Whether you’re attached or single, happy or miserable, gay or straight, this most romantic time of the year can be somewhat tricky. Especially as it keeps pissing it down.
Everybody needs a release, a forum in which to express their innermost thoughts – especially when it comes to matters of the heart – and there’s no better way to do so than with a relationship journal such as Map My Heart.
Map My Heart is a book about relationships. It’s also a journal you can doodle in. It’s also a confessional diary. It’s basically the most cathartic gift book you could get yourself or anyone else around V-day. Written and illustrated by Dom & Ink, the book is filled with beautiful drawings, sage advice and is seemingly voiced by the firm guiding hand of a stern yet lovable dinnerlady. I knew I had to find out more about the man behind the doodles.
When I met Dom & Ink, otherwise known as Dominic Evans, it turns out my dinnerlady analogy wasn’t far off. We sat down to talk getting laid, getting dumped and getting close to Glenn Close:
So, you produced the original version of Map My Heart – called Batter My Heart – when you were at uni. What inspired you in the first place?
When I started my Masters in Brighton, I knew I wanted to produce a book to do with relationships. Originally I intended to make a comic book collection retelling peoples’ own stories of their successful/failed love lives. I love hearing about people’s relationships and stories of how they dated and met. I’m really nosey. Originally the book wasn’t going to be about love and stuff, it was going to be about all different relationships like families, friends – stuff like that. But then I found all the good stuff I was hearing was all the love stuff, like ‘I slept with Brenda from Gregg’s behind your back. She poured coffee all over me and in a hot sensual moment smeared a pasty down the front of my body. She seduced me.’
You’re like a human Take A Break magazine.
That is the best compliment! Also I used to love Sunset Beach when I was younger. So, that’s what inspires me. But my main inspiration was stories off people. The whole book is based off stories that people have told me or I’ve overheard maybe in toilet cubicles. For some reason, I do manage to get people to open up to me. I think it’s because I’ve got a face shaped like a love heart.
What were the differences between Batter My Heart and Map My Heart?
Well ‘Batter’ was only 60 pages and also was A4. The content was pretty much similar. The main improvement we wanted to make with the book was to add more pages for the reader to get involved with and scribble all over. I wanted the reader to go away from the book feeling like they’d been on a journey and could really interact with it, so that’s where the interactive element came into play. Also ‘Batter’ had a Cheryl Cole short story called ‘The Tears of Cheryl’. Unfortunately our Chezza isn’t too well known Stateside or the rest of Europe so I had to discard her and her beautiful Geordie locks. God I bloody love Cheryl.
So there wasn’t some devastating breakup you were trying to get over that inspired you to start writing?
Everyone thinks I was in absolute pain writing this book. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been through some tough breakups – for me, leaving Henry Cavill was really hard – but I did find it quite cathartic writing it because I confronted some of my own demons. There are some pages in the book that are directly from my life. I don’t tell anyone because I like to keep people guessing.
Tell us one of them. Give us a freebie!
Alright! On the ‘What Type Of Dater Are You?’ page (pictured above), I’ve been on all those dates. I went on a date with a Pretty Arsehole once who was a wanker and said he modelled for Burberry. Turned out it was actually Burton’s, the shop where clothes go to die.
I love the characters you’ve drawn throughout the book. I’m enjoying this bunny boiler Glenn Close person quite a bit.
I enjoy Glenn Close quite a bit.
How could one not?
I wish I could get close to Glenn Close.
Have you seen Damages?
I bought the first series because it were £4 in Cash Converters Bolton and it was great. Then the second series wasn’t £4 so I didn’t watch it. It’s ended now hasn’t it?
It ended some time ago. Do you have Netflix?
I don’t, no. Everyone says I should get it.
First, you should get Netflix, because it’s all on Netflix.
I never have time to watch TV shows, Thomas, I am bogged down! I am so far behind on American Horror Story. If I had Netflix, I’d never leave the house.
But that’s the joy of it. You never need to. You’ve got all your friends right there.
Does it have Real Housewives though?
Real Housewives? No.
That’s the downside. I rely on ITV2 to give me my daily fix. This is when I realised I should get a boyfriend sometime soon, so I don’t have to stay in and watch Real Housewives.
The same thing crossed my mind, but then I realised I preferred the company of Glenn Close.
In Damages, yeah. £4 from Cash Converters.
So there’s a part in the book where you have to write a letter to yourself…
You could put a tenner in there. Because then you could go and get Damages season 2 for £8 in Cash Converters. Season 3 was £12.
