Did I mention I've been doing a good job of turning up early for schools? This is what happens when I turn up far too early (arrived at 8.30, class didn't start till 10). I get a lot of time to indulge myself with a flipchart doodle. Can you spot every character I squeezed in? To put you out of your misery, they are: Minnie The Minx (and some Bash St Kids), Harley Quinn, a badly drawn random Manga character (with Watchmen badge behind), Lisa Simpson, Thor, Desperate Dan, Mike Doonesbury (& Captain America's shield), Asterix The Gaul, Oor Wullie, Princess Bubblegum, Maus, Snoopy, Snowy, Garen Ewing's Rainbow Orchid, Little Nemo In Slumberland, me, Krazy Kat & Ignatz Mouse, Judge Dredd, Jamie Smart's Looshkin, and Garfield. You're welcome.
With the Socks Do Shakespeare tour finished, July was a month of Comic Art Masterclasses. And I can be rather proud of my preparation and timekeeping, as I wasn't late for a single class, be it school, library or art centre, and got to most of them in time to get a nice drawing done on the flipchart, a selection of which you can see here. Above from Woodbridge Library in Suffolk has a fair proportion drawn "live", that is to say drawn while I'm talking to the kids rather than at leisure before they arrive. You'll recognise these "quickie" daubs on a few flipcharts. The Superman in the bottom left hand corner, which begins as circles that the kids can't decipher, then grows into a rudimentary flying figure (sometimes it'll end up as Iron Man). Similarly the Batman figure to the top right begins as "baked beans" floating on the page, before being fleshed out to become Batman or Spider-Man.
The Marge Simpson, which you see here again from The Lights arts centre in Andover, is a fun routine where I've drawn the face and hands and get the kids to say who it is I've drawn. They start by guessing Bart or Homer, then I add eyelashes and a necklace and they guess either Marge or Lisa, and I turn it into whichever the fewest people are guessing. Oh the power to impress children.
Here at St Sidwells Primary in Exeter was where I got my first ever chance to draw Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who. After a week and a half I'd been asked to draw her more often than I think I've ever been asked to draw Peter Capaldi. He just never seemed to be the schoolkids' favourite, I'm afraid. But there's been lots of excitement about the new female Doctor, especially amongst younger kids, which bodes well.
The Comic Art Masterclass tour, June through July, took me to Guildford, Burgess Hill, Manchester, Broadchalke in Wilts, Ludlow, Berkhamsted, Cheltenham, Romsey in Hants, Fordingbridge in Hants, Muswell Hill, Baldock in North Herts, Swindon, Barking, Norwich, Poole, Pill, Burton On Trent, The Latitude Festival in Suffolk, Exeter, Woodbridge in Suffolk, Port Glasgow and Greenock, Backwell, Andover in Hants and Walthamstow. Not a bad bit of travel for two months.
You might think it's a bit repetitive having either Harley Quinn or Wonder Woman in the middle of the flipchart every time, but this is a result of my endeavouring to have strong female role models on the page every time. Name me a female superhero. See? Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Harley Quinn... and then you're struggling. Name a female Marvel superhero? Aha, Scarlett Johanssen doesn't count, she's from the films not the comics, and no kid would recognise the Black Widow from the comics. So, the same few leads on the cover it is.
There you go. For a bit of variety, it's Supergirl. And beside her you see Captain America has shoehorned in the hashtag #MakeMineMilkshake. This is an online thing that came about when trolls started abusing the female editorial staff of Marvel comics for posting a selfie of themselves getting milkshakes. Why this was a thing I don't know, all I've seen is the supportive backlash by which right minded folk have posted pics of themselves, or their characters, with the #MakeMineMilkshake hashtag (a play on the Mike Mine Marvel slogan of old). I tried to explain it to the kids, but since I couldn't get as far as explaining what an editor was, and I didn't need to embark an explanation of what sexist online trolling is, it didn't get far.