#MondayBlogs Peterloo: the graphic novel


For many of us working on comics, crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter have become absolutely vital in ensuring that varied and innovative work reaches new audiences. One of the biggest Kickstarter success stories of all time was Roy Greenhilt’s The Order of the Stick Reprint Drive which aimed for pledges of $57,750 to publish out of print comics but ended up receiving a staggering £1,254,120. The reason it was so successful was due to a simple formula: People pledged money because they wanted to own a physical copy of a comic that was now out of print. Instead of paying a shop, they paid the artist directly. This is a formula which has enabled Kate Ashwin and Amanda Tribble, two of the artists in Dawn of the Unread, to put food on the plate and develop their respective careers.

One kickstarter campaign that we’re currently very excited about is Peterloo – a graphic novel. So we got in contact with Paul Fitzgerald, Eva Sclunke and Robert Poole who have kindly outlined the project in this guest blog.   

4. Peterloo Carlile (detail)

The authors have used original paintings and historical documents to help create an authentic and factually accurate narrative for the project.

The ‘Peterloo Massacre’ of 16 August 1819 was a landmark event in the development of British democracy. A peaceful rally of some 60,000 pro-democracy reformers on St Peter’s Field, Manchester, was attacked by armed cavalry, causing 15 deaths and over 650 injuries. ‘Peterloo’ (an ironic reference to Waterloo four years earlier) became a national cause célèbre, and features in every history of the period as well as many books novels, films and TV and radio programmes. It was the bloodiest English political event of the nineteenth century, and the best-documented crowd event of the age. It pioneered modern peaceful mass democratic protest, and opened the way for the extension of the vote over the next century.

The Peterloo bicentenary in 2019 will be a major public event. There will be a Mike Leigh feature film, a permanent memorial in Manchester, the Manchester Histories Festival, the Manchester International festival, and community-led commemorations of all kinds. And, if the right support gets in place, there will be a graphic novel – one with a difference. Every word, and every event, in the narrative will be taken directly from an original historical source. The artists, Paul Fitzgerald (‘Polyp’ is his signature) and Eva Schlunke, are working with a historian, Robert Poole, in an unusual collaboration.

Robert Poole. ‘There are hundreds of press reports and eye-witness accounts. The reason we can do this is because of the incredibly rich source material. The local magistrates and the Home Office were writing to each other nearly every day for months, exchanging information, spies reports, leaflets, posters, evidence for trials, the lot. You couldn’t make it up – and you don’t need to.’

Paul Fitzgerald. ‘I’m challenged as we’re only using the words of those who were there. Graphic novels should be about images, not clunky, expositional dialogue.  It also allows us to juxtapose the ‘fake news’ accounts of the establishment with the words of the victims who know what they saw that day. We want to create a richly, evocative kind of sound cloud that brings alive these voices from the past in a way that we don’t think has been done in the graphic novel format before.’

Hone HTJB People

Eva Sclunke. ‘Crowdfunding this project feels like we’re picking up the baton of the public subscription efforts people made in the decades after 1819, to expose the truth of what happened. Hundreds of people chipped in to let the victims have their day on court, and to create the Free Trade Hall at the site of the attack. We hope to do the same, and create a popular, authoritative and accessible resource for the future with the next generation in mind as well as the past.’

You can support their Kickstarter campaign here. Pledges vary from £1 – £400. The team need to raise just over £2,500 in the next 18 days to achieve their goal of £10,000. We’ve pledged £25 because this is a tragic story that everybody needs to know about and because we get a copy of the graphic novel when it’s produced.

DOTU Round logoDawn 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.


#KickLeftLion: The importance of local magazines


In the noughties people from Nottingham were so poor that they used to eat each other. Sometimes they did this for fun. There was at least one hundred shooting per day, everyone was permanently hammered, and the average IQ was 11 (pushed up thanks to folk from West Bridgford). Of course none of this is true but it felt like it was due to negative headlines in the media. At one point we were ‘Shottingham’, on account of some sporadic shootings, as well as binge capital of Britain (labels we addressed in our first issue)

Sex and violence.

It all happened here.

Yeah, right.

Three men from Nottingham were irritated by these negative stereotypes and so set up LeftLion, an arts and culture listing magazine that is somewhere between Time Out and Viz. For nearly ten years now I’ve sweated my guts out for this bi-monthly rag and never been paid a penny. I’ve done it because you have to shape the kind of city you want to live in. If other publications aren’t doing their job, do it for them. Get meh?

I mention this because LeftLion is now threatening to go monthly if successful with a Kickstarter campaign started on 16 August. If we raise our goal of £10,000 then that means I will have to give up even more of my free time. The money raised will pay for the extra editions and to help widen our distribution. LeftLion is completely funded through advertising and has never received any form of grant or funding. So it’s about time we asked you lot to dip your hands into your pockets.

RW2As the Literature Editor I have organised spoken word events such as Scribal Gathering, bringing the likes of Chester P to Nottingham, literature podcasts, mini festivals such as The Canning Circus Festival , taken the piss out of Damien Hirst at the British Art Show at the ‘Tempreh, as well as created and developed the WriteLion brand, which at present dedicates two pages to poetry and literature. We have our own literary cartoon in Readers’ Wives (see above) and after discovering that Katie Price outsold the Booker Shortlist created Katie Half-Price reviews. But our primary aim is to support and promote local events at every opportunity. For example, we feature reviews of the entire shortlist for the East Midlands Book Award as well as interviews with the featured authors. Who else does this locally? With a readership of around 40,000 we easily offer more exposure to books and poetry than specialist publications.

Three of our featured artists in Dawn of the Unread have illustrated articles in LeftLion in the past: Judit Ferencz who helped create our current comic Psychos; Rikki Marr, who is working with former LeftLion editor Al Needham on our Bendigo chapter; and Steve Larder, who will be working with Alan Gibbons on our Geoffrey Trease comic.

All of our commissioned writers (except Kevin Jackson) have either written for LeftLion or had their work reviewed in it at some stage. I met our script editor Adrian Reynolds after interviewing him in the mag, and Aly Stoneman, who writes about Ms. Hood, is the LeftLion Poetry Editor. LeftLion are also a partner with Dawn of the Unread, and have lobbed over a bit of cash as well as offering discounted advertising, support through social media and just stuff.  So you can see why I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s blog to their (our) Kickstarter campaign.

Dawn of the Unread is a celebration of local literary history. It strives to support libraries and independent bookshops and any other organisation which helps promote reading. LeftLion is integral to this process and one of the few magazines actively dedicated to reviewing at least one self-published book, pamphlet or DIY zine per issue. They are integral to Nottingham’s current bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature as they demonstrate our thriving grassroots literary scene. It was LeftLion that started the ‘there is a lighthouse and it never goes out’ campaign, asking people to post pictures of themselves reading Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse to help support her Booker nomination.

But be under no illusion that the Kickstarter needs to be successful because it sends out the message that Nottingham demands quality, irreverent publications. If you like culture and chelp support it now. If you don’t know what chelp is, read LeftLion. And if you want the rest of the planet to think we eat our babies and have an IQ of 11, do nothing at all. VISIT THE KICKSTARTER PAGE HERE

Dawn of the Unread would like to thank two of commissioned authors, Nicola Monaghan and Alison Moore, who have kindly donated lots of signed copies of their books to be given away as prizes in the Kickstarter campaign. I’d like to thank their publishers Salt and Vintage too. Nicola also appears in our Kickstarter promotional video.