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Solipsistic Pop 01 This is a first, numbered edition of 500. Printed in November 2009 Individual stories are copyright © 2009 the respective artists. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce material from the book, except for the purposes of review and/or notice, must be obtained from the publisher. Published by Solipsistic Pop Books, London. www.solipsisticpop.com Editing, art direction and design by Tom Humberstone. Published by: Solipsistic Pop Books, London. Printed in London by Calvert’s Press. www.calverts.coop Thank you to: all the artists involved for their hard work, Patrick Wilson, Dan Hancox, Arthur Stitt & Calvert’s Press, Kieron Gillen, Warren Ellis and you.


Volume one Broken


Declaration of The New Vague Comic comes from the dictionary. In Greek it means “pertaining to comedy”, to “revel”. In English it means “funny”, “amusing”, “you read them? aren’t they for kids?”, “spandex superheroes”, “juvenile”, “self-indulgent autobiography”, “artistically bankrupt” and “the lowest artform next to mime”. We believe different. Except when we don’t. It is time for a new paradigm. A new wave of Comics. A new, vague blueprint for Comics to take up. This is a map that lets you fill in the locations and plot your own course. Away from something definitely, without knowing for sure what we’re moving towards. We do not create Graphic Novels, Sequential Art, Pictorial Narratives or whichever self-hating label is in vogue We create Comics. We acknowledge such distinctions were once necessary but reject the notion that they still are. As with novels, films, and video-games, Comics shall remain a clumsy description of the medium but one that we embrace. Comics is Comics We will not create Comics as pitches for tv shows, movies or other media. We create Comics because the content demands to be expressed in this medium. Comics are not storyboards. Comics are not stepping stones to other media. Comics is Comics is Comics. We reject the straight-jacket of live art space, bleed margins, script formatting, bristol board and other rules of Comic creation The Comic chooses the format. Not the other way around. It is understood that rules must be mastered before breaking them but we counter that rules must be broken to be mastered. We reject the notion that print is dead True, the screen promises endless possibilities but we vow to create beautiful work you can hold and beautiful work you cannot. We are committed to producing gorgeous, tactile Comics that readers will cherish. We don’t like superheroes, auto-biography, crime, war, horror, science fiction, comedy, confessionals, fantasy, romance, vitriolic polemic, meta, politics, manga, westerns, or zines We like Comics, and that’s all that should matter. We trust the Comic to speak for itself We do not care what brush you use or what nib size you choose. We do not need to know your brand of notebook or your favourite drink. We just ask that you show us what you make and let it live or die on its own strengths and weaknesses. We will not settle for specialist shelves and longbox storage We want Comics to fight for space with design bibles, coffee table dead-weights, podcasts and posters. We want comics to be handed to you on your journey home from work and we want them framed in well-lit store-fronts. We want your children to learn how to read with them, and we want you to unlearn how to read with them. We will create We will write. We will draw. We will paint. We will print. We will sew. We will publish. We will bind. You will know us by the trail of Comics.


Contents

Main Book

Cover Illustration Introduction My Year as a Christian Insomnia Spring ‘09 Bondage Spiderwings Later Meanwhile... Exit Music I Never Knew Her Rozbity Special Guest Appearance Do Everything Patterns of Boom and Bust

Philippa Johnson Kieron Gillen Julia Scheele Anna Saunders Daniel Locke Howard Hardiman Rachael Reichert Matthew Sheret and Julia Scheele Robbie Wilkinson Stephen Collins Mike Rimmer and Andrew Blundell Joe Decie Tom Humberstone Matthew Sheret Anna Saunders

Insert

Stephen Collins Tom Humberstone Phillip Spence Richard Cowdry and Daniel Locke Mark Oliver Phillip Spence Anna Saunders Stephen Collins

Sunday Columnist Adventure Stories/Bedlam The Adventures of Chicken With It’s Head Cut Off Ninja Bunny and the Broken World Part One Somersault Strips Jailbyrd Jim and the Kurse of the Kapital Kode Ninja Bunny and the Broken World Part Two The Daily Grind Back Page Funnies

