as more than a hobby over the past couple of years.
Heh, ok, so comics – what prompted the shift from casual creator to fully fledged small press mastermind?
Ha. Not sure I’d call myself that…
Well. After I graduated, I worked in film for about a year which left me very little free time to concentrate on my own work – in fact, that was the main reason I backed away from the industry. I was incredibly frustrated creatively. I dabbled in producing more comics work – starting How To Date A Girl In Ten Days and attending more comic conventions. This led to me attending TCAF in 2007 which really renewed my enthusiasm for comics and helped to solidify a bunch of ideas that had been kicking around my head for years. I suppose it wasn’t until sometime after I returned from America and published My Fellow Americans that I started to have the time, finances and – crucially – health to follow through on those ideas…
Some, if not all, of your comics are extremely personal in content, were you ever tempted to retain the anonymity that publishing under a pseudonym affords?
The Ventedspleen pseudonym was created principally for Art School Scum because I never wanted the content to be judged as being by a ‘fine artist’ or ‘designer’ or ‘illustrator’. For the material to work properly, the author needed to be anonymous. This could only last so long of course, and as people started to discover it was me behind the comics I inevitably found myself in conversations with friends suggesting I draw a comic about a specific person or even request one about themselves. So it had to end.
Since then I’ve kept the name but have never really wanted or had the need to hide behind it. I’m really very comfortable with people knowing it is me who has Crohn’s disease or has an under-developed ability to date. It’s only dawning on me now to really get rid of that name altogether – something I keep putting off because of the amount of work involved with moving websites and ‘rebranding’
Are there any particular creators that you admire? Any favourite comics that you read to this day?
Oh, far far far too many! Probably all the usual suspects too. Tomine had a huge influence on me as a teenager. As did Pekar, Moore, Seth, Ware, Jeffrey Brown, Matt, Crumb…
The two turning points for me as a teen coming back to comics after falling out of the habit – were From Hell and Sleepwalk. Those were what brought me back to the LCS.
I’ll always pick up whatever Joe Sacco does, or Craig Thompson, or Rutu Modan, or Farel Dalrymple… I’m sorry, this question is spiralling out of control quickly. I’m just going to keep listing a bunch of names…
Lately I’ve really been enjoying the work of Hope Larson, Lucy Knisely and Raina Telgemeier. Smile was fantastic. Oh oh oh! And James Sturm’s Market Day is the best comic of the year hands down.
Do you think you’ll ever try your hand at animation again having experienced the more “drawn-out” side to comic creation?
Possibly. I love animation. But it’s very time-consuming and tends to need a team of people. I like the singular vision of the comic artist. I fear I may be too much of a control freak to want to tell stories in any other medium. Besides, there are too many exciting comics I want to make right now!
Never say never though. I could definitely see myself being involved with animation and film at some level. Be it the storyboard commissions I sometimes take on, or some other side of pre-production.
You’re appearing at this year’s Thought Bubble, what will you be bringing to the convention?
I’ll be bringing Solipsistic Pop Book 3 which will be enjoying it’s official unveiling at Thought Bubble after a launch party in London. The back catalogue of Solipsistic Pop will also be available, as will the comics of any contributors who are unable to attend the convention.
Solipsistic Pop has been a pretty ambitious , and thoroughly successful, project – what are its origins?
It was an idea I had while travelling across America. I started to feel we had all these great comic artists who weren’t getting the attention they deserved or were unable to publish their work in the best light. So I just wanted to create that platform and provide the UK scene with a bit of an infrastructure. No matter how modest and small.
I wanted to see a UK comics version of McSweeneys and I wanted to design and publish it!
It’s something that I guess I wanted to have existed when I first came to the UK small press scene. That published the fantastic alternative comics we had in the UK in the way RAW did or Fantagraphics do with Mome. The UK comics scene has always felt a little disparate and I suppose SP was a way of tying it all together while making a beautiful book-as-art-object product that people will covet for their bookshelves.
