Category Archives: Uncategorized

If your name is not down…

You can’t be on my mailing list (it’s called Channel Hex).

Sign up now, over the weekend I’ll send out some snippets of some of my favourite things I’ve drawn this month – super exclusive (but spoiler free).

I’ve had the mailing list for a little while, and it’s rarely used, but this month I’m firing it up for a regular monthly transmission of art – highlights from the month along with how much work I managed to get down (I’ll try and keep it interesting) art aside, much of the rest will turn up on the blog, but if you want to see something before anyone else… the mailing list is the only way…

Back to the drawing board.

I’ve ordered a new drawing table. It’s pretty basic (and here it is on Amazon) I’ve never liked drawing tables with parallel rulers on them (though I concede the last time I had to deal with one was in the late 80s, so who knows now?) but this is a plain, boringly functional table which tilts at and angle, and should be small enough to fit in to my studio. Right now I’ve drawing on my large computer desk (that I’d hoped would replace my old drawing table and my rubbish old computer desk, it was brilliant idea that …er… didn’t work out.)

Anyway, I’m going back to old fashioned inking, let’s see if I can stick to it the entire year. Sometimes my inking / drawing process needs a reboot – I slip into bad habits quickly, and the work suffers. Usually I switch up to digital (or if the digital is the problem, I switch up to analogue) and then the problems go away.. for a short time. It’s a problem with the artist rather than the tools. And since I derive more satisfaction from the traditional methods of working, that’s what I’ll stick to. Core values!

I really want to up my productivity this year, I have two big projects for the year, and that’s all I’m doing. I’ve a checklist of pages to draw (it’s a scary long list) and as long as I tick one off a day then I’ll have a great year, guaranteed. (Course there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to check them off, that’s where will power/luck come in to play.)

Screenshot 2015-01-04 17.38.15

There are 12 of those little grids on each page, the gap at the top is the project name, the numbers 1-25 are the number of pages I potentially could do per month. Hey, if I get 20 per month I’ll be like the happiest little artist in the world.

You can download a pdf to use for your very own if you like here:

Comic Progress

Let’s check back at the end of the year to see how we all did.

I set aside two drawers in my big old art storage folder for the two projects, which means, hopefully, I’ll not get lost in switching between them (I often start projects with the best organisational intentions only to end the year wondering where all the art went – it’s never a problem as it’s all scanned in to Manga Studio and stored in a single story file, but those originals are lying around here somewhere dammit..)

Also: more pomodoro’s this year. 2015 will be the year of the Pomodoro! Anyhue, got to go, this is clearly fallen into procrastination now…

2014 Year in Review

Cheerio. 2014, you were looked upon with some serious optimism, a chance to fix all the things that hadn’t quite gone to plan in 2013 but within a very short time (the first week, in fact) you quickly became hell on earth. Anyways, as is the norm here’s my comic book year in review…

endofyearreview2014_001 endofyearreview2014_002 endofyearreview2014_003

 

So, entire year overshadowed by Nathan’s bout of anxiety/depression. I’ve gone into detail about this before, we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of it kicking off and we’re still watching Nathan just in case – this year though he has a helper in school to make sure he can cope with change and what’s going on (because otherwise he’s as smart as a whip).

Then my health took a real nosedive. I’ll be honest, the IBS didn’t come entirely out of nowhere; I stopped drinking in my late twenties because I’d find standing in a bar drinking I’d get a deeply uncomfortable pain under my ribs and in the last few years other things have happened that are all linked to IBS. Only this year the minor annoyances and weirdness coalesced into one incredible stabbing pain in my stomach. It really was night after night, at least until I took up the fodmap diet. Now, I’m mostly ok – though it doesn’t take too much to upset my tummy and it feels like I have to watch everything I eat just in case. On the plus side: actually lost weight! on the negative side: it’s incredibly depressing to be ill all the time.

And those were the lowlights – throughout the year one disaster after another – any of which would be a real low point, but since they were all cast in the shadow of Nathan’s anxiety I barely remember them at all (though I know they happened).

On the plus side, invited to Shanghai to talk to kids about drawing comics, and I went – and had an amazing week around Shanghai. Totally incredible. And Belfast had a couple of comic cons that were great, too.

Lots of high points, but my productivity just feel into the ground and dug itself lower than I could imagine. This year I want to fix that. Get out of the gate and draw. That’s it. That’s all I’m planning for. Hopefully I’ll get the breathing space to do so. Hope you have a great 2015!

 

-pj

Arrived!

Now totally knackered. Sat beside lovely old Chinese couple who despite them not speaking any English and me not speaking a word of Chinese insisted in showing me all their photos. Then the old man rubbed my belly! Presumably for luck.

Flew over Russia. Which was an unexpected surprise, discovered I don’t really understand the options on my fancy camera, so can’t really show you the awesome pictures I should hav been able to take of the orange glows from the Russian cities at night. They did look amazing. Anyway, I’m tired now so going for a jet lagged induced nap…

SHANGHAI!

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(This is my welcome banner! )

I’m heading off to Shanghai today. To be honest, my excitement is tempered somewhat by the weird tingling sensation from two day old dentist work (I suspect a nerve was clipped and it’ll feel like this for months) and the ongoing struggle I’ve had with severe stomach pains, which I’ve sort of self-identified as IBS and I’m on the FODMAP diet which is definitely having a positive impact, but I’ve no idea at all how that’ll go in China and this is the longest I’ve been away from my wife in 20 years.

