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Friday, 27 May 2016

Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2016

Thanks to funding from Creative Scotland and with support from my publisher SelfMadeHero, this year I was able to attend one of the most exciting and prestigious comic festivals in the world - the Toronto Comic Arts Festival - presenting my graphic novel Filmish to their wonderful and diverse audience.


TCAF takes over the enormous Toronto Public Library every year to show off some of the greatest comic art on the planet to a huge and enthusiastic crowd of comic readers. There were 24,000 attendees in 2015 and word was it was even bigger this year. Set over three stories and spilling out into an additional venue, the quantity and quality of work on show was astonishing.

After a long flight out and then a quiet day of seeing Toronto in the rain, the festival began. My first stop was to give a talk about my work to an audience at the nearby Marriott hotel. My first piece of solo public speaking, I think it went well. My talk laid out the origins of Filmish as a piece of self-published work and its journey towards becoming a graphic novel, taking in some of my influences and favourite film theories along the way. The discussion afterwards was really interesting, bringing up some areas that would merit further investigation in the future. It was an honour to have been invited to talk as part of TCAF's official programme of events.


After the talk I made my way to the library, setting up at the SelfMadeHero table alongside fellow artists Barbara Yelin and Mike Medaglia. Over the next two days I spent the majority of my time at the table, giving me the wonderful opportunity to chat with customers and fellow artists.


It's truly special meeting people who have enjoyed your work, and lovely to hear that Filmish is inspiring people to watch new movies and think about film differently. In addition I had some very promising chats with a few individuals, and was able to make some connections and lay some preliminary groundwork for my next graphic novel.

After the festival was over, I stuck around in Toronto for a few days, basking in the warm afterglow that comes from attending an event of such concentrated creative talent. It's always inspiring to go to comic festivals, and this was no exception. The artistry on show was off the charts, with artists from across the world coming together in celebration of the comics medium. It makes you want to read more comics, make more comics, and up your game.

It was fortunate I had arranged to stick around, as well. Following on from a chat at TCAF, I was contacted by a producer from the Canadian TV channel Space, looking to do an interview with me about my work. Arriving at the studios I met with the producer Mark, who showed me some original artwork from Scott McCloud's 'Understanding Comics'. It was such a treat to see them, meticulously drawn and as inspiring as ever.


I then met the host of the show, the very kind and enthusiastic Morgan Hoffman. The resulting chat went really well - full of my trademark gesticulating, and covering everything from A Trip to the Moon to Die Hard. And it was another first for me, appearing on television!

Finally, some advice for people considering applying for TCAF in the future. I can absolutely recommend that comic artists aim to attend TCAF at some point in their career. It's a wonderful opportunity to present your work to a large North American audience and meet with your comics contemporaries. I don't think there's another show like it, and Toronto seems to be a city in love with comics where you'll have the potential to raise your work to a new level of visibility.

However, the costs of flights and accommodation would likely make it very difficult for a self-published creator in Europe to break-even without some sort of financial support. In addition, with a huge number of top creators on show, the competition for sales is high. I'd recommend anyone wanting to attend to have experience selling their work at smaller conventions before applying, and make sure they're taking their very best work there to sell. The benefits of attending are massive and well worth the effort if you can afford it.

Illustration by Barbara Yelin.
Again I'm hugely grateful to Creative Scotland and SelfMadeHero for making this trip a reality. It was a pleasure to be a guest of the festival, to give a talk about my work, meet readers and give an interview for Canadian TV. It was a wild week, and one I don't think I'll ever forget.





Thursday, 8 October 2015

Filmhouse Pre-Order Exclusive for 'Filmish - A Graphic Journey Through Film'

Filmhouse Cinema 2008 © Peter E Ross
Filmish probably wouldn’t exist without the Edinburgh Filmhouse. Not long out of university and I was working part-time behind the box office counter in this, the city’s finest independent cinema and the home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. It was a dream job - a relaxed atmosphere, surrounded by film fans and creative people, and with free access to movies to boot.

I had set off to university with ambitions of making movies, but my time there had actually stoked more of a passion for thinking and writing about films than making them. By the time I was out and into the real world, comics began to grab my attention more seriously than I could have predicted. I’d actually always been a pretty avid drawer of comics, both in childhood and throughout secondary school. Now, between working and watching films, I tentatively began drawing comics again.

Showing bits and pieces around work, I caught the attention of Theresa the Filmhouse marketing manager at the time, who asked me if I’d like to do something with my comics for the Filmhouse members’ newsletter. It was out of this offer that I first conceived the idea for Filmish. Just a short, four page photocopied zine at first, the idea of writing a comic about fascinating elements of film theory and film history really appealed to me. I could do something with this… this could be something.

After that first taste, I began work on more, envisioning a self-published comic ready in time for Christmas 2009. Raiding my undergraduate essays for ideas I settled on two more themes, working them up over the next few weeks before cycling out to the Edinburgh College of Art to photocopy a hundred copies of that first issue on the cheap. Setting them down for sale on the Filmhouse box office counter for the first time, Filmish was born.

