Tuesday, 29 September 2020

New video interview for Air TV International

Back in August I was interviewed about my career by writer,editor, and broadcaster Tim Quinn for the online channel AirTV International. If you have a spare hour of your time and you want to see me waffling about comics then click on the following link and have a view...
https://www.airtv.international/videos/view/23530

 

Monday, 28 September 2020

Today in 1991...

Here's the Tom Thug page that was published on this day (28th September) in 1991. It appeared in Buster cover dated 5th October 1991. Script, art, and colours by me.

In order to keep the storylines fresh I'd decided to have Tom's overly-fussy mother get a job as a teacher at Tom's school. This helped to deflate Tom's arrogance and bullying schemes even more. As I've mentioned before, the whole point of Tom Thug was that he was the villain of the story, never an anti-hero like Dennis the Menace. The intention was for the reader to laugh AT Tom, not with him as they would other comic characters. 

I think this page still holds up ok 29 years later. I was pleased with the drawing of Tom in the final panel; so mortified by homework that he's retreating into the chair itself. I'm not too happy with the colours though. My choice of background colours was far too garish in those days. A sickly lime green classroom and a pure magenta brick wall dominate the panels too much. Hopefully my colour choices are more restrained now.  

The lettering is by Jack Potter. His style was great, but it always annoyed me when he had the tail of the balloon touching the edge of the character. No need for it, and I was surprised Jack did that with his many years of experience. 

As always, click on the image to see it at its full size.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Conventions of the past

Me at the 1980 Marvel con with fanzine artist Martin Forrest.

 With there being no comic cons this year I thought you might like to see some convention photos I took a long long time ago. These articles originally appeared on my Blimey! blog in 2009 so I've updated the text a little... 

British comic cons have been running since 1968 and I attended my first one over 40 years ago in 1979.  I didn't even own a camera to take pix of the 1979 event (which was in the Metropole Hotel in Birmingham by the way) but I did snap a few with my new cheap point n shoot camera in 1980. This event was in London and organized by Marvel UK. In an attempt to attract the crowds they invited guests from tv, film, and comics. (The sort of multi-media event which is common today, so they were ahead of their time.) In his satin tights fighting for your rights here's someone at the 1980 event dressed as Captain America...  

...and at the same event, actress Jacqueline Pearce (star of Blakes 7 and Hammer movie The Reptile) picks up a few awards...  


Two years later in 1982 at the Comicana event in London again, this time with comics back as the central focus. Here's a young pre-Watchmen Dave Gibbons perusing the items in the dealer's room...

 

Years before Cosplay, fans in costume were a rarity at UK Cons, but that never stopped merry Martin Forrest from dressing up as Doctor Midnite. (Martin was a superb fan-artist, contributing to several fanzines of the period including my own Metamorph.) Here he is in character thwarting a ham sandwich in 1982.... 

   

...and I suppose it's only fair that I reveal how I looked way back when too. Here I am at the same Con with moustache, bomber jacket and tinted specs, managing to look at least five years out of fashion even for 1982... 

   

Moving on another two years, here's Alan Moore in '84 at a convention in Birmingham winning what is possibly his first Eagle Award. (This would be either for his work on Warrior or The Daredevils, or possibly both.) 

   

At the same 1984 event here's Kevin O'Neill who, in memory serves me correctly, was collecting an Eagle Award on behalf of Pat Mills. (Although I could be mistaken and he could have deservedly won one himself that year of course.) Just behind Kev is Manhunter / Thor artist Walt Simonson who was presenting the Awards, and in the background is Eagle Awards organizer Richard Burton... 

   

Again at the 1984 Con, here's Marvel UK editor Bernie Jaye receiving the Eagle Award for The Daredevils comic (a groundbreaking UK monthly which featured lots of Alan Moore material including fanzine reviews, Night Raven text stories and of course Captain Britain by Moore and Alan Davis)... 

   

Here's Bernie with that very Eagle Award. In those days it was a certificate, but later events saw it evolve into a trophy... 

   

The same 1984 Convention saw fanzine editor Martin Lock launch his Harrier Comics company with Conqueror No.1 written by Lock with artwork by Dave Harwood... 

   

The final pic from 1984 shows American Flagg creator Howard Chaykin (on the right) with colourist Leslie Zahler on the left and a fan in a very good home made Flagg costume... 

