Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #8: Shadowy Enclaves, But in a Good Way

Helping out Matt in Evil Star are a group of sagacious sorts. If this book had a medieval setting, they would probably be a round table of high wizards with voluminous robes, but because the series has a modern setting, they’re all normal people with day jobs who meet in a converted office building in Farringdon

Evil Star Graphic Novel workings 8

While a benevolent team of thirteen advisors are a wonderful thing for a self-doubting hero to have, sometimes they’re a bit of a chore to draw. That’s thanks mostly to the ‘person-on-the-left-talks-first rule’ we have in comics. Once all the characters are in a room and sitting down in their positions, it takes some visual storytelling gymnastics to get their speech balloons falling in the right place regardless of the seating plans. Oy! It’s like being a wedding planner, I tells ya! You can see a little seating plan I scribbled (twice over) in the image above.

Next time: The meeting’s agenda sparks a bit of a relocation.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #7: Church in the Morning

The first point of greater story-arc drama in the Evil Star Graphic Novel takes place in a fictional church at Shoreditch in London. I know it’s fictional because I tried putting the name Anthony Horowitz came up with for it (‘Saint Meredith’s’) into the interweb to see if it had any reference images to show me, only to find out it was made up! Those writers!

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings

Anyway, Matt has to go on his own to a set-up meeting to pick up something that might help him and his friends over the course of the book. The stakes are very high, everyone’s out of their comfort zone, and friendly police officers are hiding around the corner to intervene if it all goes wrong, which strangely enough, it does.
This scene is important as it’s also the first time in the entire series that Matt uses a method of travel which only he and the rest of the Gatekeepers can access, and occasionally do in the rest of the books to great effect.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings

Crash! It’s all gone pear-shaped! Also hiding in these images is the villain of the piece, one Diego Salamanda. Who I’m deliberately only showing so much of at this point. He’s a bit special.

Lee is a happy doodle

Also, here’s a little something. A deliberately crappy self-portrait I doodled to be the placeholder on the last page of my old blog. This is the first entry I’m putting up on flash-git WordPress under the umbrella of my own web domain after a few-too-many years of ‘blogging’ elsewhere. Oh, you see that header banner up the top of the page? That’s not a stock one, I made that from scratch. There aren’t any Photoshop brushes used in it either, it’s all assembled from scans of painty things I’ve daubed myself.

So, here’s to the new venture!

Ex-Con Sketch-On

Got back from the Exeter Comic Expo yesterday, the happiest little comic convention you ever did see. Not only was the day a resounding social success, thanks to Henry Flint we even found what seems to be Exeter’s best curry house..! But back to the matter at hand, I actually remembered to take photos of all the sketches I did…

FLCL / Furi Kuri

Haruko, Mamimi and Naota from Gainax‘ incredible animation series Furi Kuri / FLCL, whatever you want to call it. I don’t think I ever got around to shouting about how great it is in this blog, but I’ll remedy that now: It’s truly fantastic. Watch it. It will improve your life and the lives of the people around you.


Everyday Spiderman

Everyday Spiderman

A thread seemed to develop here, it started off with me drawing Spiderman for somebody and deciding the pencils weren’t glossy enough to render him as shiny-plastic-heroic-Spidering-man, so I inked him as someone in a bad Spiderman costume, a bit like those old films. Then it become lack-lustre Spiders-Man on his lunchbreak in the park. That Spiders-Man!

Jonah Hex

A wobbly Jonah Hex, because I was far too busy reeling from being told all about the fact that a Jonah Hex film exists now, and shouting about how people should read French cowboy Blueberry comics.

A pencil portrait of a particular punter. I’ve had to fiddle with the levels in this a bit to get the H pencil marks to show up. It’s nice to get in a bit of observational drawing amongst the super-duper flights of fancy. (Note the bit of kitchen roll to wipe the barrel of my over-zealous Rotring Artpen, which is so keen to work well it just seeps out ink out all the time…)


Goblins! In the future! Because I drew some historical goblins for someone last year!

Space Babe 113

John Maybury, creator of UK small press title Space Babe 113 was about, so I had a good look at his Space Babe T-Shirt and drew this for him, almost in the fluid Space Babe style.