I know that I’ve been able to watch the UK Small Press community grow rapidly since Thought Bubble started – are there any changes that you’ve noticed since being active on the scene?
It’s certainly a lot more encouraging now than it was maybe three or four years ago. I think one of the reasons I never quite committed to small press comics was due to being a little disappointed with the UK scene back then. I didn’t really feel there were many people on my wavelength at the time. I just didn’t feel inspired by it. I guess that’s why TCAF was such an eye-opener for me.
Now, that could very well just be down to me being too shy and insecure about my work at the time to fully engage with the UK scene. But whatever the case, I think most people would find it hard to disagree with the notion that UK comics are incredibly strong right now and there feels like there is a real momentum building for everyone involved.
Everyone feels it I think. I don’t think there’s a better time to be making comics and I also think it’s a sustainable momentum. Too many people have great business models and ideas in place for it to be ruined by any sort of false media/publishing interest.
Do you enjoy attending events like Thought Bubble?
I generally find comic festivals and conventions quite exhausting and hard work, but Thought Bubble is the exception. Thought Bubble is one of only two comic events (the other being TCAF) that I genuinely enjoy and look forward to. It’s always a lot of fun and I came away last year feeling enthused and inspired. I’m not exaggerating when I say Thought Bubble is my favourite UK comic festival.
Finally – thought bubbles or caption boxes?
Aw, I have a massive soft spot for thought bubbles regardless of whether they are considered in vogue or not. It’s probably not very fashionable to be a fan of thought bubbles right now, but I like them. They’re a part of the rich visual language of comics and a wonderfully succinct pictorial shorthand – why would any comic artist turn their nose up at that? They’re extremely versatile too. I have a lot of time for the thought bubble.
Many thanks to Tom for taking the time to rap with us, his work is super mega good, and Solipsistic Pop has quickly become the anthology of note in the UK. Lovely stuff. Be sure to check back on Monday for some BIG NEWS. Like, Godzilla big. Srsly.
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Art by Guests, Film and Sequential Art, Minterviews, Thought Bubble 2010, What is Sequential Art? | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Matt Sheret, Sequential Art, UK Conventions
The blog returns! After a slightly longer hiatus than I’d envisaged – apologies, I was playing Starfighter at the arcade and got called up to help save the planet Rylos, honestly – we’re back in business, and what better way than to kick off a fresh round of minterviews to help speed along that dull wait until this year’s Thought Bubble!
For those of you who missed last year’s vintage – minterviews are mini-interviews that we do with the small press and indie comickers we’ve profiled during the run up to this year’s festival, along with a few secret surprise ones with guests at this year’s convention thrown in for good measure. Tantalising.
This week we’re in conversation with Mr Matthew Sheret, an extremely talented writer, and vanguard of the UK indie comics scene whose work with We Are Words + Pictures is consistently leaving me feeling all warm and fuzzy about the possibilities that comics represent. His Thought Bubble profile is here, and the interview is there (slightly lower down your screen). Wizard.
Hi Matt, thanks for talking to us today – to start, do you think you could give us an idea of how you first got into sequential art?
Comics. I got into comics three times: One reading in the hairdressers I used to go to in Southampton, waiting for my Mum and my sister to have their hair done, I’d read the same Turtles comic. I must have seen the pages about twenty or thirty times, I know I tried to leave with it once or twice. It was mostly the turtles sitting around a campfire, I don’t remember much more than that.
Two was getting into Robin and Young Justice at secondary school, and swarming through the DCU a little after that. Then, just as that was wearing off, and I’d come to London for University, I picked up a few Vertigo books and eventually Phonogram. Becoming friends with Kieron [Gillen] and Jamie [McKelvie] pulled me back into comics big time, and much as I try and break free I keep finding myself with illustrators for friends and webcomics on my browser and trade paperbacks by my bedside. I’m stuck.
As for creating, I started a creative partnership with Julia Scheele in 2008 called We Are Words + Pictures (or WAW+P for short), which last year shifted direction a little to become more of a small press events team, producing the Paper Science anthology and heading to fairs and festivals with pens and paper.
