Sunday, 31 May 2009


Had a brilliant Irish launch/signing yesterday in Forbidden Planet Belfast. It was planned for 2 - 4pm but the response was so great that I was sitting sketching and signing until closer to 5 o clock.

I had promised a sketch to everyone who turned up so my hand was aching by the end but it was well worth it :) I even had to ask a few of the people I knew personally if they wouldn't mind waiting until later that night for their sketch (at the post signing drinks) otherwise I would have been there until after closing time :)

There were a couple of challenging requests; from manga characters to self portraits. I drew my very first manga character for a budding artist Jennifer, who came along with her dad and asked me to draw 'L'. I think her manga is a lot better than mine (you can view her gallery here) but she appreciated the attempt as she writes in her short report on the event.

I'll have proper photos and more detail of the event with maybe a bit of video up by my Wednesday post, but for now here are a few of the sketches I drew later for the people I knew (and was able to scan).

Thanks again to everyone who turned up and hope you all had a good time :)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Flat Fear

Only a few days to go until the local launch of Cancertown (reminder: this Sat 30th May, Forbidden Planet Belfast). It'll be my first proper signing session so hopefully a few people will show up :)

I've been getting my hand into sketch mode and here's a little Cancertown themed piece I pencilled a few days ago for the upcoming Fear anthology being produced by the folks at the 2D festival. I didn't bother inking this one and left it pretty loose, but its A3 size and still took about 3 hours.

No layouts or anything for this one. I had the image roughly in my head and just went staight to paper. I did look in the mirror on my table to get a decent expression though, so if you ever see me running scared from a barrage of Badmouths (I must mention to Cy that should be the group name; a litter of dogs, a pack of wolves, a barrage of Badmouths...) thats the exact face I'll be wearing.

Hopefully see a few of you on Saturday.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Routine and redraws

So I've been drawing Slaughterman's Creed with Cy and Nic for Markosia, but havn't been happy with a lot of the artwork being produced and ended up redrawing a lot of it. I'm finally happy enough with the work thats coming out now, but there have been many versions of different panels as I tried to find my style for the book. Here's 11 different stages/versions of one panel in particular. They're not all distinct redraws, but different stages and variations as worked towards the final version.
Stage 1: Layouts. These were doodled around my SMC notebook. Its an establishing shot of two characters and Big Lenny's office. I was thinking first that I would go for a side shot and show a bit of the office, but I also wanted to establish that there were 'minders' or 'bouncers' at the door (they make an appearance later on the page), so I went for a shot from behind the desk looking out into the room.
Stage 2: On A3 paper (which I'm trying out in place of boards) I sketched out the shape of the characters with blue lead (so it can be removed in photoshop)

Stage 3: Then I started filling in the pencils on top of the blue lead. While these aren't very loose, they aren't completely finished either, but tight enough not to leave huge pencil marks when I erase/tighten up. I think I also lowered the height of the walls at the back and the character in the middle slightly. The blue in the panel was removed after I scanned it.

Stage 4: Pencils tightened up. I was planning on scanning and printing straight from pencil so I had to keep them very tight. A.k.a no scribbles.

Stage 5: Added some texture, filled in the black areas and added some flat colours in Photoshop.
Stage 6: Built colours on top of the flats.

Stage 7: I decided I wasn't happy with the straight from pencils approach. Everything looked a bit flat, and didn't really suit a gritty crime book, so I experimented by light-boxing the original pencils onto a new A3 sheet and finished it in ink. I also flipped round the character in the centre so that it followed the reading flow.

Stage 8: I thought the background looked a little light compared to the forground, but didn't want to cover the whole thing in ink incase it didn't work, and also didn't want to re-ink the forground figure. So I scanned and printed a slighty washed out version of the panel and brushed a lot of ink over it. I thought I'd keep the inks loose to fit the gritiness, then scanned and pieced together the forground and background in PS.

Stage 9: Added some colour. Looked at the finished page. Didn't like it at all.

