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FEATURING AN INTERVIEW WITH BRYAN TALBOT AND COMIC ART FROM THE BEST INDIE TALENT AROUND

ISSUE #3 FEB/MAR 2013 FREE


Designers in Residence

2013 ow! N y l p p A Deadline: 28 February 2013


COMICS

Pages 2 — 27 BRYAN TALBOT

Page 12 YOU HAVE BEEN READING

Page 28 — FOUNDING EDITOR

Daniel Humphry @Daniel_Humphry ART DIRECTOR

Steve Leard @SteveLeard COPY EDITOR

Lucy Rice COVER ART

William Exley williamexley.co.uk DESIGN

RANDL wearerandl.co.uk

Welcome to OFF LIFE, the street press anthology that shoves smart, adult comics under unsuspecting noses. The last two months have been a funny time for us. While a Costa Book Award for Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes gave comics a deserved rub of authenticity, with it came lazy journalism and worn arguments. Can comics deal with adult themes? Are they just for children? Even the quickest Google search would tell critics that two decades ago Maus was already detailing the Holocaust, and Our Cancer Year terminal illness. Perhaps journalists should trial Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's scathing social satire Preacher on the BBC children’s book list and see if any parents would deem these comics ‘Kid’s Books’. Anyhow… As many people have enjoyed telling us (in what we hope were compliments), Issue Two was a big step up for OFF LIFE. This time around we’re honoured to have received contributions from the likes of Jack Teagle, Kyle Platts, Sally Thompson and Dan Berry. We’ve also unearthed some almighty new talent and we hope that you enjoy discovering them as much as we did. So please, enough talk! Follow us @OFFLIFE_comic to take part in our weekly Quick Draws and a special mega live event coming up in March. If you enjoy this print issue then let your friends know they can read free digital editions at offlife.co.uk – and most importantly, if you like an OFF LIFE artist then go online and check their body of work. We promise it’ll be worth the effort. DANIEL HUMPHRY

Founding Editor, OFF LIFE OFFLIFE.CO.UK INFO@OFFLIFE.CO.UK @OFFLIFE_COMIC

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BRYAN TWO MONTHS AGO, MARY AND BRYAN TALBOT’S DOTTER OF HER FATHER’S EYES BECAME THE FIRST EVER GRAPHIC WORK TO WIN A COSTA BOOK AWARD. OVERNIGHT BRYAN WAS LIFTED FROM LONG-TIME CHAMPION WITHIN THE COMICS INDUSTRY AND PLACED BANG CENTRE IN THE ARTS MEDIA’S LATEST DEBATE ON COMICS AND THEIR ARTISTIC CREDIBILITY. EARLIER THIS MONTH BRYAN TOOK THE TIME TO SPEAK WITH OFF LIFE ABOUT HIS OWN VIEWS ON THE COMIC INDUSTRY, ITS PLACE IN CULTURE AND WHY THE MEDIUM IS YET TO GAIN MAINSTREAM APPRECIATION.

You’ve been creating comics since the late seventies.

thought I might as well finish this comic for Lee. I hitched back down to London and, true to his word, he dropped everything and published it. We ended up doing about five or six copies of that Brainstorm comic.

What was it that first drew you to the medium?

My folks bought me nursery comics before I could even read. By about eight I started creating comics of my own, just stapling Woolworths typing paper together and making my own books. By the time I was a late teenager American underground comics had started getting really big: Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton were making a big impact – reclaiming comics as an adult medium. So when I went to college doing graphic design I started drawing my own underground comic, just three or four pages of it. I hitched down to London one summer and met a guy called Lee Harris who ran a head shop in Portobello Road. He saw the pages and said if I ever finished them he’d publish it – not that he’d ever published a comic before, mind. Two years later I was unemployed and living in Preston with two kids of my own. I was looking for work doing all sorts – dustman, didn’t matter – and so

That’s pretty unique. Not many artists can claim to have had their first comic published out of a head shop…

Well the amazing thing is that Lee’s shop is still there. You go down Friday or Saturday and he’ll still be down there. You must have noticed some significant changes in the industry since then?

