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Hulk Portfolio Piece

I’m now in danger of overdrawing/overthinking this, but here’s an 8 page portfolio piece. It’s from the same script, part one (pages 1-5) are Banner gets abducted sequence and meets the Monster. The remaining three pages are pure Hulk action!

I figure a good portfolio piece should show range, and I hope this does, but you know… it’s also got to show you can draw the thing you want to draw (in this case the Hulk) and I hope it does that to.

Taking this with me to Dice, wish me luck!Hulk_001











Manga Studio + Cintiq

I spent a little time today finally refining/resetting some of the buttons on my cintiq. Most wacom graphic tablets have a set of buttons on them that you can use for various defaults, the Cintiq 12XW has two sets – one on the left and the other on the right. I’ll talk you through what I’ve set up, you may find it useful (and it might suggest some ideas for how to tweak your own setup)

Settings for Manga Studio / Cintiq buttons

1: Rotate – this is the left hand side slide strip. I had to program keyboard shortcuts in for rotate left 15deg and rotate right 15deg, then I set up the cintiq to use those keyboard shortcuts. Manga Studio has a “Shortcut Settings” that allows you to add keyboard shortcuts to pretty much most (if not all) the commands available in manga studio, combining that with the keystroke settings on the wacom cintiq lets you set up the cintiq in a way that should allow you to hide the menu and just get on with drawing.

2: Toggle Screen (this actually is for toggling whether the cintiq pen can be used for the all of your screens or just the cintiq screen – useful for selecting things you may have on another monitor, but not much use beyond that) this was a default setting which I left alone.

3: SELECT – keyboard modifier, this is a default value so I left it (holding this and using the pen turns the drawing tool into the select tool allowing you to modify rulers and other editable objects)

3: SHIFT – this was a default, holding shift constrains various drawing tools (and with pens allows you to draw straight lines quickly).

4: COLOUR SELECT – default, turns the pen into an eyedropper to pick up a colour. Useful for colouring, but I rarely use it for drawing.

5: Reset Rotate – programmed a keystroke for reset rotate and then set this button to that keystroke, so once I’ve rotate the drawing I can quickly reset it.

7: Button on the pen, set the SPACE bar – when I hold this button down the pen becomes a hand tool and I can quickly move the page around on the screen.

8: UNDO – a mark of how good I am at digital drawing I have undo built in to the pen… :|

9: Flip Horizontal. Again, set up a keystroke to flip the page (so I can check if things are going skewwif) and set it up on the cintiq.

10: Zoom in. Set this to the keystroke for zooming in.

11: Zoom out. Set this to the keystroke for zooming out.

12: Toggle Black/Transparent – set this to keystroke C which is toggles this values (dead handy!)

13: Tab – quickly hides/shows the full controls for Manga Studio.

14: The right hand strip, I’ve set up to use Manga Studio’s default tools for Enlarge/Shrink the drawing tool (which are ] and [)

That’s it!


Hey, are you going to DICE this year? What’s DICE? ONLY THE BEST  PROPER COMIC EXPO THAT HAPPENS IN IRELAND (and possibly the UK) happening on the 27th and 28th of September in Dublin.

Actually, hyperbole aside, it’s a pretty damn great comic event, and, if you’re interested in the industry in any capacity, this is the convention you should be going to, it’s got a seriously great international guest list (not a duff one in the lot!) as well as a who’s who of Irish & UK talent, and, unusually for a comic event it in the UK or Ireland there are also US editors at the show, who can and will look at portfolios. This years portfolio review is a little more considered (not to say formal) than last years, but there’s still lots of pros happy to look at and pick apart your portfolio.

I’ve banged this drum endlessly, but it still bears repeating if you’re interested in working in comics this is easily the best convention in Ireland, UK, Europe or, possibly, the World to go to. (Why? it’s still a small convention, it’s a relaxed event – many of the pros are there as much on holiday as they are at a convention, it’s a proper comics focused event, rather than the seemingly never ending mushrooming of “Comic-Cons” where comics are often lip service to the  main job of selling you a signature of that guy who used to be in that spin-off of that sci-fi series, you know the guy, he played the alien [don't get me wrong, I think those conventions are great too, just in a very different way] and there’s a definite atmosphere of encouragement)

When I was a young pup I’d travel to the UK to meet a single editor, here you have a Marvel talent scout, a DC Editor (of the Batman group titles) and a couple of senior people from 2000AD. I couldn’t dream of an event as great as DICE practically on my doorstep, and I’d’ve kicked myself if I missed it.

