Friday 30 August 2013

Feast or famine

Here's an advance preview of my final Watch-Hog strip from next week's Beano, on sale Wednesday 4th September. (Although subscribers will receive their copies before then.) I've nothing else lined up to replace it in the comic at present but I'm continuing to send The Beano ideas for new strips so if or when something comes along you'll hear about it here first. 

I've enjoyed producing the 33 Rasher strips and the 6 week Watch-Hog sequel these past several months so for his final send off I thought I'd treat him to a traditionally exaggerated slap-up feed! 

It's not quite the end of our porcine pal though, as I have four Rasher mini-strips to draw soon for The Beano Annual 2015, although you won't be seeing those in print for another 12 months or so.

Anyway, back to work on The Smasher pages for The Dandy Annual 2015, then the return of Combat Colin for Aces Weekly, and hopefully a Viz strip soon too! Stay tuned to this blog for future news.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Keyholes in the can

I'm still working on the strips for 2015 annuals so I probably won't be updating this blog for a few days as deadlines are looming. All of the Keyhole Kate pages for The Dandy Annual 2015 were completed a few days ago and are now with DC Thomson, and I'm currently drawing several Smasher pages for the book. I'm doing all the creative work on the strips; writing the scripts, pencils, inks, logo design, lettering, and colouring, so it's a lot of work but very satisfying.  

After that, four Rasher mini-strips to draw for next year's Beano Annual. Anyway, back to the drawing board! 

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Rarities: My very early work

I thought I'd share a few scans of my very early comic art with you today. Well, I say "art". Some of these are embarrassingly bad, but here goes, starting with the image above of the sort of comics I used to draw when I was a young lad. 

I used to put together numerous comic strips like this about my family and my pets in the 1960s, fairly hastily scribbled out in biro. The only people I ever showed them to were my immediate family and my best pal (all of whom are sadly no longer with us). This particular one above was about how my Grandad used to take me a walk on Sunday mornings with the dogs. Happy days. I'd have drawn this in 1967/68 when I was eight years old. Influenced my Marvel Comics it was a tad more melodramatic than it needed to be.

I drew over 100 comics when I was growing up, usually 8 page efforts ranging from any size, depending what paper I could lay my hands on. This one, Captain Thunder, is from 1973 when I was 14. Terrible work, showing no idea of anatomy whatsoever. (The figure was a bad crib of a Gil Kane Warlock cover.) At this stage drawing was purely a hobby and I had no ambition to work in the industry professionally at the time, so basically I wasn't trying as hard as I should have been. 

I'd actually given up drawing by the time I'd left school. (I'd dropped art as a subject before then too.) Living in a small Midlands town seemed too remote for any hopes of drawing for comics. (I naively thought all artists were on staff, working in London or New York.) Besides, our comprehensive school's career teachers had encouraged us to either join the army or consider factory/shop work, so I went to work in an office at a local mining tools company. 

I never enjoyed the office work or the daily routine, and was looking for a way out after a few years. In 1976 I discovered comic fanzines, which gave me the inspiration to draw again. I started contributing to various 'zines, and creating my own. Here's the very first Brickman strip (when he was called Brick-Person) from my fanzine After Image No.3, published November 1979. An early attempt as inking with Rotring pens...

I quit my job in 1980 and decided to focus on finding a career in comics. At this stage I didn't know what kind of comics I'd like to do. I tried my hand at superhero stuff, but as this 1980 cover to Alec Chalmer's fanzine Mirage proves, I hadn't advanced a great deal since the days of Captain Thunder...

I preferred creating humour strips so I started developing a humour style that might be appropriate for UK comics. I still wasn't anywhere near ready, as this Dawg strip from Paul Duncan's 1982 stripzine Short Fuse demonstrates...

At this stage I was inking with a dip-pen and not mastering it at all. Here's another 1982 drawing; the cover to Dick Domar's fanzine The Owl's Effort Summer Special...

I think I was starting to find a style in 1982 that I could develop. Here's a Fandumb mini-strip I did for the fanzine Chain Reaction...

That same year I switched to using Rotring pens again and the change in style was immediate. I found them far easier to control than dip-pens (although over the years I've switched back and forth). Here's one of several Fandumb At Large pages I did for The Owl's Effort. Still not pro standard, but an improvement on what I'd done before. (I'm embarrassed at how cynical the humour is here, although I did include myself in a later edition.)

I sold my first professional cartoons in 1983, and later worked as an assistant to Mike Higgs which helped me develop my style considerably. Here's a 1984 stripzine I published, - Brickman on Toast. By this time I was inking with Tombow fibre-tip pens which were very similar to the UniPin pens I use today.

Finally, here's a drawing I did in 1988 that some of you may not have seen before, featuring Tom Thug and Pete and his Pimple. It was done for the Birmingham Comic Art Show booklet for that year. Inked with Rotring pens.

