Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Comics Shelfie: Dan Berry

Hey, look- it's the return of comics shelfie! Today it's the turn of UK comics statesman, Dan Berry, to show us around his shelves. There's a clutch of UK comic creators I follow pretty diligently ever since I first began to look beyond collected editions and graphic novels, and Berry is one of these. He works in water-colour, his fine-lined slightly kooky style evoking Quentin Blake, but the aspect I most admire in his art is the versatility of subjects he tackles- whether it's making comics from songs (After We Shot the Grizzly), for popular radio shows, travel diaries (Hey, You!), on parenthood (Cat Island, Carry Me), or playing out a very British blackly humorous series of events (The Suitcase, which you can read a review of here). His latest, The End, which I picked up at ELCAF, again offers something new, as a mysterious countdown begins appearing everywhere around the world. So without any further pre-amble, over to Dan:

'Here's a look at some of the shelves I've spread myself across. I get the feeling that the sneaky hidden purpose of these Shelfies is to get cartoonists to tidy up their studios. Well, No Dice, Zainab. Here's a look at my shelves in their normal everyday state.

I've basically got three sets of shelves in about three different places. The first is in my office at work. I am a senior lecturer in graphic novels at Glyndwr University and I tend to keep interesting or useful books in my office. They come in handy when I'm doing tutorials with my students I keep some of the more academic books here. They are organised by what will fit on what shelf. Books that get referred to frequently tend to end up piled up on top of others because I am always busy and none of the books has a particular place I like to keep them. Organisation reduces serendipity or something. I do a big tidy up at the beginning of each term, so this is what it looks like at the end of a term. Books and paper everywhere. I realise writing this that I have a dozen boxes of 2000ADs, Dandy and Beanos and about 3 or 4 boxes of minicomics under my desk as well. Difficult to shelve the floppy ones though.

The next shelf is in the studio for my students to refer to. These are a mixture of my books, books that people have donated to us, or stuff that my students have brought in to share. 

Next is the bookshelf at home in my studio. There's also the pile of books next to my bed and some more in a box in the attic but I've sat down now so I'll probably not photograph those. The shelves in my studio is where I keep books that I've not read properly, find useful to keep around or simply haven't for whatever reason taken to work yet. I keep reference and research for comics projects there too. 

Zainab asked me to pick out three books and talk about them which is really difficult. Ask me again a different day and I'll say a different three books. Here's what I was thinking about today. 

I recently got a couple of the Toth books and I'm very much enjoying gobbling up all that delicious artwork.

I've also been revisiting this Searle book, Les Très Riches Heures De Mrs Mole. It's a collection of 47 drawings that he did for his wife after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Every time she underwent a chemotherapy treatment he'd draw Mrs Mole doing something cheerful. It's a very sweet book and I like it a lot.

The last book might be the first comic I ever brought. I think so anyway, I think I got it with some book tokens, but I'm willing to be wrong about that, it was a long time ago. I like that there's a soppy 'this book belongs to' sticker in the front and I like even more that Little Dan wrote the address in a way to make it look like I was 37 years old at the time.

I also noticed recently that the lettering on this version of Asterix and the Great Crossing really reminds me of the way that I letter my comics.'