Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Tamsin and the DEALS DEALS DEALS

The second volume of Kate Brown and I's Tamsin series, Tamsin and the Dark begins soon in The Phoenix, and they are running a couple of pretty great offers to mark the occasion!

Firstly, they've got a special Tamsin Subscription Deal! If you take out a 6-month subscription now, you'll be on board in time for first episode, and you'll then get to enjoy every single installment as the story plays out over the following 21 weeks. I think this is great, because a huge part of what we try to do with Tamsin is that kind of immersive, cliffhanger-fueled, what-on-Earth-is-going-to-happen-next storytelling that I think is one of the most exciting and unique possibilities offered by the weekly comics format, and particularly for young readers. So jump on now, don't miss a single episode, and to sweeten the deal they'll even throw in a copy of Book 1, Tamsin and the Deep - signed by Kate and me, and everything - to make sure you're fully up to speed on Tamsin and her world.

(Oh, and you also get six months of AMAZING COMICS in the entire rest of the Phoenix, too?) 

Note, this offer only runs THIS WEEK, so that people will be subscribed in time for the story's beginning. Sign up now and get on (magical flying boogie) board!

If you're already a subscriber, they're ALSO offering 20% OFF the Tamsin and the Deep book, all this month! Which is also a pretty great deal.

All in all, that should be just about all the creepy exciting all-ages Cornish folklore spookiness your mind can handle.

Until Book Three, anyway.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Tamsin and the Deep

My new book with Kate Brown, Tamsin and the Deep, came out a couple of weeks ago from David Fickling Books. It's a collection of the strip of the same name which appeared in The Phoenix, a 96-page graphic novel in four chapters in which we meet the 10-year-old Tamsin Thomas and see the quite extraordinarily strange direction her life takes after one ill-fated trip to the beach.

It's a story that grew over several years of spending time down in Cornwall, visiting family, and becoming slowly more and more obsessed by the fantastically strange folklore that abounds in the place. I was beyond delighted that Kate was up for drawing it, and she's done such an amazing job with it, bringing so much character and life and wonder and, fine, I'll say it, magic to the story.

People always ask about the target audience / age range for these things - in this case I'd say it's principally aimed at kids about 7-12. I'd be wary of going much younger because there some scary and upsetting things that happen. But on the other hand one reviewer said that their 4-year-old loved it and got to the end and immediately wanted to read it again, so what do I know? Your mileage may vary, and (hopefully) you know your own child best.

Anyway, I hope you'll check it out; it's my best attempt, basically, at making the kind of comic I'm always saying we need more of. Available from all good bookshops, or get it direct form the Phoenix store! 

Kate's already nearing completion on the sequel, Tamsin and the Dark, and that one... man. That one's just nuts. Starting in the Phoenix soon!

While I'm here, I thought I'd share some (more) amazing pictures. As I mentioned, the basic idea for Tamsin and the Deep was inspired directly by reading up on lots of Cornish folk tales, but the form the story took was really crystallised in my head after going to see an exhibition called Aquatopia (if I recall correctly) at the Tate in St Ives a few years back - a collection of all kinds of pieces from all over the world, with the general theme of 'the Imaginary Underwater'. It was full of diverse and amazing wonders, from Kuneyoshi to Gustav Dore to Turner, and was honestly one of the most inspiring and exciting things I've ever seen in a gallery. Anyway, I tried to find as many of the works as I could online, and some other stuff along similar lines and put them together in a kind of 'mood / inspiration board' on Pinterest to share with Kate.

I've now set it to public, so please feel free to go and have a look and see all the weird spooky mind-blowing masterpieces your mind can handle. (Please note, a couple of the images might be considered NSFW / not for kids. I'm thinking mainly here of Hokusai's Octopus. Go check it out, you'll see what I mean.)  

Thank you for your attention! I hope you enjoy meeting Tamsin.

Friday, 26 February 2016

How To Make (Basically Legible) Comics

As I occasionally bang on about here on the blog, I firmly believe that kids are great at making comics that other children will enjoy reading. However, when you're working with young creators there are occasionally some Basic Legibility Issues that can get in the way. So I put together the following Top Tips for Basic Legibility: 

Those are the biggies! Here are a few supplemental ones to do with words and balloons and such:

(I think this one makes the point it's making too well, in that it is confusing.)

And finally:

Please feel free to share with any young cartoonists of your acquaintance! And also please feel free to totally ignore and/or break all these rules because RULES ARE TOTALLY BORING, RIGHT?

