Merry Drift-mas: 2016

Aieee, the image-making technique we do not speak of… Photography! Anyway, here’s some photos of this blog’s writer-gremlin doing some great big art at das supercool, independently-owned indie record store the Drift Record Shop in Totnes and having tons of fun in the process…

Drift Record Shop Robin Stylus Christmas window 2016

I was painting (with real-life acrylic paint) the Christmas window at Drift. (I’d even go so far as to borrow my partner’s screen-printing ink hand-tray. Shh!)

Drift Record Shop Robin Stylus Christmas window 2016

Working at this size after spending countless hours noodling over smallish bits of paper with varying sizes of ink marks was fantastically liberating. Look at the little twinkle in my bloodshot eye…

Drift Record Shop Robin Stylus Christmas window 2016Cool records to be seen in the background, artist thankfully not in shot…

Drift Record Shop Robin Stylus Christmas window 2016The idea behind this was to clobber people in the eye with the massive, bold design as they walked up Totnes high street. I drew the outlines with a chunky liquid chalk marker to get them looking crisp before proceeding to block in with good old-fashioned paint and a brush.

Click the Christmas robin to be taken to Drift's classy-as-ya-like Instagram feed!

The finished thing! The idea is that the robin is using his beak as a stylus. y’see… Yep, it’s rude, we’re trying to provoke some kind of reaction here…

Many thanks to team Drift for the photos! You can peruse their wares by visiting their website, here.

Bartkira: Nuclear Edition in Print

Some photos of the very plush, oversize-hardcover of Bartkira: Nuclear Edition, now in print and available from your friendly local comic shop!

Bartkira: Nuclear Edition in print photos

Here’s some of my art in amongst some amazing work from industry veterans and trail-blazing newcomers, the perennial AkiraRalph spread!

Bartkira: Nuclear Edition in print photos

Bartkira: Nuclear Edition in print photos

Bartkira: Nuclear Edition in print photos

So Bartkira‘s a whole thing, you know. Here’s an outstanding mural by Erik Veldmeijer and Frans Boukas at the Incubate festival in Holland. (Photo by William van der Voort.), some Mulhouse / Tetsuo cosplays, memorabilia and a Bart / Kaneda tattoo(!)

Bartkira: Nuclear Edition in print photos

Bartkira: Nuclear Edition in print photos

The title page with Bart / Kaneda and an interior spread with Milhouse / Tetsuo by project co-editor James Harvey:

Bartkira: Nuclear Edition in print photos

Bartkira: Nuclear Edition in print photos

Warwick Johnson Cadwell draws frenetic city-wide cataclysms like it ain’t no thing:

Bartkira: Nuclear Edition in print photos

Due to the grey area/public domain spot the work exists in legally, all profits from the sale of the book go to charity; OISCA Coastal Forest Restoration Project in Miyagi Prefecture and Save the Children, as chosen by Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon. So you can know your pennies are going to a good place in return for you being able to put a slice of buzzing pop-culture madness on your bookshelf.

World Book Day Workshop Photos

Some snaps some the workshop I did earlier today at the Drake’s Circus branch of Waterstones in Plymouth. It was great fun and I’d like to thank everybody who turned up and made it such a good way to spend an afternoon!
I only thought to photograph some bits of it, as I was either too busy, drawing away or just lost in waving at passing members of the public.

Quick sketch of Anthony HorowitzGroosham Grange, from an offered description! It’s a spooky castle!

Some of the drawings I coaxed out of people who just thought they were out shopping!

Dave Hooper and I jam out a comic with a Noir theme… Me, I like a noir theme, Dave, he lives a noir theme, and has the hat to prove it…

Jam comic by – in order – Diana Mazuru, me, Dave Hooper, Rob CrossTincuta Moscaliuc and Jake Rowlinson. We were all warmed up by this stage…

Another couple of satisfied customers! Dad here is a graphic designer and draws a mean cartoon cat (which is in the collection above!)

