I’ve been lucky enough to have been asked to write not one, but two introductions for comics projects in recent months, and although I wrote them some time apart, they both turned up in my mailbox this week, just a day apart.
The first of these to show up was for the Kickstarter project Here and There, a full colour psychological horror graphic novel by Chris Sides and Adam Jakes (with Aljosa Tomic and Ken Reynolds). I’ve known Adam for many years, as he was always kind enough to send me copies of his self-published comics Floid and Whatever in the mid-late 1990s and it has been great to see his tremendous development over the years.
It’s an excellent example of British indie comics at their best, and it comes with my highest recommendation. You can purchase the book (or a deluxe package with prints and art book) on Chris’ website here:
The second introduction I was asked to write was Under Ice by comics newcomer Claire O’Brien, a 20-page comic adaptation of the Kate Bush song, originally created for the online art challenge Inktober. Claire was kind enough to include a beautiful sketch in the limited edition she sent to me.
If you’re into comics and Kate Bush, then this is a no-brainer. You can order the signed regular copy, or the sketched limited edition on her website here:
Sunday, 17 March 2019
Thursday, 20 December 2018
|Artwork (c)2018 Gary Spencer Millidge|
I have excuses, mainly revolving around relatively trivial but persistent heath issues, necessitating some rather severe dietary restrictions and ultimately resulting in some pain, low energy and lack of motivation. Having my gallbladder surgically removed by the wonders of keyhole surgery in November has certainly helped and I'm progressively getting back to something approximating my former self. My parallel career as a graphic designer also proved massively distracting, especially the whole teacup storm of GDPR which meant an overhaul of numerous websites that I'm nominally in charge of.
These things have inevitably affected the rate of production on Strangehaven (although I'm happy to report that I'm currently back at the rock face), and as regular Meanwhile... readers already know, my good pal Frazer Irving stepped in to take the pressure off by contributing his own outlandish take on Strangehaven in issue 9.
As for other notable occurrences this past year, know that I contributed a full colour six-page strip to Image's fabulous Where We Live benefit book which was published in late May, and is still available from all good comic shops and booksellers.
In October I made my only two professional appearances of the year. Firstly giving a two-hour talk at the local art group Metal's culture lab's Inkhead event and secondly taking the train up to Cumbria for this year's very wet but enjoyable Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
I also somehow managed to continue my daily morning walks around Leigh-on-Sea and continued to post a single image every day on my Instagram account, but sadly my year-long project fell a day short of a whole twelve months because of my gallbladder operation on day #364.
My annual seasonal illustration this year shouldn't really need any explanation (but here it comes anyway)...Alistair Sim's incomparable performance in 1951's Scrooge, the first and best film adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol. Essential viewing at this time of year, of course.
As we go rushing into another year of Trump and Brexit, let's all hope for a Scrooge-like Damascene conversion in the people in power on both sides of the Atlantic. And remember that things don't always turn out as good as we might hope, but they are rarely as bad as we fear.
As always, thank you for your patient, continued support, it’s greatly appreciated.
Wishing you a very happy holiday, and good health and success in 2019.
Peace and Love,
--Gary Spencer Millidge
Saturday, 20 October 2018
|Storm Callum in Kendal. Photo ©2018 Mark Stafford.|
It was a soggy start, to say the least. Arriving on the Friday evening after a five hour train journey, just as the heavens opened and the wind started to blow. Storm Callum was a deluge of biblical proportions which unfolded over the next thirty-six hours or so and led to roads flooding and serious concern from some locals that the River Kent might burst its banks again, as it did less than three years ago, causing extensive damage.
Popular wisdom suggesting that getting a taxi from Oxenholme station would be a more efficient solution compared to continuing directly to Kendal proved unfounded, as everyone else had the same idea. There were no taxis to be had for almost an hour from the station, and rail travel was suspended for a while.
|Tim and John shake on it.|
Possibly the most memorable part of the weekend (apart from the rain) was to finally meet Canadian superstar cartoonist and designer Seth at the bar in the Brewery Arts Centre. This was quite possibly the only event we’ve both attended at the same time, although his business card looks very familiar.