I hope you've enjoyed this trip through my archives. If my crude, clueless early drawings could eventually lead to paid work then anyone can do it. All you need is practise and imagination, so for anyone out there with hopes to become a professional artist: keep drawing, keep learning, and never give up!

Sunday 25 August 2013

Thanks Folks!

Art by me, script by the Viz editors.
A big thank you to all the people who have bought artwork from my eBay auctions over the past several months. I've been very pleased with the bidding, and I'm sure the taxman will enjoy his cut too. 

I've put a few more items up for sale today, and bidding will end on most of them next Sunday.

Yesterday I read a comment on someone's blog who sneered that I was selling off my old artwork to try and make ends meet. My first thoughts were: 
a) What if I am? It's a harmless way to earn a living/boost my income. Lots of comic artists sell their pages.
b) As I have no surviving family of my own why should I hoard it? Surely it's far better to give the readers a chance to buy an original piece of comic art?

Anyway, thanks again to those of you who have bought pages, and for your nice feedback. I hope upcoming pages will also be of interest. 

Friday 23 August 2013

Sonic for Sale!

Scan of the original artwork.
As I mentioned on my old blog a while back, 20 years ago I submitted some art samples for the then-new Egmont title Sonic the Comic. I didn't get the gig as an artist (they wanted more of an adventure style) but I did become a regular writer on the comic.

The other day I found the original artwork to my sample black and white page (it must have been returned to me years ago) and now I've put it on eBay for auction. I'm quite pleased with the original monster designs I had Sonic encounter. 

Scan of the original artwork.

The size of the page is approx 37cm x 47cm. Black ink on Bristol Board. Excellent condition with no creases or stains. 

I'm also selling a few other items, including a Tom Thug page and a Pete and His Pimple strip (co-starring Mary Lighthouse and Uncle Pigg) from Oink! You can see all the pages on my eBay site here:

Photograph of the original artwork.

Bidding ends on Sunday. Good luck!

Thursday 22 August 2013

Raptus promotion, 2003

Here's something most of you won't have seen before. It's a full page ad I drew to promote the Raptus Comic Festival in Bergen, Norway, in 2003. It appeared in a tabloid newspaper giveaway promoting the Scandic Bergen City hotel. The illustration was also printed on the plastic carrier bags for that year's Raptus convention. 

As well as my interpretations of Batman, Flash Gordon, Conan and the Hulk, you may spot Modesty Blaise having a drink with Nemi, The Phantom partying with Wonder Woman, and other comic stars. Although as this is a convention scene they're all fans in costume of course so I could take a few liberties. I also added one of my Suburban Satanists, Benny, about to be flattened by the Hulk, and Jonas Darnell's Herman Hedning looking on grinning. 

I was asked to include a few real-life attendees too, so festival organizers Arild and Frode make an appearance, along with Rodney Ramos on stage, Dave Windett and I at the back doing a signing, and Mike Collins in the foreground sketching Judge Dredd. 

An enjoyable commission which, I hope, captured the fun of the event. I've been a guest at five of their festivals over the years and have always enjoyed them. (Language is no problem as most people there speak English as fluently as they do Norwegian.) I haven't been back to Norway since the 2003 show, but the event is still going strong every year, with the 2013 one coming up next month. For more details see their website:

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Watch-Hog: Pencils and finished art

It's Wednesday so there's a new issue of The Beano in the shops today. Here's a glimpse at my contribution; the fourth Watch-Hog mini-strip. (Only two to go after this one unfortunately.) There's how it looked when it was in the blue pencil stage on my desk (above) and below is how it looked after I'd inked it with UniPin fineline pens and coloured it in Photoshop, ready for the lettering to be added after I e-mailed it to Beano HQ.

Never Be Without A Beano! Out now, with free Roger the Dodger and Walter Turbo Battlerz figures.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Through the Keyhole

We're only at the tail end of the summer of 2013 but myself and a load of other cartoonists are already feverishly working away on the annuals that will be out in 12 months time. Here's a snapshot of the pencil version of the opening to a Keyhole Kate page I'm drawing for The Dandy Annual 2015. Lettering, inking, and colouring to do next. It's all go!

Friday 16 August 2013

Wednesday's Watch-Hog

Here's a sneak preview of next week's Watch-Hog strip that should be in The Beano on Wednesday 21st August. Once again guest-starring Gnasher!

At present I'm writing a few Rasher strips for The Beano Annual 2015, which won't actually be out until July 2014! Will the universe still even exist by then? Yes, probably. I'm sure it will. Don't worry. Forget I even mentioned it. 

Wednesday 14 August 2013

New Derek the Troll: sneak peek

The other day I showed a panel from the new Derek the Troll page in progress. Now here's a section of the completed page. The finished job was sent to Jonathan Green the other day and it'll appear in his forthcoming book You Are the Hero: A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks

I really enjoyed bringing back ol' Derek for this one-off job. It felt comfortable drawing him again, even though it's been nearly 30 years since he last appeared in a strip. For consistency, I used the original logo as a header for the page, which I'd created back in 1986 when the strip ran in Warlock magazine.