Don’t end up kicking yourself.

If you’re in Ireland and in to comics (and especially if you want to make it your job) and you don’t turn up at Dice? Then I don’t even…

If you’re on the UK mainland? There’s lots of ways to get to Dublin, and it’s a small enough place, drive over, hop on the ferry, fly, whatever.

Oh, if you’re in Belfast around Thursday Sept 18th I’ll be meeting people at the Lyric Theatre Cafe at 10:00am for the Belfast Comic Book and Coffee Club where we’ll be talking strategy and portfolio reviews for DICE. If you can get to that, that’d be awesome!

Hot Desk

Those following along my know that earlier in the year I was lucky enough to be offered some space in video game company – just a simple desk, away from home, and it was incredibly useful having that walk in to town and the clean desk – without family, or things around. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you are) those guys got bigger and bigger and no there’s no room.

Today though, I discovered that, in Belfast City Centre, there’s a business hub offering free “hot desks” – amusingly the hub (funded by local government) has converted what used to be a clothing shop and the hot desks are actually in the stalls of a converted changing cubicles. I laughed like a drain when I saw them – they’re like an office version of those coffin hotels. BUT! I grabbed a chair, pulled out my A5 notebook and started working – there’s no room to do the full A3 work that I did in the other free space – but I can get a fair amount done, and I did. Plus it’s a fair aul walk into Belfast city centre, so good exercise (aside from …er.. it being beside the KFC so uhm.. any exercise may be ruined).

Anyhue, that’s it. Oh, and I’m doing a cover for 2000AD. There you go! Some news!

Belfast Comic Book Creator Coffee Club

So we had our first meeting yesterday and I’m calling it a success. it was a small group BUT that the venue was great (big, bright, airy, quiet, roomy), everyone had something to show, and I hope everyone got something positive out of it.

I was hoping to organise another meetup further down the line, make it every two months BUT… DICE is next month, and we’d be silly not to sit and try and do some portfolio prep before hand, so we’re meeting on…

THURSDAY 18th SEPTEMBER 2014 At the Lyric Theatre Cafe at 9:30AM

Mark it in your diary folks. This gives us a week and bit before DICE and so the agenda here will be getting portolios prepped for dice, and giving advice on how to approach the editors at the show. Obviously my focus is squarely on helping artists, but if you’re a writer, small press publisher or want to break into comics in any way, then you’re more than welcome to come down.

As ever, I’ll be there – giving what veteran advice I can give, and if you’re into comics and especially if you want to MAKE comics this will be a good toe in the water before you get along to DICE which is, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this,  the best opportunity any comic artist will ever get to have their work appraised by Marvel, DC and 2000AD any where in the world.

I’m not kidding.


Hulk Portfolio Piece pencils page 2

Here’s the second page.


I rarely go against the script, and anytime I do I find that either I’ve misread the script OR I’m just not good enough to do what the script is asking.

Panel 1 was a savagly difficult panel to get right – dragging a drugged individual into a car is probably something that looks half comical, and that’s not what was required.

Panel 2 was supposed to be a closeup of Bruce’s head, drugged and bowed, but it meant that, aside from the first and last panel every panel was going to be the back of someone’s head. So I went for a dramatic closeup of the bad guy here, and bruce in the bg.

Then we cut to

Panel 3 from Bruce’s POV, hence the skewed pencils. Normally I skew the inks and leave the pencils, but since I’m doing the pencils at the end, I wanted to see how this looked. I’m pleased with the clever* fix to the problem of showing the back of someone’s head as they smile (check the mirror).

(*two clever things: one I dropped a white van into this panel, and a red light – now skewed off the page, to give a reason to stop the car and the mirror with smiling driver – but I’d be amazed if this isn’t exactly what was done by the original artist)

Panel 4 Strange monkey hands grab the bad guy.

Panel 5 Other strange monkey man type guy grabs him into the back (in the script this is described as so abstract it may be impossible to tell what’s going on).

