Sunday, 30 August 2009


Only a quick blog today, just back from surfing up in Donegal over the weekend and tired. Great fun, although Aimee almost caught pneumonia in the cold sea and I may have lost a few brain cells from catching a couple surfboards to the head.

I came back to find some nice suprises in my RSS feeds anyway:
  • I've been following Ferret's virtual tour of her quilt gallery at the 2009 Festival of Quilts, and eagerly awaiting more pictures of the Bad Rain piece on display. They were finally posted yesterday and you can see the Cancertown inspirded quilt in all its glory on Ferret's blog. You'll also find a quilt potrait on writer Cy Dethan, amoung other fantastic quilts such as Phoenix Rising and Heat.

  • I also found to my complete surpise some Cancertown sketches from Northern Irish artist Darren Reynolds on his blog. I love his interpretations and really hope to see them in person if he brings them along to the next Belfast comics creators meetup. I only really know Darren's art through his blog, but I love his style and really want to see more.

Anyway, here is a full panel of Slaughterman's Creed art (that I've cropped and been using for my twitter profile) in colour. This is Sidney, the Slaughterman, he's meant to be quite pale, but I think I might increase the contrast a little, just to make sure the colour definiton isn't lost when going to print.

Yes, you're next.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A Simple(ton) logo

My brother James asked me to draw him a quick sketch of a beaten up clown face a couple of days ago to act as a logo for his band 'Punchdrunk Simpletons'.

I'd just started using Adobe Illustrator to letter my 2012 art so thought I'd try it out for designing the logo. I've no idea if this is how logo design is meant to be done, but this process worked for me in this instance:

Step 1: Circles, shapes and pen tool in Illustrator : Step 2: Add details in Photoshop (mostly using my custom blood brush). This is the colour layer only shown. Step 3: Reshape the outline as needed and add features (this unfortunetly means they are not part of the vector image, and so can't be upscaled without losing definition, but they were last minute additions and the entire image is big enough for my brother's needs anyhow.
Step 4: Paste the image back into Illustrator and add the letters. Excellent comicbook letterers Blambot, have a fonts page (which has just changed it layout apparently), that allow some of their fonts to be downloaded for small press or non-profit use. So James and his band may need to get a new logo when they're famous but since they wanted to wear T-shirts with a logo on in this Friday at their local gig, I used Blambots BADABOOM sound effect font. I outlined the font and ungrouped each letter so I could jiggle them about a bit, to give a more random look to the letter positioning.

Speaking of great letterers, Nic Wilkinson pointed out that the clown above has a big Crosshair eye, and coincidently James was the inspiration for Crosshair when I drew him in Cancertown. Some sort of weird creative circle closing there.

And thats it. This is certainly not a post to learn anything from, but I thought someone may be amused by my haphazard approach to my first logo design process. You can see the logo with a black background at

BTW this little video helped a lot with learning the basics of illustrator lettering and Balloon tales is a great site for helping with those odd details like files formats and tranfering between programs.

If you're in Belfast this friday (28th Anugust) the Punckdrunk Simpletons are playing Rossa Club, 8 O'Clock, Supported by Dead Parrots and Dead Presidents. £4 Admission.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Irish Immigration..

Oops, missed blogging yesterday. I've no internet in my studio/bedroom now because of the wireless router's new home in the hallway of the main house and any internet relatedness must have slipped my mind.
The Irish are taking over the comicbook world and I'm going to share a few projects involving irish creators I think you should check out.
  • Kronos City started in the mind of Andrew Croskery, a friend of mine and regular attendee of the Belfast comic creators meeting we have in the Garrick bar. Andrew told me a few of his crazy ideas for Kronos City and I take responsibilty for directing him towards Insomnia Publications. It's being brought to life in a quirky and cool way by Alex Willmore and Lauren Anne Sharp and you can check out the first 16 pages at the myebook link below. This should be out sometime in 2010 I believe.
Myebook - Kronos City - click here to open my ebook
  • I've sure most people have heard of 28 Days Later, the zombie film with no zombies. Did you know that Irish artist Declan Shalvey is drawing the comicbook sequel (and prequel to 28 Weeks Later). The book should be out this week in comic stores from BOOM! Studios and as far as I know marks Declan's first work for an American Publisher. There's a preview of his pages here on Newsarama or visit his blog for some really interesting process stuff.
  • Cy Dethan has been showing off some pages of his latest in-production graphic novel The Indifference Engine. You'll know Cy as my collaborator on Cancertown and Slaughterman's Creed and he's joined by another Irish artist Robert Carey. Its also being coloured by my other Cancertown colaboraters Mel Cook (check out her blog and website for her own fantastic artwork) and lettered by the always awesome Nic Wilkinson.
  • Rí Rá is the only comic on the list that's actually printed in the Irish language. There are lots of irish comics creators involved in this comic, including myself, edited by Aidan Courtney. The first issue came out earlier in the year and a new one is due sometime around halloween. The website is still in production but for a more detailed look at the comic and creators you can have a look at the facebook page. The comic is aimed at 8-11 year olds, but the artwork from all the creators is lovely and you can follow most of the stories even without speaking a word of irish.

