Twelve months in comics

This time last year I was happily relaxing after successfully running Wimbledon Comic Art Festival. That event actually marked the start of 12 months of comic awesomeness for me. Here’s what I managed to get up to in that year.

Wimbledon Comic Art Festival

2018-3Running this event was a big deal for me and I was so pleased that it went so well. I’d wanted to put on an indie comics event in Wimbledon for ages, so to have twenty amazing creators tabling at my event was humbling. Hosted at Merton Art Space, I secured the venue by exciting the Head of Libraries and Heritage in Merton with my plans for the day and I even managed to convince the Deputy Mayor to open it with me. I tried my best to mix the content up so that newbies to comics could come and discover that its not all just about muscles and spandex. David Broughton kept the 2000AD crowd happy, Matt Garvey had something for everyone, Gareth Hopkins introduced people to abstract comics, Inko and Vam Nim represented manga, Richy Chandler had some wonderful kids comics and the Awesome Comics Podcast extolled the virtues of all things indie. It was knackering, but I loved it!

Rock In Purgatory

01-FRONT-COVERI was trying to launch Rock In Purgatory at the same time as running WCAF, so understandably I couldn’t manage both. In the end, I released Rock In Purgatory in spring 2018, pleasing its fans by collecting the horror comedy strip as a parody music magazine. I threw in a poster pull out, fake gig ads, instrument endorsements and articles about the bands that inspired the strip. At 48 pages, this is not just my debut solo comic release but also the biggest thing I have created to date. I’m really pleased with this comic and was ecstatic when it sold out at MCM this year (more on that later).

Unfortunate Tales

DVwnX4xW4AAm7cH.jpg largeProving that networking works, be it online or face to face, in the wake of Rock In Purgatory finishing its run in Popcorn Horror, I was asked by Ken Wynne of Attack From Planet B to take on art duties for his webcomic Unfortunate Tales From Planet B. Each strip features a re-working of a classic VHS horror movie scene, but with little links which take you from one strip to the next. Even I’m not sure where Ken is taking this narrative, but its been an absolute pleasure so far to draw loads of garish horror comics!

Heads!

menu 1Having ruminated on Heads! for nearly two years I finally took the plunge and began drawing my first issue based series as soon as WCAF was over. My plan had been to be able to release issues in farily quick succession by indie standards, which was quite a goal to set for myself. As with Rock In Purgatory, Heads! is created, written and illustrated by me. That includes colours. And editing. And lettering. And compiling for print. And marketing. So I changed my creation process to see what I could do to speed things up without compromising on quality. The distinct difference with Heads! is that I create the pages at actual size, so the only editing I do is to correct a mistake if I find one. It means I can carry pages around with me anywhere, as I’m working on A4 britsol board. I can draw pages anywhere and anytime. And with the scale being 1:1 there is less to draw. I’ve had to adapt to that the most, as some of my page layouts have slightly less panels than I would put in if I was drawing detail at a larger scale, but its actually helping me get better at the amount of detail I can put into a panel.

Issue one was released in September 2018, but by this point I had already completed the art in issue two and had begun to draw issue three. Ideally, I would have loved to have had three issues fully drawn inside of a year, but life gets in the way sometimes. However, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve achieved two and a half issues in a year, which means I can still release three issues within a year. Hopefully by then the next two and a half will be ready so that I can keep up the regularity.

MCM

I closed of my year of comics by tabling at MCM London for the first time. It was a great experience and I’ll be back next year for sure. I officially launched Heads! to the masses at the event and loved being able to get people as excited about as I am. If you are interested in reading more about that event read my previous blog about it.

Now I’m heading into a new period of comic creation and promotion. Besides Heads! issues two and three plus loads more events, I have new projects that I want to get started with. Will I achieve more in the next twelve months than in the last? Stay tuned to find out….

A (Un)fortunate Tale of art direction

The new Unfortunate Tales script landed in my inbox at the weekend. For those that don’t already know about it, Unfortunate Tales is a webcomic published on the Attack From Planet B website. It’s written by AFPB main man Ken Wynne and I do the art for it. Each strip riffs off of a different horror movie concept, with each strip linking subversively to the next. This edition takes on Return Of The Living Dead, having jumped from a reference in the previous Street Trash inspired strip.
Other than being a great little strip to work on, it’s an excellent opportunity try out new things. Ken’s scripts are particularly detailed for such short pieces and it forces me to very quickly learn how to draw things I haven’t drawn before or tackle compositions that I wouldn’t have come up with myself. This script presented a compositional problem, so for the first time in this working relationship I needed to negotiate how we produce it.

