Folklore Thursday: Cat

“John, look, I think we need to get engagement on twitter up. The internet loves cats, so whatever the NEXT folklore tale is about — I’m drawing cats”

And thus, John sent me this:

Cat Sí are Celtic fairies in cat form. An old tale tells of a man walking at night hearing a voice say “Tell Tom Tildrum Tim Toldrum is dead”. Returning home, he repeats this to his wife, whereupon their own cat exclaims “Then I am king of the cats!” and flees. #FolkloreThursday

I’ll be honest, no matter what John sent, I was drawing cats. I’ve got to find ways to amuse myself.

Anyway, Not only was I thinking cats, I was thinkig Aubrey Beardsley

And here we are. Usually ideas like this are about making sure I’m trying new things, if I can constrain myself in some way (esp if it’s a thing I never normally do) the thinking goes (well mine does) this might spur me into new stuff.

Beardsley, though, frustratingly, doesn’t seem to have drawn many cats. (No great surprise, he was a startlingly young 25 when he died) and so I was stuck with how to draw a Beardsley cat. Panel one cat was drawn on the basis that he tended to draw very wide bottomed figures, art noveauesque shapes. So I cobbled a silhouette around that. The spikes I added much later when the whole page was finished, partly because Beardsley did sometimes add fringes on to black areas, and partly because I wanted it to have some sort of air of the supernatural or – mostly – to differentiate it from the cat on the last panel. As it happens, the spikes I added made it look like Mog from Meg and Mog and that amused me, so in it stayed.

Panel 2, it’s Beardsley himself. A young man, never married so this is, clearly a fictionalised version of him. Beardsley’s work seems to have large black shapes (often fringed with white dots or black) and large clear white space. So it’s trying to figure out how to balance that all. Very pleased with the lettering balloon – done in Clip Studio, which is not a brilliant tool for lettering, but this was an easy effect to make (black on white balloon, white text, then the entire layer is given a black outline)

Panel 3, Beardsley and wife – just made her up. The picture behind them is “self portrait in bed” by Bearsley

Panel 4, finally our cat walks out – this is a Beardsley cat – taken from Pierrot and cat, from St. Paul’s – I’ve had to add a couple of legs as the original is behind another figure.

And the decorative around the frame element was important, but I felt I needed to get the thick black border for the full on Beardsley effect.

Hope you like it! One more to go before we call this year done, the next will be the last for the year, and it’ll be very wintery…

Masterclass

I’ve signed up for the Masterclass website. Masterclass run a bunch of web classes from various luminaries in their fields explaining how they do what they do. It’s all very very high production quality, though that’s reflected in the price – £170 per year though, this weekend they had a special buy one membership and give another away (and so, you could, if you were so inclined, split the costs with a mate)

I remember there was a little of stink in some small areas of the comics community when Neil Gaiman was advertising his Masterclass – there was an odd feeling that he should be offering this all up for nothing (I mean, I’ve been paid over the years for passing my knowledge and it’s pretty limited, so I’m not sure what people where objecting to)

So, I have, of course, signed up for his class. I figured if I can do one class per month over the next year I’ll have had good value from it. Some of the writing classes are 30 or so lessons, so one per day should do it. And I figure if I do the writing I’ll also do at least one for just entertainment, as it happens there’s a Penn and Teller teach magic (it’s cool, I’m not about to start doing magic tricks, arthritic fingers somewhat limit my prestidigitation but it’s nice to learn stuff, right?) so I’ve signed up for that. And since they suggest you sign up for three classes, there’s also a Gordon Ramsay one, for cooking (obviously) which I will be trying to learn stuff in too.

Anyway, you’ve a day to make up your mind (took me a couple of days) And I’ll try and keep a track of which of the classes I do and keep you in the loop…

Folklore Thursday: Rübezahl

Look, I’ll address this head-on. Yes, that’s Alan Moore, Leah Moore and John Reppion. I wasn’t asked to do that (John never asks for me to do anything, it’s all me) but reading the tweet, laying the panels out and thinking “I need a weather giant, a wise woman and a wizard-like Monk” and it suddenly occurred to me that it would be both perfect and funny.

I started colouring it with the sky with a view to full colour, but I’m a bit up against it here at the moment and then I thought I’d use the same blue for the giants – as I wanted them to feel ephemeral rather than big solid giant then realised I didn’t really need any colour (phew, that saved some time).

