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A graphic novel about death, dating, and drawing set over a London summer.

‘Small Hours’ is a story based on a summer a few years ago where I quit my job, went on Tinder dates, and my Granddad died... all within the space of a few weeks.

Set in South London not too long ago, me and my friends graduated into rising rents and zero-hour contracts. Already in a tenuous financial position, I quit my rubbish part-time job in the hopes of illustrating full-time. I soon got addicted to swiping for potential boyfriends and set up a bunch of Tinder dates, before my Granddad died suddenly and left me struggling to keep it together. Beginning with an awkward morning-after, the comic follows the messy relationships with friends, family and myself, while trying to grow up.

The comic is a passion project that I have been developing over a couple of years, self-publishing small instalments every now and then. When everything was happening that summer, I found it difficult to open up and express how I was feeling, so looked to stories by people who had experienced similar things. I was looking for guidance on how to act and feel - if it was okay to laugh as well as all the crying I was doing.

Making it was initially a way to try and process the events that happened to me, but has also led to lots of conversations with people who have shared their own experiences of loss, bad jobs, and bad dates. I hope to carry on learning and having those conversations as I continue with the story.


Video song credit: E Ruscha V - Who Are You

Grace Helmer is a a Brighton-born, London-based illustrator. She was included as one of the It's Nice That The Graduates in 2012, and in 2013 won the V&A Student Illustrator of the Year.

She has worked for a variety of clients including: Apple, Google, HarvardX, The Washington Post, Vogue (US), Penguin Random House, Marie Claire (France), Nobrow, DONNA magazine, Octopus Books, OpenTable, Square Peg, The Independent (UK), VRAK TV, Surface magazine, The Lifted Brow, Another Escape, Universal Island Records. Small Hours is her first full-length graphic novel.

A sneak peek at the interiors:

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