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Photo Review: East London Comics and Arts Festival 2015

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The 4th East London Comics and Arts Festival (ELCAF) was held today in the hip East End of London, just off Mare Street between Hackney and Bethnal Green. Spread between two warehouse style venues  it was once again a combination of the cool and the comics. This festival is the brainchild of the ever excellent NoBrow Press and whilst it has got a hipster element it also has a lot of heart.

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Making full use of a much bigger space than last year it was still packed to the rafters. We had a couple of rooms for talks, a marketplace/stall area, a café, a kids area and an exhibition and all were easily accessible. I personally spent most of my time on the floor buying comics and chatting to the creators. Some of the bigger companies were there including Drawn and Quarterly, Jonathan Cape and NoBrow themselves.

I had an absolute blast from all day. This is a convention that is more about comics than some kind of perceived trendy style, more about a community than an industry, and more about poetry than blockbuster. I got to catch up with a few old faces and some new ones.

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Rachael Smith and Adam Cadwell were once again table partners and it was great to see that both of them have some fascinating things happening in their careers. Rachael is launching a new book through Avery Hill Publishing in August called The Rabbit. I have seen a sneak preview (more on this soon) and it is looking like more of her quirky excellent storytelling after the critical hit that was her last big release House Party. In full colour throughout it will be well worth your time and money I guarantee.  There are release parties at Travelling Man in Manchester on the 28th of August and at Orbital Comics in London on the 11th of September.

You can find Rachael at www.rachaelsmith.org or on Twitter @rachael_ for more details.

I’ve been a fan of Adam’s after discovering his book Blood Blokes and interviewing him for another website (shhh don’t tell John – it was a while ago – forget I said anything?). I was asking him about the next issue of Blokes and he tells me that it is in the works but he’s got an upcoming story with Eric Esquivel on writing duties coming out of Vertigo Comics called SFX Slam (that releases on the 1st of July). He showed me some pages and they look incredible. It’s got a punk rock/Love and Rockets feel that you have got to see.

You can find Adam at www.adamcadwell.com or on Twitter @adamcadwell

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Speaking of Avery Hill Publishing I got to catch up with David White (who won T-Shirt of the day) and Tillie Walden the creator of the fresh off the press The End of Summer. I had missed the previous night’s release party so it was great to meet her and grab a sketched in copy. Tillie (who officially makes me feel old as she was born in 1996 and is already releasing graphic novels) is hugely talented and the book is a fantastical world of heartbreak and mythology. It’s full of quietly thoughtful splash pages and deeply felt dialogue, I read it on the train home and really enjoyed it.

You can find Tillie at www.tilliewalden.com or on Twitter @TillieWalden

You can find Avery Hill at www.averyhillpublishing.com and on Twitter @AveryHillPubl

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It was great to chat it up with Gillian Guerz (pictured above with Joe Sparrow in the background).  A collaborator with Mariko Tamaki on a number of projects, I bought the anthology Pack Mentality from her that features a fun story of hers called ‘Dry Skin’ that gives flaky skin a little bit of a Turtles ‘Krang’ vibe to it (you should probably grab a copy as that goes absolutely nowhere in explaining it!)

You can find Gillian at www.gilliang.com

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Through an amateurish chunk of schoolboy French, some shouty hand signals, and a just in the nick-of-time interpreter I was blown away to finally get to talk to (and watch work) the super talented Victor Hussenot. Earlier this year I got to review his excellent book The Spectators (see my downthetubes review here). No quick sketching in the front of a book for this creator, I watched him paint full watercolour pieces. Incredible stuff. If you pick up one book this year this is the one.

You can find Victor at www.victorhussenot.com or on Twitter @HussenotVictor

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Otto Press had a prime spot as you walked into the main hall they were sitting right under the spotlight. They are an independent publisher of art books and comics coming out of London. They were giving away the new issue of A Few Ocular Anecdotes which is a Comix Reader/newspaper sized comics anthology. It’s got some stunning full colour artwork by Peter Cline.

You can find a copy at www.ottopress.bigcartel.com or follow them @ottopressUK

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It was awesome to catch up with Andy Poyiadgi and to see his new sci-fi mini comic Epsilon. I loved his NoBrow 11×17 release Lost Property (read my downthetubes review here) that came out last year and this was a book I had to read straightaway. I popped off and grabbed a quiet coffee and absolutely fell in love with this quiet story of the last conversation ever (pick yourself up a copy to see what that means).

You can find Andy (he’s not as stern as his photo makes him look) at www.ajpoyiadgi.com and on Twitter @ajpoyiadgi

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After bumping into Tiny Pencil (aka Amber Hsu) at a Gosh Comics event recently I finally got to talk to her properly and grab a copy of the intricately detailed and imaginatively grotesque anthology that is Tiny Pencil. A book that is both beautiful and repulsive all at once it tackles art on a page like no other anthology out there. I tweeted the cover and it straightaway got ‘Where do I get that?’ replies.

