Life Drawing: A Life Under Lights
By Jessica Martin
A graphic novel memoir about life as an actress, singer and artist in the big city
Publication date: Summer 2019Buy
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Every journey starts with a single step, through, or in my case, a single note.
I am Jessica Martin, a 'seasoned' multi-faceted entertainer with a thirty-year career of many twists and turns. I have gone from teenage jazz singer, to television impressionist (in the days when light entertainment was at its Saturday night best!), to cult Doctor Who guest star, leading West End musical theatre actress and now, in the last four years, a comic creator and published graphic novelist.
So I feel that I have, in the words of the great song, definitely lived a life that's full!
However, the glitzy, glamorous, showbiz journey is underpinned by a more unconventional family history...
I was born in 1962 to an Irish mother and Singaporean father who was a successful band leader in 50's Soho, London... long before interracial relationships were par for the course. And this relationship was filled with silences, secrets, and some surprises that shook the very foundations of my childhood.
In telling this story, I hope to capture some of the sultry spirit of Soho, and the heat and intensity of standing on a stage, singing your heart out, all from the perspective of someone who has never quite… fit in.
It is the story of someone who comes from an unconventional background, where nothing was quite as it seemed, and who would escape into the world of musicals and performance.
It is the story of a woman seeking to bring together the strands of living a creative life and having a home and hearth.
It is the story of the knocks and setbacks that befall anyone seeking to express themselves fully, and searching for the way to do it.
Being a born entertainer I want to create an all-singing, all-dancing, all-drawing book to delight the senses. With a cast of diverse characters, and guest appearances from some very recognisable personalities, this graphic novel will be 152 pages paying tribute to a creative life.
Jessica Martin has been an entertainer for most of her adult life. She was singing professionally with her father, jazz pianist Ido Martin, from the tender age of sixteen.
After graduating from London University with a BA Honours degree in English and Drama she found herself performing on the comedy fringe circuit as an impressionist with the likes of Rory Bremner and Harry Enfield. This quickly led to a successful television career as an impressionist on shows such as “Copycats” and “Spitting Image”. One of Jessica’s proudest moments was performing on the Royal Variety Show as her idol Judy Garland. She also starred in a Doctor Who story portraying an intergalactic werewolf in “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” with Sylvester McCoy.
Jessica crossed over to the world of theatre where she scored great success playing Sally Smith opposite Gary Wilmot in the musical “Me and My Girl” in a two year run at the Adelphi Theatre and UK tour. She has continued to play leading roles in musical theatre and most recently played Mrs Baskin in the UK premiere of “Big” the musical at the Bord Gais Theatre, Dublin and Emily in the West End premiere of “Elf” the musical at the Dominion Theatre.
Jessica is now enjoying a new twist in her creative career as a comic writer and artist. Her main themes are film history and stories with a strong female protagonist. Jessica’s self published comics, “It Girl” based on the life of Clara Bow and “Vivacity” about young Vivien Leigh have been critically acclaimed bestsellers and her first graphic novel “Elsie Harris Picture Palace” set in the Thirties film industry was shortlisted for the Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel Prize 2014 and was published in 2015 by Miwk Publishing.
She was nominated for the Breakout Talent category in the Broken Frontier Awards 2015 and selected for the Breakout Talent panel at Glasgow Comic Con 2015.
- 12th January 2020 2020 Vision
Not too late to wish you all a very happy New Year and decade, I hope? It is the second week of January and I'm still blinking my eyes like a newborn, adjusting to the hazy new world of the 20's. Before I 'accept and move on', let me cast my mind back to the last few months of what was for me, the most hectic, eclectic whirlwind of activity since "Life Drawing" was published. The nine panel grid…7th August 2019 Officially Published!!
soonOn July 25th, “Life Drawing. A Life Under Lights” was officially published. So now with the help of word of mouth, favourable reviews, a miraculous appearance on “Graham Norton” ( a joke... I’m not appearing but who says it can’t happen eventually?), with all those things aligning, my little graphic acorn could grow into a tree.
Meanwhile, there is much to be grateful for. Since my last update…21st June 2019 Lift Off!
At last, the book is born. A massive thank you to all my loyal supporters who kept the faith. I hope most of my subscribers have now got a copy and for the rest of you, it will be a click away on Amazon or perhaps already stocked in a Waterstones near you?
The first excitement was going into the Unbound offices on Friday 7 June to sign copies of the book and dispatch the rewards for the designated…6th May 2019 Countdown to publication!
I know the radio silence has been endless. I am so sorry for the lag since February but there didn't seem to be much to share...until I started thinking about what to say in this blog! Can I ruefully admit I have for the most part, been having a nice time with my family, everyday pleasures and all the other relaxing activities usually recommended for an expectant mother?
I mean the book is on its…11th February 2019 The Journey of 1020 Pictures
I've just been listening to Radio 4's "You and Yours" feature on the resurgence of life drawing and its connection to the rising trend in mindfulness activities. I have always found drawing to be a soothing and immersive pastime. Of course, a whole book of drawing is a different matter. As I hinted in some of my earlier posts, this book has not been without its challenges. I have experienced joy…26th November 2018 Towards the Big Finish!
Greetings from the hermitage!