It was also the first time I’d met the much lesser-known and definitely non-Canadian Martin Simpson (aka “Simo”) and his wife Tish, but Martin’s time will come. I’ve been a huge fan of his since pledging to his Kickstarter anthology Misc, to which he's added his Meanwhile… serialised Needleman collection and some spectacular prints.
The rain continued to fall throughout Saturday, and understandably, this put a literal damper on things. Once everyone’s footwear has dried out though, people really started to enjoy the festival. This was my first trip to LICAF since 2014, and the event has matured a great deal and embedded itself into the community, with a huge Comic Art Trail in the form of dozens of window displays throughout the town.
|ILYA's fun family workshop in the Westmorland Shopping Centre.|
As always, old relationships were renewed and new friends made. Among those whose paths I crossed were the pop culture hound himself, Chris Thompson, always smiling Doug Braithwaite, found Room to Love ILYA, Tripwire’s Joel Meadows, and festival organiser, the great Dane, Árni Beck Gunnarsson. I haven’t seen Árni for about fifteen years, and whose non-regional-specific accent remains uncannily English, yet even moreso.
I caught up with another blast from the past in the form of Littlehampton design guru Brad Brooks, and Flix Gillett (promoting his new Mockingbird collection) with whom I once sat on a panel at the Comic Creators’ Guild Small Press Show, held in a London pub called The Cartoon Page way back in 1996!
It was also good to meet another creator new to me, Emmeline Pidgen and and her imminent fiancee, write, musician Andrew Jolly. I found fellow Meanwhile… cronies David Hine and Mark Stafford ensconced on the Self Made Hero table promoting their gorgeous new book Lip Hook, and browsed the mouth-watering, jaw-dropping selection of graphic novels brought to the festival by Page 45’s Stephen Holland. Stephen and I reminisced a bit, particularly about the dear departed Terry Wiley and his erstwhile cohort, the thankfully still alive, Dave McKinnon.
Then there was the always effervescent Jessica Martin, the somehow increasingly comprehensible Jim Stewart and Ben Dickson showing off his monumental New Jerusalem. Great to see David Hitchcock, table-less and floating free around the convention with his gorgeous Signalman book, hardy Lakes perennial Sean Phillips (visiting with his son Jacob, a real chip off the old block) and the esteemed Doctors Bryan and Mary Talbot. Shackled to the table for most of the weekend, I managed to sneak away on Saturday lunchtime to see Bryan and Mary’s presentation of their upcoming graphic novel, the rather appropriately named Rain.
Saturday evening’s New Talent presentation at the Brewery Arts Centre boasted presentations by Jenny Robbins (Biscuits), Sabba Khan (Pluralism) and comics’ most handsome man Owen Michael Johnson (Reel Love). They were followed by Tim Pilcher announcing a new initiative, Breakthrough, aiming to give disenfranchised voices a chance at developing a career in comics.
|The secret speakeasy|
The rain finally dried up on Sunday, and the sun even peeked out in the late afternoon, transforming Kendal into a different place. I congratulated the Sergio-Award-winning Hunt Emerson, did a little bit of business with Tony Bennett of Knockabout Comics, and caught up with his glamorous assistant Nora Goldberg-Fourrel De Frettes.
Winner of the Best Worst-Kept Secret Award went to the super not very secret speakeasy on [redacted] Street, to where the select few of nearly everybody gradually found their way sooner or later. Hidden bell-rings, spectacular cocktails, charming bar staff, table service and free snacks contributed to an unrivalled retro-ambiance. Here I was finally introduced to the very dapper Englishman in San Diego (in Kendal) Leonard Sultana, another fellow mojito fan.
|Waiting for the train. Photo ©2018 Tim Pilcher.|
It was a very civilised end to a chaotic but hugely enjoyable weekend, and I must acknowledge all the hard work put in by Julie Tait, Carole Tait and all the red shirt volunteers for another supremely well organised festival.