Get your eyeball assaulted and caressed over at www.tinypencil.com or follow TP on Twitter @TheTinyPencil

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I was great to catch up with old mucker Gareth Brookes and meet his table mate Wallis Eates. Gareth is hard at work on his new ‘trippy’ book and Wallis is busy self publishing comics. I bought You Chew I Spew from her and she kindly cut off some of her hair and taped it into the back cover. This gift of DNA was both unexpected and kind.

You can find Gareth at www.gbrookes.com and on Twitter @brookes_gareth.

You can find Wallis at www.walliseates.tumblr.com (she’s not on Twitter – I know this because it says “I’m not on Twitter” just below the sellotape and hair).

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It was grand to chat to Babak Ganjei and buy a copy of his fresh off the press book Early Learnings. I know that it was fresh of the proverbial as he only self-printed the book last night. It is full of autobiographical stories that experiment with style and technique. A couple of the pages really reminded me of (pre-Star Wars) Jeffrey Brown books like Clumsy.

You can find Babak at www.babakganjeiworks.com or on Twitter @BabakGanjei

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This was a great event that lives up to a true weekend event. It has enough to fill your Saturday and Sunday with a sales area, an exhibition, restaurant and talks that were all easy to find your way around and full of easily identifiable staff willing to help.

The NoBrow crew have put together one of the best Comics Festivals I have been to for years. They got in some great guests like the aforementioned Victor Hussenot and cult favourites like Sam Bosma (Fantasy Sports) and Jillian Tamaki (Skim) as well as some enthusiastic creators from the UK and around the world. It was really fascinating to see so many European titles that I hadn’t seen before. Last year the venue wasn’t big enough for the crowds but this year whilst it was extremely busy there seemed plenty of room to move about and grab a coffee. I easily spent five hours walking round and chatting and the time just flew by.

NoBrow is a hugely experimental company who never fail to astonish me with their depth of output. Seek them out at www.nobrow.net and on Twitter @nobrowpres

Look out for the event next year at www.elcaf.co.uk and on Twitter @ELCAF.co.uk

Many thanks to Angela for helping me out with this review and all the people generously giving of their time and talent to make this a really excellent show.

Thanks for reading – it is always appreciated.

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Avery Hill joins SEQUENTIAL, offers “Grey Area” exclusive from Tim Bird

The Beginner's Guide to Being Outside by Gill Hatcher

 

SEQUENTIAL and British independent comics and zines publisher Avery Hill Publishing have just announced the launch of a number of Avery Hill comics and graphic novels as digital editions, exclusively available via the SEQUENTIAL app for iPad, a platform which is proving manna from heaven for fas of great British independent comics, some of them hard to find.

SEQUENTIAL was created to be a curated digital graphic novel and comics app for iPad featuring intelligent, entertaining, life-enhancing storytelling at its best – and to provide the best browse, buy and read experience on the planet.

Avery Hill, whose titles we’ve regularly plugged, specialise in working with the best new talent around, as well as providing a home for personal projects by some of the finest, established creators.

“We know SEQUENTIAL are exactly the right partner for us to enter into the digital arena with as they’re as committed as we are to giving readers the best experience possible. They provide a cutting edge digital platform for the greatest comics around, and we’re honoured to have our titles join them,” commnented
Ricky Miller and David White, the Co-Publishers, Avery Hill Publishing.

“We’re really delighted to welcome Avery Hill to SEQUENTIAL,” enthuses Chloë Pursey, the Editorial Director at SEQUENTIAL. “Their eclectic, engrossing, lovingly-produced titles represent some of the very best of the UK small press scene and we’re thrilled to be able to present their books in exciting new digital versions.

Readers can download the free SEQUENTIAL App from the App Store, and check out these titles from Avery Hill at 50% off print price:

The Beginner’s Guide to Being Outside by Gill Hatcher

Megan is a 14-year-old girl who lives in Manchester with her mum and stepdad. Like most teenagers she is entirely reliant upon technology, until a family trip to the Scottish highlands reconnects her with nature and helps her to find solace during a turbulent time in her home life.

 

Days by Simon Moreton - Cover

 

Days by Simon Moreton

A collection covering Moreton’s comics output from 2011 and 2012, including three out-of-print issues of his acclaimed ongoing autobiographical series SMOO, and ten strips created for anthologies, including one previously unpublished piece.

 

Grey Area  I - III by Tim Bird

 

Grey Area I-III by Tim Bird

Exclusive to SEQUENTIAL, a collection of the first three issues of Tim Bird’s Grey Area series (Issues 1 and 2 are out of print) featuring a brand new cover by Bird.

“This is beautiful work,” opined Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet International of the book, “Bird creating images that sit there and demand the reader ask questions, images that look gorgeous yet also demand that the reader engage.”

 

Maleficium by EdieOp - Cover

Maleficium by EdieOP

The story of Huxley Leighton-Lomax; an aspiring wizard who should know better than to feed the dark forces that lurk in the corners of his home. Will Huxley know enough magic when it’s up to him to save the day?

