It’s the second South London Comic and Zine Fair this weekend and, to get Londoners in the mood for this most welcoming day of small press comics magic, we’re providing a handful of short spotlight features this week on a trio of exhibiting creators who either graduated from last year’s SLCZF Communal Table or are newer faces on the scene. First up today is artist Joe Stone who tells us about his practice, minicomics and an upcoming project that we can’t wait to see here at BF.
If you want to find out more about SLCZF you can read our festival report on last year’s triumphant debut here and follow the fair on Twitter here. Broken Frontier are proud to be putting their name to the 2018 SLCZF Communal Table. If you want to find out how to have your comics displayed there on the day then all the guidelines are here. And don’t forget I’ll be available to speak to any aspiring creators about their comics practice and give feedback/advice on the day!
ANDY OLIVER: Tell us a little about your background and your wider artistic practice?
JOE STONE: I’ve been obsessed with comics since I was about 6-years-old, and have drawn things for my entire life. I started taking the idea of making comics more seriously around two years ago, and now tend to toil away at them in almost every spare moment I get. Apart from comics I also draw lots of dumb illustrations and post them on my obsessively neat Instagram profile, and I work as a graphic designer for my day job, so my creative juices are generally always flowing in one way or another. Ugh, that sounds disgusting now that I think about it.
AO: How do you define your work in terms of theme or genre? What have you self-published to date?
STONE: If I had to give my comics a genre it would probably be ‘contemporary observational comedy with a heavy dose of melancholy’. But that sounds pretentious, so let’s just go with ‘occasionally funny, sometimes sad’. I self-published my first book Like Tweet Match Repeat last year, which was a collection of comic strips about social media and online communication, and I got some really good feedback on it – including selling a couple of copies on last year’s SLCZF Communal Table. Since then I’ve also made several mini-comics on various different topics such as hats, cats and commuters. For those ones I churn them out on the printer at work after everybody else has left for the day, and then cut, fold and staple them together myself.
AO: How would you describe your artistic style? What mediums do you work in?
STONE: I tend to go for a fairly clean and pared-back style, with simple line-work and limited colour palettes. Where possible I try to bring some of my graphic design knowledge into page layouts and general composition. I draw everything digitally, which allows me to work much faster and gives me a lot of flexibility, but has had the unfortunate side effect of making me very self-conscious whenever I have to draw anything with an actual pen and paper again.
AO: What will you be selling at this year’s SLCZF? And whose work are you looking forward to picking up on the day?
STONE: I’ll have all of the comics I mentioned above on sale, as well as my brand new one Twelve Opinions on Artworks in Galleries, which is about exactly what it sounds like it’s about. I’ve also got a couple of pages in the new Dalston Comics Club anthology book, which they will have for sale on their table and should be a lot of fun. As soon as I get the chance I’ll be running around buying as many comics as I can afford, and especially want to get some things from Sabba Khan, Emix Regulus and Kim Clements.
AO: What would be your one soundbite of advice to new artists just starting on their comics self-publishing journey?
STONE: Start small. Even making just a one page comic is a huge achievement, so don’t make your first attempt a 4,000 page sci-fi epic. I actually run a monthly meet-up group called WIP Comics where me and other aspiring comics makers talk about this kind of stuff, and that’s the first piece of advice I give all new members.
AO: What can we look forward to from you in the near future? Are there any longer-term projects you’re working on?
STONE: Lately I’ve mostly been working on an autobiographical comic called Stutter, which is about what it’s like having a speech impediment. It’s by far the most difficult and ambitious work I’ve ever done, and it’s sort of terrifying to write about something so deeply personal, but I think it’s an important topic to tackle and comics are the perfect medium to do it in. I’m on track to have it finished before the end of the year. I’ve also been organising a collective anthology book with the aforementioned WIP Comics meet-up group, where me and some of the other incredibly talented members are all making short comics on the theme of ‘Work’. That one will be ready in time for Thought Bubble (where I’ll also be making an appearance!) and the quality and variety of comics that people have submitted so far is fantastic.
For more on the work of Joe Stone visit his site here and his online store here. You can also follow him on Twitter here.
For regular updates on all things small press follow Andy Oliver on Twitter here.