Last Saturday I paid my first visit to the ELCAF Festival in Bethnal Green, London.
The event is always flagged on the calendar for Small Press Comic Creators from the UK and all over the world to tout their wares.
Hosted by Nobrow, it has more of a hipster feel to it than Thought Bubble but even an old square like me didn’t feel too out of place!
There were queues outside and the hall itself was packed to the gills.
ELCAF Poster
Bob, my trusty partner in comic crime and I went purely for a look around and meet up with various friends. The talks were for the most part booked up. I would have loved to have been able to attend the Chris Ware talk. He is an American comic artist and giant of the independent comic scene. He also designed this year’s poster.
Saw some familiar faces on the Self Made Hero stall… David Hine and Mark Stafford still going strong with “The Man Who Laughs“, Rob Davis‘ “Don Quixote” and Jake’s “Hellraisers” all doing good business. Although I didn’t see him, Ian Culbard was there with his new book “Celeste“.
Woodrow Phoenix was on the Blank Slate table with “Napoleon” amongst other works. I’m looking forward to seeing his giant one-off comic work on display at the British Library soon. Another face from the recent Myriad Prize evening was Ilya, who I spent time talking with about the importance of self promotion, even when your work is published.
Got to meet the prolific Darryl Cunningham who produces informative, important work in a really engaging way. He signed my copy of “Science Tales“, which I had on me. Also had a chance to meet Adam Caldwell of Great Beast publishing who are producing a range of terrific comics including his own “Blood Blokes“… his twist on the vampire genre which is original and very funny.
Two of my comic journo friends were also there. Andy Oliver from Broken Frontier will soon have to clone himself, as he is in such demand and lovely Alex Fitch from Panel Borders.
And then I also spent a good deal of time in the very inviting bar area outside with two of my ‘collaborators to be’ Philip Ebbrell and Bryan Lea. It was so hot you really had to go around the fair in shifts.
As per usual, came out with more goods than I’d intended to buy but what can you do? There are worse vices!
Think I will definitely try to get myself a pitch there next year.
Might have to grow a beard!
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To Arms …Comic anthology

This morning I received my second anthology ‘commission’ to date.
By coincidence… or is it? I have been invited to create a story for another World War One anthology called “To Arms” which is being crowd funded on Indiegogo.com.
Again a project with amazing artists involved.

I have decided to base my story on the military life of Sapper Dorothy Lawrence, the only woman to have gone to the Front in World War One.

'To Arms'
A courageous and sad tale it naturally appeals to my taste for tales of girls who show gumption and daring.
I’ve started researching today.
Apropos of War stories, I gave myself a news report deadline this weekend when I was moved to create a one page story about World War Two veteran Bernard Jordan who slipped away from his care home to make his pilgrimage to Normandy for the D-Day celebrations.
That wraps up all the events to date. I’ll report back with more ‘happenings’ from the comic book front.
Over and out!
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London Burlesque glamour and Drawing on the Dark Side

The day after the Myriad Editions Prize event I was pitching my wares to the customers at the London Burlesque Festival at Conway Hall. My good friend Jess Kemp had brought myself, Rian Hughes and Chrissie Nicholson-Wild together for this fun afternoon. Rian and I sought to distract ogling eyes away from the bevy of saucy ladies on the stage to come buy our ‘artistic’ offerings of comics and prints. I sold a respectable amount of “It Girl” which (if you’ve seen my Twitter page), you will know, continues to sell out at Orbital, Gosh and now the BFI.
'Maleficent' - Manko
Comic artist friend Chris Geary popped in to show moral support… if that’s the right terminology! He and I met up later in the week to attend the ever popular Orbital Comics life Drawing class hosted by Jason Atomic. This last one was themed “Leave Something Witchy“. Jason’s ridiculously gorgeous girlfriend (she has a comic book figure in real life!) was dressed in various garb that brought memories of The Wicker Man and Maleficent to life. The soundtrack was disturbing… a lot of chanting and Grace Slick style vocalising with lyrics more obscure than White Rabbit but we managed to produce some coherent art.
Looking forward to the next big drawing night at Orbital which will feature the legendary Steve Rude doing live painting.
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The Short of It

Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel Prize
Glory Be!
The middle of May I got the news that I had reached the shortlist of six entrants for the Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel Prize with “Elsie Harris Picture Palace“.
I was invited to attend a ceremony at the British Library where they are currently hosting the Comics Unmasked exhibition. Comics are definitely high profile at the moment.
My closer family were in attendance as were my loyal friends Mark Buckingham ( it was his birthday that night so I was highly honoured), comic artist Jason Wilson aka Jay Gunn and Michael Yale and his partner Andy.
The chosen six, Henny Beaumont, Francesca Cassavatti, Wallis Eates, Jade Sarson, Robert Wells and myself were all asked questions about our work and also read out extracts from our work whilst the pages were projected onto a big screen.
The final moment came when the big envelope was opened…and the winner was Jade Sarson for her quirky mangaesque romance “For the Love of God, Marie”. She is a highly talented young creator who has been making her own comics for a while and her prize was well deserved.
For the rest of us, we can carry on with our work confident that in being shortlisted we are worthy of being published. As to who and when, watch this space very closely!
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‘Last of the Colophon’ release

Another recent ‘happening’ was the release of Big Finish‘s Doctor Who audio drama ‘The Last of the Colophon‘ which I recorded over a year ago but had to keep schtum about.
'Last Of The Colophon'
That was very tough, as I was itching to share all the fun I’d had sharing a vocal booth with the legendary Tom Baker. He is larger than life physically and in personality. I’m sure everyone else was cursing the fact that I kept feeding cues to prompt Mr Baker into performing another spellbinding monologue about a chapter of his life. We won’t be producing actors with his rich, theatrical vocal quality any more. To think we almost lost him to the priesthood!
Anyway I urge you to go and purchase this classic Doctor Who audio drama which features the other stellar talents of Gareth Thomas, Louise Jameson and Blake Ritson.
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Process at Gosh!

I was asked to be the guest creator at the Gosh Comics Process collective at the beginning of May to describe the process of creating and self-publishing my first comic: ‘It Girl‘.
This was a great honour for me and happened as a direct result of my speaking at the Laydeez Do Comics meeting in April.
Steve Walsh hosted the evening and I saw lots of friendly faces including Andy Oliver, Mike Medaglia (who drew some great caricatures of me) and my long standing writer friend Mark Brisenden.
'It Girl' by Jessica Martin
Steve remarked that he was delighted to see someone creating comics about ‘The Golden Age of Hollywood‘ …moi.
I shared stories of my journey thus far and also brought lots of samples of working drawings and inked pages for people to have a look at. By the end of the evening I found myself agreeing to spearhead a comic collaboration with four other creators – Mark Brisenden, Paul Smith, Philip Ebbrell and Bryan Lea …the golden age of Hollywood and other thrilling excursions to come in our first collective comic which we will publish at this year’s Thought Bubble.
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The Long of It.

Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel Prize
The second week of April I found out that I had made it to the sixteen long listed entries for the Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel Prize with my first graphic novel: ‘Elsie Harris Picture Palace‘.
Much excitement abounded.
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To End All Wars

So much has been happening of late that my blogging has been clogging. Here’s the first of some short retrospectives on what’s been occurring lately.
'To End All Wars'
The graphic adventures continue. Beginning of April I got a call from my lovely friend John Anderson at Soaring Penguin to see if I could step in to do art work on a story for the forthcoming World War 1 anthology “To End All Wars” edited by Jonathan Clode and John ‘Brick’ Clark.
Have a look at the ‘To End All Wars’website and you’ll see I’m in the company of some amazing artists and writers , many of whom have never done a comic book story before.
The bonus for me was that the writer of my story was Christopher Colley with whom I performed a few years ago at the home of Richard Stilgoe for an MCC Cricket Club event. And guess what? We were performing songs and poems from the World War 1 era!
The book is published in July and is already on the Amazon ranking for graphic novels at No 7 in their top ten.
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I’ve just about drawn breath after a fortnight of wonderful comic book happenings.
Two weeks ago I had the repeat pleasure of sharing the glory of Mark Buckingham‘s table at the London SuperComic Con. From the moment the doors opened there was a queue that almost blocked the light around our pitch. Devotees of “Fables” and Mark’s artwork were demanding commissions as fast as he could draw them and then some.
Jonathan Ross with Jessica and 'It Girl'
On the other side to me was renowned Italian comic artist Marco Santucci together with his apprentice/girlfriend Maria Laura Sanapo.
Despite feeling a bit out of place in this primarily super hero environment, the customers soon came. The lovely thing was that, like Thought Bubble, they were attracted to the cover and the silent movie theme of the work. I sold quite a few prints as well which you can have a shufti at over on my Emporium.
The atmosphere was convivial and it was great to see how many friends I’ve made on the comic scene in the space of a year. First visit was from my lovely friend Rob from Time Trek Bromley who gave me a vintage Movie House biscuit tin in honour of my Elsie work. Steve White from Titan also popped over to say hi. He’d been looking at my portfolio just one short year ago! Nora Goldberg from Soaring Penguin also stopped by… a great girl to whom I owe a lot for boosting my comic sales at Foyles on the Southbank. Terry Wiley took a pitstop between selling his wonderful “Verity Fair” with his portable trolley shop! Jason Wilson, one of the most amazing new graphic novelists together with my playwright friend Mike Yale also visited. I went over to the Myriad stall when I got a break and had a lengthy chat with Corinne Pearlman who remarked that I’d been doing a really good job of self promotion with my first comic!
New friends were made too, including the tremendously talented Ian Edginton, David Roach and Mike Collins.
Not one to miss a photo opportunity, I managed to meet with Jonathan Ross who did remember me despite the fact I had short spiky blonde hair however many years ago we met!
Whilst at the SuperComic Con, I was interviewed for the Panel Borders radio show by aficionado Alex Fitch. You can listen to the full interview at Panel Borders.
Monday night after the con was a more ‘indie’ affair with my talk at Foyles for Laydeez Do Comics. I had all my slides ready to prompt me with my whistlestop account of my journey in comics from school to the present day. Again it felt good to be supported by friends and family. Despite my experience as an actress, giving a ‘lecture’ is still a nerve wracking experience.
I must have done something right however because shortly after that I was invited by Steve Walsh at Gosh Comics to be their guest at the Process evening in May. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that they’d swung their Spotlight on me for their British Comics Month website. What an honour!
And so the excitement continued into this week with a trip to Lord Puttnam‘s free talk at International Student House on Wednesday. Lord Puttnam was of course given a copy of “It Girl” which he accepted graciously… he is a huge fan of Clara Bow.
The evening of pleasantries concluded with a quick visit to Comica Social Club where I bumped into Nora Goldberg again, Mark Stafford, Stephen Harris, Richard Hayes and had a fascinating talk with the host Peter Stanbury… a stalwart of the small press comics world and an extremely knowledgable and interesting man.
Meanwhile I am currently engaged in a last minute illustration assignment for a very exciting project. More about that next time. Adios!!
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Movies were Movies

