Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Apples for Grandma

I've been working on a new poetry comic, based on a poem by Russell Jones. It's been a nice exercise, a little bookend between finishing writing on Gamish: A Graphic History of Gaming, and finishing the illustration of it.

This wee project gives me a chance to warm up for something bigger, getting me ready for what's going to be a year's worth of drawing at least.

An old woman leans forward under a blanket. Text reads: These apples are for grandma. Big eyes, long nose, sharp teeth.

I loved working on this poem. It's dark and evocative, but leaves loads of space for me to bring something new to the visuals. It's a subversive retelling, or countertelling maybe, of Little Red Riding hood. Although, it's also not. It's something else. And it's great.

This short comic will be part of an anthology of my short story comics from the last few years, making its debut at Thought Bubble Comic Arts Festival in Leeds.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Toxoplasmosis: Unlocking the Secrets of a Mysterious Parasite

Earlier this year, I had the great pleasure of working with Dr Jamie Hall and Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology on another comic about the parasites the centre studies.

Over the last few years we've been working on a series of short comics about their work. The first two, Malaria: The Battle Against a Microscopic Killer and Sleeping Sickness: The Fight Against a Nightmarish Disease covered two truly devastating diseases.

The latest entry focuses on a far more prevalent, but significantly less deadly disease: Toxoplasmosis. Thought to have infected up to a third of humans worldwide, Toxoplasmosis is thankfully fairly benign under normal circumstances. It's a hugely interesting disease, capable of altering the behaviour of the animals it infects.

You can read Toxoplasmosis: Unlocking the Secrets of a Mysterious Parasite in full here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Evil Dead - Drawing Timelapse

The original Evil dead is one of the most OTT, gloopy and wild horror movies ever made. It was great fun getting to feature it in Filmish: A Graphic Journey Through Film and I thought it would be nice to revisit one of the drawings I did based on the film to test out some new Uniball pens I got.

The Uniball Air I used for the outline is one of the better felt style pens I've used. Its rubber tip gives good line variation and a steady flow - a nice, reliable pen that suits my style. It's a fun one to draw with when I'm not in the mood to make a mess with dip pens.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Filmish at Edinburgh International Book Festival

On Saturday I was onstage at the Edinburgh International Book Festival for a reading and chat about my graphic novel Filmish. Joe Gordon from Forbidden Planet Blog was my interviewer, and the hall was pretty full, which was really nice to see.

Photo © Jer White
For the first time ever, I gave a reading of my work - quite an unlikely thing to do as a comic artist, given the visual nature of the medium, but it worked. Reading from the chapter on 'Sets and Architecture', a powerpoint of panels from the chapter offered a necessary visual element. Edinburgh itself decided to add to the mix, with fireworks adding an explosive backdrop to my discussion.

Joe and I spent the rest of the time speaking about where the idea for Filmish came from and how comics offer an interesting and at times challenging way to look at the cinema. Audience questions were very insightful, and I was asked to give my thoughts on both motion comics and VR - two very different media that are similar in their resistance to classification, and fascinating in their hybridity.

Photo © Joe Gordon via Flickr
The signing afterwards was great fun and I got to meet some really interesting people who had turned out for the talk. Sketching and signing takes time so hopefully no one was too bored by the wait!

A photo posted by Edward Ross (@filmishcomic) on

Friday, 27 May 2016

Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2016

Thanks to funding from Creative Scotland and with support from my publisher SelfMadeHero, this year I was able to attend one of the most exciting and prestigious comic festivals in the world - the Toronto Comic Arts Festival - presenting my graphic novel Filmish to their wonderful and diverse audience.

TCAF takes over the enormous Toronto Public Library every year to show off some of the greatest comic art on the planet to a huge and enthusiastic crowd of comic readers. There were 24,000 attendees in 2015 and word was it was even bigger this year. Set over three stories and spilling out into an additional venue, the quantity and quality of work on show was astonishing.

After a long flight out and then a quiet day of seeing Toronto in the rain, the festival began. My first stop was to give a talk about my work to an audience at the nearby Marriott hotel. My first piece of solo public speaking, I think it went well. My talk laid out the origins of Filmish as a piece of self-published work and its journey towards becoming a graphic novel, taking in some of my influences and favourite film theories along the way. The discussion afterwards was really interesting, bringing up some areas that would merit further investigation in the future. It was an honour to have been invited to talk as part of TCAF's official programme of events.

After the talk I made my way to the library, setting up at the SelfMadeHero table alongside fellow artists Barbara Yelin and Mike Medaglia. Over the next two days I spent the majority of my time at the table, giving me the wonderful opportunity to chat with customers and fellow artists.

It's truly special meeting people who have enjoyed your work, and lovely to hear that Filmish is inspiring people to watch new movies and think about film differently. In addition I had some very promising chats with a few individuals, and was able to make some connections and lay some preliminary groundwork for my next graphic novel.