For news on when the book will appear, keep an eye on Jonathan's blog here: 

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Team Toxic

I was recently contacted by Egmont to draw a promotional piece for them featuring the Team Toxic characters. It's been about 11 months since I last drew them as Toxic runs reprints of my old strips these days, but it felt good to once again have Doc Shock, Bog, Sludge, Kid Zombie, and Krunk pouring out of my pen.

Those five Team Toxic characters were created back in 2002. I'm not sure who came up with the concept but Jon Rushby visualized them, and I was assigned to write the scripts starting with Toxic No.1. By issue 15 I was also invited to draw it, and continued to do so until the 10th anniversary issue last year when the strip went reprint.

After a solid decade of drawing for Toxic, watching it become a popular title on the stands, I miss working for the mag and creating all the bizarre villains that the Team faced, such as Butt-Face, Sick Squid, Frankendrac, and Techno Troll. However if any of you missed those strips and are interested in seeing those old Team Toxic stories pick up a copy of Toxic today.  

Saturday 10 August 2013

Troll's progress

As I mentioned two weeks ago, I'm reviving one of my old characters for Jonathan Green's new book, You Are the Hero: A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks. He contacted me a while ago regarding bringing back a 1980s character of mine, Derek the Troll, and I'm drawing the strip this weekend. 

Above is a snapshot of the first panel from the page in rough pencil stage. When I'm lettering my own strips I tend to rough the page out first, do the lettering, then proceed with tightening/correcting up any pencils if necessary and finally inking the strip.

I'll show part of the completed strip here on Monday.

Friday 9 August 2013

Coming up on Watch-Hog...

What's going on 'ere then? Another extreme reaction of the kind I like to draw. This is a detail from a panel in the next Watch-Hog strip, which should hopefully be in The Beano next Wednesday. Better pitch a tent outside your newsagent now so you don't miss it! 

Filling the void

Well, I had blogged about how a notorious troll had once again targeted me on his blog, and how his disingenuous methods of passive-aggression were running true to form... but you know what? He's not worth the pixels so I've deleted the post.

If that's the way he wants to fill a void in his life it speaks volumes without any further comment needed. I'll use my blog for more constructive postings. Back to the drawing board....

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Pig face

One of the things I enjoy most about drawing comics is getting the chance to depict funny facial reactions. After all, humour comics should be a laugh, so why not go to town on exaggerating the characters when the situation needs it? 

Here's a panel from this week's Watch-Hog strip in The Beano that I was pleased with, with Rasher reacting to the stench of a mouldy bone. Emphasised of course by the cascading sweat beads of the type that Ken Reid often added to his characters. 

This issue of The Beano is out today, continuing the slightly new direction to the comic that began with its 75th anniversary issue. Some people love it, some nostalgists who are weary of modern comics hate it, but at least they're all talking about it! Personally I think the comic is looking fresh and funny these days but don't take my word for it, - buy it and judge for yourselves!

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Original art for sale... plus more!

I'm selling off more of my original artwork on eBay this week including a page of Tom Thug from Oink! No.62 (see detail above) and a Pathetic Sharks page from Viz No.217 (last summer's jubilee issue).

I'm also selling a couple of comics I contributed to. One is the issue of Buster from 1996 that featured my final all-new Tom Thug strip before it went reprint. This comic is in superb condition, unread, complete with its free gift. Plus I've drawn a new Tom Thug sketch to accompany it. 

There's also a copy of the Combat Colin Limited Edition Special from the year 2000. This 20 page comic only had a print run of 150 copies so it's very rare. Condition is excellent and I've drawn a new Combat Colin pencil sketch as part of the deal.

I'm also selling a few items that I had no involvement in, such as the very first issue of Cheeky Weekly (complete with unused free gift) and Classics from the Comics No.1. Both in excellent clean, flat condition.

Interested? Zoom over to my eBay page here for a better look. All bids welcome! Good luck!

Thursday 1 August 2013

The Dandy, - back on the shelves!

There's an all-new Dandy out right now, featuring Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat, Winker Watson and all your favourites. Well, in book form at least, as The Dandy Annual 2014 has just been published, along with The Beano Annual 2014

I have six pages in The Dandy Annual this year; three Smasher strips and three Keyhole Kate pages (the latter being written by David Mason who wrote some of the Postman Prat scripts for the weekly). 

For The Beano Annual I drew a two page Biffo the Bear story, written by Iain McLaughlin. It was an honour to draw such a notable Beano character for the comic's 75th anniversary volume. 

There's also tons of other strips in the books too of course by the UK's top comic artists including work by Nigel Parkinson, Laura Howell, Paul Palmer, Jamie Smart, David Sutherland and many more! 

The R.R.P. for the books is £7.99 each but you'll easily find them cheaper online and no doubt they'll be discounted in bookshops too. Yep, the annuals are out now! What are you waiting for, Christmas?