Stage 10: Redrew entire panel (and rest of page) but managed to salvage a lot of stuff by lightboxing and varying it slightly. Decided to go back to the sideview. The panel looks a little less dramatic, but I think it works better as an establishing shot of these two characters in their environment. Also decided that the minders could come as a suprise in the later panels.

stage 11: Threw out the idea of going straight from pencil and inked the page (with a little greyscale pencil shading thrown in.)

Two versions of the whole page, the first loose and trying to be stylised, the second with a lot more clarity and precision. Much happier with the second.

I'm exhausted just remembering it all.

Before I sign off, don't forget the Cancertown signing in FP belfast this coming Saturday 30th May. More info here


Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Fill In Artist

Just a quick blog today, the electricity was off in the house most of the day (thats what you get with a house in the country) so I didn't get a chance to scan what I wanted to. Anyway, here is a little 3 page sample that I drew for meeting Dan Didio at the Bristol Comic Con.

He didn't have a bad thing to say and seemed to like the pages but who knows if anything will ever come of it.

Don't forget that not this Saturday but the following (30th of May) is the Forbidden Planet Belfast signing for Cancertown. More details on the Forbidden Planet website.

We got another excellent review which you can read over at The sidekick Blog or Cy's posted it over at his blog as well.

Hopefully have a few more things scanned by Sunday

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Forbidden Planet cancertown signing

Mark it in your diaries:

Saturday 30th May
2PM - 4PM
Forbidden Planet Belfast
(Ann street, just off Corn Market)

It's not only an artist/graphic novel signing with your's truly, but it also marks the Irish/N.Irish launch of Cancertown.

If my handsome face wasn't enough to get you down, the kind folks at FP Belfast are doing a special launch price of £12.99 during signing hours (£14.99 normally) and there'll be a unique sketch card with every copy bought. Thats right, you get a little piece of original art and the 'sold-out-every-day-on-Amazon' first print of Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth, for less than the normal RRP of the book alone! How could you refuse?

Ok, enough hyberbole, my Stan Lee voice is safely back in its box, but if anyone is around Belfast on the day come along and say hi, and it is a pretty good deal if you want a copy of Cancertown.
Onwards to the art... Aimee was digging through boxes today (looking for her medical card), which we havn't bothered to unpack since we moved, and threw me a little sketch pad. Inside were some of the early layouts I'd done for Cancertown (before I had a notion of organising projects) so I thought I'd throw them up on the blog for all to see, along with the pencilled and finished pages:

I ended up staying pretty tight to the layout on the left (ch.2 pg.9) but decided to redo the second layout (ch.2 pg.10) again. I think this was probably because the story flow was too odd (The action in panel 2 was happening both to the right and below panel 1 simulationously) so I rejigged it as the layout below.

The numbers and sizes scribbled at the top right is something I sometimes do when I'm trying to set the pace/mood. They refer to the panel number and comparitive size of the panels on the page. I jot them down as I read the script so I can arrange the panels according when I layout the page properly. This particular set either refers to a different page or were just completely ignored/changed for this one.
Here are the finished pages with my contribution in b/w, next to the finished versions with Mel's colours and Nics Letters added in (with, of course, Cy's words in the captions):

You'll see that I almost always sketch in little word balloons just to make sure I've left some room. They're nowhere near exact, and Nic's flow is much better than mine but it saves me from accidently zooming right in with a close up and leaving no room for dialouge at all. I don't send these layouts on to the rest of the crew, and now that I see them against the final pages it's strange and cool how some of them match up really close to Nic's even though she hadn't even seen my layouts. The second page in particular is a good example.
I've said this before, but Team Cancertown is definetly becoming some sort of symbiotic creature :P
Next Blog: It'll probably either be some sketches from the recent 'life drawing cabaret' or the many variations/redraws of a Slaughtermans Creed panel, so check back on wednesday.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Colour me suprised

Well who'd have thought, but the Cancertown profile has leaped again since the weekend.