After the festival was over, I stuck around in Toronto for a few days, basking in the warm afterglow that comes from attending an event of such concentrated creative talent. It's always inspiring to go to comic festivals, and this was no exception. The artistry on show was off the charts, with artists from across the world coming together in celebration of the comics medium. It makes you want to read more comics, make more comics, and up your game.

It was fortunate I had arranged to stick around, as well. Following on from a chat at TCAF, I was contacted by a producer from the Canadian TV channel Space, looking to do an interview with me about my work. Arriving at the studios I met with the producer Mark, who showed me some original artwork from Scott McCloud's 'Understanding Comics'. It was such a treat to see them, meticulously drawn and as inspiring as ever.

I then met the host of the show, the very kind and enthusiastic Morgan Hoffman. The resulting chat went really well - full of my trademark gesticulating, and covering everything from A Trip to the Moon to Die Hard. And it was another first for me, appearing on television! Watch the segment here.

Finally, some advice for people considering applying for TCAF in the future. I can absolutely recommend that comic artists aim to attend TCAF at some point in their career. It's a wonderful opportunity to present your work to a large North American audience and meet with your comics contemporaries. I don't think there's another show like it, and Toronto seems to be a city in love with comics where you'll have the potential to raise your work to a new level of visibility.

However, the costs of flights and accommodation would likely make it very difficult for a self-published creator in Europe to break-even without some sort of financial support. In addition, with a huge number of top creators on show, the competition for sales is high. I'd recommend anyone wanting to attend to have experience selling their work at smaller conventions before applying, and make sure they're taking their very best work there to sell. The benefits of attending are massive and well worth the effort if you can afford it.

Illustration by Barbara Yelin.
Again I'm hugely grateful to Creative Scotland and SelfMadeHero for making this trip a reality. It was a pleasure to be a guest of the festival, to give a talk about my work, meet readers and give an interview for Canadian TV. It was a wild week, and one I don't think I'll ever forget.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Filmhouse Pre-Order Exclusive for 'Filmish - A Graphic Journey Through Film'

Filmhouse Cinema 2008 © Peter E Ross
Filmish probably wouldn’t exist without the Edinburgh Filmhouse. Not long out of university and I was working part-time behind the box office counter in this, the city’s finest independent cinema and the home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. It was a dream job - a relaxed atmosphere, surrounded by film fans and creative people, and with free access to movies to boot.

I had set off to university with ambitions of making movies, but my time there had actually stoked more of a passion for thinking and writing about films than making them. By the time I was out and into the real world, comics began to grab my attention more seriously than I could have predicted. I’d actually always been a pretty avid drawer of comics, both in childhood and throughout secondary school. Now, between working and watching films, I tentatively began drawing comics again.

Showing bits and pieces around work, I caught the attention of Theresa the Filmhouse marketing manager at the time, who asked me if I’d like to do something with my comics for the Filmhouse members’ newsletter. It was out of this offer that I first conceived the idea for Filmish. Just a short, four page photocopied zine at first, the idea of writing a comic about fascinating elements of film theory and film history really appealed to me. I could do something with this… this could be something.

After that first taste, I began work on more, envisioning a self-published comic ready in time for Christmas 2009. Raiding my undergraduate essays for ideas I settled on two more themes, working them up over the next few weeks before cycling out to the Edinburgh College of Art to photocopy a hundred copies of that first issue on the cheap. Setting them down for sale on the Filmhouse box office counter for the first time, Filmish was born.

Filmish Issue 1
 Over the coming weeks sales began to grow, and before long I had to cycle back out to the ECA, profits from the first one hundred copies in hand to print another hundred. I began branching out, selling at comic shops, art galleries, and even the London BFI Filmstore. Over the next few years I worked on further issues, raising the bar a little each time, and gradually learning what Filmish was and what it could be. Issue 2 (Sets and Architecture) used the single issue to deal with one larger theme, while issue 3 (Technology and Technophobia) was an opportunity to improve my layouts and writing. And throughout all this, Filmhouse was there - my colleagues an indefatigable well of filmic knowledge able to fill in the gaps in my own viewing. This was the home of Filmish, the first place I’d go to when a new issue was hot off the press, and always the first place to sell a copy of each new issue.

But we all move on one day, and it’s somewhat fitting that the prospect of Filmish being published was what forced me to give up my shifts there. As SelfMadeHero signed me on and work began on the book in earnest, I finally gave up my last remaining shift at Filmhouse to focus on writing and drawing this enormous project.

Now that the book is close to release, it’s really nice to be able to reconnect with the Filmhouse and bring Filmish home again. In celebration of the Filmhouse’s crucial role in supporting Filmish, and to say thanks from me both to this Edinburgh institution and the many wonderful customers who took an interest in Filmish over the years, I have teamed up with Filmhouse to offer their customers the chance to pre-order signed copies of the book, which will come with an exclusive, limited edition Filmhouse bookplate with every copy. I’m really excited about this, and grateful to Filmhouse for still supporting me and my work after all these years.

Please visit the Filmhouse in person, go to their website or call the box-office on 0131 228 2688 to take advantage of this pre-order offer.