Pedro from Evil Star Graphic Novel

And finally, Pedro from Evil Star. I drew this on out slowly in the brief lulls between other sketches, conversation and whatnot, dripping with concentration, trying to get the hang on his Poncho right. He’s looking a bit miffed. About what, I wonder? Possibly that I didn’t have room to draw his feet, or possibly because his entire world’s about to be shattered by ten-thousand year old revelations. We shall see.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #6: Keep Moving

Travel becomes a theme in Evil Star, Gwenda’s got a ticket to ride in a flipping huge petrol tanker (I had a bit of a nightmare referencing that, but it came good in the end.) Matt seems somewhat shocked by something…

Evil Star

There’s a killer scene I’m skipping over here that I don’t really want to show here because I’ll spoil it. Afterwards…

Evil Star

Richard and Matt have a chat on the train on the way to somewhere. I’d just been looking at a lot of Sergio Toppi‘s work before I drew these, so I was buzzing with layout ideas. When they arrive, the get out and stretch their legs a bit.
The nice thing about this series is that it gives me chance to draw very British things that I and most of the readers over here are familiar with, like the train thundering along the top of the page. The lobby is referenced from the lobby of a hotel in Bristol I’ve stayed at a few times, when I’ve been attending the comic convention there.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #5: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

…A woman who claims she can talk to ghosts, and a Peruvian academic! Yes, once Matt gets back from school it’s a big night in at big-brother figure Richard Cole’s flat in ‘The Shambles‘ in York. (Exactly the kind of street-level detail that makes this series of books sing.)

Evil Star Graphic Novel workings 5

Here, unexpected guests drop in and offer information on potential forthcoming adventure!

Evil Star Graphic Novel workings 5

The squashed-up grid page of reference-heavy work is supposed to be a news item on television. For the grey-line frame of the flamboyant fellow in the hat, I’m going to create an engraving style frame based on old paintings of Francisco Pizarro. At the top of that block, there’s a bit of straight-up photo-ref, it’s a photograph of my ol’ PS2 console’s disc tray and my non-drawin’ mitt, standing in for Mr. Fabian putting a DVD on for the rest of the characters in the scene to watch.

Evil Star Workings #4: Matt Freeman’s Schooldays

After the supernatural hullabaloo of Raven’s Gate, main character Matt’s shadowy group of new benefactors – ‘The Nexus’ – arrange for him to attend a new, exclusive, private school. This being the world of Power of Five though, things are never plain sailing.

Evil Star Graphic Novel

After saving the world from ancient demons, Matt has to deal with trying to fit in and lippy kids wanting to bully him. Ahh, the joys the secondary school.

Evil Star Graphic Novel

I even had fun designing what the story picks out to be a tawdry, modern chandelier in the school’s canteen. Can you guess what generally happens to fragile-looking things made out of glass in comics..? Yep. That.

Evil Star Workings #3: At Home with Richard and Matt

After having the most strange of vivid, portentous dreams, it’s time to have some good hearty breakfast. Matt – the main character of The Power of Five – lives with his big brother figure / guardian Richard, one of my favourite characters in the series. Anthony Horowitz (who’s writing The New Sherlock Holmes books, chappy) wastes no adjectives in describing him as a lackadaisical, unkempt, crumpled, untidy twenty-something. His flat is a mess and there’s nothing anything in the cupboards to eat. Even if you’ve just experienced a coded visual flash-forward of the events that are going to happen in the book.

Evil Star Graphic Novel pencils

I did some pretty heavy photo-reffing of myself in relevant bits of clothing for the figures in this scene. I was trying my best to measure up to Dom‘s work on Raven’s Gate, and probably slightly self-conscious at drawing the book’s main characters for the first time…

Evil Star Graphic Novel pencils

Next: Why Matt looks like a mini-businessman in this scene…

Evil Star Workings #2: At Home with Gwenda and Brian

In Evil Star, a character who was more-or-less a cameo in Raven’s Gate reappears – Gwenda – the main character Matt’s aunt and foster-mum. Things aren’t going too well for her and her husband Brian though, and she ends up becoming somewhat twisted supporting character.

Evil Star Workings

Gwenda’s domestic situation’s gone downhill a bit…

Evil Star Workings

But she’s made a new friend… He might be ‘a bad-un’ though. Never mind how he comes around to visit. As always, I’m trying to sidestep the SPOILARZ in all the little reveals that you get to see when you read the book…

Evil Star Workings #1

I said I’d lob up some workings from the Evil Star Graphic Novel, so here we go. The plan is to make a regular series out of these: all the interesting pencils, layouts, thumbnails and scribbles on the script that never see print.

Evil Star

Starting at the beginning, this is some detail from the pencils – well, I’m calling them pencils, most comicy people would probably call them ‘breakdowns’ – for lowly page two of the one hundred and seventy or so in the book. We open up the top of a tall mountain in the wilds of Peru, with an ‘Amauta’ wise man making predictions on the future for the story and the characters. I seemed to remember the scribbles being tighter than this, but don’t worry, they’ll get better as they go on.

Evil Star

You’ve got to love an old wise man. I had a look at some photos of elderly Peruvians and the place takes a toll on their skin – the ones who live in the mountains above the clouds (or so it looked) have nothing to keep the harsh sun or howling winds off them, so they end up with wrinkles on top of wrinkles on their faces. This old salt was drawn first by Dom Reardon in Raven’s Gate, thankfully in a deliberately mysterious way, so I could come in later and construct him fully, going by the ideas that he was old, had a poncho, a stick, and a hat with ear flaps. I must find out the proper name for those, since the book’s full of them…

More soon…

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!