Who is afraid of comics?

by Karolina Przeklas

Violent protests erupted last September when Charlie Hebdo’s French cartoon was published which “ridiculed” the prophet Mohammed. A talk this week investigated why comics and cartoons have been targeted by censorship and why they create moral panics worldwide.

London’s freelance journalist, Paul Gravett, curator and lecturer has been involved in comics publishing and promotion since 1981. His talk explained the unsurprising journey through the history of comics and the reasons why for these amazing works of art have been subjected to prosecution and in many cases destroyed.

Paul Gravett - Who is afraid of comics?

Who is afraid of comics?

“Who is Afraid of Comics”, held at the Central Library in Islington as part of a Word2013 Festival.

It’s not who is afraid

“It’s who uses that fear of comics, rather purposely because it’s a very good way to distant attention from other, probably much more serious things that are going on in the society, like unemployment or god knows what to have a focus on something like comics.” – said Gravett.

Check out children’s and young persons harmful publications act from 1955 – still in use today

Mohammed Cartoon

In September, French cartoon caused outrage in the Muslim community worldwide after Hebdo’s controversial intake on the life of the prophet Mohammed. Hebdo newspaper was calling itself a “defender of free speech and a denouncer of religious backwardness”.

 French magazine editor threatened over Mohammad cartoon


— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) September 22, 2012

1001 comics you must

read before you die

Check out Paul Gravett’s 1001 comics you must read before you die collection of comics from around the world.

1001 comics you must read before you die
Word2013 Festival takes place across the Islington borough for the whole month of May. With over 50 events to choose from you get a chance to celebrate reading, writing and freedom of expression. A range of events, exhibitions  and performances showcasing some of Islington writers, artists and organisation.

Word2013 Festival

The project has been developed in partnership with Islington Library and Heritage Service; Islington Arts Service; All Change and Free Word.

Islington Community Theatre – Word Festival – Flash Mob 2012 from Roman Sheppard Dawson on Vimeo.


Top 10 things to do in London with toddlers

by Karolina Przeklas

Parents are always on the lookout for a cheap day out, not only because keeping babies entertained  has a huge impact on their development, but also because boredom makes children naughty. Here are Roam’s top 10 cheap things to do with toddlers in London.

1. Go swimming

Babies spend the first nine months of their lives in water, so it’s a no-brainer that most toddlers love swimming. Many local pools run family sessions, which cost very little compared to special swimming classes. If you don’t want to spend a fortune, pack your costumes and head to your family fun sessions. With the “summer” upon us why not check out open-air swimming pools like London Fields Lido? It will be money well spent.


2. Visit animal farms

Local animal farms are a great chance to introduce your little one to some “moos” and “baas”. Check out Freightliners Farm in central Islington – a wonderful place for the whole family.

3. Grab a bite to eat

Watching how kids experiment with flavours and textures can be mesmerizing. As one of the most multicultural capitals of the world, London offers different cuisines practically on every street corner.  Ignore the generic fast food joints that offer nothing apart from bad fats and high sugar content. There are plenty of other options like That place on the corner or Giraffe. Kids are very unforgiving when they don’t like something, so let your baby discover which places serve good food and which don’t.

4. Check out museums and galleries

Museums and galleries are a great source of entertainment and knowledge for everyone. For example, the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green provides a backpack designed by Montessori full of books and toys. It allows children to  lead their play, encouraging them to learn independently.

Virtual  tour of Childhood Museum 

Check out MUMSNET for honest and up-to-date reviews of events in your local museums.

5. Pop in to London Zoo

Zoos are so much fun for everyone. At London Zoo in Regent’s Park, check out what the penguins have been up to or simply hang out with the gorillas.

kumbuka, gorilla

6. Visit adventure playgrounds

From sandpits to hanging bridges, curled slides and pirate ships, playgrounds offer hours of joy – and most of them are free. We recommend the Princess Diana Memorial Playground,  with a Peter Pan-inspired design.


If you want to get more involved, why not join Londonplay and be part of a scheme design to make London streets safer for children?

7. Take part in special classes

Local libraries run special toddler classes. Islington’s Baby Bounce helps babies learn rhythm and rhyme through songs and stories. A great way to encourage children to socialise with others.

