Until this year Creative Works member Alex Potts hadn’t exhibited his comics since university. It’s not surprising really: comics aren’t typically designed for exhibition, after all.
“But having lived in the borough for 20 years or so, I wanted to finally get involved with the E17 Art Trail,” he says.
The comics Alex is exhibiting in Creative Works are unusual in the sense that they’re “really large, and you don’t often get comics with 35 panels on a page.”
At first glance, you might assume they’re prints, but on closer inspection you’ll see that they’re the original ink and watercolour artworks.
“There’s even an ink splash on one of them; in the printed edition I edited it out in Photoshop. I thought it’d be interesting to show them to people and see how they react.”
When he’s not creating comics, Alex works as an animator. He’s always been into comics, but as it wasn’t an option at university, he chose to study for an animation degree.
“When it comes to comics, I’m doing them for myself, not for someone else.”
In 2017 Avery Hill published Alex’s graphic novel, It’s Cold in the River at Night. You can still grab a physical copy or download a digital version from the publisher’s website.
From It’s Cold in the River at Night, © Alex Potts
“I experienced a bit of a creative lull for a couple of years after the graphic novel was published. It was the lockdown that really got me started again.”
“I panicked—all the animation work disappeared for three months. Seeing as you could only go out for an hour a day, I was at a loss for things to do.”
When Alex started working on (what would become) his ongoing project, “the subject of the work was kind of secondary to the idea that I just needed to come up with something that was fun, so that I’d be motivated enough to keep going with it.”
The new work is a continuing narrative which—at the time of writing—is 65 pages long. He’s publishing a new instalment every Tuesday and Friday until he gets bored…
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“The thing I’ve found really motivating is the response—the comments and likes from friends help me keep it going. I used to self-publish A5 booklets and sell them online, at comic shops and occasionally at fairs.
“I never had the confidence to print more than 100 or 150; now I know that more people see my work on Instagram than ever read any of those.”
Comics on display in Creative works
The artwork on display in Creative Works was created for a small press comics anthology that Alex was involved in. Each contributor was allocated a single page, and Alex wanted to squeeze in as much as he could onto said page.
“I’d never been confident at writing but I found that autobiography was a way in. The earlier my comics are, the more autobiographical they tend to be.
Alex says “Pulling out Weeds from the Streets of Leeds”, which forms part of the exhibition, “pretty much happened, although I’m referring to myself as ‘our Philip’.”
“I was really young when I did that one; the other two are semi-fictional—although all fiction is based on reality somehow, isn’t it. I’ve got more recent work but I wanted to show these because they’re more visually appealing.”
Panels from a comic inspired by various hospitality jobs Alex had in different cities. (Pop over to Creative Works to see the whole thing IRL!)
Alex plans to keep his Instagram project ticking along and would be interested in getting it published if the opportunity arises.
“At the minute that’s the main thing I’m interested in, but I’m starting to feel like I want to do something a bit more serious with a planned narrative too. I’ve had months of free falling whatever comes into my head!”
You can catch Alex’s work in Creative Works from 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, until 18 July, as part of the E17 Art Trail 2021.
Come along to our Connecting Communities event on Saturday 10 July to meet Alex—and the other artists we’re exhibiting—in person.