The Comic Village
As well as giving legions of fans the opportunity to see big names and big companies, MCM also gave some of the UK’s own independent artists and writers a chance to showcase their work and sell their wares. Every convention features creators proudly displaying their work for thousands of people to enjoy and purchase, who are also happy to chat with the attendees about their art. I was lucky enough to have been able to get a few minutes with these creators, and ask them about their work and their journey through the artistic world.
So tell us about the comic?
It’s called Cafe Suada, it’s a web-series, it’s hosted on Smackjeeves.com and MangaMagazine.net. It’s about a tea-house, and what happens when a coffee-house springs up next door. They start fighting over what’s better, tea or coffee, and it escalates into an all our war, trying to steal each other’s customers. You learn a lot as well about tea and coffee, and what it means to people
Is this the first comic you’ve done, or have you written many more before it?
I’ve written a lot of short comics before, for competitions and things like that, and they’re up on my website.
And how was the reception to those comics?
Well I’ve actually been nominated for a British comic award for emerging talent!
What was the process like for getting your work published?
I launch all my stuff online first, as a way of testing to see what people think, unless I’m entering them into competitions, in which case I keep them hush-hush. Cafe Suada goes out one page every week, so I try and put something different in each page, I try and be quite experimental. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
So quite a quick turnaround. How long does it take you to draw?
Each page takes about half a day.
Do you have any advice for any young people trying to get into making their own comics?
Absolutely, there’s two routes really that I would say for starting out. You can either go the art school route, and go to University and get an Illustration degree which is what I did, or there are specialised comic degrees out, like Comic Illustration or Narrative Illustration.
Which Universities would you say are the best for these kind degrees?
I personally went to the University of Lincoln, but that might not be the best one out there – they don’t have a comic specific degree or something like that. If you’re not going to take the University route or the college route, then just teaching yourself is also great. Most people, including myself started out copying other comics. I also entered lots of competitions, and that encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone when it came to drawing. Quite often if you e-mail judges they are quite happy to e-mail feed back.
So what comics are you displaying here?
I’ve got a bunch of different stuff. Here’s an older comic I made with a friend of mine called Tales from the Flat, here’s another one I did by myself called Curtis and Terrorist which is a satirical kind of comic, and this is a newer one called Destination: Space.
Can you tell me a bit more about Destination Space?
It’s a short story, with no words to it. The story is told completely through the art. It’s sort of inspired by H.P Lovecraft, and that kind of thing, it’s very dark, stuff like being dragged towards a fate that you can’t escape, that sort of thing.
How long did that take you?
I take a long time with these… I’m quite lazy.
Is this the first time you’ve sold your stuff at MCM, or have you done this before?
I’ve been coming here around seven years.
So for any young people who would like to get into this kind of thing, what’s the publishing process like?
It used to be tougher, but nowadays there are a lot of people willing to publish your works for less money. people are becoming more proficient with stuff like photoshop, so now I think as long as you’ve got a good idea, nothing is stopping you.
Do you have any advice for young people getting started?
Keep drawing. If you’ve got a good idea just get it down on paper, and just do it, there’s no excuses not to.
How long have you been drawing for?
I first picked up a pencil about 13 years ago.
Is this your first time selling your stuff at this convention?
I think I’ve been coming here for around three years now.
You were surrounded by fans when I first walked by, are you always this popular here?
It’s been a lovely busy day! So thanks to everyone here for their support.
Are conventions like this a good way for you to get your work out there, or do you sell most of your work online?
Definitely conventions, I pretty much exclusively sell at conventions, I don’t have an online shop or anything.
So if I don’t buy something here, I might not get another chance?
Maybe! You’ll have to come to another con, I’ve travelled around the world now, so there’ll always be another time!
So you choose to sell at conventions rather than sell online. Why is that, so you can talk to people about your work?
I didn’t really plan it that way, I just sold them at one convention, then another one and then another one and so on.
What advice would you have for young people trying to achieve similar levels of success that you have?
Just go for it. One of the hardest things is just getting started. If you want to take commissions online, price yourself reasonably. Look at your skill level, if you’re not reaching a certain level of success, maybe you just aren’t there yet. and that’s perfectly fine, no one starts off drawing well. It sounds so boring, but just keep practising.
Looking at your art work, it very much reminds me of the cover art on albums from bands such as Tonight Alive. Has any band ever approached you and asked you to produce art for them?
I do get approached a lot about commissions and things, but for me, drawing is not about just having a pencil and drawing, it needs to tell a story. It has to come from me.
You prefer to draw from the heart rather being told what to draw?
See more of Destiny Blue’s work at DeviantArt