Sunday, 11 April 2021

Back to the drawing board

Work has picked up of late, and exhausting side-effects from the Astra Zenica vaccine finally seem to have worn off, so I'm busy at the drawing board at the moment. I can't show any of the pages I've been working on yet but I'll post more info whenever I can. 

One of the projects is an educational comic about the statues of Liverpool. It's written by Tim Quinn and I'm drawing four pages for it, and other pages have been drawn by Nigel Parkinson, Russ Leach, Dicky Howett and others. A change of pace to my usual work and I'm really enjoying it! 

I've also just sent off the latest Daft Dimension for next month's Doctor Who Magazine. I'll show a sneak preview of that when it's published. 

I recently drew an illustration for The Dandy Summer Special. More news on that soon.

There are a few other things to draw too, including exclusive Sgt.Shouty sketches for people who pledged extra for The77 Kickstarter, plus a few other projects on the go so all in all it's a busy time again! 

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Bat and Eyeball! (2008)


One of these days I'm going to do a blog post about all the artwork I did over the years for various free gifts in comics. It'll take a while because I've forgotten half of them! For now though, here's one of my favourites. 

Above is the "Bat and Eyeball" as Egmont called it which was given away in an issue of Toxic in 2008. I preferred my name for it, the Skull-Bat, but as it was based on the old Bat and Ball toy it made more sense for them to call it the Bat and Eyeball! 

It was the editor's idea to do a gory variation on the old Bat and Ball. I had to work to an existing template to design the art for this. It was an odd shape, not very much like a skull, which is why I put a few spiderwebs in places to fill it out. 

I was pleased with the result. Even more so when I saw the great colouring job that Chris Watson had done for it. I remember buying this issue on holiday in Wales and a friend's little girl really enjoyed playing with the gruesome toy. Kids love monsters!


Friday, 2 April 2021

Happy Easter!

It doesn't seem a year since the Cor!! Buster Easter Special was published. What a year it's been! If you're inclined to celebrate Easter I hope you can have an enjoyable weekend despite the lockdown restrictions. 

If you missed the aforementioned Easter Special it's still available to buy directly from the publisher at this link:

https://treasuryofbritishcomics.com/catalogue/humour/RCS2052 

The panel above is from the Buster and Delbert story I drew for the comic, written by John Freeman. Both the Easter Special and the previous Humour Special from 2019 have been collected into a softback book which you can buy at this link:

https://treasuryofbritishcomics.com/catalogue/humour/RCA-H0018 

There won't be a Cor!! Buster Special this year but in September look out for the all new Monster Fun Halloween Spooktacular

Happy Easter weekend! 

 

Thursday, 1 April 2021

It's your Shout!

I've completed and delivered the Sgt.Shouty page for The77 No.5 so here's a little sample featuring the villain, Doctor Plank! 

The77 is an independent British comic funded by a Kickstarter campaign. There's still a little way to go for it to reach its target for this issue so if you're interested you can pledge at the following link. You can also get an original Sgt.Shouty sketch from me as a stretch reward. (Limited number available.) 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the77comic/the77-comic-issue-5
 

Monday, 29 March 2021

Meet William Noddle, Doctor Who Fan!

There's a new issue of Doctor Who Magazine out this Thursday so I thought I'd show you a sneak peek at part of one of the panels from my Daft Dimension comic strip. Meet William Noddle, devoted fan of Doctor Who! What's he up to? Find out in Doctor Who Magazine No.563, available from shops on Thursday 1st April (no joke!). 

Panini UK have just released the cover image. The mag features their first interview with Christopher Eccleston in 16 years! Definitely a collectors' item!


 

DWM Website:

https://doctorwhomagazine.com/

++++++++++++

Sunday, 28 March 2021

The77 No.5, - now live on Kickstarter


Here's a sneak peek at the opening panel for my next Sgt.Shouty page, snapped from the original unfinished artwork currently in progress on my drawing board, showing the series villain Doctor Plank up to no good! 

