A vivid, original and historically accurate 'comic book' visual account of the 1819 Manchester massacre, to be published as part of the 200th anniversary commemorations.
The explosive tale of Peterloo, told through the voices of those who were there.
POST MINIMUM TARGET UPDATE...
We're thrilled we hit the minimum funding target, and that the project is going ahead! (Drawing new stuff already!)
But it's still really important to attract more funds. Of the £10,000 raised so far, we'll only be drawing a (ludicrously!) modest £6,000 annual wage for one and a half of us from the kickstarter pledges (After we've spent 40% of all monies raised to pay for rewards, books, postage, 8% kickstarter fees etc)
So we still need to try and boost that up to a sane minimum wage!
Kickstarter is all-or-nothing... you either reach the target or you don't get anything, so we set the minimum figure as low as we felt was realistic... a minimum at which it'll be a serious labour of love!
So DO please back us beyond it, and help beef that modest wage into a living one! We still need your support! Full details in the budget and stretch goals section below.
AND THANKS AGAIN FOR GETTING US THIS FAR! UPDATE ENDS!
It won't happen without your collective financial support! All of you together, in the same spirit as Peterloo, can help fund a living wage for the year's worth of complex artwork needed to bring this intense graphic novel to life, and to the standard the subject matter deserves.
Become a backer of this kickstarter bid by clicking the green 'Back this project' button here on this page. Bidding options range from £1 to £400! Scroll down the side bar to the right to see them all, and the reward gifts that go with them.
£10,000 is the minimum viable target... but of course, we're hoping all of you together will exceed that!
Kickstarter is a safe, popular crowdfunding website where you can choose a set amount to pledge, which will only be deducted from your bank account by us reaching our funding target before the closing date of 10th March.
We have a whole range of rewards to give our backers, with bids over £25 receiving a print copy of the book itself, which is to be published early in 2019 by New Internationalist & Myriad. Much more detail in the 'rewards' section, and below. (See 'Why a kickstarter..?')
PETERLOO: WITNESSES TO A MASSACRE by Polyp, Poole and Schlunke (paperback, 108 full colour pages, 23cm x 16cm, to be published early 2019) is a unique, first-of-its-kind visual project, with the entire narrative drawn exclusively from the direct testimony of the time (letters, memoirs, journalist's accounts, spies’ reports, courtroom evidence...) which will be carefully woven together by rich, vivid, graphic-novel style illustrations created by professional cartoonist, illustrator and graphic novelist 'Polyp'. polyp.org.uk
This editorial style will give the novel authoritative detail and dialogue of a shocking immediacy, these genuine voices being far more powerful, intriguing and intense than anything we could write in a semi-fictional form. Despite the harsh nature of the subject matter, some of the warts-and-all material, eg the personal conflicts of the time, have even proved quite humourous.
(Most of these sample panels are still awaiting their final text. See the bottom of the page for a taster of the period quotes we've already selected for the narrative, and more illustrations at high resolution. The quotes are strikingly vivid.)
Since we'll be citing all of the sources in an index, the book will serve as both a powerful account and an educational resource for years to come. Shockingly, many, many people still know nothing about the massacre, and we feel a graphic novel is a very accessible way to try and tackle that, particularly for younger people.
The 16th August 1819 became a turning point in the history of democracy when a peaceful crowd of 60,000 working people rallying to demand the vote were attacked by sabre wielding soldiers, resulting in 18 deaths and over 600 severe injuries. The name was a deliberate and bitter pun on the battle of Waterloo, derived from the location of the rally and the attack: St Peters Field.
At a time when democracy is under seige, with its credibility so badly damaged, the memory of Peterloo becomes all the more crucial. Their legacy challenges us to shake off our political weariness, and find ways to protect, deepen and strengthen self determination for the many, not the few. We want this book to be part of that.
All three of the authors (see 'Who we are' below) have been instrumental in the campaign to restore Peterloo to its place in our popular history, and to end the disgraceful whitewashing of its meaning.
