Lady of Letters

It’s been a while, dear browser. My apologies for that, but the Easter holidays and the presence of my brood interrupted my usual flow.
Hope that doesn’t make me sound too much like Medea but here I am, sanctuary at last, courtesy of my blog.
Eiffel Tower - Paris
So… a quick run down of the holiday activities. Junior went on a school skiing trip to Utah. I think this was a rite of passage as much for us as for him. After a week of self torture, as we entertained lurid fantasies of ski misadventures and scenarios involving being grabbed by a local religious cult, our son returned safely on the school bus… the familiar bored look now replaced by something resembling joy!
Junior Miss accompanied Daddy and me on a short trip to Paris… City of Love, though you’d never think it judging by the miserable git who drove our taxi from Gare du Nord and practically hurled our cases out onto the street by our chic hotel. No need to bore you with all the details of our itinerary. Paris is as beautiful as ever, expensive as ever and there’s always a new corner of a street leading to another surprise vista of elegance. My sketch book was full when I got home. I’d asked my teacher, Andy Fish, (I’m doing his ‘Illustrating the Graphic Novel part One’, if you’re new to this blog) where I could find comic book shops in this land of the Bande Desinee.
So hubby and daughter were dragged along to the fabulous Rue Dante, where we wandered into about five comic book stores, all full of the usual American superhero favourites plus some other more deviant works which would usually find themselves on the top shelf in another country. That’s the French for you. There was one shop where I sat for for about an hour poring over all manner of ‘how to’ illustration volumes. I ended up buying a superb book: ‘Black and White Images, fifth special edition’, which contains a treasure trove from the Golden era of pen and ink illustration. All of which is highly relevant to where I’m at with my graphic novel development, which is the inking stage.
I must also pause here to focus on another discovery I made in this shop, which I think was called Pulp. I pulled out a book called ‘The Prince Valiant Page‘ by Gary Gianni. I ordered it online when I got home, having had a week to decide – ‘do I really need another comic book’. But these are no ordinary comic book illustrations. Gary Gianni is a ‘traditional’ style illustrator, highly skilled, painterly and epic in his style. I absolutely fell in love with the pictures and the book is also a journal of how he came to take on the mantle of Hal Foster and John Cullen Murphy in carrying on the classic Prince Valiant serial. I spent a whole afternoon reading this book and derived far more pleasure than watching a film or reading a novel.
Moving away from comics to my other passion now… singing! The Richard Kates album ‘There’s Something About You‘ is now available. He has come up with a confection of musical theatre style songs all suited to the various talents of the West End divas on board. That includes Bonnie Langford, Claire Moore, Craig Revel Horwood, Christopher Biggins and my good self to name but a few. Richard is a great talent and I know where to go the next time I need witty, original material for my cabaret act. Go have a listen on iTunes… you won’t be disappointed!
My next theatrical engagement is little while away but I am greatly excited by it. Lisa Forrell is directing a new production of the classic American play ‘Dark at the Top of the Stairs’ at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry this October and I am playing Lottie Lacey (Eve Arden played the part in the movie version for your movie buff information). It’s going to be a big cast and a big production and I am absolutely delighted to be playing a straight dramatic role for a change. Lisa is a wonderful director who most recently garnered acclaim for her short film ‘Madame Ida‘.
Meanwhile I remain firm in my resolution to create a graphic novel. I’m coming to the last week of my course which I feel quite sad about. We’ve been on a journey of education and self discovery these last ten weeks. I couldn’t believe I was lettering my comic balloons in my Adobe Illustrator application, like an old pro the other day. A few months ago that was the most time consuming, frustrating part of comic booking. Somehow, the whole process of being led along gently, stage by stage has made it all feel like riding a bike… really difficult to begin with but one day it all clicks and it feels like there was never a time you couldn’t do it.
So please keep watching this space, loyal readers, my work has only just begun!

About Jessica

Jessica Martin is a multi-talented performer whose career has taken her from comedy impressionist to musical theatre leading lady and scriptwriter.
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