At the end of last week an epic KABOOOOOM was heard in the world of comics and a comic legend was born at last after months of hard labour. Nelson has landed.
Nelson is a graphic novel created by not one, not two, not even three but 54 of Britian’s best comic creating talent squished into one amazing life story. The basic idea is that each creator helps tell the life story of the book’s main character, Nel Baker, by showing what happens on a single day in their particular year of her life. Each done in their own comic style.
The concept was the crazed ‘wouldn’t it be great if this actually works’ idea of Fleece Station friend Rob Davis, who teamed up with our pal Woodrow Phoenix to see if it could be done. Enter 52 other comic artists kindly agreeing to create their part for free, and the infamous Mr Kenny Penman and Blank Slate Books who agreed to make it all happen in print.
Throw is piles of paper, rivers of ink, barrages of emails, clouds of hair tufts being pulled out, looming deadlines and some impressive story wrangling, and mix wildly for eight months.
Nel Baker finally stepped from the pages on November 18th and jaw-droppingly lovely she is too. From 1968 up until today she lives and breathes in inky comic brilliance, and happily for the Fleece Station we’ve been three of the proud parents.
The Fleece Station’s part in the Nelson story begins with the lovely Ellen, who introduces us to a shiny-eyed one-year-old Nel in 1970 (possibly some of my favourite Nel dialogue in the book. “Tooty” being a word that grown ups just don’t use enough).
Two years later Gary picks up Nel and drops her in his own charming little 1972 back garden (check out the perfect little birds on the roof in the first panel for Northfield ‘birdlife win’), complete with unexpected wildlife, screaming and flying vegetables.
Lastly for us Fleecers Sarah bounces Nel into 1973 with the ever-present cheeky smile and the mysterious disappearance of a classroom pet. Space hoppers will never go out of fashion for us Fleecers.
There are so many Fleece Station friends in here we may implode with excitement. In order of appearance (takes giant deep breath): Paul Grist, Rob Davis, Woodrow Phoenix, Ellen Lindner, Jamie Smart, Gary Northfield, Sarah McIntyre, Suzy Varty, Sean Longcroft, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Luke Pearson, Paul Harrison-Davies, Katie Green, Paul Peart-Smith, Glyn Dillon, I.N.J.Culbard, John Allison, Philip Bond, D’Israeli, Simone Lia, Darryl Cunningham, Jonathan Edwards, Ade Salmon, Kate Charlesworth, Warren Pleece, Kristyna Baczynski, HarveyJames, Rian Hughes, Sean Phillips & Pete Doree, Kate Brown, Simon Gane, Jon McNaught, Adam Cadwell, Faz Choudhury, JAKe, Jeremy Day, Dan McDaid, Roger Langridge, Will Morris, Dave Shelton, Carol Swain, Hunt Emerson, Duncan Fegredo, Philippa Rice, Josceline Fenton, Garen Ewing, Tom Humberstone , Dan Berry, Alice Duke, Posy Simmonds, Laura Howell, Andi Watson, and Dave Taylor…
And fabulously Nelson is raising money for the homeless charity Shelter with the profits from the the first run of copies going straight to the charity. Ah, the warm fuzzy charity comics feeling.
What on earth has Nelson got to do with me? I was ever so proud of my studio mates. As the only non-comics person in the Fleece Station I have been fascinated watching Nelson come together since the start and I have fallen hard for the lovely lady and her tale. With 54 artists to wrangle and a whole week of Nelson events to make happen I realised that making sure every creator got their kudos was going to be a toughie. So I contacted Martin Steenton and Kenny Penman and offered them a bit of help in the form of shiny metal circles and some of my marketing/social media kung fu.
Ladies and gents, these are the Nelson badges:
My idea was to donate (and custom make) 54 exclusive edition Nelson badges (with a few extras for the rest of the Nelson team) to the Nelson cause. One custom made badge for every Nelson creator, which showed their name and told the world that they were one of the Nelsonites.
The badges would then be given out to each Nelson creator to be worn with pride at every Nelson event, comics event and at fancy dinner parties (if they were feeling particularly Nelsony) to point out to comics fans and Nelson lovers that they were the ones who had made it all happen.
Cue a whirl of studio activity as all Fleece Stationers got stuck in and created the things of loveliness.
The Nelson badges won’t be worn by any one but the people who helped bring Nelson to life. This means that:
- Fans know who to ask for autographs
- Press know who to ask questions of
- Nelson lovers know who to say “Your pages were the best! You rule!” to
- Creators get to stand proudly out from the crowd at Nelson events in return for all their hard work
All this means I have a mission. A mission to find all 54 Nelson creators and make sure they get their shiny Nelson badge.
While trying to complete this mission I will also get them all to sign my copy of Nelson and photograph each one wearing their Nelson badge with pride.
Will I complete my mission bringing Nelson badge goodness to each and every one? Will I fill my book with signatures? Will I manage to find a way to involve knitting in any of this comics madness? Only time will tell. Watch this space. Nelson badge victory awaits!
First stop, Thought Bubble in Leeds…
[To be continued]