None more so than the declining market for monthly superhero comics. In the early eighties if a DC or Marvel comic dropped below 40,000 sales they’d axe it. Nowadays some Vertigo titles are lucky to sell 4,000. Sales have dropped all over.

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TALBOT Why do you think the comics market has declined

Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes became the first

so much since then?

graphic

Comics have lost their core audience I think. They used to be aimed at kids, 12 to 14 year olds, but now they’re aimed at the people who grew up with them. The average age is now probably about 25 and they’re missing the younger readers. You used to be able to buy comics on the newsstand of any newsagents – distribution was everywhere – but since the direct sales market started all that reach is practically gone.

Award. What do you think that says about

work

to

ever

win

a

Costa

Book

where comics are at the moment?

Aside from a nice bit of publicity I think what it really says is that they’re entering the mainstream, what Stephen Holland would call the “real mainstream”. Mainstream comics tend to refer to superhero books but the real mainstream is the general public, and so it seems that now, slowly, they’re opening up to the idea of reading graphic novels. Every major literary festival has a graphic novel section nowadays, so it’s been growing gradually for decades.

Is the fact that comics have retreated to within comic shops a problem?

Yes, I think it is. Comics have become ghettoised, sold in specialist stores to a niche market. The decline in monthly sales has seen a rise in the big graphic novels though. We have amazing quality graphic novels now and a huge range that play to all sorts of taste. They seem to be stable and holding their own.

A lot of North American artists say they love how Europe takes comics seriously. Do you think that’s fair to stay of the UK?

No, we’re nowhere near France. We’re probably at a level in the UK where France was in the mid-sixties,  13


when they dubbed it the ninth art. I was told a statistic, which I hope is true, that one in three books sold in France is a graphic novel. One stat I do know that’s true is that in the UK between one and two million graphic novels are sold each year. In France it’s 43 million. You’re launching a large comic festival in the Lake District this year, what are you hopes for it?

Well, I went to my first European festival in 1981 as a guest to represent British underground comics. I wasn’t making a proper living in comics at that time, in fact I was on the verge of packing it in, we were so broke. But I went there and met all these greats like

And what are your hopes for the UK comic industry as a whole?

The more we have serious festivals like the one we’re planning, and the more things like this Costa Award happen, hopefully it’ll open up. I don’t know if it’s just my selective vision but it seems like there’s a snowball effect at the moment where comics and graphic novels are being mentioned more and more in the media. The more events, the more comics will dig in to the conscious of people. A comic conscious, if you will.

Hugo Pratt, got treated like an equal, and came back with fire – I wanted to make comics. I don’t know if it was coincidence but within a year or two of that festival I was full-time, self-employed doing comics. We want this festival to take over the whole town: there’ll be over half a dozen exhibitions, events and theatre in the street, all schools being involved, publisher’s tables. I’m hoping this festival will be another stage in the acceptance of comics as a legitimate art form in this country.

Thank you for your time Bryan.

No trouble.

YOU CAN SEE BRYAN’S WORK AT BRYAN-TALBOT.COM

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— YOU HAVE BEEN READING —

EDIEOP THE FIVE STAGES OF A FINANCIAL CRISIS @EDIEOP PAGE 2

BRYAN TALBOT INTERVIEW BRYAN-TALBOT.COM PAGE 12

KYLE PLATTS THE FIXER @KYLEPLATTS PAGE 4

JACK TEAGLE THE UNMENTIONABLES @JACKTEAGLE PAGE 16

DANIEL SAUNDERS GOODBYE, MARGARET @DANIELSAUNDERS4 PAGE 5

DANIEL HUMPHRY @DANIEL_HUMPHRY WILL ELLIOT @WILLUSTRATES MANAGEMENT MATERIAL PAGE 20

SALLY JANE THOMPSON @SALLYTHOMPSON MIKE GARKEY @MIKEGARLEY THE ANNIVERSARY PAGE 6

ADAM MURPHY LISTEN CAREFULLY @ADAM_T_MURPHY PAGE 23

JOE BESFORD FIRST GIG @EARTHLINGBRAINS PAGE 10

DAN BERRY MEN WHO CLIMB @THINGSBYDAN PAGE 24

ISSUE #3 OFFLIFE.CO.UK @OFFLIFE_COMIC

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OFF LIFE issue three