To tie-in with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, the University of Sunderland held a free comics event entitled Wonderlands on Saturday 30 May 2015. Based in the university’s £12m sport and social facility CitySpace, a bright, spacious building, Wonderlands ran two separate streams of talks and workshops alongside a ‘Publisher’s Hall’ for dealers and creators.
Here are some of the creators who were there.
Woodrow Phoenix gave several readings of his She Lives big book to an appreciative audience. Following the life of the Bride of Frankenstein after the Universal film I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like to own a small version of the tale but Woodrow still has no plans for it to be anything other than this remarkable 1 metre square, hand-made, silent book.
• There are more details of Woodrow Phoenix’s work at his website.
Another silent graphic novel is artist Laura Trinder’s Night Post written by Porcelain’s Benjamin Read. The first hardback publication from Improper Books, the delightful Night Post tells the tale of the night postman’s rounds as he delivers letters and parcels all manner of ghouls, ghosts, beasts and creatures including another of Universal’s monsters, Gill-man, better known as The Creature From The Black Lagoon.
• There are more details of Laura Trinder’s work on her website
• There are more details of Night Post and a preview version of the book on the Improper Books website
Also on the Improper Books stall were artist Sara Dunkerton and writer Matt Gibbs creators of MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun. The name MULP is shorthand for mouse pulp and this great comic is like an anthropomorphic mousey take on Indiana Jones. Despite a pause after issue one of the planned five issue series, I’m pleased to report that Sara is now working on issue two, which hopefully will be ready before the end of the year, while Matt has the third issue written.
• There are more details of Sara Dunkerton’s work on her website
• There are more details of Matt Gibbs’ work on his website
An old friend of downthetubes, Marvel UK and 2000AD artist and writer Tim Perkins shows off the wraparound cover for Volume 2 of his Worlds End graphic novel series A Hard Reign’s Gonna Fall. This ‘science fusion’ series features the wizards of the planet Gaeyrth having to fight the alien Aoevill hordes who want to take over the planet.
• There are more details of Tim Perkins’ Worlds End at the Wizards Keep website
Kate Ashwin is a dedicated on-line comics creator who has put her work into print. Widdershins, an old fashioned term for anti-clockwise but also implying the wrong way round, is both the title of her Victorian fantasy graphic novel series and the name of the town that her characters live in. The series mixes magic, adventure, and Victorian propriety with well defined characters and fun stories and having enjoyed the first book, Sleight Of Hand, I will be looking to get more of them soon.
• There are more details of Kate Ashwin’s work, both Widdershins and her earlier Darken, on her website
Another book I’m looking forward to is Metaphrog’s The Red Shoes And Other Tales based on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales which is due to be published by America’s Papercutz this coming October. Writer John Chalmers and artist Sandra Marrs had a teaser copy of the book on display and are hopeful that pre-publication copies of Red Shoes will be available to buy at the world’s largest literary festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, this summer where they will be Writers In Residence.
• There are more details of all Metaphrog’s work on their website
• There are more details of The Red Shoes And Other Tales on the Papercutz website
Beano, Dandy, Broons and Oor Wullie artist Stephen White, also known as Stref, has a great love and knowledge of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan novel. He has been trying since 2012 to get an accurate graphic novel of the original book off the ground and, when his original crowd funding attempt failed, Edinburgh publisher Birlinn took the project on. Stref had the pencils for the complete book with him and was keen to show off the work which has been coloured by Fin Cramb for publication. Peter Pan is scheduled to be published by Birlinn on 16 June.
• There are more details of Stref’s work on his website
• There are more details of Stref’s Peter Pan graphic novel on the Birlinn website
Glasgow’s Black Hearted Press publish comics and graphic novels as well as organising conventions and comics events in Scotland and the north of England. One of the founder members of the company is Sha Nazir who is shown here with his Laptop Guy graphic novel. BHP’s next event is the Glasgow Comic Con to be held at the CCA and other venues in Glasgow city centre over the weekend of 4/5 July 2015.
• There are more details of the Glasgow Comic Con on the event’s website.
Writer Mary Talbot, along with her husband Bryan, was one of the people behind the Wonderlands event taking place in her home town. She was signing copies of their Costa Award winning Dotter Of Her Father’s Eyes and had both British and America editions of their latest collaboration, this time with Kate Charlesworth who was also present, Sally Heathcoate: Suffragette. The third collaborative book from the Talbot’s is due out in 2016 and has yet to be announced but Mary’s talk at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in November 2015 entitled ‘A Vision of Utopia’ may tease as to its theme.
• There are more details of all Mary Talbot’s work at her website
And finally not everyone in the Publishers Hall was a writer or artist. Laura Brewis is a project manager at New Writing North which aims to inspire and develop young writers’ fiction, poetry and journalism in the region through the Cuckoo Young Writers initiative. Cuckoo runs regular writing groups as well as workshops and masterclasses and the results are published in the printed Cuckoo Press as well as the on-line Cuckoo Quarterly.
• There are more details of Cuckoo Young Writers on the Cuckoo Quarterly website.
• The downthetubes review of Wonderlands 2015 is here
• There are more details of Wonderlands, along with photos taken on the day, at the event’s website.
• With thanks to John Swan for the use of his photo of Mary Talbot.