Workshop @ Folkestone School For Girls

Another collab with Strange Cargo and another fine Zine workshop.

Working with a group of 10 sixth formers, we were overjoyed to see such a dynamic range of work.¬† Created during the two hour session were 10 doodle zines, 2 giant concertina style zines and a beautiful collection of collage fanzines on a range of subjects, some serious and some not so serious. I’ll let these pics speak for themselves

Zine Workshop at Harvey Grammar (with Strange Cargo)

*** All Photos Credit Ruby Bolton ***

It has been great to collaborate with Ruby from Strange Cargo to plan and deliver some zine making workshops in secondary schools.

Today we visited the Harvey Grammar School and turned heads as I rode in, right into the centre of the classroom!

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We decided to bring the mobile unit to the workshops today just for the visual impact and it certainly did the trick. Perhaps more confusing than inspiring it caused conversation none the less.

But the main point here isn’t the trike, it is the amazing work created today by both the GCSE groups we worked with, and their introduction to a whole new avenue of creativity and expression.

We freed everyone up with a drawing exercise that we then turned into mini-zines.

With one group we used lining paper to create giant concertina zines (pictured below)

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and with another we got them making their own zine creations using collage, drawing and assemblage. The variety was brilliant, with even the most skeptical getting involved and finding the fun in it. One innovative idea for example was a zine with images sewn into the paper, WOW!

We were so busy with the workshop (and taking the opportunity to make a quick zine ourselves alongside the students) that we didn’t get any pictures of finished work but if you want to see the fruit of their labour you can check out a selection of their zines at Strange Cargo’s upcoming Zine Library. It is not to be missed and (spoiler alert) the MCF will be there running a workshop in making comics too!

Harbour Arm Workshop

Today was officially the first workshop we ran, and it was also the first time the MCF has been ridden entirely assembled. We were on Folkestone’s beautiful Harbour Arm for two overcast hours. The atmosphere was great and the crowd was even better.

The Factory turned heads and we had some great interactions with the public. 14 children and 2 teenagers came to take part in our workshop activities and we loved seeing their creative ideas.

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Above: Katy Lockey with the MCF set up ready to go!

The weather today was somewhat indecisive but the willingness of those who engaged with the project was undeterred.

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Today’s youngest makers: Isla, Arya, and Niamh.

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Oh No MONSTERS ATTACK!

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Today’s makers were accompanied by this amazing curly shoed band.

We couldn’t have been more happy with how today went.

I’ll be back at the Harbour Arm next Sunday 1:30 – 2:30pm to distribute comics created from the amazing work young people made today. I want to extend a huge thanks to Liu and everyone at Folkestone Harbour arm for making today an amazing experience.

Check out the CALENDAR to find out where we’ll be next, and we’ll leave you with a picture of captain Harbour (for his) Arm

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LIVE: the MCF in pieces, in my garden, in progress

yesterday ended very late due to my computer being a jerk basically! I’ve been trying to edit in a simple intermission to film I’m screening tonight as a fundraiser but my laptop didn’t want to play ball.

depite that today still began bright and early as I spent some time researching putting a small video player into the MCF.

BY 9am I was out in the backyard under the blistering heat to get the MCF mobile unit up and running. While I was out there I thought I’d make a quick video to give you a glimpse of what I’ve been up to.

and today isn’t over yet. Our next post will be all about tonight’s fundraiser at the lime bar

Oh… And by the way, I can confirm that Finn and Jake are coming to the MCF! Thank you Boom! Studios for agreeing donate to the project.

 

Fundraiser Event

On Wednesday August 24th we’re holding a fundraiser event at the Lime Bar. We want to do something to promote the project on the heart of the amazing Creative Quarter

We’re going to be screening A BUCKET OF BLOOD (Roger Corman, 1959), it is a favourite of mine. Despite its macabre title A Bucket of Blood is a hilarious black comedy, a send up of the art world, and parody of the notion of genius. It was made with a budget of just $50,000 and shot over just 5 days. It embodies a DIY approach to creativity, but loads of passion – Both things that we love and want to build into the MCF project.
The film is about a failed artist who – when his own skill fails him – turns to extreme and gruesome measures to create his art.