Mini Comics

Anna Saunders Sarah Gordon

Through the Square Window Noses

6 7 14 17 21 23 29 30 36 42 46 47 55 56

1 2 3 6 7 11 15 16


Contributors Andrew Blundell was raised by a herd of Narwhal off the coast of Norway. He now resides in North London where he is trying to break all contact with sub aquatic mammals. Anna Saunders is an artist and illustrator living in London. Her work has spanned a wide range of mediums and she has produced illustrations, cartoons, drawings, scenic imagery and prop builds since graduating from Brighton in 2003. Her work has appeared on Channel 4’s Big Brother, The Friday Night Project, and BBC’s Dead Ringers. Anna also Illustrates promotional films and has taught activity workshops at the British Museum. She is currently trying her hand at teaching life drawing. Her work can be seen at www.drawmoresaunders. blogspot.com. For the past few years Daniel Locke has been focused on making comics alongside commercial illustration. He started his career as a gallery artist working on projects for the fashion designer Paul Smith, and was included in a number of group shows. Shortly after completing his MA at The Slade School he began publishing his own comics under the title Green which ran from 2005 until 2008. Since then Daniel’s work has been included in a number of anthologies amongst them Torpedo 6 (Australia), The Blurred Books Project (New York) and the upcoming Smoke Signal 2 (New York). Daniel’s illustration has been used by Attitude Magazine and can be seen on the TV show Dating In The Dark. His work is at www.daniellocke.com. Howard Hardiman was described as “suave” by Simply Knitting magazine. He makes comics and is studying for an MA in Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts. He makes a web comic about a lonely badger moping around South London at www.cutebutsad.co.uk. Joe Decie draws pictures in boxes that are true and made up. He currently lives on the south coast of England with his girlfriend and their son. His favourite chilli pepper is the Scotch Bonnet and his favourite whiskey is Lagavulin. He has comics on the internet at www.webcomicsnation.com/joedecie. Julia Scheele is one of “those” 20-something artists and illustrators living in London. Before returning to her undying love for comics, she has taken part in various film festivals and exhibitions, and used to co-organise an art/film/music event which mainly involved getting people to dress up as cardboard robots and dance. She has produced work in and around the UK small press scene under her own name and with her collective, We Are Words And Pictures. Currently she is running the 69 Love Songs, Illustrated project on the internet and can often be found at zine fests and conventions throughout the UK. Her comics and illustration work can be seen at www.poweredbyrobots.co.uk. Mark Oliver is the founder of Dancing Eye. He graduated from Camberwell College of Art in 2008 with an MA in illustration. He produces drawings, prints and sculpture in response to a range of subjects in both commissioned and self initiated projects. These include a self-published book about a performance by Lenny Bruce, a picture book about a gorilla in a zoo, a series of prints about sex, and a psychiatry textbook. You can find his work at www.dancingeye.co.uk. Since moving to London in 2004 Matthew Sheret has been a journalist, a web-hack, a curator, an educator, a serious young man, a commentator, a student, a critic, an artist, a photographer, a DJ, an editor, a writer and a publisher. He liked being described once as a “Dungeon Master of popular culture”. A list of his projects can be found at www.matthewsheret.com.