A combination of word of mouth, great reviews and a little column called Lying in the Gutters, Amazon's stock of Cancertown has been completely wiped out. Reorders were quickly posted and should be at the Amazon warehouse now, so even if its out of stock on the site, you can still order and it will arrive in a few days.

Anyway here are a couple of colour Cancertown characters sketches (trying saying that 10 times fast). They weren't used for the project, just something I did for experimentation and don't compare at all to Mel's moody and gorgeous style. Some of these were done before Mel worked her magic on my pencils so they don't even match the colour designs in the book.

I also got news yesterday of Bryan Tablot's new project. As a lot of you know, the very famous and genrous Mr. Tablot wrote the forward to the Cancertown graphic Novel. His name alone has made it a lot easier to get Cancertown into book shops after the success of Alice in Sunderland. So without further ado I present the trailer for Bryan Talbot's Grandville:

Wow! I want that Graphic novel!
Well one day into my 'blogging every wednesday and Sunday' schedule and I'm on target. See you on Sunday if not before and I'll hopefully have news on the Belfast Cancertown signing.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Cancertown: Escaping to the real world

Wow, what a difference a weekend can make.

The Cancertown launch on Saturday went exceptionally well! Over the Bristol Comic and Small press expo weekend, Insomnia managed to sell around 150 copies of our little baby. We have to thank everyone who splashed down their hard earned cash and hope you enjoyed the book (at 150 pages long that a nice 1:1 sale per page ratio :)

Now that Cancertown is officially out there, you should see copies start to appear at your local waterstones and the best comic and book stores. If they're sold out locally you can get your mitts on a copy via the interwebs from Whatever Comics, Amazon or Waterstones.

Speaking of our proud sponsers, Whatever Comics, Cy Dethan and Nic Wilkinson will be signing copies at their store in Canterbury on the 6th June so if you want to adorn your copy with a golden signature you can pick one up there and then. We're in the process of organising a Belfast signing soon and continuing a Cancertown signing tour which you can follow on Insomnia Publications spiffy new website. If you're thinking of submitting a project or just want to check out ours, there's plenty on info up there too.

Also if you don't believe my hype, check out Ep 118 of the Geek Syndicate's podcast which includes a glowing review of Cancertown. I got a chance to catch up with the guys again this year at the Bristol Con and they're always a good laugh. Going to have to try to get my hands on a copy of Barry's Fallen Heroes (Special Edition) which has been picked optioned already and receiving great reviews.

Also thanks to Rich Johnston for the mention on LITG this week. His mention has certainly helped out our Amazon rating. Earlier today Cancertown was somewhere around the 20,000 best selling book on Amazon. How amazing is that! His coloumn is read by some high profile people and hollywood is already sniffing around the project. I wont say anymore in case I scud it but wouldn't it be nice to see a Cancertown movie...

I'm going to try to keep this blog updated more regularly. If not with ranting and ravings, at least a little bit of art. My goals are to have a new post every Wednesday and Sunday so check back tomorrow for something new.

Right, enough writing, here's some of the cancertown concept art you won't see anywhere else:

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The infection has reached these shores...

... No not swine Flu, but a much more deadly killer has reached these shores. That's right, Cancertown is here!

Just look at that thick spine. A lot of work was involved in the 150+ pages and its really good to hold the result in my hand. As I've mentioned before, the official UK launch will be at the Small Press Expo, the sister event of the Bristol comic con next weekend (Wow, so close!). We're also in the the planning stages of organising the Northern Irish/Irish launch at Forbidden Planets stores over here, which should happen a few weeks after.

The RRP on the back is £14.99, but if you want to cut out the middle man and order one directly from Insomnia you can get a fantastic deal by emailing Nic or if you prefer your Amazon-ness you can pre-order it from there.

Here's a little glance at the insides, I've only read a few pages in its printed form and even though I've been with the story from concept to digital lettered pages, its a different experience on paper. Can't wait to curl up tonight and revisit the world I'm already missing.