Sometimes I wish I had more time to attack these things, but you don’t always get what you wish for. 

Journal

I’ve been keeping a journal this past week, based on the Bullet Journal format.

The Bullet Journal is, basically a way of organising a notebook into something like a diary with a todo list. There’s a lot of hoodoo that makes it feel a bit cult like – but the essence is “here’s a way to organise a todo list”. Like the pomodoro technique I think it can be useful.

There’s a lot to the Bullet Journal stuff, though, honestly it’s not that complex (the magic is: You make your own index, add page numbers to all pages and then allow yourself to find how you can use it best)

I’m finding it useful, though my life isn’t busy busy – there’s lots of grind in what I do, sit down draw a page, do the next page and repeat forever. But it is helping me find myself on top of other out-of-comics stuff.

So, here’s some additions I’ve made to my bullet journal:

Threads

Threading bullet journals already exist, basically if you run out of room on a page, you simply write, at the page number below it the next page that you should go to (and if you’ve multiple books you could write 2.23 to indicate book 2, page 23). I’ve ramped up how I use threads, for indicating a page (say for example I have a to do list that says “• Podcast recording ” I’ll add an indicator for the page where I keep my podcast notes, the indicator is drawn like a simple bookmark:

I’ve added a Collection (Bullet Journal speak for a couple of pages of notes on a very specific topic) for Podcasting (just lists of topics) as well as a double page spread for keeping a note of my stomach pain from IBS (I’ve drawn a little calendar where I’ve put red in the dates where the pain has kicked off, along with a graph showing the pain intensity along with the time of day – there’s space there too for writing whatever food I ate that might have kicked the pain off)

Finally, I’ve a Collection of Comics Projects – drawn as gridded boxes based on my previous Schedule page, this helps me keep track of what I’m drawing, what I’ve drawn and where gaps in my schedule are. As I do pages I draw completed bullet points to indicate when I’ve drawn them, too.

I’ve been doing it for a week, having seen many many bullet journals, I started off by drawing inspirational quotes, decorative elements and all sorts of idiotic elements to it, but really, the big key for me is using the index and threading to go to the next or previous pages, has helped me get some more boring admin stuff done (stuff that I tend to forget, and have to do at the last possible moment).

Anyway, we’ll see if I can keep it up. I’ve been dragging the log with me everywhere, constantly updating and checking it and making stuff happen.

The Long Con

I’ve not done many cons this past couple of years, but I feel like next year I aught to up my con game.

Cons used to serve a very particular function for me, once upon a time, they were generally the place you’d go to meet editors and fellow creatives. I’d never bother with tables (because frankly I had no idea what I’d do at one). Eventually all the editors stopped attending and it was just about other pros, they’d become ‘jollies’.

My first comic con was around ’98 – ’99. I went over under the wing of Stewart Crofts-Perkins (aka WR Logan – one of the most well known 2000ad fans, credited for a number of story ideas by John Wagner, and is the fan for whom Chief Judge Logan is named – Wagner used to take great delight in telling Stu how he was about to mangle Judge Logan in the latest episode of Dredd, Stu sadly passed in 2016)

Pretty safe to say I’d’ve never ventured off to a con without Stewarts guidance (I was coming over from Belfast, had no friends locally doing conventions, though there were people – I just didn’t know them)

It was all UKCAC and Bristol cons in those days.

But they eventually died out, for a while leaving nothing but a couple of token comic cons and some of the massive film and memorabilia cons (which by then had been touched by the Big Bang Theory and were calling themselves Comic Cons, much to many comic creators chagrin).

Even cosplaying was a new endeavour in those halcyon days. (Memorably at an early con one guy dressed as Judge Dredd [and as a mark of the accuracy of his scratch built outfit he was also sporting a goatie beard] wearing a helmet that restricted his hearing, he was jokingly asked to come up to collect the award on behalf of the best character “Judge Dredd” – having misheard the announcer he went up to collect thinking it was best cosplay outfit (this, before those awards even existed), there was a very awkward moment as the 2000ad crew rescued their award from him, but not before he’d made a speech thanking his mate for holding his coat at the back and being amazed at the support… oops)

Anyway, cons now fall into, roughly, three categories for a creator, each of them have different needs and advantages…

Networking – if you’re only one of a couple of creators at a con it’s not much use for networking. Cons with editors, publishers, writers are all good for artists for networking. Bring portfolio, bring free stuff, circulate, mingle, eat drink and make merry.

