Happy Holidays 2021

Happy Holidays to you and yours, congratulations on making it through another tough year.

A thinly-veiled Boris Johnson stand-in cohorts amidst total catastrophe once again.

Here, ‘Highly Questionable Santa’ is breaking COVID regs and having a Christmas party, just like it’s been revealed that the UK’s Conservative ruling party did too, back in December 2020… Which they’re still denying, despite all kinds of testimonies to the contrary. They even fired someone who had nothing to do with it, which kinda backfired and then made them look even more silly.
Don’t end up looking silly, kids.

Meanwhile, could this be the end for Highly Questionable Santa..?
All the very best for 2022, which can only get better.
– Love from Lee, Bex and Seb.

(To see all of Highly Questionable Santa’s previous shindigs against common decency; they’re all on the blog, click here!)

Tea Towel II: This Time it’s Personal… ‘Metronomy’s Eight Wonders of the Small World’

So we did it again, there’s another METRONOMY TEA TOWEL in the works.

The English Riviera one was just so well received, we had to go and do it again.
Buy the forthcoming ‘Small World’ album from Drift Record Shop – click here – and you’ll get a special tea towel and a comic, both with art from me, for free!
(You can get the comic bundled with the album from any indie record shop in the UK, but the tea towel is a Drift exclusive!)
Again, this was just a massive laugh from start to finish.

‘Metronomy’s Eight Wonders of the Small World’, Tea Towel II: This Time it’s Personal... The art! Ignore the border.

Here’s a lil’ preview of the art for the tea towel.
We went for the full chintz on this one. Truth be told, it’s based a lil’ bit on a genuine vintage tea towel, banging on about how The Isle of Wight has eight wonders, more than the rest of the entire world put together. Eeesh.

The choices of places are from all over the world are are Joe Metronomy’s top location picks, spread out all over the globe. They are;

  • Garden Bowl bowling alley, Detroit, USA
  • Zona Arqueológica de Cholula ancient pyramid complex, Puebla, Mexico
  • Nice ‘n’ Sleazy indie night club, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Broadmarsh Banks skate park, Nottingham, UK
  • The Montmartrobus route, Monmartre, Paris, France
  • The Thai Oase karaoke bar, Lindau, Hamburg, Germany
  • Coin Laundromat, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
  • Bunbury Beach, Bunbury, Western Australia

It’s really nice that Nottingham and Glasgow got a look-in too.

(Thanks to Because Music!)

Here’s Joe Metronomy modelling a mock-up of the tea towel with customary high style in a charity shop. That guy!

‘Metronomy’s Eight Wonders of the Small World’, Tea Towel II: This Time it’s Personal... Says the Mountster himself!

Metronomy’s ‘Small World’ Album Comic

Metronomy 'Small World' album, 'It's Good to be Back' comic.

Comic strip I did for the band Metronomy!
Preorder their forthcoming album ‘Small World’ (on vinyl) and you’ll get this bundled in with it, it’s a comic expanding on the ‘It’s Good to be Back’ lead single music video, directed by the rather wonderful Dreamjob Directors.

Metronomy don’t really need an introduction, which is high praise from me indeed, but if you’ve not heard of them, rest assured, they are the very finest in grooving electro-pop music. I’m obsessed with loads of their songs. Lots of people are…

You might remember I did a tea towel design for the same good folk a while back.
The album’s out in February and there might be more goodies to tell you about later on, too.

Metronomy 'Small World' album, 'It's Good to be Back' comic.

You can pick up the album and get a physical comic (12″ x 12″ size!) from your friendly local indie record shop, like the Drift Record Shop.

Metronomy 'Small World' album, 'It's Good to be Back' comic.

The comic expanded upon the premise of each band member playing the role of a funny kind of idealised animal, something that was pretty hard to convey during the passage of the music video, but we could play with it a little bit more here.

Metronomy 'Small World' album, 'It's Good to be Back' comic.

…It’s at this point that the story then loops back to the beginning of the comic, just like the video does. So you turn over the ‘back cover’ of the comic and then you’re back at start of page one again.

The music video loops, I said… Wanna see? Check it out:

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s even a ‘making-of-the-video’ video that’s an eye-opener:

Many thanks to everyone at Metronomy’s record label, the esteemed Because Music.

Happy Bealtaine!

Liath Luachra & Bodhmall from the FIONN graphic novel are herding their cow between two bonfires while festooned in sunny yellow flowers to mark the 1st of May.

Bealtaine card with Liath Luachra and Bodhmall from the Fionn Mac Cumhaill graphic novel.

The May-Day celebrations stem from Bealtaine – one of the four major Celtic festivals of the year – when sprigs & branches in bloom were gathered. In Ireland, Gorse, Rowan, Primrose, Hazel catkins and Marsh Marigold flowers were all plucked and cattle were (and are) herded between two bonfires before they’re turned out to pasture for spring. Fires are extinguished, set alight again (maybe even by a passing,officiating Druid) and may even burn all the way through the night.

Roughly, ’beal-’ means ‘shining’, ‘-taine’ means fire and the whole affair is lit by bright fire and the beaming of golden sunshine.

It’s also linked with Benelus (or Benelos), a (mostly) continental Celtic god of the sun, who received widespread worship, back in the day.

In the UK, the May Pole associated with May Day started out as the most handsome straight branch or tree trunk anyone could find, which was then decorated with flowers. All this ‘pagan’ stuff is still all around us.

Metronomy’s ‘The English Riviera’ Album Tenth Anniversary Edition… Tea Towel!

Metronomy English Riviera Tea TowelApologies for subjecting you to my mug, it makes a change from all of the art and I have great news! I was stupidly lucky enough to be able to come up with a design for a… TEA TOWEL for the British band Metronomy.

Metronomy English Riviera Tea Towel

Here’s the artwork itself, the idea is that it’s Joe METRONOMY’s favourite spots in The English Riviera (the Torbay area of coastline in south-east Devon, UK).

You can only get yourself a tea towel by buying the Tenth Anniversary double vinyl LP version of Metronomy’s ‘The English Riviera’ album from the Drift Record Shop.

Metronomy English Riviera Tea Towel

An alternate wave design (possibly inspired by a real wave lapping against Paignton sea front).Always loved this album, always loved Joe and Metronomy.

Metronomy English Riviera Tea Towel

All the shouts out to METRONOMY’s label, Because Music.
The idea is that it’s a spin on the tourist trap tat souvenir tea towels you used to get. It’s still making me chuckle.

Metronomy English Riviera Tea Towel

And a very early rough. I’m still obsessed with this record, even to this day, ten years after its release. It’s all about being from the bit of the country I’m from, the sun-drenched, sea-side, technicolour… Melancholy? The track ‘The Look’ is a stand-out one, if you’re short on time. ‘The Bay’ has more of the titular English Riviera conflicted feeling to it though.

Locations include; the YMCA Skate Park and Shoreline Cafe in Paignton, the Avon Dam, Torquay, Totnes, Stoke Gabriel and more.

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!)

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.