Tag Archives: comic

The Fiery Crown – a review

Here is a truly beautiful thing. The Fiery Crown is a comic written and illustrated by Charles Cutting. The cover art is indicative of what’s on the inside so it is easy to tell if the art style is for you. It’s full colour and lush and has that arty, painterly quality throughout. It’s a style that fits the story perfectly.

The Fiery Crown is set in some-when that resembles England in the early twentieth century, but clearly isn’t England as we know it. Much of the difference seems to hinge on a play called The Winter Solstice, and the story around it of the human who wiped out the fiery folk. Only it seems as though at least some of the characters are alive, and passably well and have plans.

This story does one of the things I love most. It tells a tale that feels like folklore. It feels like tradition and fairy lore and it is almost, but not quite familiar. It does draw on tradition, but it isn’t a straight borrowing from tradition, it is largely new, but with its roots deep in the rich soil of folklore. Charles Cutting clearly gets fairy folklore and is thus able to write something that both feels right, but is original. So I have no idea what’s going on or how the story will play out in future instalments and this makes me really happy.

I was fortunate enough to be sent a hard copy for review – it is a beautiful object. There are, I gather, 12 copies remaining from a limited edition print run, at time of writing this. You can pick up one of those here – http://charlescutting.com/The-Fiery-Crown

Or, if you don’t manage to snag a hard copy, there’s also a Comixology option over here – https://www.comixology.co.uk/The-Fiery-Crown-Act-1/digital-comic/897850?

Heartily recommended for anyone who loves fairies and living tradition, or who finds themselves in need of a bit of uplifting magic.

The Weight of Expectation – a review

This is a very small, very powerful comic. Writer Oli Williams and illustrator Jade Sarson explore how stigma associated with bodyweight and size impacts on people. The visual storytelling here is brilliant, and gives a real sense of an experience that is felt in the flesh.

I did not find this an easy read, and at the same time, I found it enormously helpful. I’ve dealt with fat shaming and body loathing my whole life. I saw something of my own experiences reflected here. That was both painful and cathartic. At the moment, I’m about the smallest I’ve ever been, and as someone small enough to buy regular high street clothes I know that I effectively have more thin privilege than not. But at the same time, like some of the characters in this comic, the words of fatness are written into my flesh through years of struggle, and I cannot look at my own body without seeing that.

One of the things I really love about Jade’s work here, is her ability to depict large people without making them grotesque or ridiculous. The idea that people are intrinsically loveable, that human bodies are loveable and acceptable is a theme I see reoccurring in her work and I am deeply glad of it.

More about The Weight of Expectation here – http://teahermit.co.uk/

The Unreal Estate

I’ve been talking on and off lately about changes in how we work and what we do and why. During my meltdown at the beginning of the year I admitted to myself that a number of things were really bugging me. First is the nature of the publishing industry, which is very slow. By the time a book comes out I no longer feel involved in it, I have usually moved on to something else and I struggle with this. Putting content into the world more often is a sanity saver – this blog being a significant part of that. There are also issues around the fact that I can write enough words in a day to keep Tom busy for months, and that makes for a disconnection. I have to wait a long time for things to make progress, and the frustration I feel around that is really unhelpful. It was getting to me.

A lot of this cannot be changed, but we sat down and talked about what we both want and need out of our creative work, and we hatched an idea. We want to work together, really together, so we’ll start of a morning with the same piece of paper, get the words and images planned, and then over the day Tom can make a page. The rest of our work commitments mean that we might have one or two days in a month when we can work this way. It is enough.

A week or so ago we took a day, and made a comics page from scratch, for a new title – The Unreal Estate. We’re both very fond of Under Milk Wood, this is nothing like that, except that there is a debt owed… it’s modern, urban, and very strange. It allows both of us to push the edges of our ideas and creativity, which is great, and whether it turns into anything doesn’t matter, because the method of working is nourishing and gives us something we need. I realise that just a small amount of the really soulful work is enough, I can spend most of my time on dull necessities if needs be, so long as I have a little bit of time to follow my heart. It’s liberating.

I’m still exploring how I want to work and what I need to do, working out what is both desirable to others and meaningful to me. I think there are balances that can be struck. I think there are things I am driven to create that other people enjoy. Hopeless Maine has been a success on that score. It was made with love and a lot of people are responding to it. Tea Dragons (see some of them at http://www.copperage.deviantart.com) seem to be getting people excited too, so, more things like that (you’d like some insane Steampunk cats, wouldn’t you?). I’m hopeful that I can find ways to follow my own awen and make things other people benefit from. I don’t see much use in creating just for my own indulgence, nor do I see any point in making things that are saleable but soulless. Whatever I do has to tick both boxes, or I’d rather not do it at all. Having that clarity has been a great help to me.

So, here’s the thing we’re playing with, just one page so far, floating it out across the interweb to see if anyone enjoys it…

(Do leave a comment on the comic if you stop by)

Hopelessly Happy

Yesterday, author copies of Hopeless Maine book 1 found their way to us. Now, I thought I’d done enough of this paper malarkey to be able to be passably grownup about it. Apparently not. The urge to run round making random ‘squee’ noises and show it to everyone was huge. I resisted though, mostly. This is not just a book, this is a moment in an epic journey. It’s a bit like the moment in a very long and sometimes quite challenging walk, when you find a pub and they turn out to do good beer.

This is the project that really cemented the friendship and working relationship I have with Tom. This is the project we were working on when we fell in love with each other. There are pages he was doing when I visited in America all those years ago. There are pages drawn after Tom moved to the UK. Whole swathes of our lives are wrapped up in these pages, and this is the first time either of us has seen them on paper like this. It’s also the first book with both our names on the cover, and that makes me feel fuzzy and emotional.

Tom and I have both travelled a long way to get to this point. I shared his story back in September, of medically induced nervous breakdown, homelessness, a total loss of everything and a slow, hard rebuild. To go from there, to here, is epic. My own journey from lost soul to new self was not on the same scale, but it’s been plenty dramatic enough. Then there was the crossing of the Atlantic a physical journey alongside the creative one.

We’ve made some amazing friends along the way. We’ve both learned a huge amount too about our craft, and ourselves and each other and life… This is a milestone. Getting here makes it seem like a lot more things are possible than I would previously have dared to hope. We got this far, we can go a lot further.

Thus far, online reviews have been really encouraging. Not just that people are saying nice things, but there are deeper observations coming through about what it means, what it’s for, and that makes me very happy indeed.

So, we’re off to Druid con this weekend, to launch a graphic novel, and wave Druid books at people and talk about the end of the world whilst wearing spoons.

To everyone who has supported, encouraged, and enabled Hopeless Maine, Tom and I offer heartfelt thanks. We would not have got this far had it not been for everyone else who believed in the project. Thank you.