Summing up summer

Summer is nearly over. I can tell because the weather has changed from unexpectedly awful to totally as dreadful as anticipated.  My kids go back to school in a couple of days (thank god, we have 9 – NINE! – weeks of school summer holidays, and while some parents love having their kids off during the summer holidays, those parents are probably liars.

Page count, thus far, is 38. Which is a bit amazing really. I’m afraid I’m only ever one bad way to spiralling down to next to no pages per month (today has easily been the closest, having only gotten one page inked, yesterday was nearly the same except I ended up completing three pages) which is sort of daft, as I could take the rest of the month off and still claim this month as a major victory.

One thing it’s done is opened my eyes to the possibility of doing more things for myself – 25 pages per month for a publisher, 25 pages per month for me … think of the possibilities. I’m still sucking hard on writing, I’ve got some fun ideas ( I think) but not the time nor experience nor confidence to carry them through. That said, there’s a few things I’ve scripted with Scott Ferguson (my erstwhile co-podcast host on the Sunnyside Comics podcast, if you can remember that) that I may go and draw.


But that assumes I can find 25 pages of paid comic per month. And that’s usually been a struggle.

Anyways, comics good. Go and pre-order Dept of Monsterology Book 2: Sabbaticals from your local comic shop, I think it’s in this months “previews” magazine (no details to hand I’m afraid)

Go buy Gunsuits ep3, written by Paul Tobin, drawn by me.

And stand by for more comics.

Now, in twitter news, I offered to answer questions (and LO! but only one question did present itself)

Zoe Robinson asked:

“Do you agree you need to know the rules before breaking them”.

Yes. Though it’s probably a little harder to define what the rules are: a search for the rules then…

There are some obvious rules: paper is a fixed size. Artwork must fit the paper. Laws of physics dictate certain tools work in certain ways. Hard to break those rules even if you want to, though you can do some groovy effects if you know exactly how to bend the physical properties of pen and ink to your whim (greywash springs to mind).

In terms of artwork, it’s a good idea to know, for example, how many heads a person has before drawing a person. Which is flippant, but then the question becomes, what is the basic proportion of a human, can you break that rule? Well … probably? But then that’s not a rule so much as a strong suggested guideline. In fact most drawing rules are strong tried and tested guidelines – even the “people read left to right” is a long standing guide that, if your smart, you can circumvent it. Look at what Frank Quietly can do with storytelling on that front to be amazed and how easily that rule what be flipped on its head… But he can only do that because he understands the underlying rule which is that you control the narrative flow – you direct the readers eyes.

So, I think a good rule for whether you can break the rules is whether you realise you’re breaking them.

Breaking them without knowing your doing so is an accident while we can all talk about the happy accidents in art, in storytelling you really want the accidents to happen in a very controlled way.




Author: PJ

PJ is a Belfast based comic artist, and has been for some time.