Lawless Comic Con

Judge Dredd 2000AD

There I am, in the small press room at Lawless Comic Con. The main attractions of the event are drawing the crowds so it’s fairly quiet, but the steady trickle of folks coming by my table seem genuinely interested. Real comic fans looking for new comics. Marvellous.

Lawless is my second con and I feel a bit more relaxed. I’m able to have some real conversations with people, instead of trying to immediately sell them something.

An older gentleman walks up to my table and comments on one of the sketches I’ve got for sale. He compliments my art and asks a few questions, then he points at a Krazy Kat sketch and says he recognises it. “That’s an old one isn’t it?”, Oh boy, if you want to get me chatting about comics then here we go! I’ve just read the biography, “Krazy” about the creator George Herriman. As I’m getting warmed up on the topic, I notice a hush has gone around our little room and attention seems to have focused on my table. As I’m talking, I take in the gentleman’s lanyard which only exhibitors and guests at the show have on. He’s holding it subtly turned away so his name is not visible, and I realise that this is probably one of the big name guests – who I should know, yet am entirely ignorant of. The gentleman seems also to have noticed the change in vibe around the room, we exchange nice to have met you’s, and he moves on. As he approaches another table I hear someone say “Hi, Brian”, and my hunch is confirmed that I did in fact just meet Brian Bolland, whose name I’m aware of, but clearly not as aware as everyone else in this building. Brian WAS the main attraction drawing all the crowds which I mentioned earlier. People were queing for hours to meet him. Thoroughly nice chap, and anytime you’d like to continue a discussion of Krazy Kat Mr.Bolland, I’d be most happy.

Coming from an animation background – and not being a huge 2000AD fan – it was a weekend of admitting my ignorance to people. That moment was the coup de grâce.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the table either to chat or purchase something. It’s always lovely to meet some new folks and hopefully some of you will find your way here to see what else I have going on.

I’m off to read Batman: The Killing Joke and ease my ignorance for the next Lawless Comic Con.

See you at the next con in September.

The Beatles, Get Back: Deadlines

I’ve been watching the new Peter Jackson Beatles documentary, Get Back. Aside from feeling like you are actually there whilst they make the album which is pretty special, it’s also a tremendous opportunity to sit and watch their creative process at work. 

Both as individuals and as a group I think there are lessons to be found that stretch beyond music and apply to any creative endeavour. 

The first lesson that struck me was SET YOURSELF DEADLINES.

The whole documentary only covers about 21 days and when the group ‘come together’ at the start they have a handful of fairly vague song ideas and yet they confidently plan to record an album and perform a live concert of 14 brand new songs in about 2 and a half weeks time.

Obviously they are veterans at this point and they know what they are capable of, but it still feels like this is quite a stretch and I feel like the deadline is the only thing that forces creative decisions to be made. 

In my own experience a deadline fires synapses in the brain that would otherwise lie dormant. I can have half formed ideas in a notepad that go nowhere until I give myself a deadline and then suddenly I’m able to connect the dots to complete the picture.

The World Of Edena – Down the Rabbit Hole

After reading The Incal, I knew I needed to continue down the rabbit hole and read some more of Moebius’s work. After a short search around of what was readily available with an English translation, I found The World Of Edena.

Unlike The Incal this time Moebius takes on both writing and drawing in this book. I was curious whether the story-telling would be on par, or if it would suffer. I was very impressed with the Incal, so when I say that I preferred The World Of Edena, it is not something I say lightly.

Jean Giraud (Moebius) was a ludicrously talented individual. The fact that this whole book was created by one person amazes me. 

I do not often take the time to copy artists whom I admire but I felt so impressed with Moebius that I definitely would like to absorb some of his style. 

I had a go at copying a few panels that I liked and I definitely learned a lot by doing this. I can still feel the influence of this practice seeping into my comics work today. If you’ve never tried a master copy, I’d highly recommend trying it to level up your artistic skills. It makes you really think about the artist’s decisions and how they might have been thinking whilst creating a particular panel.

Warped in The Phoenix Comic Magazine

Starting in March I’m happy to say you will find “Warped” comic, in The Phoenix Comic Magazine. It’s a real joy to see one of my comics alongside the many other fine comic creators like Jamie Smart, The Etherington Bros, Neill Cameron, etc, etc.

I’ve been an admirer of The Phoenix since it started and if you’ve not heard of it I’d highly recommend you check it out. They are keeping alive a long heritage of British comics for kids, and giving a place for new voices in the industry.

Warped Comic coming soon to The Phoenix

Warped is a spin-off from my Jack Astro Comic. It’s a completely stand-alone comic strip so no prior knowledge of Jack Astro is neccesary but it does broaden the canon in my mind and links to the book 😀

There is an idea in that story where an infinite number of Jack’s are sent to an infinite number of galaxies in splinter dimensions via the aptly named, Infinity Drive. Warped explores what happened to all of these alternate Jack’s. Each episode the characters explore strange new worlds and get themselves into mischief.

Warped Comic - Teaser Image

Look out for Warped in the coming weeks. I will be posting the comics here on this website as well but if you want to support a great British comics magazine and see amazing work from other new British cartoonists go subscribe to the Phoenix too.

The Phoenix Comics Magazine

Band Of One Store

Band Of One Store

I have launched the new Band Of One Store where you can grab the Jack Astro comic book. A few A5 Art Card prints and various sketch cards from my morning warmup sketches which I’m posting on Instagram.

The store can be found here: https://bandofone.square.site/

If you are buying anything for Christmas I would order in the next couple of weeks to be sure of delivery before the 25th.

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.