What the Hell Just Happened?! – An Extract from Richy K. Chandler

Talking about his latest picture book, What the Hell Just Happened?!, Richy K. Chandler said the book came from “a place of needing to try to make sense of where I was in my life”, adding: “At the start of developing it, I was going through a difficult separation, with my life circumstances drastically changing, seemingly out of control. I sought the release and comfort of expressing myself through creativity.”

Scroll down to see an exclusive extract from What the Hell Just Happened?!, or click here to read the full story behind the creation of the book, as told by Richy himself.

Continue reading

How narrative influenced form in What the Hell Just Happened?!

 

For National Stress Awareness Day 2018, Richy K. Chandler shares the story behind his latest picture book, What the Hell Just Happened?!. This inspirational gift book helps readers overcome troubling times in their lives, through vivid illustrations and positive affirmations.

The author provides thoughtful tips to remind us of what we can be at our emotionally strongest and smartest, showing how to face the past and embrace the future.

 

There are many reasons for creating a book, a comic or any work of art.

My latest book – What the Hell Just Happened?! – came from a place of needing to try to make sense of where I was in my life. At the start of developing it, I was going through a difficult separation, with my life circumstances drastically changing, seemingly out of control. I sought the release and comfort of expressing myself through creativity.

My assumption was that my anxiety and fear would come out naturally in tune. I’ve written hundreds of songs in the past and I always feel better for clarifying my feelings in verse. This time, however, that didn’t seem to be happening.

Continue reading

Marina Cantacuzino on the background of ‘Forgiveness is Really Strange’

by Marina Cantacuzino

Writing a book with a co-author, warned my writer friends, is often a clash of egos and can be fraught with problems, especially if your co-author happens to be a friend!  Mine was, and so I embarked on writing Forgiveness is Really Strange with a degree of trepidation over a collaboration that for no one’s fault might simply not work out.

 

I first met Dr Masi Noor in 2008 because of his academic research on the psychology of forgiveness in contexts of past or on-going political violence.  He was interested in The Forgiveness Project, the charity that I founded in 2004 which promotes restorative narratives in order to help break cycles of conflict and vengeance.  A collaboration in creating The Forgiveness Toolbox followed as we discovered our views on forgiveness were very much in sync – that it should never be pushed or prescribed, that it was complicated and easily misunderstood, but also that it was a skill that could be practised and learned in order to help liberate people from the debilitating power of victimhood.

Continue reading

Richy K. Chandler discusses ‘When Are You Going to Get a Proper Job?’

 

When Are You Going to Get a Proper Job? is the new comic from Richy K. Chandler, which tackles the issue of how the responsibilities of parenting can clash with a creative career.

When Are You Going to Get a Proper Job? features parent and graphic artist, Tariq, who finds himself stuck in a cycle of guilt, torn between quality time with his family and creative time in the studio.

This comic will spark the important debate about the value society places on creative careers, and will raise awareness of the pressures put upon creative professionals and how this career choice can conflict with family life and societal expectations.

Richy K. Chandler discusses the themes of the book and the process of drawing the illustrations in the video below.

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


More Titles by Richy K. Chandler

You Make Your Parents Super Happy!

Explaining why parents decide to separate in simple, understandable language to children, this candid graphic story reassures and comforts any child whose parents are breaking up. Fully illustrated, with characters that any child can relate to, this book is a lifeline during a confusing time.

Click here to read more about the book.

T.O. Walker on ‘Not My Shame’, Victim Blaming and Helping Survivors

In this Q&A, T.O. Walker discusses ‘Not My Shame‘, the media’s responsibility on reporting sexual violence and how creativity can aid recovery in sexual violence survivors.

 

What is unique about the graphic novel format that makes it an appropriate platform for highlighting issues such as trauma and child sexual exploitation?

It felt fitting to communicate experiences from childhood using the format I would have used as a child. When we remember traumatic childhood experiences, we remember them from the perspective of a child not that of an adult, and it felt important to communicate this. Showing the reader the experience through images is also more powerful than describing it because images communicate emotions directly, and this makes it harder for the reader to distance themselves or deny what they are seeing which felt important for ‘Not My Shame’.