More photos on my Instagram feed here.
Thursday, 11 October 2018
|Sketchbook illustration of me holding court by Priya Kuriyan ©2018 Priya Kuriyan|
Chalkwell Hall is a beautiful Grade II listed Georgian building, renovated by Metal, set in the picturesque Chalkwell Park, about twenty minutes walk from where I live. I could hardly turn down an offer to contribute to a comics event so close to home, only somewhat daunted by being asked by Metal to speak for two hours, “about [my] life in comics.”
|Photos: ©2018 Metal|
A plastic folder containing ten pages of notes I had prepared for myself didn’t get opened, as I managed to ramble on regardless, and somehow my unrehearsed presentation concluded with one minute to spare. I then spent some further time answering some astute questions from the well-mannered, warm and receptive audience.
I was invited to hang around for some pea and leek soup, eaten on the terrace overlooking the rose garden in warm autumn sunshine, which gave me the chance to mingle with the LAB’s hugely talented constituent parts; Alexandre Szolnoky (Buddha Boy), Amy Ison (stepping from fine art to comics), Clio Isadora Delcour-Min and her amazing-looking Risographed zines, Carl Doherty of the Shelf Abuse blog, Daniel Locke, (Out of Nothing), freelance illustrator Dominique Duong (The Black Cloud), Emma Burleigh (My Other Mother, My Other Self), Priya Kuriyan (Ebony & Ivory), Ros Asquith (Guardian cartoonist working on a spectacular new book), autobiographer and fellow comic festival veteran Sean Azzopardi (Voice of the Hall) and Wallis Eates (Fear of Mum...Death and the Shadow Men).
The day also gave me the opportunity to finally meet bestselling local horror author Syd Moore (The Drowning Pool), as well as catching up with the other marvellous Metalheads who made the whole thing happen; writer Colette Bailey, designer Camilla Fox and painter Simon Monk.
|Left: Kokaachi talk [Photo: ©2018 Metal] / Right: Sketchbook illustration ©2018 Priya Kuriyan|
Then the main event of the day took place, local hero Warren Ellis’ Q&A session, where Warren did what Warren does and everyone gasped and laughed and listened in respectful awe in all the right places.
Little known comics factoid: Warren and I grew up in the same local village of Thundersley, albeit a decade apart.
|The Thundersley Thames Delta Comics Massive Reunion. Photo: Syd Moore ©2018 Metal|
|Left: Carl Doherty's three minute wonder. / Right: Drinking and drawing. Photos: ©2018 Gary Spencer Millidge|
Friday, 31 August 2018
The somewhat overdue issue #9 of Meanwhile... has finally been scheduled for release, and will be available in comic shops worldwide this November.
Meanwhile…#9 features part two of the stunning Needleman by Martin ‘Simo’ Simpson, Sarah Gordon's The Collector, the penultimate episode of Mark Stafford and David Hine’s The Bad Bad Place and a second episode of Ginny Skinner's Gail Key's Psychic Lost Item Helpline.
But, Strangehaven: Destiny episode 9 won’t be in the issue. Due to some minor but disruptive health troubles leading to some lifestyle changes, a heavier workload for my freelance design (much of it due to GDPR), involvement with the Where We Live project and other factors, I’ve taken an enforced break from drawing for much of this year.
In its place will be a very special guest Strangehaven story, written and drawn by none other than my fellow bass-playing, Mojito-drinking, Essex native, Frazer Irving. It’s called "Atlantis,"and it looks a bit like this:
@frazerirving and check out his book Playful Inversions on Unbound.
You can pre-order copies of Meanwhile…#9 directly from the publisher Soaring Penguin Press right here. The official listing in the Diamond Previews catalogue is here.
Strangehaven: Destiny episode 9 will return in Meanwhile…#10 early in the new year.
