All posts by PJ

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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.)




Here’s a hulk sample I did for the 2006 New York comic con. It’s very cartoony. I don’t think it’s ever been seen by anyone (script written by Rob Williams). Maybe I’ll give it another go at some point (maybe not make it so clearly goofy the next time around).

hulk_sample1 hulk_sample2 hulk_sample3 hulk_sample_cartoony4.

Dept of Monsterology Trade Collection


Available to preorder in previews right now, the collection of Dept Of Monsterology “Monsterology 101″ collects the first miniseries, plus a new one-off called “The Trouble With Harry” where we explore some of the origins of Brain in a jar in a giant Diving Suit Robot Harry Wilmington.

If you’ve already read the series, hopefully the collection adds enough to the pot that it’s worth your while picking it up, and if you haven’t read it, man-oh-man are you missing something…

Stuff like: Hopping Chinese Vampires, Undersea Monster-men, Giant, ancient technology, Body-Swapping-deadly twins and more. Much more.

Here’s the cover (in pencils and colours)


Office Space II

It seems silly to be excited about studio space, when, in essence, I’ve occupied the same tiny room for around 8 years – using the same desks that I’ve worked at for around 15 years (actually one is probably 20 years old). But I am.

I stumbled across a great desk/shelving unit combo in a charity shop for a steal (actually oddly priced: the desk was £25 the shelving unit £55 – one was vastly under priced the other felt over priced). I’d planned on buying a small desk to use in my dad’s garage (a room he’d converted for horrifying reasons I’ll tell you about the next time you see me at a con – just ask about my dad’s “bachelor pad“)  as a get-away-from-home studio, but this desk was just too tempting to buy for home.

Anyhue, old desks all gone, new desk in place. This desk is much larger, necessitating a switch in position – which I’m only getting used to (not helped by the current sweltering heat in Belfast). I’ve turned from facing the wall with the door (and back to the window) (let’s call that 3 O’clock) to facing the wall (at 12 O’clock) which means the window is to my left and the door to my right (though it’s actually behind me since I’m flush to the wall I’m facing). I like this position a lot more. I’m no believer in feng shui, but the fact that the other parts of the house are no outside my field of view, and the outside world is now in it feels great.

One of the problems arising out of new workspace though is that my old drawing area was vast – too vast, men lived and died in the outer fringes of the centre of the drawing board, unnoticed – lives lost lamenting a lesser love.

Or something.

Anyway, it was too big, but it was all I knew.

My new drawing area is exactly A2 sized, no more no less. Which is large enough, but I’m struggling to figure out some of the logistics of keeping water from spilling, ink from splattering and pencils from doing that things pencils do that means the moment I turn my back the little buggers have sodded off to the far corner of the studio.

Here’s the new hotness…

Screenshot 2014-07-25 19.44.54

Weirdly, even though the new desk is massive compared to my original computer desk, as it’s also doubling as a drawing desk I’ve actually managed to free up HALF my studio space. I’m aghast. I have NO idea what to do with that extra space. I suspect it’ll be mostly used for pacing.

Book Club: Use of Weapons

Use of Weapons by Ian M Banks is a book in his Culture Series.

There are deeper reviews out there, if what you want to know what the culture is but it’s basically a post-scarcity society, where everything you could want is available – which would make for dull stories, but luckily the Culture books deal more how the culture interacts with non-culture societies, or, rather, controls, guides and generally moves them along.

First chapter or so and I couldn’t shake the feeling I’d read the book before, but having read through it’s pretty clear if I had read it before I certainly hadn’t got very far.

I really enjoyed it, the narrative structure is a little peculiar, every other chapter is a flash back which goes further back and deeper in to the history of the protagonist – it was very Memento.

There’s a great big knife blade of a twist (well, two actually) the really makes you want to go back and read it all.

It’s clear my tastes in sci-fi are starting to coalesce around far future type stuff. More Banks on my reading list I think. Though, the next book I’ve lined up is Dark Eden by Chis Beckett (it was on sale on amazon, so whachagonnado?)


Office Space

I’m clearing my studio – I have a new desk on the way (well a second hand desk) to replace my computer table. This old table here I’ve owned for probably 15 years, handed down from my brother(who’s since passed on) – it’s an incredibly sturdy office table, the likes of which ikea wouldn’t know how to build.

Unfortunately, the drawers inside have fallen apart, it’s too sturdy to remove them (I tried) and it’s a like a gnarly old tortoise, too old and ugly to attract anything but slightly bewildered stares.

New table is a more modern (and likely more fall-y apart-y) but L shaped. So I’m hoping I can shift some things around and use it for drawing as well as computer work.

The big trouble is cruft. Decades of accumulated bits of paper, drawings unfinished, notebooks with 10% of the pages used. Stuff I should man up and throw out, but habitual hogging has halted  any such sense.

It’s like my blog – there’s a lot of stuff in there that just doesn’t work any more, means nothing to no-one but me, and really, I should just shut the whole thing down, delete it all and then start it up by putting it back together one bit at a time.

But who has the time for that?