Monday, 23 December 2013

End of the Year Rumblings

Feel like it's been ages since I last posted but I have been pretty busy. I've managed to pencil a few bits and pieces but sadly it's difficult finding time to ink, especially as the weather's turned nasty and I can't sit outside and ink on my lunch breaks as I did in the summer.

I have 4 comic pages to do in the new year but I find doing a few bits and pieces for my own amusement really help recharge the batteries. I'm currently working in four pads: an A3 pad to practice larger pieces, an A5 pad to do quick little bits (currently home to some cartoony Pulp Fiction scribblings), a hardcover that I want to keep for drawing women and another hardcover for general stuff.

Above are a couple of bits included as just a little update really...

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Work Load 1.5

Following the last post, I had some time to while away in a London pub yesterday while I waited for a couple of good pals to arrive so I got caught up on the two animated-style requests, the Blue Beetle to go with the Booster and even an Iron Fist to go with the Luke Cage request. I finished the Ghost Rider bike this morning and coloured the whole lot today. Nothing special, but fun pieces and something a bit different...

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Work Load

Last Wednesday, I was asked if I could do a few drawings for a presentation at work this week. Well, that turned out to be 22 caricatures of staff and managers dressed as superheroes appropriate to their personalities. As I was out all three remaining nights last week, that meant I had to cram them all in over the weekend. As well as drawing them, they all needed colouring and lettering too so the only way I could possibly manage it was by going animated style. This meant less rendering and easier colouring (all done with the paint bucket tool).

I didn't want to "waste" all that work so I drew them with the original character heads then shopped in the staff caricature heads. Some turned out really well, others (mostly the women for some reason) less so but here's a look at some of my favourites with a final version (less text) for comparison.

I have a Blue Beetle/Booster Gold pic on my list of illos to do but I think I may just do a Beetle to go with this Booster anyway.

These seem to have been popular, got a laugh, a round of applause, a request for a tweaked version of one pic for the individual's own use and a request from somebody else to be turned into a hero. My Saturday evening's already booked out but now I think I know what I'll be doing Saturday morning!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

More Random Stuff

My return to sequential work should hopefully be only a fortnight away but things keep coming up to push my schedule back. Here's a sampling of stuff done recently.

I had to do three more pieces for work recently (besides the animation available here:  ) but I took the bride above from one of these, just cut the rest of the illo and added a new head.

I've also got a show coming up after much cajoling, nothing fancy but hanging in a gallery at my regular pub, the Belle Vue. Obviously, much of what I do is done on Photoshop so the exhibition will be mostly prints but I decided to create some new pieces more in keeping with the pub's rock music ambiance.
I'm also going to do a larger original pencil piece to show, started today and already I'm not sure if it's working. I'm mot using my usual pencils for shading, just my standard retractable pencilling pencil so I my need to start over with proper pencils.

I pencilled a Debbie Harry piece ready to ink and probably shade with copics but ended up quite liking the pencil version. As I still plan on inking it, I decided to start another Kristen Bell (just can't get her right!) in pencil but sod's law, it's all going wrong  and I'll have to start again...

The Hellcat is another "art save": I was requested to draw a celeb dressed as Hellcat but after I completed it, I shopped in the proper Hellcat head to keep an illo I can look at (I don't care for the celeb!). The Japanese pic was an image that come fully formed in my head whilst watching The Wolverine, the waitress is another art save that I'm going to drop into a new background (when I figure out what to do) and the other headshot is supposed to be Elizabeth Sladen, done some time a go for a Who montage that went horribly wrong when I shopped all the elements together (Rory came out well though)....

Anyways, that's what I've been doing lately...

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Random Stuff



I've been drawing my arse off lately and not a whole lot to show for it but some is coming together. As well as completing a 5 pager and a crudely animated sequence to go on Youtube, I've had various other projects so last weekend, I took a breather and just chilled, doing stuff for myself.

That mainly included starting some pencilled pieces for myself to ink and finishing off a few other pieces. Results are mixed at best. Some have come out nice: unless I cock the inking up, I am fairly hopeful for two pieces, I started a really nice Jim Morrison then ran out of space for the top of his hair so will probably have to ccomp in hair as I don't think I can recreate the likeness achieved so far: sometimes you can't recapture that spark.

Other pieces failed: a Kate Beckinsale was nice in pencils, ok in inks but not good in colour. Similarly, a Clint Eastwood was nice in pencils but went all kinds of wrong in the inks. Still, I really liked the Gulacyesque image so may give it a second bash and tighten up on that likeness. These won't be posted, neither will a few other bits pottering away in the background.

