Reel Love

By Owen Michael Johnson

A coming-of-age graphic novel that is a love letter to the silver screen

Friday, 2 June 2017

Reel Love Exhibition! Interviews! Free Comic Book Day!

The start of a new project is always extremely exciting. It’s a chance to really let you imagination fly. At the beginning of the process the final, perfect form of the thing you’re about to will into being sits before you, shining and glorious. Probably because it only exists in your head. You may never quite reach the ideal, but you’re going to make something as close as you can. 

Between one big creative venture finishing and another beginning, I find the best thing for me is to return home. The Lake District is where I grew up. It’s where my family are. It’s there, surrounded by the books I remember, and seeing the places and people I’ve always known, that comes the clarity of purpose and re-centering of my ideas that refreshes my work.

This last week I returned to see family and visit two very important places. The first was the Alhambra cinema, the very cinema featured in Reel Love. I was back to discuss some very special events to help promote the crowd-funding campaign. It was wonderful to be back! The first time I had clapped eyes on the brand-new Screen 3! Thanks to Matthew for the guided tour (more from him later!)

 Second visit was to the Imagination Station: Carlisle – and West Cumbria’s – only comic book shop. The Imagination Station is where my love of comics began. I first set foot there some nineteen years ago and have remained friends with the owner Tommy ever since. He sold my hand-stapled mini-comics when I was 13 years old, shelving them beside my own heroes. It was a small act I will never forget.

Saturday 4th May I was the art goblin all day to celebrate Free Comic Book Day, an annual event akin to Record Store Day, upon which comic book stores give out free comics, host events and celebrate the art form. It’s a young reader friendly enterprise designed to expand the audience of the medium.

Every year I join in, as do many comic artists, by offering my services to sketch for free and chat. It was a fantastic day, as it is every year, blowing away the cobwebs of the long hours. I was very proud to be involved.


If you’ve never taken part in Free Comic Book Day, please do! It really is for everyone.

Time was also spent at home catching up with sorely missed family and gathering together artwork pages of Reel Love, in order to scan for reproduction in the very book people are pledging to make happen. I intend to go into greater detail about creating the individual pages in a later update, but for those less familiar with traditional comic creation each page of Reel Love has been hand-drawn on Bristol Board (a heavy paper to avoid bleed when using Indian Ink). Which brings me to...

The Reel Love Exhibition

The exhibition will feature over 50 pages of original artwork and process pieces, and members of the Unbound publishing team will be on-hand at the launch night to discuss the graphic novel imprint and assist in pledging at the event.

Exhibition attendees will receive a discount code when pledging on Reel Love.

It would be fantastic to see the current and prospective backers of the project at this Saturday's event, so if you're curious about the process of creating a graphic novel and/or the Unbound publishing model, do drop by! Here's a sneak peek!


Reel Love has kindly been supported by the graphic novel press with the following announcement pieces:

Bleeding Cool

Comics Anonymous

Flickering Myth

Pipedream Comics

Big interviews with me about Reel Love include an exploration into my comics career and back-ground leading up to this project with Andy Oliver at Broken Frontier.

I was recently lucky enough to be interviewed by Andy along with fellow Unbound creator Ram V (Grafity's Wall - highly recommended) and editors Lizzie and Matt at the Gosh Comics Unbounders event.

It's been a fascinating challenge to bridge the traditional book and comic book crowds and I've really enjoyed the process of explaining to comics readers and professionals how Unbound's model differs. 

This week I also spoke to James Hancock over at my favourite film podcast, Wrong Reel, about the films which inspired Reel Love.

Stand By Me to Spaced, Dazed & Confused to Jason & The Argonauts - this was a hugely fun dive into the differences and similarities between movies and comics! I was thrilled to be a guest on the show so do give this excellent podcast a listen!


That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and do consider backing Reel Love - I'd love to have you along for this journey!

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