My totally top gang of core comickers, (from left to right) Tincuta Moscaliuc, Diana Mazuru, Dave Hooper, Rob Cross, Craig Richards and Jake Rowlinson (dressed up as Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings in honour of World Book Day, no less!) thanks folks!

The Power of Five: ‘Evil Star’ graphic novel out now!

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!

Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic Novel
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!

Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelThe story starts straight away as soon as you open the front cover – no title pages or publication information pages…Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic Novel

Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic Novel
Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic Novel
Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelSo 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.Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelHere, the grey instead of white means the scene is taking place in a shared dream world.Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelAnd the grey linework and mottled brushwork shading here means it’s a flashback.Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelSo here’s the book sitting on top of all the pages of artwork on Bristol board that went into its creation.Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic Novel
So here’s a spread with the original art next to it.Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic Novel
And another.Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelSo 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?Power of Five: Evil Star Graphic NovelPower of Five: Evil Star Graphic Novel
Looks pretty good together on the shelf too…
(Not that my work deserves such good neighbours, but you get the general idea…)

Raven’s Gate, Reprinted!

Some snaps of the lovely reprint of the Power of FiveRaven’s Gate Graphic Novel that Walker Books put out a while ago.

Raven's Gate Graphic Novel second printing from Walker BooksIt’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!Raven's Gate Graphic Novel second printing from Walker Books The book opened up to reveal Richard Cole’s hellhound-gunning Peugeot 106 in all its glory. Also, some other things.Raven's Gate Graphic Novel second printing from Walker Books

Raven's Gate Graphic Novel second printing from Walker Books
I’m sure I mentioned at some point in the past that there were 170 pages to this sucker, didn’t I?
Raven's Gate Graphic Novel second printing from Walker Books

Raven's Gate Graphic Novel second printing from Walker Books

Raven's Gate Graphic Novel second printing from Walker Books Raven's Gate Graphic Novel second printing from Walker Books

Raven's Gate Graphic Novel second printing from Walker Books
There’s some nice spot varnish on the front and back cover too. You don’t get that with an e-book, y’know.
Raven's Gate Graphic Novel second printing from Walker Books

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.

Drift Record Shop Christmas Window 2013: The Comic Blow-out

Just drew on the windows of the Drift Record Shop yesterday – this window was the most ambitious I/we’ve done yet as it was an eight-frame comic spread accross eight giant window panes!
The story was written by R.G. at Drift, and for the common touch, concerned (un)popular hate figure Simon Cowell and a Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol‘ analogue…

Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013

Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013

I drew little arrows telling the readers where to go next, and there will be a little ‘how to read a comic’ blurb on the shop door (because I’m shocked to see that there are some people who don’t know, or at least think they don’t know.)
The funny thing is watching people read it, you have to use your legs and feet as much as your eyes to go from start to finish, because it’s so big…

Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013

And here’s some snaps of odd bits of the drawing that snakes around the entire shop…

Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013

Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
(Totnes’ Norman Castle is visible at the bottom of the blue sky behind Cowell’s neck in the image above)
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013
(The silver sheets here are to keep the sun off the record racks first thing in the morning.)
Drift Record Shop Christmas window mural drawing in Totnes, 2013

And there we’ll leave it. It’s always good to work in public, meet people, and have a chat. It was even sunny too. If you’re after something else to read, have a look at Drift’s very lovely records of the year list.

Record Store Day 2013

April means it’s Record Store Day, and The Drift Record Shop in Totnes are doing something special: Gold Panda and Luke Abbott are playing gigs in the shop!
So the shop needed a poster to trumpet about getting some of the biggest acts yet to perform there, so I worked with Rupert at Drift to hammer something out…

The image needed to be fairly bold, with the act names popping out so people would notice, so I got into mixing up watery acrylic paint and writing out text with a rectangular foam brush on big sheets of newsprint paper over and over, trying to get it as bold and flowing as possible…

x
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Texture, anybody?