   

Moving forward through the mists of time we stumble into 1987 and a UKCAC (UK Comic Art Convention) event in the heart of London. Here's the lads from Viz making their only appearance at a London comic convention. Left to right is Viz cover artist Simon Thorp, writer Graham Dury, and Viz co-creators Simon and Chris Donald... 

   

The UKCAC organizers often tried to instigate friendly conflict on the panels and joining the Viz lads on the same discussion were a group of Oink! contributors. As it turned out, we all got on well as most comic creators do. Left to right is Chris Donald; moderator Theo Clarke; me in Oink! T-shirt "hogging" the mic (can't resist a piggy pun); artist Ed McHenry; artist/writer David Leach... 

   

A relaxing trip to the bar is a tradition after a convention and here's a surprised looking Hunt Emerson with Chris Donald and Chris' then-wife Dolores in a London pub... 

   

This next one was from a visit to the Angouleme comics festival in France, in January 1990. Each year the festival paid tribute to a guest country and 1990 was Britain's turn. Around 50 or more various UK comics creators jetted over to Angouleme for the three day event. Here's me trying to look a bit French and sophisticated, standing beside one of the intricate exhibits based on the work of Schuiten and Peeters... 

   

Marvel UK were among the exhibitors at Angouleme 1990. From left to right here's John Freeman, Amanda from marketing (sorry, forgotten her surname), Helen Carter, Steve White, and Dan Abnett... 

   

I seem to recall it was raining most of the time during the French visit but to prove there were some brighter times here's Brad Brooks drying out in the sun in downtown Angouleme... 

   

With comics being highly respected in France, every shop window in Angouleme was promoting the festival and various comic albums. Even the boutiques... 

   

...and the Lucky Luke burger bar was giving away free burgers to comic professionals! 

   

Here's David Hine and wife Vicky back in 1990 enjoying a drink in a bar at Angouleme...

   

Moving through the years, and further North, it was a pleasure to be a guest at several conventions in Norway. Here's a shot I took some of the other guests who were there for Raptus 1999 in Bergen. No, it's not a publicity shot from Lost, but a photo taken on a trip around the fijords that the Raptus organiser kindly provided for us. From left to right, the legendary John Buscema, Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo), Patrik Norrman (creator of Swedish strip Bacon & Egg), Arild Wearnes (festival organiser), Jonas Darnell (creator of Swedish strip Herman Hedning), Jim Toomey (creator of Sherman's Lagoon), and, squatting, cartoonist supreme Sergio Aragon├ęs (Groo the Wanderer, Mad magazine). 

   

Two years later, again in Norway, here's Raptus 2001 kicking off with fans in costume parading around the streets of Bergen... 

   

That same day, Too Much Coffee Man creator Shannon Wheeler was scheduled to sketch in the town centre sponsored by a coffee company, but Shannon couldn't make it to Norway so Mike Collins and I stepped in to provide numerous coffee-related cartoons. The crazy world of comics eh? 

   

In 2001 Bergen's Avalon comic book store had the inspired idea to ask visiting artists to provide an illustration on a wall inside the shop. Here's Jeff Smith (creator of Bone) and Mike Collins (artist of numerous strips including Judge Dredd) sketching out their work. A partially completed head shot of Nemi by Lise Myhre is already on the wall... 

   

A while later, and here's Mike and I adding colour to our illustrations. My contribution is Benny from my Suburban Satanists strip... 

   

Later still, our work is done. Jeff Smith's Bone alongside a Lee Townsend Hellblazer illo, with Mike's completed Batman and a Dave Windett bat cartoon rounding it off... 

   

A year later (2002) Don Rosa added an Uncle Scrooge in an appropriate position behind Bone... 

   

Here's Don Rosa at Raptus 2002 illustrating Donald Duck, projected onto the screen as he draws. (The Disney characters are immensely popular in Norway.) 

   

Some of the crowds who attended Raptus 2002... 

   

Another year later, and at Raptus 2003 Arild Waernes (right) presents an award to top cartoonist Arild Midthun. (Don't worry. Not everyone in Norway is called Arild.)

   

At the same 2003 convention here's Nemi creator Lise Myhre and myself chilling out at the post-event evening get-together. The inimitable Kev F Sutherland (UT, Beano, lots of stuff) is in the background... 

   

Back to Blighty for this 2006 shot of a very busy Bristol Comics Expo... 

   

And finally... later that same year, in December 2006, the very first Birmingham International Comic Show saw Shane Oakley, with John Reppion, and Leah Moore promoting their Albion comic... 

