Thursday, 6 April 2017

American Signing Tour

Very excited to announce that we'll be touring America this May! The tour will kick off at TCAF - The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, where we'll be part of their special programming: NBM turns 40 (events to be announced soon). Then we'll be doing a series of signings and events in:
Bethesda (DC area): Big Planet Comics - May 17
Boston: The Million Year Picnic - May 18
New York City - Jersey City: Word Bookstore - May 20
New York City - Manhattan: Bank Street Bookstore - May 21
New York City - Manhattan: Battery Park City School - May 22
Gainsville: SAW, The Sequential Artists Workshops - May 24
The tour is supported by Creative Scotland.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

On BBC Radio Scotland's The Janice Forsyth Show

We were delighted to be on the BBC Radio Scotland's The Janice Forsyth Show yesterday talking about our new graphic novel The Little Mermaid. You can listen again here - our segment is at 1h40min:

Monday, 6 February 2017

Server and email problems

We have been experiencing severe problems with receiving emails.

Please email ccing (our usual email address).

If you have not received a reply from us these past few weeks/months, most likely your email was lost. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

20 Years Since Our First Comic!

Unbelievably, this month sees the 20th anniversary of our very first comic. When we met in 1994 we started working on comics together almost right away and, after creating several short comic stories, eventually collected them in our first comic Strange Weather Lately - Martin Nitram #1 in December 1996. We brought this out with limited edition lino prints in silver and the tagline: "Stories from the surreal yet unnervingly real world of Martin Nitram". We jumped up and down a bit when Diamond Comic Distributors agreed to distribute it through their Previews catalogue.
Thus began our career in comics. At the time we were told our comic was the wrong size (we'd had it printed A4). But we didn't really care - we hadn't even thought at the time about comic shops and their coffins or boxes for storing American comic sized titles. Indeed we knew very little about the workings of the comic market. The comic quickly sold out. (There doesn't even seem to be any copies on ebay now!).
We followed this up with The Maze and then with a longer and more intricate Strange Weather Lately story arc published as bimonthly comics and gathered them all in our first graphic novels in 1998 and 1999. At the time, the Scotsman newspaper ran a "Who to Watch" feature on us and we were interview on the radio for The Brian Morton Show.
Our first comic,
Strange Weather Lately
Extract from Strange
Weather Lately #1
Strange Weather Lately
Graphic Novel

Between 1999 and 2011 we worked on the Louis series of graphic novels. Louis - Red Letter Day was originally intended to be a one off but we realised how much we loved the character and working with the Louis world that five more books followed. Much to our amazement we received nominations for the Eisner Awards and also the Ignatz Awards and international acclaim. We were delighted to receive coverage in mainstream media as many places didn't really review comics or graphic novels in the early 2000s. Our Louis books, perhaps because they were so different and a bit strange, found their way into publications like i-D (where Kodwo Eshun described Louis - Red Letter Day as "a seriously spaced enigma"), The Guardian (with a column on our work by Julie Burchill), SFX, Art Review, New Internationalist, The Herald, Creative Review among many others. Our comic/music/animation project with hey and mum and the Fat Cat record label, Louis - Dreams Never Die, was featured on the late, great John Peel's radio show along with his beloved The Fall and even received a lengthy write-up in Liberation in France.

The Guardian - Julie Burchill - 2003
i-D 2000
The Scotsman 1999
The Herald 2004
In 2002 Louis - The Clown's Last Words was the first graphic novel ever to receive funding from the Scottish Arts Council. The Scottish Arts Council became Creative Scotland and they have continued to be very supportive of our work.
The Louis graphic novels (2000-2011)
Looking back now it is truly hard to believe that it's been 20 years already! Since then we've devoted all our waking hours to making graphic novels and comics. Naturally, there have been ups and down, disappointments, rejections and moments of elation. When we started we were both determined to make a living from our work, from being a writer and artist, but had absolutely no idea if this was even possible or indeed how we'd go about it. Comics weren't even respected back then, and many people thought they were just for kids, or just trash. Initially in the UK and US, we kept on being told that our work was too European, while in Europe, and in France particularly (even though Sandra is French) we were told that our comics were too Scottish. This is possibly because we were feeding them potato scones. Now things have changed and more people see comic and graphic novels as art.

