We were commissioned by the Dick Institute, in Kilmarnock, to create two illustrations for their current library campaign. Sandra produced the artwork last summer to a precise brief: the images had to be bold and punchy black and white graphics that were at once inviting and unexpected. She proposed several versions of artwork during the rough stages, and our client chose the two below. We’re delighted to learn that the campaign has been a success: it was unrolled in several libraries and and has actually increased footfall. The images were featured on leaflets, posters and bus shelters as well as on social media.
Great news! The first printing of the Little Mermaid graphic novel has rapidly sold out and our publisher Papercutz are rushing into a 2nd printing before Christmas.
The quarter-bound title was released in April 2017 to great acclaim. Promotion included a north American tour and several high profile UK events, including The Edinburgh International Book Festival, Thought Bubble and The Lakes International Comic Art Festival. November will see The Dark Side of Fairy Tales exhibition at the award-winning Glad Café in Glasgow, Scotland, where prints from the graphic novels will be on show.
Praise for The Little Mermaid:
“Profound and moving… Andersen fans will be mesmerized, and newcomers will want to see what they’ve been missing.”
— School Library Journal ★Starred Review
“A graceful, lyrical adaptation.”
“An arresting graphic novel… a beguiling sense of wonder permeate this radiant little book.”
— The Guardian
“A haunting story, magical and tinged with sadness, beautifully illustrated and lovingly retold in graphic novel form by the ever-brilliant Metaphrog.”
We had an absolutely wonderful time at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2017 and it was an honour to be guests once again this year. We kicked off on Saturday morning with a talk about our new graphic novel The Little Mermaid, chaired by Costa award-winning Mary Talbot, followed by a signing in the Page 45 room (huge thanks to Stephen Holland and Jonathan Rigby for making us so very welcome!). You can read Mary Talbot’s blog about the festival here and Page 45’s report here.
The day involved a fair bit of cloning, because we were also looking after our publisher’s table, NBM/Papercutz, who were exhibiting at The Lakes for the first time this year. A big thanks to our very kind and generous neigbours Jenny Winetrobe and Welsh Eldorado Press for looking after things while we were away multitasking. In the afternoon we also had great fun doing a kid’s event in Kendal library, chaired by the lovely Mel Gibson. By Sunday lunchtime, we had already sold out of The Little Mermaid. So thank you to everyone who picked up a copy and apologies to people who came in the afternoon looking for the book (it is of course available on our website).
With all this, we missed quite a lot of of the numerous events and exhibitions over the weekend – there was so much going on – but we did manage to catch a few things: Sandra saw the fascinating talk on the birth of the graphic novel by Benoît Peeters, chaired by John McShane, which centered on the work of Rodolphe Töpffer. Töpffer (1799-1946) is believed to be the father of the modern graphic novel, and to have written the first ever book on the subject: “How to Create Graphic Novels”. The Lakes festival have published the book, translated, edited and introduced by John McShane. John McShane was also responsible for curating the excellent Will Eisner exhibition upstairs in the Brewery Arts Center. Downstairs we also saw Fumio Obata‘s exhibition on Fukushima, but we kicked ourselves for missing the Archipelagogo exhibition, which looked fantastic.
Artwork for The Little Mermaid was also part of the windows trail, at Scratch Creative/Cordwainer’s Studio, right between the train station and The Town Hall.
In the evenings there was no shortage of parties and events to go to. Here’s John unwinding with Bryan Talbot, Jason, and Pete Renshaw at the Brewery’s bar.
A really massive thanks to Julie , Sharon and Carole Tait, Jonathan Valelly and the whole team and volunteers at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, who not only looked after us wonderfully, but made this year’s festival such a success! Their work is so important, it’s what the UK comic scene has been waiting for for decades. Being integrated right into the heart of the Kendal community, it attracts people and families from the whole surrounding region, and not just people who already like comics. In the Clock Tower and at our events we met a lot of people who were not the usual readers of graphic novels but had come to see what the festival was all about, out of curiousity and interest, and these people even bought comics. The festival also works extremely hard to build bridges with the international comic community – this year there were guests from 9 different countries, and the festival is partnered with several organisations internationally (including Toronto Comic Arts Festival). This year they announced a whole bunch of exciting new partnerships, one of which is the Myriad Edition First Graphic Novel Competition which will help launch new talents. The announcements were made at a special reception on Saturday night, to which exhibitors and guests were invited – and at which everyone could help themselves to drinks and pizza. (It was very thoughtful of the festival to do this: after a long day exhibiting, it was well extremely well received!)
