Mini mentoring session offer for Thought Bubble

Hi everyone! So, this year at Thought Bubble I’ll be free floating rather than tabling, which means I’ve got a bit more flexibility! So I thought I might offer a little free mentoring coffee meeting to someone who might find it useful!

This would be basically a little mini creative mentoring session – we can talk through either your work itself, or questions you’ve got about comics or freelance, for someone early on in their career who might find chatting to a professional a few years further down the road useful.

(If you’re reading this, you probably know my work, but I also realize some of you may want to send this on to friends you think might find it useful, who might not, so! I’m Sally, a freelance comic artist and writer based here in the UK. This year is my ten year freelanciversary! So I’ve got some solid experience under my belt on the freelance side of things, and I care about freelancers’ rights and wellbeing.

I’ve had work published with Dark Horse, Oni, IDW, Image, Oxford University Press, the Phoenix, and others, as well as working with museums, and other commercial illustration clients. My most recent book is Conspiracy of Ravens (Dark Horse), a middle grade magical adventure graphic novel with writers Leah Moore & John Reppion and tones by Niki Smith, out next month! Hi!)

What can we talk about?
Feel free to tell me what it is you’re most wondering about atm – but probably one of these areas:
-Creative practice (style, creative direction, motivation, creative feelings!) – creative stuff is a bit nebulous, but I love talking about it, and if you’ve got some questions or concerns in this area I’ll do my best to be a sounding board and offer some hopefully useful perspective!
-Freelance/practical issues – what’s the process with a freelance job? Is (x) normal? How do people get (y) opportunities? What about contracts and agents? Happy to talk through this kind of stuff!
-Artwork/comics – we can have a look at your work (in general or a specific project) and chat about where you want to go with it and some next steps that might help.

What to do if you think this might be a helpful thing for you:
Send a short email with the subject line “Thought Bubble mentoring” to sallyjanethompson (at), with a short paragraph to introduce yourself and let me know what you’d want to chat about. Let me know:
-A quick note on who you are/what kind of work you make
-What specifically you’d like some feedback or info on
-A link to examples of your work
-What times over the weekend you’re available
Please email by Sept 13th , and I’ll select someone by 15th and get in touch to make plans! 
I’ll select based on who I think my experience could be most helpful to. 
Note: I’ll probably just set up one meeting this time around, as it’s my first con since getting fairly ill, and I don’t want to overbook myself. But if it turns out that this would be useful to multiple people, I’ll try and do this more at future cons!

Fresh Romance 2 (w/ preview pages)

As I do a bit of updating to this site over the next little while, part of that will hopefully be blogging here a little more. There is a question mark on how an individual blog fits in the current ecosystem, but we’ll see how it goes!

(Gorgeous cover art of Abby and Chris by Kevin Wada )

I thought it was past time to shout out a bit about my most recent book (I just got a beautiful box of comps in the mail!). Fresh Romance 2 is the followup to the Eisner-nominated Fresh Romance 1 (for which I drew coffeeshop-romance-with-a-side-of-interdimensional-magic The Ruby Equation, with writer Sarah Kuhn, colourist Savanna Ganucheau, and letterer Steve Wands).

In FR2, I got some extra room to play as I contributed a writer-artist story, Under the Oak Trees (with colour assistance from Nathan Ashworth). It’s a gentle relationship drama, focussed on Abby, an anxious assistant groundskeeper at a forest retreat, and hyper-driven London entrepeneur Chris. For those interested, this was inspired, in a sideways way, by gentle Japanese reality show Terrace House, which included instances of people with very different approaches to life slowly learning to respect eachother’s differences. I wanted to explore this further in a romantic relationship, thinking about what works and what doesn’t, what we do and don’t need and expect from eachother, when we’re all individuals.

(My chapter cover for Part 1)

Since I was writing too, I took the chance to set it in my backyard in the English Midlands, between Sherwood Forest and Nottingham. A sense of place in comics is really important to me, so being able to draw places I can physically be in – and also places that aren’t the usual major cities we tend to see show up – means a lot to me. I’m proud of how these pages turned out, and hope you’ll enjoy getting to know both these characters but also these places as well.

FR2 features Part 1 of the Under the Oak Trees – there’s plenty of room to explore further, and I hope I’ll be able to share more of Abby and Chris’ story with you – but Part 1 is also a full story arc in itself, so don’t worry about being left hanging.

