Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival 2021

I just got back from exhibiting at Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival.

The last few months has been a wild ride, first with the Kickstarter. And then building up to the weekend at Thought Bubble.

It was such a joy to be able to talk to people about my work and show them the Jack Astro Comic Book in person.

A huge thank you to everyone who stopped by the table and either chatted with me or listened patiently to my pitch for the book. The response was really great and I’m still on a bit of a high having such a positive reaction from people both for my artwork and also the general concept.

I made this comic for myself really. Or to be more accurate for my 12 year old self. I would have been a massive fan of this comic if someone else had created it. It was especially exciting seeing youngsters around that age and a bit older looking so thoroughly psyched about the book.

The show was run amazingly well and all the precautions in place for Covid made for a great and safe show. Thought Bubble really cares about the artists and comic creators and there was SO much incredible talent on display. I wish I had more time to hunt around. I know I missed out on meeting and buying stuff from a few of my favourite creators.

Thought Bubble 2021 Haul Photo
Customary Thought Bubble Haul Photo – Wish I could’ve got more!

Since the weekend ended I’ve been totally fueled with inspiration to get working on my next projects. I’ve got a few exciting things in the works including a spin-off version of Jack Astro for a kids magazine. And a new long form project that will be a bit more in the fantasy genre. A middle-ages setting, knights, dragons and my usual injection of weirdness and silliness.

I will definitely be hoping to attend next year’s show and hopefully one or two others throughout 2022.

The Incal – Down the Rabbit Hole

After watching the Documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, and reading the novel Dune, I knew the next port of call down the rabbit hole was reading The Incal. 
The Incal - Down the rabbit hole
Jean Giraud aka Moebius is an artist who I’ve long admired, and yet I had never read any of his work. I think possibly the availability of translations from the French was a hurdle.

My main exposure to his art was indirectly through the Heavy Metal movie. The series of shorts in the film are mostly taken from comic series in the magazine of the same name (Metal Hurlant in French). 

Harry Canyon, the story of a New York taxi driver, was based on the Moebius’s comic, The Long Tomorrow. And Taarna was based on Arzach. 

That movie had a huge impact on me. There are some cool short stories in it. But mainly the visuals were something totally new to me at the time.

I suspect I heard the name Moebius in the DVD special features. There was a making of documentary, before the days of the Internet this was a source of valuable insights. There was a period of time where I consumed making of’s and audio commentaries hungry for information. Now I guess it is podcasts!

The Incal - Down the rabbit hole
At the end of Jodorowsky’s Dune they mention that all of the pre-production work for the abandoned Dune movie, they eventually re-purposed and put into the comic book The Incal.

The book is written by Jodorowsky and illustrated by Moebius. It is a Sci-Fi tour de force with so many interesting ideas crammed into its pages. Both philosophical conceptual ideas from Jodo as well as incredible genre defining visual ideas from Moebius. 

After reading, I felt like it was one of the greatest graphic novels I had ever read. The last time I felt so overwhelmed by a comic book was probably after reading Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

  • My favourite panels
  • My favourite panels
  • My favourite panels
  • My favourite panels
  • The Incal - Cover Art
Definitely a book to remind you of the potential of the medium.

Book Making – Proof Copy

Seeing this book on the shelf next to other comics in my collection is so surreal.

It made the whole thing suddenly feel much more real, and legitimate. Of course seeing it on other people’s shelves will be a much more satisfying moment!

I spent a lovely evening having a read through of the comic. Noting down pages that needed tweaking, but generally just enjoying the reading experience. My wife was rolling her eyes as I sat laughing at my own jokes in the comic. 

Each of these post it’s represents a page that needs some sort of fix.

I spent another few evenings tweaking the files, and now I’m just waiting on the printers to deliver the final digital proofs before we go to full print run.

One thing I found in the book was a complete happy accident.

Look at how this turret gun appears to be shooting out of one panel, and into the panel on the opposite page. I drew these SO long ago, I’m going to claim that it was all carefully planned, but I honestly think that was a bit of luck.

I also had to practice signing and sketching in the book.

I’ve decided on a good signing pen, an acrylic paint pen. I see people using Sharpie’s a lot but I think if I used one of those I’d be high as a kite on fumes after a dozen books. 