Monday, 21 December 2015

Merry Mega Robo Christmas

Merry Christmas, all! I've been a bit too beleaguered with things to do any of my usual festive shenanigans this year, but to attempt to atone for it, those nice people at the Phoenix posted last year's Mega Robo Bros Christmas Special for your reading pleasure. Enjoy, and have a marvellous holiday season, and I'll see you in the new year for SO MUCH AWESOME NEW MEGA ROBO BROS YOU CAN'T EVEN BELIEVE IT.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Mega Robo Return

Look who's back in this week's Phoenix Comic! It's only Alex and Freddy, those Mega Robo Bros themselves, back from their summer holidays. We've got a short run of 2-pagers (which, for what it's worth, includes several of my favourite episodes of anything I've ever drawn) and then a big new Epic Action Saga is kicking off soon! 
The Phoenix is available by subscription, or from any of these fine vendors.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Dinosaurs, Vampires and Robots at Oxford Central Library

Hands up if you want to make awesome comics.

Regular readers of this blog will know I do a lot of comics workshops at schools, libraries, literary festivals and such, all over the place really. However, I almost never manage to get any pictures from such events, due to the fact that I always have my hands full of Sharpies and anyway am generally a bit busy drawing giant mutant Cornish pasties, or whatever it may be that day. Anyway, I recently did a session at Oxford Central Library, to help launch the Summer Reading Challenge there, and to celebrate The Pirates of Pangaea's inclusion in said scheme. A great fun time was had, and some of the library's marvellous staff managed to snap a few pics, so I thought I'd share them here!

Who wants to learn to draw T-Rexes?

That is me demonstrating Tyrannosaur's underdeveloped arms? I think?
Teaching important lessons to the youth.

Dinosaurs were drawn, records broken, and a good time had by all. (I hope?) Many thanks to Joanna Morris and all at the library for having me, and for passing on these photos!

Lots more events upcoming! Next weekend I'll be at Camp Bestival for three solid days of comics workshops with Gary Northfield and the Phoenix comic gang. And tomorrow I'll be spending the day in the Illustrator Zoo at the Story Museum, drawing comics while members of the public come along and watch the process and ask questions and possibly join in? Come along, it should be fun! And keep an eye on my Upcoming Events page for more! 

Friday, 17 July 2015

InstaComics, everyone!

Summer holidays start today! For families across the land the appalling prospect looms of suddenly having a house filled with children alternately complaining that they don't know what to do, or making you feel guilty by staring at minecraft-filled screens for long, endless hours. What CAN they do? What is a fun, creative activity to keep them occupied, or at least when it's too rainy to go out and kick rocks up and down the street?

Why COMICS of course!

(You probably knew I was going to say that.)

Anyway, I've been meaning to blog these for a while - a fun comics-making activity that everyone can try! For one session of my Saturday Morning Comics Club at the Story Museum I thought we'd try mixing things up a bit and making some photo comics using whatever toys and props I had available. I've been alternately calling these 'InstaComics' or 'Semi-Fumetti', the latter being more fun to say. They're pretty simple to make, and are kind of a halfway house between comics and stop-motion animation, the process being:

It's that simple! And if you then quickly upload the pictures to twitter, or as a tumblr photoset or such, you get a really nice instant-completion sense, of making something and putting it out into the real world within minutes. Instant webcomics!
So simple that a child could do it, and indeed they have. Here are some results from my excellent and most talented pupils at comics club; first an amazing multidimensional experiment by Ruari...

No lego? No problem! Here's an excellent effort by Eliza, using a CORK instead.

And one by Hector which is possibly my favourite LUKE CAGE: POWER MAN comic of all time:

...and you can find lots more examples on the @ComicsClubSM twitter feed! I mean, seriously, lots.

I found it a really fascinating exercise, which both levelled the playing field in terms of drawing ability and also encouraged the kids to think about panel composition and storytelling in completely different ways. I would particularly recommend this as an exercise to anyone with kids who are determined Can't Draw Won't Draw-ers, as it kind of sucks you in to drawing a bit of background here, a few speed lines there, and before you know it, hey, you're making comics so I guess you can draw after all? Also particularly recommended to kids obsessed with Lego, or Minecraft, or Frozen, or Star Wars, because it's a way of playing with your favourite toys and making up stories in those worlds and with those characters even if you haven't quite got the hang of drawing all the webs on spider-man's costume or whatever.

Look, you can even have a go at the CLASSICS:

Anyway, have a go! See what you come up with over the summer, and please do feel free to tweet at me on @neillcameron or @ComicsClubSM with any results, I'd love to see them.

And if the kids need something else to do after that, move them onto the ADVANCED CLASS - make and publish their own comic by the time they go back to school! (With today's ease of access to reprographic technology this is, honestly, a way more achievable goal than it may possibly seem at first glance. Look, here are a few we made earlier!

For lots of further activities and ideas and pointers on how to make awesome comics, HEY! I actually made a whole book about this stuff?

Available from good bookshops and libraries nationwide! And do check out the How To Make Awesome Comics page on my website for more info and examples, and lots more activities and resources to use in making your own comics!