Not Quite 22 Sketches

Just got back from the 22 Panels Comic Art Show in Falmouth (yes, the name is a nod to artist Wally Wood‘s ’22 Panels That Always Work’ reference sheet) – Cornwall’s first comic event, apparently – the cool thing was the focus on comic art. Here are some sketches I did while I was there, hanging out with the region’s best artists…

Convention sketch of Matt Freeman from the Power of FiveMatt from The Power of Five.

Convention sketch ofThere was an Irish pub we walked past in Falmouth town centre called ‘Finn McCoul’s’ – and that got me in a mythological mood – Fionn MacCumhaill is a character from the youngest cycle of Celtic Irish mythology. Roughly, he’s like an Irish version of King Arthur. I’ve been wanting to adapt and draw some kind of Fionn graphic novel for years, but the good news is you’re not going to have to wait for me to get off my arse and get one published, because Will Sliney is doing one! This is a sketch of a young Fionn, when he’s helping catch fish on the banks of a river.

Convention sketch ofFionn’s wife Sadhbh. If you want a bit more detail, read the stories!

zA group drawing the artists at the con contributed to, a gift for Nicholas the con organiser. There’s sketches on here from Jock, Hunt Emerson, John Spelling, me(letting the side down), Tiernen Trevallion, John Burns, Paul Grist and Dom Reardon! Truly excellent company!

Dev-Con 1 Sketches

Some sketches from Dev-Con 1 in Plymouth yesterday, which had an amazing turnout for a regional con…

Batman kiddieLil’ Junior Batman.

Harried girl
Character from a graphic novel I’ll get around to drawing one day.

Matt FreemanLittle doodle of Matt from Raven’s Gate in the front cover of the Graphic Novel.

Deathstroke from DC Comics, who seems to be a bit like a palette swap of Marvel’s Deadpool. I had to look at a comic drawn by Rob Leifield to reference this. Brr.

Judge Dredd
Judge Dredd drawn for top local artist Rob Cross.

Rogue Trooper
A bit of an in-progress Rogue Trooper. Rogue’s one of those characters who got me into ‘Western’ comics (along with some other 2000AD brethren) and I still doodle him every once in  a while, just to try and make his character design work for me.

Judge Dredd pencil sketch
Dredd again, in pencil this time.

Another character from a graphic novel I’ll hopefully get around to drawing one day. This one was snapped up before I’d even finished! Shame I didn’t get a better photo of it.

This is ‘Teal’c’ from the Stargate SG-1 TV show, drawn from memory (and a patchy memory of photos from a sci-fi magazine I cut up to put in a figure reference scrapbook, at that…)

Batsy. Him frown at you good.

Heavy Metal 'Spirit and the Flesh' page
Quick snap I took a Heavy Metal story original page I sold, before it was whisked off with its new owner.

Batsy/Supesy. Have they fallen out and Batman is about to give Superman a wedgie while he’s not looking? Possibly.

Batman Black and White
I was a real fan of Batman Black and White back in the day, so it was good to draw on a copy of it.

Exalted character IExalted character IIThese last two were a couple’s role-playing game characters, which I’m always keen to draw as I’m an RPG nerd myself. Happily, these two are characters from Exalted, a game I’ve actually done for artwork for! The art will be appearing in the new edition of the game book – the third edition – and it’ll be out next month, so I’ll blog about it later on…

Bristol Comic Expo 2013 Sketches

Here are some sketches I did for folks at the Bristol Comic Expo 2013 last month. Bristol’s my ‘local’ national convention and while lots of people skip it in favour of London’s MCM Expo the week afterwards, I’ll always make the journey to ‘Briz’ to show my support and generally show myself up for the provincial-minded farmhand I really am.

Judge Dredd from 2000AD convention sketch
Judge Dredd from 2000AD. He never takes off his officer number to administer a beating.