Are there any particular comics, or other pop culture creations in general, that you consider an influence on your work?
The most direct influences on how I write – for comics, as a journalist, the whole shebang – can probably be found in the work of Paul Morley (whose repetition and use of lists are fabulous techniques), B. S. Johnson (cult British novelist whose work is heartbreaking and beautiful), Kieron Gillen’s indie work. The thread really is a desire to play with form, which are pretty much what any project I work on has to do in some way, personal or professional.
The things I’m trying to absorb at the moment are Lost At Sea and I Kill Giants. They’re both phenomenal, under-appreciated works, and if I can tell stories half way as moving as they are I’ll be happy.
So, do you think that your work in comics has influenced your journalistic writing, or vice versa?
Well, on my good days there’s definitely a Matthew Sheret voice, that could be found in, say, The Covers ‘zine I did with Julia Scheele, my piece on 00’s Music for Global Comment and my blog project threesixfivestart. They’re all fed from the same place, there’s a lot of cross-pollination in terms of how I think language works and what I want to do as a writer.
The shift happened for two reasons. The first is that Julia and I wanted to do work for ourselves, and that’s probably the most important. The second is that after I came back from San Diego, having sold Phonogram vs The Fans out there, I knew I just wanted to do something more with comics. As a writer I was concentrating on being a successful freelancer, and organising things in and around the scene felt like a more satisfying thing to spend my time doing than more writing. Meanwhile Julia released the first part of her journey through her parent’s lives in the 60’s, and it’s a really great piece of work. Hoping for more soon!
The editorial stuff doesn’t feel like much of a shift to be honest: I love it.
WAW+P appear to be very accepting of multimedia/multi-platform possibilities for sequential art, do you think the ‘comic book’ medium is moving away from its classical paper confines?
I don’t know if moving away is the right phrase. I hope comics are embracing a lot of formats. On good days I think they are; I see Kate Beaton on my browser at the same time as leafing through Magda Boreysha’s ToastyCats. There’s very little printed that doesn’t have an online existense anyway now – I just want to see comics that optimise that.
Print-to-screen comics jar a lot for me because the colour palette suits print, not the screen. I urge artists to check out the colour sets used by David McCandless or Mark Sarmel if their primary outlet is the web. It’s a leap worth making.
What’s been your favourite WAW+P event so far? Do you have any plans for further reinventions of the group in the future?
Haha, yeah, I love the idea of WAW+P as comics David Bowie; new era, new look. Seriously though, no re-invention; I like what we’re up to. I think our main drive is going to be getting more individuals to start WAW+P events wherever they are.
I wouldn’t play favourites with the events. All of us involved have learned a lot of lessons, for better and worse, and that’s great, I just want to move them forwards. I can say though that Latitude opened our eyes in a huge way. It was an amazing weekend of comics, in an environment that completely embraced us. I’d be surprised if you didn’t see WAW+P doing a few of those next year.
So long as you don’t go all Tin Machine, that’s cool. Do you enjoy attending events like Thought Bubble?
The UK comics scene does seem to be thriving – it’s certainly growing every day from my experience – have you seen many changes to the community since you became involved as a creator?
Confidence. It’s rising across the board, and rightfully so. As creators everyone’s stepping up, supporting others along the way. It’s beautiful. I just want – need – people to do more. Almost any creator moaning about not having a large audience isn’t doing enough to reach one, and I mean that. The UK aren’t ignorant about the medium, they know how to read comics, a lot of them like comics, they just haven’t been given a convincing enough reason to buy them. So go and talk to them.
Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?
I know I’m supposed to say thought bubbles… I’ll leave it at that.
Huge thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer our questions (that sounded a lot less police procedural in my head), check out WAW+P as they’re usually up to something mind blowingly cool. Oh and I Kill Giants is totally one of my comics of last year, if not the decade, if not history. Tres bon.
Another minterview coming up next week, who will it be with? Well, you’ll have to wait and see.