Wet Ashes was my earliest attempt at a longer narrative using comics. After reading my first Osamu Tezuka book and catching the comics bug, I spent a little while attempting a few smaller projects. Then, shortly after moving to London in 2009, I starting building a long form story set on the Isle of Dogs, the place in East London where I was living.
The two main characters, Peter and Johnny, were carried over from my first attempt at a regular comic strip. The whole series (69 strips in total) took place over one long afternoon and evening. It took me about six months to draw and was pretty awful. But I produced two strips a week and that consistent schedule was very helpful for me as a young artist trying to get my head around the crazy complex medium that is comics.
Here is my first ever comic strip, of all time and for Wet Ashes. It is bad but I do like how the characters evolved into the characters on the cover above.
So yeah, not my best work and for some reason SO angry (I normally don’t condone violence, although litterers are the worst). But that was the strip that launched a thousand ships and eventually lead to my first 22 page self-published comic Wet Ashes 1: Kandinsky Dreams.
The story, though left uncompleted, was to revolve around the suicide of a young boy named Fearne Talby. It explored the relationships between six characters who were all friends, colleagues or siblings. The storied followed where each character was at the time of Fearne’s death and ultimately the effects that his death had on each of them.
There are elements to the story that I still really like, and could see my self going back to in the future, but for now it will remain an early and failed attempt at a graphic novel.
Here are the first four pages of the comic, told through Fearne’s point of view. I also submitted these pages to the Jonathan Cape/Observer comics competition with no success.
This book is currently (and hopefully permanently) out of print.