Wednesday 24 February 2010

Don Quixote

These are a few sketches of Don Quixote I did this morning. I did them in Manga studio using a mid-tone ground and then working in a black layer and white layer on top. This is all for a pitch I was working on a while back that may yet have legs.
Something I rarely give myself time to do properly is design a character, I tend to work them out on the page as I go. Below is a page of designs I did earlier for Don Quixote. I really enjoyed the process and I've been allowing myself a another bash at the Don as a reward when I finish some of the less fun work I have on at the moment. That makes me sound like a drawaholic... which is probably true.

Monday 15 February 2010

iComics and Mycomics

This weekend I finally got round to playing with the Mycomics app for the iPhone which allows you load a zip file of any comic strip you happen to have lying around on your computer onto your phone. It's very simple (you just drop the file into an application called Jivaro or use your internet browser). Something of a vanity project so far for me (I've loaded up my own Deep Hereafter comic done for Doctor Who Magazine), but it's handy to be able to show someone what you do at the drop of a hat. I've often been in the pub trying to describe a comic strip I've worked on wishing I could magic up the pages and just hand them over. Hey Presto!

A double click with your finger allows you to zoom into a panel, but clearly it's impossible to read an entire page at once.

Like any other sentient comic creators out there I'm very interested in the potential for comics in the new digital media. While most comic creators are salivating over the prospects on the iPad I'm still fascinated by the possibilities of comics on the iPhone. It seems to have been dismissed by many people already, the obvious objection being the size of the screen. The reasoning here is that comics are about seeing a number of panels on a page at once, therefore iPhone fails and iPad wins. Because the medium has to be tailored to suit comics, right? I'm not so sure. This may be the kind of thinking that has got comics into the mess they're in.

Most comics in sold in the past 20 years have been sold via specialist outlets to 'comic buyers'. For some this kind of niche, even if it grows ever smaller, is the ideal situation. I've never been comfortable with the idea and have always veered towards comics that sell in newsagents to 'anyone' (even kids!!!).
Once upon a time when comics were young they lived inside a parent publication called a newspaper, they were read by lots of people (and were frankly brilliant), they grew and like all kids found there own feet. But the good thing about their life in the newspaper was that everyone household had a newspaper and so every child had a comic, the genius of Windsor McCay, Cliff Sterret, E.C. Segar etc was exposed to everyone.

These days even newspapers are dying out, but there is a form of communication that everyone has, in fact that everyone carries with them everywhere - their phones. That's why it seems the obvious place for comics to seek a new home, to reacquaint themselves with the world. My son and his mates are forever swapping text gags, horrific youtube clips and bizarre information via phones in the playground. This should be the breeding ground for comics - in the grubby mitts and fervent imaginations of kids.

I'm sure the iPad offers enormous potential for comics to reinvent themselves, but there is also the possibility that the same people will be making comics for the same people, everyone preaching to the converted. The iPhone offers comics the first chance for reinvention and looking beyond the existing readership. There have been some efforts - including Lewis Trondheim who's seen the potential and produced the daily delight, Bludzee, Darkhorse have done pretty good job chopping up Hellboy and we have seen (God help us) motion comics, but too many comics people seemed to turn their backs on the biggest potential readership because it wouldn't 'look like comics anymore'. Is that really a bad thing...?

Thursday 11 February 2010

Mind the Gap!

Work in progress on page one of The Inverted Coma

Every freelancer's nightmare is approaching me - a gap in the schedule!! Best way to deal with this is to panic, start digging up old science fiction stories and draw frantically. Well, that's my way of coping. Since I found out I had a dreaded 'gap' approaching I've been drawing this page above in my spare time, if all else fails I'll send the finished story to people and hope to get some work. In the meantime I'm sending out old stuff like this:

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Murderous Maths covers

I've done a few of these covers now (ten, I think) and worked on a full colour book with Kjartan, providing illustrations and strips throughout, Amazon says that book is out in April. I'm not the world's most natural cartoonist as my instinct is to 'draw' rather than 'cartoon'. That inconsistency runs through these images - cartoon schematics clashing with attempts at 'figurative' anatomy. It's a difficult balance to strike. There some very successful cartoonists/comic artists whose work has the feel of real people wearing cartoon masks which sometimes bothers me. Hergé of course solved this dichotomy with an even line weight throughout and of course delicately chosen and placed cartoon features.
I'll keep working on the cartooning because I have so much to learn and much of what I want to achieve with my writing involves cartooning well.

Monday 1 February 2010

The Brush Tool

Baron Kazam returns!

Fitted in a new HUZZAH!!, you can go and see it here. One of the things that I gain from doing HUZZAH!! is that it gives me chance to experiment. On this occasion I decided to do the whole thing using the brush tool in Manga Studio on a light setting. Not an ideal drawing tool really and I wasn't happy with the finished page. I quite like these close up screen shots of the work in progress though. In a sense looking at these images at this size (click on them for full size!) it's like removing the illusion that these marks are real brush marks and instead showing the digital nature of the marks.

General Kvar


We need to fix a name for this giant blue baby of indeterminate sex. We can't keep calling him/her the Gestalt Heir.

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