As you know, we’re in the final stages of birthing this graphic memoir of mine. A huge thank you to all of you who are supporting me and to the lovely passengers who came on board just before the gates closed. Corny as it sounds, I think about you all a lot. In a world where creative self expression has historically been a ‘hard sell’, your belief in…18th September 2018 Learning my lines
Learning my lines
Hello to everyone who has loyally stayed with this voyage around my life! It really is a case of slow and steady wins the race. Welcome also to the new supporters who have come on board recently. Your generous support is much appreciated.
The long pause between the last post and now is because I’ve been working on the pages and another exciting commission which will be…17th July 2018 The Agony Before The Ecstasy
I’ve grandly bastardised the title of the classic historical fiction about Michaelangelo battling the Pope and his own inner demons to complete the Sistine Chapel. Whilst my graphic novel is hardly on the same scale, it has certainly filled me with enough challenges, self doubt and external obstacles to make me want to tear down the metaphorical scaffolding and admit defeat.
With a few months left…11th June 2018 Shirley- Meandering
Hello lovely supporters,
A much overdue update on all that’s been happening. It probably appears as if everything has come to a grinding halt on my memoir. However, events in my professional life will hopefully serve the greater good of making my life story all the more exciting and devoid of cliche.
I have been illustrating a three part story by Richard Dinnick for Titan Comics “Doctor Who…23rd March 2018 The Progress And The Digress
Hi lovely supporters,
Just over two weeks since I started them and I’ve reached about 65 of my my thumbnail layouts. I’m factoring in a lot of pictorial and historical research as I go and falling into a few rabbit holes to Wonderland. But some treasure be there too, me hearties.
I’ve been posting lots on Instagram. It’s a succinct way of showing where I’m at. So after this brief verbal update…7th March 2018 And we’re off!
It’s been a very busy last month. I came back from a successful trip to Gallifrey One in Los Angeles, the big Doctor Who Convention. It was officially announced that I will be illustrating a comic strip written by Richard Dinnick for the Seventh Doctor series published by Titan,
I came home to more great news that I’ll be playing controversial MP Shirley Porter in a new satirical drama “Shirleymander…5th February 2018 A Moment For Mum
Thank you for your patience. I'm sorry for the long silence here. No, I haven't abandoned my book or my promise to you. Far from it. Recent events will ensure my book has more meaning and is richer for the experience. As you know, I have been busy with the demands of performing in the successful run of "Elf" the musical, which not only did a runaway box office breaking run at The Lowry…9th November 2017 Life Under Christmas Lights
Greetings from Plymouth! We’re bringing on the festive season with the musical “Elf” at the Theatre Royal here before we take the show to The Lowry Theatre in Salford for Christmas. This is my third time playing the part of Emily Hobbs.. the stepmom of Buddy the Elf. Needless to say... I love my job!!
I promise you all that once the show is up and running you will see evidence of me sitting at…12th September 2017 A Star is Drawn
Hello... remember me?
A hiatus in the ebb and flow of my progress. Apologies for that. There was the family hols in Greece. Won't bore you with that but I will say that Halkidiki is my dream destination should I ever be fortunate enough to be able to take time for a dedicated writing retreat.
Meanwhile, work is seriously underway on the 'word' part of my graphic memoir. And now that I've come…3rd August 2017 Backers To My Future!
The sun is shining outside and in my heart! Two days ago we reached 100% funding and today we're at 101% so the exciting adventure continues! The work itself will take quite a few months to complete the book. But there will be regular updates on progress and little vlogs showing how it's all going.
Don't worry.. you haven't got rid of me that easily!
Meanwhile here's a…20th July 2017 Impossible, Improbable, Inevitable
Ahoy to all my trusty supporters here on board the good ship "Life Drawing". I'm happy to say that progress has been so amazing since my last update that we are now very close to the target. And sorry for the lack of updates but my real life has also been going at a rate of knots (so many seafaring metaphors but at least it evokes the sense of exciting adventure!)
Some photos attached of…19th May 2017 Reflections in a Mirroball
Reflections in a Mirrorball
At the time of this update, I am about to open in the revival of a cult Broadway classic musical "Ballroom" at a bijoux fringe venue in London, Waterloo East Theatre.
The multifaceted mirrorball spinning in the Stardust Ballroom is like a metaphor for my quick change life as actress, singer, artist, writer, wife and mother. In the show I employ the skills of acting…15th April 2017 A new status and a new pledge reward!
A few lovely things to report. So now we've got to 34% funded in just over three weeks since the launch. I am overwhelmed by the generosity and willingness of you all. Some of you I met just last week at the fabulous Stoke Con Trent where I was signing Doctor Who memorabilia. Now, of course, you have been introduced to my writing and illustrating identity. I hope you'll be able to…26th March 2017 Sister Pledge. The start of my crowdfunding adventures!
Thank you to everyone here here who has made this first week of campaigning a memorable and successful one. Almost 25% funded! I am over the moon. But of course, this is only the start. I'm sharing an article adapted from an interview I've just completed for the small press comics website Broken Frontier. It clarifies my intentions and explores why I'm doing this book now. I know you're all with me…
These people are helping to fund Life Drawing: A Life Under Lights.
Charlie Little Images
L. E. Burgess