Saturday 28 February 2015

Do you have your Stikkums yet?

Stikkums is a behavioural reward app for young kids but it's also fun to use for all ages. You can position the characters onto the backgrounds, resize/flip them, recolour them, add numerous versions to make your scenes as busy as you like. The download is free, and you get one Stikkums 'pack' of 20 digital stickers free, with the other sets costing just 69p per pack.

I did all the artwork for this app and have been drawing more this week for a future pack to be released soon. The first sets of Stikkums are out now though and if you have a tablet device you can download the app for free. Use my characters to build your own scenes! For more info, go to the official website here:

Friday 27 February 2015

Festival promo

Super School. Copyright DC Thomson & Co. Ltd.
I'm very flattered by the glowing praise in the PR for my upcoming appearance at the Birmingham Comic Festival (see I hope to see plenty of you at the event on April 18th. If you haven't booked your ticket yet here's the site to visit: 

Other guests include Ian Edginton, Richard Elson, Al Davison, Laura Howell, Hunt Emerson, Mike Collins, Sonia Leong, Mark Buckingham and the legendary Ian Kennedy! How can you miss it?

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Beano No.3773 preview

Here's a quick glimpse at the two mini-strips I have in this week's Beano. First up, Rasher feels it's good to be a pig, wallowing in the mud while Dennis is tasked with the chores, then in Joe King our compulsive funster is in trouble with his teacher.

There's loads of other strips in the comic too of course; 36 pages packed with all-new fun with the regulars such as Dennis, Roger, and Minnie. What other British comic has entertained kids of all ages for 77 years? (Answer: None! Although the much-missed Dandy came close with its 75 year run of course.) 

This week's issue comes bagged with a free copy of 110% Gaming magazine. No strips in that, but if you or your kids like games it'll be right up your street. 

Treat yourself to a copy of The Beano today. Only £2.20.  

Sunday 22 February 2015

The censored Tom Thug!

Usually when creators work on strips we instinctively 'self censor' in that we know how far to push the limits for the particular comic we're working on. On rare occasions an editor might think we've overstepped the mark even though we thought it was ok. That's when the white out and patch paper came out to mask over any offending item. 

One such occasion was in Oink! No.60, published in 1988. In my Tom Thug story that issue I had Tom dressed as a Sumo wrestler, doing his warm-up exercises, when he accidentally passed wind, with such comical force as to blow the hat off a passing girl. 

When the strip saw print, the fart clouds and the 'PARP!' sound effect were gone, proving too much for IPC. Yet the passing girl was still reacting with disgust. They'd changed the intent of the humour from a ludicrously exaggerated fart joke into a scene where we're supposed to think it's funny for a guy to moon at a girl. IPC may have thought this lessened the vulgarity, but to my mind it just made the scene worse. I must admit this did concern me a bit at the time although it's not something I dwelled on. 

Anyway sorting through some old artwork to sell I found the original art of that page today, which reminded me of that incident. Interestingly, the censorship was done with 'patch paper' and the censored stuff is now slightly visible through it (as you can see in the photo above). 

So, to cut to the chase, if you're interested in buying that page, the original is up on eBay this week along with a few other things. All bids are very much appreciated! Auction ends next Sunday, 1st March. See here for the listings:

Thursday 19 February 2015

Another Joe King preview

The milk's off! Here's a panel from the Joe King mini-strip I did for the latest Beano, in the shops now! 

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Windy day on Wednesday

Here's a preview from this week's Beano and the guest stars in my Rasher strip are two of the Bash Street Dogs! That's one of the great things about working for The Beano. As all of the characters are based in 'Beanotown' they can interact in each other's strips, so we get the opportunity to draw characters we wouldn't usually do. 

UPDATE: Unfortunately this and other mini-strips were replaced by an advert but hopefully it'll appear next week. 

Friday 13 February 2015

The folly of youth. My first fanzine article.

