You can recap my artwork for the project here. My pages run on p251 – 255 in the third volume, but don’t go skipping to them because there’s just so much fantastic art bursting out of this thing. Will there ever be a print version? Probably not, because of many different teams of lawyers in different countries would have so many problems with such an object existing. The internet helps us get it available in the ether though, and you can read the fruits of hundreds of artists’ labour online at your leisure.
Also, there’s an online map compiled by Alex Jaffe here of where on – and all over – the globe all of the hundreds of contributors are!
As if gallery shows in different countries, including Japan, the US and the UK, loads of press coverage – including me seeing one of my spread pages turn up in a ‘Best Fan-Art on the Web’ article on Buzzfeed – weren’t enough, the project’s now followed Akira’s jump from manga to cinema and has gone into the realm of animation! Another gang of amazing, talented people have now produced a re-animated version of the original Akira theatrical trailer with Simpsons characters set in Neo-Springfield!
Sweeter than a squishie drink from the Kwik-E-Mart laced with government brain pills!
Have a look at something from the archives: development sketches I did for a comic written by Kieron Gillen & Jim Rossignol. The (very) loose plan being that it might be a miniseries from Image once it had been kicked around.
These were scribbled… Mostly six years ago. Gulp.
The idea being that the story followed this big-bloke/little-bloke pair of main characters as the rest of the insane world they lived in… Happened to them. I seem to remember having great fun pushing the big-bloke/little-bloke idea visually, then being egged on by Kieron and going even further… (See below.)
Big Bloke: ennormous, shouty, murderous.
And the little-bloke; quiet, studious, intense, possibly not made of real matter.
These spreads were about as developed as it got…
Supporting characters now; first up is a meddler who was even more horrible than the main characters. I might’ve pushed the androgynous, cross-dressing angle too far…
Some… Years in the making, the second volume of the Power of Five graphic novel series -’Evil Star’ – will be out… Wait for it… Right now!
This is the volume I drew entirely on my own – pencils and inks – and its the longest book I’ve had out on own yet; weighing in a a hefty 170 pages!
The story is a continuation of the the five-novel series written by Anthony Horowitz and adapted by Tony Lee. In the first novel, 14 year old Matt Freeman was fostered as part of a government scheme to a small village in Yorkshire where he slowly learnt that all wan’t quite what it seemed, and the local folklore of witches might not be quite so dead after all. A little bit like The Wicker Man, all the villagers are actually in on an occult plot to reopen the portal that’s sealed away an evil ‘Old One’, monster. In Evil Star, it turns out that there’s another gate holding back Old Ones in Peru, South America, and the organisation that helps Matt sends him there to investigate. And then there are adventures! Obviously!
So after months of stapled script booklets, separate bits of paper with pencils on and inked artboard in piles, the finished product looks like this! (Note festive tablecloth also.)
You can buy the book from the publisher Walker Books themselves, Amazon UK or Amazon US, and a bunch of other places!
There’s a preview PDF of some lettered interior pages up on the Walker Books page, to read it, click here!
The story starts straight away as soon as you open the front cover – no title pages or publication information pages…
So since we only had black and white to play with for interiors, I used a few storytelling tricks to help make the tale feel a bit richer. Here, the folk-art style border means the characters are in an Incan town.Here, the grey instead of white means the scene is taking place in a shared dream world.And the grey linework and mottled brushwork shading here means it’s a flashback.So here’s the book sitting on top of all the pages of artwork on Bristol board that went into its creation.
So here’s a spread with the original art next to it.
And another.So since the series is being reprinted to fit in with the style of the prose novels a bit more, Evil Star and Raven’s Gate look pretty good next to each other, hm?
Looks pretty good together on the shelf too…
(Not that my work deserves such good neighbours, but you get the general idea…)
It’s slightly bigger than the last edition, and the page stock is a bit weightier this time around so it’s slightly thicker, too. Nices! The book opened up to reveal Richard Cole’s hellhound-gunning Peugeot 106 in all its glory. Also, some other things.
I’m sure I mentioned at some point in the past that there were 170 pages to this sucker, didn’t I?
There’s some nice spot varnish on the front and back cover too. You don’t get that with an e-book, y’know.
I’m really pleased with this edition. The design was by David McDougall at Walker and features Walker’s graphic novel imprint’s branding, which the last edition missed out on because it was published before the imprint even existed! The other books in the series have different colours in their design so they look really good on a shelf too. You can get it from Amazon (UK), or Walker Books’ own webshop here.
Mayor Quimby is Mayor Nezu! Bart is Kaneda! Lisa is spiritual leader Lady Miyako! One of Lisa’s friends plays Sakaki, the girl bleeding out. Akira is played by Ralph Wiggum, so the iconic double page spread of the entirety of Neo-Tokyo undergoing a cataclysm just had to change from an orb of pure psychic energy to Ralph’s unsuspecting, dome-like mug.