“I love coming here for an hour of singing with all the local mums” – say Kelly Davids, mum of David who offten takes part in the Baby Bounce Classes

8. Go to the park

London gets a lot of rain, but rain can be lots of fun. So if you don’t mind getting a bit grubby and wet, grab your wellies and head off to the your local park, or choose one of many dotted around London.

“Go to Westow Park in SE19, Crystal Palace. A Bug Hunt started again in March. Expect wonderful nature lovers teaching about seeds, planting trees, and story telling. All ages welcome, it’s free and quite wonderful. We had mulled apple juice to warm us up last time we went. The Park has excellent children play areas, and Crystal Palace is full of gorgeous cafes and restaurants which are all child friendly. There are Antique shops with kids toys, and independent trading shops of all varieties, and Crystal Palace Park is a five minute walk away. You have the leisure centre and pool, the petting zoo, a maze, and of course the giant stone life size dinosaurs” – says Roxana Aman, mum of Zayan and Dalia 

9. Visit an aquarium

Just like the zoo, this trip is worth every penny. The best time to visit this underwater world is during feeding times. London Aquarium has the world’s biggest collection of Caw Nosed Rays.


10. Join street parties and festivals

London’s best festivals are happening in the summer so have a look around. On the 25th of August Londoners will be dancing to the rhytms of calypso, Nothing Hill Carnival one of the world’s biggest street parties, with a special kids day opening the weekend of fun.

We also like the look of  the Lollibop Festival.

Lollibop Festival 2013

A bash for little people

And there are always smaller events that run though out the year, like Southbank’s Imagine Children Festival.

And if you want to travel further afield, take a trip outside London and visit the Butterfly World Project in Hertfordshire, the biggest butterfly experience in the world.


London Arts

Graffiti: Art or Not


As Londoners we are a diverse bunch. We have different taste’s in things like food, (although we all love a curry) music, and clothes.We like to moan about the weather and act surprised when theirs another doomsday story on Eastender’s. But one thing that  divides the most opinion is the graffiti on the walls of our city.

We can look as far back as the ancient Egyptians for early signs of graffiti, although we now know them as hieroglyphics its was still essentially writings and drawings on a wall. Graffiti artist or ‘graffers’ as they are known to their peers take their art extremely seriously, to have your ‘tag’ seen all over a city is a huge achievement. Never advertising a product, they are promoting themselves as artist. To the real hardcore ‘graffers’ this is tantamount to a classic artist having their pieces up in the Tate Modern Gallery.

Graffiti is huge on a global scale. From London to California to Bombay you will find spectacular examples of graffiti.

Piece By Poch, Rock - Mumbai (India)

A stunning piece of graffiti in Mumbai and above a huge memorial piece from Compton, California.

A frame from the banned video game.

A graffiti artist putting the final touches on his piece in Australia.

In London the range of graffiti is vast. At present we are seeing a creative birth with young artist showcasing their talent on our historic walls. As lots of people strive to become the next Banksy we are witnessing more simple styles of graffiti as opposed to the ones that look like they took as long as the Sistine Chapel given the sizes and amount of colors used.

Here is a reel of graffiti that Roam Magazine put together for your pleasure.

Here are a few more interesting videos about Graffiti in London.

Here are a few website on Graffiti, if you’d like to learn more on the subject.




A Summer of Music Madness

Wireless 2012

Wireless 2012

By Soraya Downie

The weather in summer is questionable, but the festivals are not and there’s plenty to go to.

There is lots of music madness occurring this year in the capital, no need to look further when wanting to see your favourite musicians and here’s just a few for you to know.

Bobbing in the bushes at Bushstock Festival

Think about the Woodstock that delighted the hippie revolution in US 1970s.

This is similar, but is the UK alternative and is happening in venues surrounding the Shepherds Bush area, hence the name.

Bushstock is the type of festival that aims to those who are not into mainstream music.

This year’s line up includes:

The festival will take place on Saturday 1st June, less than a month to go and fans are more than happy to see the event make a return.