Our very best and warmest wishes to the festival. We look forward to being involved in its continued growth in the coming years!
Creative Scotland announced this month’s open project fund awards today. We are honoured and delighted to have been awarded £32,000 towards creating our next graphic novel. This new fairy tale adaptation will follow on from the success of The Red Shoes and Other Talesand The Little Mermaid. The book will be published by Papercutz as the third volume in the collection, its title to be revealed at a later date. Having recently returned from an American tour, also supported by Creative Scotland, and several high profile UK public appearances to promote the release of The Little Mermaid, we are thrilled to be getting started on a third fairy tale volume.
“We are honoured to have been awarded funding from Creative Scotland for the creation of our next graphic novel: a new fairy tale adaptation to follow on from The Red Shoes and Other Tales and The Little Mermaid. Fairy tales are extremely powerful, tapping in to the very origins of stories. They tell us about ourselves and others and, in these uncertain times, they can provide us with necessary truths and perhaps even remind us what it means to be human. In reimagining our favourite tales as graphic novels we hope to create an immersive, lasting reading experience.” John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs aka Metaphrog
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland.
The BBC interviewed us on the news programme Reporting Scotland (23/06/17) about how we feel about our position as a Franco-Scottish couple in the midst of Brexit negotiations, and after the government’s first announcement of how it might treat the 3.5 Million EU nationals living here. Sandra is French and has been established in the UK for 23 years, and Brexit has affected us personally.
Had a fantastic time launching The Little Mermaid graphic novel at Waterstones on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow! Great turn out, and a very enjoyable evening. Special thanks to Paddy who even brought Sandra flowers – what a gentleman! Sandra created colour sketches in every book and we even left a stock of sketched and signed books for people to pick up after our visit.
We’re just back from our American signing tour and are feeling completely recharged and revitalised! What an absolutely FANTASTIC time! We met some truly wonderful people, all passionate about books and comics, and saw lots of amazing things. A massive thanks to Creative Scotland who provided funding – without their support this tour would not have been possible. Here are some highlights and photos!
The trip started with several events at TCAF, The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. The library venue was busy with people and buzzing with energy!
As well as doing several signings at the Papercutz/NBM table we took part in two panels and held a workshop for kids. First up was Comics and Collaboration with Nate Powell, John Ira Jennings, Molly Ostertag, Fanny Britt and moderator Erica Friedman. This panel proved popular with standing room only and the audience were keen, asking lots of questions. Jamie Coville recorded the event for a podcast so interested parties may listen here: http://www.torontocomics.com/2017/05/25/tcaf-in-pictures-and-podcasts/
John Jennings, Molly Ostertag, Fanny Britt and us!
Next up was NBM Publishing 40th Anniversary Celebration!, a panel with NBM founder Terry Nantier, Rick Geary, Larry Hancock, ourselves and Michael Cherkas. The panel was moderated by Mark Askwith and covered NBM’s history as well as providing a glimpse of their exciting future projects.
Thanks Papercutz for a wonderful dinner in Toronto! Clockwise from top of table: Terry Nantier, Larry Hancock, Sandrine Revel, Sandra and John, Sven Larsen, Catherine Marjoribanks, Marc Askwith, Anima and Rick Geary
Finally, we were invited to host a special spotlight event for kids, which was great fun and entertained parents too. And, it was wonderful to meet so many creators over the weekend and we had the pleasure of chatting at length with Aimee de Jongh (The Return of the Honey Buzzard), Jason (I Killed Adolf Hitler), Sandrine Revel (Glenn Gould), Gabrielle Bell (Everything is Flammable) Neil Slorance (Dungeon Fun) and Dave McKean (Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash). We also caught up with comic luminaries Heidi MacDonald, Calvin Reid and Tom Spurgeon and publishers Chris Pitzer (AdHouse Books) and Chris Staros (Top Shelf).
