Behind the Scenes, Friday 13th Edition

So it was on this very day, sort of, that I released my Ghost Stories zines last year. If you haven’t read them – and you should – they’re full of short stories, advice columns, quirky advertisements and art all pertaining to death, the afterlife and magic. And I hadn’t even heard of Maggie Stiefvater then. Anyway, I don’t have a Volume IV to share with you all, but I have made even more ridiculous death/the afterlife/magic work since, so I thought I would take today to share a bit about how and why I ended up with so many macabre-ish, funny-ish arty-ish things in my portfolio.

Ghost Stories

A couple of years ago I wrote a (very) little story for The Story Shack about something that in retrospect sounds suspiciously like the church watch on St Mark’s Eve. It was sitting by itselfie on the internet and last January I noticed that 2015 contained three Friday 13ths. I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and it’s useful to have solid deadlines, so I thought I could do a project to practise my Photoshop, actually write and maybe have a laugh. My friend Ruby, who proofread, had less of a laugh. By 13th November I had three relatively well-formed zines, a more thorough understanding of the YouTube playlist format and a healthy respect for the black and white filters on Photoshop. I kind of love Ghost Stories – I mean, I also hate it because I read it back and think ‘ew’ – but it’s the first thing I made after I finished school for the hell (ha) of it, and it reminded me why the term ‘black humour’ warms my soul. Now go warm your soul.

Ghost Stories Volume I by Francesca Burke

 

Hell’s Belles

You know that feeling when you’ve recently quit a job, rediscovered supernatural YA novels and decided to dye your hair pink and commit to being a full time eccentric? Last autumn I tried to supplement my income with waitressing, which to cut a long story short was not the career for me. When I rejiggled my freelancing so I could afford-ish to go back to marketing full time, I realised how much I valued being my own boss, muttering swearwords, blasting Fall Out Boy and making ridiculous things because I could. There’s a stall in Southend high street selling home accessories that say things like ‘eat glitter for breakfast and shine all day’, ‘life’s a journey’, etc.; I always wanted to paint them black and ad lib… so I did.

I even made stickers. Hell’s Belles – which was also influenced heavily by the pastel goth tag, 9 years of listening to My Chemical Romance and the exact colour I wanted my hair – is one of my favourite lines on my Etsy. It’s weird, either offensive or funny depending on your sense of humour and made of everything I’ve been interested in over the last couple of years: magic, cynicism, cursing, cynical cursing and inspirational Instagram posts.

I have a suspicion I’ll make more of one or more of the above. Look out around Halloween.

It Never Rains But It – Oh Wait, It’s Stopped.

When we walked the dogs this morning the sky was that white-blue hue unique to autumn and winter months; the air was crisp and verging on cold; the sun was low and almost too bright.

What the hell happened, Essex? Within half an hour you deleted the autumn setting in favour of the English downpour setting. I can no longer take a leisurely walk into town. I might not even take a hurried walk into town. Today has become the perfect time to curl up with a marketing plan and hot drink, plotting my rise to fame/fortune/financial independence, instead of a day stamping around Southend doing the marketing plan. Pfft.

Tell you what though, I know something you guys can curl up with if strategic Excel documents aren’t your thing.

Ghost Stories III

I have even made merchandise. I just checked the calendar and there’s a Friday 13th in May next year, but I’m not in the habit of planning that far in advance even with the old marketing ploys, so I haven’t decided yet whether or not I’ll do a fourth volume. I planned all three this year back in January and did most of the heavy lifting then too; today I am less inclined to reopen a set of Photoshop files that I spent 11 months tweaking. Still, never say never – I always forget how much I love working with the macabre and/or black humour until I’m doing it, and then I always wish I do it more.

Speaking of the macabre, my freelance work calls. Well, emails. Well, there’s a post-it on my desk reminding me I’m going out tomorrow so really ought to take advantage of the rain and get shit done today.

Hang on, it’s stopped raining.

Ghost Stories Zine Volume I

I don’t know about you, but in January, while midway through adding notes and deadlines to my Benedict Cumberbatch Work Calendar, I noticed that 2015 has a large number of Friday 13ths: today, 13th March and 13th November. ‘What a great day to promote quirky or weird art or work,’ I thought. ‘Too bad I don’t have any to promote.’

So I made something new.

Today, in March and in November, I will be releasing Ghost Stories, a zine celebrating all the things that should be celebrated – or at least acknowledged in conversation – on Friday 13th. This issue has haunted graveyards, an advice column from Hades a brief but polite notice from the Ghost-Mortal Alliance Office. You can get it here if you’d like to read it, and enjoy the only pre-made bit of work I had, The Mystery of St Aidan’s, on Story Shack here.

'Ghost Stories I' Front Cover

If you get it, let me know what you think! I’m working on the next two issues at the moment and I’m drafting out new/different pieces, so if there’a anything superduperfabulous that you absolutely need in the next one, now’s the time to ask!