Monday, 22 April 2019

Mysteries of the Deep

My latest science comic is out now. Mysteries of the Deep takes readers onboard the JOIDES Resolution, a scientific ocean drilling ship that uses core samples from the bottom of the ocean to explore everything from ancient climate change to tectonic activity in the Sea of Japan.

The comic is an exciting departure for my science work. Following years of comics set in the microbial world, this comic takes in the dramatic settings of both the Eocene Epoch and the floating laboratories of the JOIDES Resolution. It was a real joy to work on - with a mix of childhood-dream-come-true prehistoric imagery and fascinating, important science to explore.

The comic was accompanied by an exhibition which I designed, illustrated and co-wrote with my scientific collaborator Tom Dunkley Jones from Birmingham University.

The exhibition is running at Lapworth Museum, Birmingham from 11th March - 17th June 2019. You can download the comic and the exhibition panels for free here.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Looking Back at 2018

It's my last few hours at work before taking a break over Christmas and New Year and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the last 12 months. If I'm honest I'm not where I expected to be when I started the year.


Work on Gamish has progressed well but at a rate much slower than I ever expected. My self-imposed writing deadline came and went some time back in March and I was still miles off.

It wasn't until August that writing was finally complete, and even then it was a lie, with a bunch of rewrites to do to fix things that had been bothering me for months.

Still, it was a major milestone, and from there I got to work storyboarding the comic, working out thumbnail versions of each of the book's 164 pages. It was an exciting period of work, a nice change from the pace of writing and a chance to see how the decisions I'd made during the scripting process were paying off nicely now that the visuals were coming together.

By the start of November I was finally able to move on to pencilling the book. Again it's slow, but as of the end of the year I've drawn most of the first two chapters. There's still about three quarters of the book to go, but it's moving at a pace now that feels exciting. I'm really looking forward to sharing more over the coming months.

Elsewhere, things have been going well. There are some exciting science comic projects in the works, and I've already started to think ahead about the next couple of graphic novels I want to work on.

In January I was able to fulfil a longtime dream of mine and visit Angoulême in France with my publisher Éditions çà et là. It was an amazing time, intimidating and inspiring in equal measure to see the wealth of comics that the rest of Europe has to offer.

In September I self-published a comic for the first time in five years. B-Sides & Shorts is a collection of shorts including some recent poetry comics I've created in collaboration with poet Russell Jones.

I also created two short video games, which you can play here.

And throughout the year I've continued to visit schools across Scotland to give talks and workshops to young folk. It's always a nice change of pace, and very rewarding to see young illustrators working on their own comics.

So, onto 2019.

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.