Ken’s original script describes a front facing one point perspective layout. The direction makes sure all the details are captured, but when it came to drawing this I found the camera angle to be very restrictive. Unfortunate Tales is exclusively produced with square panels. The layout Ken described called for a focal character at the front standing with legs apart so that we can see characters visible in the mid-ground. There is then a background layer with a suggestion of activity. In a wider panel, this may have been good, but we can’t change the panel shape. If I could crop to just knees down on the foreground character we could see more detail, but it is essential that we see all of the foreground character in full. So I was limited to roughly this layout:

I decided to try out a few different variants and eventually settled on tracking the camera around to the right, keeping the foreground character in full and in front of the panel, but now off to the left. The mid-ground character remain in the mid-ground, but I can come closer to them, showing more detail. And the activity in the background now appears directly behind them, adding a bit more urgency to their predicament:

I pitched this to Ken to get his take on this and he appreciated what I’d done. Once he saw the two compared to each other he felt that the side angle helped to show off more of what he wanted in the strip. So we went with this layout, and I am now working up the pencils for it. The last time I had to negotiate on scripts and layouts with a writer was when I drew Brutal Bombshells to Craig Jex’s scripts. It can be a delicate process, and sometimes it’s hard to tell a writer that what they’ve written doesn’t quite work. It comes down to not just respecting each other’s particular skill, but also respecting the fact that sometimes an objective eye on something can really help to make something better.

5 reasons to buy Rock In Purgatory

Not got a copy of Rock In Purgatory yet? Are you mad?! Here’s five clickbait reasons to put your money where your mouth is…

More than just a comic
Rock In Purgatory is presented as a parody music magazine. So alongside the awesome comic strips, you’ll get a poster pull out section, fake ads for tours and instrument endorsements, articles about the bands who have influenced the strips and behind the scenes pieces that show how the art came together.

It sets up for Heads! my new comic project
Heads! begins on 29 May and one of the primary story arcs revolves around a band called Vortex Face. This band’s first appearance features in Rock In Purgatory and serves as a prequel to the events they instigate in Heads! Get yourself ahead of the curve by buying Rock In Purgatory.

Loads of never before published comic strips
Though it ran as strip in Popcorn Horror magazine for over a year, this collection brings all the published strips together with loads of others that have never been seen before. Discover awesome new bands who meet incredible and outrageous deaths!

Supporting comic creators makes you cool
Subjective, I guess, but I’ll certainly think you ar e a lot cooler if you buy my comic…

It’s the most fun you can have without going to a metal gig
Rock In Purgatory combines heavy metal music, horror movie gore and comic book sequential art. If you love any or all of those genres then you are bound to find something in this collection to amuse and entertain you.

So what are you waiting for – go buy a copy now!

Rock In Purgatory available to order!

Get over to my store and order your copy of Rock In Purgatory right now!

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A long last, the print edition of Rock In Purgatory can be yours. The comic is being finalised with the printers, ready for shipping in May. As well as the 48 page full colour print edition of the comic, you can buy bundles including exclusive art prints and awesome badges too.

I’m really excited to finally have this comic in print format and am looking forward to getting copies out to everyone who loves Rock In Purgatory as much as I do. I will soon be booking onto comic events for later in the year, so stay tuned for news on where you can meet me.

Buy the comic now – or read some free samples to try before you buy.

Unfortunate Tales – new horror webcomic

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Love VHS horror and unpleasant comics? Then you need Unfortunate Tales From Planet B in your life!

Written by awesome awkward writer Ken Wynne and illustrated by yours truly, Unfortunat Tales is a new horror webcomic published on the Attack From Planet B website. Riffing off of classic horror movies and sub-genres, this fortnightly strip will be providing your horror comics fix from now on.

Presented online, Unfortunate Tales utilises the traditional three panel newspaper strip format and slaps it in your webcomic loving face. Make sure you check out the first edition now.

Follow me on Twitter for updates and be sure to follow Ken Wynne and Attack From Planet B as well.

Radvent Day 23 – Yesterday’s Screws

Radvent Day 20 – Sweaty Suzy

Radvent Day 16 – Peekaboo!

Radvent Day 14 – Nancy Says ‘No’

Nancy says 'No'

As a massive Nightmare on Elm Street fan, I have drawn plenty of fan art and some exciting commissions related to this franchise. Though Freddy is an amazing character to play with, I always liked Nancy so much that I would draw her more often than Freddy.

In this piece I took the classic Dream Warriors scene with Freddy as an all-devouring worm and gave it a bit of a Calvin and Hobbs treatment. The result is a nice little homage to my favourite Elm Street movie, turning Freddy’s humourous quips back on him in a single word from Nancy.

I have A6 prints of this piece available to buy from my store. I am also selling the original A3 sized artwork – if anyone is interested, name your price!

More radvent tomorrow….

Radvent Day 12 – God Murder