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ArtyParti – Wonderland’s Graphic Novel Expo 2017

1 June 2017 Community News Culture Entertainment


On this week’s ArtyParti, we celebrated the upcoming Wonderlands Graphic Novel Expo 2017, which you can visit this Saturday (10am – 5pm, CitySpace).

Now in it’s third year, and growing in size each year, this free annual Expo celebrates graphic novels in all their forms, with a day of free talks, workshops, panels, and dozens of stalls.

Three familiar faces to the world of graphic novels, all holding stalls at the festival joined us live to talk about the festival, their own careers and creative development, and of course to enthuse about graphic novels in general;

Dr. Mary TalbotDr. Mary Talbot, internationally acclaimed graphic novel writer and scholar of gender, language and power, having been a lecturer for many years at the University of Sunderland.  Writing alongside her partner, renowned graphic novel artist Bryan Talbot, their joint library includes Dotter of her Father’s Eyes, Sally Heathcoate, Suffragette, & The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia.

“Graphic novels have gained respectability in recent years.  Most literary festivals have a graphic novel section.  There’s more variety, more content – it’s now impossible to read everything that’s being produced.  There’s more variety – a whole range of content.  The audience is expanding into areas that previously weren’t thought of.”

Jordan SmithyJordan Smithy, a.k.a. Darkview Arts & Photography, is a photographer, artist, graphic designer, colourist & model-maker.  We chat about his work with Bryan Talbot (Jordan is the colourist behind Bryan’s Alice In Sunderland), and some of the highlights of his career thus far.

“My first foot in the door was doing some artwork that became an album cover for the band Misty in Roots.  It went worldwide, and there were 17 foot banner posters on the streets of Tokyo.  I got sent all these pictures of my artwork lit up in neon lights; all drawn by hand.  That was my first real buzz into graphics.  And it was something that happened whilst I was studying Foundation Arts.”

Andrew Hunterand Andrew Hunter, a freelance Illustrator and Designer, who hosts workshops at the Art Studio Sunderland.   He’s a graduate from the University of Sunderland.

“With striving to be seen as this cultural epicentre, we need more culture in Sunderland.   It’s great having the [UK’s only] Grapic Novel Expo here – my hometown.  It used to be comics; the Beano, the Dandy…  Now it’s Alice in Sunderland, it’s Watchmen, it’s 2000AD.  And to be able to be part of it, and say “that started here” , in Sunderland – that’s amazing.”

Here’s why you should go to the Graphic Novel Expo this Saturday;

“If you’re a budding artist or writer, you’ll meet and talk to people who work with graphic novels – that’s so valuable.  In this day and age, when conventions are turning corporate and expensive, this will be hands on, and entirely free.  What value.” – Jordan Smithy

“You can expect a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.  Comics people like each others’ company, we smile a lot.” – Mary Talbot

“It’s a good way to bond with people who you otherwise wouldn’t have met, talking to people to develop your own craft & get to know your community.” – Andrew Hunter

“Take a look at the Wonderlands programme – there’s going to be some great people going to be there.   Martin Rowson, who’s the Guadrian political cartoonist,Hannah Berry about her latest book called Livestock, a political satire for the Tump era, Dr. Mel Gibson who’s a comic scholar and teaches at Northumbria, John Higgins who was the colourist on Watchmen who’ll be presenting some artwork.  And you’ll be able to see rough drafts of unpublished work that’s in the pipeline.” – Mary Talbot

ArtyParti was presented & produced by Jay Sykes.


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