Graphic novels are a great medium for both showing and telling a story at the same time. I wanted to immerse people in parts of my experience and emotions, but I also wanted to have a voice and comment on the experiences I was sharing, as this encourages people to reflect on what they are seeing. A graphic novel is also an excellent medium for distorting time and perception: through the images, how they are framed and the order of the panels. Given the nature of traumatic memory, this was very useful.

Finally, I wanted to create something which would be accessible to people who wouldn’t sit down and read a text only book.

Continue reading

Not My Shame: Extract

To celebrate the release of Not My Shame by T.O. Walker, we are releasing an extract from the book – please click here to view it.

This striking graphic novel gives an insider’s view of the trauma caused by childhood sexual exploitation. It tackles complex issues, including victim-blaming, traumatic memory and dissociation, but is ultimately hopeful, showing how victims can be good parents and come to terms with their past through therapy, art and caring relationships.

To read more about the book, or to purchase a copy, please click here.

Join our mailing list by clicking here.

The Story Behind ‘Embroidered Cancer Comic’ by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin

1

Here I am looking at my book, still holding the packaging.

 

It’s April 2016 here on Gabriola Island, British Columbia. The flowers are blooming, and I am looking for the first time at my new book, Embroidered Cancer Comic

“How did I come to write a comic?” I’m glad you asked. As soon as my husband Bob Bossin was diagnosed in 2011 with prostate cancer, we started making cancer jokes. Every time we could laugh about the situation, one of us would say, “That goes in the comic”.  At this stage the comic was completely imaginary.  But eventually I picked up my needle and stitched and stitched until I had over sixty embroidered squares… Continue reading

The Making of ‘Dad’s Not All There Any More – A Comic About Dementia’

Alex Demetris is an illustrator, cartoonist and maker of comics. He completed an MA in Illustration in 2012, which resulted in a comic based on his family’s experience of coping with his father’s dementia: Dad’s Not All There Any More – A Comic About Dementia. Here he shares a little about the process of creating the comic and some of his pre-publication sketches (click to enlarge the images). Alex also co-authored Grandma’s Box of Memories: Helping Grandma to Remember. Continue reading

The Thinking Behind ‘Take it as a Compliment’

Bringing together the voices of males and females of all ages, the stories in this collective graphic memoir, Take it as a Compliment, reflect real life experiences of sexual abuse, violence and harassment. In this blogpost, Maria Stoian explains the thinking behind this important graphic memoir, published by Singing Dragon.

Stoian_Take-It-As-A-Co_978-1-84905-697-7_colourjpg-print

TAKE IT AS A COMPLIMENT by Maria Stoian – NOW AVAILABLE!

Before I can talk about Take it as a Compliment, I feel I should introduce the project which preceded it. It was a short comic called The Elephant in the Room, which I made during my undergraduate degree. It was a fictional story exploring how the trauma of sexual assault might affect a person’s perception of reality and how they might deal with it in their daily life – which is to say that they probably would not talk about it, but instead bottle it up.

The project ended up being something I talked about all the time, and, as a consequence, the subject of sexual violence came up frequently. One day, I mentioned a comment I had read online which said, “When I finally plucked up the courage to tell my mother about my rape, the first thing she did was ask me what I was wearing.” I thought this was a horrifying response, in its words and also in how common the sentiment it expressed is. Instead of being appalled, however, one of the girls I was with said, “Well, a woman is responsible for her dignity.”

I couldn’t believe that the testimony of this girl wasn’t enough to convince this girl – that it didn’t say enough. I thought, “This happens to so many people, how have you missed this?”

The much more common response to my project was that people started sharing their stories with me. There was a lot of, “Oh, this happened to me too” or, “This reminds me of something else I’ve experienced” or, “I haven’t talked about this before, but now i feel like I can.””

All this made me think that if I were to draw up all these stories and put them in a book, it would speak to people when they read it. It would speak to them so loudly, and so clearly that it couldn’t be ignored by people who thought that the source of the problem was women’s lack of “dignity.”

When I started collecting stories, it was definitely a group effort. I didn’t have a very prominent web presence, so my friends helped me get the ball rolling when they told their friends about the project, and when the feminist society at uni posted a link sending people to the project’s blog, that was a huge help as well. I ended up with anonymous Tumblr messages, emails, and even a few interviews.