Marvel Zombie Iron Man convention sketch
A zombie Iron Man! Tony Stark must’ve got bitten on the face while his visor was up to get infected! Or maybe the zombies have super-powered jaws to get through his armour? Both of these possibilities and more are explored in this drawing. Can I remember what Iron Man’s armour looks like? Can I hell, I just made it up as I went along…

Tank Girl and Booga convention sketch
Along with Dredd, another British comic book character: Tank Girl. Along with Dredd, another British comic book character whose ‘I.P.’ was kicked around a film studio committee and then left out to dry in a Hollywood film that missed the point. Not that we need pictorial-literary types concern ourselves with the likes of Hollywood films and any conceived slights visited upon our favourite medium by the same, of course. We’ll leave that to the frothing sorts. We all know the books and comics will always be better, and that reading comics is a kind of magic that happens in your head that is unique to this form. Oh, and don’t forget Booga.

Hammerstein from 2000AD's 'ABC Warriors' convention sketch
Hammerstein! Hammerstein from 2000AD‘s ‘ABC Warriors‘ strip, the strip that got me into ‘Western’ comics when I was going through a serious manga phase. The same ABC Warriors that to this day is still written by (‘Uncle’) Pat Mills.

Nightcrawler from The X-Men convention sketch
Nightcrawler from The X-Men. With his sidekick, Night-crotch. Also, terrible anatomy. Apologies, neck fans.

Convention sketch of a Star Wars Battledroid, Soundwave from Transformers, Robocop-armed, Robbie the Robot legged robot with the Wrong Trousers on.
The request was for, “A robot.” So I made one up out of bits of existing ones; a Star Wars Battledroid’s head, Soundwave from the Transformers‘ body, Robocop’s arms, and Robbie the Robot‘s legs. The recipient of this sketch ventured that the legs looked like ‘The Wrong Trousers’, so I repurposed them on the spot to something we’ll now call ‘The Wrong Robbie’.

Tank Girl sunbathing convention sketch
Tank Girl again, for Ivo from Belgium, a distributor of continental beers to sketching artists and general friendly face. I was pleased to hear he’d managed to battle off cancer in the year before last. Then I was made sad by his statement that he probably wasn’t coming to any more British cons. Sob.

convention sketch of 'Zip' character from Brahma comics
A spirited convention exhibitor’s own original character from his own comic he was selling at the con, called ‘Zip’ by Brahma Comics. I’ve been googling for a web presence and haven’t been able to find one so far…


Some sketches for peeps from the Animated Exeter Comic Expo last week:

Link from the Legend of Zelda sketch
A fey Link from The Legend of Zelda. I quite like how this one turned out.

Skylander sketchThis is for illustrator Ian Schofield‘s son Logan, it’s one of those Skylander toys.

Thor sketchThor, in movie mode.

Captain America sketchCaptain America, lookin’ a bit classical, ‘cos classical’s easier than superheroic.

Goblins sketchGoblins! Goblins are fun. It’s good to draw ugly things rather than shiny things for a change.

Mr. Spock sketch
Mr. Spock, from old school Star Trek, back when space explorers wore formal pantaloons and shiny pixie boots.

I drew all of these with my new Tachikawa ‘School’ fountain stylee pen, a pocket pen that mimics a nib and dip pen ink. I’d just taken delivery of the it and the ‘G’ model from American pusher of exotic Japanese stationery Jetpens, so I was all excited. The pens and the site come recommended. For UK fellows and lady-fellows, your first stop for British mail-order drawing supplies should be the wonderful CultPens and Scribblers though.

Winter Special: Event Sketch Double-Up

Open up your stockings (wholesome Christmas ones, not the sexy ones) for what’s probably the biggest sketch mirror update I’ve ever posted, thanks to two events being on subsequent days. You could almost make an advent calendar out of these. First up, the Gnash Comics day event, which was a lovely little get-together with a great friendly, family atmosphere and full of lovely people. Observe!

Old OneAn ‘Old One’ from the Power of Five series, the big baddie from Raven’s Gate.