It's the latest chapter of the Sgt.Shouty saga that I'm doing for The77 No.5 and the Kickstarter for that issue has just gone live! 

You can find out how to pledge towards it and what rewards are on offer at their Kickstarter page at this link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the77comic/the77-comic-issue-5

The77 has been a great success since its launch last year. An anthology publication featuring new creators alongside established pros, it was voted the UK's Best Independent Comic by ComicScene in 2020. 

Whether you're a regular reader or new to the comic I hope you'll give The77 your support! Here's the amazing cover for issue 5 by Neil Sims...

 

 

Thursday, 25 March 2021

"Funny as all heck"


My thanks to Richard Bruton over at the Comicon.com website for giving Barmy Comix a glowing review! You can read what he says here:

http://www.comicon.com/2021/03/23/webcomic-weekly-lew-stringers-barmy-comix

...and my thanks if you do download Barmy Comix No.1 and send a donation via PayPal at lew.stringer@BTopenworld.com

While you're over at Comicon.com, check out the other articles too. It's a great website!  

 
 

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Pete and his Pimple on Geek Grotto!


The online radio show Geek Grotto featured one of my old characters the other day when the host Aron Smith talked about Pete and his Pimple, one of the regular strips I did for Oink! comic back in the late 1980s! 

You can have a listen to it at the following link. The segment about Pete and his Pimple begins at the 35.45 mark and runs to 42.24 but listen to the whole show if you have time. It's great! 

https://www.mixcloud.com/bruthavoodoo/geek-grotto-episode-47


 ********************************************

 

History of Comics!

I'm pleased to say that I'll be writing an article for an upcoming issue of the Comicscene History of Comics

As you may recall, Comic Scene was a newsstand magazine of comics news and views that was published a few years ago and I wrote some articles for it then. In recent times it's been relaunched as a partwork, with each bookazine focusing on a particular year. The ambitious project plans to run for 100 issues, covering 100 years of comics from 1930 to 2030. The first four bookazines covered the years 1950, 1977, 1984 and 1986. The next four cover the years 1971, 1976, 1991, and 2020.

Four issues are already available, with the next four currently being funded on Kickstarter. I'll be writing a feature for the 1971 edition if the project reaches its Kickstarter target. 

You can pledge to fund the next four issues at the following link that gives you all the details:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/comicscene/comicscene-history-of-comics-books-5-to-8


Thursday, 18 March 2021

It'll soon be Christmas!

The cover to The Dandy Annual 2022 has been revealed on Amazon. It's by Steve Bright and features Desperate Dan along with a bunch of classic Dandy characters. Although most readers have annuals for Christmas presents, the books are actually published in July/August, giving them plenty of shelf life and therefore higher potential sales.

Here's Steve Bright's cover...

I've written/drawn four full page Keyhole Kate strips for this annual, and have also illustrated a puzzle page featuring the character. There's a new preview panel at the top of this post but I won't show any more now until it's published. 

Hopefully D.C. Thomson will reveal the cover of The Dandy Summer Special soon too!


Tuesday, 16 March 2021

BARMY COMIX is still available


Eleven months ago I created Barmy Comix No.1 as a 32 page digital download PDF to give readers something to read during the first lockdown. Well, we're still in lockdown and Barmy Comix is still available! 

It's free to download but if you can afford it I'd appreciate a donation of £2 via PayPal paid to me at lew.stringer@BTopenworld.com 

What's in Barmy Comix? It's a full sized comic as a PDF, featuring a selection of my creator-owned heroes Combat Colin, Brickman, Derek the Troll, and Pedantic Stan The Comics Fan! PLUS a nine-page preview of Combat Colin No.5

You can download it to your device from this link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1y5IH2SDBlpxbws_nqsndaLkZAgh1inzQ/view 

More info:

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

I'm considering doing Barmy Comix No.2 this Spring, when I get the chance to scan some pages. Watch this space!