TiaaC Press release imageEach story is stylistically a bit different as a result of each voice being different. I received stories that were several pages long, and some that were only a couple of sentences. There are chapters where the narration is there, word for word, and there are also stories that only include dialogue. I found the responsibility of telling the story as truthfully as possible – often without knowing the protagonist – to be a bit difficult. Some people were very frank about what had happened to them, to the point where they were just recalling a series of events. Others talked about how they felt, and that was when I had to decide whether to show it, or use their words.

I also thought a lot about how I would be designing the characters. I had never met most of the people who shared their stories with me, and the people I did know needed to not look like themselves, while still being themselves. I didn’t want the audience to read the characters incorrectly; I wanted to convey the sense that they were all just everyday people.

To make a point about how I was thinking about the problem, I simplified it in a little exercise for my classmates. I made a small activity book and among the questions I had prepared, I asked the readers to make judgements about the characters I drew, to assign personalities to them, and to label them as heroes or villains. The idea was that, in real life, there are no guaranteed visual signs for what a person is like, and any interpreted signs are based on what we have been taught by culture and the media. The responses I got were that it was difficult to say which character was what, because they all appeared neutral – and yet there were clear patterns in how people judged the faces. After I explained, “Of course they just look neutral, that’s what real life is like, that was the point.” I was advised to draw the characters more “good” or “bad.”

The frustration that people felt when the characters didn’t fit into neat two-dimensional boxes was something I thought might come out of Take it as a Compliment. While I wanted each story to have its own individuality, and show each character’s humanity, I also wanted it to have a certain level of neutrality, a sense of this individual human being and their unique experience being one of many. I learned that statistics didn’t say as much to people as I thought they would. It seemed everyone already knew the 1 in 6, 1 in 4, 1 in 3 estimates from this study and that one. Somehow it wasn’t enough, it didn’t translate perfectly that the 1 was a human being. And equally, that what happened to them was caused by another human being. Survivors and perpetrators of sexual violence are real, everyday people.

As it turned out, the anonymity ended up not being that important to all that many people, tumblr_n5et4x7qE61sklb5to1_1280what with there being interviews and emails sent. Not only did people choose to approach me without anonymity, some people even signed their names to their stories. One person introduced themselves in their written story by name, saying, “And that’s my REAL name, because these things happen to REAL people.”

All throughout its creation, I thought of Take it as a Compliment as being for two groups: For survivors and for bystanders. For the survivors, I’d hoped that the act of telling their stories would be part of a sort of healing process for them. And for bystanders, it was a message to be active in the discussion and to take action regarding the issue.

I don’t know how much personal benefit the survivors in the stories got from sharing, but it was clear that many of them did it not for themselves, but out of a concern for other people. Almost every contributor prefaced their story with something along the lines of, “People need to know this is a very real, and a very common occurrence.”

I think one of the most exciting things about the book getting published is that the survivors who did choose to remain anonymous have a chance to see that it became a real thing, and that it’s part of a conversation. Before Take it as a Compliment was picked up by Singing Dragon, it really was just all the stories, back to back. That was the main thing that needed to change. The publisher really felt – and I agree – that there needed to be a conclusion. A lot of people might get through the book and feel a lot of anger, and rightfully so. They might also feel helpless. But there is a lot of power in the discussion. There are a lot of us out there who are aware of the issues and who are eager to make changes.

My hopes for Take it as a Compliment going forward would be for it to keep doing what it’s been doing, which is to keep the conversation going. Even after the project was finished, and it was on display at my university’s grad show, I was approached by an older woman who said, “I really connected with your project because I’ve also been raped. Thank you.”

When we stand up and talk about these experiences, we can make more of an impact together, than we can by suffering in silence on our own.


 

Maria Stoian is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Scotland. She is interested in the way illustration and games can be a non-aggressive way of encouraging people to recognise when they might be biased. Take It As A Compliment was Maria’s Master’s project at Edinburgh College of Art.

Stoian_Take-It-As-A-Co_978-1-84905-697-7_colourjpg-printTake it as a Compliment  by Maria Stoian is AVAILABLE NOW

Price: £14.99

ISBN: 978-1-84905-697-7