Money making – You need a table to do this, along with something to sell. Prints, original art, comics, whatevers, or, possibly sketching on the day. Good footfall is needed or, at the very least, a targeted market (if you’re a Dredd artist, most decent sized British cons are good for this)

Something new – look, not all cons will have massive footfall, be super targeted to what you do, or be great for networking, but sometimes they’re just something that looks fun or amazing – do those if you can! Just make sure you don’t go broke doing them. They won’t advance your career, but they will (usually) be a lot of fun.

Anyway, that out of the way, I’m looking to get to some cons next year, and really they’ll need to hit two of three of those things for me. Cons are expensive, I work from home, so a two day weekend at a comic con can cost me four days of work – two days at the actual con, and two days of travel around the con.

(I once did a con so far from home it was two wasted days getting there and two back, mind you I also once did a con that in Athens that I went because I’d never been, got no work done, cost me a fortune but fell in love with Athens and returned two weeks later with my wife for a holiday).

Of course, on top of the work time lost, there’s the cost of travel and hotel on top of that (though in the days of yore, I’d compare travel notes with my english collegues often discovering the flight from Belfast was a half or a third the price of their train tickets)

When I began doing cons, comics where my secondary income – I had a proper day job. When I went to comics full time, cons became something of an expensive luxury (even if I was fortunate to have expenses paid to some).

And I’m not unusual in that, that’s most people’s experience.

So, anyway, if you’re a con I’ve not been to and would like me as a guest, just ask! If I can I’d love to attend.

Provisionally I’m planning to get to thoughtbubble in 2020 – I’ve missed every single one for various reasons, largely around timing.

And, because I can, here’s some photos from Ghosts of Conventions past, specifically Bristol Con 2004 (15 years ago!) – which I decided to document from my flight on (like a lunatic).

Folklore Thursday: Whispers

The below was published in our Patreon (which you can subscribe to and get the comic as soon as I draw it, which is usually a day or two early!)

“Does this work” has become something of a mantra between John and I, he’ll send me something and a “does this work” (and it always does) and sometimes I’ll try something different and email it to John with a “Does this work”

So, anyway – does this work?

Bar a couple of bits all the ghosts are photos of me, my wife and my kids. (The couple at the door is from our wedding photo).

I’ll admit this may be gimmicy, but it’s one of the pleasures of this format is trying something once and moving on to something else.

I think if I could, I’d do something better with the fairies, the playground stuff (overlaying a photo of something…?) and the circus poster – dig in and find something that’s a real circus clown poster (and out of copyright).

Anyway, on to the next one!

Schedule

“How long does it take you to do a page?”

Every comic artist has had to answer that one at some point (and more often than not, they have to answer that one over and over again, both to fans at conventions, to family and friends who’ve no idea and to other working professionals, and finally, most hauntingly, to editors…)

For me, the answer is and will always be: a page a day. (it’s also reassuringly definite)

I mean, it’s a lie. Sometimes I can do two (sometimes three!) pages per day (3-4 hours of solid work can get a page done depending on what’s on it) and sometimes a page refuses to cooperate and can take a week or more (I mean, only when the deadline has the slack built in, otherwise you’re shooting yourself in the head doing that).

There’s a good blog post here about schedules and working within deadlines. They talk a lot about 200 page graphic novels (longest I’ve ever done is 174 pages, and it took a year – longer than I’d anticipated owing to family illnesses)

To help me work through deadlines and jobs, I sometimes use my “comics calendar” – it has 25 boxes – representing 25 pages for each month.

If I can get through each month and tick each of those 25 pages then I know I’m on schedule.

Sometimes I’ll adjust that up or down, for me 25 pages is doable (I’ve done 50 page months before… they were pretty good pages, but it is hard work)

I’ll combine this comics calendar with a proper big wall chart calendar, so I can keep track of when I’m doing work and how much. Subscribing to the Seinfeld joke writing method – essentially put an X on every day that you draw a page, and keey going til all the Xs join up.

And if you work full time and a page a day is just an absolute impossibility (and I sympathise, I worked part time for the first decade of my professional comic drawing career)-then divide the page down into chunks you know you can do – half a page, a quarter of a page, the pencils – single panels, then everytime you do a chunk put and X and move on to the next. Even if you imagine you can do a quarter of a page everyday with a full time job, and you do that every day, that’s still 90 full pages of comics per year…

Here’s my comic progress chart – I mark each project with a different highlighter colour and mark it off through the month – if I only do pencils, then I’ll mark half the box in that colour, and then fill the box when the page is completed.

