WHAT GOES ON IN YOUR HEAD?

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.

KICKSTARTER!

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

ANNOUNCEMENT: The World Tour of Round Here

August 12 – 18 2017

The Mobile Comics Factory is pleased to announce our upcoming summer project –

THE WORLD TOUR OF ROUND HERE

This summer the Mobile Comics Factory will be travelling to fantastic public art sites around East Kent, meeting with local people and tourists to create a series of zines and comics about each location. That is free workshops from the MCF all across East Kent this summer!

We’ll be travelling under peddle power with a miniature version of the MCF mobile unit built on an iconic Raleigh Chopper.

There is lots of preparation to do from creating the bike, to raising the funds needed to make the tour happen. So be sure to follow us on facebook and look in on the blog to keep up to date with what is happening and how you can get involved. I’ve created a new page on the website (WTORH) to be a hub for all this news too.

I would especially like to thank our partner organisations on each stop of the tour, without whom none of this would be happening.

Folkestone – Saturday August 12   – Block 67
Dover – Sunday August 13 – Charlton Greens (Dover partner Dover Arts Development)
Margate – Tuesday August 15 – Location TBC
Whitstable – Wednesday August 16 – Horsebridge Centre
Canterbury – Thursday August 17 – Sidney Cooper Gallery
Folkestone – closing event, Friday august 18 – TBA

Pick up our zines and comics over the half term

If you want to see and read some of the amazing products of the MCF but haven’t been able to find us at the factory you can pick up three of outer publications from locations in Folkestone’s old high street right now… while stocks last

Find “OUR HARBOUR ARM” – a mini zine made from a 12 foot long drawing at The Quarter Masters.

Pick up “strange cargo comics” – a selection of comic strips made at the recent strange cargo zine library at Steep Street cafe.

Grab a copy of “take shelter” a zine about homelessness in Folkestone at Country Fayre or Vintage & Vinyl

Lime Bar Fundraiser

Until Thursday I thought that to have a successful fund raising event meant to raise a lot of money, that after all is the expressed intention. But on Thursday night we raised a massive £27.50, which despite the generosity of everyone present – isn’t going to get us far. Every little helps as the old advert says, and its a policy that has certainly seemed to work for Tesco.

The contributions made by Thursday’s attendees has paid for pencils and fineliners to go on the factory – pretty vital equipment for making comics I think you’ll agree. It was therefore a very successful event!

Turn out at the event was small, perhaps the heat made everyone too lazy to go out, or it drew them to the beach. Maybe not everyone is as excited by movies from nearly 60 years ago as I am. Which is a shame because the film we screened (A Bucket Of Blood) is a personal favourite of mine.

One of the reasons I love it so much is because of the story behind its making. It is something I relate to and aspire to for this project. The film cost only $50,000 to produce and was shot in just 2 days. It was clearly made by people of immense passion and drive because the result is a fantastic and hilarious movie. This project with its high aspirations and modest budget shares some of the same spirit a Bucket Of Blood had. We’re running on a small scale with small money but with big intentions.

The film is also a great parody of the beat generation and of contemporary art in general. Its irreverent tone reminds me (and this is more personal) of how I left my personal pursuits in the arts to start more socially minded work. I can see myself in the character of the pompous poet and thank God that his is no longer my path. The film is lowbrow but has great affection for the high art that it parodies. It is a blending of high and low; as the MCF works with teens from all sorts of backgrounds I hope to find a way to blend youth and arts culture in a way that is equally successful.

Thank you to everyone who came along to support us.

Thanks Andi and the Lime Bar for letting us use the space free of charge for the evening

and thanks to everyone who came, whether you gave money or not I felt like we have a great time. There were 15 attendees overall and that’s not bad!

 

If you missed the event, dont worry, you can still support our online campaign. JUST CLICK HERE.

The Phoenix Rises

How We Got Here

There is lots of information about the project on this blog, but what were the things that lead to its development? Well here I lay it all out, at a significant point in our history.

As I write to you reader we are a couple of days away from a decision that will significantly shape the future of The Mobile Comics Factory, we have made a large application to a particular body and will be receiving a decision on whether we receive the funding soon.