A few of the pages from Barmy Comix No.1.

*************************************


Monday, 15 March 2021

Stuff to do


I've a few things on the drawing board but nothing I can show you just yet, so here's a quick drawing I did a while back while practicing with Kurecolor pens. I've been colouring digitally for 20 years so I'm out of practice with traditional methods but I'd like to relearn those too in case anyone wants a colour commission. (No, I'm not doing private commissions at present.)

Must admit I prefer colouring digitally far, far more than traditional methods so it's going to be a while before I feel comfortable using these pens. Even then, it'll only be for private commissions because professional comics are simply not going to go back to the old methods, and nor should they. No doubt someone will now tell me of various comics that are definitely still coloured by hand. What do I know? :-)

In case you were wondering, no, the guy in the sketch isn't part of anything I'm working on. Just a random drawing.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Mothers Day


It's been nearly 8 years since my mum died and I think of her every day, so I felt it only right that I should post a tribute to her again on my blog for Mothers Day.

My Mam was always supportive of my dreams to become a cartoonist. She stitched together the comics I made as a child (we didn't have a stapler), she believed in me when I quit my job to pursue my ambition, and she was the first person I rang to tell her the news that I'd sold my first cartoon.

Without her belief in me I would have given up not only my ambitions but perhaps in life itself during some dark times as a teenager. She had hard times herself, and a lot of sadness in her life, but she kept going, always being kind and never selfish. We had a lot of laughs too, I should add. She was my best friend.

If you're fortunate to still have your mothers I hope you get time with them today, or at least the opportunity to call them. My best wishes to you all.


Saturday, 13 March 2021

Comic Influences: British Marvel

1967, wearing my free Iron Man transfer on my T-shirt.
1967, wearing my free Iron Man transfer on my T-shirt.

It's highly likely I wouldn't be in this business if not for Marvel reprints in British comics. Let me explain; my favourite comic when I was a child was Smash! in its original incarnation published by Odhams. The mixture of wildly reckless funnies such as Bad Penny and The Nervs and bizarre adventures such as The Legend Testers and Moon Madness was enough to hook me, but what really kept me coming back week after week was following the saga of The Incredible Hulk which started in issue 16 in May 1966. That first story (actually reprinting Hulk No.2, not issue 1) drawn by Jack Kirby and inked by Steve Ditko was creepy, menacing, and unmissable! 

I didn't know it was an American reprint at the time. My 7 year old self wouldn't know about American comics for another year, but I knew I liked the Hulk! I also liked the Fantastic Four that another favourite comic, Wham!, started reprinting a few weeks later. I was becoming a Marvelite without even realising it. 

(Smash! also reprinted the Batman newspaper strip, which was OK, but DC didn't have that Marvel magic.) 

Pow!, Fantastic, and Terrific followed in 1967, all reprinting various Marvel strips. A school friend told me they were American reprints and gave me a stack of Marvel comics. That blew my mind! American comics? Comics actually from America? And my corner shop sold them! It all seemed so exotic in those days long before comic shops. A life changing moment as I started buying any Marvels I could afford. Inspired by these exciting superhero comics I began to create my own comics, just for the amusement of myself and my immediate family...

The Odhams comics were sadly short-lived and all gone by early 1969, but then came Marvel UK in 1972, kicking off with The Mighty World of Marvel. Another must-have comic, as were all the Marvel UK titles that followed during my teen years. 

Here's the thing; if it wasn't for Marvel UK (and American imports) keeping my interest in comics alive I think I'd have dropped comics altogether when I left school, like most kids did. By 16 I'd given up buying most British comics such as Dandy, Whoopee! and Valiant because I'd simply grown out of them. Marvel (and DC, and Atlas etc by then) seemed more mature, so I carried on buying those. 