More about Maleficium


Download the SEQUENTIAL app from the App Store:

• SEQUENTIAL Website: http://www.sequential.cc

• Avery Hill Website: www.averyhillpublishing.com

• Avery Hill page on SEQUENTIAL: http://store.sequential.cc/catalogue/publisher/avery_hill/44

 

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British Comics British Comics - Current British Publishers Cup of O Features Reviews

Cup of O – Avery Hill Publishing

Cup of O - Small Press Reviews

AHP

 

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Avery Hill Summer Party – Simon Moreton, EdieOP & Gill Hatcher (below) – David White, Tim Bird, Owen D. Pomery & Ricky Miller (Above)

 

A good few months ago now I went to a fantabulous launch event at the everglorious Orbital Comics in London for independent publishers Avery Hill. Their books are uniformly beautiful and the event was as enjoyable as it was incredibly bloody warm. I managed to chinwag with the Avery Hill bosshogs David White & Ricky Miller and even the printer of the books Richard Hardiman who’d come down especially and was as deeply enthusiastic as the creators and publishers themselves. It was a positive shindig and the earnest energy of these new indie publishers shone brightly and was deeply inspiring – below are a selection of some of their most recent books that I’ve managed to take a gander through:

 

Days by Simon Moreton - Cover

 

 

Days (Simon Moreton)

This is a collection of recent archived material from perennial beardyman and Bristolian friendly-face Simon Moreton. I’d encountered his “Smoo” comics before and found his sparse storytelling incredibly compelling – in this handsome volume there’s a great deal of his scattered dreamy narratives, that so brilliantly capture the fleeting melancholy of half-memories. His style is captivating here drifting between almost abstract shapes – objects or moments whittled down to their most immediate forms – to the stunningly detailed. Issue 5 of Smoo which concerns itself with his days studying in Falmouth is easily the highlight of the volume for me. Capturing a period of his life where he was clearly in deep transition – the variety of this segment, from the contemplative to the hilarious, is irresistible and highlights the appeal of Moreton as a creator for me. Whatever the mood – whatever the form – his singular presence is vividly there. He has lived every line.

• You can find Simon’s Smoo comics here and find Simon himself on Twitter @smoo_comics

 The Beginner's Guide to Being Outside - Cover

 

The Beginner’s Guide to Being Outside (Gill Hatcher)

The stunningly beautiful cover is what drew me to this lovely landscape volume which is ostensibly a tale of a family holiday to Scotland – and although Hatcher’s simplistic art inside doesn’t quite ever reach the giddy heights of the cover the pacing is excellent and the design strong throughout. It’s a deceptively straightforward story that manages to say something meaningful in an admirably short amount of time.

You can find Gill here on tumblr

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Reads Vol.2 #1 (Edited by Ricky Miller)

I’m a sucker for an anthology – and this first issue of Avery Hill’s four-part four-story comic “Reads” fits my requirements for a good variety comic perfectly. There’s a great amount of diversity within, every story has something going for it and it acts as an excellent showcase for some of the creators in the Avery Hill canon.

“The Bullpen” (Luke James Halsall & Tim Bird)

The first story in the issue is a fiction set in the shimmering silver era of comics – it’s simple but effective showing the birth of a new comic from the stressed coffee-stained desks of two passionate 50s creators. The art by Tim Bird is starkly black and white and compellingly simple – the wordcount requires Bird to be slightly busier than in his relatively scenic “Grey Area” series but he functions perfectly well in both.

“The Megatherium Club: Skeleton Crew” (Owen D. Pomery)

Pomery’s Megatherium Club is possibly my favourite thing in the issue telling a tale of feuding 19th century paleontologists – his art is a sort of wonky attempt to replicate stiff lithograph imagery and alone is not particularly remarkable but the mix of Victorian stiffness and modern bluntness in the dialogue is disarmingly silly. Avery Hill also do a physical collection of this which I’m hugely tempted by.

“Hitchcock & Film” (Ricky Miller & Tim Bird)

Usually I’d decry a repeated creator in an anthology but the tone here is very different. It’s more of a graphic exploration of the history of motion pictures guided by Alfred Hitchcock. I’m a big fan of these hyper-informative essay-comics (particularly Bryan Talbot’s Alice in Sunderland) and the Hitchcock-lens through which we view it helps it from becoming stale.

“The Story of Lucius Jellybean” (EdieOP)

EdieOP’s dark little tale of a sweet needy mutant virus is a deliriously dark closer and actually genuinely unsettling. The sketchy physical watercolour-pencil-crayon art is nicely physical and as a story it’s a nice punctuation point for the issue. (Avery Hill are releasing Maleficium by Edie this week)

Avery Hill is that rarest of ventures – a passionate ziney indie-ish type affair that publishes beautifully-printed and consistently good work. In that gloriously humid comic shop the other month I saw a young company whose love for comics was almost palpable and I anticipate every new release with a growing frothing furvour. Speaking of – I did run by them at the Bristol Comic & Zine Fair last month and saw them hawking a most lovely looking book named “A Quiet Disaster” by animator Alex Potts…. WALLET I SUMMON THEE.

Further Reading:

Avery Hill Publishing – http://www.averyhillpublishing.com