Thursday, 23 August 2018
Guests include Benoit Peeters, Bryan and Mary Talbot, Charlie Adlard, Frank Quitely, Sean Phillips, Canadian superstar Seth and fellow Meanwhile… stalwarts Martin ‘Simo’ Simpson, David Hine and Mark Stafford.
The festival runs October 12-14. You’ll find me at various times at the Soaring Penguin Press table in the Clock Tower to sign your copies of Strangehaven, Meanwhile... and anything else you might have to hand.
This will be my one and only appearance this year.
Read more about the festival on the LICAF website.
Wednesday, 15 August 2018
|Illustration: Tim Pilcher by Andrew Richmond|
Way back in either 1993 or 1994, Tim was one of the first editors that I showed my Strangehaven ashcan (a pre-publication photocopied preview of part of the first issue) while he was working for the London office of Vertigo Comics. If my memory serves, it was at the Comic Creators’ Guild’s annual pre-UKCAC portfolio review, upstairs at the historic Sketch Club.
Much later, while at Ilex Press, Tim was the commissioning editor of my books Comic Book Design and Alan Moore: Storyteller, and more recently he was the UK liaison for Humanoids.
So I know it’ll fun and productive working with him, alongside SPP founder John Anderson, who’s moving back to Canada to open a North American office for the company, leaving Tim in charge of this side of the transatlantic operation.
You can read more here: Tim Pilcher joins Soaring Penguin
Saturday, 4 August 2018
|The Bull, Hockley after the fire. Photo: Essex Live News|
Fire causes severe damage to the Bull Inn, Hockley
Update: 6 September 2018After just a month, progress is already being made in rebuilding the structure:
The Bull fire in Hockley: New photos
Update: 6 September 2018After just a month, progress is already being made in rebuilding the structure:
The Bull fire in Hockley: New photos
Saturday, 24 March 2018
Friday, 22 December 2017
...an angel gets his wings
I can hardly believe it, but even though those hot summer days seem only like a few weeks past, It’s already time for my end-of-year annual update.
For my now-traditional seasonal illustration, I’ve done something a little different this year, paying homage to my favourite Christmas film (and actually one of my favourite films, full stop), Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. It would be a cool tribute to draw a scene from the film, and, or so I thought, would save me some valuable time. But as is always the case when I start working on something, things got a bit grandiose and unnecessarily complex pretty quickly. Maybe if people appear to like it, I may go full Mondo and make an art print available for next Christmas (assuming my online shop is actually up-and-running by then), even though Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed probably don’t have the same selling power as Star Wars these days.
It has been an exciting year for me, and I’ve been as busy as I’ve ever been with both comic-related projects (mainly Strangehaven, of course) and in my parallel career as a designer, despite some disruptive albeit minor health issues. Helping my brother David with the first London gallery solo exhibition of his ceramic sculptures was a highlight. Go take a look: davidmillidge.com
The final volume of Strangehaven continues to be serialised in the British anthology Meanwhile..., and three issues of the new squarebound format volumes were published this year. You can get a good deal on all the issues at the Soaring Penguin Press website here: soaringpenguinpress.com
In an effort to to avoid keeling over my desk just yet, I am attempting to ensure at least some kind of regular exercise by starting each day with an hour or so’s walk around the local environs of Leigh-on-sea. To give myself a bit of creative incentive, I’m taking snaps with my iPhone as I saunter along and selecting one photo to post on my Instagram account from that day’s stroll. My Instagram account is here: instagram.com/gsmillidge
The newest issue of Meanwhile…should be reaching comic stores and subscribers’ letterboxes early in the new year. Number eight contains the latest episode of Strangehaven of course, in which those cuddly Knights of the Golden Light return, a fragment of which you can see below.
It’s a fab issue which also includes The Needleman, the first of a two-parter by the astonishingly good Martin Simpson, a new short by Darryl Cunningham and the usual continuing features by David Hines, Mark Stafford, Sarah Gordon and Ginny Skinner.
As always, thank you for your continued support, it’s greatly appreciated.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful 2018.
Peace and Love,
--Gary Spencer Millidge.