Monday 30 November 2009

Mother Of Pearl

This is page one of Mother of Pearl from Dinlos and Skilldos. You may have no idea what Dinlos and Skilldos is or may just be wondering why it takes me so long to get on with it. Here is my first ever blog post explaining. The only thing that has changed is my opinion of the term Graphic Novel which I can live with now. If you click on the label Dinlos below this post you can see the rest of the book so far.

I finished Merlin Book 5 on Friday and did this page on Saturday and Sunday night. The script was written about two years ago, and as with other Dinlos scripts it has been sat waiting for me to find the time draw it and/or stop procrastinating about how to approach the artwork. Each character in Dinlos has their own colour to help with switching between story threads. As I've mentioned before, the idea here is to use the structure of an old Fleetway annual like Whizzer and Chips as the structure for the novel.

I'd like to say the second page will be up soon, but I have six pages of wrestling Spartans, six pages of Galileo and some covers to do in December. I'll try and squeeze it in before xmas if I can.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Spinning plates

After a short interlude for a bout of swine flu I'm back to spinning plates. Mainly alternating between 3 jobs - Merlin, a weekly cartoon for Inside Soap magazine and working my way through a series of 7 comic strips I've written for Weldon Owen. As mentioned before I'm working on the Weldon Owen stuff with Geraint Ford and Faz Choudhury, both are doing some excellent work.

As if that wasn't distracting enough I've had an offer from a rather large publisher who want to develop the "How I Built My Father" strip into a series of books. May come to nothing, but all the same it's an exciting prospect.

Above and below are some examples of Merlin illustrations. Interesting job this, the intention is to mix comic strip and book illustration to make something that will excite 'junior readers', retain their interest and get them reading.
From a personal point of view it allows me to combine two of my great loves - the stark black and white book illustrations of the 50s and 60s (see my Mike Charlton post for an example of this) with comic strip mechanics and comics' use of blacks. Really enjoying this job, but it has to be done at breakneck speed.

Below is an example of my Soapbox cartoons for Inside Soap Magazine. This is a job that Roger Langridge did for many years. Given the readership, the editor didn't want anything too weird and it's very important that the characters are instantly recognisable, so I've kept to a fairly realistic style.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Cardinal and the Nun with two guns

The Nun With Two Guns was created by Warwick Johnson Cadwell. He has possibly the best illustration blog on the net, he's a very clever chap. Anyway, I was rather taken with his nun and thought I'd do a version of the Egon Schiele painting 'Cardinal and the nun' with the NWTG. Here's the real deal below.

Just noticed that I commented on WJC's blog at 21:25 and posted this at 23:45 which is an exact record of the time it took between having the idea and posting the final art.

Monday 9 November 2009

Matt Smith version 3

Had another go at the new Doc, think I'm getting there. Slowly.

Sunday 1 November 2009

Congratulations Vivien McDermid

and Joff Winterhart (what a great name!) on 1st and 2nd place respectively in the Graphic Short Story Prize. Unusual choice for a post from me, but there's quite a lot of traffic coming through my blog this weekend and I don't want my previous post to seem like a slight on the true winners or their strips. You can read the winning story on the Guardian Gallery page or fork out for the Observer and read it there. It's a story about the difficulties of parenthood and loss of liberty, I could relate to some of this after struggling at home on my own with my son through unemployment and trying to build a career as an artist and writer. And most of my 'art' in those years went into creating worlds for my son and I to play in which often resulted in wrecking the house, much to my poor wife's despair upon returning from work.

Looking at the reaction to the previous winners I saw a surprising amount of criticism of the strips and the competition itself, so another reason for this post is to distance myself from anything like that. Of course I think I was 'robbed' (I imagine that's what you feel if you lose a competition - this is my first) and it's great that so many people like my story. One 'A' level student liked it so much she asked if her literature class could use it to discuss what constitutes a story, poem, picture etc. What I'm saying is that the competition makes you work up an idea to completion and therefore you've succeeded.

If there are as many entrees as I've heard then hopefully someone will put together a site to collect them all, and if it may be more constructive if, instead of aiming resentment at the judges or the winners, people take a moment to write why they entered in the first place.

I entered because although I have managed to earn money from drawing and writing (see the 10 Ways To Stay Busy post) I have a lot of ideas about what is possible with comics/graphic story telling. I'm never going to get a brief that says "Rob, can you do something we've never thought of" so I needed a focus to get the ideas down. I'm happy enough with what I've done, it's a glimpse of what I feel I can do and I think I was hoping that if people 'got it' or 'liked it' then I could justify giving up some of the paying jobs and putting more time into my own projects.
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