Two important things to report. The first is that I have now completed the first thirty pages of “Elsie Harris Picture Palace” and the second is that I have been invited to speak at Laydeez Do Comics at Foyles on Monday March 17th. I am very excited about that.
Laydeez Do Comics
Amidst all the intensive work getting my pages done I have had some enjoyable outings, not least two to The Cinema Museum in Kennington. I was invited by Amran Vance who was hosting an evening of rare silent movie screenings including one of “Mantrap” starring none other than our very own Clara Bow directed by her then boyfriend and soon to be superstar director Victor Fleming. The screenings are every two weeks and are attended by a loyal following of early cinema devotees… an eclectic gathering of older men, some of whom have worked in the industry, to young film students who have stumbled on this Aladdin’s cave of film history.
The venue itself is on the site of the old Lambeth Workhouse where Charlie Chaplin spent some of his poverty stricken childhood. The lobby alone has old cameras standing like sentries at the entrance, parts of old ticket booths, lobby cards. You immediately step into a lost wonderland of the past. Volunteers lovingly run the tea bar, the screenings and the entrance fee is a ridiculously low donation of £2.00. If you like silent films or are even just curious about cinema past you should pay a visit.
By the mysterious power of Twitter and one lead leading to another I found myself in the company of Oscar winning Costume Designer Julie Harris and British and Hollywood film star Peggy Cummins at Julie’s London home. This was all thanks to my meeting Norwegian journalist Anne Leinum who is writing a coffee table memoir of Julie Harris’ incredible life and career. She started work at Gainsborough Pictures Film Studios in the forties and went on to work with major film stars including Dirk Bogarde, Diana Dors, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Her high point was winning the Oscar for her swinging sixties designs for Julie Christie in “Darling“. And pardon my boasting but I had the opportunity to hold that very same Oscar last week. I felt so privileged to meet her and hear some of her history and also the effervescent Miss Cummins whose beautiful blonde hair is still the colour of corn.
So it was quite poetic that I ended my week with a trip to the Cinema Museum again where they were holding a fundraising bazaar. I met Teri-Anne Scoble an actress and choreographer who has taken up painting and just been shortlisted for the BP portrait award. We of course had lots to chat about and I was very pleased to hear that she knew all about my “It Girl” comic. There was a stall with a fabulous selection of cult Hollywood films including the noir classic “Gun Crazy” starring… guess who? Peggy Cummins. I had a fabulous chat with Brian who runs the tea bar about his restoration work on antique projectors and I also met David on the Cinema Museum book stall who runs a heritage group for an historic cinema in Preston.
I also picked up wonderful memorabilia… film stills including an original James Mason, cigarette cards and a 1950 Picture-Goer magazine. I had to drag myself away.
Looking forward to my next cinematic time travel trip!
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