Oh, and one last thing, I’ve blogged about it and talked about it before, but the pomodoro method is an incredible useful tool to get stuff done. It breaks work into 25 minute highly focused chunks with a 5 minute break with every fourth 25 minute break followed by a 25 minute break. Even if you can only get two of those 25 minute chunk in a day and you do it every day (al Seinfeld method) then you’ll be amazed at how much work you can get done.

There’s apps to make it easier, but you can do the same with a kitchen timer – the app I use is called focus keeper and it’s on the iphone or ipad.

Anyway, all said and down the big, horribly obvious advice is, knuckle down, do the work, don’t get distracted by writing a massive blog post, like I just did. Keep drawing!

-pj

Folklore Thursday: Locker

Oh man, we messed up.

Well, we didn’t really, we work from a list in advance of what the next Folklore Thursday is gonna be. The list is pretty far in advance, and, apparently, this week, changed. So instead of whatever-this-weeks-topic was it became insects. BUT THIS WAS THE FIRST WEEK I WAS ACTUALLY AHEAD! so, poop. Instead you’re getting too Folklore strips. Locker, was my new fav.

Davy Jones’ Locker. The deep-sea Hell of the drowned, according to pirate-lore and later nautical-lore. Davy Jones a diabolical figure, sometimes said to be glimpsed among the rigging during a storm. More often than not though, the sea-devil simply waits below.

John Reppion via Twitter

I love stuff like this, instantly I could see it all – deep-sear Hell of the drowned. Class! Trying to get something of a narrative in there – the sailer with the red scarf, drowned in the waters. And shifting to a symbolic skull in the water, was fun in the last panel.

I enjoy drawing gruesome faces, so that much is fun for me.

Uniform

I cobbled my version of dredd together over 15 or so years of lifting and removing the bits of his uniform I liked and didn’t like.

The Stallone movie (*spit*) added a couple of things to my Dredd armour – notably a neat tidy collar and tiny little judicial badges (which I only give to fairly senior judges) and a lip or rim around the red part of the helmet…(and my Dredd helmet probably owes more to Steve Dillon than anyone)

(er.. collar badge missing in this picture).

I’m still working on how my eagle looks, but, for the most part it works like this…


Made up of two parts, the lower/inner part acts as the support for the arm, and the eagle – and then the eagle pivots/rests on top of it. Frequently colourists will colour both the same, but my preference is for the inner part to be a dark blue (darker than the uniform even)

I’m still playing with the gloves, but I tend to favour this style (Jock’s design is so strong that even for the brief window he drew Dredd some of his improvements to Dredd’s uniform rippled down through the years)

I imagine they’re velcro fastners. I’ve no idea what the hell they’d keep in those glove pockets -I mean two per glove is a silly size – maybe some bullets?

Belt pouches are fairly classic standard, button with a central ribbing…


Which I think are largely McMahon design.

I don’t think there’s much remarkable about my elbow or knee pads or boots – it’s all big chunky shapes, that look like they’ve been battered about – that’s my preference.

On last thing, and the reason for the blog post… I think – though I may be wrong – I just invented a new way to do one part of the uniform that.. well.. I’ve never been happy about.

The respirator – I’ve seen this done where the badge slides down and covers the mouth and where the entire bulged part where the badge is attached comes down. Which seems marginally more likely (while explaining why it has that bulge)

My new innovation… ta da! is to add pop out fins – now these pop out either side of the respirator when activated, and form a vacum seal around the face (and in fact, possibly they inflate a little – and may – if animated – look like they’re breathing with you).

It looks like this:

(NOT ACTUALLY Judge Dredd… this is another Judge)

I doubt anyone else will ever steal them from me, but even so, I’m happy knowing I adding something totally new to Dredd.

Holden and Reppion are Making Comics (on Patreon)

So, been chatting to John about our next moves, and we’ve set up a patreon. If you’ve enjoyed the weekly folklore comics, and want to help us justify to ourselves why we’re doing it, you can sign up to our patreon at patreon.com/holdenreppion

If you sign up, for $5 you’ll help support us and for $10 you’ll get to see things early, I’m usually a day or two ahead of the deadline for art, so you’ll see that.

The back room details and blog posts for everything will all migrate over there too, I’m afraid. But will try and keep it alive here too.