This year saw us win the Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016 for Best Visual Artist. It felt like a real achievement and a great way to celebrate the anniversary of our first publication. And we still don't take anything for granted.

We're delighted to be creating new work with support from Creative Scotland and are working with Papercutz, who published The Red Shoes and Other Tales in late 2015, and who will be publishing our graphic novel adaptation of The Little Mermaid in April 2017.


Friday, 8 July 2016

Winners of The Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016

We're honoured and delighted to have won The Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016 for Best Visual Artist!

With Janice Forsyth (left) and Janice Kirkpatrick
The award ceremony was a fantastic evening, and it was a pleasure to meet some of the amazing finalists. Runners-up for the Best Visual Artist category were sculptor David J Mitchell, animation film maker and paper artist Eleanor Stewart and artist/activist Ellie Harrison. Congratulation to them all for their nominations.
Congratulations also to all the winners. It's fantastic to be in the stellar company of such luminaries as the Scottish Opera, theatre and film actors Alan Cumming and James McAvoy, author Jenni Fagan, ballerina Sophie Martin and The Glad Café.
A huge thank you to The Sunday Herald and to Janice Forsyth and Fiona Hyslop MSP.
Special thanks to all the judges: Creative Director at Graven Janice Kirkpatrick, author Alan Bissett, musician Roddy Woomble, Dean of Arts & Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University Pauline Miller Judd, journalist and broadcaster Ruth Wishart, journalist, editor and author Neil Mackay and actor David Hayman.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Finalist for The Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016

We are finalists in the Best Visual Artist category for The Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016. The finalists will appear in print in The Sunday Herald this weekend, with winners to be announced on July 7th at the award ceremony. (scroll down this link for the full list of finalists and judges).

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Rosalie Lightning feature for The National

We've written a feature for The National newspaper about the graphic memoir Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart. It's an incredibly powerful book about the loss of a child: Rosalie Lightning died just before turning two from unexplained causes. Rosalie loved one of our own books, Louis - Night Salad, and Tom integrates this and her other loves, including My Neighbor Totoro, into his graphic novel. We felt very moved, and wanted to respond in some way. Our best wishes to Tom Hart and Leela Corman, who now have a daughter, Molly Rose.
Here's a link to the online version of the article:

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Red Shoes and Other Tales Deleted Scenes

"Deleted Scene" from The Red Shoes and Other Tales. At the request of our publisher, Papercutz, we changed several pages in the final version of the graphic novel. 

Here we removed the blood from The Red Shoes story in the final version of the book:

Old version:
Old version of page 41 in The Red Shoes and Other Tales
 Final version:
Final version of page 41 in The Red Shoes and Other Tales
The ending of The Little Match Girl was also changed. In the original tale, the little girl tragically dies from hunger and cold at the end of the story, as in this page below, which was our original ending (this version can be found in the Winter's Tales mini-comic we made a few years ago):

Old version of the ending of The Little Match Girl 
In the final version of our short adaptation, the last page above was replaced by the little match girl rising in the night sky in the arms of her dead grandmother. It's a much sweeter, less bleak ending, perhaps more suitable for the audience our publisher had in mind. It took us a while to decide whether to agree to the change or not, but in the end, we're glad we did agree, and now have a soft spot for the final, sweeter version.

Final version of the ending of The Little Match Girl (1)

Old version of the ending of The Little Match Girl (2)

There was one more page change in The Red Shoes story, and we wrote a post about it here a few months ago.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Aye Write! 2016

We very much enjoyed being part of Aye Con at the Aye Write! Book Festival this year! There's a review of our solo talk here, and reviews of the panel with Frank Quitely, Alan Grant and ourselves here and here.