One week, around 1975, the Marvel UK comics carried an advert for fanzines. I was already a subscriber to FOOM but I had no idea there were also fanzines produced in the UK. I sent away for them and received a few including Comic Media published by Nick Landau (now a publisher of Titan Comics). The 'zine carried adverts for comic shops in London. Actual shops that sold nothing but comics! This was something I'd actually dreamed about when I was a little kid! 

Well, a trip to London a year later and a visit to Dark They Were And Golden Eyed and I came away with a bagfull of new comics and fanzines, and here's a photo of me on that very warm summers day in 1976...

Discovering comics fandom was another turning point. I began to contribute to 'zines and also produced my own. It re-ignited my childhood ambition to work in comics and I quit my boring office job in 1980 to pursue it. I started buying traditional British comics again but this time I was studying them with a professional eye. Well, it took four years of rejections, and I was about to give up, but then good friend Alan Moore introduced me to Bernie Jaye, his editor on The Daredevils. Another life-changing moment when Bernie accepted my What If cartoons. Here's my first professional sale from 38 years ago that appeared in The Daredevils No.7, July 1983...

That led to lots more work for Marvel UK on titles such as The Spider-Man Comic and eventually creating Combat Colin for Action Force and The Transformers. I also started getting work from other publishers such as IPC, Fleetway, Viz, DC Thomson, Panini, and it continues to this day I'm glad to say with The Daft Dimension in Doctor Who Magazine

Now I know some collectors of British comics deplore American reprints, but I have to say that comics like Smash!, Fantastic, and The Mighty World of Marvel not only kept my interest in comics alive but also nurtured it. I owe my career to them!

Bringing things up to date, and to give a plug to my friends at Panini, you probably know that there haven't been any British Marvels for 12 months because of the pandemic and lockdowns. It felt strange to have a break in that long tradition and see no UK Marvels on the shelves of WH Smith but the good news is they're coming back! Not the titles that were published before, but a whole new line of reprints in great value-for-money formats. 

Here's the Press Release and covers... 

NEW TITLES! Amazing Spider-Man launches on 25th March priced at only £2.99 48 pages every 4 weeks Running two stories every issue, continuing with Nick Spencer's run, on the HUNTED story arc.

Marvel Universe X-Men launches on 15th April £7.99 for 112 pages every 4 weeks Ushering in Jonathan Hickman's incredible Dawn of X story arcs, and kicking off with House of X and Powers of X, we'll run through all the supercool tie-ins (Marauders, Hellions etc), presenting the stories in the intended reading order, as we arrive at X of Swords and beyond.

(DC) Batman Guardian of the Night launches on the 6th May £2.99 for 48 pages every 4 weeks Launching with James Tynion's Batman run and ably backed-up by Brian Michael Bendis' Batman Universe.

Marvel Essentials launches on the 27th May £7.99 for 112 pages every 4 weeks Featuring Dan Slott and Al Ewing's epic Avengers/Fantastic Four EMPYRE storyline, and Donny Cates’ VENOM story arcs, this is the title where the big events and crossovers will feature (unless it's X-Men). There will also be the odd surprise from the editors, given the wealth of great material coming from Marvel right now! New titles available from supermarkets, newsagents and online at:

https://store.panini.co.uk/magazines-comics 

They've also been publishing a few specials recently, with Falcon and Winter Soldier being the latest, which came out yesterday.

My story of how important Marvel reprints were in guiding my career path isn't unique. Speak to many artists, writers, letterers in the UK and they'll tell you similar stories. Who's to say that the new comics from Panini won't also have the same impact with some young kids out there and set them on a course in the comics industry of the future? To all those future creators, I say good luck and best wishes! It'll be an exciting journey! 

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Job Done... or rather JAB Done, eh readers?


I had my first vaccine earlier today to help keep the coronavirus at bay. At my local Odeon cinema no less! (Well, it's not being used to show films obviously so the large foyer makes an ideal vaccination hub.) 

