April 26th 2021
Hello! This weather! All these flowers! And the air, all up in my lungs!
Bonus stuff on Patreon this month: color sketches of wild boar
(practice for this strip) and children's book character design work.
March 29th 2021
There's a new piece at the top of the sketchbook page.
Also, my poem An Island Off Chatham is up
at the online journal The River. It's one of those poems written about a real day, years ago, a loose sketch of a poem
I've been tinkering with for years.
I had a film camera with me that day, loaded with black and white film.
March 16th 2021
Hey, all. Patreon content for March already includes two large, never-on-the-website bonus strips
from 2003, a collection of chalk pastel sketches, and a time lapse of the latest comic (which hasn't even appeared here yet, since new
strips are posted to Patreon a week early).
March 2nd 2021
I've just learned that the poet Jean Valentine passed away on December 29th. I was in the habit of saying that she was my favorite living poet.
Now (not that such distinctions matter, really) she may well be my favorite poet full-stop.
I had the opportunity to spend a long morning with her in August 2016. I tracked down her number in Manhattan,
left a message on her answering machine, explained the project I was working on and that I hoped we could meet -- and she emailed me back.
More than that, she invited me into her home. She didn't know me from anyone, I reached out with no references or mutual contacts, and her trust and
hospitality touched me deeply. After talking in her apartment for a while, we went out for coffee around the corner, and then for lunch.
She was full of stories about poets she'd met, questions about my own work and writing. I was in the middle of my PhD on Ted Hughes, whom
(I didn't realize) she'd met because her Irish partner at the time was Hughes's fishing buddy. She spoke warmly of Hughes, and encouraged me in my
research. It was one of those gift-mornings of life, something for which I will always be grateful.
Jean's work first came to me in 2007, one of the hardest years of my life. The way she explored pain, depression, confusion and stasis, memory, regret,
struggle, as well as hope, renewal, and the indispensability of friendship -- everything was so beautifully and truly put.
NY Times obituary
In Memory of Jean Valentine
The River at Wolf
Door in the Mountain
March 1st 2021
Bird watching on those first raw, strong days of sunlight as spring hints in, no leaves yet on the trees, light hitting the forest floor, all the plastery dried leaves.
February 14th 2021
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Here is the most romantic Buttercup Festival ever.
February 3rd 2021
There's a new painting at the top of the latest
sketchbook page, something I did late on Friday night, with a window full of winter and a mind
full of spring.
January 25th 2021
Patreon content for January includes three more vintage, never-on-the-website Series 1 strips,
and a couple color pastels drawings of my kids. Plus, Patreon supporters always read new strips a week early.
January 11th 2021
Such a wonderful thing to feel those few extra minutes of light arriving day after day.
December 28th 2020
I recently added a bunch of sketchwork and commentary about a kid's book project to the
December 7th 2020
Bonus material on the Patreon site for December so far includes
three winterish pen & ink drawings.
November 20th 2020
Buttercup Festival prints and shirts make awesome gifts. Let the good people at
TopatoCo handle everything. Popular prints include:
Give a gift of indie comic art. Or a shirt! Thanks, amigos.
November 16th 2020
Hi all. There's a new time lapse of this week's color comic (3-94) for mid and top-tier patrons on the
Patreon site. Support Buttercup Festival and watch me paint!
October 19th 2020
I've put a time-lapse video of my beautiful hands drawing this week's comic (3-90) for mid and top-tier patrons on the
September 14th 2020
A quick word for my fellow Americans. Please, please vote in the upcoming general election. My older daughter is really into learning about history right now,
and, learning with her, it has been brought home to me what a rare thing it is to be able to cast a vote the way we can. Every politician, right up
to the President, is our employee. The President may be the Chief Executive, but every American, every voting citizen at least, is a Shareholder. We sit
above him in the power structure. No system is perfect, certainly not ours. But we cannot walk away from any opportunity to influence our world for the
Spend a little time at the websites for the
U.S. Vote Foundation and
Vote dot org. Do everything required to register (it doesn't take much), and make sure you vote in November -- in person
if possible, or by absentee ballot if you prefer, ensuring you mail your ballot with time to spare.
