Monday, 31 May 2021
Saturday, 29 May 2021
Friday, 28 May 2021
What's the next best thing to going to a comic con? Letting the show come to you! The much-missed Macc-Pow! event will be online again this year so you can see us yakking about comics in the comfort of your own home. As ever it'll be hosted by Marc Jackson who as well as being a brilliant cartoonist is an enthusiastic champion of the comics industry. Tune in to see us at the dates and times shown above!
Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Here's a tiny preview of part of a panel from my next Daft Dimension strip. You can see the full mini-strip in Doctor Who Magazine on Thursday 27th May when it arrives in the shops.
Here's the cover to look out for...
I'm currently scripting the next strip, and deadline for the finished art will be any day now so I'd better get cracking!
Monday, 24 May 2021
|Artwork I did for the Beano a few years ago.|
According to The Sunday Post the Beano is changing the name of Fatty (from the Bash Street Kids) to Freddy. It's no big deal, and doesn't affect the stories at all, but hopefully it will avoid readers from considering "fatty" as a justified insult to use against their classmates.
However... the news has caused an uproar on some comics groups and forums. Middle aged men complaining that it's "another nail in the coffin of our childhood" and "our childhood stuff is being destroyed by the snowflake generation". (Actual quotes.) The Daily Express website blamed "Woke Britain" as though being considerate was a crime. These angry guys usually reveal that they stopped reading the Beano decades ago, but somehow they're now personally offended by changes to a children's comic as if it's any of their business.
Of course, the changes haven't destroyed their childhoods. The present can't alter the past. Their old Beano collections haven't been rewritten, and they can still collect back issues they've never seen to experience stories the way they like them.
It comes down to fear of change, and I suppose they feel lost in a changing world, but society has never remained static. There are certainly more important things for adults to get angry about than a name change to a character in a kids comic. Meanwhile, thousands of children still enjoy the Beano every week and long may they do so.
Link to the Sunday Post article:
Article on Down the Tubes:
Saturday, 22 May 2021
|The villainous DOCTOR PLANK has a visit from the Moon Police.|
The77 No.5 is out now so I thought I'd give it another plug! It's always good to see the print copy of this comic as the paper stock is really nice. They use a matt stock for the interior pages which I prefer far more than glossy stock that reflects the light.
As mentioned before, this issue contains another Sgt.SHOUTY page by me, along with loads of other strips by Mike Collins, Paul Goodenough, Steve Bull, Ade Hughes, Bambos Georgiou, Andrew Sayers, Jo Heeley, Rupert Lewis-Jones and many more. It's a nice package of talents from newcomers to established professionals.
You can order issue No.5 and any back issues from GetMyComics at this link:
Thursday, 20 May 2021
A while back I drew a mini-strip called Bad Pets (written by the Beano's brilliant Nigel Auchterlounie) for the new ANIMAL PLANET magazine, and it's in print today in issue No.4.
Our contribution is just a one off so far but I really hope there'll be more in the future as it was fun to do. Animal Planet is a great kids' mag, themed around (you guessed it) animals and the environment. In shops now. A bargain at 64 pages for £3.99.
Wednesday, 19 May 2021
The fifth issue of the anthology comic The77 is out this week where you'll find the next exclusive chapter of Sgt.SHOUTY of The Moon Force!
Will evil Dr.Plank's scheme to manipulate Shouty succeed? Find out inside!
My strip takes up one page but there are tons of other stories packing out this 64 page issue. Two of the highlights are Extinction 2040 by Paul Goodenough and Ian Stopforth and "I know the Secret of the Alien" by Mike Powell and Mike Collins.
The front cover always features a name at the top as a nod to the days when newsagents would write the customer's names on comics they had reserved. This time it's a tribute to the well known and well respected collector Colin Noble, who sadly passed away recently.
The77 is one of the best indie comics around. A quality looking publication featuring emerging new talent alongside some of us who have been in the business for decades, so it's a nice mixture! All creator-owned material too! There's nothing quite like it out there so please give it your support.
You can order The77 No.5 from their Big Cartel page here:
|Brilliant cover art by Neil Sims.|
Monday, 17 May 2021
Like most of us who followed our passion, I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. Just random drawings at first, but then in late 1966 I felt inspired to fold the paper in half to make a four page comic. The first one was simply called 'The News' and I threw that away long ago but then I started doing a comic called WUFF! in early 1967.
Initially it featured short strips about family pets, neighbours pets, or my grandad (who was my hero), then later I'd create my own characters. Over the years it grew from 4 to 12 pages as I worked my way through dozens of Silvine drawing pads. VERY crudely drawn as you can see, because it was stream of consciousness stuff rather than having any forethought or study behind it. I had a *lot* to learn!