All very efficient and friendly. Didn't have to queue as there was only me and a couple of others there at the time I booked. Didn't even feel the jab. No side effects so far apart from feeling quite hyperactive and better than I've felt in ages, although I hear it's the next day when it kicks in but hopefully any drowsiness or fever will be short lived. 

Get your vaccines when they're available for you, folks. It's the only way out of this nightmare. It's not a cure and we still need to follow social distancing but it should help!

Thank you NHS! 

UPDATE: Well after the initial "high" I had the shivers on Wednesday night, followed by a day of exhaustion and nausea. After 18 hours in bed I feel a lot better today. I'm still glad I had the jab as it's better than getting Covid, but what I will say is be prepared in case it knocks you about for 36 hours. 

 


Monday, 8 March 2021

Pathetic Sharks at UKCAC '91

How times fly. Thirty years ago I was the regular artist (and often writer) on The Pathetic Sharks strip for Viz. I took over after editor Chris Donald decided to scale back his work on the comic and I wrote/drew various strips for Viz for many years.

I was a regular guest at the United Kingdom Comic Art Conventions (UKCAC) in London back then too, and every year guests would be asked to draw a page for the convention booklet. The original art was then auctioned off for charity on the last day of the con. 

Here's the page I did in 1991 featuring the Pathetic Sharks for the UKCAC '91 Convention Book. I had to run the page past Viz for approval of course, as they own the characters. Chris Donald added the joke about Denis Gifford. 

 

Sunday, 7 March 2021

What a Carry On! (2008)


Back in June 2008 I was commissioned to illustrate a First Day Cover for the Carry On and Hammer Horror theme of British stamps. The stamp issue was available for collectors from Phil Stamp Covers, - a company run by Steve Oliver. Steve's cousin was fellow Buster artist/writer the marvellous Jack Oliver (J Edward Oliver), who contributed First Day Covers himself until his untimely death. 

As I was one of several guest artists, the commission was a one-off but it was a fascinating and enjoyable job to draw. I supplied the black and white art and Steve Oliver coloured it. 

I'm not sure if the company is still running as its website seems to be deleted but you can see some of the other artwork at this site, which shows some pieces that Jack Oliver drew:

https://www.covercollecting.com/official-covers/phil-stamp-covers.html 

 

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

It's Specky Hector!


I recently drew this A4 illustration of Specky Hector, Comics Collector as part of an online auction for the War Child charity to raise money for children affected by war. I'm pleased to say it raised £105. Thanks to Paul Trimble for organising the auction on the Battle Fans Facebook page.

In case the character isn't familiar, I created Specky Hector as an ocassional character for Oink! comic back in the late 1980s. He also appeared sometimes in Buster in the 1990s. More recently, I did a colourised version of one of his strips for the Battle Special last year.

Specky Hector is ©Rebellion Publishing IP Ltd.

The Battle Fans Facebook page is dedicated to Battle Picture Weekly comic and can be found at this link:

https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/214938289570825/
 

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Daft Preview!

 

There's another issue of Doctor Who Magazine out this Thursday. Loads of features by the top writers on the subject, exclusive interviews, reviews, news, the regular Doctor Who strip (and isn't Scott Gray doing a great job there?) plus another Daft Dimension strip by me (small section of it shown above). 

All in the official Doctor Who Magazine No.562, 84 pages. On sale Thursday 4th March and available from WH Smiths, supermarkets, and some newsagents. Here's the incredible cover to look out for...

It really is a privilege to contribute to DWM every month. Fifty years ago I was reading the Doctor Who strip in Countdown comic, which re-ignited my interest in the TV series. (I'd stopped watching it for a while.) It's a pleasure to draw strips for the current home of the Doctor!  

Website for Doctor Who Magazine:

https://doctorwhomagazine.com/ 

*******************************************

 

Random sketches

A few random sketches drawn ten years ago with no planning. I should do more things like this really. What do you think?

