My other favourite Last American page

16 December 2014

The Last American was my first work after several years of being ill, and to say that I was lacking in confidence as I started the book would have been an understatement.
So my process on the first two books was to start by drawing the pencils on layout paper, and then to ink each panel onto its own piece of layout paper.
I would then assemble these panels on the reverse of a sheet of Arches 140lb Hotpress watercolour paper, using thin strips of masking tape to hold them in place. Then I would use a lightbox to do the ‘proper’ inks, and then colour the page with Pantone markers.
Just to add to the madness, the lightbox was six inches deep and a real pain to use.
But confidence was gradually returning, and when the time came to start book three I was feeling much better about myself and the work. And along the way I’d also discovered double sided tape (the artist’s friend), so was no longer too bothered about screwing something up – I could just do another panel/part panel and stick it on the page.
So I was finally able to drop all the lightbox nonsense and to start working directly on the board, like a normal person, and eventually came up with this page, still one of my favourite pieces of work (apart from the panel at bottom left).
All the inking was done with Staedtler Lumocolor Marker Pens, sizes Medium and Small.

MFLAP_01


Slightly jaundiced Eagle

15 December 2014

Here’s another picture I made for a fanzine interview, and jolly good it is, too!
I think the shoulder eagle has taken exception to all those dots and tiny circles I was drawing on everything at the time- and who could blame him?

SlightlyJaundicedEagle


The Kestrels Book One: Week One

11 December 2014

After several false starts I am finally in a position to draw all sixty four pages of this book without us ending up being evicted.
After a couple of read-throughs of the script (taking note of any sequences that I might struggle with), the first task is to create the page layouts. I did do the original layouts for this book several years ago, but I have decided to do them again as I have only vague recollections of my thought processes at the time.
Writer and creator Ben Dickson has written the script as a plot with dialogue (my preferred format), and has only indicated where he thinks a panel should be large or full page. So I now go through the script and break it down into pages, making special note of where the full page panels will fall, including the extra ones that I think are needed to emphasise important stages in the story.
There is a lot of toing and froing at this stage as I try to accomodate these full page panels as well as my preference for starting a new page when there is a change of scene – it’s a bit like squeezing a balloon, but finally I have it knocked into shape and it’s time to start breaking down the pages into panels.
Here’s the script for page one:

Script

As this is the first page, it is important that we get a good look at Ethan. Because they return later in the story, we must also get a good look at Ethan’s pursuers. And it is also important to choreograph the chase so that we can believe that Ethan can hide from the gang.
I work out how many panels are needed by drawing a line of boxes and doodling in each box in turn, getting a feel for the rhythm of the page:

BoxDoodles

While I’m doing this, at the back of my head I’m wondering where exactly is this happening, and I decide that the scene starts as Ethan emerges from an alley between some shops. He is then chased down the alley and emerges at the back of the shops. I’ve got him hiding behind some sort of recycling/rubbish bin, but I’m not really happy with this, it’s not so easy to show, so I decide that there are garages round the back of the shops and Ethan can duck into an open one that’s full of rubbish. So here are the final doodles:

BoxDoodlesFinal

So we have ten panels – Ethan bumps into the gang; Ethan runs down the alley; the gang pursue Ethan down the alley; running Ethan looks into the open garage; Ethan hides in the garage; the gang run past the garages; Ethan has a peek; Ethan peering out of the garage; Ethan looking relieved; Ethan back where he started.
Next up is laying out the page. I print out thumbnail templates for working out layouts, but I always have a quick doodle to see if I can find something that feels ‘right':

LayoutDoodles

This seems to fit the bill. I like the four panels at the bottom of the page, and I can have a juggle with the rest:

LayoutDoodlesFinal

And here’s the final layout. I’d forgotten about a close-up of the gang, so I’ve shoehorned it into the top tier:

PageOne

Only another sixty three to go…


Judge Minty Sketch

11 December 2014

Did this a while back.
I very rarely associate things I’ve drawn with a particular place, for some reason this always reminds me of when we were living in Haywards Heath. Ah, the Blue India…

Minty_sketch


Scan Test

9 December 2014

I’ve just been trying out my new scanner. Each of these heads is supposed to be a different setting – but I think they all look the same. Must be me…

Scan_Tests


ABC Warriors Book Two Cover

9 December 2014

Sometimes you do a piece of work and you feel like you’re finally getting somewhere, and this ABC Warriors cover from 1983 is one such piece.
It was drawn on watercolour board, inked with Edding 55 pens, and coloured with watercolour and gouache.
I was very happy with this when I drew it, and am still fond of it. I was especially pleased with the shadow on the little boy’s left arm, far and away my favourite bit of the picture. Obviously, being me, there are bits that I don’t like that much – the way the shape of little boy’s hair fits so neatly into Hammerstein’s right leg, or the clunky way I’ve drawn the foreground rocks – but, overall, one of my better efforts.

