Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption by José Domingo

So much joy to be found within the pages of this inventive comic book, José Domingo transitions from fast paced panels to double page ‘search and find’ spreads with ease for maximum reader enjoyment.

The story follows the adventure of two main characters; you guessed it – Pablo & Jane. Bored one rainy day, they go in search of some excitement.

They end up on a time travelling hot air balloon which takes them into the Monster Dimension. Trapped by the evil master mind Dr.Felinibus, Pablo and Jane must navigate their way through terrifying landscapes – Horrid Hawaii, Lopsided London, Terrifying Transylvania and other such awful corners of the Monster Dimension.

Published by Flying Eye Books.

The Superhero Comic Kit by Jason Ford

Draw, colour and sticker your very own superhero comic books! Make your superheroes – or even yourself – the stars of each super adventure!

The book contains 10 exciting 8-page comics to draw, colour and complete. Each adventure has super story prompts to start you off – and the rest is up to you! You can even pull them out, put them together and give them to your friends to read.

Also includes 6 activity sheets on how to create and draw your superheroes and supervillains, and over 100 fantastic stickers to add to your stories.

Jim’s Lion by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Alexis Deacon

My new favourite book.

I have been using it for the last 2 weeks during guided reading at school. The kids love it. The mix of pages with type, double page spread illustrations and dream sequence comic book illustrations make this book particularly special.

The book is about Jim, a young boy with a life threatening illness. Jim needs surgery. He is terrified. His dreams take him to some dark, frightening places. The magicians and child entertainers from the hospital become rabbits operating on him with giant saws and boxes. The surgery lights above the operating table morph into mechanical spiders. He becomes lost in vast labyrinths.

Fortunately for Jim, help arrives in the form a kind nurse from Africa called Bami. She tells him to search for his finder animal in his good place. The next night Jim is confronted with a lion. At first Jim feels threatened by the majestic animal, but Bami reassures him and offers him her ‘don’t run stone’. This becomes very useful to Jim. The lion, his finder, helps save Jim from his terrifying dreams.

The book has been masterfully adapted and re-imagined by Alexis Deacon, whose skill as a storyteller and as an illustrator, make this already beautiful story something to be truly treasured.

I have already bought 3 more copies in hardback, one for myself and 2 for gifts.

Also, there are some lovely hidden gems for the avid reader to find.

I would like to thank Mathew Tobin for recommending the book and to Walker Books for sending me a review copy.

ELCAF 4th East London Comic & Arts Festival

This weekend – Saturday 20th June – Sunday 21st June

Founded in 2012, ELCAF’s aim is to introduce and celebrate both small press publications and the dynamic community of individual artists and collectives that are pushing the boundaries in comics, illustration, graphic and sequential art here in the UK and abroad. Each year ELCAF has seen an incredible growth; larger venues, more exhibitors, and a greater number of people coming through the doors.

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Q & A with Joe Sparrow

Q1: How did you get the Nobrow 17 x 23 gig?

It was pretty sudden – I was tabling at ELCAF 2013 and I ended up
chatting a bit to Alex Spiro, one of the two guys that founded the
company. Then a few months later I got an email pretty much out of the
blue from Alex talking about how they wanted to do some more books in
the 17×23 series and asking me to pitch a few story ideas. Prior to this
I’d been selling my own self-published stuff at conventions for a couple
of years beforehand, so I already had a few finished stories under my
belt. Also, if I was ever at a convention where nobrow had a stand I’d
make a point of going over and saying hi! I have no idea if that
actually contributed to them wanting to collaborate with me though.

Q2: Which comics from the 17 x 23 series do you own?

Do you have a favourite?

I owned a few of the original bunch and I’ve been buying all the new
ones as they come out. It’s really cool to see the diversity of styles,
both in the art and the narrative! I’d really struggle to pick an
absolute favourite… I dig Jen Lee’s stuff a lot; I really admire her
use of colour in particular. Plus as an animator I can really see that
capability in her drawings – I mean it’s always amazing to see her
characters in motion, but even in her static work I like the way she
constructs them out of these really simple, readable shapes but they
still have tons of character. I’d love to be able to draw like that.

Q3: I love the pixelated artwork in your comic The Hunter

– why did you choose this approach?

I started getting into pixelart a few years ago during a period
where I was really frustrated with my art in general and I wanted to get
back into a way of working that I actually enjoyed. Working at a
pixel-level is very satisfying for me because it’s pretty much the
highest degree of control you can have over a 2d image that’s on a
screen, and I like having a lot of control over the way stuff looks.
There’s also something really paradoxical about seeing it in print, but I
quite like that. Sometimes people mistake it for a printing error, which
is understandable!

