Sunday, 13 October 2019

Pup Preview

This week's Pup Parade spotlights Tubby! Why's he looking surprised? Find out in Beano No.4007 this Wednesday! 


Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Never Be Without a BEANO!

Enlargement of a small part of a panel.
It's Wednesday, and that means it's Beano day! Issue No.4006 is in the shops now featuring all the regulars by the UK's top humour artists and another Pup Parade strip from me! Don't miss it! 


Monday, 7 October 2019

A few thoughts on clarity...

One of the things that was always stressed by one of my first editors (Richard Starkings) was to remember that every comic is someone's first issue. Therefore the plot should be clear enough to be understood by new readers, and the characters defined enough for people to know what part they play in the story.

In addition, I'd also say that art-wise, it should be clear what the characters look like and where the story takes place, so there should be at least one full figure shot if possible and enough background info to let readers know the location, even if the strip is only a page or less in length. (Classic newspaper strips were a masterclass in this kind of thing.)

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case these days, leading to confusing stories, which can fail to engage the reader and lead to them abandoning the comic. We often (quite legitimately) blame High Street retailers and their treatment of comics for falling sales but sometimes we as creatives have to shoulder some of the blame too. It's all about being aware... mindful, to use the modern term... of a clarity of storytelling that appeals to everyone, not just to the regular readers.

Also, with a month or so between issues, there should be enough info for everyone to catch up on the plot. Sometimes readers are just dropped into a continuing story with no resumé. People have busy lives and although the creative team will remember what happened in the previous issue, the average reader might have forgotten.

I hope that doesn't come across as preachy. I'm sure most people reading this will know it already anyway, but it's just something I wanted to put down. One of these days, if I ever get around to writing an autobiography / how to do comics/ history of comics book, I'll elaborate on it there.


Friday, 4 October 2019

This month...

I have quite a few one-off jobs to draw throughout October. Some include work for next year's Dandy and Beano (2021 dated) annuals, while others are completely new things. I'm also drawing a jokes page for an upcoming issue of the Beano. See the rough sketch above, which is just a small part of it.

Hopefully some of the jobs will lead to more regular work in the future. Freelancing is always unpredictable but these days it's more precarious than ever. I wouldn't advise anyone to give up their day jobs at present. I gave up mine back in 1980, but things were different then! 

Meanwhile, you'll find my Pup Parade strip in the Beano every Wednesday (except for the Halloween issue at the end of this month), and my Daft Dimension strip in Doctor Who Magazine every four weeks! Plus The Dandy Annual 2020 is in the shops now, with three pages of Keyhole Kate by me, and the current Comic Scene has an article on TV Comic I wrote. 

Not to mention my self-published comics of course. Oh go on then. I'll mention them again. Combat Colin No.1 to 4, Derek the Troll, and Pedantic Stan are all available to buy exclusively from my web shop at this link:
http://www.lewstringer.com/page7.htm


Tuesday, 1 October 2019

This week's Pup Parade preview!

Here's a sneak peek at a panel from this week's Pup Parade that I've done for the Beano No.4005. See what happens next when the comic hits the shops on Wednesday 2nd October! 


Monday, 30 September 2019

Back from Nor-Con!


 
Trying a new comic con is always a bit of a gamble, especially one that takes a few hours to get to, but any doubts I might have had were soon put aside when Nor-Con proved to be a very pleasant conclusion to my run of cons this year. I think this was the 9th year for the show, but it was the first time I've attended, and the first time I'd even been to Norwich.

The venue was the Norfolk Showground Arena, which was a 15 to 20 minute taxi ride from Norwich but a very good venue to hold a convention. Organiser Mark Dean and his team worked hard all weekend to make sure all the guests were looked after and everything ran smoothly. It's not easy to run an event but they did a fantastic job. 

Multi-media events can sometimes give priority to the actors with comic guests shunted to a side hall (or, in one show I attended a few years ago, put in the foyer where visitors walked past us). Nor-Con isn't like that. It had a nice balance of actors and artists, and we were all treated equally, and positioned in the same area. This helped to give a good, positive vibe to the whole weekend. Indeed, the atmosphere of the whole show was upbeat anyway. 
Dalek invasion! With actor Cara Theobold and Gladiator Wolf in the background.
Wolf meets a Dalek!