Peterloo Memorial Campaign website, twitter and facebook.
The wikipedia page for the massacre is an excellent introduction.
PETERLOO: WITNESSES TO A MASSACRE will be jointly published by the excellent and independent Myriad and New Internationalist imprints for early 2019... the 200th anniversary year of the massacre. We can't think of a better publisher for the political nature of the book, or for its visual medium. They're very much in the mould of the small radical publishers who were prepared to report the massacre at the time.
We've already secured a £2,000 (industry standard) advance from our publishers, and they'll be handling the design and printing to their usual excellent standard, but of course that amount won't see us through the year of work required to research, edit and illustrate the novel to the unprecedented standards we're aiming for, during which time we'll have to turn down almost all other paid contracts. So we need your support to make a viable living wage.
If it was a celebrity cookbook or soap star biog, the advance might be different... our Peterloo graphic novel, however, will be a labour of love, but it's one that will still have bills to pay. Think of it as a solidarity art grant from the people!
Here's images of some of the rewards we're offering as a sign of our appreciation for your support...
When Peterloo speaker Henry Hunt stood for election to parliament for Preston in 1830, there was no secret ballot, and those voting for him in public were taking a serious risk of being identified as reformers by those who had power over their lives.
As a mark of respect, Hunt issued 3,730 medals as proud gifts to those who had the courage to support him. (He won.)
We hope we've captured that spirit with the full colour metal Peterloo button badge, and for good measure, the full colour temporary tattoo we'll be giving to all our backers.
A kickstarter is particularly appropriate, as there's a 200 year old tradition of crowdfunding projects to commemorate the memory of Peterloo, one that we're proud to continue... but in those days, it was known as 'public subscription'. The now lost monument to Henry Hunt was paid for in this way, with hundreds of people chipping in, as was the monument to Samuel Bamford...
Even the Free Trade Hall itself, (which was the target of the first Peterloo Memorial Campaign action we organized, to successfully demand the euphemistic and misleading 1970's blue plaque be replaced with an accurate and respectful one) was funded by the contributions of ordinary citizens.
The kickstarter platform also means we have a unique opportunity to get reactions and input from our target audience as we write the book, which can only help make it a wide success and help get the Peterloo message out there... see 'WE WANT YOUR IDEAS' below...
We're particularly pleased that Salford born actor and Peterloo campaigner Christopher Eccleston, with who we've worked to create the large commemoration events here in Manchester, will be writing the introduction to the book, based on a family legend about one of his ancestor's encounters with the military during the massacre.
Chris recently attended the 2017 commemoration and acting as the Reverend Charles Ethelstone, read the riot act to the assembled crowd from a window high in the Town Hall.
'Polyp' (Paul Fitzgerald) is a full time political cartoonist who's work has been published around the world by many different educational and campaign groups. He is author of 'SPEECHLESS' a word free cartoon history of the world, 'The Co-operative Revolution' a graphic novel about the history of the co-operative movement, and is joint author (with Eva Schlunke) of the children's book 'Little Worm's Big Question'.
He recently installed an 8ft Peterloo mural (based on the centre page image from the graphic novel) in the historic Abercromby pub near the sight of the massacre.
He is the chair and founder of the Manchester based Peterloo Memorial Campaign.
Robert Poole of the University of Central Lancashire is consultant historian to the Peterloo 2019 anniversary programme. He has written and broadcast extensively on History, including The Mill, In Our Time and Countryfile. His forthcoming book is 'Peterloo: the English Uprising'.
Eva Schlunke is a fine artist ~ illustrator, activist and campaign prop builder, and will be acting as joint editor, helping compose the source documents into a dramatic narrative format. She created and was one of the key artists behind the 'Peterloo Picnic' and 'Peterloo Tapestry' mass participation public events of 2015/6, and is the groups web guru.
She will be painting the cover image for PETERLOO.
We're really hoping you won't just be passive funders, but will want to be involved in the creative process itself. Our aim is to open the project up to as many people as possible...