I decided to use the pixelart method for The Hunter partially because I
wanted it to be a fun thing to work on, something I’d enjoy. It also
struck a weird, videogamey chord with the story – it made me think of
games like Pokemon or Monster Hunter where some players obsessively task
themselves with “100% completion” – meticulously achieving every goal
possible, often investing hundreds of hours. It felt like the story was
about a similar kind of obsession, like this guy equates the goal of
living a fulfilled life with completing a bunch of videogame quests.

If anyone’s interested, style-wise my two main influences with the
pixelart are Paul Robertson and the anonymous Japanese game dev who
calls himself “Pixel” (maker of the game Cave Story, which I’d highly
recommend).

Q4: I stumbled across your blog Dungeons and Drawings,

can you tell us about it and how it came about?

I played D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) with some friends once or twice
when I was a kid – it’s a real eye-opener of a game, like you just start
playing it and you realise you can do pretty much whatever you want. It
really blew my mind at the time! I picked it up again with some friends
at uni, getting into it on a more creative level, writing stories,
designing characters etc. When we finished uni in 2010, Blanca
(Martinez, my girlfriend & the blog’s co-creator) and I started coming
up with ideas for personal art projects that we could work on (since we
were finding it hard to find freelance work at the time and we wanted
something to do). We’re both super into RPGs (she even more so than I)
and we came up with the idea to start this art blog where we post our
own redesigns of classic fantasy RPG monsters. I think she came up with
the name and it stuck! The inspiration came from our memories of looking
at the Monster Manual as kids, and the fun of endlessly leafing through,
comparing power levels and picking favourites. We published a book last
year and our currently working on a follow-up, so hopefully people can
get the same sort of satisfaction from our stuff!

Q5: Which illustrators inspire you?

Quite a few at the moment. At random: Rebecca Sugar, Jonathan Djob
Nkondo, Thomas Wellmann, Matthieu Cousin, Valentin Seiche, Masaaki
Yuasa, Boulet, Jillian Tamaki, Josceline Fenton, Ben Sears, Kim Sloane,
Jack Cunningham.

Q6: What’s next for Joe Sparrow?

Right now I’m actually directing an animated short, a little cartoon
bio of Mozart, that should be out later this year. It’s been a lot of
fun to research, and music is probably a pretty close second to art in
my life in terms of interests so I’m really looking forward to seeing
what I can do. After that I want to get back to comics and do something
a little larger-scale. I’d like to write a story that’s more about the
characters than anything else (I feel like a lot of my stories are just
“stuff happening”, there isn’t much of a character element to them).
Anyway, lots of plans!

Art Schooled by Jamie Coe

I spent 4 years at Art School – the characters in this graphic novel certainly reflect the kind of people and experiences I remember.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

”Daniel Stope is a small-town guy who dreams of becoming an artist. His enrolment at art school and consequent move to the city opens up a world of exciting possibilities. Unsurprisingly, Daniel struggles with his newfound independence – the difficulties of dating and making new friends in the big smoke. This new graphic novel by the exciting young illustrator Jamie Coe is a visually powerful tale. Coe’s penchant for films and visual story-telling manifests itself in his expert ability to craft beautifully structured and atmospheric illustrations.”

– www.jamiecoe.com

Published by Nobrow

Q & A with Andrew Rae

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I’d love to take a walk around the inside of your head; I imagine it would be like a journey through The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. How did you come up with the idea for Moonhead & the Music Machine?

For a while I’ve liked the idea of telling a story about music visually and how that might work but the Moonhead character gradually formed from drawing, prints and sculptures I’d been doing. It started off as an asteroidhead character in a print I made of mob of characters, something about him stuck with me and I kept finding myself drawing things like a Moonhead band or a group of planet heads. Then in 2011 my wife Chrissie Macdonald and I did were asked to do an exhibition together in Stockholm. We hired a house in the countryside to make work for the show and it just happened to have a telescope which we used to look at the moon one night after the pub. I guess that inspired us to think along those lines as we called the show Objects in Orbit and made lot’s of Moonhead and planet sculptures and drawings. As all this was going on I started imagining what the Moonhead character might be like and how his head could float off into imaginary worlds while his body remains behind in the real world, an idea that I relate to a lot. I decided to stick with a familiar high school plot and to add all the bizarre Moonhead stuff on top as I wanted it to be grounded in a familiar reality which is offset by the bizarre imaginary landscapes.
In my review I listed some of the things Moonhead & the Music Machine reminded me of; could you tell us what your actual influences were, if any?
 
