The Blank Slate Books posse proudly announce Nelson week from the 19th to the 27th of November, taking in a whole pile of exciting events, including a busy signing schedule at the fab Thought Bubble festival in Leeds, original art exhibited in the Cartoon Museum, a signing at the Forbidden Planet megastore in London and and exhibition and signing session in the fab Gosh! Comics too.
Now okay, disclaimer – the blog team are obviously friends with many of the folks involved in Nelson and Blank Slate. But I can honestly say that doesn’t colour my judgement on the book – and I hope that over the years we’ve built a decent rep for being honest here on the blog so when I say that you know we mean it. And my honest opinion is that we should all be damned excited about this. I’ve been lucky enough to get an advance read at Nelson recently and it is a highly unusual and quite engrossing comic, bringing together dozens of brilliant comics creators into one story, the story of a woman’s life from birth in the 60s through the 70s, 80s, 90s and the 2000s, each artist taking a different segment of her life.
(a few panels from Rob Davis’ lovely art in the 1968 chapter, as Nel’s dad looks for just the right item to give to his about to arrive child)
As you’d expect the art styles vary enormously, from delightful, children’s book-like illustrations from Sarah McIntyre and Jamie Smart to the utterly gorgeous 1960s set pages by co-editor Rob Davis as Nel’s dad prepares for her arrival on Planet Earth, followed by another lovely 60s set chapter from co-editor Woodrow Phoenix which also managed to evoke some pop culture nostalgia with the period On The Buses references. Actually I had quite a few surges of nostalgia reading Nelson – we’re almost the same age and more than a few chapters brought a wave of recognition, with scenes like the joyful playing by Nel on her orange Spacehopper by Sarah McIntyre making me smile and reminding me of playing on one of those myself as a kid (way before they were associated with the Meatsafe Murderer!):
(the 1973 segment sees Nel about to have her first day at school, drawn by the wonderful Sarah McIntyre)
You might think that changing artists every few pages might throw you off; normally in a long-form comic we have one or two artists working through the entire story, giving it a uniform look. But to be honest the constant changing suits the story perfectly – each different creator is telling a different, small part of Nel’s life story, from birth through childhood, adolescence and adulthood, the ups and downs of family life, the struggle to define yourself as yourself (do any of us ever really finish that struggle?), and each is in a different time, so the constantly changing art styles actually compliment the idea of snapshots of a person’s life at different times, each having a different look, just as we ourselves and the world around us changes constantly (we only need to flip through old family photo albums to confirm that).
We’re going to be talking more about Nelson on here, I’m sure, but again I’d like to say how cool it is that we have a publisher right here in the UK who will put out a work as unusual and daring as this? It really does deserve your support – the Blank Slaters have been an integral and important part of the strong surge in quality British comics publishing in recent years and I’d like to think most of our readers would strongly support that, especially when they take a chance on something unusual like this; it deserves lots of support. And as if the book being superb isn’t enough motivation, you’re also doing the world some good by buying it as the profits are going to the homeless charity Shelter (and indeed I am delighted to say several comics retailers are also giving profits to the charity from the book too). And for what it is worth I can tell you right now that this book is going straight on to my Best of the Year list in December.
(that wonderful childish delight of finding something wondrous in a book – a quality some of us never grow out of I’m glad to say – in Nelson’s 1976 chapter by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell)
As I said we’ll be talking more Nelson in the next little while, but meantime let me leave you with several dozen other reasons why you should be buying this fine book: Paul Grist, Rob Davis, Woodrow Phoenix, Ellen Lindner, Jamie Smart, Gary Northfield, Sarah McIntyre, Suzy Varty, Sean Longcroft, Warwick Johnson–Cadwell, Luke Pearson, Paul Harrison–Davies, Katie Green, Paul Peart–Smith, Glyn Dillon, I.N.J.Culbard, John Allison, Philip Bond, D’Israeli, Simone Lia, Darryl Cunningham, Jonathan Edwards, Ade Salmon, Kate Charlesworth, Warren Pleece, Kristyna Baczynski, HarveyJames, Rian Hughes, Sean Phillips & Pete Doree, Kate Brown, Simon Gane, Jon McNaught, Adam Cadwell, Faz Choudhury, JAKe, Jeremy Day, Dan McDaid, Roger Langridge, Will Morris, Dave Shelton, Carol Swain, Hunt Emerson, Duncan Fegredo, Philippa Rice, Josceline Fenton, Garen Ewing, Tom Humberstone , Dan Berry,Alice Duke, Posy Simmonds, Laura Howell, Andi Watson, and Dave Taylor.
(Dan McDaid’s 1997 chapter for Nelson. Black hole sun, won’t you come, won’t you come… )
I mean look at that contributor list! How often do you get Posy Simmonds alongside Tom Humberstone and Sean Phillips and Rian Hughes and Luke Pearson and Paul Grist and Rob Davis and D’Israeli and Hunt Emerson and… okay, you can read the names for yourselves, but you take my point – how often do you get a high quality, unusual comics project with so muchdiverse and brilliant talent in one volume? And published right here in Blighty. In the words of the late, great Sir Jimmy Saville “how’s about that then, boys and gals?”