The Portable Studio

Away from home for a couple of days, and so I had a chance to build up a portable studio. There are, obviously, major constraints but that’s ok, I like limits.

Everything fit in a single big bag.

Digital elements on the studio:

iPad Pro 12.9 512Gb, the latest model, with a nice case for it and the Apple Pencil. This case has a fixed cover (I much prefer these kind of things)

I’ve also got a usb-c dongle, which I can plug a mouse in to (for the purposes of this I borrowed my son’s gaming mouse, though it’s a little ostentatious for my tastes – with it’s vegas lighting and stealth fighter looking buttons)

I’ve a neat little Bluetooth keyboard, a separate keyboard with a hardware on/off switch on the bottom. It’s got a nice feel. I like it because it can be placed anywhere – in front of the iPad, or off to the side, so I can use it while digital drawing.

The mouse and keyboard combo means the iPad can act like a normal computer. And, of course, I can just grab it and start drawing, I’ve procreate for colour painting and clip studio.

Big important point with clip studio is remember to pre-download all the files you’re working with. I’ve pre-downloaded the 52 pages of the folklore stories, because trying to do that over a 3G connection is a bit murderous (and would eat up data).

That’s all topped off with my iPhone, and it’s 30Gb three connection which I can easily tether to the iPad (oh, I also have some earphones that plug into the usb-c dongle, bog standard headphones since the iPad Pro no longer has earphone connections)

So that’s the digital stuff, but I still like drawing on paper.

So the traditional tools are a canson 180 notepad – these are great because.- as you can see in the picture, they can be fully opened up they’ve cleverly got a stitched spine that a separate front and back cover, so they can open up without the spine getting in the way. It’s really very clever. Plus I like the paper. This is A4 (my eyesight being rubbish, I used to use the A5 but everything has got to be bigger)

I’ve paired that up with a zebra brush pen (small) – though I should have bought a few more inking tools.

A graphgear 1000 pental pencils – filled with .5 leads (I bought a bunch of .5 HB leads but it turns out not all HB leads are created equal, so I reverse fed a stadler .5 lead into the nib of it, which is a bit darker. We’ll see if we run out of leads)

A Mono Zero eraser pencil. These are great if you’re doing pencil textural drawings and you can use this to pick out highlights.

A Boxy carbon eraser, I like black erasers, they seem to smear less.

And that’s it.

All of that fits in to a fairly sturdy man bag I picked up a few years ago.

Basically I can now do roughs and inks some things, the folklore tales are largely all digital so I can probably do that entirely.

BUT I am supposed to be on a holiday for a few days. So maybe I’ll just sleep. Who knows…

June 2020 Catchup (I KNOW I KNOW!)

Eight days into July and I’ve only just realised I didn’t log my page count for June. So let’s try that now.

Ok, Chimpsky Captain Cookies ep 3 finished (I can mention the title as it’s been announced in the letter’s page of 2000ad, you wont get to see this until the new year!) That’s Six pages. Pencils and inks.

Finished the entirety of the thing I’ve been doing for The Finish Institute (their annual report in comic form!) I think I did pages 5 to 18, that’s 13 pages. Pencils and inks.

And did four folklore thursdays, pencils inks and colours.

Did a silly little one pager with Umar Ditta, and working on a thing with him.

And finally – FINALLY – finished the strip Jericho – 5 for the 77. Rescued, to be honest, by Dan Whitehead, who stepped into to dialogue and script my story that was just out of my grasp. Dan did a great job, really elevated it, so it’s like a proper story now. That’s four pages. No wait, I finished that last week. SO DOESN’T COUNT FOR JUNE. DAMMIT.

So, total in June (and ignoring some other tv story boarding stuff) that brings me to 20 pages. Couple of invoices out, and that’s it. Not a bad total, not a great total.

And I suppose, since we’re halfway through the year, that means, roughly speaking, I’ve finished 100 pages so far.

Back in my pre-pro days (let’s call that the dark time) I’d’ve been amazed to get anywhere near a hundred pages in a year (I’m pretty sure some years I managed 20)

Now, sadly, it’s a pretty slow average for me.

This month I’ve already put four pages to bed, and started the final episode of this Chimpsky Strip. And, unless something else happens, that’s it! Four more pages of the folklore thursday to do too, but as we all know, no payday for that!

Things usually turn up and I’ve been saving little a little squirrel for the inevitable draw down of work, with the plan of turning my attention back to a kickstarter project (one I’m drawing all of) and so, worst case scenario I start that sooner than anticipated.

Anyway, onward!

Folklore Thursday: Stone

In a slightly unusual move, I’ve done two versions of this, the first didn’t sit well with me so I recoloured it. So I present the recoloured version first:

If you’ve come all this way down to read my thinking on here, I’m afraid I’ve got nothing. This is the 51st page of comics I’ve drawn for folklore thursday and I think four more strips and boom! a whole year done!