Above are a few examples I can show: the eggs were created for the afore mentioned animation project but it was suggested I might want to copyright them. I doubt I'll ever use them but you never know, so these are the Eggsplosions. The Little Red Riding Hood turned out okay and Jeremy's Piles was a rejected Viz submission...they choose not to run it (I've never been a huge buyer so have since been told it may be too similar to a strip called Nobby's Piles which I assume runs on the same line) but they said the quality was very good and they would be happy to look at anything else.

As a result, I have another one-pager in the works but also need to return my focus to the four pages I have to do for TMSAV. I've thumbnailed the story twice though and while perfectly clear storytelling, want to tighten it up a bit.

So anyway, pics above then...

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Latest Stuff

Updating the blog has become less frequent hassles, time demands and any other number of things have led to me blogging less and I wonder if I should just call it a day. While I ponder that, here's some stuff I've been working on in the background that have just been completed fairly closely together.

This is actually the best Cyclops I think I've drawn (for another website) and originally I was going to drop in all the different costumes in the background still I realised that looked too busy so I decided to add Jean and Emma as backdrops. rather than just draw part of their figures, I drew them whole and then trimmed off the unnecessary parts...though it does look like Cyke's trying to cop a feel! Valkrie (as with Jean and Emma) is an experiment in drawing at a larger A3ish scale, Dr Strange is an old one with a new cape and backdrop and the eggs are a frame from a corporate animation we're working on at work...

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Works In Progress

Just a quick post, a few random pieces in various 2 pages left of a 5 parter to do (then scan and grayscale colour) then 4 pages of TMSAV and possibly another strip, plus a few requests/commissions have popped up recently so busy busy!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Memory Lane Epilogue


After I started my thread about my comic history, the magazine Back issue has twice inspired me to hunt out some back issues (Dr Fate and Legion of Substitute Heroes issues) while on facebook, people have been posting Bronze Age covers that have also fuelled my retro kick.

As a result, I have picked up a handful of key issues from my early childhood, not so much as a nostalgic link to my childhood but to go reconnect with that huge thrill comics brought to a young mind interested in drawing.

Above are covers of my recent acquisitions: just enough, I won't pick up any more  but these are the keys issues for me. I already had Jungle Action but I picked up Marvel Two-in-One featuring Stingray (again semi-inspired by Back Issue but also my first copy of the series, preceding its later reprinting in Rampage monthly). I was bequeathed a copy of Marvel Super Action (thanks, Tone!).

I tracked down those vividly remembered issues of the Six Million Dollar Man and Mighty World of Marvel. I picked up the first JLA/JSA crossover I ever had...much as I recalled my first real exposure to characters like Dr Fate, Power Girl and the Golden Age Green Lantern, I was surprised to see the original Hawkman wearing the metal helmet he had adopted in the 70s All Star Comics. I only ever recalled his cowl and when I first saw his helmet years later, that surprised me as I had never been aware of it before...though obviously I was, I had merely forgotten that fact.

However, the one thing that really blows my mind...I was really eager to get hold of that very first golden comic for me, that Justice League issue when I was off school ill. From timescales, i narrowed the issue down to a year and wracking my brains, kind of gravitated to a cover or two but nothing really screamed t me.

So, I posted on Facebook to ask if any Bronze Age aficionado could identify the issue...ALL I could remember was the heroes' heads in the cover banner, the Elongated Man catching the falling Atom from the sky in one panel (importantly I recalled a FENCE in the background!) and a certain ad that exposed me to treasuries of Captain Marvel, the Golden Age Flash and others.

Amazingly, within about 10 posts, not only had the issue been identified but that key panel posted. I was ecstatic...not jumping up and down all a' holler but y'know..the corner of my lips lifted in a half smirk. I found the issue for a couple of quid and when it arrived, to be DEFINITE it was that very same issue, not only did it feature that image...but the ad as well. I would have been less than 5 when I was given that issue.

All was well with the world and at last, I could finish where I very much started...

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Memory Lane Part 7: PROPER Collecting


So, now older and with greater income, I could afford comics more easily and soon got hooked again. I started with the US Marvels...I fell out of love with the X-Men during Cockrum's second run and only saw 2 issues of the Paul Smith run but I found myself easily falling into the latest issues, illustrated by Spidey artist John Romita Jr. The characters rather than the plots took centre stage and this was probably the most "humane" era in Claremont's run. As a huge Byrne fan, I also went straight back to Fantastic Four (have only ever seen his first 3 issues before dropping comics), as well as latching on to Alpha Flight...I appreciate it more now but was doubly annoyed as he'd killed off a favourite character of mine and the team almost never actually got together! I followed Byrne to his excellent Hulk run but other than those titles, I'd pick up practically any series I could: the Spidey and Avengers titles, New Defenders, Cap, iron man, New Mutants, the lot.