If, like me, you are an American citizen living outside of the country, you can still vote! Check out the
Federal Voting Assistance Program website for all the information you need. Alternatively, Google the
Town Clerk where you last resided before moving abroad, and send them an email requesting everything you need to cast an absentee ballot.
August 31st 2020
Anyone else feeling autumn tap your shoulder?
August 24th 2020
This month's bonus content for mid- and top-tier Patreon supporters includes three ancient
Series 1 bonus strips, a large color illustration from my armadillo series, and an early morning watercolor from my recent camping trip.
August 13th 2020
I'm going camping again, so here's Monday's comic extra early, and I'll be back with something new on the 24th. Unless you're going camping too?
In which case, see you there? And for the opera-curious, I wrote the words for this transatlantic collaboration:
A Man Drags the Carcass of a Deer. You can watch more mini-operas at the
Opera Harmony Project website, and read about
everyone involved in the official programme.
August 10th 2020
Hey, would you like to hear me croon in my bathroom? I posted
this to instagram a little while ago.
August 1st 2020
I'm going camping, so here's the new comic a day and a half early.
July 27th 2020
I have expanded the number of available patron slots for the monthly color postcard tier in the
new Buttercup Festival Patreon site. Postcards mail at the end of the month,
so if you don't want to miss out on the first one, sign up now!
July 12th 2020
Thank you to everyone who has signed up to Buttercup Festival's new Patreon page.
If you haven't yet, I hope you'll have a look.
New strips are posted a week earlier on Patreon, and there's artwork and other bonus material that I'll be adding to every month.
July 6th 2020
Dear readers: exciting times here in Buttercup Festival land!
I have launched a Patreon page for Buttercup Festival, which will let readers
support my comic through small monthly donations.
The most basic level of support, just $2 a month, gives you access to new strips a whole week early. To let the Patreon page get a week ahead, there
is no new comic here this week -- so if you want to read the new comic now,
simply become a patron.
At the $6 tier you also get exclusive access to new artwork and sketchbook material, bonus strips from the old BF books which have never appeared online,
blogs/vlogs, and other nifty stuff I'll be adding every month. I'm kicking the bonus material off with a bumper crop of goodies, including two
new pen & ink landscape drawings, a color illustration from my watercolor sketchbook, and three bonus strips from 2003 that have never appeared on the
website, including one large-format strip and one featuring the much-missed Rodney the Second Grade T-Ball Jockey!
Beyond this, there's an even higher tier with physical-world color postcards in the physical mail on offer.
Please have a look at the silly video I
made (stay for the whole thing),
and consider supporting Buttercup Festival by becoming a patron. So many thanks.
June 29th 2020
Hi all. There's a new black and white landscapey thing at the top of the
June 3rd 2020
If you are looking for somewhere to donate funds to support the protests against police brutality,
the National Bail Fund Network directory is a great place to find
organizations working in your area. I'll hope you'll join me in making a contribution. And among all the excellent posts and
statements out there, I found this from Trevor Noah especially
useful for understanding what's going on. Please listen.
May 25th 2020
Several new pieces which I first sent out on social media have been added to the
May 18th 2020
You are all my favorite all.
May 4th 2020
As the opera world copes with losing a season of work, my composer pal Joel Rust and I have joined with soprano
Rebecca Bottone, baritone
Luke Sutliff and director
Eloise Lally to create a new itty-bitty opera,
A Man Drags the Carcass of a Deer, neverminding such obstacles as Covid-19 and the Atlantic Ocean. We're hoping to complete work over the summer.
Updates in due course.
April 20th 2020
A couple new color sketches have appeared on my social media in recent weeks. I'll get around to putting these things on this website eventually,
but for now check out instagram or whatever. Also appearing in recent weeks: flowers, insects, skunk cabbages, fresh comets from the Oort Cloud.