There are a couple of Irish webcomics you should definetley catch up on reading:

  • Paddy Brown, another Belfast creator, retells the story of Cuhullan in his weekly Cattle Raid of Cooley strip. Unlike most comicbook artists, Paddy doesn't sketch out his work in pencil, but instead draws his finished piece with a red biro to lovely effect. He has also recently added the first part of The History of Irish Comics to his site, which is truely an indepth read.
  • Road Crew is a strip from Tommie Kelley. I first met Tommie at the Dublin comic con last year and have been following the strip online since. Tommie has spent a lot of years in the music industry and the over-the-top comedy strip mixes sound crew experiences and outrageous adventures, such as the recent trip to the moon (almost). There are also some great promotional items on the website, such as an entire LP recorded by Tommie under the guise of a fictional band that appeared in the strip a while back.

Both Cattle Raid of Cooley and Road Crew are available as print comics from their respective sites also.

For something completely different:

  • Have a listen to the sunnysidecomics podcast. It features Irish artist Paul Holden, along with Aaron Abernethy and Scott Ferguson. It's a new Belfast based comics podcast but I'm afraid my brain would explode if I tried to explain the content. Check it out anyway, highly enjoyable.

Well that's all for today. My selfishless-ness has over extended its welome and for the forseeable future this blog will be all about me. ME!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Shades of grey..

I finished up my work on Bob Heske's Demented story for the 2012 Anthology last week and since the book will be printed in glorious black and white, I went back and greyscaled the whole thing. Didn't take too long (did all eight pages in less than 2 days) and I think it really adds a good bit to the finished look. Here's the panel I showed in my previous post with the added grey.
Tools used to add the grey were simply Photoshop CS4, my Compaq (that Aimee and her family bought me for christmas to replace my 6 year old Sharp that could barely run PS) and the Wacom Bamboo tablet/pen seen sitting on it. The Bamboo is the cheapest of the Wacom tablets, but does the job alright for greyscaling and colouring (I'm working my way through colouring Slaughterman's Creed at the minute). For those who don't know, these types of tablets are sensitive to the the pressure and angle of the pen, so you can get a brush-like effect; changing lines weight and size) but my dream tablet would be the Wacom Cintiq, with which you can draw onto the actual screen with the same sensitivity.

The background of my laptop is "Wally Wood's 22 panels that always work" that can give inspiration when you need a fresh angle o na page.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

New Tools

Last week I showed a concept image of a character from the Bob Heske's 2012 anothology and here's a preview of how she will appear in the actual comic.
Somewhere near the end of the first chapter of Cancertown I switched from pen to using almost exclusively brush for inking, but for the 2012 anthology I wanted to try pens again to see if I could get a tighter finish. The above picture was created with the following tools:

On the far left is the Pentel mechanical pencil I use drawing the foundations. Its got a nice rubber grip which in addition to being nice to hold, doesn't roll off the slanted board I draw on. You won't see any pencil in the above picture as it's all erased after the ink is put down.

In the middle is a Faber-Castell Pitt indian ink Brush pen. It's. This used to be regulated to drawing panel borders, but it's become my new favourite tool. It's actually a sort of pen/brush hybrid, combining advantages of both. The tip is flexible and now that I have a bit more control over it enables you to vary the line width a good bit, but the tip is a good bit firmer than the normal brushes I use thus being easier to control and it also doesn't need to be dipped in ink constantly so its quicker to use.

On the right is a Rotring pigmented ink pen. I just picked this up a couple of weeks ago in Bradbury Graphics in Belfast. They had just found an old batch out the back and were selling them for £1.99 so thought I'd try one. Its got a nice flow to it, but with all pens it's only really got one width to the line.

I'll probably end up going back to the brush as the pen line can often come out a little monotonous (if that word can apply here) when I'm not careful. I'll do a post and show the brushes/ink I normally use another time.

What I'd really like is a brush pen that comes in a variation of sizes so that I could get in to the small areas without having to worry about applying to much pressure and ruining the piece. If anyone knows if these exist let me know :D

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah


It was brother's birthday last week (almost an 'adult' at 17). I painted this Batman (watercolour pencils and black ink) for him last year as part of his birthday present and got round round to buying him a frame for it this year (amoungst other things, I'm not that cheap :)

I didn't want to go too grim, gritty and black and was more inspired by the use of blue on Dustin Nguyen's Detective Comics watercolour covers.