*******************************


Monday, 1 March 2021

On my desk in 2007

Not much I can report today as I'm working on stuff that won't be released yet but here's an old photo I found on a memory stick whilst looking for something else. It's a photo of my drawing board from 1st May 2007 when I was part way through drawing a Team Toxic strip for Toxic No.95. 

Back then, as you can see, I was inking with a dip-nib. I've tried various tools for inking over the years. Throughout the 1980s/90s I was mainly using Rotring pens. I used dip-nibs for a few years, then UniPin fineliners, and in more recent years a mixture of Japanese brush pens and UniPin pens. 

Why change? Well, sometimes it depends on how the pens cope with the drawing surface. The type of Bristol Board I used in the 80s/90s became obsolete and the type I had to switch to wasn't so suitable for Rotrings. With dip-pens, I got a bit tired of them splattering, and was also aware my lines were not delicate enough where I needed them to be. 

At the moment, the brush pens and UniPin pens seem to suit me OK, but who knows? I might find a pen that I like better soon and switch to that. You never know. 

A lot of colleagues draw digitally now, and the results look pretty good, if a bit too clinical from some artists. I've dabbled with drawing on an iPad but wasn't keen on it. I've never used a Cintiq and they're way out of my price range anyway. I'll stick to what I feel comfortable with for now and just use technology (Photoshop) for colouring. 

Saturday, 27 February 2021

A Macc-Pow Memory

My thanks to Kevin Lyons for this photo he took of me back in 2019 at the Macc-Pow! event in Macclesfield. I was sketching on a blank Doctor Who cover at the time. The event was superbly run by Marc Jackson and his wife Jane. You can read more about it at this old post of mine here:

https://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/2019/06/marvellous-macc-pow.html

I attended various comic conventions all over the UK (and Norway) for exactly 40 years! I miss them and the friends I knew there but the shows will return when it's safe to do so.  

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Facing the Future

Brickman from ELEPHANTMEN comic, 2007.

The solitude of this pandemic certainly gives us time to ponder the world and our place in it. The comics industry is completely different to how it was back in 1983 when I started out. Back then there were still plenty of comics on the newsstand from IPC, and D.C. Thomson. Even Marvel UK, who gave me my first break,  were producing home grown strips. 

There are far less periodical comics now but the graphic novel market has grown. This has meant a shift from weekly strips that were owned by the publishers to stand alone books where the creators retain the rights. Just like "proper" books, with proper contracts and royalties! Sounds great! However, this also means that a different approach is needed to break into that market.

Time was when you'd send off a few pages to a comics publisher and if they liked your style they'd either assign you to take over an existing strip or they'd provide a script for a new character they'd come up with. In my case I usually wrote my own material and created my own characters, so I came up with Tom Thug and Pete and his Pimple for example. Once you were commissioned you'd be sure of a long run for the strip for the next few years at least for whatever set page rate they provided. Other than an occasional tweak to the scripts, the editors would let you get on with it. It was good, steady work and a reliable income.

These days, a freelancer may have to learn how to pitch an entire graphic novel, and negotiate a deal. It's no longer enough to be a creator. You now have to be a sales person as well, pitching a convincing story like a modern day Don Draper from Mad Men. 

I must admit the new world that cartoonists now find themselves in is still a learning curve for me. Many artists now do workshops too. I admire anyone who can do that but it's just not me I'm afraid. I've always been happy to meet readers and fellow creators and do panel discussions at cons, but standing up in front of a classroom and doing a workshop isn't something I'm comfortable with. Most of us in comics tended to be a bit introverted. Now we're expected to be performers. It's a different mindset. 

Thankfully there are still a few comics around to contribute to although making a living that way is getting harder and more competitive. I've never been a competitive person. One of the things I liked about comics was that there used to be plenty of work around and it'd be evenly distributed to contributors. Now there are less comics and more and more new creators coming in each year, meaning less work for all. Not that I begrudge any of the creators of course. We were all newcomers once and that's how it goes. 