Grahame Stephens, 33, a music producer from Chiswick, said, “I attended last year and it was really amazing. A breathe of fresh air than the typical young, big, in your face ones.”

“I enjoyed music by Fionn Regan, Alessi’s Ark and Jamie N Commons, they were my favourite.”

It’s rawer, edgier and is a tad bit like folk music, so if that ticks all your boxes, then get on down there this year.

For more info, visit http://www.bushstock.co.uk/

Yahoo’s Wireless Festival

Wireless Festival (presented by Yahoo) usually takes place in London’s Hyde Park. But this year’s acts will be performing at the Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford.

This year’s line-up includes:

 Tickets for Friday 12th and Saturday 13th July are sold out, but tickets for Sunday 14th are still available, go get yours here: http://www.wirelessfestival.co.uk/

Alicia Martin, 20, an office worker from West London, enjoyed the three day event last summer and thinks it will be even better this year.

She said, “They’ve done so much better with the line-up this year. So many more US acts and then Jay Z and Justine are headlining together on Sunday is going to be epic.”

“I think it will be so much different compared to last year because of the bigger stage. The location may be a bit further a field, but I recommend anyone to get tickets for Sunday’s show.”

A lesson in love at LoveBox

Between Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July, the yearly LoveBox festival will take place at Victoria Park, within the Tower Hamlets area, East London.

Various musicians will be gracing the stages over the three day event, including:

Stephanie Coleman, 26, beautician from Harrow, said, “I’ve been going LoveBox for the past three years and I refuse to miss this year.”

“The line-up is immense, there really is something for everyone and even if you don’t know a few of the acts, you get to know them and enjoy their music. I’m going to go to all three dates.”


By Soraya Downie Dominique Davis, 21, is a comedienne from South London, who goes by the stage name, Variety D. A funny, out-going girl, Dominique recalls that high school was filled with ups and downs. Being bullied because of the … Continue reading

NFL Comes to London

By Zanib Asghar

As many of you know, American sports were not all that popular here in London. But over the years, their “football’ which considered our ‘rugby’ has started to attract some attention.

Whether the Monday Night Football (MNF) scene will become as popular as the Premier League is, we don’t know, but what we do know is that come September 2013 and we’ll have our very own live MNF in Wembley Stadium.


The NFL International series has secured two games in London for 2013. The first will take place on Sunday 29th September where the Minnesota Vikings will play the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The second game will be on Sunday 27th October where the Jacksonville Jaguars will play the first of their four games in London against the San Francisco 49ers.

The NFL and the NFLUK have progressed rapidly as four teams across two games will be playing regular season games in London for the next three years.

This progress shows us just how far American Football has come as a game in the UK since 2007, when the first International series game was played here between the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants.

Here’s just some of the excitement we’ll get to experience this September and October. Copyright Brian J. McDermott

Here’s just some of the excitement we’ll get to experience this September and October. Copyright Brian J. McDermott

David Tossell, Director of Public Affairs at NFL London, spoke about the success American Football could have in London, “NFL has been present in the UK since the 1980’s and it already has quite a large fan base here already.

“The NFL owners are interested in expanding NFL, it’s already as big as it can be in the states, so they’ve been looking into playing games internationally since 2007.”

“The UK was the most obvious choice for us as the games already been available for everyone here as it is. Fans in the UK have been watching the game for years and years, so we think it will pick up as we have more live games down here.”

“We know we won’t be as big as the Premier League is, but if we can be everyone’s second or even third favourite, then it will open up a whole fan base for us in the UK.”

It was officially announced by the NFL that at least one game will be played at Wembley Stadium each year, till new contract talks begin in 2016.

Some NFL memorabilia to remember a great evening. Copyright Matt McGee.

Some NFL memorabilia to remember a great evening. Copyright Matt McGee

As they step on international ground, a home team was established in talks that took place between the NFL and Wembley Stadium that the Jacksonville Jaguars would be the home team in Wembley. The Jaguars will play their first game here in October 2013.

Alongside securing the Wembley stadium for two 2013 games, NFL officials have also been in talks with Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, over staging matches at the London Olympic Stadium.