You know, Netflix is like £5 a month.
That’s too much.
This book radiates class. You even have quotes from Shakespeare!
To make it all cultural, for people that read in pubs, I put in quotes of famous people. I feel like these give it depth and make me seem a lot more intelligent. I basically Googled ‘what can I use for free – Shakespeare’ and I just took what I could use for free.
Can’t you use the whole lot for free? There’s no copyright on it.
Is it public domain? I wasn’t sure. There was a whole email conversation – very intense – between me and the intern at the publishers. It’s like Snow White, fairytales; they’re public domain, aren’t they?
Well, I don’t think Shakespeare was ever copyrighted…plus, it’s been 500 years. I think the limit on copyright is 70 years?
Look at The Bible. Jesus was copyrighted.
I don’t think The Bible is under copyright either.
I think it was, Tom. But I do tend to make things up to make me sound like I know what I’m saying. I did put Beyonce in originally, but Beyonce gets something like 5 million per quote used. And I was going to use ‘if you liked it you should have put a ring on it’, and they were like ‘we can’t afford to pay that’ – so she became Michelle Obama. Classier.
Perfect. Michelle’s an icon. And you’ve also got some unattributed quotes illustrated as well – such as ‘some people are meant to fall in love but not be together’.
Someone I actually fancied sent me a picture of that and said ‘that’s like you and me’. Thanks. Thanks a lot. Why don’t you go take a scissor to your groin?
So what’s the worst breakup you’ve been through?
Hmm, that’s a toughie. I’d say one that involved being cheated on. It’s such a bad feeling and I would not wish that on anyone. I felt like an idiot for not seeing it too. I think I have a winning streak at picking men that are complete and utter arseholes.
And what’s the worst breakup story you’ve heard?
I’d probably say the worst was someone being dumped via Facebook. My friend was dumped like that, and it is such a cruel way to leave someone, and also humiliating. Everyone on social media sees it, then everyone comments on it and to be honest, it’s no one’s frigging business anyway.
Well, as you say in the book: ‘Rejection is God’s protection’.
My Mum taught me that phrase. “There’s a reason he slept with the whole of Manchester behind your back”. You know what Mum? There is. Saying that to any friend, though – if they don’t get a job interview or something – just say ‘rejection is God’s protection, Brenda’.
I don’t have that many 55 year old friends, though.
I have a Brenda. She works at Gregg’s. And you really know you need to get a boyfriend when she says ‘you’ve not been in for a while.’
‘Love is an adventure in being human’ – who said that?
A mate’s Mum.
Okay, so you’re just going to take the credit for that?
No! I gave her a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine. She knows she’s in it.
Were the chocolates from Poundland?
£1 from Morrison’s.
Nice. So what’s the best feedback you’ve had from someone who’s doodled in the book?
My friend’s Mum’s a psychologist and she brought several copies in for her clients and they’re loving it! Because she said that a lot of people have come in and one of the big reasons is relationships. Some of the stuff in the book has really helped them tap into it and got them talking more. Some stuff they’ve not brought up while talking or in person, they’ve put into the book. They felt a lot more comfortable drawing or writing about it. That was great feedback for me as I like the idea that while ‘Map’ is packed with humour and laughs, there are still moments when readers share themselves with it. I love that.
So it’s become art therapy?
I’ve changed lives, Tom. I’m basically Cilla meets Jesus. I’m Jesus Black.
What’s next for you?
I cannot say. All I can say is that there could be something more Map-related soon. That is all!
And finally, Valentine’s Day is coming up: what advice can you give for anyone that’s single and ready to mingle?
If you’re going out for Valentine’s, get dressed up. You don’t need to go full on tux and top hat, just y’know, something to make you feel damn good. Meet some mates and go for some drinks in a good bar. Not a club where you end up dancing to hard house on a pole at 3am. Just a decent bar with good people and think of your body language. If you look like you’re open to conversation then people will approach you. Open body language, eye contact and a killer outfit. Single who?!
Well. This has really been quite a journey.
Thank you. I feel like you’ve gone on a journey.
I really have. You’ve broken me, reading this book. I just don’t think I’ll get my happy ending.
You will, Tom. I’ll find you someone. I’m amazing at getting people laid. I’m basically a pimp.
Our Map My Heart competition is now CLOSED but you can pick up a copy at Huck and Pucker .
Words: Thomas Dearnley-Davison
Images: Dom & Ink
Originally published on Spindle Magazine