I missed a week or so of school when we had to escape to a refuge and the only thing I had to do was walk to the shops and back. It was here that I started getting into DC for the first time...the Crisis was starting and a great buzz was building.

For me, the post-Crisis era was DC's best, wiping away the cheesy old titles and ushering a new era of greatness such as Byrne's Superman & Action, Perez's Wonder Woman, the JLI, Jackson Guice's Flash, the Lightle Doom Patrol following on from his Legion run and so much more. DC were experimenting with adult stories, different formats and paper stocks and the late 80s became a truly great time for comics.

Helping things along, I stumbled across a newsagent in town stocking direct market comics. At first I eschewed the indie fare like Nexus, Scout, Mai and so on in favour of more interesting DC fare and future Marvel releases (from the usual newsagent schedule anyway). Then a comic shop opened up in town during Jim Lee's X-Men run and I became a regular who occasionally helped out (and even designed the store logo), eventually taking a trip up to London to my first comic shop, Mega City Comics in Camden.

Eventually, the LCS closed own and I began making regular sojourns to Forbidden Planet in Milton Keynes before taking notice of an ad in Blast! for ACE, a comic shop with a thriving mail order company based in Essex. My first advance order was the month of Jim Lee's X-Men #1 in 1991 and I'm still using the service.

At the time, there was the youthful joy of collecting...still a thrill to complete a mini series or pick up a first issue, I had every ongoing Marvel #1 (except Darkhawk, which I could never find) for about 5 years. Yep, I even had obscure crap like Tomorrow Knights and Terror, Inc. Most were crap but occasionally I would follow series for a while, such as the first few years of New Warriors but this was a time when comics were still affordable enough that you could easily take a punt on titles, hence my following titles such as Quasar, Wonder Man (both favourite characters of mine), Gruenwald's Captain America, the Eric Masterson Thor and the first 6 issues of the revived Ghost Rider.

Now working, I could also afford to buy back issues and complete runs of Uncanny X-Men and Byrne's Captain America, FF and Alpha Flight, plugging gaps in between issues I already had.  During this time, I followed series such as Starman, Bone, A Distant Soil, Preacher and Leave It To Chance and still have complete runs.

Somewhere along the way though, maturing tastes, declining quality in the 90s and the relative ease of buying comics meant the thrill of comics was dying for me a bit. I quit the long-loved X-line when I realised I was buying 5 or 6 series a month just to keep up with 3 or 4 characters who were being mishandled in comics I never particularly enjoyed. I was coming dangerously close to leaving comics behind altogether, just picking up a few scant titles each month which happened to have work by artists I like. It was then that I decided to start collecting as much Adam Hughes art as I could: a huge favourite of mine, tracking down and obtaining his work kept my interest in the field at a time when the standard output was pretty poor.

Eventually though, comics became more interesting after the boom and burst when sales dictated better quality. I tracked down the vast majority of Hughes work but gave up collecting when I was picking up issues just for his cover or illo and utter hating the rest of the issues (Wonder Woman and Rose & Thorn, I'm mainly thinking you here). By this time, I had lost my connection to Marvel and DC as mishandled series and characters, rising costs, storage limits and changing tastes meant I still had an interest and nostalgia for the lines but was no longer a devotee of their universes.

It wasn't all doom and gloom though as this meant I could explore different comics. I began following artists more and hunted out major work by artists like P Craig Russell, Adam Warren, Steve Rude and legends like wally Wood, Al Wiliamson and Alex Raymond. Excellent archive editions were being produced, allowing me to obtain great work a little off the beaten path. A reluctant convert to the trade format (I would previously pick up monthlies as you never knew if anything would be collected and besides issues felt more like "real" comics!), I eventually saw the light when frustrated at the lack of anything decent to read, I'd take a punt on things that may not have been my usual visual cuppa but sounded good reads. As a result, I became a fan of series such as Y The Last Man, Runaways, Fables and the Walking Dead.

After reaching back through the decades of US comics in various reprints, I also began looking further afield. I tried manga and generally struggled with it, although I found a few gems. I had more luck wit the European fare, particularly the albums issued by Cinebook: the sci fi Aldebaran/Betelgeuse/Antares series is a firm favourite of mine, as is the Bournesque Largo Winch.

That brings us up to date with just one coda to come...