I recently found an issue of Bem fanzine (No.23) from 1979 which featured the very first article I had published outside of my own fanzines. The subject was a history of Odhams' 'Power Comics', which may not surprise you as they've always been my favourite comics. The article was published in April 1979 so I'd have written it a month or two earlier when I was still 19. Ah, the folly of youth, - and unfortunately the article contains a few follies.

At the time I hadn't acquired a full set of Power Comics so I was using whatever issues I had kept from my childhood, plus relying on memory and assumptions. Not good enough. Here's where I went wrong:

1: Re: Wham! No.1. "Almost all the strips were drawn by Leo Baxendale". Not so, although Leo did contribute a lot for the issue.

2: "With issue 22, Smash! began to feature...Batman". Nope. Batman started in issue 20. (I'm betting that issue 22 had stuck in my mind because I'd remembered a pleasant summer's day in 1966 sitting on a park bench reading it so I must have made a typo.) As for my opinion that the Batman TV series was a "poor adaptation", ah, another folly of youth. I'd loved the show in 1966 but by the time I was 19 I was obviously trying to distance myself from it in that all-too-serious way that you do as a teenager. Now? It's my favourite version of Batman of all. 

3: I said that Wham! began reprinting The Fantastic Four before Smash! started reprinting the Hulk. Nope. Smash! was first, beginning the Hulk in Smash! No.16, and Wham! followed several weeks later with the FF. This is a very embarrassing mistake as I've often criticized others for the same blunder! I realize now that it was probably me who started that wonky ball rolling! Sorry folks!

4: "Pow and Fantastic merged". What? A stupidly bad assumption on my part. I'd stopped buying the comics for a while and when I started again it was Smash and Pow incorporating Fantastic so I'd assumed there had been a Pow and Fantastic merger beforehand. I didn't realise that Pow! had merged into Smash!, followed by Fantastic a few weeks later. 

5: Swots and Blots not being as outrageous when Leo Baxendale took over? Well, that may have been my opinion at the time but I don't know how I arrived at that. Leo's version of The Swots and the Blots was one of the saving graces of IPC's revamped Smash.

Apart from those idiotic goofs I think the article stands up ok. No one else was writing about those comics at the time so I was trying to balance things out a bit. I can only apologise for my 19 year old self getting a few things wrong. If it's any consolation I started losing my hair around that time, which seems a bit of harsh Karma for getting a few comic facts wrong but there you go.

Yes, the article was printed in bright green ink. 1970s fanzines. That's how they rolled. Some pages in green, some in blue, some in red. A few in black. To save your eyesight I've de-saturated the text and separated it into three columns for easier reading. I hope you enjoy it and will forgive the blunders! 

By the way, - that same issue also featured a little drawing of The Cloak that I'd done. It looks a bit crude now but here it is, 36 years later...

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Latest Beano preview

Here's a quick glimpse at the mini-strips I have in this week's Beano. Rasher dreams of being Ham Solo in Sty Wars...
...while in the latest Joe King strip, Toots from the Bash Street Kids makes a guest appearance...

I'm guessing there must be a school break coming up as this week's issue is bagged with a bunch of gifts and costs £3.20. Here's what to look out for... 

Support The Beano, - the longest running comic in British comics history! 

Tuesday 10 February 2015

ICE in Birmingham

I'm very pleased to be able to add another comic show to my events list this year by confirming that I've been invited to ICE, the International Comics Expo on September 5th in the centre of Birmingham.

I was a guest last year too and it was a very enjoyable event. Some conventions these days, fun as they are, tend to be overshadowed by film and TV guests, but ICE is solely comics-focused. There was a really nice sense of community last year and I'm sure that friendliness will be an attractive part of this year's event as well.

