Eliza Ruby Jubb: graphic novel love in lockdown

Eliza and I have been friends for 20 years (!!). As children we wrote books together – me as the writer, and Eliza as the artist. Adult Eliza has refined her illustrations and expanded her subject matter to encompass stories slightly more thrilling that one I wrote when we were 8 about a cat getting stuck up a tree. This blog post details an experience we had together and how Eliza artistically and very dreamily reproduced it.

Name: Eliza Ruby Jubb

Age: 23

Occupation: Final Year student, studying Illustration at the University of Brighton.

Quirky Fact: I have had done, and then removed, 4 piercings, 3 of which were in my face.

A year ago, I was at Lost Village festival with my childhood friend Eliza (remember festivals…). It was there that we met a man who predicted Coronavirus. And made us both quite uncomfortable.

We were sat at a breakfast tent feeling the morning residue of delight/exhaustion/will I vomit? He was staring at me from a bench. Not, might I add, in a manner that suggested desire. It was a calculating stare.

“Hey!”

He came towards us, still looking at me.

“Where do I know you from?”

I looked at Eliza, then at him.

‘I don’t recognise you, sorry,’ I said. ‘Maybe I met you when I went away, have you been in Colombia?’

‘No,’ he replied. ‘Can I sit down?’

We murmured our ‘of course’s’, and he sat with us, We generously ignored the fact that he had obviously just pretended to know who I was so that he could sit with us.

What followed was 45 minutes that would culminate in us politely excusing ourselves and Eliza turning to me and exclaiming, ‘What an intense man!’

He said that he had come to Lost VIllage with friends (where were they??). He informed us that he was a photographer; he said that his parents were picking him up from the festival days early to drive him to London for an exhibition.

I left him and Eliza because I wanted some of those little overpriced little hash browns and the vegan hot dogs that they always mass vend at festivals. When I returned Eliza looked imploringly at me, and told me afterwards that the man had recounted to her the possibility that a virus was imminent from the poultry farm that lay adjacent to the festival. How would the festival-goers fare if they had to isolate together? What would they wear? These were questions that he casually posed to her whilst she nursed her hangover and wondered in the kindest of terms when he would stop speaking.

‘Hold my apple, I want to get food’, he instructed her. She held his apple, and wondered a. why he was holding an apple for the entire duration of our conversation with him, b. what he intended to do with said apple if not to eat it and c. why he could not simply put the apple in his pocket as he queued.

Eliza wrote this encounter down in her diary (a bit more attention that the blantant weirdo deserved but we move) and came across it during lockdown.

Ever the creative, she produced a graphic novel based around the encounter.

The most gorgeous, dreamy of graphic novels is here – all drawn in biro:

I have posed to her a few questions about her creative process to her.

Tell me a bit about your inspiration for ‘Forest Cat 19’.

My graphic novel Forest Cat 19 was part of my final project for my second year of uni. I was looking into shamanism and western spirituality, and then this pandemic happened, and I found it hard not to be distracted by the strange new reality. After reading a diary extract about my experiences with you at Lost Village festival last year I decided to converge the two ideas; how we felt that we had experienced this strange otherworldy encounter at this festival, and also how far those times were from our current reality. For my image references I used pictures from my phone of my friends and our social gatherings. I made this graphic novel in the height of lockdown and I was really longing for the past but also feeling grateful for those memories we had made.

What drew you to illustration?

I always loved drawing as a child, especially busty ladies for some reason. Drawing was something my mum would tell me and my brother to do whenever we were bored and I think it gave us both a valuable tool for expressing ourselves. I thought I would study something creative but was put off by the commercial side of illustration courses, so started to study Fine Art, which I then realised is equally commercial in the real world. Long story short, I went to an open day at Brighton and looked at the work by their illustration students, and thought this is where I need to be. There was something so unpretentious and playful about their work, I felt that illustration would fit more with my ways of working, and being set briefs has given me a lot more drive creatively.

What informs your drawing style?

My style probably comes from a combination of things. When I studied Fine Art for a year I became really interested in dreams and representing them through drawing, and I think that stemmed from my love of anything surreal. I love the work of the surrealist artists, like Ithell Colquhoun and Eileen Agar (but not the men because they were generally pigs). I also love the element of fantasy in any artform: being able to create an alternate reality.

What appeals to you about the graphic novel format?

Graphic novels and zines have recently become quite popular, and are what drew me to study at Brighton. I saw that lots of the students had made these rough and ready and beautiful booklets. I had for a long time thought about being a graphic novelist as it combines two of my interests: narrative and drawing. After reading about the history of zines – particularly in the 1970s Punk movement – and how they defied the mainstream media by being able to be made in a garage with a photocopier, I was even more drawn to this kind of work. It is a bit idealist to think that art could ever be accessible to all, but I think that these formats lend themselves more to a wider audience accessibility.

All images used on this blog were drawn by Eliza. Her art blog can be found at: https://elizajubb.edublogs.org

If you, like me, think that she should start printing her characters onto tees and jumpers then message me and we can start a petition.

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