Bringing a large sketchbook, a hudl (preloaded with game of thrones series 2, and the BBC Human Universe documentary) some books (digital) and tools with which to draw. I’ll be meeting friends new and old, but it’ll be particularly fun to see Tom Kline, at one time director of the Queen’s Drama Society (20 years ago) and writer/director of many of the plays I was in then too. He also, coincidentally wrote one of the first comics I ever had published, in the comic DNA Swamp (issue 1 and 2) (actually it also appeared in the comic DOMAIN for one issue) and he’s now the director of an English language school in Shanghai, I’ll be there, I think Scott McCloud will be too – it’s going to be very surreal.

Book Review: A Canticle For Leibowitz

A Canticle For Leibowitz written by Walter M. Miller, jnr.

SO, can’t remember when exactly I first heard of this book, but the name stuck – for a long long time. Honestly had no idea what it was about but that name.

I picked up the book in a second hand shop, and the first thing I was struck by was the text on the cover:

Pound Pastrami
can kraut
six bagels
-bring home for Emma.

Written in the form an illustrated script, which suggested this would be a funny, funny book.

And it was. Mostly.

The book is broken up into three parts, separated by hundreds of years, each section dealing with the rebuilding of civilisation following an atomic war.

I found the first book funny and moving, telling the tale of the Novice Brother Francis and his discovery of the remnants of Leibowitz – dead centuries- who, following the atomic wars had become a catholic and formed an order of monks who would attempt to preserve and remember the knowledge of the world (knowledge which was mostly destroyed when people turned against technology and scientists in the aftermath of the war).

This whole section is very funny, despite some of the darker stuff running deep within it. It was only towards the end that the grislier stuff bubbled up. (Unexpectadly for me, since I hadn’t expected the next section of the book to jump forward from the 26th Century to the year 3174.

In book 2, the reality of the Leibowitz memoribelia is unquestioned, Leibowitz has been granted Saint hood, and the Albertian Order of St. Leibowitz is slowly starting to build technology again.

This book deals with that interface between the secular world and the religious, and while the humour is downplayed, it’s still present in some of the characters.

Book 3, set in the year 3781 is funny, but considerably darker, and, oddly, the chapter I struggled most with.

I’d recommend you go read it.

(But don’t read this wikipedia entry about it, until AFTER you’ve read it – spoilers!)

Advent Catchup

Ugh. Ok, looks like a blog a day was optimistic. Still, I’m still here and so are you (presumably).

Here’s a catch up!

Numbercruncher (the four issue miniseries written by Si Spurrier and drawn by me, with colours by Jordie Bellaire and letters by Simon Bowland, published by Titan and now available in a awesomly cool hard back you can buy here) has been named one of the top 10 miniseries of the year by Multiversity comics (I mean, sheer modesty should stop me saying it was the number #2 mini series in their estimation-it should, but it wont) and, not only that, but it’s been shortlisted in the awards for Broken Frontier as one of their Best Limited Series of the year.  You can help out by voting here.

Dept of Monsterology #3 came out in all good comic shops yesterday. PLEASE GO AND BUY IT or ASK FOR IT in your local comic shop. I really want to do more of this book, and the ONLY way that’ll happen is if it sells – preferably through the traditional route of comic shops!  (though if you’d rather, here’s where to buy it drm free digitally)

Publishing any new material with a new publisher is fraught with all sorts of risks, and the idea that you’ll be able to buy a trade of that material is entirely dependent on whether people have bought the comics – they pay for the trade. Don’t trust that a trade will happen. I want it to happen, but, if you like the book (and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you will) and you can do, please buy the individual issues. (I’ll be honest : at this point if a trade happens it’ll be despite the numbers, rather than because of them.)

Here’s the third issue cover in all its black and white spooky splendour.

mscover3_024_025

And here’s a wonderful review that seems to really get the book. 5/5!

 

On the personal front, my wife was informed that her department in her work is closing and that she would be offered redundancy (in the same way the mafia might make you an offer you can’t refuse).

She’s taking the redundancy – which is a fair old amount, basically a years worth of salary tax free. So we’re likely to be ok. And her background/skillset means she’ll probably be ok to find a job (she has some specific qualifications that set her aside from normal admin type posts).

Which all means the new year may see some big changes. No idea what, exactly, but we’ll find out, right?

Now, go and buy my books!

 

Gogglebox

Me and tv. Ah, me and tv. I used to love you tv. Remember the raspy drizzle of light as I sat tuning you in to one of the four channels available, twisting and turning the dial until I could pick up channel 4 – the newest channel. The Munsters, Countdown and the mythical red triangle.

There was a time that I was the tv guide in my family. I could glance at a tv and tell you within seconds what was on – and by extension, the time of day and the channel. A skill, that, over time, proved more and more worthless (not that it had a lot of value at any rate).

These days, it’s an impossible skill, hundreds of channels (though we’ve cut our channels down to just the freeview, and removed all the horribly commercial ones, and slightly filthy ones and the sport, so it’s a more manageable several dozen) and millions of repeats – often on dave – have killed anyone’s chance of learning that skill.

At the moment we get our televisual kicks from freeview, Netflix (with an unblock-us subscription so we can watch us tv shows) and nowtv. NowTv is sky’s new answer to netflix (as the advertising would have it). But it’s only the answer to netflix if the question is “is there a service marginally cheaper than netflix but with substantially less tv shows”. Yes. There’s nowtv’s “entertainment” package.

It does allow you to watch live tv though, but only on a few (sky) channels and even then, often you’ll be watching and suddenly a program will be ‘slated’ – that is, a little credit box will appear saying “sorry! You can’t watch this, we don’t have the rights to show it digitally”. Which is frustrating. It’s like the released the service too early through fear of missing out altogether.

Still, even then, nowtv, netflix and unblock us combined are still cheaper than the digital viewing options we had via virgin media.

And my kids mostly watch people unboxing pokemon toys on Youtube. So clearly, entertainment is changing.