The Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2016 – a showcase celebration of this column’s ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015‘ – debuts in print this week featuring the work of that fabled half dozen of Rozi Hathaway, Jess Milton, Danny Noble, Emma Raby, Alice Urbino and Adam Vian, alongside a whole host of established British-based comics creators who began their careers in the world of the small press.
To commemorate this exciting event, I have been talking to those six creators about their Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook contributions, looking back with them on their year of dedicated coverage at BF, and asking them how their practice developed in that time.
Emma Raby is an artist whose work I first came across in the pages of Bimba, Donya Todd’s showcase anthology for “kick-ass female artists”. Her work usually weaves in historical or folkloric themes with a clear influence from the world of children’s illustration. She has also self-published the comics The Sea Serpent and The Dead Moon: A British Folktale.
I catch up with Emma today to chat about her Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook story, her research process, and the comics fair circuit…
ANDY OLIVER: Can you give us a short spoiler-free summary of your story in the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook?
I have drawn a version of the story of Burke and Hare (below), two men involved in the provision of bodies to Edinburgh’s medical school.
EMMA RABY: How does it fit into the anthology’s theme of “breaking frontiers”?
I think their story involves breaking frontiers in medical science in the use of cadavers for research and in the teaching of human anatomy. I also think that this tale breaks the frontiers between history and folklore. Burke and Hare were real people but what most people think they know about them is through stories they have heard. When I first started looking into this for the Yearbook I thought they were resurrection men, I was wrong!
When I interviewed all of the ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch’ last year I asked you where you wanted to be at the end of 2015. Do you feel you achieved those objectives?
I completely failed at self-publishing another comic! I underestimated how much time the research would take me for Burke and Hare, being set in a period of history I did not know very much about. I get too hooked up in the research and spend more time reading than drawing. I have loved working on this project though, it has been great to see how different everyone’s work is from the same starting theme.
What went particularly well for you in the comics world in 2015? What were your most memorable highlights?
I loved meeting lots of new people! In previous years I have felt extremely nervous about talking to anyone but being one of your ‘Six to Watch’ this year has given me so much more confidence. I particularly enjoyed my first trip to a comics fair on my own. I usually try to share tables with people I know but I went to the Alternative Press Takeover in May and had my own table and had a brilliant time.
What’s coming up from you next? What future projects can you share with us?
I am finally working on my Hereward the Wake project that got sadly neglected last year. I am definitely hoping to self-publish the first instalment in the next few months (hopefully in time for ELCAF).
If you could give the new 2016 ‘Six to Watch’ creators one piece of advice for the next twelve months what would it be?
REALLY make the most of it! I have been too scared to. And definitely try to meet the other 5 if you can. My year’s were really supportive and inspiring.
The Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook launches at London’s Gosh! Comics on April 29th and Emma Raby will be signing copies on the night. Full details here and on the Facebook event page here. Pre-orders are available online here priced just £6.00 plus postage.
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