The NFL has staged games in London every year since 2007, and October 2012 saw the New England Patriots beat the St Louis Rams 45-7 in front of a sold-out Wembley crowd which included Boris Johnson.

Enthusiastic football fan, Safeer Zaman says, “I’ve been to a NFL game in the States and as popular as it was there, it won’t be here. As someone who loves the Premier League and watches football all the time, I wasn’t into the match over there. I don’t think it will stay for long and if it does not that many people are going to go to the games.”

To purchase tickets and for the latest updates on future matches in the UK visit the Official NFL UK Website.

Watch the Super Bowl 9 where the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Minnesota Vikings played to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1974 season:

Follow Zanib Asghar on Twitter.

Top 10 London Attractions

By Zanib Asghar

Something we all say we’re going to do is travel. As we take a break from our hectic schedules, we all dream of sitting on that sandy beach with a cocktail to keep us company. Unfortunately, we come crashing back to reality and realize we have a stack of bills waiting to be payed.

Let’s take a look at how you can travel for a fraction of the cost (not to the Maldives of course). No, we’re talking about getting all those cultural experiences right here in London.

From visiting the V&A instead of The Met, to walking along St James’s Park rather than the Hawaii beaches, we’ll go through the best places to visit in London, whilst fulfilling all your travelling desires (without leaving that gaping hole in your pockets).

Here’s what you had to say about London’s top attractions:

“ I’ve been to the National Gallery like four times. It’s really amazing and I never get tired of it.” 

– Hajer Gomri

“This is the first time I’ve been on the London Eye and I thought it was amazing. I don’t think I’m going on The Shard, because it’s a bit expensive, but this was worth it. I thought I’m a Londoner and I’ve never seen London properly. Well worth the money.” 

– Chris Warren

“Portobello Road Market is great for shopping. You get some really cheap stuff there and if you’re lucky you can find things there you can’t get in other shops. It’s a lot better than going to places like Westfield or Oxford Street and a lot cheaper!” 

– Salma Hersi

“Just left Madame Tussauds now and it was great. I’ve been here before, but I wanted to see the Will and Kate wax figures and there were some others I haven’t seen before like Obama. They’re always adding new people in, like whoever is in the spotlight, so it’s good to come again and see who else has been put in.” 

– Tom Evans

Here are the top 10 London attractions you have to visit (click on image for slideshow):

Well there you have it. The top 10 places to visit in London, chosen by you. So once you’ve finished roaming our online magazine, pick a place and be culturally enlightened.

But before you disappear, take a second to fill in this short survey on where you’ll be spending the summer afternoon:

Follow Zanib Asghar on Twitter.

The Snooty Fox’s Real Ale Festival


Real Ales available at the festival. (Daniel Kirkpatrick, 37 on left, Jonathan Tingle, 34 on the right) Image by Charlie Allen.

By Charlie Allen

Stoke Newington’s local pub, The Snooty Fox held It’s Brim Oop North Festival in February serving Real Ale from the North of England. The pub is part of the CAMRA campaign which supports locally brewed ale, and put on two festivals each year in February and October. 

What is ale?


Regular Real Ales at The Snooty Fox. Image by Charlie Allen

 Ale and lager are the two biggest categories of beer. Most people would find it hard to differentiate between the two, but ale is fermented at room temperature, whereas lager is made at colder temperatures. Ale is also made from a slightly different type of yeast.

The Real Ale Scene

“Real ale is really happening at the moment. We’ve been open since 3pm and it’s already nearly full so it’s a great start to the festival,” says Nicole Gale, the owner of the pub which was passed down from her parents in 2008.

The four day festival presents a wide variety of ales from Northern Ireland and this also ales from micro-breweries – breweries which produce a limited amount of beer. They vary from 3.5% to 6% alcohol strength, and have different colours and styles. The ale needed a lot of preparation and monitoring before it could be served.  Gale continued, “We tried to get at least four or five beers that are special, and that people can try for the first time.

“I love ale because you get so many different flavours. For example we have a cappuccino stout which has a coffee flavour.”