This funding will not decide if the project happens but it will massively affect the projects scale, effectiveness, and opportunity. If we receive the funding I will be able to devote my working hours to the project, seeking new collaborators, developing the program, finding ways to extend the project, working with other agencies and guaranteeing that the factory will be out in Folkestone at least once a week for the next year!

If we don’t receive the funding, then we will be reliant on whatever time I can volunteer and the project will be much smaller in scope and scale.

So it really is a nail biting time here. However I am confident in the project, I have been encouraged by the positive response and I believe this project represents an amazing opportunity for Folkestone. This anxious moment causes me to reflect on how we got to this point and reminds me that nothing worth while happens without risk.

Some of you may not know that I have been running creative workshops in Folkestone for five years under the name RE:mix. The project is managed by Harbour Church, as part of their commitment to community outreach and social action. Over the years it has been supported finincially by generous donations from The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, Folkestone Rotary Club, Up On The Downs, and Shepway District Council.

We have run termly workshops in all kinds of areas of creative media, including making comics, animation and film-making. Here are some examples of previous work from RE:mix.

As you can see the young people at RE:mix have made amazing work over the years, and you’ll be pleased to hear there is some stuff still to be released from this year’s projects.

We started RE:mix in Harbour Church’s building in Harvey Street (no longer owned by the church). At that time we had up to 30 young people each week from a range of communities, particularly those with greatest need. It was a vibrant time. In our middle period we ran from another location in Wear Bay Road. We had some of our best outcomes in this period, we were able to build a studio and we created an internet video series that was picked up by the local paper a few times. During this time had an average attendance of 15 to 2o, with most of that drop off in engagement came from migrants and the lowest income families. Despite the successes of the project I worked hard to keep attendance up by running more socially socially orientated workshops – like a drop in club – but found that the small change in location presented a real obstacle for attendance for those with the greatest need.

This past year we have been running our workshops from Sunflower House, Foord Road and have found the same issue intensified. Sunflower House is fantastic, but it is a difficult location from which to run youth work.

I am not content to let a situation persist in which we are not reaching every young person who wants access to our projects. The first hand experience I have had seeing the power these workshops have for good, and recognising the geographical tether that most teens experience are the factors which lead to developing the Mobile Comics Factory. No longer will we be limited by our location, and we will be able to bring our workshops direct to where young people congregate.

Various Sketches

Before long we’ll be building the ambitious mobile unit that will be able to turn heads, travel from place to place including outdoor spaces, set up in minutes and be the hub of the mobile comics factory. The final design depends on the bicycle and trailer we end up getting (or if we end up with a trike or something cooler). But never-the-less, here’s a look at some sketches that will give you sort of an idea of what we’re going for.centresmall

ROUGHdesignfinalconceptcolour.jpg

HOW NOT TO MAKE A TUTORIAL

Hi,

Jim again (project lead and internet glitch)

I intermittently work on a YouTube Channel called MIND MILK. The tagline for the channel is ‘apologetics for creativity,’ and it is a space I use to make weird little videos about living creatively. It is a mix of art video, cod philosophical musings and motivational messaging… or something.

A couple of weeks back I made a video about how to make a zine from a single sheet of A4 paper. Enjoy… or something

Hi,

Jim again (project lead and internet glitch)

I intermittently work on a YouTube Channel called MIND MILK. The tagline for the channel is ‘apologetics for creativity,’ and it is a space I use to make weird little videos about living creatively. It is a mix of art video, cod philosophical musings and motivational messaging… or something.

A couple of weeks back I made a video about how to make a zine from a single sheet of A4 paper. Enjoy… or something

 

Dreddnaut – 2000AD & The Factory

Fellow Earthlets,

The Mobile Comics Factory has received a vote of confidence from British Comics giant 2000ad.

2000ad is the home of Judge Dredd and a host of other familiar characters. I’ve always been a fan of their punkish and puckish approach to comics and the way the best 2000ad comics combine bombastic science fiction with sharp pointed satire. So I was ecstatic when I received a stack of back issues in the post – a donation from the editor to the Mobile Comics Factory’s library of material to inspire. I want the library to represent all levels, and genres of comics, and having the backing of a major publisher of science fiction is a great addition.

I’ll be keeping you up to date with new additions to the library as they come in.

Jim

(PS Strontium Dog is my favourite 2000ad series, whats yours)