The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle – Part 3

Let’s take our mind off all those horrible murders and do some… Wrestling! Fun play-fighting!
Err, well, the very polite diplomat from the plains-dwelling Kirin clan ends up laying the smack-down on the effete Crane Clan artisan.

The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle - Part 3 - All-in Wrestling!

I should say, once I start throwing around ridiculous terms like ‘Kirin Clan’ and ‘Crane Clan’, you could do a lot worse than looking at the ridiculously exhaustive ‘L5R Wikia’ – the fan-maintained wiki of the Legend of the Five Rings setting that these table-top role-playing game sessions I’m running – and drawing – are set in. Although I then start stroking my beard and then say that I’m running it completely differently to the canon setting. Mynah.)

So these pieces have been coming fairly thick and fast recently because I’ve been catching up. That’s done now, the next one should be in about a week. It’s good to do regular pieces because it lets my experiment a bit. Case in point, I couldn’t quite get the colours and the light-dark balance to work in this one… I knew I wanted a strong background for a change though, going against the pieces I’d done in the same series up to this point.

The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle - Part 3 - Colour flat.

I reckon this simple colour flat has a certain something to it that you just don’t get in the finished piece…

The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle - Part 3 - quick snap of original artwork.

And here’s a quick snap of the original. I keep on going over the sketchbook page with these ones…

The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle – Part 2

Endo the Mantis Clan merchant is questioned by a magistrate about all the bodies outside...

So there’s been a lethal fracas in the castle gardens late at night and Endo the merchant faces some hard questions from the high-ranking magistrate visiting the castle. Afterwards, the verdict doesn’t go down well with all concerned and there is a call for a duel. That doesn’t end well either.

I think I probably threw a bit too much at this one… I had a composition in my head but in practice it’s didn’t quite fit the format of the frame for this one. I’m still enjoying these though and I think this one’s a bit more nuanced in execution, even if the design isn’t quite as strong as the first one.

Endo is from the Mantis Clan of the Legend of the Five Rings setting, they’re a minor clan of pirates and rufty-tufty up-jumped upward to Great Clan status, where they get to rub shoulders (and peasant weapons) with all sorts of hoity-toity, fancy samurai. The fourth edition book of this RPG system was the first proper RPG book I ever bought (If you’re wondering about getting into RPGs or not, don’t wonder… Do!) and the Mantis Clan were one of my favourite things about the game from the very first reading. Salt of the earth, salt-sea types who’re all about the common people. Equality through fantasy informed by history (and lots of latter 20th century fiction tropes!)

The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle – Part 1

The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle, part 1

So I’m going to have a go at trying something new: regular, small pieces of new art.
Something all the way scratch to finish…
Because it’s good to actually finish things.
I’m writing a graphic novel script right now, which is taking a while and doesn’t have any visual excitement about it… Yet.

(It occurred to me that this might seem like some kind of New Year Resolution, but it’s actually just complete coincidence.)

Full disclosure: I’m going to base these on the role-playing game I’m running right now, because it doesn’t just come out of my head, but the heads of the people around me too. Group exercise!
The game is AEG’s Samurai-themed RPG ‘The Legend of the Five Rings’ RPG, Fourth Edition. (The Fifth Edition of the “L5R” RPG has just come out from Fantasy Flight Games, but the game started just before the print versions were available, so we skipped it for now.)
By default, the game happens in a Fantasy / Far-Eastern fiction trope mishmash, but I’m running it in a more grounded way, leaning a bit more towards a historical bent with no big magical spells, people transcending to godhood all the time and anything like that.
The system is great at fielding all kinds of different player characters and one thing that really sets it apart is that players can choose to be ‘Courtier’ characters, so all of their skills are to do with influencing other high-ranking nobility, politicking, intrigue, one-upmanship in the social order and chicanery. No other game the vintage of “L5R” gets this kind of role-playing, character development and plot-focused storytelling running quite so quickly and easily.

The working title of this little series is ‘The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle’. Here’s the first one.

Happy Holidays 2018

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Happy Holidays 2018 with Highly Questionable Santa

Here is another outing from Highly Questionable Santa. As is customary, here is the apology: Sorry.

