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February Update

In spite of the desert of posts here, there’s been a lot going on lately.

First, a former day job colleague of mine has been working for Waterstones in their marketing department. He’s in charge of the blog for the renowned British Book Retailer’s website. Back in November, he got in contact after he saw a few posts on here and asked if I would be interested in contributing to the Waterstones blog.

I initially thought, sure I can write about something; when I said yes to that, he said that what he’d really be interested in seeing would be a comic strip. I’ve never done a weekly, four panel (a la Calvin & Hobbes) style comic and was initially very leery. But I thought about it over the Thanksgiving holiday, thinking about what kind of strip I could do about books that would both stay interesting to me and stay fresh and help me generate ideas week after week. Initially, I thought it would be fun if famous literary figures and authors sat around and talked about the state of literature in the 20th century (50 Shades of Grey now being the measure of what people want to read). It would be like Statler and Waldorf, the two old guys from the Muppets – instead it would be James Joyce squaring off against Dan Brown. But that seemed hard to sustain.

I must have been looking at our daughter Aurelia, who – at that point was 5 months old – and in a flash Sprout’s Book Club was born. What would it be like, I thought, if the author’s of the past, worried about having to compete for readership and bookshelf space against the likes of Twilight and 50 Shades, were to visit the present to pitch their work directly to the readers of the future? And what if the readership of the future was Aurelia (or rather her pre-birth codename, Sprout)?

Well we’re now 12 weeks in and I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve posted the first strip above. You can read the rest here on the Waterstones’ site. You can also follow Sprout on Twitter. She’s a much more entertainer tweeter than yours truly. If you’ve got ideas of which authors should travel through time to pitch their work to her, tweet it at her. We’re proud to say that both James Joyce and 50 Shades have already made an appearance.

Second, at the end of January, I made my fourth trip out to Angoulême. It was a sadder trip than in the past because Lyndsay (aka Gertrude) wasn’t able to come because she was back in Old Blighty taking care of Sprout. But in other ways, it was really quite wonderful as it was the first time I was there as an “auteur” with book in print and free professional badge in hand.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of the trip here because I already did so in a blog entry on – you guessed it – the Waterstones Blog. I’m committing to do a once a month post about the British Comics scene in a column called “Dispatches from the Gutter.”

Finally, working simultaneously on Sprout’s Book Club, the next graphic novel, and an anthology, historical graphic novel about Brighton called “Brighton the Graphic Novel.” I’ve got a fourteen pager, written by prodigious Brighton Scribe, Performer and Man of Letters, David Bramwell. Deadline is the end of March. You can read more about it the project and contribute if you so wish on the Kickstarter campaign page for the project, here. Here’s a quick colour test sketch I did.

And in between all that we’re moving flats and having to deconstruct and then reconstruct old and new flats. Wish us luck.

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