The original colour rough I did for Nelson from Woodrow's type rough back in December 2010.
Summer 2011 in London, the whiff of riots and Murdoch in the air.
Nelson started life at Thought Bubble festival in 2010 when I realised that what makes the British comic scene of today is its diversity and harmony. Perhaps it's the nature of the Thought Bubble that it levels things and makes there appear to be no headline acts or star turns just a panoply of creative talents in the same room. Maybe it was a trick of the light and we all exist in cliques with our own agendas, I think Nelson says otherwise. At Thought Bubble 2011 we launched the book and everywhere I looked people were walking around with it under their arms. So it felt right that if Nelson was to win an award it should be at Thought Bubble 2012.
There's been some discussion since those first British Comic Awards about agendas and cliques and sexism. Primarily a few creators, Nelsonites among them, questioned whether there were enough women on the shortlist, no one covered themselves in any glory as bruised egos produced curt responses, which is the nature of Twitter based debates among friends. Unfortunately The New Statesman, which has an agenda to expose 'sexism in nerd culture', leapt on the debate and hitched it to this agenda. I have no problem with such an agenda, I'm not sure what nerd culture is, but if there's sexism at play I of course want it exposed for what it is. I say unfortunately because I would have been overjoyed for the New Statesman to do a piece on The British Comic Awards and from my perspective Nelson embraces so many positive issues that I have in common with them that it would have been great promotion for British comics' creators.
What's done is done. I hope the Awards committee are open to criticism and are aware of all forms of bias that may influence voting, but I say that with no proof that this wasn't already the case. I'm sorry if anyone came away from the awards with these concerns, I came away dazzled by seeing so many wonderful British comics flickering before my eyes on the big screen.
I just realised that the awards were almost clean sweep for Nelsonites. We did try and get Raymond Briggs into Nelson at one point (he took the lifetime achievement award).
Josceline Fenton took the Emerging talent award
John Allison took the best comic award for Bad Machinery
and Luke Pearson took the Young Peoples Award for Hilda and the Midnight Giant.
The shortlists included graphic novels, web comics, short form, long form, adaptations, factual books, fiction, humour, kids books, observational, sci fi, romance, hight art, low art, experimentation, traditional comics... a broad range that demonstrates how far British Comics have come in a few short years. I feel excited and privileged to be making comics during the most creative time there has been in British comics in my memory. This is the time to be making comics in Britain, this is the time to be reading British comics!