If you’d like to see previous years’ outings, head here.

Hope 2018 was good for you and that 2019 gets off to a blazing start!

But with bridges burnt, could the this be the end for Highly Questionable Santa..? Continue reading

The Chronicles of Deva: Allen Lawrence

Here’s some more character art from Susan Ruth‘s ‘Chronicles of Deva‘ series of novels.

This is Doctor Allen Lawrence. He’s a nice fellow and he tries to help out the people he knows. And the people he doesn’t know too. A charitable sort, you might think he goes back home to his wife, kids, pipe and slippers and a roaring fire of an evening, but… The poor guy’s got an empty nest. His wife and child went missing in the civil war that tore through the British Isles in the ‘Deva story.

Here’s some character development, right from scratch:

The series has an alternate 1920’s setting, but it’s possible they guy’s design comes from a slightly more Victorian angle…

He’s becoming a bit more ruddy and rounded-out here…

Rough for the character portrait above, in which the artist plays with visual signifiers. Again. Give it a go sometime kids, it’s fun.

And that was then worked up into this rough , which the final pencils were worked from (after it was enlarged and printed out at A3 size and slapped on a lightbox).

Ink linework. drawn with a dip-pen for old-timey goodness.

And then if you thought that was restrained, here’s several palette-loads of black and  grey watercolour paint to pull it into more of a composition.

I did computer colouring for this series over the organic textures already in the watercolouring. The photoshop colours for this one are pretty simple:

Yeah, he looks like someone’s half-finished Andy Pandy or something. Check those cheeks out.

And here’s the finished thing again:

Looking back on this, I really should have done something a bit different with the steps…

Anyway, as an aside… Ah, updating the ol’ blog… How hard can it be? Hmm, quite hard, if my entry tally of late is anything to go by. Apologies, readers. I’m writing this over an-already-existant draft from… Well, I don’t even wanna say how long ago, because it’s a bit embarrassing. Is blogging still the Hot New Thing..? Not really. Do I still have a soft spot for it? Yes. Does being a dad (wee Seb’s two now) and a person with a mortgage (the place still isn’t fully painted yet) get in the way of updates..? They can do.
I’m just trying to throw another update out before the end of the year, so at least it’s not going to be a Christmas card update year with nothing else to show for it.

Behind the scenes: final graphic novel scripts are being slowly written and mini comics are planned out (two keep both ends of the size-of-job spectrum covered, just need to have more content for the ol’ infinite scroll of content providers that is the internet. Or do they just call it ‘your phone’ now..? ‘Devices’ seems to be a parlance. Hope your devices are happy. I have more things to show and more work in progresses to throw out there.

 

Where the Shirt Hits the Fans

I helped out with the free-handing on this T-shirt design for the Drift Record Shop

No, it doesn’t describe how I feel about them (they’re lovely).
So the gist comes from a photo of someone wearing an anti Vietnam Draft t-shirt (with a crease over the ‘a’) which was then used on a record cover that the shop got in… And then made them think someone had a bone to pick with them.

If you fancy a shirt, you can pick one up from the Drift website here.

Flip the Drift T-Shirt

I also helped with some hand-drawn lettering for their logo too. The idea was to take it away from straight, clean type and make the whole thing more organic. The leaning, drunken letters towards the end of the name were to hammer the point home.

And talking about Drift, they’ve just released their list of the 100 best albums of the year.
You can read a lovely (and incredibly well-designed) list of the top hundred best! New! Music! titles by clicking here to go to Drift’s ‘Deluxe’ website.

Or if you fancy a leisurely peruse with much more lovely design, there’s a fancy magazine version you can read a .PDF file of online:

…Which also has a fancy embed too.

Do read.

Happy Holidays 2017

Wishing you and yours the very happiest of holidays and all the best for the coming year!

After all the turkeys voted for Brexit, Highly Questionable Santa had to go further afield to find a strong and stable coalition…

To see some other Santas, head here:
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/leeoconnor/highly-questionable-santa-christmas-cards/

And as is tradition, the annual apology: sorry.