1 We want to hear you ideas for 'must have' incidents you think should be included in the narrative. Let us know right from the word go what you think has to be included in the story.
2 Our impression over the years is that almost everyone has a 'Peterloo story' to tell, some of which we might be unaware of, so send them to us here in the comments.
3 Editorial comments. A tough part of any creative project like this is honing the narrative, so where we become unsure if a particular element of the narrative works or not, we'll want to get your feedback.
4 We're also open to hearing your ideas as to what might make powerful dramatic visual elements to the storyline. As you can tell from our Peterloo campaign projects, we've a strong interest in collective artworks, and this is no different.
These editorial roles will be open to all our backers.
5 PUBLICITY! Let people know about this project while it's running! Word of mouth is THE most potent advertising there is. Share this project wherever you can!
And of course we're also hoping you'll help draw attention to the book once it's on the shelves.
Below is a rough breakdown of how we see the finances working. We'll happily answer any further questions you have via the comments.
No matter what level of oversubscription we reach, the maximum we'll draw from the project as our wages for the year's worth of research, editing, artwork etc will be modest £18,000. (Please note that at the minimum kickstarter funding goal we've set, we'll only be drawing £5,700! We'll do it for love, but like you, we have bills to pay, and we'll have to turn down other work to do this properly.)
As with all kickstarter projects, it's possible for it to become oversubscribed, to the point where the unit costs are reduced enough to create spare money after everything's been paid for, in which case it's traditional to identify 'stretch goals' to spend it on.
We have a LOT of ideas for this! Some will depend on external factors as to whether or not they can happen, eg the tattoo street mural, and we, appropriately for a Peterloo project, plan to keep you posted and let you decide collectively which should go ahead.
Here's just two of them...
PETERLOO TATTOO BANNER
Paul and Eva are also professional campaign prop builders, and propose a giant, lightweight 10ft banner of the 'heart' design, to be used at Peterloo events and rallies... particularly the 200th anniversary. Given it's the same design as the temporary tattoos we're giving as rewards, it'd be a nice moment to get you all underneath it for a proud tattoo displaying photoshoot!
This would be constructed in the same style as these climate change demonstration banners we made.
We're talking to the landlord of the historic Abercromby pub, where the centre page spread of the novel is now an 8ft indoor mural, about creating a big outdoor mural of the tattoo on the gable end wall of the building. This is all subject to the final plans for the 'St Michael's' development that's going to take place around it, and the extent to which the wall will be visible once all the new buildings are in place. Here, on the right, is a digital mock up...
More stretch goal ideas to follow if we find ourselves oversubscribed!
We hope these samples of the authentic voices you'll hear bought alive and illustrated in the book are an inspiring taste of what's to come. They're from both the reformers and the authorities...
"This is an amazing Number to be assembled within four miles of Oldham and demands the most serious consideration for there certainly is but one step wanting to open rebellion."
"There were haggard-looking men certainly, but the majority were young persons, in their best Sunday's suits, and the light coloured dresses of the cheerful tidy-looking women relieved the effect of the dark fustians worn by the men."
"Amongst the parties from a distance, we were sorry to see many women and young girls."
"Good God, sir! Do you not see how they are attacking the yeomanry? Disperse the crowd!"
"As to that I must inform you, that the yeomanry cavalry had previously petitioned to have the honour of making the first charge..."
"The first action of the Battle of Manchester is over, and as I am happy to say ended in the complete discomfiture of the Enemy. The Magistracy thought it right to take Hunt into Custody – this the Mob attempted to resist – the Military were at hand & rushed upon them – and there was the Devil to pay.
I had the pleasure of seeing Hunt & co. scoured & sent off, the colours & cap of liberty in the hands of our troops, the hustings torn to pieces..."
"I was very much amused to see the way in which the Volunteer Cavalry knocked the people about during the whole time we remained upon the ground; the instant they saw ten or a dozen mobbites together, they rode at them, & leathered them properly."