One of the ways you can read the film is to see how trivial and meaningless the notion of genius is. I’m on board with that message, too often I meet young people who have cut creative expression off from their lives. Not because of a lack of interest but because what they were trying did not come easily. They become convinced that (for instance) drawing isn’t for them, all because they have inherited this crazy notion that creativity is only for the geniuses. If they can’t draw the way they imagine immediately then it must mean the muse does not rest with them. This state of understanding isn’t the fault of young people, and isn’t because they’re lazy; its because that is what our pop culture teaches them, that broken perception is their inheritance, Unless we do something to change it… That’s why we need your support for the Mobile Comics Factory.

But why do we need your money?

We’ve had a great response from the funding bodies we have applied to, and yes there are still outstanding applications that will go a long way to covering our remaining costs. But why let them have all the fun!

As one works on a project like this there are often new costs that present themselves; from insurance to having to amend a design, there are things that it is hard to budget for. We want to help cover those costs and set up a kitty with which we can make more copies of work produced by young people. Beyond that and more excitingly I want to reach for some stretch goals for this project – I want to install a video screen onto the factory to show clips of comics being put together. I want to expand the library, and I want to commission street artist Squirl to paint the Factory. But in addition to all those aims, this fundraiser gives the enthusiastic onlooker the opportunity to get involved, to be a part of what we’re doing, to take ownership of the project.

So in conclusion,

you’ve got to come to the Lime Bar on the 24th to be a part of this amazing thing and enjoy a classic film.

 

*this event is held at a bar in the evening, it is therefore over 18s only.

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Trial at Integrate

Yesterday I took some comics and a some simple activities to ‘integrate’ a brilliant group here in Folkestone working with refugee teens. I had been to the group a couple of times before when it was new, just as a helper, but since then it has grown massively. I didn’t do a head count but it felt as if saying 40 kids would be a low ball estimate.

During the day the young people at integrate are taught English along with some other key skills to help them get on at school and adjust to a new culture. But that teaching time is followed by a youth-club style session with craft, games and a shared meal. I joined for this portion of the evening and set up a table with my resources. 

During the night I spoke to a dozen or so young people showed them some comics, and we had six pick up a pen and engage with the comics workshop more deeply. This session from my perspective was kind of a fact finding mission, I didn’t know what level of literacy I was likely to find or indeed what cultural yolk they had. I have gotten to know a few people from their community previously and I was aware that within that group there was a huge bredth of experience and backgrounds (that should have been more obvious than it is to many of us). And yet all are united by the horrific experience of persecution, violence and the extreme circumstances of their journey to the UK.

What I discovered was that when I spoke to some, they had experience of comics and we could speak from a shared frame of reference; but there were others who had either never seen a comic before or for whom the language barrier was so great that I had to work really hard to communicate.

From the experience I’d had with displaced migrants before I had assumed a certain level of cultural overlap that actually wasn’t always present. I spoke to one bright young man who knew cartoons and Tom and Jerry, so I explained comics by reverse engineering through cartoons. When he saw a page of comic panels he was at first overwhelmed, I had to cover the page and go through the story panel by panel to show how it should be read.

That is an interesting reminder about how so much of our experience of the world is codified by our cultural circumstance. And looking at pictures has certain rules and conventions just as languages do.

In the 1hour session we no one was brave enough to embark on a whole comic. But I was pleased to encourage one person who was not confident in her drawing, she ended up making a zine style picture book. I heard some stories that were profound and sobering and I snapped some pics of what two lads had drawn.


One drew a football and then packed in the drawing for the written word. Another drew a bicycle and then a bunch of flowers. These may seem like they are unconnected images. It might appear that perhaps they didn’t understand the task. But I will share with you what they shared with me.

You can see in the photo of the football that this young man’s name is Able. What you can’t see so well in the photo is that he says “when I was in my country, I like to play football. When I feel sad I play football.” As he drew he told Laura (another leader at the club) about how important football was to him because he plays when life is at its most difficult. I was taken aback by the level of self-awareness that shows. to recognise and use the fact that that football had role in keeping him level in times of difficulty. I was intrigued that when I had offered for him to use some blank squares to make his own comic and tell his own story he chose to represent a football. This object that was a comfort and anchor in his experience. It makes me wonder about the things I naturally draw without thinking. I don’t think anything so poignant could flow from my pen.

The other image. The young man that penned it was also thinking back to objects of home. A bicycle, or to be more accurate: this is a picture of what was once his bike. Then the flowers, representing a gift of the type he might give the girls at home. These drawings have the appearance of being random… And perhaps in a way they were just the images that spilled forth from these two lads when put on the spot to draw. But they are narrative, they are expressions of their stories.