It was too big to scan but here's a photo of the framed piece.

On another note, I've just realised I've yet to mention the newly confirmed 'Insomniacs guide to Cancertown' that was announced on Insomnia's Red Eye blog a week or so ago. There's a lot of idea's flying around but I think I'll wait until we have a better idea of what's definetely going to be included before I talk about them.

One thing that the project, which will be a behind the scenes/artbook/process type of book, has confirmed is a 12 page Cancertown prequel. I just got to read the script this week and although I wont get to it for a few months I can already see some of the great creep imagery in my head. A few familiar characters crop up and I'm really looking forward to drawing them again. In fact if you want a complete spoiler of the plot, check outs Cy's blog and scroll down to the comments section. You have been warned though!

And yes, that is the correct number of 'Nah's.

Sunday, 9 August 2009


I got an email a couple of weeks ago from Bob Heske, screenwriter and publisher of Heske's Horrors' Cold Blooded Chillers, the horror anthology which won an award at last years 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards for its collection Bone Chillers. Bob had seen my work in Cancertown and commissioned me to draw one of his scripts for his next anthology 2012: Final Prayer

The book features stories from various creators that centre around what could happen on the 21st of December 2012, the end of the Mayan Long Count Calender and reportedly the start of the end of the world. I know a few other Insomniacs, such as Martin Hayes, Ollie Masters and Dino Caruso have strips in the anthology as well as so it looks like its going to be an awesome little project.

The anthology should be available sometime in late Autumn, but I'm wrapping up my eight page contribution at the start of this week. The story I'm drawing is called 'Demented' and this is the first concept sketch of one of the characters 'Aida'. She changed a bit by the time I got to the actual drawing boards, but this was my first doodle attempt.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

It wasn't me I swear... I've been framed!

Just a few photos of Cancertown art at the Feile art exhibition, Westcourt Centre , 8-30 Barrack Street, Belfast running from now until 14th August 10am - 4:30pm:
Having artwork framed and hung on the wall at the exhibition makes you feel like a proper artist :)

Above is the first page I drew for Cancertown, back when having a full comic page completely finished was a big achievement. Because I'm a big sentimentalist (it could be a real word..), this one's not for sale.

Some of my art hung next to Sharon Morgan's (on the wall) and Kevin Quinn's ceramic celtic art (on the shelf). Ourselves along with Donal Daly are the four featured artists on display.

The top piece in this photo was always intended to be viewed vertically, (I thought Grey fighting against gravity after being knocked to the ground would convey a lot of energy and power to the blow) but since everyone else thinks its a horizontal piece, and I've been told it look better rotated 90 degress, I decided to hang it on its side. The bottom page is just a print of Bad Rain, one of the Cancertown double page spreads and the inspiration behind the Cancertown quilt, but I thought a bit of colour (by Mel Cook) would add to the exhibition and be a better representation of what's in the graphic novel.

I should have a bit of info on another project I'm involved with on Sunday so come back then...

Sunday, 2 August 2009

I'm an exhibitionist..

I'm taking part in an art exhibition thats starting tomorrow in Belfast. It's in association with the Belfast Feile and I'll be showing off a few pages of Cancertown.
It runs from 3rd to the 14th of August at Westcourt Centre , 8-30 Barrack Street from 10am to 4:30pm and I'll at least be in attendance on Saturday 8th as I'm doing some Traditional irish music workshops in the same building. There are a a select few pages up for sale (7 pages in all, and a couple I'm not selling)
There will also be a copy of Cancertown on display and you can order it anytime during the week if you havn't got a copy.
The listing for the event is only available on PDF form (or there are brochure books floating around Belfast) but its available on pg 92 of this PDF booklet if you don't trust me :)

Here's one of the pages that will be on display. Since i'm so nice, I'd thought I'd show you the pencils, inks and finished coloured and lettered page. Naturally the original art is only in ink so that's the version that will be at the exhibition.
Colours by Mel Cook and Letters by Nic Wilkinson on the above version. And I have to give Cy a credit too as he actually wrote the scene :)
I've had to name the pieces that I have on display so those who have read the book can play the fun game of guessing which pages are on display. if you think you know or want to hazard a guess leave and comment below and the grand winner will recieve... uh ...pride?:
1/Introducing Morley
2/ Corpsegrinders Grasp
3/ Crosshair's Gaze
4/ Evil twin
5/ Attack of the Strawmen
6/ Piecemaker
7/ Flashback
8/ Smash!
9/ The End
Hopefully have some photos of the gallery on Wednesday.