Who will win the first Arts Foundation Futures Awards in Comics?

Comics are one of the art forms being included in The Arts Foundation Futures Awards in the UK for 2020Comic creators Danny Noble, Esther McManus, Jess Taylor and Zara Slattery – selected from a long list of nominated comics artists as finalists for the first Arts Foundation Futures Awards in Comics – will find out who will be the recipient of the £10,000 award in January.

As we reported back in June, the recipient of the £10,000 award will be announced at the Arts Foundation Futures Awards event, which will take place on Monday 27th January 2020 at the ICA in London, where all runners-up will also receive £1,000 awards towards their practice.

The award was judged by comics artists John Allison, Comics Laureate Hannah Berry and Woodrow Phoenix. Commenting recently on the nominees, John noted “The four finalists all draw from different schools of cartooning, but each exemplifies the greatest strength of good comics – the easy communication of complex ideas.”

The Arts Foundation notes comics are easily one of the most vibrant and inventive areas of the arts in the UK today, with both the breadth of work produced and the forums created around growing exponentially over the last 15 years. But “the medium is still woefully underrepresented in terms of funding and support,” notes Hannah Berry, “and limited opportunities mean that very rarely can creators afford to get a foothold and take their work to the next level.

“The Arts Foundation Fellowship is a crucial lifeline, offering not only the financial support artists need but the motivation of having such a prestigious organisation in their corner.”

The four finalists work is currently being celebrated at the newly revamped Cartoon Art Museum in London, with the AFFA in Comics 2020 taking over the ‘In-Focus’ section of the gallery until 1st December, featuring both original and printed work.

• For more information visit artsfoundation.co.uk/affas/2020

In Focus: Arts Foundation Futures Award is at the Cartoon Museum until Sunday 1st December 2019 | Web: www.cartoonmuseum.org/whatson

THE Arts Foundation Futures Award IN COMICS FINALISTS 2020

Esther McManus

Esther McManus

Esther McManus is a graphic artist whose self-published works weave together the comic and book forms. She favours self-publishing as it fosters strong networks of comics makers and promotes “narratives that fall outside the mainstream”.

In her work, McManus explores how the form and content of book objects shape the experience of the reader, and how materials play a central role in the way stories are read and understood.

She views her identity as a practitioner as characterised by the use of practices in combination, such as drawing, printing, binding, distribution, and engaging with other work.

McManus sees comics as uniquely placed to communicate her research into feminist publishing and collective practice, due to their ability to represent time in unusual, non-linear ways. This allows her to highlight the connections between past and future in the rendering of historical narratives, such as Between Friends (2019), which examines feminist publishing over the past 50 years.

• Esther McManus is online at esthermcmanus.co.uk | Twitter | Instagram

Danny Noble - DeadlineDanny Noble started writing a diary when she was a child, religiously penning her thoughts to paper – first in word, then picture form. Writing a diary allowed Noble to turn her life into funny stories, a form of “therapy” that has shaped her artistic career.

Calvin & Hobbes and Bill Waterson were Noble’s pathway into comics – she was mesmerised by the worlds they created at the flick of a pen. After this she gradually found herself drawing panels instead of single images.

“Still confessional, but edited to be entertaining”, Noble published autobiographical comic strips entitled Monday Morning (2008) which were influenced by her diary entries. It was important to her to be “as unexpected and funny as possible”, however she ultimately had a realisation that she had to stop “hiding behind a punchline” and let her “raw old self lie exposed on the page”, channeling this in works such as Diazepam Diaries (2017).

Much of Noble’s works are self-published, however her drawings were also chosen to illustrate her “childhood comedy hero” Adrian Edmondson’s children’s books Tilly and the Time Machine (2017) and Junkyard Jack and the Horse that Talked (2018).

Danny’s new graphic memoir, Shame Pudding, a graphic memoir celebrating the wacky Jewish grandmothers who nurtured the author from a kid struggling with anxiety to a teen finding her own voice, is out this Spring from Street Noise Books.

• Danny Noble is online at dannyskagal.wixsite.com | Twitter | Instagram

Everlution by Zara Slattery

Everlution by Zara Slattery

Zara Slattery is an illustrator, comic artist and tutor based in Brighton. During her years as a student Slattery developed a love of performance, theatre and circus, drawing inspiration from David Hughes, Ralph Steadman and David Hockney. These influences shaped her work both on stage and in print, focussing on character design, story development and live action to create experimental performance and inventive narrative forms.

When Slattery joined a writing group with a view to write illustrated YA fiction, she was introduced to graphic novels, notably American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang and the work of Audrey Niffenegger. Astonished by their power to tell profound and complex stories in an accessible way, Slattery then revisited her own stories, reworking them to create her first comic.

Slattery’s ongoing work in progress – Coma Comic– is a graphic memoir that tracks her mental and physical journey through an induced coma following a serious illness in 2013. She also produced a rhyming comic entitled Don’t Call Me A Tomboy (2018) in collaboration with writer Kirsten Wild, which looks at and challenges old fashioned ideas about gender specific behaviour and ability.

• Zara Slattery is online at zaraslattery.com | Twitter | Instagram

Art by Jess Taylor

Art by Jess Taylor

With a degree in Animation and two films under their belt, Jess Taylor attended a ‘comics mixer’ in 2016, feeling sceptical and expecting to be the only woman in the room. Unexpectedly, the event revealed to Taylor a diverse and exciting world that would completely alter their career path: the indie comic.

That year, Taylor made Chevalier (2016) a prose based fantasy story that took influence from medieval art, Mucha, and cartoons like Samurai Jack and Secret of Kells. The comic explored the hard realities of living with mental illness, drawing on Taylor’s personal experience of anxiety and depression. They describe this comic as setting a precedent for everything they’ve made since.

Taylor’s work culminated this year in the production of two ongoing long form graphic novels: The Curse of the Wren and Of Her Own Design, both depicting surreal and honest fantasy worlds that focus on female and non-binary characters growing up and accepting themselves. Feminist overtones are very present in Taylor’s work, they draw women as subjects rather than objects, forcing the viewer to see the characters in the same way.

• Jess Taylor is online at www.jesstaylorarts.com | Twitter | Instagram

In Focus: Arts Foundation Futures Award is at the Cartoon Museum until Sunday 1st December 2019 | Web: www.cartoonmuseum.org/whatson

• For more information visit artsfoundation.co.uk/affas/2020

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1 reply

  1. Please explain Everlution by Zara Slattery for my simple mind.

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