Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Cloudbusting is finally finished!!

It feels as though it's been an age since I started work on Cloudbusting, the graphic novel, and looking through old sketchbooks at some of the trains of thought that never made it, how it evolved to become the story of two academics working together in a flooded city, a female protagonist flying over the city via umbrella, battling with the DWP and the military to continue research, has been a true challenge.
Through lack of funding, forced to take on low skilled, underpaid work just to keep it going has certainly taken a level of determination not recognised or valued highly enough.
But it is an authentic account of survival in this unfolding dystopian reality of austerity, of real heartbreak, grief, duty of care, survival....
And during the time it has been illustrated, things have been more desperate, there have been more failures than anything J.K. Rowling boasts about.

All the work is being kept safe, the studio making room for new projects, commissions and fine art work, as the next step is now to determine the audience, and work towards getting it published!

Children's book illustration competition non-submission

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Ms Blackbird's Home For Peculiar Children

It's World Book Day again, and when I'm not illustrating Cloudbusting, I'm currently reading Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, the sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children.
Of course, I'm Ms. Blackbird, ymbryne of the Lincoln loop, and I take care of peculiar children.
Miss Peregrine, Miss Avocet and Miss Wren all send their best regards.

Ms Blackbird, ymbryne of the Lincoln loop
What's your peculiarity?

Ms Blackbird's Home For Peculiar Children

Ms Blackbird's Home For Peculiar Children

Monday, 23 January 2017

Cloudbusting new wips - rare

Paper Girls vol 2
The second graphic novel in the Paper Girls series is getting ever-more timey wimey, but I've been reading amid working on Cloudbusting, and I found some useful info on how to use Instagram (which I'm still very suspicious about) for sharing work without making it freely available to steal.

Well done to everyone that took part in the #womensmarch last weekend. 
If I had some money to get to London / someone had given me a lift, I may have taken part myself, but when I've been busy working on Cloudusting, I need some time out.

I'm still more inclined to avoid all "social" media that masquerades as someone somewhere getting even one iota of free content when I'm still paying £50 a month for the Internets, so these Cloudbusting wips are a rarity.

An accurate depiction of online publishing at the illustrators' expense

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Paper Girls graphic novel review

The first graphic novel I've read for 2017 is Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang.

So, you caned Stranger Things on Netflix over the summer, and you desperately want some Stranger Things Converse... but you were disappointed that no one bought any for you at Christmas.
While waiting for the Stranger Things Christmas lights to flicker back on, and listening to Haim or Chromeo, Paper Girls is the ideal inspiration for 80s nostalgia trips, but what's really good about it is that all the heroines are, well, girls!
Doing all the stuff the boys were always doing in films such as E.T, and reminiscent of Michael Jackson's Thriller, but which girls like me were always doing too, it's just that male gaze didn't seem to notice back in the day.

Me aged 12

1988 - I would've been 12 too, actually! I had Barb specs back then....!

The 1980s hairdos are spot on - check out Erin on her BMX.
E.T. Phone Home?

The story develops at a fast pace, the characters are strong, and with strange people with conflicting interests - who are the goodies, and who has the baddie van?? 
You don't know if it'll be an alien (E.T.), zombies (Thriller), but there seems to be a time travel element (BTTF) where Lorraine never got left sleeping in the porch...
The novel finishes with several plot lines to follow in the second edition that give clues to where the story connects back to contemporary timelines and leaves you wanting to find out how that works out, so looking forward to more Paper Girls.
And it should give you all a good taste for Cloudbusting - makes me want to shove some time travel in, but that would be too complex!! 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Cloudbusting - pg 127

Happy New Year to the 13 people that visit this blog!
People that live in Lincoln love pictures of the Cathedral.
Anyway, a riot is about to happen!
As our protagonist returns to the city centre, people gather, protests are planned....

Copyright Helen Dearnley Illustration

Friday, 9 December 2016

I, Helen Dearnley

Last month I was teaching in my other job - the Kickstarter campaign could've prevented this if it'd been funded, but obviously no one can illustrate a graphic novel without food, shelter, heat or water, and as you all know, Cloudbusting is based on real experiences with the DWP as a graduate and single parent in 2008.

After a busy week, I finally found time to go to the cinema and see the current Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake.
The film has been criticised by ex-Work And Pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith (there are two i's in his Iain, I usually can't be bothered with his second ego!) as being not real. So I would like to take time now to explain what is and isn't real in Cloudbusting as illustrated.

Back in 2013, I illustrated a series of images for Cloudbusting that is entitled "Jobkill".
The illustrations are slightly surreal, to reflect the surreal events that occurred. They borrow from references such as Andrzej Klimowski's "The Depository", and the title is from Hariton Pushwagner's Soft City

However, the circumstances are real.

I had graduated from University, I am a single parent, I have two sons from a previous bad relationship.

I was at that time claiming Income Support as a lone parent. I had made the effort to achieve a degree in the hope of gaining a higher paid career and that the work I produced would be of a higher quality, but the support that I'd previously found very good, albeit never good enough to actually provide paid graduate jobs in the arts, was, as someone else has said in a Youtube blog about their experiences working in a Jobcentre, been suddenly turned into the Stanley Milgram experiment from 2010 onwards when the Coalition happened.
Note to Brexit supporters: I do not blame immigrants for this, I blame the government.

The Jobcentre were now lowering the age of the youngest child as a condition that I should look for work. Two facts here contradicted each other. One was that I'd been looking for work since I became a lone parent anyway, that was why I did a degree, the second is that whilst doing my degree, I was paying for childcare, and when I wasn't paying for childcare, I was doing childcare. On the pittance that was Income Support and my student loan, which was less than today's student loan.

As a lone parent, I was being paid £70 per week to keep two children alive. They are not dead, and I was doing the childcare of two parents at once.

Our gaslighting landlord revenge evicted us for complaining about his poor property maintenance. 

My Dad had suddenly  passed away just before Christmas 2009.

My eldest was in his G.C.S.E. year, and was later diagnosed with depression.

My youngest son was also bullied at school, and the headteacher handled it very poorly. She is the evil Mary Poppins character illustrated here. 

All of these events could have been avoided in one way or another. 

In I, Daniel Blake, Dan makes a few errors, which is easy to do when the Jobcentre are on your back. 
One is that he makes wooden mobiles for Katie's daughter from some wood given to him from his previous employer - donated materials and handcrafted products that he could've started up a home business making crafts and selling. 
But he is working, when his doctor said he shouldn't work.

The same with his graffiti outside the Jobcentre - he declares it as art. It is not art, as he wasn't paid to do it, and he was arrested. Remember, that actual artists would be treated exactly the same way by the Jobcentre, and by the Arts Council alike.

What I thought would happen in the film was that he would move in with Katie and the kids to resolve the bedroom tax issue. 

I also thought at the end, when he finally got his appeal date, he would be successful, but for those that haven't seen it, I won't ruin the ending.

I hope to continue working on Cloudbusting in 2017. I do not expect any further financial problems, bureaucracy, loss of income, cuts to Working Tax Credits, or exploitation of any kind to interfere with it.