Tuesday, 9 December 2014

52 Posters - The Cigarette Smoking Man

Anyone who has been anywhere near the X Files knows the Cigarette Smoking Man. The culmination of a million shadowy figures from the big screen, stretching all the way back to All The Presidents Men, and beyond, into a thousand Black & White mystery movies.  

We're currently doing the whole 9 series X Files re-watch. It takes forever to get through, and we keep forgetting some of the minor characters, but with 'CSM' as he's apparently known, that doesn't matter. Because no one knows anything about him to begin with.

Black and white ink, coloured pencils. 

52 Posters - Nemesis & Torquemada

From the pages of 2000AD, and probably my favourite series. Nemesis The Warlock pitted aliens against humans with the humans as the bad guys, and Thomas de Torquemada as chief loon, pushing an earth-wide party line of fear, hate, and extreme xenophobia. (Oh how we laughed back then...)

Anyway, the art begun by Kevin O'Neill, then Bryan Talbot and carried on by others - John Hicklenton in particular - blew my teenage mind. 

Most of these pieces are to push me out of my comfort zone with various art materials and techniques. This is simply a fanboy pic.

Black ink & washes, graphite powder, fine liner pen. 

52 Posters - Noseybonk

Possibly the most specific one of the set. If you know who this guy is, it means you grew up in 1970s England, watching some really odd kids tv programs, one of which was Jigsaw. In this, aside from puzzle solving games and sketches, was Noseybonk, the most odd character I'd seen, who didn't seem to fit the show at all. It was like the producers had just sparked up a joint and gone "*ffffppptttt* -- Hey, y'know what would really make sense...?" 

The 1970s had a lot to answer for. 

Anway, I recently found these wee gems on youtube, (there's a few following on from that link) made by folks who also drifted back to those days, and thought "What the hell was Noseybonk meant to be, anyway?"

Which in turn inspired this piece. Which was just fun. Ink, pencils and charcoal. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

52 Posters - Silent Running

I drew this back in the summer. I first saw Silent Running when I was about seven years old and loved it. 

So whilst kicking the idea around, I had the daft idea of doing the space background on a separate piece of paper and cutting out the panels in the dome. I normally bin such ideas as folly long before they hit the page. For some reason this one passed unnoticed, and now I have two space backgrounds. Couldn't decide on ink or colour, so I'm posting both. 

Black & white background is ink & washes. The colour one is acrylic with white & yellow inked stars.

I still can't decide which one I prefer, so have left the Spray Mount to one side for now.

52 Posters - Joker 2

Finally finished the other Joker pic to go with this one. I drew them both on the same day but then forgot about this second one for months. No idea why, but at least it's done now.

52 Posters - Marshall/2001 mashup

I did this for my friend Pete who has his own recording studio up in Durham. I got the idea on the way home from his 40th birthday party, and pretty much had it finished within a day or so afterwards.

And this is Pete, looking suitably happy with his pic, via FB today. Thanks to Hannah for the photo!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Post-Thoughtbubble thoughts for '14/'15

Every office across the land has a Christmas party at some stage. Or at least argues about having one.

For a mere freelance artist, normally hidden away for months on end under a pile of paper, pots of ink and the occasional 'blue screen of death' (TM), Thoughtbubble comic festival in Leeds is often referred to as the Christmas party. A place to catch up with old friends, make new ones, enjoy a small sherry and take stock of the 'current state of stuff'.

The only real drag is getting home to realise you've missed even seeing an alarming number of friends, creators, books that you may have had your eye on, and in this case a whole area decked out like a forest. It's a fault that can hardly be laid at the feet of the organisers. If I missed catching up with you, I really am sorry!

But back to Friday. Friday was a different fish altogether. If you've ever met Owen Johnson, you'll probably know he's someone who gets things done. If you've ever met John Pearson, you'll know he's the same. Someone put them in a room together and the result was the unofficial Thoughtbubble launch party, featuring live music, live canvas painting, and a ridiculously cheap bar - all in a disused shop, right in the middle of the city centre. 

A great night out and a big thank you to everyone involved in putting it on.

We were, of course, at Thoughtbubble to launch Cross, the political satire anthology we've been banging a drum about for the last few months (you may have noticed), and UKComics came through with a lovely print run that awaited us in the Royal Armouries Hall on Saturday morning. 

Selling and promoting a book of this nature in amongst a myriad of great stuff was always going to be a tall order. We had no idea if people would go for it at all. Saturday would show us that the book touched a nerve with pretty much everyone who stopped by. Cross is turning out to be one of our most popular endeavours, and I can't begin to tell you how happy that makes us here. 

It was also great to catch up with a large number of the creators involved in the book - Jim Campbell, Richmond Clements, Cy Dethan, Tom Foster, Howard Hardiman, Owen Johnson, Gavin Mitchell, Spinx and Rob Williams - and to hand over comps! We couldn't have done it without them, and everyone seemed to be as excited about it as us. 

The whole weekend was a great experience and reaffirmed - as it tends to do - that comics is an amazing world that is forever evolving and open to new ideas. Going hand in hand with that, between helpful staff, plenty of signage to get you around, talks and workshops, and a rather awesome location for the Saturday night bash, you really have to hand it to the folks who put it all together.

Sunday evening, as is fast becoming tradition, was set aside for the 'have a nice relaxing sit down and a laugh' session at the nearby Holiday Inn bar. For those of you who have a long distance to travel after the convention, I can thoroughly recommend staying the Sunday night for such giggles and heading home the next day. Less stress, and good for the soul. And with any luck, you'll get to hear Row Bird tell the most awesome stories.

- - -

So I was going to list everyone we met and said hi to, but I always worry that that approach comes across as really a bit naff (In a previous life I worked in a theatre, where it was practically the rule) so I'll skip it here. Just to say it was great to see so many friendly faces, even if the chance to catch up with everyone was nigh-on impossible. It's easy to forget (normally around deadline time) that there are tons of people in the same boat, and events like Thoughtbubble are a damn fine reminder.



- - -

On a purely selfish note, last year's Thoughtbubble was a great success for Disconnected Press, but not for me personally. I had a big list of things I had wanted to achieve as an artist by November of 2013, and when it arrived pretty much the opposite had happened. I had become so blinkered in my approach that I couldn't enjoy the weekend. Suffice to say I wasn't particularly happy about it, and resolved to make this year's version a more positive experience. 

One of the main things I've found, at Thoughtbubble and at other conventions this year, has been sharing tricks and tips on drawing and inking with people. Instead of hording such secrets like stolen treasure, it's been more rewarding telling people how I go about drawing hands, inking straight lines and dry brushing etc. I won't claim to be the best in such fields, but knowing that someone has learnt something that'll help them going forward is better than keeping it to myself. 

With that in mind, I'll be digging out some old notes made from older talks I've attended and posting them here in the next few weeks.