When Normal? Festival of The Brain approached us to put on an exhibition of teenagers work we jumped at the chance. In my experience of inviting young people to make zines and comics I’ve been surprised and delighted by how often it is used as an opportunity to express internal thoughts and feelings that might not normally be discussed.

Inspired by the phrase WHAT GOES ON IN YOUR HEAD? and similar remarks often said in frustration by adults toward teenagers, we decided to look at the realities of teenage brain development, ask how the generations could learn to relate to and understand each other.

Our first way of doing this was by asking the question ‘what goes on in your head?’ Not as a dismissive or judgemental remark but as a genuine offer to listen. Young people at special MCF workshops were invited to create artistic responses to the question, inspired by the post-secret project and their own ideas.

We were overwhelmed not only by the quantity of the responses but also the enthusiasm, creativity, and range of media used.

Amazing mixes of collage, painting, drawing, image and text – each one unique but each revealing universal themes and fears.

For some close up images check out our Facebook page as we’ll be posting these over the next few days.

All responses have been kept anonymous to protect the respondents, once these responses were created participants in the workshops discussed how they imagined adults would react if they shared their feeling, vs. How they hoped they’d react. We also discussed whether we allow each other the same grace and understanding we wished we’d receive from others.

I then explained that people attending the final exhibition of work would be invited to create their own responses and gave the young people a change to write messages to anyone who does.

The young people shared messages of encouragement and understanding that are simply inspiring.

At the exhibition we used the motif of a Brain to represent the internal world and an eye to represent taking a new perspective. Paper and tools to create artistic responses we placed on the table beneath the Brain. The young people’s messages were kept beneath the eye.

On the day of the exhibition the young people’s work received a great response from visitors with many taking the time to look closely at each piece and even participate themselves. We were also privileged to invite Tracy Mapp from precision teaching Kent to give visitors a talk about the teenage brain; what’s happening developmentally and what strategies adults can employ to better relate to teens.

I love how the project turned out. It drew out some of my core beliefs about the factory and put them front and centre- that comics and drawing can help us talk about ourselves. And that through creativity young people might be able to better integrate with society as they grow and find their way.


Club Shepway recently started a Lego Club, this is a scheme, a project, an initiative… a brilliant thing, by which youth groups, workshops and other community groups can borrow a library of Lego bricks for creative projects.

The Mobile Comics Factory was asked to create a zine to be included along with this library that introduced the concept and creative potential of Lego. We approached this task in our signature deconstructionist style and were privileged to be involved with another project doing such good for young people in our area.


24 comic! 2017

On the First Saturday of October each year there is an event called 24hour comics day. It is a challenge for artists, industry professionals and enthusiastic amateurs to create a 24 page comic in 24 hours. Its a big deal in America, not so much here in the UK especially outside of major cities. But I heard about the challenge and thought that it’d be a great opportunity for the comics factory. So, setting myself up at the B&B project space on Tontine Street I took the challenge… but also ran a workshop during the day so that visitors could take part in mini-challenges. People could come and chat to me and watch progress.

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Turn Festival & GIRLS zine

On Saturday we got to chill with the young folk of the BE THE CHANGE group (A group of young activists from around Kent) and run the art area at the TURN Festival.


Situated within a small wooded area we ran a number of arty activities and created a community gallery from participants creations. Prior to the festival I got to meet some of the group and help plan the event. It was great to be a part of something primarily lead by the ideas and passion of young people. In particular I worked with Folkestoner Miranda Beinart Smith to make a mini-zine from her artwork. Miranda has painstakenly drawn a picture of a child from every country in the world and written a short bio for each one. It is an amazing project that took lots of time and research. By taking a selection of her drawings and creating a zine we were able to share her powerful work with the public.

The zine will soon be available for download. Check this page for details.


WTORH feedback

We just received this lovely email…

Hi Jim….me and my daughter Ellie (17) met you at the Turner Contemporary Margate in August ….& have just had a look at your WTORH comic on your website. It’s terrific… and we were absolutely delighted to see that you used two of Ellie’s mini sketches for your Margate zine.

Just wanted to say thank you… It made me & Ellie very happy… and to wish you good luck with the MCF and all you do for the youth.

Best wishes


Messages like this make me so excited, excited to see that what we’re doing has some meaning beyond the moment. Ellie’s drawings are fantastic by th eway and you can find them in the World Tour Of Round Here publication.


Go here to support
So, I want to create the best most high quality comic for the MCF yet. A new resource.

And you can help. Get your own copy and contribute to the printing costs by pledging to the Kickstarter.

It’s an amazing poster that looks cool and tells a story… but it can be folded up to turn into 14 page comic book transforming the story into something new!

Find out more here