Coming into the weekend we heard news of a new diversity-focused mentoring programme from UK publisher SelfMadeHero that will lead to an anthology to be released at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in the Autumn. The programme has been made possible by public funding from The National Lottery through Arts Council England, and additional support from SelfMadeHero, Abrams & Chronicle Books, Oiffy and The Lakes International Comic Art Festival. It will be run in partnership with Spread the Word.
This is, of course, both an excellent opportunity and initiative. The full press release runs below.
SelfMadeHero’s Graphic Anthology Programme promotes diversity in comics publishing
Launching on 19 February 2021, SelfMadeHero’s Graphic Anthology Programme (GAP) is designed to find, develop, publish and promote emerging comic-book artists from Black, Asian, Arabic, mixed-race, Romani/Traveller and non-white Latinx backgrounds from across the UK. Working in partnership with writer development agency Spread the Word, SelfMadeHero will identify eight exceptional emerging comic-book artists and give them the tools to become publishable creators. Beginning in May, participants will embark on a 12-week online mentoring programme led by five established graphic novelists: Asia Alfasi, Catherine Anyango Grünewald, Sonia Leong, Mustashrik Mahbub and Woodrow Phoenix. With the mentors’ support, each participant will create a graphic short story, which will then be included in an anthology to be published by SelfMadeHero in October 2021.
“The UK comics scene is young, vibrant and culturally progressive, yet there remains a lack of ethnic diversity among published artists and writers,” says SelfMadeHero’s Managing Director Emma Hayley. “A 2020 survey commissioned by UK Comics Laureate Hannah Berry found that Black and Minority Ethnic artists were less likely to be published by traditional print publishers than their white counterparts. The launch of our Graphic Anthology Programme marks an important step in acknowledging, addressing and reducing this disparity.”
During the 12-week programme, participants will work to improve every aspect of their creative practice, from plotting and pacing to language and layout. They will learn how to successfully plan a project, work to deadlines and develop the resilience and skills that a career in graphic novels requires.
“The lack of professional provision and access for non-white comics creators is very real”, says GAP mentor Woodrow Phoenix. “It’s great to see a very necessary correction from SelfMadeHero with this new initiative.”
Fellow GAP mentor Catherine Anyango Grünewald adds, “I hope that the Graphic Anthology Programme platform can empower its readers to enrich and expand their worldview, and empower the artists involved to trust in the importance of their stories and the beauty of their expression.”
Alongside weekly mentoring sessions, the programme will provide participants with an introduction to the comic-book industry, eight masterclasses from industry professionals and first-hand experience of working with a publisher. The core publishing, editorial and design/production team is made up of Emma Hayley, Txabi Jones and Ayoola Solarin. Spread the Word, London’s writer development agency, is an advisor to the programme and will support participants’ writing development.
At the end of the programme, participants’ graphic short stories will be published in an anthology by SelfMadeHero that will be launched at the 2021 Lakes International Comic Art Festival (LICAF).
Who is the Graphic Anthology Programme for?
Emerging comic-book artists, specifically any comics artist or illustrator from a Black, Asian, Arabic, mixed-race, Romani/Traveller or non-white Latinx background who has not yet been published by a traditional print publisher. Participants must be over 18 and resident in the UK.
How to apply
The Graphic Anthology Programme will launch with an open call for submissions on 19 February 2021. Further detail is available here: www.selfmadehero.com/graphic-anthology-programme
Call for participants: 19 February to 26 March 2021.
Mentoring programme: 18 May to 11 August 2021 (3 hours a week + 8 masterclasses).
Launch of graphic anthology: 15–17 October 2021.