Friday, 4 December 2020

Burning the Midnight Oil


I'm pleased to say that my run on Ellis's Great Escapes will now continue beyond the Christmas issue of the Beano. I'm not sure for how long, but I've been commissioned to do seven so far. 

They're needed fairly urgently so I've been working crazy hours recently. Bear in mind that I write my own material so there are deadlines for scripts as well as art deadlines, all to be done over the next few weeks. Two are drawn, and I've just sent off two more scripts, and I'm currently drawing the third as the deadline is today. It's currently 3.22 A.M. and I estimate I'll be working on this until at least 6 A.M.

Not that I'm complaining! Finances have been very tight this year due to effects of the pandemic. Bills and the cost of living are still eating into my dwindling savings but steady work such as a weekly Beano strip really helps.  

This weekend I'll also be drawing the Sgt.Shouty page for The77. Deadline for that is Monday. Then I'll be cracking straight on with more Ellis strips plus another project I've had on the drawing board for some time. After that I have a job to do for another publisher that won't see print until next year.

I'm also finishing the latest ideas for The Daft Dimension this weekend for the January issue of Doctor Who Magazine, and that needs to be drawn next week too. 

Freelancing tends to be "all or nothing" but I appreciate the work and try not to turn any down if I can help it. To coin an increasingly annoying cliché, "these are uncertain times" and most of us are struggling mentally and financially these days. I count myself as one of the fortunate ones because I paid off my mortgage five years ago and have no family to worry about so it's just me taking one day at a time. That's my philosophy these days; don't dwell on the future. Take it steady and deal with each day as it comes. 

I do worry about friends though, especially ones who I know are having a tough time right now. For what it's worth, my thoughts are with you and I hope we'll start to see brighter days ahead in 2021. 

Right... back to the drawing board...

Monday, 30 November 2020

SHOUTY cover from roughs to finished job

I took some photos while I was drawing the wraparound variant cover to The77 No.4 so I thought you might like to see the process. I still draw "traditionally" with pencil and pen on Bristol Board, and then scan the black and white art into Photoshop to colour it. 

It was the editor Ben Cullis and his team who suggested the idea of a winter theme cover of some sort, akin to the traditional annuals, featuring Sgt.Shouty and other characters from the comic in some situation. As The77 is partly inspired by the gritty comics of the 1970s I thought it'd be good to have them fighting evil snowmen, with decapitations and, well, not bloodshed but snow-shed! (I've always been of the belief that an action scene can work just as well drawn in a cartoony style. Something that's the norm in European comics but not so much in the UK.)

Anyway, to go through the process, here's my initial (very) rough sketch that I sent for editorial approval... 

After approval I set to work penciling it out. If it was a comic strip I'd start from left to right of course but in this case I started on the left because that'll be the front cover of the wraparound, and therefore the main point of focus...

Finishing the pencils...


More pencils...

Starting the inks, this time beginning from the left so I don't smudge anything!

Finished inks. You'll notice I added another figure at the back as I'd forgotten to add him in the original sketches!

Finally, the completed job after I'd coloured it in Photoshop...

The Kickstarter for The77 No.4 went live on Friday night and reached its goal in four hours! It's still running until December 13th though so you can still pledge to make sure of getting the issue! Details here:

If you missed the first three issues you can buy them from GetMyComics here: 

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Look Out! It's Ellis!

Here's a preview of part of my next Ellis's Great Escapes strip! You can see the full version in Beano No.4064 when it goes on sale this coming Wednesday, 2nd December! 


Friday, 27 November 2020

Wraparound cover for The77 No.4 - Kickstarter now active!


It was a pleasure to be commissioned to draw a special wraparound variant cover for The77 No.4, and here is is above. It features my character Sgt.SHOUTY plus my take on various other characters from the comic. 

I was asked to draw a winter scene similar to the classic UK annual covers, and as The77 is inspired by gritty comics of the 1970s such as Action and 2000AD I thought a scene of comic violence was appropriate. The77 characters vs evil snowmen! 

The Kickstarter to fund The77 went live tonight and at the moment of typing this it's already near its target! You can pledge to buy the standard cover by Jon Roydon or my variant cover, or even both, as you'll see from the link:

The77 is the breakout British independent comic of 2020 featuring an anthology of all-new strips by established creators as well as new artists and writers. It's a great mix! Please support the comic and spread the word! 




Fifty years ago IPC did a Smash! Fun Book and whether it's coincidence or intended, here we are today with Rebellion's latest collection, the Cor!! Buster Bumper Fun Book. Same page count as that Smash! one from 50 years ago, and also a softback. 

The big differences are the Cor!! Buster Bumper Fun Book is printed on much better paper and is in full colour. Its 96 pages collect all the stories that were in the two Cor!! Buster specials published in 2020 and 2019 with a brand new cover by Edward Whatley and a handfull of creator profile pages. 


Although the specials were large size, this collection is a smaller, tidier format (like the new Roy of the Rovers books). No doubt some collectors won't like that, but personally I think it tightens the artwork up and the lettering is still legible. 

I have a vested interest of course, which is why I'm promoting it on my art blog. I have nine pages of art in the book (working from scripts by John Freeman and Lizzie Boyle), an introduction I wrote (as Buster himself), and a mini-interview. 

If you missed the two specials or simply want the stories in one neat package, the Cor!! Buster Bumper Fun Book is out now. (ISBN 978-1-78108-864-7). On sale in bookshops ('cos it's a book), not newsagents. However, if your local bookshops are still closed you can order it online from various stockists including from the publishers themselves, who also offer a digital edition:

This is a very nice collection of strips by today's UK humour creators so treat yourselves or someone else to the book for Christmas!


Monday, 23 November 2020

The day Tom Thug was in WHIZZER AND CHIPS

Although I contributed to every issue of Oink! and was in Buster for ten years I never worked for Fleetway's other famous comic  Whizzer and Chips... except for one issue! 

In 1988 I was commissioned to write, draw, and letter a half page Tom Thug strip to promote Oink! comic. The strip appeared in Whizzer and Chips dated 12th March 1988. My opportunity to draw Sid, Shiner, and Odd-Ball!

In a rare crossover between British comics, the strip acted as a prequel to the Tom Thug page in that week's Oink!  

This is the issue of Whizzer and Chips in which it appeared. Cover art by Sid Burgon...




Saturday, 21 November 2020

Next week's ELLIS...

Here's a preview of my next episode of Ellis's Great Escapes! You can see the full story in the Beano No.4063, on sale Wednesday 25th November! Still only £2.75.