Tuesday, August 28, 2012

And now a word from our sponsors..... Page 45!

Hello art monkeys!

You will no doubt have noticed that for the past couple of shows our prize table has been positively groaning under the weight of the very generous donations from our newest sponsor, Page45. An institution in Nottingham's city centre, they are a Mecca for lovers of not only mainstream graphic novels, comics and manga but also independent and self published works and are a font of knowledge on all things related to comic books and comic book art.

Having recently won an award as Nottingham's best independent retailor (a truly well deserved accolade) they have also been given a monthly column in the Nottingham Post's Weekend supplement, in which to wax lyrical about whatever comic goodness they see fit. I hope you'll find a copy and give it a thorough going over!

We asked one of Page45's creators, Stephen L Holland, some probing, arty related questions......

1. What is the best thing about running a comic book shop?
You'd think it would be the comics, wouldn't you? Opening up boxes and pulling out presents as though every week were Christmas? Fishing out the latest instalments of personal favourites, exhuming a long-lost treasure now reprinted as a graphic novel or - most 'mazing of all - stumbling upon something completely new that blows our collective minds! That, let me tell you, is reward enough. Our eyes shine like marbles!
But it's not the best thing. The very bestest thing is sharing that joy with the customers which we call friends: celebrating diversity and introducing the most brilliant books to the readers who'll love them.
We've built a community out of mutual enthusiasm fostered down the pub after signings. It gives me so much glee to interact on the shop floor by providing extemporised show-and-tell recommendations. It's enormous fun, just ask! Much better than moping around and muttering, "You might find something over there".
Now Twitter has enhanced that whole community aspect exponentially. I cannot believe we have so many sympathisers already (we don't have followers, we have sympathisers: hierarchy is an anathema to me), but I should in all fairness confess that I'm a merchant of mischief and a complete liability to boot. Sorry.

Eddie Campbell with his readers after a signing session at Page45

2. Who is your favourite artist working in comic books/narrative storytelling?
Oh, I can't do that. But I can tell you that Terry Moore draws some of the most beautiful, sensuous women in the world - and I do mean women, not scrawny little models. I think your particular artists would relish those forms. RACHEL RISING currently has me on the edge of my seat and STRANGERS IN PARADISE was for a long time here so many women's first introduction to comics.
I can tell you that my favourite comic so far this year is ST. COLIN AND THE DRAGON by Philippa Rice who will be filling our window with wonder and wonkiness come this very September in time for October's GameCity! The craft there is crazy: she is right up there with Lizz Lunney for utter absurdity and I love them both to bits.
But my favourite creator of all time has to be Derby's own Nabiel Kanan whom I head-hunted to illustrate the Page 45 website. He did so with an unequalled empathy. He recreated from memory so much that is us, even down to the sticky-taped messages we leave ourselves and each other behind the counter! Alas, so much of Nabiel's work is now out of print, but don't give up hope. Tomorrow I will chase up more DROWNERS.

Nabiel Kanan - draft of Page45 website

3. Who do you think is the comic book world's best kept secret at the moment?
Luke Pearson. He's already huge on the continent and well respected in England, but only where he is sold. SOME PEOPLE is the best two sterling pounds you will ever spend in your life, while EVERYTHING WE MISS will make you think long and hard about your own daily life. And about your past: about everything that you miss... and every thing you missed.

4. What/who hangs on your walls at home?
Am I allowed to brag? I'm surely going to. Original pages of comicbook art given to me with ridiculous generosity by Bryan Talbot, Eddie Campbell, Marc Laming, Jeffrey Brown, Bryan Lee O'Malley, and a wittily constructed portrait by DRAGONSLIPPERS' Rosalind Penfold. I have signed prints by Hope Larson, Bernie Wrightson's utterly Byronic FRANKENSTEIN, and an original page of CEREBUS by Dave Sim.
I've also a much treasured, signed and limited edition print which was sent to me by Molly Crabapple (your patron, I believe) in compensation for not living in London. Basically, Molly was in the UK, loved our review of A WEEK IN HELL, and so wanted to sign here. Alas, she hadn't realised how far from London we were, and so couldn't make it. I got very excited, then wept.