2020 Week 25

Sheesh.

How’s your week. It’s been a complex, difficult week for everyone I think (and for many it’s doubtless been painful too).

I’ve been slowly slowly working my way through part three of a four part Dredd. Got it finished, eventually, three weeks it’s taken – for six pages. Crazy. (Granted I was planning on taking two weeks and I don’t have a deadline so it’s not late, but it is a rubbish way to earn an income)

That done, I’ve been doing corrections for a WWI story (never much fun, but necessary for this because it’s based on a true story). Drew a one page strip written by Umar Ditta, for an anthology thing and I’ve been thinking about the Channel Hex thing again.

To recap: last year I started working around the idea of a kickstarter format, one that would be both sustainable for me to do, and sustainable for a book for people to buy.

(And sustainability was important, because if I could make one book work then I could turn it into recurring format)

Ultimately I figured drawing a 64 page book in the “Commando” or “Starlord” format (roughly A5 size, typically 1 or 2 panels per page) would be the best. It would be quick to do, cheap to make and feel substantial – 64 pages would feel like something, even if, based on the page size it’s close to being about 16-20 pages of normal sized comics.

Anyway, instead of just barrelling ahead I did a lot of thinking on it. Roped a friend in for a script, and just started chipping away at it.

But, of course, feature creep meant it slipped to being bigger than commando size (a calculation I thought wouldn’t make any difference, but OF COURSE IT DID) it sort of upended everything. The Covid-19 hit and all plans went out the window.

Now, I’ve seen others take a similair approach to kickstarter and do well out of it, so it’s time to think about this again. (Notably the guys doing Hell in Stalingrad, who I did a cover for)

Going back to square one, the original format idea, it’s time to start building out spreadsheets and seeing how I can make it work. And, as soon as I get a script in hand, I’m gonna take an unpaid month and just draw the hell out of it. And move to kickstart with it as soon as I can.

So, next week, I’ll be thinking about that, waiting on a Dredd script and doing a four pager for the 77 kickstarter comic. Oh, and doing some work on this thing for the Finnish Insititute, which is a bunch of interviews I’m adding some goofy humour too (all done as comics).

That’s a lot of stuff for next week, but I just need to find my groove. Tomorrow I’ll fire the Dredd off to the editor. Look at what needs done on the 77. (Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday) and get that out of the way.

Closing off stuff to allow new stuff in.

Anyway, here’s to a calmer week ahead (as if)

OH and as soon as movement starts again on Channel Hex – you’ll see it behind the scenes on my newsletter SIGN UP NOW channelhex.com

Folklore Thursday: Egg

Available to buy as a print on redbubble

Originally published over at patreon.

So, while John and I aren’t exactly the same age, we both grew up in Blighty and share many of the same references, and I’m pretty sure John had some notion what I’d do with this.

Monkey was an absolutely formative experience for me. I’d never seen anything like it. It hit the UK in ’79 – and I was nine years old. I grabbed the nearest broom handle from the back yard and was twirling it around like Monkey Magic for hours on end.

Endless school fights.

If you’ve never seen Monkey (or, to give it it’s original Japanese name, “Journey in to the West”) it was an absolutely bonkers adaptation of the a Chinese novel written in the 16th century. And probably my first exposure to asian culture.

I had a couple of notions of how to handle this, the big choice was do I do my own version of The Monkey King or do I do the version played by Masaaki Sakai (who was impossibly charming as the boisterous, and naughty monkey)

And you know, the pleasure of doing your own stuff is you can do what you like. So Masaaki Sakai it was. 

Ideally, I think, I would’ve like to have done this as a four colour comic book adaptation or a cover – and I designed a “The Monkey King” logo to drop on it, but I just couldn’t make it work, so in the end I settled for moving some of the text around so I could end on “The Monkey King” trying to tease out the idea of what my monkey king might look like, so in the final panel reveal it’s a neat little nostalgia hit.

PJ’s Live Sketch Show #5

So, yesterday was the last live sketch until august, I think – next week is Father’s Day. Then we’re into July, and that’s sort of height of summer holiday in NI.

I want to thank everyone who’s commissioned me over the 5 episodes (though really, I think I’ve done this format now about 7 times) and esp for everyone who’s been able to tune in and chat alongside. Honestly. I know I talk a lot, but if I didn’t have questions or comments to respond to it would be one hour plus of pencil scratching sounds (maybe that would be better … Nah!)

anyway. Hopefully see you all again in august for season 2 🙂

The Live Sketch Show

Now on Sundays!

Decided to make the move to Sunday Permenent, so it’s now just the PJ Holden Live Sketch show, Sundays from 8.

I’d hoped that every episode I could just do a handful of commissions, but it’s possible everyone that wants a commission has already gotten one. Boo!