I’ll end with a sneak preview of the first four pages, so please do click through for those! FR2 is available in print through Diamond, so just ask your local comic shop to order it for you, or you can order it online from Emet Comics, Amazon, or digitally via Comixology or Emet!

Click through for preview pages!

Continue reading

The pitches-that-didn’t-happen drawer

I was hunting for some files today, and happened upon some concept art made for something a few years ago. I still quite like it, so let’s pop it here for anyone who’s interested in what sort of visual work I do to develop an idea for submission. It’s just a short story, so never really off the table to rework – but as always, that’s a matter of time!

Lonely-prev1 Lonely-prev2 Lonely-prev3 Lonely-prev4 Lonely-prev5

Test illustrations

I’m working on some illustrated prose at the moment, and wanted to make sure I had a good handle on the look I wanted for the illustrations before I started, since it’s a slightly different beast than comics.

So I had the bright idea to do a sketch, and then ink it with three slightly different media approaches, to get a real comparison. I’m…not sure I recommend this. Inking the same thing three times is kinda boring (who knew!).

But it might be of interest to people other than me, so here we go!

Sketch (printed in cyan for each of the inks):


Just ink and white!TestIllo001Small

Ink and wash (should’ve blended to soften it a bit):TestIllo002Small

Ink and charcoal:TestIllo003Small

So there we go! The pure ink is closest to the feel I want for this, but while overall the ink and charcoal feels like a bit too much texture to me, I love the texture in the large black areas, so I’ll probably bring a bit of that in!

Freeland Friday: Quality, Speed and Readership

Lately I’ve been thinking about quality. Or rather, quality as it sits in relation to speed, production realities, and reader perception.
I’m thinking about it now in particular for a few reasons.

Firstly, I’m currently working on the early issues of my first indie monthly comic, with all the attendant scheduling and process adjustments, and financial concerns, that entails.

Secondly, while in this frame of mind, I’ve been reading a few indie monthlies that have been huge successes. Titles that are amazing, popular, and which I have great respect for, so I hope this doesn’t read as sour grapes or anything. But as I’ve been reading, I’ve found myself caught up frequently on art niggles. Small things, but things I can’t help but notice – backgrounds or limbs that look sloppy rather than sketchy, copy-pasted panels where it’s clearly for time rather than a humorous or uncanny repetitive effect. So on and so forth. Part of me feels it’s snotty of me to let them bother me. But they do take me out of the story, and more importantly they relate to all the things about quality and schedules and readers that I’m thinking about right now. Because these are huge hits. Readers are obviously not as bothered by these things as I am. And given that, do they matter?

Continue reading

Residencies Roundup (Both Writers and Artists)

Lots of residency deadlines have just passed with the end of the year, but I’ve spotted a number of great-looking current ones floating about, so I thought I’d flag them up in case anyone can benefit!

LitSpace Writers Residency (writers) in Florida – 2 weeks, stipend for travel and living, seems lovely and community-oriented. May be best for North Americans, unless you can cover part of your travel yourself. Deadline Jan 31

Ox Bow Residencies, Minnesota (artists and writers) – various 2-5 wk residencies, for those teaching on arts faculties, recent MFA grads, and writers and artists in general. Residency fully funded, and travel funding can be applied for. Deadline May 9

Sci-Fi and the Human Condition residency, Omaha (artists and writers) – includes housing and stipend. Deadline Jan 8

Jon Schueler scholarship, Isle of Skye (artists) – this looks *amazing*. 3 month residency on Isle of Skye, w/ travel, accomodation, and generous stipend. Deadline 3rd Feb

La Napoule Interdisciplinary Group residency, La Napoule, France (artists) – Beautiful-looking month-long group residency, offers accomodation and food but you probably need to make your own way there. Deadline Mar 1

Artist-at-Sea Program (Tahitian Hydrothermal Vents), from Tahiti (artists and writers) – really interesting-looking art+science collab project. No additional fee but all costs covered. Deadline Jan 10

The Lighthouse Works residencies, Fisher Island, NY (artists and writers) – these look lovely..3 people at a time, small island commuity, funding for travel & materials. Multiple dates, deadline Feb 1

Write Away Europe fellowship, Spain (writers) – a semi-taught (?) group retreat – retreat funded by fellowship, but would need to get oneself there. Deadline Jan 15




2016 Ho!

Christmas15-SThompsonI’m tardy in posting my Christmas/New Year greeting, but I had two days over Christmas where I did no work at all, and that is good, so no apologies! 😉

Keep an eye out on the blog over the next little while – I’ll try and post some more 2015 work, since I’ve been quiet this last year, and some reading/watching recs I loved over the last year.