It was a very colourful event, with numerous cosplayers and props from film and TV on display, and everyone I spoke to was enjoying the weekend. For some it was their very first convention, so I'm pleased it gave them a good impression. 

Photo by Martin Griffiths.


As always, it was great to meet people who have followed my work over the years or are totally new to comics and bought Combat Colin to try it out. I was particularly pleased that Daryl Selby stopped by. He was one of the many readers who'd submitted a "cure" for Pete and his Pimple back in the Oink! days, which was published. (Similar to Pow's Dare-A-Day Davy, I instigated a contest back in 1987 where readers were invited to send in their ideas to cure Pete's giant pimple. The winners had their ideas turned into a story which I drew up, and they won some "Piggy Prizes".) Daryl's son had grown up reading my Team Toxic strips in Toxic, so it was nice to know that my work had been appreciated by two generations! 
Nor-Con had a good line up of guests and as ever it was great to catch up with my comic mates Mike Collins, Nigel Parkinson (and colourist Nika), Martin Griffiths, Lee Townsend and Grant Perkins. It was also nice to meet artist Katie Bass who had the table next to me. (Check out her work at katiebass.co.uk).

It was an absolute pleasure to meet comedian Hattie Hayridge (Holly in Red Dwarf) who joined a few of us for dinner on Saturday night and was great company. It was also very nice to see Sophie Aldred again and to meet (and share taxi rides with) actors Eve Myles, Sylvester McCoy, and Cara Theobold, and to chat briefly with Nicola Bryant. 

All in all, a very happy convention with lots of laughs, and, on a personal level, a perfect way to conclude my list of shows for this year. Thanks again to Mark and his team for a great weekend! 


Nor-Con website: https://www.nor-con.co.uk


Friday, 27 September 2019

Extra Daft!

I've just sent off the latest Daft Dimension strip for Doctor Who Magazine. This one is a bit different, and special, as part of the celebrations for DWM's 40th anniversary issue. I'll say no more for now, but you'll see it in print in Doctor Who Magazine No.544 when it goes on sale on 17th October!

Meanwhile... one last reminder that you can see me this weekend at my last convention for 2019 at Nor-Con, in Norwich. Details here:
https://www.nor-con.co.uk


Thursday, 26 September 2019

Orders fulfilled

I've posted all the comic orders I had for this week, so those of you who ordered Combat Colin No.4 should have them tomorrow (or Saturday if the first class post is as slow as it sometimes is). 

Thanks again for supporting my self-published ventures. I should point out that I've almost sold out of Combat Colin No.1, although I'll be bringing some to Nor-Con this weekend. It will be going to a third printing at some point, but not yet. I need some more payments from mainstream comics to come through before I can splash out on another print run. This hasn't been a great year and essentials such as utility bills have to take priority. 

There are lots of people working in the UK comics industry these days, but sadly less work for everyone. It's not always shared out evenly, but that has always been the case. Remember the classic artists of yesteryear and how they were given less and less work as time went on? The style of comics have always evolved, and that's a natural thing and the right way to go, but sometimes it's forced and popular artists receive less work for no good reason.

Then there are the publishers who decide to cut costs by reprinting old strips. Case in point, Toxic magazine, which dropped me at Christmas but I've recently discovered is now reprinting my (not so old) Team Toxic strips. I receive no reprint payments for that. Again, a common practice from British publishers which dates back to the dawn of UK comics. 

If you want to buy a comic for your kids, pick up the Beano every Wednesday. My Pup Parade strip is currently running in there and there's tons of work by other creators too. If Doctor Who is your thing, buy Doctor Who Magazine every four weeks. It's 40th anniversary issue is coming up next month and I'm currently drawing my latest Daft Dimension for it, which will be extra daft for the occasion. 

Break over. Back to the drawing board! 

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

It's NOR-CON this coming weekend!

I've enjoyed all the shows it's been my pleasure to be a guest at this year and my final convention appearance for 2019 will be at Nor-Con, The Norfolk TV, Film, and Comic Con. It's a two day event that takes place this weekend, Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September, at the Norfolk Showground Arena.

