The Shadow Knows

A quick scan of a commission of the pulp hero The Shadow for the collector-alpha Alan Henderson, whose formidable monograph collection of convention sketches and commissions of the hook-nosed pulpster has an online mirror here.

The Shadow

As the click-happy will see, Alan has a raft of Shadows from true luminaries of the comic industry, and I was desperately trying to make a piece for him that would hopefully in some way stand out amidst all the others in concept, if not in steely pencilling/inking execution. Shapes are fun you know. They’re what human vision and the best works of art are based on.

I first met Mistah Henderson at the Bristol con back in May. where I did this for him on the fly while I was signing and sketching:

And that led to me having a crack at The Shad’ on a bigger field and with more time on my hands. Here’s a scan of sketchbook page with shapes jostling about all-over, as I tried to wrestle the formula down:

The Third City of Abacus

Here are some of the twenty, digest-sized pages of The City of Abacus Volume 3 art I did while a while back, written by VV Brown and David Allain….

Volume 3 is going to be published in the 7-volume-encompassing City of Abacus collection at some point in the future, with the art on parts 4-7 by John Spelling. I got to draw the cave made out of liquid metal, and in return John got to be the guy who drew an army of monkeys. Lucky!

Further-Delayed Gratification

After appearing in the first issue, there’s another set of ‘And Finally…’ news stories of the last three months illustrated as comics by me in the second issue of Delayed Gratification magazine, the quarterly almanac that’s an exponent of the ‘Slow News’ approach, the idea that journalism shouldn’t be so twitchy and focusing on filing in the next thirty seconds, but should instead digest events and then collate them.

Delayed Gratification Magazine Cover

Delayed Gratification Magazine spread

There’s a story about a Greek former soap actor turned politician bulldozing toll-road barriers, how some Milton-Keynes residents kept their library open, and how people power in Wisconsin meshed with technology equals lots of pizza, but not necessarily political reform.

Not only are copies available to buy from the Delayed Gratification website, you can subscribe there as well.

Musical Theatre

Artwork for what is, as far as I know, the world’s first self-contained musical comic, courtesy of a fellow called Sam Gardner and Cape Fear Comics. Originally mooted as the companion comic to a superhero-themed stage musical(!), this comic comes with its own battery-powered sound module(!) built in, which will play the three or so minutes of audio as you read along with the comic(!) Lots of reverb and comedy phrasing abound!

If anything here looks slightly suspicious, it might be because there’s a gag about it about to turn up…

As if all of those new dimensions of art objects wasn’t enough, Sam’s lovely partner Chloeeven made a gingerbread man of the main character!

This is quite possibly another first as I’m not sure anything I’ve drawn before has passed into the realm of the edible…

Slow News and Delayed Gratification

Just got my comp copy of the first edition of the Slow Journalism Company’s quarterly Delayed Gratificationmagazine, which features me doing my best bad impression of the engravers of yesteryear and turning a news event into an illustration. They did that before cameras were invented, you know. Those were the days.

Delayed Gratification

Anyway, the news event in question was an Ernest Jones jewellery shop being robbed by a gang of organised thieves with sledgehammers on motorbikes, who were ultimately foiled by passing members of the public. Huzzah for community spirit!

Delayed Gratification

I even hand-lettered this. Well, ‘hand-lettered’ by freehand tracing a printout of a computer font. Cough.

Delayed Gratification

And here’s a pretty tight layout version I showed the Slow News peeps before I set-to on the finished art.

Delayed Gratification

The magazine itself is fantastic, the idea is it’s three months-worth of news slowly picked over and analysed, with connections drawn and themes brought forward, all the name of ‘Slow Journalism’. The design is fantastic too, and leads the entire product rather than just being the last coat of shine on top of the copy text, as it is with some magazines.

Copies are available to buy from the Delayed Gratification website!

