Friday, 7 February 2014

Rabbit Stew - a self-published zine by Viv Schwarz

Viv Schwarz is well known for her picture books - Welcome to your Awesome Robot, There are Cats in this Book and more. See her website for her full range.

Those of us following her on Twitter will also be aware of her self-published work. In many cases, as with Rabbit Stew, seeing projects take shape via regular online updates.

Rabbit Stew was created in 24 hours (two twelve hour sessions) as part of the November 2013 book festival in Plymouth. Viv's inspiration for the story was taken from a rabbit skin in Plymouth Museum. Go to Viv's blog for more information about this event and to see the original drawings.

Viv says in her blog that Rabbit Stew is not a children's story and that it contains disturbing scenes. However I feel that the story captures a real sense of the way that the mind of a child can sometimes work. There is no sex or bad language in this story and it does not promote violence. Rabbit Stew addresses issues that everyone has to come to terms with at some point in their lives - death, grief, the reasons why people might eat animals, or animals eat other animals and the importance of respect. Reading this story might help some older children work out their own ideas on these issues but for children who aren't ready to process these thoughts it could be upsetting. For me it was charming, at times funny and definitely thought provoking. My daughter isn't ready to read it at the moment but I hope she will one day.

The story centres around a small girl and her efforts to terms with grief and death in her own uncompromisingly logical but recognisably childlike way. I don't think that it is giving too much away to say that a rabbit dies after an accident, that it haunts the girl's family and that the little girl is keen to show it the respect she feels that it deserves. Rabbit Stew also has a wonderful portrayal of loving parents trying to work together to find a way to nurture and encourage their child even when they are feeling distressed themselves - I did feel sorry for the little girl's dad at times!

Rabbit Stew is a beautifully made zine, mine came with the bookmark you can see in the photo and even the addressing on the envelope has charm - it was such a pleasure to receive this package. The story is engaging, it has an honesty and raw energy to it that, yes, is sometimes disturbing but it is disturbing in a good way - it makes you think about things. I am a vegetarian but I think that people should make their own decision about whether they want to eat meat and that, ideally, this should be done in a humane and respectful way. It is rare to see anyone exploring these ideas and I am very glad when they do.

Rabbit Stew is available in Viv's online shop.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Hourly Comic Day by John Campbell

As far as I can tell Hourly Comic Day is John Campbell's idea.

The challenge is that on February first of whatever time zone you are in you make a journal comic for every hour you are awake and the idea behind it is to see how different people spend their day. Judging by the Hourly Comic website it has been running since 2006.

John Campbell takes it a little further for himself. During the month of January he makes a journal comic every day. Here is January 03, 2012 go to his website for more examples.

I have seen these comics in past years and always enjoyed the insight they give into other people's lives.  This year I decided to join in myself. I decided to keep corrections to a minimum, one of my biggest mistakes is that I called my strip "24 Hour Comic" which is something else entirely *sigh*. To be honest there was no time to make major corrections during the day and one of the biggest challenges I found was to fit in time to scan my drawings and put them together in a readable format - no chance of me uploading each hour as some people did.

To see more examples of Hourly Comics you could try the hashtag #hourlycomicday on Twitter. Viv Schwarz, Sarah McIntyre and Things by Dan did some brilliant journalling and there are many more in the Hourly Comics 2014 forum.

Why not try it yourself next year? It is not as hard as you think and I found it very interesting to record my day in this way, if possible I will do it again.

Note: When I went back to see what had been uploaded to John Campbell's Hourly Comic website it appeared to be down. If you want to read more on this subject you could try this article about Hourly Comics 2013 by Zainab Akhtar that includes the factoid that John Campbell's idea is based on something that Scott McCloud came up with. Over on Forbidden Planet International Richard Bruton is putting together a 2014 round up.