Posy Simmonds at Laydeez do Comics

Last night we hosted the Posy Simmonds at our last Laydeez Do Comics of 2010. What a wonderful Christmas treat! She has the most delightful attitude: part comedienne, part anthropologist, examining the motives behind different people. And, she slips easily in and out of character, accent or dialect. For example, when she talks about Raymond Joubert (from Gemma Bovery), she slips into a French accent and her facial expressions and hand movements suggest a middle-aged baker from Normandy. This made her talk delightful and very entertaining.

Here are some of my notes:

Posy studied at the Central School of Art and Design (which later became Central St Martins). She was taught typography more than drawing, and that influence definitely shows through her work. She did all the lettering by hand in Gemma Bovery, and she said she can draw a 12pt font perfectly.

She started out by doing spot illustrations and cartoons for the Guardian. She lived nearby, and they liked to call her to do rush last-minute work, because they knew she could run the finished product over very quickly. Posy said that she probably did about 14-15 illustrations per week. Then, the Guardian started a 'women's page', where they asked Posy to start a comic strip.

Another huge influence in her stories and artwork are things. The stuff people surround themselves with. Those things can say as much about a person's personality or 'class' as their actions. For example, different people have different kinds of coffee makers, and the type of coffee maker they have signifies their taste as well as how wealthy they are.

Her process for creating a strip is threefold: first she scribbles sketches and notes on layout paper to get the feel of the strip. Then she works to find her characters, modifying them slightly so they fit the parts. Then she draws out her rough cells and figures out the on composition. Then, she finishes it.

For writing longer stories, such as her serialized Gemma Bovery and Tamara Drewe, she works on a huge A2 piece of paper. She divides the paper in half and writes all her stream-of-consciousness ideas for one page of story on the right hand side. Then, she sifts through those notes to create a complete text for the page on the right hand side. That way her notes and text are in the same place, on the same A2 piece of paper.

The reason why Gemma Bovery is in a long-thin format is because that's the space the Guardian gave her when they serialized the comic. So, the newspaper informed the shape of the book. Gemma's gamine look was partly inspired by the way Princess Diana always looked upwards through her fringe.

At the end of the talk Posy answered questions and drew cartoons on an overhead projector. It was wonderful to see her live-drawing. I took a short video of her comparing the process of drawing the two teenagers, Jody and Casey, from Tamara Drewe. I was about to post it on this blog, but then I got a twinge from my conscience. Would Posy want me to post a video of her drawing? I don't know? What do you think?

I had to leave early, because I'm fighting a terrible cold. If you want to read more about the talk (and some of the things I might have missed), go to the Laydeez Blog HERE. Ellen Linder's post should be up in a day or two. Or, go to Sarah McIntyre's exhaustive POST on the evening. And, HERE is a great article about Posy by the Telegraph.