BUT! If you’d like a sketch drawn for you on the show, let me know : pjholden@gmail.com subject “Live Sketch” – sketches are A5 and it’s £30 for a pencil sketch and £50 for an inked one.

The show lasts about an hour and I like to have about 6-8 sketches (depending on whether I’m inking them or not)

2020 Week 23

How was your week? Yes. Mine too.

Anyway, here’s what I did, in this, the first week of June.

Pencilled an episode of Dredd, actually quite liked some of the pages (by which I mean I sat back and thought “wow – that’s actually pretty good”) so who knows what I’ll think by the time I ink them. That happens next week.

The most recent folklore thursday seems to have been very popular.

Started up a redbubble for the folklore thursday stuff. Will be adding to it as time allows, but i think there’s some neat things up there right now…

I did an episode of the Saturday Sketch Show Live last week on Saturday (and I’m doing another episode tonight – and taking bookings for next week’s show..)

I drew a silly little three page comic with Al Ewing for “Quarantine Comix

Yes, it’s an Animal Crossing comic, sort of…

In other news, reached out to Umar Ditta whose writing a one page strip for me a quickstarter, that should be fun. (Pencilling that today in fact, possibly inking it too)

So, to next week-

Inking this episode of Dredd. Repencilling the Jericho 5 strip I’m doing for the 77 – which I’ve asked Dan Whitehead to write for me (I had planned to write this myself, but I’ve just not been able to do it to the quality I like, and Dan’s pretty damn good, which means I can concentrate on getting the drawing as good as I can…)

And that’s it.

Anyway, on to next week, and let’s all just try and get through this with our kindness and hope intact while at the same time acknowledging Black Lives Matter and systemic racism is a problem endemic both to politics and culture and we need to fix that.

May 2020

So, let’s try and do this.

What did I do in May?

Well, let’s start with the good stuff – man this was a cool month for things I’ve got in print!

Judge Dredd Chimpsky’s law drew to a close in 2000AD. Five episodes of old fashioned Dredd adventures, with everyone’s favourite hyper intelligent bonobo, Noam Chimpsky.

Lookit his little face.

And just like that, Noam makes a new Robot Friend.

Chimpsky WILL return!

Over in the Judge Dredd Megazine, the latest issue had a cover by me, so that’s cool as the three part Dredd serial (Bad Sector written by Arthur Wyatt) also finished. A very different Dredd to the chimpsky story. I hope you liked it too.

The Mighty Tharg really liked the first panel on this page, I know cus he said so!

Also this month, in the Times, I had a one page Roy of the Rovers story appear in print! (Yes, that is weird! me, football?)

Roy suffering from lockdown hair.

I started a live sketch show, roughly an hour of me chatting and sketching on facebook. The most recent episode went well, but scheduling conflicted with the launch of Nasa’s first new manned spacecraft in decades, so that was annoying (bah! NASAAAAA!)

Here’s the most recent episode – episode 3

I’m hoping I can keep it up, if you’d like to buy a sketch from me, that’s the way to go!

And, I managed to make enough selling some sketches and tings to buy myself the new iPad Pro 2020 – and it’s LOVELY! Same size screen, smaller/lighter and generally a bit nippier. Love it.

Ok, so what did I actually draw, and more importantly, what did I invoice for?

1 Episode (6 pages of a Dredd) part 2 of a new Chimpsky strip.

1 new Dredd Cover

1 Cover for The 77 (a kickstarter comic created to reflect the kind of British comics that came out in ’70s)

3 page strip with Al Ewing (you’ll see – also, these were pencils, inks, colours and letters)

and .. uhm… that might be it. Crap. That’s not been a good month. Though I did also finish a 7 page WWI story that’s taken ages (waiting on notes and approval) so that I can finally invoice that.

Also, would like it, your honour, if you took in to account four pages of Folklore Thursday (pencils, inks, colours, lettering)

So a total of: 14 pages complete and 7 pages of inks (making 21 pages completed this month)

Oh – just remembered, four pages of an oddball little comic job that isn’t for comics, but is comics (of a total of 20 pages).

So let’s add that in – 26 pages complete.

Well, it’s not as terrible as I first feared, but it’s literally unsustainable (given the percentage of invoicable/time taken to draw or finish some of it). I need to start upping my output. (or, you know, find a wealthy fan who wants to buy all my originally artwork that is super reasonably priced)

So, what’s ahead:

I’ve two more episodes of Dredd to do (12 pages). So that’s my big plan. Concurrent to that, four more episodes of Folklore Thursday (which is taking us closer and closer to the end of year one). A four page strip for the 77, and I’d like to do another 10 pages of the oddball comic thing. Bringing the months work to 32.

AHAHAHAHA.

Ahahaha. Nope, that’s unlikely. Let’s say I’ll be happy to hit 25 again though.

Anyway, hope your month wasn’t terrible and let’s see how it goes in June…