What I find challenging is that with they’ve been through, they’ve chosen to preserve positive memories. Other members of the integrate group have told me the darker parts of their own stories before- stuff that would be exploitative to repeat here but easy for the reader to imagine. Tonight’s drawings show a different facet to that story. These drawings show a refusal to be defined by circumstance or policical status. And when I return to integrate next  academic year as I hope to do I can’t wait to see those stories develop as I take some practical steps to make the activities more accessible:

These are a couple of those practical steps:

1. Provide some examples of comics without any words, no word balloons even

2. Develop a live drawing demonstration to help show what it is sometimes hard to say with the language barrier.

 I won’t reveal my other ideas just yet for working alongside this project, but I’m looking forward to,the next opportunity.

A day in the Life, July 2016

Well, hello reader!

What an exciting time to be putting together this project, I hope you’re enjoying being a part of it and hearing about it as much as I am enjoying the experience of putting it together.

Last night RE:mix had a screening of their recently made animations and videos, it was a fantastic event attended by friends, family, and the public.

As well as work created at RE:mix we also screened a video by George Berry who has started his own YouTube channel at home. It is great to support young talent!


This morning I met with a representative of the Roger De Haan Charitsble Trust, and discussed the comics factory project. RHDCT have supported the Re:mix project for a long time and it was great to be able to share some stories and talk about where the project is headed. I don’t know what the outcome of that meeting be yet, with regard to future funding. But just like with Folkestone Soup, I love how working on this project allows me to meet and speak with so many different people and groups all passionate about our area.

Later in the afternoon I had a quick meeting with Tom McNeice of Folkestone Rotary Club. He gave us a cheque toward the project and we had one of those embarrassing photo opportunities…


This photo not only reminds me of how much work we need to do on the trike… But also that it would probably do me good to get a bit thinner before riding this beast around town every week. Add that to the daily tasks!

And that is the nature of this kind of work, sometimes you’re meeting interesting people with the opportunity to help you, sometimes you are standing on that back up to interact with kids and actually deliver the project, other times there is prep work to be done. A never ending list of small tasks.

Just yesterday I was making prototypes for the upcoming build and tomorrow I will be running a comics workshop at integrate, a youthgroup for migrant and refugee teens. But right now I’m working on an idea to create a dry canopy for the mobile comics factory so that we can be out in all weathers. Every day is different and but every day is an adventure.

Thanks for your support and don’t forget to share this story to be a part of what we’re doing.

Best

Jim

How To Make Your First 50 Likes Count

Hi Jim here,

project lead for the Mobile Comics Factory.

I spent a lot of time sequestered away at my desk working on funding applications and plans to begin to make the mobile comics factory happen. But with a project like this (something that is for the community, within the community and supported by the community) I knew that I could not make it happen alone.

The community needed to know about it, I needed to share the passion I have.

I hoped to get people excited about making work for the library, I hoped to gain the insight of other youth workers around town and learn about the young people they work with. I needed community leaders and potential funders to know about the project, and I needed to gauge the local appetite for an idea like this.

So I went to Facebook and made a simple page. But rather than invite my entire friend-list as I might normally do for an event or personal project, I did something very different.

Anyone can get lots of likes to a Facebook page by spamming people and leaning on the goodwill of friends, but I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want people to thoughtlessly click the like button and I wanted to ensure that people who would be most interested in the project didn’t dismiss it as spam.

So once the page was finished I selected four or five friends and sent them a specific  and personal message asking them to take a look at the new page. I asked them to take it in and if they felt that the project was something they supported, then to share it with their friends including a personal recommendation.

I explained to them that what I had realised from my own experience was that I give far more weight to the opinion of people I trust than I do to paid advertisements or people sharing pages at random. I selected four people whose opinion I listen to, and who have a stake in the community. Each was either a youth worker or an artist. I also picked a friend who I knew would have my back, someone who really knows how to encourage and who oozes enthusiasm.

I didn’t even share a link to the page on my own Facebook feed at first. I relied on this message sent to less than half a dozen people. Within 48 hours the page had fifty likes and I was interacting with people I’d never met who were excited about the project and had things to offer and insight to give.

Had I sent an invite to everybody I know, I may well have still received fifty likes on the page but I would have known all those people already, and many would not have had contributions to make beyond moral support.

I hope that helps you if you’re trying to drum up interest in your own endeavours. And may I put out my cap and remind you that you can support us by being vocal about your interest in this project on social media.

Its value is priceless. Not least because of the encouragement it gives me to keep driving forward and make the project the best it can be.

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