THIS IS THE NEWS: August
New book!
I’m overjoyed to announce that I’m about to start work on a big, long book to be published by Grimalkin Press. It’ll be a collection of new stories, some long, some short and I’m incredibly excited about it already. However, that’s all I’m saying for now. I’ll share more information as and when we know more!

New distro!
My two latest comics, SMOO #7 and Grand Gestures are now available to purchase from Impossible Books, a new online mail-order specializing in independent and small press comics. They’re based in the UK and are already make great strides towards bringing amazing small press work from overseas to us, and taking us overseas to the rest of the world. I’m very happy to be involved!
New adventure!
In next-to-no-time-at-all, I’ll be off to the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. I’m doing a split zine with Warren Craghead, and will be bringing lots of comics with me, too. I’ll write more about what I’ll be bringing and where to find me next weekend.
That’s it for now…

THIS IS THE NEWS: August


New book!


I’m overjoyed to announce that I’m about to start work on a big, long book to be published by Grimalkin Press. It’ll be a collection of new stories, some long, some short and I’m incredibly excited about it already. However, that’s all I’m saying for now. I’ll share more information as and when we know more!

New distro!

My two latest comics, SMOO #7 and Grand Gestures are now available to purchase from Impossible Books, a new online mail-order specializing in independent and small press comics. They’re based in the UK and are already make great strides towards bringing amazing small press work from overseas to us, and taking us overseas to the rest of the world. I’m very happy to be involved!

New adventure!


In next-to-no-time-at-all, I’ll be off to the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. I’m doing a split zine with Warren Craghead, and will be bringing lots of comics with me, too. I’ll write more about what I’ll be bringing and where to find me next weekend.

That’s it for now…

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”

Frederic Chopin

On Monday, we watched a live video feed/hack of a Jan Lisiecki piano recital. He was playing across town at the Bristol Old Vic, and his performance was being live-streamed to a cinema in Watershed, where I work. The performance was pretty astonishing.

Jan began his performance, largely of Chopin Etudes I think (I don’t know much about this world) with the above quotation.

I immediately thought about my own approaches to drawing that have developed over the last twelve months or so, and it resonated.

I know I’ve not drawn all the lines that I need to have drawn before I can arrive at the crowning moment Chopin describes: I’ve got a lot to learn before I can properly unlearn everything (which is going to be  exciting).

But what I do know is that my new approach, however accidentally I came to it, has become something both deliberate and deliberative.

More and more I feel overwhelmed by all the stuff in the world. The material stuff, the immaterial stuff, the competition for our attention (my own attention span is fucked). Sometimes I just wanted to sit quietly somewhere.

What makes me sad is how hard that is, not because there are not quiet places (they’re everywhere), but because I find it so hard to switch off when I’m in them.

Cartooning in this way is beginning to let me explore being slow again.

I’m not directly trying to make a statement about how fecund the world is with stuff. Nor am I particularly making a statement about the state of the comics canon, or over-stuffed narratives, or anything like that.

I’m just trying be quiet for a bit.

Here’s some more pages from SMOO 7, available now.


A note on themes in Grand Gestures

To date, I have resisted offering any explanatory notes on my new book, Grand Gestures, to explain its intentions or even to flesh out what I thought the plot might be. The reason for this is that by-and-large I want people to find their own story and connect with the work on their own terms.

However, a recent review of the book by Rob Clough has suggested it might be timely to offer a few words on the book. This is in no way a criticism of Rob or his review, which is excellent, but just that his words happened to bring to my attention something that I hadn’t really considered, but I felt I should address.

Specifically I wanted to address the possible interpretation of the book as being about suicide.  The book did end up being about confronting hard feelings and the outcomes and impacts of that process of confrontation. Grand Gestures - trying to commune with nature ‘outside’ of human life, rejection of others specifically- can be futile and complicated. Then again, perhaps they can also be meaningful. The outcomes are ambiguous, and the ambiguous ending speaks to that. The grand gesture, however, was not intended to be seen as suicide. As far as I’m concerned, the chap carries on living.

Suicide is a complex, tragic, sad event, and while I believe people have a right to govern their own bodies and their own lives, the debate is complicated. I think if this book was about suicide, it would be a shallow plot device, which would risk trivialising or romanticising the act as a way of escaping the feelings with which the book deals. This would have served to diminish the complexity of the debate, and the complexity of the act itself. I have no wish to do that.

As I said at the time of its completion, in many ways it is the most personal thing I’ve ever written. Perhaps because of this, I find it hard to see suicide as a possibility for the protagonist, rooted as it is in my own inner world, in which suicide has never, ever been something I’ve considered. So although the story might be taken in many ways, I can only offer what I thought I was writing about at the time.