Other guests include Nigel Parkinson, Mike Collins, Lee Townsend, Nicola Bryant, Sophie Aldred, Peter Davison, Chris Barrie and more! 

I'll be bringing along my comics (Combat Colin, Pedantic Stan, and Derek the Troll) and doing sketches on request all weekend. 

As I said at the top, this will be my last convention this year, unless I have a last minute invite to more, but that's very unlikely at this late notice. I don't have any lined up for 2020 yet, so I hope to see some of you at Nor-Con this weekend! 

For full details, check out the Nor-Con website:
https://www.nor-con.co.uk



Monday, 23 September 2019

Preview of the Pups

Here's a preview of this week's Pup Parade! This time, the focus is on Tubby. See the whole strip in Beano No.4004, this Wednesday! 

...and here's how that panel progressed in the drawing stage!



Tuesday, 17 September 2019

In print this week...

I've contributed to three publications that are out this week. First up is Beano No.4003, on sale Wednesday 18th September, which features the third of my new series of Pup Parade mini-strips. This week the spotlight is on Sniffy! 

Then on Thursday 19th September, Doctor Who Magazine No.543 goes on sale, which contains a Daft Dimension strip featuring my daft spin on the 4th Doctor's regeneration!

That same day also sees Comic Scene No.8 on sale in WH Smith and comic shops. Amongst the articles and strips you'll find one by me about TV Comic, the classic weekly that ran from the 1950s to the 1980s. 

Three publications for three different markets, all out this week. Which will you buy? Take your pick or collect 'em all! 


Sunday, 15 September 2019

Back from Omagh

From left going up and back again:
Lew Stringer, Laura Howell, Staz Johnson, Ian Edgington, Becky Cornwell,
Dan Cornwell, Hunt Emerson, John Royle, Anya Morozova, Phil Vaughan.
Back home, tired but happy after a very enjoyable weekend in Northern Ireland for the Omagh Comic Fest at Strule Arts Centre. My thanks to the ever-enthusiastic Paul Trimble and his hard working team for organising it and for their fantastic hospitality. It was a really upbeat, friendly event and a steady stream of attendees meant that we were busy all day. 

Thanks also to Andy Boal for hosting the Beano panel. Laura Howell, Hunt Emerson and myself enjoyed it, and we were also pleased with the keen audience who asked some great questions. 

As ever, it was great to catch up with old friends and make new acquaintances too, including Hunt Emerson, Laura Howell, Davy Francis, John Royle, Staz Johnson, Dan and Becky Cornwell, Ian Edgington, Anya Morozova, Phil Vaughan, Katie O'Kane, Alan Nolan, David MacDonald and more. 

Paul and his team made my first visit to Omagh a very pleasant stay and we were all made to feel very welcome. I hope the festival returns in the future!

Here are a few photos taken over the weekend... 
About to take off from Birmingham International.

Flying over England.
Table set up and ready.

Stop me and buy one!

Everyone setting up their tables.

2000AD artist Dan Cornwell.

Artist Staz Johnson.

Sketch cover commission.

Minnie the Minx artist Laura Howell.

Great to see old OINK! pal big Davy Francis again!

Artist Anya Morozova from Russia. A new rising star of UK comics!

Laura Howell and event organiser Paul Trimble.

Fantastic artist Katie O'Kane.

Relaxing in the bar after a busy festival!

Cheers!

Links:

Laura Howell:
http://www.laurahowell.co.uk

Hunt Emerson:
http://largecow.com

Dan Cornwell:
https://dancornwell.wordpress.com

John Royle:
http://johnroyleart.com

Ian Edgington:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Edginton

Anya Morozova:
https://twitter.com/_annamorozova

Katie O'Kane:
http://tinysaucepan.deviantart.com/gallery/

Staz Johnson:
http://stazjohnson.blogspot.com

Philip Vaughan:
https://www.dundee.ac.uk/djcad/staff/profile/phillip-vaughan.php


Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Pup Parade preview

The second of my new series of Pup Parade is in today's Beano. As it's a mini-strip of just three or four panels, each week will focus on just one or two pups rather than all nine of them. This week, Blotty gets the spotlight! 

Beano No.4002, in shops now! 