Filmish Issue 1
 Over the coming weeks sales began to grow, and before long I had to cycle back out to the ECA, profits from the first one hundred copies in hand to print another hundred. I began branching out, selling at comic shops, art galleries, and even the London BFI Filmstore. Over the next few years I worked on further issues, raising the bar a little each time, and gradually learning what Filmish was and what it could be. Issue 2 (Sets and Architecture) used the single issue to deal with one larger theme, while issue 3 (Technology and Technophobia) was an opportunity to improve my layouts and writing. And throughout all this, Filmhouse was there - my colleagues an indefatigable well of filmic knowledge able to fill in the gaps in my own viewing. This was the home of Filmish, the first place I’d go to when a new issue was hot off the press, and always the first place to sell a copy of each new issue.

But we all move on one day, and it’s somewhat fitting that the prospect of Filmish being published was what forced me to give up my shifts there. As SelfMadeHero signed me on and work began on the book in earnest, I finally gave up my last remaining shift at Filmhouse to focus on writing and drawing this enormous project.

Now that the book is close to release, it’s really nice to be able to reconnect with the Filmhouse and bring Filmish home again. In celebration of the Filmhouse’s crucial role in supporting Filmish, and to say thanks from me both to this Edinburgh institution and the many wonderful customers who took an interest in Filmish over the years, I have teamed up with Filmhouse to offer their customers the chance to pre-order signed copies of the book, which will come with an exclusive, limited edition Filmhouse bookplate with every copy. I’m really excited about this, and grateful to Filmhouse for still supporting me and my work after all these years.

Please visit the Filmhouse in person, go to their website or call the box-office on 0131 228 2688 to take advantage of this pre-order offer.

Monday, 5 October 2015

PREORDER NOW! Filmish - A Graphic Journey Through Film


It’s a little over a month until my published debut graphic novel Filmish - A Graphic Journey Through Film launches at Gosh London. Details on that launch will follow, but in the meantime I wanted to talk a bit about the book and the fact that from today I’m offering people the chance to pre-order their copy directly from me.

Based upon my self-published comic series of the same name, Filmish is a graphic novel that explores the history and hidden meanings behind some of our most beloved films. From A Trip to the Moon to Inception the book takes in the span of cinema history in its mission to shed new light on the movies we love, and introduce readers to films, theories and ideas they may not have encountered before.


With Filmish due to come out in shops on November 12th, I thought it would be great to offer pre-existing fans of the comic series a chance to pre-order their copy of the book now. Pre-order customers will receive a signed copy of the book, an exclusive Filmish badge, and my undying gratitude. Orders will go out via first class post on the 11th of November, so with luck you’ll have your copy with you on the 12th.

If you’re wanting to buy this book, this is absolutely the best way to do so while supporting its artist and publisher. It won’t be quite as cheap as Amazon (who can afford to offer free postage), but in return for a little more cost, you’ll see all of the cover price of the book going to me and my publisher. For every one book I sell through my website, I make roughly as much as I do when Amazon sell seven. How can you argue with that?

Pre-order here


* For customers outside the UK, hefty postage costs means you should probably just buy it from a local bookshop / Amazon.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Whatever Happened to the Blue Whale in 2302AD?


A comic I worked on in collaboration with poet Russell Jones appears in the exciting poetry comics anthology Over The Line - An Introduction to Poetry Comics which is out now from publisher Sidekick Books.

The poem, titled Whatever Happened to the Blue Whale in 2302AD? was a wonderful piece to work on and adapt - an intelligent and striking piece of sci-fi poetry that really lent itself to adaptation into comics form. It's a great poem from a talented poet, and I thank Russell for working with me on the piece. Russell's next book of poetry The Green Dress Whose Girl Is Sleeping is out in October. He has also edited an anthology of sci-fi poetry called Where Rockets Burn Through available here.

Over The Line as a whole looks very interesting, full of a diverse range of poets and artists working together in this wonderful hybrid form. I'm really honoured that our piece was chosen by editors Tom Humberstone and Chrissy Williams. You can order a copy here.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Announcing 'Filmish: A Graphic Journey Through Film' - Coming November 2015 from SelfMadeHero

Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982)
After working quietly on it for the last two years, I am extremely pleased to announce that this November will see the release of my first graphic novel: Filmish - A Graphic Journey Through Film.

Expanding on my self-published Filmish series, the book takes the reader on a journey through the history of cinema, exploring the inner workings of an eclectic mix of classic and cult cinema. With each chapter taking on a different theme - the body, time, ideology - the book is designed to be a fun and accessible way to learn more about the movies and introduce yourself to both the history and theory of cinema.

Jean-luc Godard's Breathless (1960)
I couldn't be more pleased that this book is coming out from publisher SelfMadeHero, who have an exceptional reputation for thought-provoking graphic novels, and non-fiction and educational comics.

There will be more details to come in the next few months, and you can keep up to date with things by following me on Twitter or Facebook.

Right now you can download my self-published Filmish comics for only 59p each using the code 'filmishbook'.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Custom Boardgame



 With my soon-to-be-announced book recently finished I spent some time last week making a re-skin of the fantastic boardgame Coup for my wonderful friend Amy's birthday. It was a fun wee task, and a great way to unwind after almost two years working on the same project.


A tense and entertaining bluffing game, the original Coup comprises 5 characters, each with unique abilities. For Amy's custom set I reinterpreted these characters as member's of Amy's family, including her partner, her son and her cat. I think if I'd had more time it would have been nice to rewrite the game's theme as well to make it more suited to the family setting- but I was running to a tight deadline. Nonetheless, I'm really pleased with how it turned out - in large part thanks to the spot-on print job by John at Printvision in Edinburgh.