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. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

52 Posters - #17 Judge Dredd

To celebrate #DayOfDredd, the official day in which hopefully enough folks share their love of the frequent movie enough to inspire/greenlight a sequel.

Also today is the first day of #inktober, which is another inspired bit of thinking, this time from Mr Jake Parker on his site.

Nicely timed/shoe-horned there, I thought. Perhaps I should try that more often...

Friday, 19 September 2014

52 Posters - #16 - Joker

I'll do a proper scan of this pic later, but for now, here's the 'camera phone pic while the inks dry' version.

More inks, this time with coloured inks and washes. Trying to capture the madness. Somebody recently asked me to do something like this for a tattoo they wanted. I'll post up that one when it's finished - this was a sort of test run for the final piece. Not the first time someone has asked me for a design for a tattoo, and hopefully not the last, but each one makes me nervous! There's an added pressure, knowing that the thing you draw will end up being permanent on someone's skin.

UPDATED 22/9 Here's a scanned & balanced version of the same pic.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

52 Posters - #15 - Crossed

Yeah, I know, there's been a gap. 'Things getting in the way of other things' seems to be a common theme around these parts.

That aside, it was always my intention to use this series of posters as a testing ground for pushing the boundaries of how I work. For a while, I'd been caught up in the precision of steady and sharp edges to my linework. It's all very useful and I'm glad I spent enough time concentrating on such things that it's now something I don't even think about. I'd certainly spent enough time previously giving it no consideration at all...

To that end, a lot of these pictures feature a lot more experimentation with how lines can be formed without drawing lines, as well as playing with different media in the same piece.

This one used inks, washes, black and white ink mixed, and acrylic. Not ground-breaking as far as the comic art world is concerned, but certainly so in this little corner of it.

The character is based on the Crossed series, currently celebrating the end of one four year run and the start of another. Not for the faint of heart, and something that explores the darker areas of the human psyche.

Monday, 16 June 2014

52 Posters - #14 Poison Ivy

Pencils, ink, watercolour, acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel. Yeah, this was fun to play with...

Hope this finds you well.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Cover for FutureQuake Press

The nice folks at FutureQuake Press asked me to provide a cover for their forthcoming issue of FutureQuake, an anthology comic telling tales of all things sci-fi.

This was a riff on Jack Vettriano's 'Mad Dogs' painting, which I thought might be a fun way of subtly introducing a character from the story I drew called Package Holiday, written by Andi Ewington, that appears in this issue.

Adapted pencil drawing of the original, then painted in Photoshop. I had a moment of clarity with the rings around the planet, realising it could be done with a series of radial gradient sweeps then set in a single layer, and distorted to match the angle required. Which almost certainly saved hours of anguish...

And with the final title & pricing.

Friday, 23 May 2014

52 Posters - #13 - The Crow

I had planned to get this done for Bristol Comic Con a few weeks ago and ran out of time.

More of a nod to the movie than the comics but I'm a fan of both.

As it turns out, I heard James O'Barr, (the creator of the Crow, who made an appearance at Bristol) whilst being incredibly diplomatic, isn't the movie's biggest fan, so it was probably for the best.

A few new techniques thrown in with texturing the inks on this one, which was a lot of fun, but very messy...

Thursday, 22 May 2014

52 Posters - #12 - Vader

Done as a pic to amuse myself, and as a thank you to a friend of ours who has been very helpful of late.

Incidentally, this was bordering on completion when I came across Joe Corroney's piece of the same idea. That made me put this one on the back burner for a couple of months - someone coming up with the idea before me? The cheek of it!

Anyway, as always, hope this finds you well.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

52 Posters - #11 - The Ex-Presidents!

I had so much fun doing this...

Anyway, one for all you surfers out there. And for those who don't, it can change your life. Apparently.

Hope you're well.

Friday, 4 April 2014

52 - Posters - #10 20 years gone, not forgotten.

Been led slightly astray by a recent Comic Con, and work that led up to it, but things are back to normal now.

This one's more of a reflective piece. I'm not looking to dwell on the sadness of this weekend's anniversary, but more to look back and appreciate the impact that one band had on music of the time, and the lasting effects still being heard in music today. It's not often it happens on such a scale.

Hope all's well with you.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

52 Posters - #9 - Twin Peaks

The Twin Peaks series stuck an anchor in my brain from the first time it aired on tv. The story was unsettling, the characters believable, and, just when you had your suspicions of who killed Laura Palmer, A DANCING DWARF THAT SPOKE BACKWARDS sauntered across the screen. My impressionable young brain imploded. By the time Killer Bob climbed over the sofa towards the screen - as if he'd crawl right on out - I was already sold.

So here's a tribute to one of the best things to ever make it onto our screens.

(Acrylics, pencils, black & white inks and washes and fake blood.)

Friday, 28 February 2014

52 Posters - #8 - Cylon Invasion!

Now this I had fun with! I always thought the Cylons had cooler ships than the good guys in Battlestar Galactica. Shame they appeared to be piloted by buffoons. Ah well, in my head they were superior, and that's all that counts.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

52 Posters - #7 - Weeping Angel

This one took a while to dry out before I could go back in and render the text in white. Fun to play with, though.

Friday, 14 February 2014

52 Posters - #6 - Valentine!

For those of you who are more familiar with my work, you'll know I take great delight on stomping all over this most-obscene-corporate-money-making of calendar dates. This year is no different.

Hope you're all well, regardless of what pressures a previous gap in the profit margins of retail force you to believe.

Friday, 7 February 2014

52 Posters - #5 - Davros

Hello all. Here we are again, and a happy old man in a wheelie-thingy for your delectation. Scroll down for previous posters!

Hope you're all well.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

52 Posters - #4 BabeZilla!

So I was away in NYC this weekend for a minor sporting event that I couldn't miss. Alas, the ink wasn't quite dry enough to safely scan #4 in our on-going series.

Fret not! It is now!

And so here is BabeZilla - a creation of the mad mind of Rob Cureton, she was last seen stomping the skyscrapers of Scene City, a comic you simply must buy. And you can - here! 

Thanks to Rob for letting me use one of his characters!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

52 Posters - #3 - Constantine

Evenin' all. Another for the list - and so far I'm sticking to one a week! I've a mind to add some colour to this one later, but for now it's done.

Hope you're well.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

52 Posters - # 2

Hello all, Thanks for the suggestions over the last week. I know have a list of 52! Subject to change and whatnot, but hey, something to work with!

Hope you're well.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

52 Posters

New Project! 

Two posts in two days? I must be ill...

Anyway. This pic may ring a bell.

I did an A4 version of it a while back which was a quick and basic pen drawing with some Photoshop magic sprinkled over it. I'll be doing more with inks, ink washes and acrylics this year, so this seemed like an ideal piece to start - and this time at A3.

Also, this signals the start of another project for the year: 52 Posters.

Inspired by Matt Soffe's sketch a day (but not requiring the Herculean efforts he must've put in) the idea is to produce one poster per week for the year (Oi, you can stop laughing at the back). I've got a working list of about 25 ideas (from film, music, tv, comics and books), so if you have any suggestions, they'd be most welcome. Let's count Tharg as Week 1, and see where we go from there.

Hope you're well.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014


Hello all and I hope the new year is off to a promising start for you.

Many projects brewing here, which I hope to tell you abuot over the coming weeks.

For now, here's Tharg, Alien editor of 2000AD and devourer of polystyrene cups.

Take it easy.