   

I hope you've enjoyed these images from cons of the distant past. Let's look forward to them returning in 2021 hopefully!


 

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Beano 4055 preview

The latest Beano just dropped through my letterbox so I thought I'd show you a preview of the next episode of Ellis's Great Escapes! How does our affable elephant get out of his compound this time? Find out in Beano No.4055 when it goes on sale on Wednesday 30th September! 

Here's the cover to look out for, drawn by Nigel Parkinson...

 
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Thursday, 24 September 2020

There's still time to go Barmy!

Just a reminder if anyone's interested that my 32 page digital comic BARMY COMIX is still available to download as a PDF. A mixture of some strips of mine from the past including Combat Colin, Brickman, Derek the Troll and Pedantic Stan. Free to download although a voluntary £2 payment would be appreciated via PayPal. More info at this link: 

http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/2020/04/have-you-grabbed-your-barmy-comix-yet.html



Whatever Next?

One big mistake in this business is to reveal your future plans before you've even embarked on them. It's tempting fate too much! Sometimes you're not allowed to anyway of course, as most publishers ask you to embargo information until closer to publication. However, in the case of self published works any embargo is up to yourselves, but I still wouldn't recommend giving away too much. At the very least, plans can change, and at the worst, someone could nick your big idea before you've had chance to get it published. 2020 is definitely not the year to announce plans in advance!

At the moment I've no idea what I'll be doing beyond Christmas. I have some plans, but nothing I've properly formulated yet anyway. As we all know, 2020 hasn't been the best year for anyone, to put it mildly, and there's no sign of any improvement on the horizon. 

And yet... we can't give up hope. Sometimes in this pandemic it feels futile to have all work and no play... if we're even lucky enough to have any work that is! What is the point of working when so many of us see no one from one week to the next and we can't do the things we earn money to do, like taking holidays or travelling to see friends? And what of all the people who are actually suffering from the virus and its long-term effects? But... the alternative, giving up, is not worth considering. We have to live in hope.

Perhaps, in a year or two, if we can survive financially, avoid the virus, and find a safe vaccine, things will be back on track and we'll celebrate harder than ever and laugh again in the company of friends... when lockdowns, restrictions, and social distancing will be a distant memory. 

Here's to all my friends in the comics industry from far and wide, and local friends too. Miss you all and I look forward to the day when we can hopefully be reunited.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Next week's elephant antics...

Ellis's Great Escapes is back in The Beano next week. Script, art, and colours by me. Here's a sneak peek at one panel. What's he up to? Find out on Wednesday 23rd September when Beano No.4054 hits the shops! Only £2.75. 

Here's the cover to look out for. Plug and Danny drawn by Nigel Parkinson...

Productive day

As we're all well aware, this year has been a struggle in one way or another, and there's no light at the end of the tunnel yet. I hope you're all bearing up. I also hope that my work helps to raise a smile even if only for a moment.

I've had a productive day, writing a script for Ellis's Great Escapes this morning for the Beano, and finishing the art for Part 3 of Sgt.Shouty for the third issue of The77. I won't show you much from the Sgt.Shouty page as it'll give away too much key information but I've posted a close up of a bit of the original art above. Who's the little guy? Just an incidental character, but I thought you'd like to see him. 

I'm pleased to see that The77 has proven to be a great success. So far, every issue has exceeded the Kickstarter target, and No.3 was fully funded in just five hours! It's an exciting new comic to work for and I hope it continues to reach a wider audience. 

If you haven't backed issue 3 yet you can do so at this link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the77comic/the77-issue-3

The77 No.3 will be published next month. See you there! 


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

In the shops this week

There's no episode of Ellis's Great Escapes in the Beano this week unfortunately as it was replaced by an advert, but I thought I'd just post a reminder that you can still catch Specky Hector in the Battle Special (out today) and The Daft Dimension in Doctor Who Magazine (out tomorrow)!

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Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Fresh air and green fields


I thought I'd share with you some photos from today's walk by the local lakes and countryside. I'd intended to go for more walks anyway before the pandemic hit but I think I appreciate the green track more than ever now. I don't mind the solitude when I'm walking in the fresh air. Everything feels peaceful and timeless when you separate yourself from the stress of global situations, and it's a good way to recharge. 

 

 

This glorious weather has been the only good thing about 2020. I hope you've all found your own ways to find peace in this mad year.

 

 

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