2020 through the medium of minimum viable comics

2020 has been... a difficult year. In the scheme of things, it's been more difficult for other folk than me, but, still, it hasn't been a vintage year for Oscillating Brow creativity.

However, one thing that has kept me going creatively is Paper Jam's monthly theme challenge.

 It's as simple as the group picking a theme, then anyone who can summon the creative oomph does a comic or sketch or whatever on that theme.

Little did the group know when starting this in January 2020, this would be the main form that Paper Jam would exist in, after it stopped meeting in person for the first time since it started in 2007.

Anyway, you can read the whole lot over on the jams blog but these were my contributions:

January. Theme: 'NEW'. Coming Soon.

February. Theme: 'TIMES'. Times.

March. Theme: 'ROMANS'. Maybe he just got confused between an oar and a bat.

April. Theme: 'EASTER'. Forgiveness.

May. Theme: 'CATS'. #catsoftiktok.

June. Theme: 'HATS'. Hat.

July. Theme: 'THE FUTURE'. The Future, parts 1 & 2.

PART 1: "I know things have been rough"

PART 2: "HOWEVER: 2020"

August. Theme: 'DUCKS'. Entirely invisible and not suspicious at all (and aren't there a surprising number of these boxes around the place?).

September. Theme: 'BACK TO SCHOOL'. Back to School!

October. Theme: 'HALLOWEEN'. The horror.

November. Theme: 'LEAVES'. Different Trees.

December. Theme: 'THE END OF THE YEAR'. A walk on the last day of 2020.


Sun, sea, sand and sequential art

It's summer, and, with unusually good timing, Paper Jam is releasing its latest themed comic anthology You Need A Holiday ...And That.

I did the cover - or at least assembled many of the visual elements of it before Paul Thompson rejigged the layout and sprinkled additional photoshop filter magic upon it (before a final polish from Brittany Coxon). Frankly, I think it came out quite nicely...

Bit of a nod to Coldwar Steve in there, who is definitely the artist for our times. However, I should point out I've been a fan of collage for many years, most notably evidenced by my pieces for the Invisible Beasts art anthologies. This time working digitally was odd - in many ways easier, but in some ways harder.

Additionally, did a little one-page comic 'Sick Of Here' for the anthology. It's about equating literal place with metaphorical place, and being fed up with where you can't get away from.

You Need A Holiday ...And That is being launched at our 'Summer Comics Jam' Canny Comic Con event at Tyne Bank Brewery in honour of Small Press Day.

(Facebook event link)

Where Alexi LaGoon, PXT and Britt will be DJing - bringing the glory days of Exchange Free Range's eclectic auditory cornucopia to a new and unsuspecting audience.

It'll be mint. Get yerself along. Buy the comics. Dance. Dance Dance.


Alternate title: 'Solitude and Table Tennis'

Since the summer, Newcastle-based drawing wizard and general good 'un, Mike D has been running an arts residency in Newcastle's Grainger Market. This has involved all kinds of events, workshops, projects - all very interesting and excellent.

One of those events was a '12-hour Comic Challenge' - a somewhat more civilised sibling of the well-known but fairly brutal '24-hour Comic Challenge'. The challenge is to conceive and draw a full twelve page comic within a twelve hour period (as opposed to twenty-four in twenty-four for the 24-hour version).

Having successfully completed a 24-hour comic in the past (though as it turns out, AAAAGES ago), this seemed a great idea, so I took part.

The resultant comic is Loneliness And Ping Pong, a short tale of, er, well, loneliness and ping pong.

This rudimentary publication is available from me in person, plus probably from Travelling Man Newcastle's small press section at some point, and probably from the Grainger Market Night Market (Thursday 6th December) and the Verbal Remedy Zine fair at B&D Studios (on Saturday 8th).

Depressingly, this is the longest Oscillating Brow comic since the 24-hour one. On the other hand, that does reinforce the evidence that to do productive comic-making, I just need put myself in quiet room with other artists and have an arbitrary challenge hanging over me.