Super What’s Next

So after the huge book that was Raven’s Gate, yer favourite Graphic Novel adaptation of a supernatural Young Adult book (which has even managed to get into the ‘Teen’ section of Waterstones bookshops all over the country, how about that? Not ghettoised in a comic shop, not even ghettoised in the Graphic Novels section of the proper bookshop, but in a section that real human beings peruse!)
The next big project I’m working on is, tidily enough, its sequel. Book Two of the Power of Five series, Evil Star by Anthony Horowitz. I’ll be the sole artist on this 171 page Graphic Novel adaptation of the original novel.

Once it’s published, this will be the thickest slab of a book comprised of my scribbles alone that’s been released so far. I’ve been working on it for a while and I’m hoping to have the pencils for the whole book finished in April or so. I’d like to lob up odd pages and frames as I go, but I’ll see how it goes with the getting the art done…

Talking of which, I’d better get back to it…

Oh, and there’s a massive collaborative community artwork here, the result of James Harvey‘s ‘Choose a Cat, Draw a Girl’ 2010, with art from me and err, everybody else on the interweb. All of ’em!

Excellent. Release the Ravens.

August the 2nd finally sees the release of the Raven’s Gate Graphic Novel from Walker Books, in British bookshops, some two-and-a-bit years after I first put pencil to paper for it. A long time after Dom first started work on it, and even longer than when Tony first adapted the script! (Case in point: have a look at this old previewof Dom’s work on the book from March 2008!) Anyway, I digress. It’s here and thanks to Dom’s lovely painterly skills the cover looks like this:

Raven's Gate Graphic Novel cover

Chuffin’ nice, eh? It’s got 170 story pages wrapped in lovely design by Patrick Insole at Walker Books and a beautiful cover with spot embossed gloss inks.

It’s available to buy from Walker, Amazon UK (complete with a nifty preview of the first few pages!) and Amazon US, as well as proper, real-life bookshops that normal, unassuming people shop in. (And let’s not forget that getting long-form comics into that kind of environment is a real achievement.)

Thinking about it, given the supernatural nature of this title, we might even see a bit of cross-over from the Twilight crowd and those ‘Dark Fiction’ shelves that groan with vampire novels in the bookshops… We shall see!

The City of Abacus

The next short-form comic with me on artwork duties coming out over the next few months will be issue two of The City of Abacus, written and self-published by pop singer VV Brown and music video director David Allain.

It’s an adventure comic and the population of the titular city have their minds wiped every week to wash away any dissenting thoughts directed at their evil queen. Freeda the protagonist lives in the city and meets a mysterious stranger one day and ends up going on a fantastical journey. I’ve even drawn a Lord of the Rings style map that’s going in the back of the comic and everything!
This is a miniseries and once all the issues are out, they’re going to be repackaged into one lovely, fat book.

Here Freeda and her mysterious stranger are fleeing the city and making their way into the somewhat spooky surrounding woods…

The City of Abacus

The City of Abacus

The City of Abacus

What’s more, there’s a wee happening on soon at The Book Club venue in Shoreditch, London! An exhibition of blown-up artwork from the comic will run there from the 7th to the 29th of May.

The City of Abacus

The rather impressive poster image here is from the cover of issue one and is by the lovely Emma Price, illustrator of the first issue and the series’ cover artist.

Merry Metal

‘The Spirit and the Flesh’, the strip I illustrated for Heavy Metal, is in the issue out on the shelves right this very second, the January 2010 edition:

Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal

(Comp copies are the perfect Christmas present! Bit like getting the Beano annual when you’re wee, even!) I was steeling myself for the strip about hairy-arsed cowboys to be surrounded by images of sci-fi and barbarian girls in bikinis, but no amount of mental preparation can quite fortify you for the impact of the finished article… The cowboys are set-up next to the issue’s beautifully drawn and coloured long-form piece, ‘Mortemer‘.

I’m pretty sure I listed all the reasons why being in Heavy Metal magazine made my nerdy little heart sing like a canary in a previous blog entry, and having the finished object in my hands and on the racks is even better. It’s good to have a considerable number of colour pages in print in a self-contained story, most of the work I do for comics is monochrome… Anyway, if it’s not in your local shop you can buy it online here. Enjoy. And watch out for Baron Saturday.