There's a great guest list so far, which includes Dave Gibbons, Charlie Adlard, Bob Layton and many more. Check out the website for more information including booking details: 

We're living in exciting times for comic events these days. Time was when we'd have one annual convention if we were lucky, but there now seem to be events almost every weekend somewhere across the UK. It's a good time for fans and pros alike. I'm hoping to soon add more events to the ones I'm attending (not forgetting the other one in Birmingham in April of course) and I hope to see some of you there! 

Thursday 5 February 2015

Toxic origins

I thought you might like to see the artwork of the first Team Toxic strip I drew from back in 2003. When Toxic began in 2002, editor Matt Yeo commissioned me to write a 'gross humour' mini-strip featuring characters that Matt and artist John Rushby had co-created. The strip was to be called Team Toxic and the five team members were Doc Shock, Kid Zombie, Sludge, Krunk, and an as-yet un-named member that I dubbed 'Bog'.
Written by me and initially drawn by John Rushby, the strip ran as four mini-strips across the foot of four pages for the first several issues. Apparently it soon proved popular enough to be expanded to a two-page spread, which was good news for all of course. 

With issue 14 I was asked if I could take over the art chores as well. John was still kept busy drawing spot illustrations of the five characters that appeared throughout the mag, so I was asked to 'ghost' his style to a certain extent for consistency. John's style was far more detailed than mine, and considerably different, so I'm not sure how closely I mimicked his style but over time I was able to gradually shift the strip closer to my own style. 

Above is that first Team Toxic strip I drew in 2003, scanned from my original art. Below is the published version, with a fantastic colouring job by the multi-talented Lorna Miller who was the regular colourist on the strip for years. The lettering was done in-house by the Toxic staff.
Toxic is still a popular magazine to this day, and I'm still writing/drawing two pages of Team Toxic every issue (although it was reprint throughout 2013). I also colour it these days too. Toxic is published every three weeks by Egmont and issue 249 is in the shops now with No.250 on sale 11th February. 

Wednesday 4 February 2015

It's Beano Day again!

If it's Wednesday it must be Beano Day, and sure enough there's a new issue in the shops now. Two mini-strips by me inside: Rasher and Joe King. Plus loads of other strips of course from the best humourists in the UK comics industry: Nigel Parkinson, Hunt Emerson, Laura Howell, and many more. 

Here's the cover by Nigel Parkinson to look out for. The Beano No.3770. Price £2.20. Out now!

Tuesday 3 February 2015

The Zarbi Return!

They were seen in The Web Planet story in Doctor Who 50 years ago and now the Zarbi are back this week! Well, at least in the latest episode of The Daft Dimension, the strip I do for Doctor Who Magazine

I was quite fascinated by the Zarbi when I was a kid, even though one of them bumped into the camera during the broadcast of one episode. They were set to be a major new Doctor Who monster, appearing on the box art of the Doctor Who Give-A-Show Projector set and even had their own badge! But then - nothing. After The Web Planet they were never seen in the TV series again. Probably because they were actually a bit rubbish. 

I still hope they'll be updated for the modern series. I heard Peter Capaldi likes the Zarbi too, so who knows? Perhaps... Who knows? 

Doctor Who Magazine No.483 goes on sale this Thursday, 5th February. 84 pages of brilliant stuff plus my little strip. Here's the cover to look out for...

Sunday 1 February 2015

Original comic pages for sale

Now that Christmas is well and truly over and you've hopefully had time to save a few pennies I'm starting up my art auctions on eBay again. There are two pages of my original art up there this week; a Tom Thug page from Buster (1993) and a Suicidal Syd page from Viz (2003).

Please note that these are the original, pen and ink pages that I drew, which were sent to the publishers (and have been returned to me after use). That may be obvious to most of you but the reason I specify that is because I know some sellers list prints, photocopies or even the printed comics under eBay's 'original art' listings and sadly the distinction is becoming blurred to some buyers. Original art should mean original, - the source material, - not a print.

Bidding on these pages ends next Sunday (Feb. 8th). I hope they'll be of interest to some of you. All bids much appreciated!