Kate Ashwin is the creator of Widdershins, a character-driven adventure yarn that explores a magical British otherworld at the end of the 19th century. It’s littered with eccentric and quirky characters that range from grumpy bounty hunters to bumbling wizards, offsetting the trend for dark and gritty escapism.
Like many comics artists today, her work has become increasingly funded through Kickstarter with two recently successful campaigns under her belt, both of which exceeded their set targets. The Widdershins Vanishing Act raised £10,532 despite an initial target of £3,250. That’s an incredible return for an artist and I suspect these figures will grow higher with each new campaign. Another useful source for work is through attending industry-related conventions. Our Script Editor Adrian Reynolds came across Kate at a Comics Convention in Nottingham last year and instantly fell in love with her work. So if you’re an aspiring artist, get out the garret.
Widdershins, in case you’re wondering, is actually a real word rather than a name of a character. The official definition means to go in a direction contrary to the sun’s course, and can be considered as unlucky. And this is exactly what happens when you read the comic. You are led in all sorts of directions and quickly feel embarrassed about the assumptions you make about the characters.
We wanted Kate as the artist for our Byron Clough chapter because Byron Clough is a mythical hybrid of a character, a fusing of two of Nottingham’s most charismatic and quotable icons: Lord Byron and Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough. Therefore I paired her up with Andy Croft, a funny and satirical poet who does fancy things with rhythm.
Andy originally wrote a script for the chapter but Kate felt this didn’t work well with her style given the emphasis on football descriptions and so we changed tact and Andy redrafted his story as a poem using the Iambic Tetrameter. If you’re wondering what one of those is, read on here. Personally, I was happier with this version simply because it is what Andy does best and it also enabled him to quote the Byron poem Prisoner of Chillon in the opening line. It also felt right to have a poem about a poet. And yes, I count Cloughie as a poet too. He was a hack’s wet dream with those wonderful quotes.
I went up to Kate’s home in North Yorkshire to film the ‘making of’ video. Her village has a stunning view of the surrounding landscape and so it’s easy to see why her work is full of fun and happy escapism. She has a couple of cats who strolled around the house letting it be known who was in charge and shares an upstairs room with her husband where they both work together. I found this dynamic intriguing as I couldn’t imagine writing in the same room as anyone, let alone my partner.
As part of the launch of this chapter we had a green jumper especially knitted for the Brian Clough statue in Market Square and arranged a reading flashmob that saw around 400 people sat peacefully reading around his statue.
- Sporting Hero – Brian Clough (gafferssportsblog.wordpress.com)
- Death in a Deplorable Room. Lord Byron is No More (teebylo.net)
- LayDeez Do Comics (laydeezdocomics.wordpress.com)
- Interview with Kate Ashwin (nerdgeist.com)
- Why you Should Read Widdershins (drying-ink.com)
- Interviews with Comic Book Pros (girlslikecomics-interviews.tumblr.com)
- 1948, Lowering the Tone: Andy Croft (fiveleavespublications.blogspot.co.uk)