I think my favourite character drawing in these pages is the little Principal Skinner / Colonel at the top of the last double page spread. The amazing thing was that the pages I was assigned were the very same ones I read in the UK’s ‘Manga Mania’ magazine in 1994 that completely blew my unsuspecting mind and reformatted it into manga-loving jelly. I’d never seen – or could even have imagined – comics like this existed before I’d seen them with my own eyes. (And never mind what seeing the Akira animated film late night on BBC television did to my – once again – unsuspecting mind…)
Up next, these are Otomo’s original pages below. The man is clearly a genius of penmanship (among other things) so these were pretty intimidating to work over the top of. I only had to come up with a more fat, basic, Simpsons style line over his frenetic panels though, so I got off lightly. I’d like to think I’ve learned a little bit in poring over just a handful of this guy’s pages.
My favourite Bartkira pages that I’d seen before I started drawing mine were the ones that seemed to bring some Otomo, Groening and something of the artist’s own style to the table, so I tried to head off down that tangent. It had to be in colour too.
Here are some scans of the artboards I printed out and then started inking over the backgrounds of…
I drew the characters on a separate piece of paper so the Otomo and Groening anatomies didn’t clash too much…
Here’s some scans from the interior pages of a birthday comic I drew last year for my illustrator pal Hannah Megee.
This will make little to no sense for the passing reader, since it’s half made-up on the fly from private gags, Hannah’s life and the fact that she was having a Mexican Day of the Dead party.
Other touchstones were Herge and Tintin, school hi-jinks stories, and how well that plugs into mid-twentieth century British adventure stories where the Caucasian main characters are always more important than the inhabitants of whatever country it is they are visiting. Hello, Mexicans! I don’t really hate you.
Oh and Luke Lux Harmonium special-guest-stars as the baddie henchman!
Yes, I’m willy-waving at you with a bunch of dead trees stained with assorted pigments. But give me a chance, this is the longest single piece of stand-alone graphic narrative I’ve done so far.
I’ll carry on flinging up workings posts of the pencils and whatnot on here rather then showing off the inks, because you can see those in the finished book. What you won’t be able to see in print are all the wobbly bits the top secret blog club are privy to.
Come on Matt, at least try and look excited.
Some folks ink digitally, but I’ve not quite gotten into that yet, it still has to be a physical process for me. At least until I get a new Graphics Tablet that doesn’t play the ‘Guess Which Random Pressure Level I’m Operating at Right Now’ game. If I did make that jump, the pencils would still have to be with graphite on a bit of paper scanned in, I reckon. We shall see.
You can see the strata of the different kinds of board and paper I ended up using. Finding out the hard way that two different batches of Bristol board bleed with Rotring Artpen ink wasn’t fun.
Normal service resuming very soon indeed. The next job is the cover of the book!
Here’s the strip from its image file, click through to read it at a comfortable size: As this was an opportunity to poke my head above a parapet with a view of a landscape I didn’t have that much of an excuse to be in – record retail and collecting – and then proceed to throw my opinions around, I wanted to make sure it was half worth reading, so I wrestled with some roughs:I ended up getting two comics-worth from the preliminary brain rummage, so cut the first one free and then threw this at the Editor as a statement of intent:The poor guy.
It was nice to wang on about something using comics as a medium though. The whole thing brings to mind the increasing troubles facing physical shops that sell physical objects. Bit like your local comic shop. If you have one left anywhere near you. I suppose comic shops have people going in every week for their fix of The BigTwo‘s product; something that there isn’t really a parallel to in indie record emporiums. But then again digital comics are on the up, slicing more share away from the comic shop owner. Hmm. I remember thinking to myself a while back that if there was any true future in comics they would have to become a trash medium again. Even though mail order ‘long tail’ graphic novels and collections – and even Kickstarters for the same – are fantastic, if we really want to be anywhere approaching relevance we need to jump onto the digital platform bandwagon – even if we don’t know where it’s headed – and start pedalling like crazy, and hope the mainstream takes some notice of us again.
Mind you, I do like a nice physical object like a graphic novel or trade paperback to read, so I suppose I want it both ways really. Harrumph.
No it’s not a blonde version of me. It felt like it had been ages since I’d done some colour work so I wanted to colour the piece myself. I’ve been noodling about in the monochrome world of the Evil Star pencils for a long old time, so it was time to crowbar open the boarded-up doorway to Colour Theory in my brains again. I set about throwing down some incredibly over-saturated, positively lurid colours without further ado. Jaundiced yellow! Overbearing forest green! Putrid electric pink! This is living! Thank criminy that an alarm doesn’t sound in Photoshop when it doesn’t like the colour choices you’re making…
Here’s the inks as they hit the unforgiving flatbed of the scanner.
And finally some of the roughs and sketches I jotted down before embarking on the board for the pencils and inks.
Here’s a photo that Felipe sent through of the piece in print! It’s in Issue #2 of the series. If it’s not in your friendly local comic shop, you can buy it online from Image Comics here.
Here’s some pages from the birthday comic I gave to my pal and “heterosexual life friend” Rupert Morrison recently, since landmark birthdays deserve decent presents… Caution: In-jokes years in the making, personal histories and the fact I was half making this up as I went along conspire to make this mostly impenetrable to anybody but its original recepient.
Of course this is just a cheeky glimpse for everybody else, there’s a colour cover, an extra page and the dedication in the actual art object itself, but unfortunately you’re not the dude in question, so ya nae privileged enough tae see it, man!