3hundredand65 Graphic novel
The story behind the story
In December last year Dom (a close friend) told me of of his duaghter Issy's diagnosis - at the age of 15 she had cancer on her spine. The idea for 365 came last New Year's Eve I wanted to do something that lasted a year in order to bear witness to a year long course of chemo treatment so the idea came quickly; half to raise money for teenage cancer charities and half a selfish way of me making time to learn to draw( 20 years ago a lecturer put me off drawing and I hadn't drawn in anger since) it has achieved both of those goals and more. Back on the day I conceived the concept my plan was to simply sell the sketchbooks on ebay for a couple of hundred quid. Now we have backing from GF Smith papers and Team Impression so we're producing a newly worked up graphic novel and running a full blown auction, but more of that later.
In the beginning: The first tweet
Here's the first tweet by Jake Smith@jake74
"I need an ambulance. It's broken. It's definitely broken." "Alright, but move out the middle of the road, or you'll get run over too..."
I phoned Jake on December 31st, he kindly agreed to write our first tweet the next day. That night I started to build a few pages on the back of my website for 3hundredand65. For about a week I simply added the drawings and the tweets sequentially vertically down a page. On day 6 I knew this method wouldn't work, there was no way of followers commenting, it was clumsy and time consuming doing everything the long way I needed a content managed site. When I mentioned this to Dom his reaction was 'no problem, leave it with me' a few days later Martin Wood had built the site you can see today. So within a fortnight I had a CMS! Perfect.
Towards the end of January I spoke with Daren Newman on the phone, I've known Daren for years, we talked about the project during the converstion I talked about how I saw the stroy becoming a surreal psychadelic steampunk romp of which elements reminded me of Ogden's Nut Gone Flake by the Small Faces and how much I'd love Daren to design a logo for us - BINGO! Our magnificent logo was born within 10 days of that conversation.
Remember I came up with the idea in the morning of Dec 31st, that afternoon I was in Waterstones in The Trafford Centre where I bought an A4 landscape sketchbook, attracted more to the cover and the textured paper than anything else. I certainly didn't think it through! So I lumbered myself with a format that would plague me for 366 days. Because the first few sketches were at that size and format the rest had to follow, the sites were built around it that was that. To be honest for the first few months it didn't occur to me that what I was doing was creating crude splash pages every day and not getting to grips with sequential narrative, in those first few weeks I was happy learning to draw.
It only took a few days to realise that the watercolour paper I'd bought was not the right surface. I went in to Fred Aldus to ask for advice, met the manager who kindly donated 5 sketchbooks to the project.
Every project needs an app
The daily grind
It was a constant effort to keep 3hundredand65 moving and to recruit writers. I spent on average three hours a day talking about the project, recruiting and supporting people and planning and reviewing. It was a second full time job.
A year in tweets
2012 was a busy year, the Queen's diamond jubilee, the London Games and many more events filled timelines with everything but 3hundredand65. Like most people I had personal upheavals and work related issues ( all of which I can plot against the tweet I was drawing on those days).
The Fame Factor
What comes next?
Here is a picture of the dummy for the book.
The top (pure white) section is the 366 tweets with credits exactly as drawn and an inset showing how they appeared on the site. The grey section is the new graphic novel fully re-worked, inked and coloured. The pistachio section is a commentary: essays, notes from collaborators, findings and etc. I'm asking 6 internationally recognised artists to create a splash page each and we already have some important writers and celebs contributing snippets of texts and a couple of short throw-out mini comics exploring sub plots. We're holding an auction in August where I'll sell the original sketchbooks in one lot, the best of the art from the book and the 6 original pieces from our contributors. All proceeds will go to teenage cancer charities.
"Which was your favourite tweet?"
As if I would answer that - even if I could! No way.