March 30th 2020
I hope you are all as well as you can be in these strange virus days. Please do the right things, and be generous with others, and
reach out in all the ways you can to the people you care about. I've been thinking about this poem today, by Wallace Stevens, one of my favorites:
Wild Ducks, People, and Distances
The life of the world depends on that he is
Alive, on that people are alive, on that
There is village and village of them, without regard
To that be-misted one and apart from her.
Did we expect to live in other lives?
We grew used so soon, too soon, to earth itself,
As an element; to the sky as an element.
People might share but were never an element,
Like earth and sky. Then he became nothing else
And they were nothing else. It was late in the year.
The wild ducks were enveloped. The weather was cold.
Yet, under the migrations to solitude,
There remained the smoke of the villages. Their fire
Was central in distances the wild ducks could
Not span, without any weather at all, except
The weather of other lives, from which there could
Be no migrating. It was that they were there
That held the distances off: the villages
Held off the final, fatal distances,
Between us and the place in which we stood.
March 9th 2020
Shout out to the Nolensville Buttercup Festival in Historic Nolensville, Tennessee,
taking place on April 18th this year. Nolensville's Buttercup Festival seems to have been born just a year before
my own Buttercup Festival. I will go to your Festival one day, Nolensville. You look beautiful.
February 24th 2020
Walking across a meadow at dusk the other day, I had the chance to watch a barn owl hunting for a few minutes. It flew out toward a
certain point, very intentionally, it seemed, and I saw that there was a hare, large and loping and black-tipped. Thank you, dusk.
February 17th 2020
It's just been one of those weeks, and I don't have a new comic ready. Regular programming will return next week, pinky swear!
And here's something else to distract you from today's lack of a new comic, something I can't let pass without comment. According to Wikipedia,
Buttercup Festival first appeared on Feb 17th, 2000 ... twenty years ago today. And I'm forty now, which means that Buttercup Festival has existed
for half my life. Not always updating, but always there. Have a look at the
instagram account for photographic evidence of what half a lifetime of Buttercup Festival
will do to a man.
I've also been posting odd bits of artwork and sketches to instagram and
twitter, so even if you're not big into social media you might
want to have a look from time to time. You know, if you're interested.
January 12th 2020
Two recent sketchbook drawings are available as prints!
November 25th 2019
You can read a poem of mine, Acadia, on
Northern New England Review's website, because they're kindly putting it forward for a Puschart Prize.
And there is, of course, a guineafowl drawing on the sketchbook page.
November 4th 2019
A few new things have found their way on to the sketchbook.
September 16th 2019
You can read, did you know, a new poem of mine online at the
Northern New England Review.
August 19th 2019
Some fine folks have created a
Subreddit for Buttercup Festival discussion, so get on over and discuss if that's your thing. There is
also a fan-run facebook page.
And hey, do you have any interest or involvement in opera? Composer Joel Rust and I are looking for partners to help bring our
science fiction opera to the stage (or clever non-traditional venue).
July 8th 2019
Here is some news which has basically nothing to do with Buttercup Festival: my book
Ted Hughes and Christianity has just been published by Cambridge University Press. At least, it's been published in the UK;
the US listing will come online next month and is available for pre-order. Like most academic books it's silly expensive, but if you want to read it you can try requesting a purchase through your public or college library, and
this flyer has a code for 20% off. It's 250 pages of theorizing on poetry and theology, it features a whopping big chunk of Sylvia Plath discussion, and it has index entries for Pearl Jam and John Denver.
There are a few new armadillo things on the sketchbook.
May 6th 2019
Two recent pictures have been added to the sketchbook.
March 18th 2019
I'm taking part in a couple poetry readings this month. Both events will feature motley international crews.
If you're a Lancashire or Yorkshire person, please come along and say hi.