There are so many things that influence me from day to day that it’s hard to compile a list but I guess Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli was a big influence in the way it used style and drawing to tell the story, I also loved Sir Ken Robinsons TED talks about education and creativity, The Breakfast Club by John Hughes needs a mention, also An American Werewolf in London by John Landis as I’ve always loved how the characters behave like real people even though bizarre things are happening, throw in some Cream, and and a bit of Kandinsky and Bertrand Russells celstial Teapot and we’re probably getting somewhere close.
 
One of my favourite characters in the book was the aging record exec (he reminds me of The Dude from The Big Lebowski) Did you base this character on anyone? 
 
He started off a bit more like Phil Spector and I toyed with a kind of Brian Wilson look but somehow I wasn’t feeling the drawings. I wanted him to have more of an ageing, spaced out, hippy look without actually referencing a living person so I went with a combination of Keith Richards, ZZ Top and Dude.
 
Nobrow are cool, how did you get the gig? What was it like working with them?
 
I can’t remember if I already new Sam and Alex when they first asked me to be in Nobrow 5 but I got to know them mostly from going to exhibitions at their gallery and at Pick Me up at Somerset House. They asked me to be in a few of their publications so I made a short comic story called Deity School for their Graphic Cosmogeny and another called Space Cadet for Nobrow 7, both of which got a good reaction so they asked me to come up with a book idea. I didn’t realise it at the time but looking back Moonhead is actually somewhat a mixture of these 2 strips.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? 
 
I sketch a lot and constantly keep notes in my phone of ideas and thoughts so that when I’m looking for inspiration I have things to turn to, it helps to remind me what my work looks like sometimes. I guess the most important thing however not to sit around waiting for inspiration but to turn up every day just try to make work even if nothing comes. If I have have an editorial job on there isn’t time to wait for inspiration so I just have to force it out of my brain there and then but more often than not inspiration turns up at inopportune moments, while out walking or on a bus or chatting in the pub so it’s important to keep notes so I don’t forget the throw away ideas. I still need to make sure I sit down and draw out the idea though, if I’ve thought through an idea enough it’s easy to forget to actually do the drawing it’s as if all the works been done thinking about it.
 
I see you are part of the Peepshow Collective, I’m kind of familiar with this: Spencer Wilson let me use his magpie illustration for the blog (he’s also part of the collective). Can you tell us what it is? How many people are involved? What kind of things do you do as the collective? 
 
Peepshow stared as a shared portfolio website for a group of friends who’d just graduated. I evolved over time into exhibitions, a studio and eventually a company. There are 10 of us and these days it mostly functions as an animation studio and group of friends.
 
Can you recommend 5 graphic novels for me to read? 
 
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Jimmy Corrigan the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
Building Stories by Chris Ware
Black Hole by Charles Burns
Habibi by Craig Thompson
 
And last of all, what are you working on at the moment? 
At the moment I have regular monthly piece with the New York Times Magazine, I’m finishing an art history book called Where’s Warhol and an activity book called My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook with Laurence King, I’ve just finished a piece written by Will Self for BBC Culture online and I’m working on a pitch for a kids book.

Q & A with Victor Hussenot

Victor Hussenot, the creative talent behind the Nobrow graphic novel The Spectators. Victor studied the Fine Arts in Nancy (France) and now lives and works in the capital, Paris.

Q1: Where did the concept for The Spectators come from?

The idea of ​​Spectators came from the identification of a link between several stories I had written. I realised all my thoughts were based on the observation of a town.

Q2: Your artwork is spectacular, can you describe the process?

Thank you! I worked in several stages. First text then the storyboard, then I pencilled boards. Only at the end did the realization of watercolour appear on the final boards. But I wanted all the stories to be connected visually as well. That is why the person embodies each role, the mind / actor. The true character of the story is his shadow,

Q3: What’s next for Victor Hussenot?

I am preparing a comic that will be a reflection on time … And following the comic book output in Chronicles “The Land of lines”.

Q4: Where do you find your inspiration? Which illustrators do you admire?

The inspiration of my life come mainly from questions I ask myself about the world, about life. But also of philosophy, film, comics and illustration.

I am greatly influenced by Albert Camus or in other areas, Eric Rohmer, Bergman, Fritz Lang, for example. Or, André Juillard Francois Ayroles, the publishing house “The association”.

Check out these photographs of Victors creative process – there are some lovely imagaes of early sketches.

Cyber Realm by Wren McDonald

A Dystopian World where Mad Max meets Robocop

During the end of days, all technology and robotics were locked underground in what has become known as the Cyber Realm. The oppressive leader now uses this technology to control the population.

Coming soon – published by Nobrow as part of its 17 x 23 series.