Real Ales at the festivals. Image by Charlie Allen

Real Ales at the festivals. Image by Charlie Allen

Water makes up 90% of beer, as well as other ingredients including yeast, hops and malt. Gale says, “American hops are a lot stronger and the New Zealand hops are similar. Brewers are being experimental with different hops from New Zealand and America. British hops are harder to come by because their crops are never as good.”

Alex Rutherford, 35, bar manager says, “Roughly 80 tickets have been sold so far, it’s been a roaring success. We always make sure we have local ale for example from a Hackney brewery or East London brewery.

“We’ve had a lot of support from CAMRA and lots of members have come down. We are giving a discount to CAMRA members, so it’s £1.90 for a half and £1.75 for members.”

Listen below for the full podcast: interviews with the owner, bar manager and CAMRA members who attended the event.

How to store ale

The Snooty Fox. Image by Charlie Allen.

The Snooty Fox. Image by Charlie Allen.

John Bratley, 61, unemployed, used to work at the Wenlock Arms pub, which was also part of the CAMRA campaign. “I used to look after the ale in the cellar. I would have to make sure it would go out at the right time and was kept at the right temperature because it is a live product.

“Conditioned beer has to be stored for a few days before opening it, and then needs to be monitored to see if it is ready. Sell by dates have to be looked at because it will go off. If it’s opened and it’s not all sold then you are left with vinegar which you can’t sell.”

A specific cooling system was set up for the festival. Jonathon Tingle, 34, CAMRA member, says, “I got up on Tuesday at 7am to get them ready for today. They went through a conditioning process and some were ready and some weren’t. There’s a lot of work involved in maintaining ale and it’s a long process.”

The Venus Project

Last February, fifteen female brewers created a collaborative beer called Venus Gold. This is the forth collaborative beer in their Venus Project, adding to Venus Jade, Venus Rouge and Venus Black. According to historians, beer has been around since 6000 BC and women used to brew it for the British household in the 1700’s. Beer brewing was taken over by men in monasteries and produced on a bigger scale.

See photos and tweet Project Venus here: https://twitter.com/ProjVenusUKEire


Click here to find out more about how to brew


Hackney Hampers: Local produce at your doorstep

By Zanib Asghar You can never find the perfect present on time. No need to worry, Hackney Hampers provides you with a selection of gifts that are perfect for every occasion. Ruth Fitzgerald and Ally Scott, co-founders of Hackney Hampers, … Continue reading

Photographer Stephen Champion

By Charlie Allen

From photographing actors and famous writers to documenting Sri Lankan history, Stephen Champion talks about this life and reflects on his experiences in the war zone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Stephen Champion

Stephen Champion. Image by Stephen Champion.

 “I grew up in a farm in Surrey, and saw lambs being born and the realities of nature. It didn’t prepare me for my first experience of carnage but nothing does.”  says Stephen Champion, 54, a photographer who lives in Central London.

Once a photographer of famous writers, artists and actors for magazines such as City Limits in the 1980’s, Champion now focuses on Sri Lanka which he has been documenting for the last 28 years. “I was absorbed straight away.” His first visit was in 1988.

He was always drawn to photography and studied a BA degree at Bournemouth Arts InstituteWith no A levels, he was taken on as “special case” by the university due to his travel experiences.  “I Hitchhiked around South Africa with only a vegetable knife at 16 years old for the adventure and I traveled all around the world.” he continues.

He then did his Masters degree in San Francisco where Champion focused on portraits, often capturing drama in unusual situations.

Portrait Photography

“An artist friend called me to come over when she was splitting up with her boyfriend. I was working with an old 1959 Rolleicord baby camera and it resulted in a picture of her with her left breast fully exposed – her white skin and red nipple hanging out with the boyfriend grabbing it for her not to leave.”

He returned to England and photographed various famous artists including playwright Alan Ayckbourn, Swiss harpist Andrea Vollenweider, writer Howard Jacobson, and actress Lindsay Duncan. His last portrait was of actor Gerard Depardieu. “I photographed him curled up in a duvet with his head poking out. He was a sensitive big soul.”

Gerard Depardieu by Berned Bujold

Gerard Depardieu by Berned Bujold

For the next 22 years he lived in Brixton. “Those days were very lucrative. I was living the life of Bohemia, loads of people did it in the 80’s. That was the beauty of that time, we haven’t got it now and we’ll never get it back.”