All the very best from Lee, Bex and Seb’.
P.S. Apologies for the lack of updates, I would blog about how I’ve been doing our house up over the last few months but that would be borrrrrrrrriiiiiiing. That’s mostly the creative outlet these days, for shame. That and a bit of graphic novel script writing. Some entries have been drafted out but never posted… Meanwhile, my (and everybody else’s photo hosting going down doesn’t make for the most attractive reading experience. ANYWAY, will get back on the blog horse soon. Thank you my lovelies.

The Complete Phonogram

Cover to Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie‘s ‘The Complete Phonogram‘ from Image Comics.

Complete Phonogram Hardcover Collection

You may have been following this series over the years. Running to three volumes – the most-recent story arc ‘The Immaterial Girl’ was collected last year – and if you have been following, you’ll know that’s unique in its approach… This is one of the most realistic comics out there (no really, most comics deal in the fantastical to at least some degree) and is yet all about the real-world human condition in the 21st Century. (The inherent fantasy in it is all played out through revealing the perfectly believable character’s inner landscapes and their interplay with the outside world.) Phonogram’s big deal (and ‘Elevator Pitch’) is: ‘Music is Magic’. If music can make you change your haircut, your clothes, your identity, your friends, make you go to places you wouldn’t normally go and even make your body dance around involuntarily then it must be magic. The second layer to this big deal is then what happens when someone learns how to wield that magic, but I’ll leave you to read the comics to learn about that.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I was lucky enough to be one of the circle of comicy sorts to be asked to contribute a ‘B-Side’ – an extra strip – to the second story arc – ‘The Singles Club”s run – this, along with all the other B-sides and extras never before collected  (just like B-Sides on singles never made it to musicians’ albums, some of you may not be familiar with the concept of musical singles having flip-sides or extra running time to fill up these days, but just go with me here) will be back in print in April!

As the main story of ‘The Singles Club’ was locked around particular characters all experiencing the same night, my B-side is based around ‘Indie Dave’ – quite possibly my favourite character from the series – gatekeeper of esoteric indie, whose demeanour puts across the way that indie music is always young, youthful and always refuses to grow up, no matter how dishevelled or creaking the fans get in the end.

On Kieron’s lovely newsletter he recently shared a link to a great article written by someone who loves music, comics and Phonogram – Kieran Shiach – where you can see the impression the series made at work.

I know I’m getting in on mentioning this waaaay ahead of release, but that’s how the direct comic market works; it shouts about things about three months in advance and then readers have a chance to preorder or get excited just before the printing presses leap into action and a run of stories are put out into the world. If you’d like to welcome a copy of this into your home – and put it somewhere near your record collection – you can ask at your friendly local, independently-owned comic shop (mine are Gnash Comics and OMG Comics) for a copy on release, and make it even more easy for them by giving them this ordering code:
JAN170785

See Image Comic’s product page for the collection here.

I’ll go digging in my archives for for some supporting matter for this one to share closer to the release.

Yes I know going to such lengths gabbing about a book when I’ve only got one little strip in it is odd, but I flipping love Phonogram.

Happy Holidays 2016

Happy Holidays 2016 with Highly Questionable Santa!

Hello poppets, thanks for reading this year. (And any other year too.) Hope you had a good 2016 and even if you didn’t, that 2017 will be better. Becky and I’s year was basically the best ever yet (ignoring world events for a sec) because our first child, Sebastian was born. He’s like, really cool!

Check out my previous Bad Santas right here. He’s now turned ten years old. Ten flippin’ years! And yes, I really do need to get these printed up into a range of Christmas cards. Maybe next year…

Now for the yearly apology for releasing this image into an already-suffering world: sorry.
Looking at it you might think it’s some kind of Donald Trump swipe. While there’s a crossover of an ageing, unsavoury character and something to do with military hardware, it’s ‘Brexit’ that’s really got my gears grinding and this image simmering away behind my knitted brow. Grr. Sigh. Grr.

As with all fading attention-seekers, our Christmas card anti-hero has made a lurch into the world of politics. But with the spectre of nuclear war’s ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ looming large, the question is:
could this be the end for Highly Questionable Santa..?