Every copy for the kickstarter will be signed, so the REALLY valuable ones will probably be a rare un-signed copy!

Final Physical Manifestation

Final Physical Manifestation

Eleven days to go in the Jack Astro Kickstarter and his final physical manifestation is already assured. We are at 340% funded.

If you want to grab yourself a copy of the hardback comic book go HERE.

It was fun coming back to the characters for this silly little promo comic. But I’ve also been working on a side project involving Jack Astro. I’ll be revealing more info on that as soon as I can.

I’m planning on posting a lot more comics to my blog and also my newsletter which you can sign up for at the top right of my website.

I thought I’d share some process from the above comic page. Below are my thumbnails. I scribbled these out in pen on some old animation paper I have lying around. I have boxes and boxes of this paper, so most of my loose sheet scribbles – as well as shopping lists and work notes – end up on this type of paper.

I was trying to keep this very loose and spontaneous. And you can see that I matched the thumbnails pretty closely in the final artwork. I think it retains an energy that feels fun.

Comic Thumbnails

My Phone Hates Me

My Phone Hates Me
That sounds extreme. Ok, maybe my phone doesn’t hate me.

But it is messing with me.

The real life version of this is even sadder than pictured. Since my wife introduced me to sleep masks, I cannot sleep without one. Now when I wake up I nudge it up onto my forehead which I’m sure looks ridiculous. I look at the phone, and it of course cannot recognise me with the mask up there. When I realise that and remove the mask, it still doesn’t recognise me and I’m left with the same basic conclusion as above.

I must look so terrible first thing in the morning that I’m literally unrecognisable to this marvelous pocket super computer that rules my life.

I want to hate it back. But I need it. I’m not entirely sure why. I think if I expunged it from my life I may be happier. But that’s clearly never going to happen.

I must make peace with the blasted machine.

The Jack Astro Kickstarter is going better than I ever could have hoped. Check it out HERE.

Hardback Book Stretch Goal Unlocked!

WOW! Thank You SO, SO much everyone. 

I am so VERY excited to be able to offer Kickstarter backers this upgrade. I always hoped that I might be able to produce a hardback edition of Jack Astro, and the overwhelming support so far has more than justified the additional cost. 

Once again, I never honestly expected to be in this position.  For the next stretch goal I would like to offer a custom Jack Astro bookmark with each book.

I’m planning on doing something a little special and handmade with these bookmarks. If you saw my IG posts about stamp-making you will get some idea of what I have in mind here. More info to come if we get anywhere close to the goal. 

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Follow the Kickstarter HERE

Jack Astro Kickstarter is 149% funded!

Hello friends,

Jack Astro Kickstarter is 149% funded!

I did NOT expect to be saying that at dinnertime on launch day. I am so unbelievably thankful. 

A HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported this Kickstarter so far. And thanks to all of you who have posted, reposted, liked, shared and what have you. 

I was deliberately quite conservative in my targets, having planned on putting a good deal of my own money into printing costs. However, I still thought this month might be a long slow slog to reach the £500 goal. 

Let’s keep the momentum going. I have a few stretch goals in mind. 

I am extremely excited to be in a position to even consider this, I would like the first stretch goal to – upgrade every physical book ordered to be a hardcover instead of a softcover. 

I think this upgrade will really show off the book in it’s best possible light. I’ve done all my costs and estimates on this one already and if we make it to £1500 I’ll make it happen.

Thank you again 

Doug

Jack Astro Kickstarter

The Kickstarter to help me publish a Jack Astro book launches tomorrow!

Jack Astro Kickstarter

Having a physical book was always the end goal of this project but it took FAR longer than I expected to get here. During the making of this book I’ve moved house at least once, if not twice. Got married, had a baby. There have been distractions 😀 

It is fairly nerve wracking launching a kickstarter and I apologise up-front about how much I will be talking about this for the next 30 days.  If you want to support the project please help spread the word to friends who might be interested. And if you are going to back it with cold hard cash then can I say big, massive THANK YOU! This project means a lot to me and I’d love to see it flourish.

I’m offering a limited number of early bird discounts to encourage early backers. Backing on the first day massively helps the campaign and feeds the almighty algorithms.

Here’s a sneak peek of the early bird reward tiers you’ll want to look for. The one above will be £20 and is essentially just the book but with a 5 postcard art card collection included for free.