But a visit East opened him up to a whole new journey.  His plans were to visit India – but this didn’t happen until 10 years later. “I’ve never published that work. Sri Lanka is where my work is. The story is in Sri Lanka. The further I went in the more genuine it seemed.”

Sri Lanka

“It went from heaven to hell in a day. I worked with the connection between nature and the traditional culture. I saw those things being eroded. I have recorded the history – not only the conflict –  but the good times, the bad times, and the great change.”

With striking images of the Sri Lankan landscape, his work also shows much darker images showing the brutality of war. “My pictures are understated. I think the narrative explodes in the pictures. “One of the most powerful pictures from the conflict is called A Shop Full of Corpses. It’s of the Batticaloa Market Massacre of 1990.” Champion continues, “It shows blood dripping from the door. It was very brutal but in a very simple way. I was arrested when I took it because it’s evidence of the killings.

Aftermath of Bombing, Jaffna 1988 53. Copywright Stephen Champion

Aftermath of Bombing, Jaffna 1988 53. Copywright Stephen Champion

“In 1986 I saw a bomb drop onto a line of people waiting outside the cinema. I went to hospital to check up on them and there was a floor of blood. I remember sitting down for 20 minutes and crying, and I couldn’t do anything. Then, I picked myself up and did my job.”

But Champion had to deal with death and disaster regularly on his trips and his photos often show tragedy in the most simplest of ways. “The brain deals with it. I am not a clever photographer and I work from my heart. Spectacular things often don’t work for me.

“It’s funny the way children deal with death. They giggle and they never lose a gaze when they’ve been traumatized. It does something to little children that we as adults see in a different light.”

Colours of Change

Champion has published various books including Lanka, Darmadeepa and War Stories. His latest exhibition, Colours of Change, takes place from 18th April until 22nd June at The Brunei Gallery.

The exhibition boasts 82 images altogether, only 30 used from his books. “Colours of Change shows romantic photographs of yesterday and today’s modern and increasingly polluted world. My journey was the conflict and the change in the landscape.”

Want to hear how the exhibition is going? Listen below for interviews with people who attended the private viewing:

Young labourer, Hakmana 1989. Copyright Stephen Champion

Young labourer, Hakmana 1989. Copyright Stephen Champion

By the late 1980’s, Champion says, you could no longer find a house made of leaves or a hand molded interior made so water would easily flow out of the house. “It suddenly disappeared after 2,500 years. Some places are not recognizable. There are lots of concrete blocks now. The country has physically changed. There is no identity, it’s not like India.”

“Women don’t wear saris, there is no transport. It is cut off from the western world, and caught in a time warp. But it is quite charming as there is no pollution. The end of war destroyed a lot – the Tamil people and their psyche.” Champion continues.

“Sri Lanka is a gentle country, there are little hills not big mountains, it’s not boiling hot it’s warm. There are no extremes and I think that’s why it’s more apparent when something destroys it. It’s a very pretty place but has the most vicious things happen to it.”

Stream of Thought

Champion visits Sri Lanka several times a year for around two months at a time covering up to 7000 km each trip. “I’m celebrating now, and not harping on about the past. I have come to understand the working of things more and have no judgement to make. I hope my work is a good stream of thought for people. It’s a document and retrospective. I’ve never looked back.”

Being a photographer doesn’t pay the bills, says Champion. “I don’t even get paid enough to pay council tax. I sold my house in Brixton seven years ago and I used that to live on.” His work and books are self-funded and he has given up a lot to make ends meet. “ I’ve re-invested in myself and my work. I was very fond of good food, then I had to learn to become a very good cook!

“When you see the show you’ll ask yourself  is it worth another look? If it takes you on that journey, then I’m succeeding.” Visit his website: http://www.stephenchampion.org/

Stephen Champion (right) and John Hollingsworth, the exhibition manager (left) at Colours of Change private viewing

Stephen Champion (right) and John Hollingsworth, the exhibition manager (left) at Colours of Change private viewing. Image by Charlie Allen