ABCB2


Dan Dare? Moi?

8 December 2014

Here’s (yet) more things I’d completely forgotten about, headshots of 2000AD characters drawn to accompany an interview in the old fanzine BEM.
Just in case you don’t recognise them (I was struggling a bit), they are, in order: Dan Dare, Stainless Steel Rat, Sam Slade, Johnny Alpha, a Harlem Hero, Blackhawk, and Mach Zero.

DanDare

StainlessSteelRat

SamSlade

JohnnyAlpha

HarlemHero

BlackHawk

Zero


Judge Dredd Annual 1982

8 December 2014

Happily for me, not so much for the readers perhaps, I was given the job of drawing the six full colour strips in the first two Judge Dredd annuals.
And I got to do the cover for the second one, seen here. It’s not great but it’s as good as I could do at the time, so I was happy with it (but what a strange decision to make that jetpack almost the same colour as the sky).
Any shortcomings in the artwork are certainly more than made up for by the bold design – the green background and classic Dredd logo work very well together.

JDAnnual1982


Zarjaz Cover

7 December 2014

I wasn’t happy with this picture while I was making it and time has not healed the wound.
I will admit to liking the general composition and the drawing/colouring of the dinosaur (apart from the teeth), but everything else just went to pot.
It was commissioned in the early eighties as a cover for the dummy first issue of a magazine which was to be called Zarjaz (what else?), but, as far as I know, the project didn’t get much further – hardly surprising, with this aberration stinking the place up.

Zarjaz


Eagle Comics 1984

5 December 2014

These were some of the last things I did before I missed several years through illness.
As well as being fun to do, it was an opportunity to ‘fix’ stuff that I felt I hadn’t done justice to in the original comics, particularly the Judge Cal serial. I was very happy with the cover for issue eleven, ‘firing on all cylinders’, as the saying goes (although the figure to the left of Dredd’s eagle is rather letting the side down).
I grabbed these images from The Grand Comics Database, an excellent comics resource.

EagleComics11

EagleComics12

EagleComics13


Why, Judge Dredd – what a small leg!

5 December 2014

Bok!

JCB3


Uncle Ump’s Umpty Candy

5 December 2014

I could have done a lot more with Uncle Ump, rather than relying on cliché, but at least I did salve my conscience a little with this cover. I’m still pleased with the Dredd figure, especially his sneer.
This was drawn on watercolour board with Edding 55 pens and coloured with gouache.
I used Edding 55 pens for quite a long time after I started inking with them during The Judge Child serial. I can’t be sure about when I stopped using them, it would most probably have been when I switched to the old Tombow fibre tip pens with the replaceable nibs with which I inked Sláine.
The Edding 55 wasn’t waterproof, which was okay for my scumbly attempts at colour work but wouldn’t do for black and white, so I used to fill them with India Ink. This was a particularly messy process, but was a relaxing way to pass an hour while still convincing myself that I was working.

UncleUmp'sUmptyCandy


Why, Judge Dredd – what a big head!

4 December 2014

Here’s a cover from 1984 that I was really pleased with at the time, especially the monochrome(ish) block maniacs.
I drew this with Edding 55 markers on tracing paper, stuck it down with cowgum onto illustration board, and went at it. Tracing paper is great for inking, but rubbish for colouring – what a mess!
First thing I did, as with most of my Titan Books covers, was to dollop water all over it with a sponge, which made the linework run. Then another sponging, but this time with some sort of neutral colour, in this case a greeny grey. Then out with the Eddings again, to tighten up the drawing. And finally, to placate the inner fascist, a brush full of gouache to bring order from chaos.
Almost sounds like I knew what I was doing.

BM_00