Sandra with Sandrine Revel and Jason
John talking to Dave McKean
With Sven Larsen from Papercutz and Gabrielle Bell
We even popped in for a visit to say hello to the great folk at The Beguiling comic store in Toronto where we were delighted to see our graphic novels on the shelf beside Tintin!
Straight after TCAF we were flying to Washington DC for a signing at Big Planet Comics in Bethesda.
On we went to Boston, for a signing at The Million Year Picnic, another legendary comic shop, situated right beside Harvard Square. A big thank you to Tony, Mike and Craig for hosting our signing!
Another plane journey and we were arriving in New York City amidst a sudden and unexpected heat wave.
We headed straight to our publisher’s office for a visit. Although we have known Terry Nantier for many years, it was fantastic to finally meet the rest of the team: Jim Salicrup, Jeff Whitman and Michelle Hart.
With Terry Nantier
With Jim Salicrup
The next day and a short subway ride away from Manhattan, Word Bookstore Jersey City was hosting our event.
We delivered a short presentation and signed and sketched The Little Mermaid for eager young readers. Thanks to Aubrey Nolan, Parish, Hannah and Lydia and all the lovely staff at Word!
Just 24 hour later we were setting up for an event at the fantastic Bank Street Bookstore in Manhattan. Our presentation and signing took place directly after the store’s regular puppet show, a performance, where free jazz meets dada and experimental improvised theatre for kids, created by store manager Andy Laties and Rebecca Migdal. Andy played the garden hose and several other surreal musical instruments. It was also great to have dinner with both Andy and Rebecca afterwards. It gave us all a chance to relax and exchange cultural ideas.
Another day in NYC, another enjoyable event: this time at Battery Park City School where we delivered two presentations to 4th grade pupils.
Outside was pouring with rain by this point, but we had great fun with the kids! They were really enthusiastic and had really smart questions. Having done hundreds of events in the UK, we were really delighted to have the opportunity to visit a US school. Big thanks to Thomas Knowlton at NYPL for making this visit possible, and to librarian Basia Tov at Battery Park City School for making us feel so welcome! Thanks Thomas also for taking pictures, some of these are below!
We even got a view of the statue of liberty through the fog and rain from the school library window!
By the next morning the rain had subsided, and we felt rather sad to be leaving NYC, we love the city so much! But we were heading for another exciting adventure, this time to Florida.
Gainesville was the antithesis of NYC (in a good way), and there we stayed in a converted shipping container near a swampy pond and showered outdoors under a palm tree. It was wonderful to see our hosts and cartoonist friends Tom Hart (author of Eisner-nominated Rosalie Lightning, pictured here under the umbrella) and Leela Corman (Unterzakhn) after nearly 14 years, and to meet their wonderful daughter Molly Rose. Tom even took us see alligators in a nearby park on our way to airport!
We delivered an illustrated talk at Millhopper Library for the students of SAW, Tom and Leela’s Sequential Artists Workshop, a school of cartooning. We had a great time and it was fantastic to talk comics with comic students. Huge thanks to Tom and Leela!
With Tom Hart and some of the students of SAW
And then, 16 days on, it was finally time to come home, and we wished we could have stayed longer, but also felt ready for the next round of events in the UK (take a look at our website for updates). Most importantly we feel inspired and excited about creative work and the prospect of getting on with making our next graphic novel.
Thanks to Papercutz, especially Sven Larsen who helped us put this tour together, and Terry Nantier for his support (and for dinner and breakfast in Toronto!). Also thanks to all the store managers and staff. And a huge thanks to our good friends David and Betsy Bennett for their hospitality in Bethesda!
Very excited to announce that we’ll be touring America this May! The tour will kick off at TCAF – The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, where we’ll be part of their special programming: NBM turns 40 (events to be announced soon). Then we’ll be doing a series of signings and events in: Bethesda (DC area): Big Planet Comics – May 17 Boston: The Million Year Picnic – May 18 New York City – Jersey City: Word Bookstore – May 20 http://www.wordbookstores.com/event/jc-metaphrog-presents-little-mermaid-graphic-novel New York City – Manhattan: Bank Street Bookstore – May 21 New York City – Manhattan: Battery Park City School – May 22 Gainsville: SAW, The Sequential Artists Workshops – May 24 The tour is supported by Creative Scotland.