Philip Spence was born in December of 1980 in London, England. He likes it there, drinking tea, going to gigs, hanging out with the queen…the usual sort of thing for a twenty-something. When he’s not drawing his regular webcomic Ninja Bunny, he’s working on his autobiographical comics. When he’s not doing that he’s earning a living as a freelance web and graphics designer. You can see his work at www.ninja-bunny.com. Philippa Johnson trained in Textile Design and graduated from Chelsea School of Art in 2004. She has since concentrated on texture rather than textile, working in a variety of media as a surface artist/designer and stylist for sets and photography. You can view her work at www.pipjohnson.co.uk. Rachael Reichert lives in a bubble of comics, fashion and ignorant bliss in London. Carrying on from her previous work The Majestic Sea Dragon, Rachael is continuing the theme of anthropomorphic escapist fantasies of nature. Her work can be viewed at www.rachaelreichert.com. Richard Cowdry is probably best known for his comic strip anthology, The Bedsit Journal, which was widely available in the UK for a few years. A born cartoonist, Richard got his start trying to remember what Popeye looked like. His work has appeared internationally and locally, in publications such as Not My Small Diary, Oxford American, and Vice Magazine. In 2002 he won a New Talents Award at the Sierre Bande Dessinee Festival in Switzerland. His weekly strip Somersault appears on the award winning Forbidden Planet International blog, and his work will be appearing in the next issue of Whores Of Mensa. You can contact Richard via richardcowdry.blogspot.com. Robbie Wilkinson is a freelance illustrator based in London, he enjoys robots, meat, dinosaurs, comics, trainers, jam, mittens, biscuits, star wars, guitars, skateboarding, ale, and monsters. His work can be found at www.robbiesbrownshoes.com. Sarah Gordon is an illustrator and animator living in South London, although originally she comes from a big field in the Home Counties where she spent most of her time pretending to be a deck chair. When she wasn’t being a deck chair she was almost certainly poking something with a stick. That is all behind her now, and when she grows up she wants to be a submarine pilot or a vet. But until then she is working on being the best at drawing things and standing on one leg without falling over (not necessarily at the same time, although you would be surprised how often they coincide). You can view her work at www.ratherlemony.com. Stephen Collins is a cartoonist and illustrator based in London. In 2008 he won the Cartoon Arts Trust award for Best Strip Cartoonist for The Day Job – his weekly strip in The Times. He also won Best Editorial (bronze) in the AOI Images 2008 collection. His work has been used by many clients worldwide, including the BBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Times, The Guardian, La Repubblica, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Telegraph, NME, GQ, Wired, US Golf Digest, Gay Times, Word, Attitude, Mojo, The Big Issue, Q Magazine, Nature, and many others. He specialises in comic strips, contemporary caricature, and general editorial illustration. His work can be seen at www.collinscomics.com. Tom Humberstone is the creator of Art School Scum, You’re Wrong, and Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Crohns Disease. His latest comic, How To Date a Girl In 10 Days, won an Eagle Award in 2008 for “Favourite black and white British comic”. He is also the co-author of My Fellow Americans, a book written and drawn during an eight week roadtrip across America following the 2008 Presidential elections. He is currently working on a collection of short stories for his next book – Ellipsis. His illustrations have appeared in several publications including Electric Sheep Magazine, Dazed&Confused, The Guardian and Word. He lives in London where he runs a monthly drawing event called Pen Club. His work can be viewed at www.ventedspleen.com.