That said, I don’t want to shut down any interpretation of the book, especially those that promote important conversations. Deep down, I know the text lives on outside of authorial intent, and can be whatever you want it to be. It’s not a mystery to which I hold the key and in fact I’m still learning what the comic is about, even now.

Perhaps I need to let go of this fear, and let the story be its own thing. But in so doing, I just wanted to say that for me, drawing this story was about finding hope in the sometimes hard act of living, and I hope that in the reading of it, perhaps you might feel the same.

That’s all for now. Thanks again to Rob for his review and bringing this possible interpretation back to my attention.

Thanks for reading,

Simon

EDIT: I’ve edited the body of this text since its original post to better articulate my thoughts.

Four pages from SMOO 7

This issue of SMOO is about the countryside I grew up in. Split over three zines, a map, and a letter, it deals with memories, trying to live in the now, and what happens when you revisit your home, many years later.

  • 88 pages of comics across 3 A6 zines (148 mm x 105 mm)
  • fold out map (297 x 210mm)
  • a letter (210 x 148 mm)
  • B&W throughout

The zine costs £4 plus shipping.

ORDER IT HERE

The Bristol Comic and Zine Fair returns for a third year to celebrate the world of DIY and independent publishing.
Saturday October 5th 2013
Venue TBC
The fair brings together artists, writers, publishers and booksellers from across Bristol and further afield for a one-day market. There’ll self-published zines, homemade comics, handmade books, alternative publications and all things in-between on offer. There’ll also be a series of workshops and panel discussions throughout the day.
This year, the fair has been curated by Bear Pit Zines and Comic Book Slumber Party.
Visit http://bristolcomicandzinefair.wordpress.com/ for more info and to sign up for email list to ensure you’re first to know when we announce the venue and table sales!

Poster by Issy Greenberg!

The Bristol Comic and Zine Fair returns for a third year to celebrate the world of DIY and independent publishing.

Saturday October 5th 2013

Venue TBC

The fair brings together artists, writers, publishers and booksellers from across Bristol and further afield for a one-day market. There’ll self-published zines, homemade comics, handmade books, alternative publications and all things in-between on offer. There’ll also be a series of workshops and panel discussions throughout the day.

This year, the fair has been curated by Bear Pit Zines and Comic Book Slumber Party.

Visit http://bristolcomicandzinefair.wordpress.com/ for more info and to sign up for email list to ensure you’re first to know when we announce the venue and table sales!

Poster by Issy Greenberg!

Words of Wisdom?

Here are a few things I think I’ve worked out from doing comics so far. They’re not rules or anything, but just stuff I’ve come to recognise as lessons for myself. Perhaps they’ll resonate with you, too.

1) Be OK with getting lost

I always had an idea of where I was going, an ambition or goals of sorts, but I never really ended up where I thought I would. I’ve realised it’s just stumbling, leaping, running, falling, stalling and moving, forwards and backwards. Sometimes working hard, sometimes not.  That’s OK

2) Be OK with what you do

Any creative pursuit can be hard.  I nearly gave up in 2009 and in 2011. Doing comics has both improved and interrupted my mental health. I’ve drawn them when employed and unemployed. They’ve posed problems in my everyday life. I think they can come with a price, but what, of value, doesn’t?

3) Take responsibility for your choice

Take ownership. I chose to make comics and the one thing I’ve learned lately is to take ownership of that choice.

4) Prepare to end up somewhere you didn’t anticipate

I’m not making the comics I thought I would be making 5 years ago, but I’m happy with where I am. I also doubt I’ll be making comics this way in another 5 years time.

So have ambition and self-belief, believe the thing you’re working will be the best thing you’ve ever done, but realise that by the time you’ve finished it, you probably won’t feel that way and you’ll probably be a different person.

5) Don’t be a dick

When it comes to other people, be humble, be nice, learn from other creators. Be supportive of others. Be giving. Be passionate and invested in what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to speak out about things that worry, but take ownership of your actions.

6) Value your audience

Value your audience. This doesn’t mean you should draw the comics you think your audience would want. That way mediocrity lies. No. Draw the comics YOU want to make, but respect your audience enough to realise they’ll probably come along with you for the ride, too.

7) You’re one amongst many

I’m one amongst many, many, many people all asking for other people’s attention. But remember: they’re not competition. Other creators aren’t the enemy – so don’t resent other people’s successes. You’re not owed an audience, so just do your work and work hard at it.

8) Make honest work

Be patient. Be kind. Be honest. Draw and write with heart, whatever you do, whatever genre you work in. Making comics is more than drawing, it’s communicating and making something that is a part of you that someone else might also connect to and then it’s communicating about things that you both share – experiences, feelings, humour, whatever. That’s pretty cool.

That’s it! Thanks to everyone who has been reading my comics over the years. I hope you’ll continue to do so. You’re the best!