I had the pleasure of chairing Tom Gauld‘s event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival earlier this week. After we’d introduced ourselves Tom gave a terrific short reading (with sound effects – “ping!”) and slideshow from his forthcoming new graphic novel from Drawn & Quarterly, Mooncop (which having had an advance peek at I highly recommend).
After this we had a good chat on the stage about his work, focusing on Mooncop to start with, touching on a number of aspects of the book, from the science fiction and real-world science influences, the “how the future used to look” gentle melancholy of a Shiny Big Sci-Fi Future when the shine starts to wear off, and the visual look of both the art and the design of the actual book itself.
We talked a bit about Tom’s early career too, starting off doing small-press, self-published comics with Simone Lia, and how that self-publishing compared to working with an established publisher such as D&Q (who were, unsurprisingly to anyone who knows and loves their output, apparently terrific to work with, giving creators a lot of support and freedom over all sorts of aspects of the book). As this was taking place in Edinburgh it seemed appropriate to ask Tom about his time as a student in Edinburgh College of Art. In recent years I’ve noticed it becoming increasingly common for some to use comics for their final project at the annual Degree Show. Tom was there well before that though, but he told me his lecturers were actually supportive and not dismissive (as I know some artists have found at art colleges in previous years, less common now, I think).
The event was very well attended, on a splendidly busy and very sunny day in Charlotte Square, with readers and authors coming and going, and the audience seemed to enjoy it and had plenty of questions for Tom when we opened up the Q&A so they could ask Tom some questions themselves. Very long line for the signing afterwards too, I was glad to see, I think most of the folk in the audience must have come up afterwards! I think Tom must have been signing (and doodling) for readers for well over an hour. Two chaps who had come along also had the gorgeous D&Q 25th Anniversary hardback, which they had picked up at TCAF in the spring and which already boasted several signatures from various D&Q luminaries, so now they were adding Tom’s John Hancock to it (very collectible edition!)