From left to right: chair Sasha de Buyl-Pisco, Alan Grant, Frank Quitely,
John and Sandra (Metaphrog)

Post event signing at Aye Write!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Brand new EP Wise Ol' Man - The Fall in Review

The Fall will release a seven track EP Wise Ol’ Man on the 19th of February, postponed from the original date of the 29th of January it is well worth the wait. 
The group celebrate their 40th anniversary and continue to make exciting, challenging music. In the sea of bland that passes for mainstream music these days it is refreshing to occasionally hear genuine, uncompromising creative artists. Even without the late John Peel, The Fall can be heard on the radio, something rich and strange and immediately arresting.

The Fall have always received a little media attention: partly due to Mark E. Smith’s hard work and innate need to communicate but largely due to the sheer quality of their output. We’ve been hearing from lots of young music fans who were excited by The Fall live at Glastonbury and have started to explore the back catalogue. With several hundred releases to navigate it will likely bring several years of pleasure.

It’s always impossible to absorb The Fall without repeated listenings as the songs and the ideas tend to gradually reveal themselves over time and this new release is no exception.

Clocking in at just less than 36min the EP has a great feel to it and like the Re-mit and Sub-Lingual Tablet LPs there’s lots of melody and vocal clarity, moments of real discordant beauty.

The title track, Wise Ol’ Man, rattles along with multi-layered vocals and a complex interplay between Mark E. Smith and his wife Elena Poulou. Peter Greenway’s chiming swirling guitar lifts the beginning of the track into something almost rock. Across the whole EP the songs are flowing in such a way that the group can work around the vocal deliveries with Elena’s pulsing, squelching, vibrating keyboards, Dave Spurr’s bass and the twin drums of Keiron Melling and Daren Garratt creating experimental musical shapes.

The showcase and centrepiece of the record is All Leave Cancelled. Here the lyrics and indeed the vocals are alternately obscure and lucid, with the voices working as another instrument; a weird sonic landscape is created where the incredible patterns that emerge from the rhythm section sound like the crazy workings of the Live-Evil era Miles Davis band. It isn’t jazz and it isn’t like anything you’ve heard before. Over the full 8min 21s the track is oddly compelling. And the listener is taken on a journey to where everything is going to fall apart before the bass and drum storm lifts and the skies of melody clear. Anyone looking for a precedent or similar track in The Fall discography might try Black Roof or ask the good Captain Beefheart but this track only uses its influences and inspirations as a starting point and takes off in its own way in its own wonderful and frightening directions. It would be wrong to label The Fall as post-rock but a pinch of Chicago underground, a little early Tortoise creeps among the strangeness.

Dedication Not Medication (Remix) is utterly outstanding and its sharper focus sits well in contrast to the preceding soundscape. This is a little bit like the version on the Sub-Lingual Tablet cd but with less bed wet pills and no “Connie and Cookie”, it’s a lot less like the original vinyl version, in that there is no trippy spoken word vocal interruption and anti-music stylings. Indeed the version we have here is a celebration and a lot like the live versions lucky fans will be familiar with. The track builds and builds on a wave of sound and Daren adds a vocal chant as counterpoint.

If you haven’t had the chance to see The Fall live then don’t miss out. As a poor second you can track down some of the live recordings in circulation.

Wise Ol’ Man (Instrumental) is not an instrumental but rather a more stripped down and straightforward version of the song.

Venice With Girls is also a new version of the opening track from last year’s S-LT LP: this time the vocal melodies seem even sweeter, the playing is even tighter and there’s an additional synth line.

Next, listeners are treated to a fourth and possibly the finest version of Face Book Troll.  Everything that was bizarre and hysterical about the previous versions (the storming anger of Fibre Book Troll from the Modoselektion Volume 3 compilation; the warped vocals from the S-LT cd and the looping relentless Sister Ray trolling of the vinyl side) gets condensed and combined here to dramatic effect. The power of the track is enhanced by bolting it on to a recent live take on No Xmas For John Quays. Here the group live sound possessed and on fire. Thanks to the sterling work of fans like Hanley Played a Fender we can pinpoint the recording to the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on 28th November 2014. A pan-seasonal offering and a reminder that drugs are not just for Christmas.

All Leave Cancelled (X) rounds off the EP and reprises the track heightening the main elements of the song.

As with 2013’s The Remainderer there’s also a visceral sense of excitement and the playful experimentation of a group at the height of their powers.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Graphic Lyrics on BBC Radio

Graphic Lyrics, the project we were involved in as Writers in Residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2015, was featured on the Janice Forsyth Show on BBC Radio Scotland.

Hear Janet Smith, Dave Hook and ourselves, as well as the pupils of Shawlands Academy and their teacher Mrs Kirk talk about the project: (1h47min in).

Friday, 22 January 2016

Graphic Lyrics

Last night saw an extremely enjoyable and well-attended Burns Night celebration, at The Glad Café, for the culmination of the Graphic Lyrics project.

For the past six months we were Writers in Residence for the Edinburgh International Book Festival Booked programme, working with hip-hop artist Dave Hook helping S4 pupils of Shawlands Academy create comics and raps based on fairy tales. Last night's event saw the unveiling of the finished comic compiling all their work.

All the participants received a copy of the Graphic Lyrics comic and then took a seat for an advanced preview of the sound and vision spectacle showcasing their raps and drawings.

The pupils' and teachers' families and friends then arrived for the main event. Introduced by Janet Smyth with MC Catherine Campbell the pupils all got on stage to talk a little about their experience and introduce the fantastic work they produced.

We were also interviewed by Catherine, along with rapper Dave Hook, and each talked a little about the process.

We had the opportunity to thank everyone involved in the project: Catherine Campbell, Janet Smyth, Nick Barley and Roland Gulliver from the Edinburgh International Book Festival; Janice Kirk and Chris Smith, the teacher and support worker from Shawlands Academy, who both worked hard to guide the pupils between our sessions; Dave Hook, for working with us to chose suitable stories with the pupils and then working with them to produce such excellent raps, and, of course, the pupils themselves.

Working with pupils from Shawlands Academy in Glasgow was an absolute pleasure and we are delighted with the finished comics and raps. The pupils all worked incredibly hard and everyone got involved. Some people feel that they can't draw and it was great to see the pupils' confidence and self-esteem grow as they worked together sharing a common language.

The evening was rounded off with two songs from one third of Stanley Odd and everyone paid a visit to Shawlands Academy to see giant projections of the pupils comics on the school building.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Red Shoes Deleted Scenes

"Deleted Scene" from The Red Shoes and Other Tales. At the request of our publisher we changed the violence in the page below to an off-panel cutting of the feet in the final version of the book. Sometimes showing less is just as effective.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Red Shoes launch at Northfield Academy

    Last week for Book Week Scotland, Northfield Academy, where we are Patrons of Reading, organised a special Red Shoes book launch. 

    280 kids from local schools gathered in the assembly hall and we talked about the book, the creative process and fairy tales. 

    Waterstones were also there and sold lots of books. 

    Afterwards we took our turn to participate in Book Fit, Mandy Wilson 's great initiative: read The Red Shoes on the exercise bike! Neil Hendry the head teacher took the lead! Yesterday the pupils pedaled a total of 600km! 

    Huge thanks to Mandy, Neil and Karen Shaw for organising all this and making the day so special!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Writers in Residence at Edinburgh International Book Festival

Yesterday was our last session with the pupils of Shawlands Academy in our capacity as Writers in Residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015 - as part of the Booked programme. The pupils have created four comic stories based on fairy tales and raps which we are now in the process of assembling into a special publication. We'll see them all again at the end of January for the final Burns Night celebration event at The Glad Café​ where Dave Hook​ will also do a performance and the pupils' work will be showcased.

Can't believe that's the sessions all over already - the weeks have all flown by in a flash! Have thoroughly enjoyed working with the book festival, Dave Hook, and the pupils and teachers of Shawlands Academy. We'll post a link to the finished work in the new year, in the meantime, here are a couple of drawings that the pupils created.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Writers in Residence at Edinburgh International Book Festival

It's been three weeks now that we've been working with pupils at Shawlands Academy, in our capacity as Writers in Residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, helping them to create fairy tale comics. We have two more weeks to go and they have already produced lots of great work! We'll soon be able to gather all their stories into a publication and are really looking forward to hearing the raps the pupils have produced with Dave Hook! There will be a Burns Night celebration event in January to wrap up the whole project.