Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #12: Heart of Gold & Sketchbook Daubings

Evil Star‘s very own Fagin, the grungy old fella Sebastian, is one of my favourite characters in the book. He lives in ‘Ciudad de Veneno’ in the slums of Lima, ‘Poison Town’. He lets local street kids sleep on his floor in return for their earnings as thieves, shoe-shine boys and jugglers. His suit’s so old it’s falling off him, he’s unshaven, there’s an old cigar hanging off his lip and he has a drinking problem. And he’s a goodie!

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings

Sebastian isn’t actually in the book for that long, but he commands all the scenes he’s in. By the time of his departure from the story, he’s travelled along his own little development arc and become a real hero with an emotional punch to his character. He really seems like a real human who stumbles into a narrative and then stumbles out again.
I based Sebastian on the actor Ricardo Montalbán. (Yes, he of wrathful ‘Kahn’ fame). I needed an aquiline patriarch with a Latino cast, and he fit the bill perfectly.

Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings

I had a good time drawing Sebastian, Matt and Pedro in the candle-lit dark of the tumble-down slum, it was great fun throwing all the shadows around the filthy surrounding built out of rubbish, wreathed in cheap cigar smoke.

Oh, and here’s a doodle from the back of a page of script of another one of the ‘five’ who have ‘the power’ in question in The Power of Five. Scarlett, the main character of the fourth novel, Necropolis. It’s shaded with a half-working water brush pen with ink dropped into the reservoir.

Scarlett from The Power of Five book IV: Necropolis

She won’t actually end up looking like this, but I like the spontaneity of these.

Next time: Parallel Dimensions!

And while I’m on, I thought I’d show these few pages from my ‘out and about’ sketchbook that’s always at my side in a manbag. I’ve been getting into using my Pentel FP10 Brushpen for sketching in dimly-lit pubs and gig venues, and I’ve been quite liking the results.

Pub and Gig Sketchbook spread in Brushpen

This is friend Lux Harmonium and The Diamond Family Archive playing at The Barrel House in Totnes.

Pub 'n' Gig Sketchbook spread in Brushpen

Since it’s heavy black ink instead of faint pencil you can actually see what you’re doing in the dim light, the bristles get marks down fast, and you can muck about with shapes and textures. Linework’s a bit tricky, but that’s why I’m using it, so that if I’m good at brush-wielding when I’m cramped in a corner somewhere of a hostelry after a drink or two, I’ll be able to turn on the same approach when I’m sitting bolt-upright in the daylight at the desk at home.

There’s an online archive of my wanderin’ sketchbooks up here if you haven’t seen them already.

Sketch-Face-Book

As I’ve alluded to before, whenever I’m out and about, I usually have a messenger bag slung across my back with a hardback, A4, usually Daler Rowney sketchbook in it. Depending on who I’m talking to, it’s either called ‘The Travelling Sketchbook’ or ‘The Pub Sketchbook’, since if I ever find myself out and about at a lose end without a comic script to thumbnail up, I’ll open it up and draw whoever’s around me – and if there’s no people about – then whatever’s around me.

It’s all down to a fellow called Ron Tiner, a veteran illustrator who I was lucky enough to be tutored by at the comic-drawing-college-for-cool-kids ‘Sequential Illustration‘ course at Swindon College, at that point the only course of its time in the country. Apart from being One Of Us, Ron’s also responsible for one of the best figure-drawing books around, ‘Figure Drawing Without a Model‘, and also its follow-up, ‘Drawing From Your Imagination‘.
One thing you might not know is that when Dave McKean was working on the art for the famous Arkham Asylum Graphic Novel, he used Ron as the visual model for the character of Amadeus Arkham, the founder of a sanatarium who ends up going insane himself.

Anyway, I owe Ron a lot for shoving me as hard as possible down the pathway to becoming a ‘professional’, and if everything he taught could be rudely boiled down to just one sentence, it would be, “Draw from Life.”
An artist uses – and trades on – their visual memory, and if there’s nothing in it apart from a few stylistic ticks, then you’re buggered. You won’t be drawing anything worthwhile or telling any good stories with that. Drawing human figures and faces is one of the hardest things you can do, not only to comprehend what you need to do yourself as the artist, but your work must also to pass the test of being viewed by other people – human beings – whose human empathy towards other humans needs to be triggered by your scribbles.

So yes, there you are sitting in the pub, waiting for some of your friends to turn up, you’re at a bit of a loose end, so it’s time to top up the visual memory. So off you go.

Since Facebook‘s still with us, I thought I’d try and use it as a force for good(hah!), scan these sketchbook pages and put them up with the people in them ‘tagged’ (as the young people of today say) to serve as an alternative to all the cameraphone shots.

The Facebook album with all the scans in to look at is right here.

Favoured Media

Another Drift Record Shop window I drew on in Totnes High Street down here in Devon. I think this one’s the best so far:

There’s some more lovely photos in a smooth-as slideshow here, on the Drift Record Shop Blog.

And then I went and did some live drawing in the background of The Drift Record Shop Radio Hour on SoundArt Radio, broadcasting on FM and world-wide on the interwebs. In terms of audio I’m mostly the guy sniggering off-mic, making it all sound like student radio, but I did manage to shoe-horn in a bit Art History (well, sort-of) among some other nonsense…

The sketches (and there’s quite a few of them) were all put up live as I drew them via Tumblr, and now the show itself is also up on the online archive, so you can view and listen all at once. The hour of drawing absolutely flew by. I got to hear some great records, and I’ve got to say that the Drift radio venture is fast becoming my go-to place for good new music over mainstream radio or online snark-blogs. I love radio, I love good music, and I love drawing. Yew do da math(s).

That’s one of my sketchbooks that are with me at all times when I’m out and about, in a messenger bag at my side, in that photo. They’re full of observational drawings like these. I’ve been meaning to put up scans of them, and I will at some point in the future.

There’s also a page of pencils from the Evil Star Graphic Novel hiding in that photo up there…

Elsewhere on SoundArt and podcasts, my Call of Cthulhu RPG ‘Keeper’, Bill Eaton presents ‘SoundArt Stories’, a great programme on short fiction, with great stories to listen to and bits of writing shop-talk. The show has its own blog and online show archive, so have a listen.

Himself

No readers, it’s not a concept design for a new kind of nerdy orc, it’s a self-portrait.

This isn’t carrying on some kind of introspective bent from the previous post, it’s just that the pictures from my imagination weren’t falling out too great one day so I decided to draw something from life instead and I was the only lively thing about.
(Remember kids: you can only get out of your visual imagination what you put into it.)

I look a bit lumpy in the first drawing because I was still warming up, by the second one (drawn with the help of two mirrors) I was just about ticking over and ready to get back on with the comics again.

There’ll be some more actual content in this blog soon apart from all this self-wankery, honest.