Little Comics

I’ve made a couple of comics publications for Little Printer.

Brilliant Wren

Bird Bath Birds is 12-part series of illustrations by Holly Swain, showing off the secret lives of garden visitors. One a week, every Tuesday.

Chloe Noonan Little Printer

Chloe Noonan by Marc Ellerby is a short story featuring the titular grumpy Monster Hunter on a day off at ATP. Every weekday for 16 days.

I’m dead chuffed about these two. Bird Bath Birds is a really gorgeous collection – the Wren in particular is a joy – and I love Holly’s drawings. Chloe‘s an older story – something Marc made for Paper Science – but the panel format seemed to work and I’m genuinely curious to see how people react to the narrative (a gag strip) spread out over a couple of weeks. Marc’s stuff looks great on a thermal printer too, just as it looks lovely on e-ink.

If you have a Little Printer, you should subscribe to them! You can find them now in the New Publications tab on remote, or you can get Chloe Noonan and Bird Bath Birds on their own pages.

About a year ago I said I’d learn enough about the internet in 2013 to make a Little Printer publication. It still feels like the most ‘me’ way of combining two of the internets I’m part of; the comics one and the one from Old Street. Getting around to that has taken far longer than anticipated.

Part of that was material – I’d asked a bunch more illustrators to get involved, but it’s (absolutely understandably) hard to motivate people to make original work for free for a publication format they’ve only seen videos of. A Little Printer is a tiny luxury good, and many of the people I know outside of one particular corner of the internet think it’s mad that such an object exists.

But by far the bigger blocker was anxiety. I can have a fair reckon at copy for pretty much anything, but I worry about who to register a domain with, how hosting works, what code should look like and where to turn for help. So I found excuses not to start.

In the last seven days I brute-forced through that and basically sat with Russell to set up hosting and nagged Phil over email to get the code running. I made basic, embarrassing mistakes doing both. But it was all okay, and it works. Now to do it again.

Filter

We made a silly thing a few weeks back.

DSC03763

Filter is Anne and I’s attempt at a fashion shoot. It exists for four reasons:

1) I got back into using Newspaper Club
2) There’s a running joke about how much our Instagram feeds look like a slow-burn Toast catalogue
3) I like doing things with the extra hour afforded by the clocks going back
4) There must have been a fourth reason, or we wouldn’t have bothered doing it

DSC03767

DSC03766

DSC03765

It’s absurd. The page size is about four times too large and it’s so vain it defies belief. But it scratched an itch and, actually, it came out looking pretty good.

I’m on the fence about making this an ‘official’ We Are Words + Pictures project, but I do like the idea of an annual thing tied in to the spare hour of every year.

DSC03764

Performed by

Listening to Fence Collective‘s collection Fence Reunited this evening. It’s been a long while since it’s been on, and it’s reminding me heavily of the early days of WAW+P.

Like a bunch of young indie folk, I got into Fence right about the time King Creosote signed to Warner subsidiary 679. This means I got into them slightly too late; they’d stopped doing quite so many ad-hoc cdr releases, in which collective artists would switch styles and songs in audibly cramped studios, or remix one another’s tracks in strange, wonderful ways.

It’s a shame, because the releases like that I do own are really raw, warm records. When acts like HMS Ginafore and Pictish Trail and UNPOC cover one another’s songs they’re extremely tender about it – each one clearly comes from a place of affection.

Part of the (extremely boozy) chats I had with Julia about the formation of WAW+P was about trying to stir that kind of sentiment up in friends and collaborators, taking one-anothers’ stories and riffing off of them somehow.

Never quite managed that. It’s something I might try and incorporate into Sandsmark – the sprawling bucket of ideas loosely tied to interviews and lectures that resolutely refuses to hold a shape – but I’m open to suggestions. What’s a cover-version of a blog post? Or a remix of a talk?

Bye bye Paper Science

Dropped off my final copies of Paper Science at Gosh Comics today, which feels mighty strange.

I really miss wrangling that thing. There is little as satisfying as having a huge box of newsprint delivered, colours screaming off of the page, fabulous stories printed within. But there is also little worse than having a box of comics waiting to be sold, dragged from one poorly-promoted small press fair to another, every inch of profit eaten away by train fare, miserable sandwiches and rickety tables.

Paper Science 1

The numbers don’t lie: the subscription was absolutely brilliant for the anthology, in terms of finance, promotion, enthusiasm and general confidence. For that I didn’t need to leave my laptop. After that, the best things Paper Science did (in terms of audience, profit and reach) were get stocked at Gosh comics, appear on a table at MCM Expo, and get taken to ELCAF. Almost every other event, no matter how much fun at the time, turned a little bit of money into a lot less money. I’m told that that is the standard definition of ‘publishing’.

As for the anthology itself, I’m more proud of it than anything else I’ve done. It’s an excellent collection, filled with brilliant work by people who are getting better and better with each passing story.

Tomorrow my company – newly rechristened We Are Words and Pictures – enters its second year. The only goal for 2013-2014 is ‘make one thing as good as Paper Science’. Feels like a good challenge.

Weeks 50 and 51

I was sick for most of last week – a bone-chilling flu that kept me wrapped up while GOV.UK was busy winning awards – keeping my blogging arm at bay for a few sickly days. On the plus side I got a lot of sleep.

Haar/We Are Words and Pictures

Haar is a lovely word. However, as anyone who’s bought me a whisky in the last year knows, it is a useless word. While one-person companies are basically just games of Pretend Office, names still mean something. Names you have to spell each time you say them don’t mean quite as much though.

So, I made the changes necessary to do what I should have done right when I started out – register the name We Are Words and Pictures. It’s kept evolving as a project for almost five years now, long may that continue.

However, this hasn’t been entirely without problems. The registration happened much faster than anticipated, delaying my contract extension at GDS and leading to all kinds of unnecessary hassle. I fully expect that state to continue for the rest of April, after which I’ll start thinking about how to do things like sort out the WAWAP website, get Sandsmark moving, etc.

GDS

Contractual wrangling aside, the GDS team had a great couple of weeks. The service manual I mentioned a month ago launched Version 1 while I was down with flu, on top of which they won the Design of the Year award. Russell’s written about that, and it’s a neat summation of the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of GDS right now.

SMEE

Flat-planning a newspaper for Anne stirred all kinds of muscle memory from the Paper Science days. Very good fun, and lovely work from the designer too. I’m looking forward to seeing that in print.