Introduction Imagine if you’d never heard a song until you were twenty-five. Actually, don’t. It’s not that clear-cut. When people ask you whether you’ve ever listened to music, you’ll deny it – but the more you think, the more you’ll realise there were some tiny fragments of it in your life. Maybe you heard some pop records when you were a kid, and a few whistleable advertising jingles since... but that was your total exposure. That’s all music ever was to you. Perhaps, it’s all you thought music could ever be. And then comes the day when you walk into a shop and realise this entire building is packed with the stuff. And it’s not just this shop. There’s a whole art-form which has somehow managed to remain a foreign country until you’ve reached adulthood. You find an album you like, and then you realise there’s a whole history of their work to absorb. You suddenly have a new favourite band – your first new favourite band – and rush back through the years grabbing all their work, having them expand your life, heighten your happiness, add colour to your depths and generally act in the transformative way which good art does. That’s my relationship with comics. I came into them as an adult and it was as magical an experience as discovering the thrill of weaponised sound (i.e. Pop Music). Even the idea that a major form of cultural expression could be mostly alien to me until I was well into my twenties seems obscene. Strange and obscene and glorious. Because it was a short, sharp shock, a reminder that there is always new and fascinating things to discover, to explore, to consume. It added meat to my suspicion that the sort of people who claim that there’s nothing new anymore actually mean there’s nothing new in the same, previously explored boxes which once gave them joy. It is a failure of their own vision rather than creatives’ vision. It’s possible you’re a veteran of comics, sagely aware of the possibilities in the form. Or you could be in the position I was back then. After all, the curators of this volume have an agreeably aggressive attitude to actually reaching out from the self-limited ghetto of a comic-shop to the rest of the world. “The planet’s packed full of people. We should try talking to them”. Which, as far as attitudes go, is one I can only applaud. The point is to communicate. Hopefully, the comics gathered within will communicate to you. Maybe one of the people on the following pages will be your first Indie Crush (For me, Jessica Abel). Maybe one of them will be a gateway to a forefather (For me, the road from Warren Ellis to Eddie Campbell). Maybe you’ll love some of the art enough that you’ll use it to decorate your house (For me, Laurenn McCubbin and Philip Bond). Maybe you’ll be consumed by this artform so much, you can’t help but try and create some yourself (For me... well, me). Maybe you’ll just enjoy it. If you know as much about comics as I did when I was twenty-five, those name-checks above will mean nothing to you. They’re all enormous talents. The idea that there are enormous talents you know nothing about... that’s thrilling, isn’t it? The world is bigger than you knew. The world is always bigger than you know. You know nothing about the following pages. It’s possible that, as you turn these pages, your life will change forever. That’s amazing. And you’re amazing. The world’s amazing. Solipistic Pop is amazing. And I appear to have turned into a hippy, so I’m stopping. Kieron Gillen North London As a comics writer, Kieron Gillen is best known as the co-creator of Phonogram


Do Everything “Comics are just words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures” Harvey Pekar If you read comics, or even read about comics, I imagine you’ll find that quote enchanting. It conjures images of children buried in notebooks building impossible landscapes in crayon and of wonderful conceptual essays that spill across pages, illustrated with monk-like endurance by people who cannot help but see terrible things. Pekar’s statement is wonderful, but it falls a little short of what I want to see. I have written here as placeholders some reminders, three little words: Future; Optimism; Ambition. I am supposed to be writing about comics. Bear with me. The future is a process. Time is not made of fixed instants, it is not binary, it is not a thing that leaps to dates or tipping points. The future is a long now, a time that moves towards all time, in which we change and are changed by what we do and what we encounter. You are taking part in this process, allowing your ideas and techniques to be shaped by this movement through time. When you become aware of this you start to see the effect you have on other things, people and places, and on the lives you never really know. You can do anything to the world around you: some you will never want to do again, but a lot more you’ll be happy to put your name to in that long, constant tomorrow. Tomorrow is worth seeing. Since people began to think about the unknown ahead of them a prevailing sense of doom has crept into thought and discourse, but I’m becoming a lot more optimistic than that allows. People can and repeatedly do accomplish brilliant things, in the face of impossible odds, on a global and personal level. I work knowing that what I put out now I will better, knowing that I learn from my mistakes and will try to avoid repeating them. I have the ambition to affect an audience, to change them in some way, if even a barely tangible one. You have to put yourself on the line to do that, but the rewards can be magnificent. We spend most of our lives going through experiences wrapped solely inside ourselves, and it would be beautiful if those rare moments of cultural or emotional specificity – when somebody reaches out to us and says “You are not alone” – happened more often. You see I want you to think about the images you have seen of doomed worlds. Of nuclear death. Of solitude. Of rot, entropy and carnage. Of the flash-burst obliteration projected behind a thousand artists. These pictures, all around you, that say “What comes next is the end.” Reject this; I will. My grandparents saw Europe break out in peace, my parents saw men walking on the moon and I have seen the world collaborate to pool its knowledge in the space between servers and source code. And before that begins to seem big and impossible I want you to remember that you are moments away from combining words and pictures to share a story, shape an idea, perhaps affect someone for years to come. You have an opportunity to fail a thousand times without judgement and you should take advantage of that. So if we can do anything, what means we shouldn’t aim to do everything?


Solipsistic Pop Book One (preview)