In four years time I'll be eligible for state pension. Will I carry on working? Of course! I love creating comics. It's part of who I am. Also, it won't be easy just living off a state pension, assuming it even still exists in 2025, so I can't afford to retire. As long as some publishers want to employ me, I'll keep going, health permitting. 

This has been quite a ramble at 2.45 in the morning. The pandemic has taken its toll over the last year but I'm off to bed soon to hopefully start afresh tomorrow. I currently have enough work on until the end of March, so that's something to be grateful for. Hopefully there'll be more work to come. As with the pandemic all we can do is take one day at a time and keep going. 


Saturday, 20 February 2021

The DARK NEWT (Dandy, 2012)

It was an honour to become an artist on The Dandy in its final years. The Dandy had been the first comic I had regularly (back in 1964) so it was a personal thrill to be part of the comic's long history. 

The strips I did regularly for The Dandy were Postman Prat and Kid Cops, which ran on and off from 2010 to 2012. (Postman Prat still appears in The Dandy Annual from time to time.) Those characters had been created by the Dandy staff but in 2012 I had the opportunity to create a character myself. The Dark Newt was the result.

This six part series saw Bruce Newt become a superhero to fight crime... in the local pond. In this chapter I've selected, he decides he needs a secret base. Hope you like it!

You can see another chapter at this post of mine from a few years ago:

https://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-dark-newt.html


A few thoughts

The above photo of me and a Dalek was taken at the Brighton Comics Expo in November 2005. Tom Spilsbury of Doctor Who Magazine is in the background, voicing the Dalek to say "Cheeeese!" for the camera.

Today, comic cons are still on hold of course so that means the comics community is still fractured. Many of us keep in touch online though, through social media, video calls, and even the old fashioned phonecall. 

Conventions will start to resume when it's safe to do so. There are no firm plans at the moment, and personally I feel that until more people have been vaccinated and the infection rate is much lower than it is right now, then I won't be going anywhere. I'm confident that convention organisers will try all they can to make the venues safe but the whole layout of events will have to be changed. Social distancing between guests and also between visitors... frankly it doesn't sound like it'd be a lot of fun until we're all vaccinated and the infection/death figures are way down.

Before the pandemic I'd enjoy travelling all over the country by train to various events and staying in numerous hotels. How sanitised will trains and hotel rooms be in the future? Even getting to an event will need careful consideration.

I know some people see that as "living in fear". I choose to see it as living responsibly and trying to survive. I miss my friends very much but holding fire for another year is better than losing them forever. With over two million people dead from Covid we can't rush back into any form of normality yet. 

We'll get there, but let's take it steady. Be safe and take care. 


Thursday, 18 February 2021

Fred Frankenstein's Folly (1993)

As I mentioned here last week, Rebellion are publishing an brand new Monster Fun Halloween Spooktacular in September and I'm very happy to be one of the contributors. It isn't the first time I've contributed to Monster Fun. Although the original weekly comic had ended before I worked in comics I did contribute to the combined Buster and Monster Fun Holiday Specials during the 1990s. 

Here's one of the pages I did for the Buster and Monster Fun Holiday Special 1993. I was a regular contributor for Buster with Tom Thug and The Vampire Brats and they'd appear in the specials as well but Fred Frankenstein's Folly was a one-off strip that I created. I thought I'd experiment with the art, and decided to use coloured outlines in places instead of the usual black. The result? Well... frankly it didn't turn out too well and it would have looked far better if I'd stuck to using black lines. It wasn't an experiment I'd repeat, - a bit like Fred's own experiment!  

It works a little better if it's desaturated, but it's still not what I was aiming for...

I guess the page turned out to be my folly, but you live and learn. I'm still pleased with the script though, and happy that I got to do a twist-in-the-tale horror comic story! I think the punchline still stands up 28 years later so I hope you like it!