Sunday, 8 September 2019

Next event: OMAGH COMIC FEST (September 14th)

Thanks to Olly MacNamee and the High Vis Street Art Festival for a good convention yesterday. The comicon area at the Zellig building was small but perfectly formed, and well lit by natural light. Nice and busy, with a pleasant atmosphere throughout the day. A good event that I hope will continue to thrive in years to come! 

Next up... I'll be flying over to Northern Ireland for the Omagh Comic Fest which takes place on Saturday 14th September. I'm looking forward to seeing friends old and new over the Irish Sea and meeting up with pals in the comics industry. Hope to see some of you there! 

Friday, 6 September 2019

Comics! Comics! Comics! at HIGH VIS tomorrow!

It's been four years since I got back into self-publishing and I've produced seven comics since then. I'll be bringing them all (plus the 2005 Brickman Begins! book published by Active Images) to the High Vis Street Culture Festival this Saturday, 7th September at the Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham. 

Yes, that includes Brickman Returns which I thought I'd sold out of but I've found a handful of copies this week. The last few left! 

I'll also be doing sketches on request so come along to meet me and a bunch of other comics folk. Admission is free! 

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

The Bash Street Dogs are back today!

My new series of Pup Parade mini-strips begins inside the Beano today! They're also on the cover topline above the logo, so I'm pleased with that! 

This is the first time I've been in the Beano in almost a year and it's great to be back. The new run of Pup Parade is my third series featuring the characters. I don't know how long it'll last but I'm working on the ones for November at the moment. I hope you enjoy them! Let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

Beano No.4001, price £2.75. On sale now! 
Main cover art by Nigel Parkinson.



Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Derek the Troll coasters!

Another new item of merchandise on my Redbubble store.... Derek the Troll coasters! The stinky-but-good troll from Warlock, White Dwarf, and Goof! now has his own coaster set. 

Printed on demand. Available to buy exclusively from this link and nowhere else:
https://www.redbubble.com/people/lewstringer/works/38116881-derek-the-troll?p=coasters&rel=carousel


Monday, 2 September 2019

40 Years of Fun!

As I've been attending comic cons for 40 years (!) I thought I'd do a quick compilation of some photos from over the years to show my appreciation of some of the great friends I've met in this mad business we call comic. And yes, I know some of you weren't even born when I started going to conventions. :D 

Sorry if you're not in any of the pics I've found but you're all my pals and it's a pleasure to know ya! I've met some of the most genuine, compassionate, wise, and funny people in this business and I've never regretted making it my career choice. Here's to more conventions to come!



Sunday, 1 September 2019

ComiCon 1979... 40 years on

Jim Steranko and Mike Conroy at Comicon 79.
IT WAS 40 YEARS AGO TODAY, 1st Sept 1979... myself, Nigel Lawrance, Doctor Baz Samways and the late Dave Bird travelled to the Metropole Hotel at the NEC, Birmingham, for Comicon 1979! The very first comics con I attended! The star guest from the USA was Jim Steranko, one of the most creative, and coolest, guys in comics, and the first comics pro I ever met. (He signed my copy of The Illustrated Harlan Ellison which he'd drawn a chapter of). 

Although my ambitions to work in comics were stirring, I had no idea if I'd achieve it. Steranko told me to stick at it, so I did. I've lost count of the cons I've attended since (initially as a fan, then invited as a guest since 1984) but that first one still has a special place in my memories. Seems so long ago now, as indeed it was.

Thanks to Richard Burton for the use of his photo of Steranko and Mike Conroy at the Eagle Awards. The following two images are scans of the ads for the convention. £3.50 for a two day ticket! Daft as it sounds that was a lot in 1979, but for the career it led to... and all the friends I've met through such events... worth every penny a million times over.
When I returned home I set to work writing a review of the event for my fanzine After Image. Here's the result. I cringe at the stories of boozy parties now but I was a naive 20 year old at the time. You'll note that in those days there was an all-night cinema show so that fans who couldn't afford rooms could sleep in the cinema! (Or try to get to sleep anyway. Practically impossible as you'll see from the article.) 


Note the fan art by Adrian Salmon at the end of the piece. Another artist who did well and moved into professional work a few years later. 

I didn't own a camera back then but the memories have stayed fresh in my mind. Great, carefree times!