Old OneAnother Old One, a spider this time. They come in all different shapes and sizes. It should be clarified that they’re evil.

SuperTarantulaThe request for this one was “A Tarantula.” Erm…

Matt FreemanMatt from the Power of Five. With gaffer-taped sketchbook and Rotring Art Pen tin. (Oh, and this just in, The Power of Five is allllll over Tumblr. Oh, it turns out that there’s bags of Fan-fiction too. Fancy!)

Cthulhu drawingCthulhu! Elder God from beyond the stars whose very presence drives people out of their tiny ape minds! As asked for by an innocent, wide-eyed young lad(!) because he’s been playing Munchkin Cthulhu with his family!

Judge DreddJudge Dredd, imposing upshot…

Judge DreddAnd Judge Dredd again, having a go at a down-shot of him without making it look too helmet-y. Oh, and some Mega City One.

Scarlett from the Power of FiveFinally, Scarlett, the fifth Gatekeeper from the fourth Power of Five book, Necropolis, here in cute teenage illustration mode…

Scarlett as medieval 'Scar'And shifting onto the day after at the Plymouth Comic Expo, here’s Scarlett in alternate history, feudal survivor mode from the third book in the series, Night Rise.

Fionna from Adventure TimeFionna from Adventure Time, with distinctly off-model cat companion ‘Cake’.

PortraitSkirting around my portrait artist side after doing one for a regular Devon con attendee (the photo of which didn’t turn out) four people asking for a group portrait is like the locusts descending, but hey, new challenges and all that…

Boba FettBoba Fett, Star Wars‘ own put-upon everyman character. Complete with Han-Solo-encased-in-Carbonite keyring on his blaster handle.

Zombie PunterZombie-portrait, the clever fellow in question came up with the idea for this one, unbeknownst that Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard has been doing a similar thing for readers at cons for years.

VampireA half-cat, shapeshifting vampire role-playing game character. Any excuse to be weird.

PortraitAnother portrait, a two-up of convention-goers.

Edward Alric from Fullmetal AlchemistThe main character of Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward Elric. This was drawn without reference and with the requester describing what he looked like, so we’ve ended up with a something so far away from the source material that it’s nearly an original.

PortraitAnother portrait.

Judge DreddJudge Dredd returns.

Judge MortisJudge Mortis of the Dark Judges.

Swamp ThingSwamp Thing. He’s not in the jungle, he is the jungle.

BatwomanAnd finally, as the con was finishing and the sketches were getting increasingly graphic, it’s American comics’ first lady, Batwoman.


Oh MAN, I can hardly type out of disbelief I’ve never come up with the bad pun in the title of this post before. Anyway, August kind of disappeared for me in terms of updates on here, I was down in the art bunker. I did briefly escape self-imposed hermitude for a day to scuttle out from underneath the Earth’s crust to the Comic Expo in Exeter though!

I took along some of the many postcard-sized pieces of artboard offcut I have kicking around to do sketches for people on. I know they survive being stuffed in bags a bit better than plain paper does.

Blue Exorcist

This – my friends – this is Rin from the manga (and latter animé) ‘Blue Exorcist‘ by Kazue Katō. As peeps have smart-phones these days, and since I demand to draw everybody’s favourite things no matter how far away they are from what I do, I can get character reference from somebody’s favourite manga or animé on a little touchscreen to reference while I’m scribbling.


Case in point, moving many leagues further out of my comfort zone is this doodle of the main character from… ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica‘. Yes. Cute ickle girls. I have frittered away my artistic life learning how to draw grungy, macho comic dudes. What folly.

Bristol Comic Expo 2012 Sketches

Hello interpixies, here’s my sketch-log of drawings I did for the good people of the Bristol Comic Expo last week…Matt from Raven's GateMatt from Raven’s Gate, with some of those pesky hellhounds in the background. This was a bit of a motif I only used once in one frame of the Raven’s Gate Graphic Novel, but I’ve come back to it a couple of times since.