I did 111 issues of Wuff! and a few other comics from 1967 to 1974 then gave up for a few years, discouraged by thinking it was an impossible goal to ever become a real cartoonist. Then, discovering fanzines in 1976 reignited my ambitions and it was a long slog before selling my first cartoon in 1983 but it turned out OK I suppose. Follow your dreams, folks!
When I was doing my comics as a kid I only showed them to my parents (mostly to my mum) but here's a sampling of some covers from 1967 to 1973 done between the ages of 7 to 14. Yep, I know many others did far better and more accomplished drawings when they were that age but here we go anyway...
WUFF! No.1 Early 1967.
|WUFF! No.40 (1969).|
|WUFF! No.71 (late 1970).|
|WUFF! No.82 (1971).|
|WUFF! No.93 (1972).|
|Back page of WUFF! No.93. Yes, Rockman was based on Darkseid!|
|SUPER-HERO ACTION No.3 (1973). Such hyperbole! :D|
For more of my scribbles, er, early work, see this post:
Sunday, 16 May 2021
I had some good news on Friday in that I've been commissioned to be one of the contributors to the Dandy and Beano Annuals cover dated 2023! Those books will be out in August 2022 but we'll be drawing them this summer.
Usually, on weekly comics, we work about eight weeks ahead, but on annuals we work a year ahead! The reason? I'm not entirely sure but I think it's down to print schedules needing to be further ahead for books.
I'll tell you what I'm doing for the 2023 Annuals at a later date but in the meantime, there's The Dandy Annual 2022 to look forward to, which will be out this August. I wrote/drew four Keyhole Kate pages for that, plus a puzzle page, and you can pre-order it directly from the publisher at the DC Thomson Shop here:
Thursday, 13 May 2021
Everyone knows that summer really begins when the comic Summer Specials arrive! Well, although summer isn't scheduled until 21st June, this year's Dandy Summer Special just landed on my doormat so get the suncream and deckchairs out and soak up those rays! (Ah, it's just started to rain.)
I'm very pleased to have been involved with this, drawing a new half page illustration for the comic. There are four other half page illos by other artists, Laura Howell, Nigel Parkinson, Nic Brennan, and Wayne Thompson. The rest of the 68 page package is comprised of classic seaside Dandy reprints plus a very funny new 6 pager by Nigel Auchterlounie and Steve Bright. (Steve Bright also drew the covers.) Bearing in mind that the staff were all working remotely due to the pandemic they've done a great job. It should be in the shops soon, or you can order it directly from the publisher at this link:
It was a joy to be commissioned to put classic characters such as Bully Beef and Dirty Dick into the drawing. (Being ancient, I remember the day Bully Beef and Chips started in The Dandy back in 1967!) I hope I've done them justice.
Here's how my artwork looked at the pencil stage. Note the pile of 1960s Dandys used for reference...
...and here's how it looked at the inking stage...
After inking was completed, I scanned it into my iMac, cleaned it up and coloured it in Photoshop.
Although The Dandy weekly ended back in 2012 it's good to know the title still lives on as a Summer Special and all-new annual. Always keep a Dandy handy!
|Covers by Steve Bright.|
It'd be remiss of me not to mention that there's the Beano Summer Activity Special available too, with all new content and free stickers! I'm not in that one but there's a ton of new pages by Nigel Parkinson and others so check that out.
Wednesday, 12 May 2021
|Click to enlarge.|
When I was working for Toxic magazine I was often called on to draw activity pages in addition to my regular two page Team Toxic strip. These could range from spot illustrations to more complex spreads, the latter being the "I-Spy" features.
(Yep, this isn't the Sparky's I-Spy, although I did draw his final adventure as featured here:
The I-Spy features for Toxic were double page spreads where the readers had to find certain characters within a crowd scene. The one shown above featured a street party for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012. I was given a brief by the editor which mentioned some things I had to include but it also included stuff I'd come up with too.
The image above is my finished art but I thought you might be interested in seeing my rough sketch for it as well...
In case you're wondering about the empty areas at the left of the images, that is where the logos and suchlike would go. These spreads usually had to be turned around fairly quickly considering the work involved so I developed a simplified version of my usual style.
Here's another one I drew, which is also from 2012...
|Click to enlarge.|
These were enjoyable to draw and I miss them. Over time, budget cuts on Toxic meant that such fun features were dropped. Then more budget cuts led to all my work for Toxic being dropped, initially temporary in theory, but since the pandemic affected sales of magazines that became permanent. (Toxic now uses licenced strips such as Tiny Titans, presumably at far less cost than originating UK material.)
I had 16 years on Toxic which is the longest I've ever freelanced for one title. (Although my years on Viz must come close.) Still, onwards and upwards to whatever comes next!
Tuesday, 11 May 2021
Last week I signed a limited number of A3 prints featuring my Sgt.SHOUTY character and my renditions of other characters from The77 comic, the new indie anthology.
The image originally appeared as the wraparound variant cover to The77 No.4 but these prints are on heavier stock with a nice Soft Touch Laminate finish.
To purchase one, head over to The77 Comic online shop at the following link and they'll post it to you:
Friday, 7 May 2021
For this sunny Friday I thought you might like to see how the first page of the latest Combat Colin story looked when it was on my drawing board, partially done. This was taken on Thursday 22nd April at 9.30 at night. I finished this and the other two pages of the story the next day, scanned it into Photoshop, and coloured it over the weekend.
By the Monday (26th April) all three pages had been completed and was available to the public in Aces Weekly Vol.50 No.7...
That's one of the advantages of online comics. Print comics are drawn between at least four to eight weeks in advance due to the time it takes to print and distribute them, but digital comics can be online minutes after you've drawn them! In the case of Aces Weekly I sent the files to David Lloyd on Sunday evening and it was online the next day.
To read the rest of the story subscribe to Aces Weekly at the link below, and see it in Vol.50 issue 7...
Do you like or dislike digital comics? Have you read any of the new online Combat Colin stories? Post your opinions in the comments section below!
Monday, 3 May 2021
It was 35 years ago to this very day when Oink! No.1 arrived in newsagents! A preview issue of the comic had appeared a week earlier as a free gift in Buster, Whizzer and Chips, and Eagle, but today, 3rd May 1986, was when the first proper issue went on sale.
I distinctly remember buying a couple of issues from WH Smith that day. (IPC never gave us freebies.) It was an exciting time for me. I'd only been working professionally as a cartoonist for three years and being in an IPC comic for the first time felt like another step forward in my career. Even though I'd been freelancing for Marvel UK for a while, IPC had a long history going back to Fleetway, Odhams, and The Amalgamated Press, so this felt like I'd become part of the traditional timeline of UK comics.
My contribution of course was writing and drawing Tom Thug, the brainless bully. I've previously shown the very first Tom Thug strip that was in the Oink! Preview Issue in this post:
However, today I thought I'd show the Tom Thug story from Oink! No.1, that readers would have seen on this day in 1986. It's shown at the top of this post.
I'd been a big fan of the Odhams comics Wham!, Smash!, and Pow! as a boy and their style of irreverent, visually robust humour was the inspiration for my Oink! work.
I know people think that we were trying to imitate Viz but that couldn't be further from the truth. Most people hadn't even seen Viz in 1986 as it wasn't yet distributed to WH Smiths and suchlike. Editorially, the biggest influence on Oink! was Mad Magazine, and (for my part at least) the aforementioned Power Comics. Most of us were just doing our own thing, inspired by various sources, but mainly driven by a desire to create funny comics!
Oink! ran for 68 issues in total, before merging into the more traditionally tame Buster in 1988. I was fortunate to be one of the only two cartoonists to move over to Buster from Oink! (Mike Green being the other). Tom Thug became more of a standard school bully after the merger, but proved popular enough to survive in Buster for many years.
As I've stated before, Tom Thug was never an anti-hero. He was always depicted as the villain whose schemes would backfire on him. He was never a character to admire, but to laugh AT, not with. One of the few exceptions being the 'Culture Corner' mini-strip at the foot of the page above, where Tom seems to get away with his graffiti, but it's suggested that the trail of dripping paint will lead the policeman to him.
Working for Oink! comic was a happy time in my life and career. I wrote all my own material but I also wrote strips for others too. Many of us were new to the business and the editors allowed us to develop our skills and to experiment with layouts and storytelling styles. There really hasn't been a mainstream British comic like it since, and that's a shame. Happy anniversary, Oink!
On this special celebratory day be sure to check out these links too! Andy Luke runs a podcast and in the latest one he's chatting to Oink! historian Phil Boyce. You can listen to it at this link:
Phil runs the OiNK BLOG that all fans of the comic should be following! Every fortnight Phil will be reviewing each issue on the date it would have been published 35 years ago, plus he keeps people updated on the work of ex-Oink! contributors and suchlike. He does a good job of it and you'll find his blog at this link:
Sunday, 2 May 2021
I know that some of you like to see the progress of a drawing so I thought I'd show you this panel from last week's Combat Colin story for Aces Weekly. On the left is my original art at the stage it reaches in "traditional" form, ie: pencilled, lettered and inked onto Bristol Board.
On the right is the finished art after I've scanned it into Photoshop, cleaned it up, made corrections and digitally coloured it (and added the title block with a Comicraft font). As always, click/tap on the image to see it bigger.
You can read the full three page story exclusively online in Aces Weekly Vol.50 No.7 by subscribing at their website here: