Monday, 22 February 2016

The Cartoon Museum, London WC1

I took my 13 year old daughter with me when I visited the Cartoon Museum for the first time a few days ago and we both loved it.

It's tiny but it's packed full of comics and artwork, some of which date back hundreds of years but also much that is contemporary. I think my daughter's favourite thing was an animation of Simon's Cat running on a loop, I had to drag her away after watching many repeats. Then she had to drag me away from the Heath Robinson artwork.

Until 16 April the main exhibition is the cartoons of Martin Honeysett and then from 20 April to 17 July it will be The Great British Graphic Novel. They also run workshops for children and adults. Plus there is a great bookshop and the kind of things on sale that you used to find advertised in comic books such as fake teeth and hand buzzers so make sure to take your pocket money.

For information about the museum visit

The Salon of Rejects - comics by Michael Lomon, Mhairi Braden, Ross Mackintosh, Myfanwy Tristram, Sarah Ushurhe and Tom Plant

Apparently the comics in this anthology were all entries that failed to win the Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story competition - the creators decided to band together to put their ideas into print anyway. For the full story behind this book and the choice of title go to Myfanwy Tristram's blog.

I admire the spirit of the creators and I'm impressed by the production quality of  this 28 page book. The stories are all quite different, each fascinating in its own way.

I particularly enjoyed Myfanwy's take on the complexities of parenting a daughter - Giddy Heights. I'm hoping to see more of Dermis Pearl by Sarah Ushurhe, I feel that this is an idea that could be developed further and the artwork is beautiful.

The book can be bought on this link.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Singing Dragon - a new imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Last night I went to the launch of Singing Dragon at Gosh! Comics in Soho. It was great to see the shop full of people interested in this new imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


Singing Dragon publishes authoritative books on complementary and alternative health, Tai Chi, Qigong and ancient wisdom traditions for health, wellbeing, and professional and personal development.

Our books are for professionals and general readers. We also publish graphic novels across our subject areas, and books for children on issues such as bereavement, depression and anger.

Singing Dragon is an imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers, an independent company committed to publishing accessible books that make a difference.

Singing Dragon already has 10 graphic novels and comics on its list. Last night a number of them, plus their creators, were at Gosh! Comics. I bought Dad's not all there any more by Alex Demetris because I found the front cover illustration compelling - it's a fascinating account of his family's experience of coping with his dad's unusual form of dementia. Other books covered a wide range of topics. If my budget had allowed I would have bought more and I'm looking forward to seeing what they publish in the future.

Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics - Exhibition at House of Illustration, London

Comix Creatrix illustration by Laura Callaghan
I must admit that I have mixed feelings about gender being a criteria in the curation of exhibitions of comic creators. Unfortunately, given what happened at Angoulême recently, it seems important to shine a light on female creators right now just to prove they exist. However I hope this won't be a continuing trend as it seems divisive and leaves those who don't easily fit into male/female gender categories out in the cold.

Putting those concerns to one side, this exhibition is worth a visit. There are many more than 100 female comic creators in the world so lots of women aren't represented. However it is an intelligent and thoughtful attempt by the co-curators, Olivia Ahmad and Paul Gravett, to give a snapshot of the variety and quality of comics made by women. Many countries are represented and some early creators are included, one piece of artwork dates back to 1775. Lots of original artwork is displayed and also pencil sketches, including one by Tove Jansson of a Moomin strip.

It is an intimate feeling exhibition in a series of rooms, besides the beautifully framed artwork on the walls, there are books to browse, ipads and a screen playing filmed interviews with female comic creators. I circuited the exhibition a number of times and each time I came back round I found something I had missed previously. It is worth spending a bit of time there or, like me, planning more than one visit.

One little niggle, I would have liked to have seen more books by the comic creators on sale in the House of Illustration shop. Even better a printed catalogue or book about the exhibition.

The Comix Creatrix exhibition continues until 15 May and The House of Illustration has a Shōjo Manga exhibition from 15 March to 12 June.

Details about the venue and its exhibitions are on this website:
If you have an Ipad you can download SEQUENTIAL for Ipad and get a free Comix Creatrix digital guide.