"I don’t wish to offend you, sir, but if I speak slow, I stutter. The soldiers then came - the first could hardly sit on his horse, he was so drunk; he sat like a monkey… they came at a real gallop…They began cutting all before them and on each side, and the people began shouting for mercy."
"We continued at the window to watch the proceedings of the yeomanry, but soon a soldier or two presented a musket, and said that they would shoot us. We shut the window and went from it."
"I saw Harrison and others of them cutting the people right and left, and -
Stop! Stop! Sir, that is not evidence.
I understand I have a right to tell all I saw… Samuel Harrison and Thomas Shelmerdine were using their swords at the hustings, and Harrison made a lunge at me, and then he said, There is that villain Saxton; run him through!"
"When Shelmerdine rode up to her in a furious manner; having known him from a child, she cried, “Tom Shelmerdine, thee will not hurt me, I know;" deaf, however to her supplications, he rode her down, and cut her on the head with his sabre, from the effects of which she thinks it probable she shall never recover."
"Protect me! Protect me! I am a privileged person – I am a reporter – I am the reporter of the courier!"
"For shame, gentlemen: what are you about? The people cannot get away!"
"The Hussars conducted themselves with great propriety, and did not use their sabres to the injury of a single individual."
"At Waterloo there was man to man, but here it was downright murder."
"He requested the Surgeon to examine his shoulders as he could not move his arms, and felt very great pain. The Surgeon said in an insulting tone, Well, you will not go to a political meeting again, I suppose. He replied, that with the help of God, if he got better, he should. Upon which the Surgeon ordered him to go home to Royton, which is about nine miles from Manchester, saying, there was nothing the matter with him."
"On arriving at Pendleton, the crowds became immense, but I now began to suspect Hunt was excessively egotistical… he continually doffed his hat, but if some five or ten minutes elapsed without a huzza or two, or the still more pleasing sounds Hunt for ever! Hunt for ever! he would rise from his seat, turn round, and cursing poor Moorhouse, he would say-
Why don't you shout, man? Why don't you shout? Give them the hip hip!
At times I had some difficulty to avoid laughing in Hunt's face; and I made up my mind that, when once out of this, I would not in future be any party in such trumpery exhibitions."
Risks and challenges
It's easy to get a kickstarter project wrong (they can actually be quite scary to do!) and so we're glad this isn't the first crowdfunder we've run. Our previous book, 'thINK', a collection of skeptic-themed cartoons, was a success, and taught us a lot.
You need to very carefully balance a budget to reflect the costs of the book itself, the backer rewards, postage etc etc. Fortunately, Eva has a business qualification, and has 'crunched the numbers' on this, and all of us have long experience with producing and publishing high quality material.
One of the toughest decisions was deciding at what level of pledges we'd then offer a print copy of the book as a reward. The core motivation of this kickstarter is to make the project viable for us in terms of a living wage during its creation, but we wanted to balance that with making sure people feel we're giving an appropriate level of appreciation for their support, solidarity and generosity.
We sincerely hope we've got that balance right, and that the creative rewards we have on offer properly reflect our warm and sincere thanks!
This new project should be a good deal easier than the one we cut our crowdfunding teeth on, as the layout and publication of the book will be handled by the excellent Myriad / New Internationalist team, whose production values are superb.
Some of the projects we've seen here seem to think kickstarter is a magic money magnet in its own right. It's not! Publicity is absolutely crucial, and so we're really fortunate to be so connected to (and perhaps to have helped create?) a community of 1,000s of people with an interest in Peterloo.
Of course, the final hurdle is being certain the artwork can be completed on time, and to an appropriate standard. To ensure this, 'Polyp' (Paul) has created a new style of much faster and hopefully more dynamic artwork. He's even forced himself to learn to draw horses!
It's hard to express how driven we are to do this book. It feels like a lot of pieces on the board are aligning to make it happen, and we really hope you'll want to be part of it, and for it in turn to be a proud part of the 200th anniversary commemorations.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)