Good luck and fortitude for all for 2016 – may we all find the ways to tell the stories we want to tell, that make the world a little better, and that we can be proud of <3

Refugee donations commission giveaway

For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, yesterday author Patrick Ness started a fundraising page for Save the Children’s work providing aid in the current refugee crisis. He pledged to match up to £10,000, and the results have been beautiful and staggering, with more and more authors (dozens, now – list on the fundraising page) adding match funds of their own as the total grew. As of writing, it’s approaching £200,000. At £250,000, Virgin Money will waive their fees, adding even more to the Save the Children’s work.

This is such a beautiful picture of the YA book community. Let’s spread it to the comics community too! While I’ll obviously be adding what I can, I’d like to do something more, however small, so:

Head over to the donations page and give something, however much or little

Comment here (w/ email address) or tweet me to say you’ve done so, and I’ll add you to a draw to win a fully inked commission, drawn with extra love and care – whether you’d like a portrait of yourself or a loved one, a favourite character, whatever!

(*within reason, I reserve right to ask for an alternate pick! ^_~ )

Let me know, and I’ll draw on Wed the 16th! Let’s go!!


-Check here for more you can do

-If you’re going to BristolCon, OctoCon or FantasyCon, you can join Emma Newman in crocheting some warm things to send



Nine Worlds schedule

Nine Worlds is *this weekend*, and after all the really lovely comments I heard flying around about last year’s, I’m excited to be going!

I’ll be doing a few panels, so here’s where you can find me (and listen to me hopefully sound vaguely like I know what I’m talking about):


-How To Break Into Comics – But Seriously, How?  //  Room 11  //  1:30pm

The requisite how-to-break-in comics panel, we’ll hopefully have some good discussion on some nice chewy, practical stuff, and hey, what does ‘making it’ even look like to different people? I don’t think there’s just one route to go within comics, even professionally, so let’s chat!

-Representative Drawing for Graphic Narrative – How to draw the comics that look like you  //  Connaught A  //  3:15pm

Life drawing session, whee! I think I’ll just be floating around helping out, so if there’s any drawing stuff you want to ask me about, this is a good time!


-Show, Don’t Tell: Wordless Comics – Why make wordless comics? What do they represent?  //  Connaught A  //  10:00am

I’ll be here in capacity as a person-who-sometimes-makes-wordless-comics. I love them.

-NaNoSessionMo – Write a novel in 1 hour, 15 minutes!  //  Royal A  //  1:30pm

Come and help write a whole novel in 75 minutes! Sounds like ill-advised fun! 😀 (It does actually. I think you should go!) I’ll be there sketching a cover for whatever you lot come up with, in the same amount of time. I definitely got the easy job here.

-Magical Girls 4eva – The mystical feminine, from cave walls to Comixology  //  Connaught A //  3:15pm

I hope the many holes in my magical girl history don’t show up too much here. I’m on this one as someone drawing from this feminine-mystical-kitsch-awesome well in my work, and noticing a ton (a TON) of my peers doing the same. (See also: My slowly ongoing Blood and Roses illustration series)

The rest of the time I’ll be floating around (not literally). See you there! 😀

Writing Wednesday: Opportunities roundup

Thought I’d do a little Writing Wed roundup as there seem to be quite a few really cool opportunities worth flagging up in case they’re of use to anyone!

-World Nomads have a travel writing scholarship on at the moment – involves flights to San Francisco (from anywhere by the sound of it) for a few days mentoring, followed by a 10-day road trip to destinations of your choice in US, with some blogging responsibilities along the way. Deadline May 27

-The rather amazing Write a House residency is taking applications again from those who would be up for relocating to Detroit and getting involved in the arts locally, with a house given to the resident as a potentially permanent home. Deadline June 5

-The Branscombe House artist residency in Vancouver – I’m really tempted to apply to this! Studio/accomodation provided free for 11 months in exchange for community arts project hours. Deadline May 20

The Kent Harrison Arts Council Artist in Residence Program – another year-long house-provided-in-exchange-for-gallery/community-hours residency, also in BC – this one in Harrison Hot Springs! Deadline June 1

-This fantastic year-long Radio 2 Artist in Residence program, with a generous bursary. Must be UK resident and a professional in your field (defined here by being over half your income). Deadline May 10

Til next time, and good luck to anyone applying to any of these!