The 100 comic creators included in the exhition are: Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Alison Bechdel, Alison Sampson, Angie Hofmeister, Angie Mills, Anke Feuchtenberger, Anne Harriet Fish, Annie Goetzinger, Art is a Lie, Asia Alfasi, Audrey Niffenegger, Aurélie William-Levaux, Aya Morton, Barbara 'Willie' Mendes, Barbara Yelin, Blackjack, Brigid Deacon, Carla Speed McNeil, Carol Swain, Cat O'Neil, Catherine Anyango, Chantal Montellier, Charlotte Salomon, Chie Kutsuwada, Claire Bretecher, Claudia Davila, Corinne Pearlman, Dale Messick, Denny Derbyshire, Donya Todd, Eleni Kalorkoti, Ellen Lindner, Emma Vieceli, Evelyn Flinders, Fay Dalton, Florence Cestac , Francesca Ghermandi, Hannah Berry, Hwei Lim, Isabel Greenberg, Jackie Ormes, Jacky Fleming, Joana Estrela, Josceline Fenton, Julie Doucet, Karrie Fransman, Kate Beaton, Kate Brown, Kate Charlesworth, Kate Evans, Katie Green, Kaveri Gopalakrishnan, Kripa Joshi, Laura Callaghan, Laura Howell, Leela Corman, Leila Abdul Razzaq, Lily Renee, Lizz Lunney, Lorna Miller, Lynda Barry, Lynn Paula Russell, Manjula Padmanabhan, Marcia Snyder, Maria Stoian, Marie Duval, Marion Fayolle, Mary Darly, Maya Wilson, Miriam Katin, Nadine Redlich, Naniiebim, Nell Brinkley, Nicola Lane, Nicola Streeten, Nina Bunjevac, Pat Tourett, Patrice Aggs, Philippa Rice, Posy Simmonds, Rachael Ball, Rachael House, Ramona Fradon, Reina Bull, Reshu Singh, Roz Chast, Rutu Modan, Sarah Lightman, Shirley Bellwood, Simone Lia, Sophie Standing, Suzy Varty, Tarpe Mills, Tijuana Bibles by Horizontal Press, Tillie Walden, Tove Jansson, Trina Robbins, Tula Lotay, and Una.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Save Our Souls magazine

The first issue of Save Our Souls.

If you've read Private Eye magazine you'll be familiar with David Ziggy Greene's regular comic reports Scene and Heard. He is also the publisher and editor of a new magazine that features journalism, writing, short comics and illustrations: Save Our Souls.

I'm impressed with the quality of the contributions in the first issue. Particularly Fumio Obata's touchingly simple and matter of fact comic report from Japan on the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami Rebuilding of Hearts, Mark Stafford's emotionally powerful comic Accentuate the Positive and an article by Alpha Kamara Now that Ebola the dictator has been defeated, I realise how lucky I am to be alive. All in all a great start and I look forward to seeing the next issue.

The first issue of the magazine was financed by crowd funding, it and future issues can be bought through this website:

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Inflatable Woman - a graphic novel by Rachael Ball

This story first appeared on Tumblr and it is interesting to go back to it, now that I have the book, to see how it evolved and for the early sketches of the main character, Iris.

"Inflatable woman" refers to a pre-reconstruction procedure that Iris has after a mastectomy but the story is mainly a surreal take on her emotional journey as she comes to terms with the possibility of dying from (or surviving) breast cancer.

It's tremendously funny and charming, Iris is a zoo-keeper who has "raised very polite monkeys" and a rabble of penguins. There are wonderful characters such as Maud, Suggs and a variety of doctors and nurses including the tiny but scary Nurse Bobby. The story addresses Iris's darker moments through her dreams and her attempt to have a relationship with a man met online.

I can't recommend this book enough - for the characters, the drawings and the way it is constructed but also for it's message to embrace life and live your dreams. Go to Rachael Ball's Tumblr to find out more

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Comics for children - Vern and Lettuce by Sara McIntyre

Vern and Lettuce comic strips have been collected into a book and printed by DFC.
The first stories are standalone but the second half is a series about "Lettuce and Vern's Pop at Fame".
Last week I started up a lunchtime comics club for children in a south London primary school.

Each half term I'm going to be taking a different group of kids through the processes of creating characters, settings, story lines and comic strips. But perhaps most important for their comics education I will be showing them a range of comics and graphic novels suitable for their age group.

I'm looking forward to my current group's reaction to Vern and Lettuce by Sarah McIntyre next week. It is a collection of stories about a sheep and a rabbit, best friends who live in Pickle Rye. The settings have a real south London flavour and the characters are totally believeable as locals. I've already shown the kids a photocopy of one of the pages (I had too much to carry the first week to include a whole book) and they went completely quiet, this, I am learning, is how they demonstrate their greatest enjoyment – total concentration.

Sarah McIntyre has a wonderful website for kids, it's full of free activity sheets and information about her stories: