Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bristol Comic Expo 2010

The last minute nature of my decision to attend this years Bristol show was (I'm sad to say) reflected in my complete unpreparedness for the event. So my check list for the weekend read something like this....Hotel booked right on the opposite side of bristol to the con?..check! Mobile phone/camera battery not charged up?.. check! No organised location to sign & sketch?..check! That'd be a full house then.

As a result of this, my dissection & debrief of the event, is somewhat lacking in images. After only a couple of clicks, my phone scoffed at me when I pleaded with it to take pics of the sketches I'd done. So here are all i have, plus a couple I stole or had sent to me.

The naked comic character sketches were done for Ivo, a collector from Belgium, who has this as his theme for the sketches he has done by me. The girl with the Spidey face background is Mary Jane, & the other one is Wonder Woman.

Bart, another Belgian, asked me for the Lord Vader sketch.

Wynn Ryder is currently collecting trading card size sketches of James Bond, which being a massive Bond fan I was happy to do, & Sam Gardner asked me to sketch his girlfriend Chloe as Star Saphire.... I embarrased myself, & displayed my complete lack of comics knowledge by asking.."What's a star saphire?", Sam's withering stare said it all.

Thanks to Wynn, Sam & Chloe for the pics.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The One That Got Away.....

Recently I was asked by a manufacturer of interactive museum displays to contribute to a pitch for a contract to produce new exhibit for a major museum, which would feature comicbook style artwork. The artwork once drawn, would be animated & viewers of the exhibit would be able interact directly with it, in some way I don't actually understand.... (technical luddite here!)

Anyway, for purposes of the pitch I was asked to provide a loose storyboard, to demonstrate my 'comicbook artists' eye. I was provided with a basic synopsis of a real life story, which I had to interpret as a 14 panel storyboard.

There wasn't a lot of time & absolutely no money, but I took a day out of my schedule, & drew up the storyboard. As you can probably tell, it tells a story of British soldiers in combat.

However, after sending in the artwork I was informed that due to a mix up in terminology that when they asked me to draw a storyboard, what they actually meant was a comicstrip. So at the eleventh hour I took the 14 panel storyboard, & rejigged the panels in to a three page comicstrip. You can see the result further down this post.

Sadly, the company's pitch was unsuccesful, & the contract went to a rival provider. In an ironic twist, this was the second time in recent weeks that I had been involved with projects relating to our armed forces abroad which fell at the final hurdle.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In A Change To The Advertised Programme.......

Due to a last minute change, I am now going to be attending this weekend's Bristol Comic Expo sorry for the short notice.
As I'm sure you know, usually at these affairs I'd be sat for a good while behind a table signing & sketching... however, I'm not sure if the organisers will be able to squeeze me in, & as a consequence I don't know if that's going to be possible this time. So if you want a sketch, grab me as you see me wandering aimlessly & lost & if it's possible to find a nice quiet corner of the bar..err, I mean convention hall, to sit down, I'm sure we can work something out.

In the meantime, here's an old Darth Vader sketch done with a double ended Sharpie. You can't buy this kinda entertainment!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spiderman Sketch

Here's a Spiderman sketch I just did for a collector in Poland.


Monday, May 10, 2010

R.I.P. Frank Frazetta.

As I type this, I have no doubt that anyone who follows a blog about a comicbook artist will already be aware of the news that the greatest fantasy artist of all time, has died today aged 82. However, I couldn't let his passing go unmentioned.

Frank Frazetta was a massive influence on me, just as he must have been on every other 'fantasy' artist of my generation, & probably of the previous generation too. At 16 I painted a copy of his 'The Destroyer' painting on my bedroom wall... I studied every single one of his paintings & drawings I could find, just in the hope that some of his genius might rub off on me. Of course, it didn't, but it didn't stop me looking.

You know what, I'm gonna stop talking.. Frank Frazetta was simply the greatest there ever was. That's it.. that's all there is.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

From The Archives.

I realise it's been a few days since I posted anything. But at the moment the only stuff on my drawing board is either Dracula, or covered in multiple layers of non disclosure agreements... as one client said to me when I asked if I could put some of the work I had done for them on here..

"you know Iran's nuclear program?"
"err.. yes..?"
"well, this is more secret than that!"

Taking that as a 'no' & while not wanting to let this blog fall back into a coma, here is some really old material... & when I say really old.. I mean it. We're talking High School here..

As I have often told whoever could be bothered to ask me, when I was still at school, the prospect of being a comicbook artist had never even occoured to me, that all seemed a world & an ocean away, done by guys who lived in America. Rather, I wanted to be the guy who painted the Iron Maiden/Motorhead/Rainbow/Whitesnake/Ted Nugent (etc, etc) record sleeves, so as such, when looking thru a sketchbook from my school days, I didn't find lots of drawings of Batman & Spiderman, rather it was lots of drawings of guys with guitars, or lead singers etc...

So in order here.. Rob Halford of Judas Priest, in the days when everyone was still pretending to not know he was gay, Ronnie James Dio of Rainbow & finally, Motorhead.... the band who, if they moved next door to you, your lawn would die.

While I was at 6th form college, I became an avid reader of 2000AD, & shortly afterwards WARRIOR magazine. It was reading these comics, combined with meeting a guy called John Watkiss, who now is a world famous anatomist & concept artist, but back then, he was fresh out of Brighton Poly, & had just landed some work with 2000AD, that made me realise you didn't have to be from New York to work in comics.
At that moment, in a surge of youthful single mindedness, all I could see was the desire to draw for the galaxy's greatest comic, so spent hours trying to hone my drawing ability & style to one which would be fit to be seen within those pages.
With these first three 'biker punk' pieces, it is easy to see the influence that the movie 'Mad Max 2' had on me. The post apocalyptic setting, & the 1982 17 yr olds assertion that nothing is quite as cool as a Kawasaki Z1000.

The brief meeting I had had with John Watkiss, had been enough to instill in me the need to learn human anatomy if I wanted to make comics my career. And although I still believe this, & looking back there is perceivable a growing understanding of anatomy, & a growing confidence in drawing it without the use of reference or models, it is clear that I gave little truck to the other neccesary disciplines... on some of these there is almost no suggestion that I gave any thought to backgrounds at all.

This 'Marvelman v Captain Britain strip is something I did just for fun back in 1983.

At the time it seemed an obvious coming together,they were the biggest two characters in British comics back then, & the were both being produced by the team of Alan Davis & Alan Moore, but at the same time given that the two were published by rival companies who were demonstrating no lack of animosity for eachother, it also seemed a meeting which would never take place. However, in recent times, what with Marvel's aquisition of 'The Big Blue Banana', we may yet get to see Britains best two superheroes slugging it out.

As you will be able to see from these pages, I always had a fondness for Rogue Trooper, so I'm sure you can imagine how thrilled I was to eventually get to draw him (in his original Nu Earth guise) some twenty years later.

Regarding these three Rogue pages, they were done at a time when I was heavily influenced by Dave Gibbons, & while doing them I was intentionally working within a 'WWDD' (what would Dave do) frame of mind.. but obviously without an ounce of his skill, so mostly I took very superficial things from his work. What is evident to me now, looking back at these pages, is how little regard I still gave to environment & location. Even given the future war battlefield setting of these pages, there is scant regard given to making the backgrounds believable.

This page was part of another sample strip I did in order to try to get work at 2000AD. Clearly I'm still being influenced by Rogue Trooper here, but it would seem that by this time, I had finally realised that there was more to drawing comics that just drawing people. The backgrounds, even thought they are bombed out ruins, do at least look as if I've given the notion if location some passing thought. The character represented here is basically a dead rip of Stallone's 'Rambo', & came out of a conversation in the pub with a friend, where we compared the 'Rambo 2' to Rogue Trooper. Hence this Rambo in a future war setting.. I even drew him with a faux AK47 assault rifle.

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