Saturday, November 24, 2012


I want to redesign my main Blaugustine blog and would love to get some feedback  from everyone who visits there regularly or occasionally or even if you just happened to drop in for the first time. 

What do you think of the new header? Is it an improvement or not? What about the sidebars? The colour scheme? Should I change the entire structure? Any suggestions at all?

Since I still haven't been able to restore commenting over there, please post your comments below. Thank you!


Monday, November 12, 2012


Since I didn't have much to sell, I only booked a half table at Comiket but it's tricky to arrange a display on such a small surface without encroaching on your neighbours in the other half. Fortunately my table-sharers, Myriad Editions, were friendly and helpful.

I was still fussing with the alignment of four books and few cards when my first visitor of the day stopped by. To my delight it was Alison Bechdel. She was leafing through My Life Unfolds and I explained how the original came about. She seemed to connect with my autobiographic images and bought a copy of the book instantly. I must admit that I was not familiar with her work until recently but having discovered it, I'm impressed with her unsentimental self-awareness, humour and directness and have ordered her latest graphic memoir Are You My Mother?

I would have liked to talk longer with Alison but she was booked as the first artist of the day to go up on stage and draw a comic strip. I was too far away to get a decent shot but you can just about make out her hand on the big screen in the photo below. She began by drawing a grid of blank frames then proceeded to confidently fill each one with the figures of her story. I was astonished by the ease and speed with which she, and later the other 'performing artists' drew their comic strips, some of them highly detailed. My own process is usually agonisingly slow and full of erasures since I keep changing my mind along the way. Lesson to learn: have a fixed plan.

 Among the friends I was very happy to see during the day was Jean who is attentively examining My Life Unfolds below. She has just blogged about her visit at tasting rhubarb.

Deep in conversation with Colin, Philip is unaware that his purchase may not be approved by the Authority.

 And don't forget you can order all these, authorised by me!


Wednesday, November 07, 2012


You've chosen Obama and not Romney...whew! Even though Obama has been a disappointment in so many ways, not the hero who will make everything better that we all imagined four years ago, he is still preferable to The Mitt. I'm not going to engage in political discussion - other people do that so much better - I'm just very relieved at the election result. 

Back here in my small world, I'm getting ready for the table I'll be standing behind this Saturday, 10 November, at the Comiket Festival. If you're in London, do come along and say hello. Of course La Vie en Rosé will be there, as well as copies of the printed version of My Life Unfolds and a few other things, including postcards of my graphic story Hindsight .

NdA Press, Table No.9
Saturday 10 November 2012   
11am to 7pm
Great Hall of the Bishopsgate Institute
230 Bishopsgate, City of London, EC2M 4QH  (Tube: Liverpool Street Station)

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Winning is nice. In September I won a voucher for £20 worth of handmade organic ice cream in a raffle during the street party (am waiting for the right occasion before I collect it). 

This is a preamble to some philosophising which I would not be doing had I been the winner or the runner-up in a competition which I entered recently. Had I won, all I would be writing today is YES! YES! YES! alongside a photo of myself making that triumphant air-punching gesture that is so popular among footballers and other winning types. Obviously I didn't win since I am philosophising.

Tomorrow in the Observer the winner and the runner-up of this year's graphic story competition (a graphic short story in four pages) will be published. Last night I attended a party in Foyles where the winners and their entries were exhibited and discussed by the judges and previous winners. I liked the winner and the runner-up but not having seen all the other entries, I can't say if they were the best. 

In sport it's fairly easy to measure who wins - the fastest runner is the fastest runner. But in the arts it gets a bit murky. Winners and losers are largely decided by the prevailing cultural, commercial, and aesthetic zeitgeist and by those occupying significant positions within it. If you fit inside that zeitgeist you're likely to win; if you don't, you won't. 
If that sound like sour grapes, really it's not (snarl) I'm aware that I don't fit into the zeitgeist, whatever it is, and never have fitted it. I'm not an Outsider artist in the accepted sense of that term, but neither am I an insider. I've drawn cartoons but I'm not a comics artist. In general, I never know where *any* of my work fits. I'm glad (sob) I didn't win because it forces me to examine what it is I truly want to achieve creatively and...erm...okay. End of philosophy. Fook the zeitgeist.

My entry to this competition, Hindsight, deliberately side-steps the usual comics format. I wanted to do something more like the recent My Life Unfolds and I recycled some of the stencils I had cut for that concertina book, as you can see, and it's autobiography again. I wanted the technique to be more painterly than comics-influenced so I made collagraph cardboard plates for each page, inked them up intaglio, printed them with my etching press and then hand-coloured them, with lots of texture. The text can be interpreted in any way you wish, there could be more than one meaning. 

The originals are A3 size but below I've photographed A4 copies taped together concertina-fashion.

If you want your own mini-version, I've had some postcards printed as a set of four cards in a cellophane bag. I'll be selling them (along with La Vie en Rosé and some other books) at my stand in the Comiket Festival next Saturday, 10th November, 11 am - 7pm. If you're in London, come and see me there.
You can order the cards from me: £2.50 for the set of 4 cards, plus postage to wherever you are. They are beautifully printed by MOO which I can highly recommend. If you've never used them let me know and I can email you a voucher for 10% off your first order. No, I don't work for them! They give this voucher to all their customers.


Thursday, November 01, 2012


I don't believe in coincidence. To me, Co-Incidence (an unlikely meeting between two incidents) is a phenomenon which is much more interesting and, yes, mysterious, than the purely rationalist dismissal of it. But, rest assured, I'm not going to launch into mumbojumble. The story itself is good enough.

On December 23, 2009 I wrote about and posted a photo here of a portrait I'd painted in 1981 of Rennie Walker . In my memory, as I wrote Rennie (who had suddenly contacted me, wondering what happened to it) I had painted over it and it was gone forever, apart from a small snapshot of him sitting beside the work-in-progress. Feeling sad and guilty about the loss, I sent Rennie a digital re-working of the portrait that I did from that snapshot. I thought that was the end of the story. 

Never trust memory: it often invents things when it can't remember the facts. 

Late last night, I was looking for some frames in a crowded closet in my studio. I opened a large container that I hadn't touched since I moved to my present home about seventeen years ago. Inside it, amongst various other things, was a tall (4' x 5') rolled-up canvas. Curious to know what it was, I immediately unrolled it and....the lost portrait of Rennie Walker! Fresh as the day it was born. 

Here it is, the original, finished painting, rediscovered. And below, the earlier stages.

Of course I instantly emailed Rennie to tell him the news. It looks like this painting has found its home.