Panel 6 leering face of the new bad guy, distorted by Bruce’s drugged up state.

I’m happy with the rhythm here, mid-shoot, closeup, reverse shot (panel 3 : this by the way, is a breaking of the 180deg rule, a rule that is pretty much essential in clean story telling, but totally breakable when you want to change the pull a surprise on the reader) the next two shots are a little too similar, but the weirded druggy haze may be saving me. Then creepy close up.

It’s not a clever-clever layout, but it works.

Incidentally, I started this yesterday after finishing the first page. Then abandoned it this morning and chipped away at it all day while looking after the kids. I am heroic in my dedication to unpaid sample work…

(Oh couple of notes: panel 1 is still a little goofy looking to my eyes, not quiet in the merry marvel manner – so I’ll fix that.. somehow… and the panel borders with the drugged out sequence may get a little rougher or disappear altogether…)


PROJECT: Hulk Portfolio Piece

I’m doing a Hulk Sample- before we all get too excited, this is simply me doing this off my own bat. Hopefully should have a good 10 pages worth of inked Hulk for DICE.

Here’s the pencils for page 1 and the layouts for same, the script I’m using is by Jeff Parker – Hulk vs Frankenstein (can you guess why I wanted to do this one?) Jeff has a bunch of great scripts if you’re similarly looking to do a sample, here.

Unusually, I suppose, for a Hulk sample, there’s precious little Hulk in the first 5 pages of the story – but I like them, and I think they’ll do a good job of showing my story telling abilities (and, if you’re gonna do a Hulk sample it’s a given you can draw the Hulk, right?)

Then I’ll skip a few pages and go to a three page sequence where Banner Hulks out and faces Frankenstein’s monster, should be enormo fun.


You can follow along by following me on twitter or instagram.

Let me talk you through the page.

Panel 1 “Military Men with metal vests and sci-fi gear jogging through the streets of Lyon” Jeff adds in his script, this could be happening at “La Place des Terreaux”. I’ve mostly kept to that. This is the big establishing shot, and I’m conscious there’s no Hulk yet, so I wanted a big imposing opening shot. I’m less convinced by the other military men, and I may yet add another soldier in mid foreground (this is my blueline pencils, which I’ve scanned from a pencil page and rejigged a bit with cut and paste and added panel borders).

Panel 2, when I originally sketched this page out I had panel 2,3 and 4 all being roughly the same distance from bruce, but it was a pretty boring rhythm. Going from the distance shot to a super closeup of bruce watching the action. Pretty much as scripted, but I like the view of Bruce I’ve got here.

Panel 3 – Bruce is supposed to be nearly bumping into this guy, but I’m not really selling this, so I may rejig bruce a little, make him more turning than he is here.

Panel 4 – Bruce’s face took bloody ages, it’s a surprisingly tough angle, but I think it works. I suspect I’ve drawn the other guys head too large (in both panels) so I may yet adjust this.

Plan is to pencil the next page before inking this, so there may be yet more revisions before I’m entirely done. But I’ll happily listen to any sage advice you’re prepared to offer! (even if it’s just “that’s awesome!” – sod it, ESPECIALLY if it’s that)



Belfast Comic Book Coffee Club

This thursday – 21st August, I’m hosting a Comic Book Coffee Club morning in the Lyric Theatre Cafe in Belfast from 9:30am.

By coincidence, a couple of people wanted to meet up this week and have me look at their portfolio/comic work, and I thought it’d be fun to turn it into something. So the Belfast Comic Book Coffee Morning was born!

There used to be a regular monthly meet up of comic creatives at night in a pub, but it never really had an agenda beyond “let’s all meet up”. This has a specific agenda, as Andy Luke jokingly referred to it, it’s the “PJ Holden Academy”.

So, if you want the advice of 15(!) year veteran of the comic book industry and you want coffee or you just want to meet other people making comics, then the Belfast Comic Book Coffee Club is where it’s at. (You don’t have to like coffee – I don’t)

If it’s a success (and by success, I mean at least three people turn up and they all get something beneficial out of it) I’d love to turn it into something regular.

(BTW the lyric theatre is simply the venue, and really aren’t expecting a whole load of comic people to turn up – but it’s a big, roomy, light filled cafe and a perfect venue for such an event.)