Nottingham Does Comics – ‘Taking Comics Forward’
Nottingham is a UNESCO City of Literature and now it’s also home to an exciting gathering of comics professionals thanks to John ‘Brick’ Clark.
John ‘Brick’ Clark, the writer and artist for issue#2 of Dawn of the Unread has been in contact to inform us that a bunch of comics readers, creators, academics, retailers and possibly their dogs are about to launch our city’s version of the hugely successful London forum Laydeez-Do-Comics. Called Nottingham Does Comics, their brief is a little different and best typified by their by-line, ‘Taking Comics Forward’.
The inaugural meeting is scheduled for 26 April and will feature three fifteen-minute slots from a combination of speakers: an old hand, a newcomer to working professionally and a seasoned academic.
Brick said: “Nottingham Does Comics is a bi-monthly forum by and for anybody interested in reading, creating, publishing, selling or studying new work and new horizons in the comics medium. It is a platform where those curious about comics can explore and exchange ideas with established and aspiring practioners, where the mainstream meets the indies, and where embryonic projects will be supported to find their wings”
Nottingham has a thriving art community so it’s good to see an attempt to draw enthusiasts together. The proposed talks are as inclusive as possible and selected from an open callout. So please submit ideas for presentations. To give you an idea of possible topics, here’s some of the issues that have affected Dawn of the Unread: How to create an equal collaboration between an artist and writer; digital v pen and paper; funding – is kickstarter the way forward for publishing comics?; black and white or colour pages; the difficulties of being a freelancer; given the time it takes to create a page, what’s a fair wage for an artist? How can panel shapes and sizes enhance reading and meaning; what to do when an artist or writer suffers from lack of confidence? If there are a lot of submissions it will also help Brick to potentially theme sessions.
Brick is a fantastic ambassador for comics so I’m not surprised that he’s behind this. During the consultation process for Nottingham’s UNESCO accreditation he was constantly pushing for comics to be part of our bid and reminding that literature comes in many shapes and forms.
I chose the graphic novel format for Dawn of the Unread because it was the right medium for our target audience: reluctant readers. I had no prior knowledge of comics and basically learned as I went along. In some respects this was an advantage as I wasn’t influenced by other styles or approaches. I’m pretty sure that Dawn of the Unread is unique in the way that we’ve used embedded content on panels as a means of contextualising and furthering reading. Now I can go and hang out with professionals and find out.
At the end of each issue of Dawn of the Unread we included a ‘how to’ video so that artists could share their approaches and techniques to that particular issue. The aim of this was to show that artists are a varied bunch: some have been to university, others simply practice everyday when they get the chance. The hope was that it might inspire other people to try similar. I suspect that Nottingham Does Comics has similar principles and in addition to offering engaging conversations and guidance will develop into a meaningful support network.
Dawn of the Unread is a graphic novel celebrating Nottingham’s literary history. It was created to support libraries and bookshops. It began life online and won the Teaching Excellence Award at the Guardian Education Awards in 2015 and has since been published by Spokesman Books (2017). All profits go towards UNESCO Nottingham City of Literature.