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You can see the water and the paint separating a bit here…

Record Store Day 2013 poster rough
Dropping the scans into Photoshop, I mocked this up…

Record Store Day 2013 poster rough

Record Store Day 2013 poster rough
If you seem into, you can see all the thresholded bristle texture and edging on here…

Record Store Day 2013 poster rough
Another mock-up. The texture wasn’t quite coming through on this one, although there were some nice bits.

Record Store Day 2013 poster rough
So it was time for a bit of a rethink, so we went for loose-based-on-formal, and it seemed to work. So it wasn’t long before Rupert did a bit of jiggery-pokery and had a poster!

Record Store Day 2013 Poster
The final Record Store Day 2013 Poster – click through to see larger!

The plan is to sell these on the day – the 20th of April – in the record shop, so anybody who comes to the gig can buy a poster too if they feel like it.
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The posters on the shop counter.

xAnd some in the window! See you on the 20th!

Real Things

I usually do a painting for my pal Jo for her birthday, here’s this year’s one:

World War One Nurse Painting

It might look like a colour rough to some of you, but each painting I do is an experiment of some kind or other. Spending so much time only dealing in black and white on paper drawing comics, it’s good to muck about with gloopy paint and colour for a change. I’ve learned to have some kind of concept of colour scheme, but not try to get into detail of form too much – the process of layering up paint for fun is an extended happy accident that you just have to go with. Too much or too little paint on the palette while you’re mixing can shift entire colour schemes, and blending on the canvas can get out of hand and knock out the composition, so you just have to acquiesce to chasing around a slowly-moving, colourful mess. What japes!

Great War Nurse Painting

Above is a scan of it. You can see the blues in this one. (Admittedly I’ve Auto-Levels’d it a little bit in Photoshop, but they are there.) One of the points of the exercise is to create a physical object, so it’s quite cool that the little painting looks entirely different in every scan, photo and snap. It would look completely different to these images if you saw it in the real world, and on top of that the light around at the time would flavour it even more.

WW1 Nurse Painting

This is probably my favourite digital image of it, a snap from Jo’s camera phone – the yellow light coming from a normal household lightbulb has actually pulled the colour scheme into a more orangey one. How about that? Plus you can see the brush textures a bit better.

(And yes, I’ve just put what’s basically the same image up three times. Ahem. We illustrators are bad for that. If it’s not the colour scheme of the piece we’re going on about, it’s the profiles for print on a computer, colour for print and RGB versus CMYK profiles, and then there’s the colour settings on the monitor too! It’s best just to leave us to our inscrutable alchemy.)

The painting’s supposed to be a nurse from the First World War, looking at over No Man’s Land at dawn. Joe does living history events on Edwardian times and ‘The Great War’, you see.

My own family history’s linked with those four horrible years, my paternal Great-Grandfather Ernest Robert O’Connor was a soldier who served throughout the entire war and managed to survive. He was in the Grenadier Guards and the Irish regiments The Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Inniskilling Fusilliers. He even got a Military Cross medal. Apparently he was at the First Day of the Somme. In the morning there were about 450 men, and by the end of the day there were roughly 45 of them left.

Ernest Robert O'Connor

Here he is. It turns out I had a scan of an old period photograph that my family got hold of on my computer.

Did I mention he was a drummer boy in the Boer War too..? I have absolutely no idea of the horrors this man would have seen, or the daily terror he would have lived in. He then went off to fight in the Second World War with his son – my grandfather John – and the two of them survived that too. Just to provide for their families and their descendants so they could sit around on their arses doing things like drawing comics instead of getting a proper job.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Return to Page Mountain

Hello again, I come before you with visual evidence of the very thing that’s been keeping it so quiet around here recently.

So this is what all 170 pages of inked original art for the Evil Star Graphic Novel look like.

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!