Thursday March 21st: World Poetry Day: 7pm, Livesey House, Heatley Street, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2XR.
Friday March 29th: Wretched Strangers: Poetry & Migration:
7pm, Waterstones, 15 Coney Street, York, YO1 9QL.
And speaking of poetry, I have two poems in the latest issue of
Alaska Quarterly Review.
February 4th 2019
So starts Buttercup Festival Series 3! There are three new strips to kick things off, and a new strip will appear every Monday.
I plan to keep this series going for a long, long time. Hard to believe it's
been five years since Series 2 ended. Five years! What have I been doing? I had another kid. I did a PhD, and a book related to that will be out with
Cambridge University Press in July. I wrote the words for
an opera called The Conifers. I've added some detail to the About page if you're curious to
There are beautiful new
Buttercup Festival t-shirts for sale from the good folks at TopatoCo.
If you buy a shirt, send me a picture of you wearing it, and maybe I'll put it just to the right there, instead of the boring product image I've got right now.
There are prints for sale as usual, and I've decided to start selling my original artwork. Hang a little piece of me on your wall.
Thanks for reading, everyone. It's good to be back.
Last month gave Joel Rust and I the chance to work
people on The Conifers, our sci-fi opera.
And I have four new poems in the excellently named journal Meat For Tea (the lotus blossom issue),
plus two poems in the recent issue of
Under the Radar.
New things in the sketchbook.
If you live in southeast England, maybe come to this event on
August 24th and listen to about half of the opera I have been writing with
Joel Rust, followed by a q&a session. I have a poem in
Wretched Strangers, a new anthology for an age of migrants.
It's been too long, it's been too long. As I write this I'm in the final throes of my PhD, weighing up options for the future.
The giddy slipstream of change and uncertainty. There are a bunch of new pieces in the
sketchbook (the last new one is the sketch featuring the BF guy).
And speaking of the Buttercup Festival guy, I thought I'd teasingly mention that the notebook in which I write scripts for future BF strips
now has over 60 entries, and I've put drawing pen to paper on a few new strips for a new series.
Don't hold your breath, not just yet. But things are slowly, slowly in the works.
Other creative projects? It's been a great year of working on The Conifers (formerly called Blue Fire), the opera I'm writing with
Joel Rust with support from
Aldeburgh Music, who have given us the chance to workshop material with
musicians. Here's a
little interview we gave about it.
I've got a couple new poems over at Antiphon Review (there are audio recordings of me reading them, if that
sort of thing thrills you).
Renaming of the Birds has now sold out: the last thirteen copies were bought in fine style by a small
Canadian start-up that wanted a copy each for their board members.
This means that there's not much left to buy here, but anyone looking for a lovely gift for
themselves and/or someone else is encouraged to check out Standing in the Sea, a postcard collaboration with my excellent printmaking
friend Laurie. Each set is £ 5 + shipping. Can we tempt you?
Thanks for stopping by. Don't be a stranger, now.
Hi all. It's been a busy summer so far, not least because our second child was born in June. There's some new stuff on the
sketchbook page, maybe more in a few weeks. (old news)
There are nine new drawings on the sketchbook page.
I forgot to mention this in the January update: I have a two-page color comic featuring the guy from Renaming of the Birds in
Over the Line, a great anthology of "poetry comics."
And Joel Rust and I have just been awarded
Jerwood Opera Writing Fellowships to help us develop Blue Fire,
a science-fiction opera we are currently writing.
I've just added a chunk of new artwork to the sketchbook page. I recently contributed three blog posts to the blog for
Carcanet's New Poetries VI:
There are just a few dozen copies of Renaming of the Birds left to buy. I think that's all the news for now.
Sometimes I get emails asking if and when Buttercup Festival will restart. The answers to those questions are (1) yes, but (2) no time soon. My days are busy with
lots of interesting things, but not, sadly, comics. But I do have a notebook dedicated to ideas and jokes for future BF strips: 48 and counting. So there is hope!