For the last 3 years I have taken part in Inktober, an unstructured effort by mostly unconnected people who all, in their different ways, draw stuff. Some people share the images online, some develop a theme, some do something every day of the month. These are some of what I did.
For October 2016 I was going to be in Malta twice: first for a long-term voluntary commitment to bird protection during the migration season, and then to see my family.
So a lot of my drawings this year are diary sketches in various transport hubs: in this case, Luton airport which is awful and I recommend you never use it.
These are two of my fellow volunteers for Birdlife Malta, Bob and James,
This is a Maltese man in the aquarium cafe (see him in the background? A typical Maltese face)
And this is a naked couple that I didn't realise I'd taken a photo of till going through them later : I was doing a composite photo of an area full of illegal hunting, to see if the recently built hides showed up from this angle.
Self image, during our video surveillance of migratory birds and illegal hunting. This year I did manage to film swallows being shot down, but then failed to film the guy who ran past me before dawn being chased by police. This is part of the reason why this is a long-haul effort - it would be unrealistic to think we will stop all the horrors in one decade. Tell me if you might like to take part in Spring 2017.
Sparrow nests in the park : they are one of the very few species that manage to thrive on the island. Some are Spanish sparrows, some are Italian sparrows, the whole lot probably a unique Maltese hybrid mixture.
Turtle doves are one of the main target species for hunting, and now rarely seen.
Maltese words for colours (but not yet coloured in - idea for an alternative colouring book).
Now back in the UK, I contributed a page for our next child-friendly comic anthology. I had no clear or decent idea, so chose to fill out my notes from a previous Paper Jam meeting - notes I made when the suggestion was first made to do this anthology.
Ex member Jack Fallows had drawn the girl on a bike for his contribution to our previous child-friendly anthology, so I decided to reintroduce her to my last panel.
Then onto Kendal, host of the annual Lakes International Comic Art Festival. I volunteered on the kids area and was wowed by some of the stuff being produced these days. The image above is from one of 5 young Japanese comics artists selected for exhibition by Ken Niimura.
This second image is from the exhibition of Hanneriina Moisseinen's Silence, a pencil-drawn comic about the forced evacuation of the Finnish population from Karelia.
The third exhibition encouraged local people to share stories of the flooding that devastated the town at the turn of the year. Stories like the one above were shared.
In Carlisle station, where I often change trains, there has since Spring been a mind-melting exhibition of pictures of the Queen, drawn by literally hundreds of young children and everywhere the eye looks. They have really got into my head and images like these I will never unsee.
On another day in Carlisle, I drew scenes at the Bookends festival of Literature.
Sorry to make you crane your neck, not sure how to rotate these on this computer. I was playing with a second pen for this crowd sketch.
And for the second trip to Malta, I did some research on the Phoenician heritage of Malta.
The Phoenicians are interesting. No state, no border, no clear line of territory. They were all about the interaction between distance peoples, and the currents of the Mediterranean sea.
Again and again, the most interesting finds of this period of Maltese history were quietly stolen - the best and most beautiful things lost, the majority of discoveries destroyed. Some rich Maltese families will have some in their private cabinets, and others will have been sold off to rich overseas. It is sad, that communal history is thieved by private riches in this way.
Salty dry life.
One of the beautiful streets you can still find, if you get off the main roads and cheap modern development. This one is in Mosta, with the famous dome in the background. My niece loved being told again and again and again the story of how the WW2 bomb that crashed through the roof did not explode, and the people inside survived. By the time I left, my brother was already really tired of retelling the story.
Me in the middle.
Then the journey back: travelling solo, I tend like most drawers to a bit of voyeurism. Don't bother reading the words by the way, it was a boring day. My diary is just for myself, not others. It's the drawings I like to share sometimes. Thankyou for looking at them.
And next October, put some ink to paper too.