Outside the sphere of comics it's 23 Envelope's Vaughan Oliver, the great Huw Feather, Arthur Rackham, lots of Dave McKean and a massive recreation of my favourite-ever work of art, one of Caravaggio's 'David With The Head Of Goliath's.

Best of all, though, are two exceptional pieces by our very own Mark Simpson, given to me on my birthdays. Both feature me as the drunken demi-god Pan, cavorting 'cross town to The Birthday Party's 'Release The Bats', or with three cigarettes lit between my lips and adorned with "Don't question me, sweetie!" Seriously: don't question me, sweetie. More realistically: I really am a baboon.

5. If you could own any piece of art by any artist what would it be?
Haha! I already do own it. It's the original to this, a portrait of Mark Simpson, co-creator of Page 45, by Nabiel Kanan. My best friend drawn to perfection by my favourite comicbook artist? Doesn't get better than that!

Nabiel Kanan - draft of Page45 website

6. Do you create your own artwork/comic?
I used to. The shame of letting it lie!
My first job ever was as the in-house artist for a company called Ralawise, and for many years afterwards I continued freelance under the name of Pan. That's something I have never revealed before in public. Never!
All those Pan prints that went on sale during Page 45's early years...? That was me. But I wanted real purchases, not sympathy purchases, so I kept it to myself. Their reception was ridiculously rewarding, and we may re-release those eventually for we have a few copies left. I may eventually get around to the graphic novel too, but I wouldn't hold your collective breath.
In all honesty, though, I have always preferred free-form sketching either from life or from my head. I love that immediacy. But my paintings... they're a bit colour-by-numbers, aren't they? Sorry!

"Joie de Vivre 1" by Pan. The original painting

7. What advice would you give to any aspiring comic artists out there?
Draw, draw, draw, draw, draw!
Everyone can draw. Everyone can and should draw!
Sketch like crazy! It's so much fun and creativity is cool! The only way to improve is to practise, and you're infinitely better than you think.
Go to Dr. Sketchy's, the Not Up Its Arse Art Class, and enjoy the dazzling diversity of the life models they celebrate. You could not be in more loving company. Cliques for them are like hierarchy to me - utterly monstrous! Instead you will be embraced, cherished and very well looked after.
As to comics in particular, you really do need to study sequential art where you learn how to tell a story in stages. There are some brilliant books like Scott McCloud's MAKING COMICS, Will Eisner's series and for the more ambitious there is Jessica Abel and Matt Madden's DRAWING WORDS AND WRITING PICTURES.
On the other hand, some comicbook creators are entirely self-taught through reading the comics themselves and working out how it's being done: deconstructing then reconstructing. Our own Jamie McKelvie's amongst them, and he totally triumphed with PHONOGRAM: THE SINGLES CLUB, which is the same several hours down one single nightclub as seen through several different perspectives. It's about music as magic. Which it is.

8. What big plans are in the pipeline for Page 45?
Oh, you don't get all the goss. I'm going to bed.
But I did give a big clue or two above.

Also: have you read this blog? Page 45 done won an award, and the benefits are only beginning! ;)

Thanks Stephen!  Remember our next show is on Saturday 13th October and will be hot, hot, HOT. Starring fire performances from Vivid Angel and Fifi Fatale, plus modelling from Mimi Libertine and all the usual competitions, prizes and more! Have a peek at our website for full info and to buy tickets. See you there!

Scarlett & Charlotte

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What is Dr Sketchy?

Dr Sketchy's Anti Art School. Where Cabaret meets Life Drawing! With over 100 branches worldwide this is the blog for the Nottingham UK branch.