Tuesday, 16 February 2021

The Prisoner (2006)

Being an admirer of the classic 1967 TV series The Prisoner I've referenced the show a few times in my strips over the years. I've also provided artwork for charity auctions held by Prisoner fans. One such instance was 15 years ago at the event PM2006, held at Portmeiron, North Wales, where most of the outdoor locations for The Prisoner had been filmed.

Back in 2006, as you may recall, there were rumours and speculations about a new Prisoner TV series, and who might be cast in the role of Number Six, so I thought I'd do a cartoon about that. In the end, as we now know, the series didn't appear until 2009 and it wasn't a patch on the original. 

Anyway, I enjoyed drawing this cartoon and it was amongst the items auctioned off to raise money for the Ty Golbaith Children's Hospice. You can read all about the event at The Unmutual website here:

https://www.theunmutual.co.uk/pm2006.htm



Monday, 15 February 2021

When Pigs Fly! (2013)

A few years ago The Beano kept me busy not only with strips but also the occasional activity page. Here's one I did in 2013 called When Pigs Fly! I was really pleased with this one because not only did it give me another opportunity to draw Dennis the Menace it was also totally daft, - and we all know the daftest comics make the best comics! 


Saturday, 13 February 2021

Remembering THE STEEL CLAW


I was interviewed recently (along with others) by Karl Stock for the Judge Dredd Megazine about my recollections of reading The Steel Claw strip when I was a kid. They call me a "comics expert" but I wouldn't go that far. Issue 429 will be out this coming Wednesday.

...and if you enjoyed The Steel Claw or you'd like to check it out, I thoroughly recommend the first volume that Rebellion have just published. The restoration team have done an incredible job considering they had to scan the art from comics that are nearly 60 years old and were originally printed on cheap newsprint! Order your copy from this link:

https://treasuryofbritishcomics.com/catalogue/RCA-B0105

 

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

WIZ WAR is back!

 I'm pleased that I can now reveal the mystery strip I mentioned a while ago. I've drawn a new two page Wiz War story written by Kek-W and it'll appear in the Monster Fun Halloween Spooktacular in October! 

Yes, Rebellion are reviving Monster Fun comic as one of the 52 page specials this year. Although the original Monster Fun Comic was around before my time as a cartoonist, I did contribute to the Buster and Monster Fun Holiday Specials back in the 1990s so it's great to be back in this all new special! 

If you're unfamiliar with Wiz War, the original series began in Pow! in 1968 and then moved over to Smash! when the two comics merged later that year. It's the story of two feuding sorcerers, Wizard Prang and Demon Druid, and was originally drawn by Mike Brown (inking Leo Baxendale's pencils on some episodes I suspect, as they did work like that on some other strips). 

Writer Kek-W, best known for his work on 2000AD, and I pitched the idea for the Wiz War revival to editor Keith Richardson last year, hoping it might be in the new Smash! Special. However, as the new Smash! contained solely fantasy heroes it wouldn't really be a good fit. I'm pleased that it'll be in Monster Fun though. A much more suitable home.

There's one panel from our new strip above. In the original strip, Wiz War was usually in black and white inside the comic, and Demon Druid had a black robe and hat. I felt that was too dreary for a full colour strip so I gave him a dark blue outfit instead. Not just any blue though! Trivia Time: Pow! never used black ink on its covers, using dark blue instead, and that's the colour I've tried to emulate for Druid's outfit.

I'm really excited to see how the Monster Fun Halloween Spooktacular turns out. Kids love monsters, especially funny ones! So I hope the comic does well. Like any other business, publishing is full of uncertainties in these troubling times, so Rebellion are publishing less specials than they did last year. I'm grateful to be in one of them! You can read more about it, and the other two upcoming specials from Rebellion, at their website at this link:

https://2000ad.com/news/rebellion-announces-comic-book-specials-for-2021