And the other early bird offer is an upgrade to the colour sketchcard for the price of a black and white sketch. £35 instead of £50.

Thanks for taking a look and for your ongoing support. Passing on the word to friends who might be interested is super helpful to independent artists. Your support helps me spend more time doing the work I believe in! 

All the best,

Doug

Dune – Visualising and Drawing

Dune - Hardback
I decided to finally read the classic sci-fi novel Dune and try visualising and drawing some scenes from the book.

Dune is a science fiction classic. However, having started to read it once when I was younger, something didn’t click. So I ignored it for many years.

After watching the Documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, I went on a journey down the rabbit hole exploring things mentioned in and related to that film. I decided it was time to give it another shot, and I honestly don’t know how it didn’t grab me before!

The opening chapter of the book is one of the best opening scenes of any book I’ve ever read. It completely sucked me in and I was along for the ride.

I was having a discussion with a few people about visualising stories as they read books.

Weirdly I’d never really thought about it before. As an artist my training has been very animation focused rather than illustrative. So this is not something I’ve ever tried to do. However I really see the value in practicing this to train your visual imagination through drawing. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that I do sort of visualise what I’m reading, but it is quite vague. When I start drawing I am exploring with shapes and visual language. I’m not just translating a vivid picture in my head onto the page. For this reason, I will usually go through several rough iterations of drawing before I find something that actually reflects what I imagine. 

It is a very good exercise and one that I think would develop an artist’s drawing skills quite a bit.

I would think the more you practice this, the clearer your imagination would become and you would arrive quicker at a good illustration.

I started doing all this before I realised there is a new Dune film in production. I think that is the other challenge here is finding reading material that has no visual associations for you. I’d never seen any Dune related art or film except a few book covers maybe.

I have to admit it’s not the most relaxing way to read a book but if you’re looking for ways to push your creativity, visualising and drawing skills it is worth a try.

Dune Artwork - Doug Wilson

An interesting post about Dune book covers HERE

Jodorowsky’s Dune – Down the Rabbit Hole

Jodorowsky’s Dune follows his attempt to bring the novel Dune to the cinema screen. It has sparked a huge journey down the rabbit hole for me. Along the way I’ve discovered artists and stories I didn’t know anything about.

The science fiction novel Dune is one that I’d never gotten around to reading. It’s regarded as a classic but until I watched this movie I had not read the book. Similarly Moebius is a hugely influential artist whose work I admired, but I had not actually read any of his books.

I’ve been falling headlong down the rabbit hole, investigating and discovering various works mentioned in the film. Each avenue I head down leads me on to more and more discoveries. I intend to cover each of these individually in more depth in later posts. For now though, if you’d like to join me down the rabbit hole, Jodorowsky’s Dune is a good entry point.

I am a huge fan of documentary filmmaking. It is similar to my love of reading biographies of artists and musicians. It gives such a great glimpse into the life and work of creative individuals.

Jodorowsky is a fascinating character. He is a true artistic visionary in the way that only a Frenchman can pull off. He is passionate and wildly eccentric. And he has a tendency to shoot from the hip which obviously gets him in trouble. This seems to be a major factor in why his film version of Dune never made it into production. Hollywood just did not know how to handle this man.  

What Jodorowsky did manage to do, was to corral and inspire a group of artists. These insanely talented individuals were his “Spiritual Warriors.”  H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, and Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud worked on pre-production art and storyboards.

As a Director, Jodorowsky was able to draw people into his world and vision. In the same way that Walt Disney inspired his artists, Jodorowsky seems to have been able to draw great work out of people. He attracted many like minded creatives onto the project, then he fuelled them to create some of the best work of their careers.

His cast included Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and even Salvador Dali whom he lured with the promise of being the highest paid actor of all time. He had Dan O’Bannon on board for visual effects. The only thing O’Bannon had done up to that point was Dark Star, and he went on to have an incredible career.

Check out my first piece of Dune inspired artwork here
BAND OF ONE

Caution: Making recommendations to people is a bit of a minefield. Over hype something and you can ruin the person’s experience of it. Under-sell it and they won’t bother to track it down. Having said that, I’m going to use this blog to gently nudge you in the direction of some stuff that I believe is worth some consideration.