Mark Stafford and Soaring Penguin Press help beat back the threat of Cartoon Museum closure caused by “Bastard Virus”

Photo: Mark Stafford

Publisher Soaring Penguin Press and comic artist Mark Stafford have raised over £1500 for London’s cash-strapped Cartoon Museum toward its campaign to re-open and make up for lost revenue during the Coronavirus Pandemic lockdown.

Like other exhibition venues across the UK, the Cartoon Museum – Britain’s only fully specifically dedicated space to preserving comics and cartoon history – had to close during lockdown and is still yet to re-open.

With admission revenue and events forming the vast majority of its income, the Museum, which had recently moved to Wells Street, faced potential closure.

In response, the Museum launched a widely publicised fundraising campaign, which is still running, despite recently announced support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

As the comics community rallied to support the Museum, Soaring Penguin joined the efforts to save it, donating the entire proceeds of 50 signed copies of their latest graphic novel, The Bad Bad Place by David Hine and Mark Stafford, to the museum. Mark – who is the Museum’s Artist in Residence – went the extra mile by also creating 50 unique paintings for every copy.

As he finishes this gargantuan task in record time the artist noted, “After Soaring Penguin Press generously donated the books to the cause I immediately thought that including a little bit of art would be a great idea, but I didn’t really think through the logistics, and naturally made things insanely complicated for myself by deciding that they all had to be different from each other!

“’I have gone through the point where I thought this was the worst idea I’ve ever had,” he continues “and am now coasting comfortably into the ‘maybe I’m not an idiot’ zone.

“But it has been fun actually using all the art materials that I’ve been compulsively hoarding over the years, so there’s coloured pencil, acrylic, magic marker, watercolour, and inks in there, and I’ve found techniques in the process that I’m definitely going to pursue. It has been a workout.

“But not one that includes much cardiovascular activity or sunlight. I still have the use of my hands. I may need to get my glasses seen to. I’m running low on tea. Onwards!’”

Artist Mark Stafford, Soaring Penguin Press’ Tim Pilcher and artist and writer David Hine at the launch of The Bad Bad Place at the Cartoon Museum last November. Photo: Soaring Penguin Press
Artist Mark Stafford, Soaring Penguin Press’ Tim Pilcher and artist and writer David Hine at the launch of The Bad Bad Place at the Cartoon Museum last November. Photo: Soaring Penguin Press

Writer David Hine said, “In November of last year, the recently reopened Cartoon Museum hosted our launch of The Bad Bad Place. Then the Bastard Virus arrived and now the museum is fighting for survival. Mark has done wonders with his sell-out limited edition sketches from The Bad Bad Place.

Sketches? These are major works of Art! But there is still a long way to go. The Cartoon Museum isn’t just important, it’s a vital part of our cultural lives and a Good Good Place…”

Although the Cartoon Museum has just received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, meaning that it will eventually be able to open again safely, as the Museum’s Steve Marchant commented, “We’re not out of the woods yet – income has always been an issue – but we can see the sky.”

Donations to the Museum’s online fundraising appeal are still very much welcomed

• Anyone who makes a purchase on the Soaring Penguin Press website can also make a donation to the Museum when they check out: www.soaringpenguinpress.com/shop

• The Cartoon Museum: www.cartoonmuseum.org

The Bad Bad Place — a tale of Urban Unease, a horror tale of dreams turned dark, and a mother’s soul blackened with revenge — is available now

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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