Thought Bubble 2014

After the roller coaster of a year since the launch of my debut comic “It Girl” at Thought Bubble comic festival 2013 I made my return visit last weekend with this year’s short comic “Vivacity“. The festival layout had extended this year to include a teepee between the New Dock Hall and the Royal Armouries Hall.
Jessica at Thought Bubble 2014
We were given a stall in the Royal Armouries, same as last year but with a greater flow of traffic because of the breathing space with the additional exhibition area.
I found myself in celebrated company with Boulet and Hope Larson to my left and my friend Mark Buckingham to my right. And of course he had an ever increasing queue before he even arrived.
My trusty cohort Bob Wakelam had done a brilliant job packing all my burgeoning comic and art stock. It looked pretty impressive… two new comic banners, four boxes of comics, sets of about 20 different postcards plus my brochure and flyer handouts, copies of “To Arms” and “To End All Wars” as well. No one can say I’ve been napping this year.
The event is extremely well organised. I had Teresa Flavin (one of the many smiling volunteers) check that I had everything I needed and tweet a photo of me with my cargo. The doors opened at 10am and the queuing customers poured in. Of course there was a lot of non committal standing from afar, glancing over and mental toting up of comic spending budget before taking the plunge and buying a comic from a new supplier. I had success with “It Girl” last year but the majority of people who came to look and buy my goods were new to me and my books.
Familiar faces came by too… Steve White, Sean Phillips, Al Davison, Martin Eden,
Jade Sarson, Nora Goldberg, Chris Thompson, Jay Gunn, Terry Wiley, Colin Mathieson but for the most part comic com-padres had to stay rooted to their pitches and make the most of one of the biggest independent conventions all year.
I managed to go for a mooch around. Couldn’t miss having a look at the steampunk tea emporium across the way… a massive pop up shop with the most incredibly creative array of comics, prints, boxes and all manner of merchandise lovingly constructed.
Over in the teepee I made the acquaintance of Des Taylor who does fabulous glamorous comic art work with a slightly retro animation feel. It got talking to Maxwell Oginni who is assistant artist to Des and animator for the Mr Bean cartoon series. He wanted to know all about my comic journey as he is just stepping into this world himself.
I had a lovely diversion at lunchtime as I had agreed to meet deaf musician and sign performer Paul Whittaker to collect a very special package. Earlier in the weekend I had put up a post on Facebook about James Mason (the model for my hero in “Elsie Harris Picture Palace“). Paul had commented that his family knew James Mason and he had a personal letter from him in his possession. Would I like it? And that he was in the Leeds area the following weekend. If that isn’t a huge rap on the door from fate, I don’t know what is. Paul has done signed performances for lots of musicals including the production of “Sunset Boulevard” that I played Norma Desmond in, so we had a lot to catch up on.
I also bumped into my immensely talented comic creator friend Jason Wilson aka Jay Gunn who had his finished portfolio of “Surface Tension” with him. Titan are releasing it in a few months and it is going to be extremely impressive. He had written, drawn and coloured it to a superlative level.
The cyclical theme of the year in comics was completed with an evening spent in the company of the wonderful Andy Oliver. He is responsible for advancing my profile and that of many small press comic creators for no other reward than the joy of giving new work a spotlight. It was his first visit to Thought Bubble and I know he greatly enjoyed being there and seeing his ‘discoveries’ flourishing.
I didn’t spend much time partying in the evening but I did get to meet Lisa Wood who goes by the name of Tula Lotay, illustrator for Image and Vertigo. She is the mastermind or should I say mistressmind behind Thought Bubble. It is no mean feat to have put this event on, be the director of Travelling Man comic shops and a star comic artist… ask a busy woman!
I couldn’t stay the whole weekend as I had to get to Plymouth for rehearsals on “Elf” but I still managed to sell some comics in the brief hour I spent on my stall on Sunday morning. I had good sales for both “Vivacity” and “It Girl” and made some new friends and connections.
So now it’s time for my other hat with performing over Christmas… then onto the main event… Finishing “Elsie Harris Picture Palace” ready for summer 2015!
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Vivacity Launch

So here I am, almost a year on from my comic debut at Thought Bubble. “It Girl” was the first of a burgeoning career in my new field of self expression. Since last year I have seen “It Girl” garner favourable reviews, sell out several times over in select comic and bookshops and managed to contribute to two anthologies and get shortlisted for the Myriad First Graphic Novel Fiction Prize 2014.
Tomorrow I will launch my second short film star comic. This time the star turn is that of young Vivien Leigh.
Vivacity - Comic
I have chosen to focus on her meteoric rise to stardom playing Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind“. My art style in this comic is very different to “It Girl“. All the pages are rendered entirely in pencil and darkened digitally.
It is still a voyage of discovery in terms of technique and I have much to thank my wonderful mentor Mark Buckingham for in terms of guidance.
This has to be a short blog but there is a lot to catch up on which I will be doing in the coming weeks. Forgive the retrospective diary keeping that will be a necessary part of this but it’s important not to forget the who, what and where of what is proving to be an incredible time of adventures for me.
Two things I will be expounding on are my 2015 publication of “Elsie Harris Picture Palace” with Miwk Publishing and my imminent season of performing in the UK premiere of the Broadway musical “Elf”.
See you on here again soon!
Full report on Thought Bubble to follow!
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ELCAF

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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