Happy Holidays 2020

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you and yours all the very best.
If you made it through the year and also remain unscathed by mental illness or poverty, congratulations. We’re sure you’ll just love 2021.

Highly Questionable Santa is pretending to be Dominic Cummings here, the British Prime Minister’s unelected advisor who was recently sacked; not for flaunting lockdown regulations, not for unpaid tax, not for disparaging comments about elderly people, not for colluding to suspend parliament, not dodgy dealings with the campaign to leave the European Union, not concerns over his links to Russia or any of that stuff, but instead because he was snarky about his boss’ girlfriend.
Soon afterwards he was photographed shuffling off with his possessions in a cardboard box.

Political alliances broken and humiliated by the press and the general populace… Could this be the end for Highly-Questionable Santa?

What a year. We were eyeing COVID-19 this time last year, but we couldn’t quite see just how badly it could effect quite so much of this year, which has seen great upheaval but also a profound stasis.

Please take care, please stay safe.
All the very best from Lee, Becky & Seb. 

Happy Samhain

Happy Samhain (okay, alternative, old-skool Halloween) card with Fionn Mac Cumhaill, Sabh & Aillen Mac Midna of the Tuatha de Dannan.

Happy Samhain, folks. Didya know that Samhain’s pretty much the origin point of modern Halloween? It can be Celtic New Year too. In the Fionn Mac Cumhaill story, Fionn fights Aillen, son of Midna – a fiery member of the fearsome Tuatha De Dannan race – on Samhain night. (It’s pronounced “Sow-in”.) Some Celtic ritual sites point towards the sun today too. Celtic mythology intones Samhain a lot, including; Fionn and his Fianna defeating werewolves and other Tuatha de Danann, the Nemedian settlers having to give the monstrous Fomorian forerunners an annual tithe, Ulster being invaded in the popular Cattle Raid of Cooley of stories, the grand battle of Magh Tuireadh that signals the end of Ireland’s mythic ages… And many more times besides.
Sleep tight.
(This isn’t Aileen’s final look, but he’s getting there. I don’t think I’ve really shown off Sabh looking like this before, but she does now!)

FIONN GN Art Pages

Fionn Mac Cumhaill Graphic Novel page 1 art.

Fionn Mac Cumhaill Graphic Novel page 2 art.

Fionn Mac Cumhaill Graphic Novel page 3 art.

Okay, first look at some kinda-finished art for the Fionn Mac Cumhaill graphic novel pages. Page one, two and three.

Eastern Ireland, sometime around 200CE. The fag-end of the Iron Age, teetering on the edge of the bleak centuries of the Dark Ages.
Some guy turns up somewhere he shouldn’t be. He’s not quite right.

In time, he’ll unite the people of the land, lead the elite group of the country finest warrior poets, defeat inhuman menaces from the past, find love, become a father, know loss and unravel mysteries.

Let’s not get get ahead of ourselves… We’ve got to find out a little bit more about where he came from first.

Art for Weapon Deal

Warforged Cleric of the forge, Tubal Cain, chosen of Moltok.

Brushpen and watercolour piece I made as a gift for someone. That someone made me a gift of a full-size, fully-functional, Celtic style sword out of steel(!) and wood. Just because I helped run some games nights at the local comic shop. You don’t do an amazing thing like that and not get something from me back in return..!
So this is a drawing/painting of one of my sword-gifter Ian’s D&D characters, a Warforged Cleric of the Forge. He’s called Tubal-Cain and his god is called Moltok. Here he is rescuing a priest of another faith from a burning church, because he’s just that kinda nice (living statue robot) guy.

Pale Fionn Mac Cumhaill Gets Some Colour

I’ve been trying to get pretty serious about the Fionn Mac Cumhaill graphic novel for a wee while, progress is very stop-start on something like this when you’re the only person working on it. I’m trying to run it as a kinda social media project with fairly regular updates too… Seeing as how, y’know, nothing’s real these days unless it’s on social media. It’s all a bit galling really, but it’s the landscape creatives are in these days, so never mind. (The gag here is that this guy is talking about social media and hasn’t updated his blog in four months… Harrr.)

Fionn Mac Cumhaill the Irish mythological hero, here being a scrawny young guy out in the backwoods.

Oh boy, did I really just blurt all of that out when you just came here to look at some art..? Sheesh. Sorry about that. All the art angst has to go somewhere I guess, block the flow and it’ll just all back up somewhere.

So here is Fionn Mac Cumhaill. Irish Celtic mythological and folklore hero. Women love him. Men want to be like him. He’s like He-Man as a Nobel Laureate… Except, I like him looking like a disfigured, scrawny, unexperienced, pale weirdo though. He ends up being the top of the heap in Ireland at the very end of the late Iron Age, as the captain of the Fianna, the land’s most amazing warrior-poets and defenders of the realm.

This is a younger version of him, maybe he’s just about to leave the care of his foster mothers Bodhmall & Liath Luachra the woods of the Sleive Bloom Mountains, or he’s taking a moment out of his chores under the tutelage of the poet Finnegas on the wooded banks of the River Boyne.

My go-to one-liner to describe Fionn’ (also known as Finn McCool) to people is that ‘he’s like the Irish version King Arthur.” A guy who comes to be the leader of his version of the round table of knights by a combination of chance, adventure, birthright, mythical derring do and more. There’s stories about his parent’s courtship, his birth, boyhood, coming of age, adulthood, even embittered old age, his death and supposed mythical slumber to one day live on. The bits I’m concerned with for the graphic novel are his youth and coming of age, where he and his family face great adversity and then everything turns around for him.