Zombie SpidermanSpiderman in Marvel Zombies stylee.

BatwomanBatwoman. Stangely enough, not as good as how the great J.H. Williams III draws her. Can’t think why…

Dizzy from 100 BulletsDizzy from the Vertigo series 100 Bullets, because it was an all-girls sketchbook I was drawing in, and because I said so.

Father Dagon from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu MythosI always like to get out a bit of Lovecraft monstrosity at a sketching session if I can, his Mythos is the other shared universe that runs parallel at comic cons, a couple of rungs below the comics one.

Power GirlPower Girl. Never drawn her before. She has, er, a certain reputation. So I made her look the exact opposite; petite and with the most lovely eyes.

ChimpA monkey! Everybody loves monkeys! Well, actually it’s a chimpanzee. Everybody loves chimpanzees!

Tinkerbell‘Tinkerbell’, for somebody’s wee girl who wasn’t at the con. Draw a Disney-style Tinkerbell? Me? No sir.

Alex RiderAlex Rider and another one of his handheld gaming consoles that’s no doubt a clever gadget in disguise…

Commissioner James GordonCommissioner James Gordon. In a bit of a mash-up, because he’s the ‘Jim’ from the Batman comics about to press the button on the phone from the Adam West Batman TV series.

LokiAnd a quick stab at a John Buscema style Loki. Thinking about it, I should be drawing genuine figures from mythology, not fictional characters based on characters from mythology… Hmm. Anyway, John Buscema is clearly a genius. Here ends the lesson.

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.

High Fantasy

Bill Eaton, the Gamesmaster (no not that kind silly), of our role-playing game group – referred to as ‘Geek Club‘ by all and sundry – has been slaving away over a hot Obsidian Portal ‘campaign wiki’ (will webby wonders never cease? I remember attempting to affect a similar thing a few years ago by trying to get the Wikipedia engine running on my web domain, to track all of the characters, locations and evidence in the Call of Cthulhu RPG ‘Masks of Nyarlathotep‘ campaign.) In the face of such community-spirited narrative-bolstering, I just had to do my thing and add a bit of art to the general flurry of activity.

Talak the male Tiefling Bard from Dungeons and Dragons

So this is me at Geek Club. I’m a member of a race called the Tieflings, and get your spare change out, because I’m a Bard. You’ve got to love a bard.

I came to paper-and-pencil, ‘table-top’ role-playing games as an adult. I’d spent much of my teenage years doing all kinds of reprehensible nerdy things, but never role-playing proper. Which is a shame, because it might have actually given me some much-needed social skills. But back to the present, Geek Club has played ‘WHFRP‘, Dark Heresy, Cyberpunk 2020, Savage Worlds: Pirates of the Spanish Main and (probably my favourite) Call of Cthulhu. It’s now that we’re finally truly living up to our name and having a go at most Geeks’ proto-game of choice, one ‘Dungeons and Dragons‘.
Now, ‘D&D’ is big thing. It introduced roleplaying games to the world, and it was what most people cut their teeth on at an impressionable age.

Not me though, I never had anything to do with it.

So the more I look into it, the more I’m stunned at how much of a… Lifestyle choice it seems to be. It’s a true multi-media global franchise. With games, board-games, card games, miniature games, novels, merchandise, video games, apps, and even a feature film. And as I put up this coloured sketch, I realise everybody else on the interweb knows the same badly-kept-secret nerd handshake and has been drawing their and their friends’ characters too. Which is an interesting kind of collective – and yet personal – fantasy, now I come to think of it…

So here’s a link to Bill’s wiki, any embarrassment I might suffer in people reading the earnest character fluff I put up on there is over-ridden by just how very good Bill’s adventure log of our half-arsed fantasy doings is.
If you’re after another good Obsidian Portal site, have a look at the lovely Kieron Gillen and Quins from Shut Up and Sit Down‘s wiki for their WHFRP campaign, the magnificently-titled ‘Brash Young Fools‘.


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.