This is one of my favourite rough drawings of him – doodled out at the end of the day on a comic convention table – I coloured up because I needed something with actual colours on as a icon for a Facebook page I made for the GN – to make it look appealing – as opposed to yet another black & white sketch, on a feed of black & white sketches… It was only a few weeks overdue. I’m dead good at this social media thing, me.

So anyway, there’s Facebook page for the FIONN graphic novel here. So that’s all the FIONN content in one place. I’ll still be putting Fionn things up in all my other feeds though, it’s all I’m trying to work on these days!

The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle – Part 19

So The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle is… resting right now, while I work up a graphic novel set in Celtic Ireland in about 200AD, instead of a feudal Japanese samurai setting. There’ll be a printed zine/mini artbook of Samurai Tragedy’ with extra art in at out some point in the future. For now, here’s one of the character pieces from it, of genteel tea ceremony host, artisan, red-hot steel basher and sword-smith, Hideyoshi Doji of the Crane Clan. There’ll be more of these in the finished, printed thing.

Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle - Part 19 - Hideyoshi Doji - Tea Ceremony Host & Swordsmith

This one was done as a double-up, for the series and also to go into the ‘City of Remembrance’ Legend of the Five Rings zine, put together by the fine folks from the ‘Shadows in the West’ L5R RPG podcast. You can go buy the zine on Gumroad here, proceeds go to charity!

Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle - Part 19 - Hideyoshi Doji - Tea Ceremony Host & Swordsmith

Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle - Part 19 - Hideyoshi Doji - Tea Ceremony Host & Swordsmith

And some of the inking progress. For some reason I never got around to taking a snap of the pencils. I was probably just thinking it was time to just get on with things. The fortnightly update schedule for this, plus the fact it was a personal collaborative project between me and… my mates, means everything just flowed really easily.

Happy Holidays 2019

Wishing you and yours all the very best for the holiday season!
Hope your year was good and your 2020 is even better.

(This year, Disturbing Father Christmas has dressed up as right-wing UK politician & millionaire Jacob Rees-Mogg, from that time when he acted like a small child and lay on the seats of the British parliament because his country wasn’t crashing out of the European Union fast enough for his liking, so him and his mates could make up some new laws.)
But does acting like a Dickensian despot raise the ire of the British populace? Could this be the end for Highly Questionable Santa..?

Do remember to take it easy,

– Lee, Becky & Seb.

The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle – Part 18

It’s a beautiful view from the balcony of Bayushi Castle, but Master of Ceremonies Omaru Miya is sharing his view that his contestants are rubbish, just to haze them in the ‘Courtier’ debate round of the Tournament of the Samurai, the Topaz Championship. Freebooter Endo Moshi of the Mantis Clan gets the (pirate) boot stuck into him, just like everybody else.

So the main thread with this one was me thinking that I hadn’t really drawn much setting or backgrounds in this series, so it was time for some kind of grandiose, vulgar gesture like drawing most of the grounds of a feudal Japanese castle, including its charming garden and castle towers…

The big head was originally going to have more of a body attached to him and serve as a kind of frame to take in the view through, to break up a rectangular image… But I ended up stalling that because I wanted to get the castle details in, then the lines were suddenly already down and the big character had lost his oomph. Ah well, never mind.

Colours! Running out of colour schemes I haven’t done yet in this series means the colour-work is getting a bit more over-wrought. Here, I was going for fairly primary yellow and red as a scheme, because we’ve not seen those all that much – or as a pairing – the Samurai Tragedy so far.

If the dark-to-blacks look over-powering here, it’s only because they have to be strong to make their way through the grey paper and big blacks of the drawn artwork.

Finished image without the text.

I’m now itching jump off this series and get back to working on my graphic novel, but the figure of 20 images – and the fact the adventure’s about to end – is calling me on to just see it through for a little while longer. Grr!

The Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle – Part 17

Bookworm Mitsuhiro looks to add another string to his bow in the archery contest of Rokugan’s Topaz Championship. He’s wide of the mark on his last arrow though. Monk Detective Hideo smells a rat.

A snap of the inks. A4 paper to keep the acreage down,

I finally managed to escape from underneath the umbrella of dark, golden sepia tones for the colour scheme in this one and I ended up digging just the colours on their own quite a lot.

With each one of these, I look at the collection of all of them I’ve done so far and then figure out what colours or colour combination I haven’t tried out yet in the series. That’s then the one I go for. It might sound a bit arbitrary, but it keeps me amused. I quite like the airy, high-noon blazing sunlight feel I managed to get in this. Not that sunlight is quite this blue, it’s just that a lot of the other pieces in this series are pretty brown.

Ghost Shops for Deluxe Magazine

Not shops you can buy ghosts in, but shops that aren’t there anymore.
Cover and illustrations for Deluxe Magazine, a periodical about music and record shops.

The main feature in this issue was an interview with Joe Mount from the musical act METRONOMY. (Joe’s from Totnes in Devon like me and The Drift Record Shop who publish Deluxe.

Here, the copies from the Newspaper Club printers had just arrived at The Drift Record Shop. The drawings were done with a ‘Parallel’ calligraphy Pilot Pen & Pentel ColourBrush brush pen.

Or grab a physical copy from Drift in Totnes. I think you can mail-order free physical copies from their website too, you just have to pay postage.
It’s distributed nation-wide by Forte Music Distribution so copies will be in record shops all over the UK too.

You can read an online version of the interview – complete with drawings – right here.

Check out those piles.

I think there was something like 3,000 copies of this printed up.

The graphic design on Deluxe is by the peerless AtWork studio. Check those guys out.