2020 Week 16 Review

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

William Butler Yeats “The Second Coming”

Yeesh. Missed a week of the weekly reviews. And nearly missed this weeks. It’s been chaos, and not just at Holden studios – the world is just. Yeesh.

So, to catch up week 15: pencilled a new episode of a four part Dredd. I might have done other things. I can’t remember.

Week 16: determined to get the Dredd all inked. Ok – did most, missed a page. Gonna finish that tomorrow. Also finished off a cover (suddenly remembered the deadline for it was the 20th – ie tomorrow – and while I’d coloured up the main figure I needed a background, necessity being the mother of invention I figured I’d add a pencil/greywash combo – and I think it turned out pretty good.

Next week:

  • Monday 20th gotta do this weeks folklore thursday. Finishing inking this Dredd.
  • Tuesday 21st– got an 8 page charity thing I’ve gotta pencils, so I think I’ll try and get layouts done, then layouts of the second part of this Dredd.
  • Wednesday 22nd– Dredd pencils, 1-2
  • Thursday 23rd– Dredd pencils 3-4
  • Friday 24th – Dredd pencils 5-6
  • Saturday 25th – Charity Pencils 1-2
  • Sunday 26th – Charity Pencils 3-4

Other things that happened this week:

I started inking the Dredd by hand on paper, then switched over to digital inks on the ipad. Finally figured out an optimum way for me to ink on the ipad – I’ve turned off pinch to zoom, I can still use two fingers to rotate but the only way I can now zoom in is in the fixed zoom in amounts using the on screen +/- or to keys I’ve mapped ‘0’ to ‘Print Size’ and ‘-’ and ‘+’ to zoom out and zoom in (strictlyspeaking, on my keyboard I’ve mapped ‘=’ to zoom in because the plus key is actually above it, and I’d need to press shift to do it.

Oh I cut my own hair. I’ve got a thing about my hair, I like it short – my usual setting is 1 at the back. And so, I figured I’ve got a beard trimmer I’ll give this a try.

It turns out, among my many many talents, self-hairdressing isn’t one. So, unable to figure out how to give myself a reasonable short back and sides, I ended up shaving it all off (well, giving myself a number 1 all over – or close to a one, my beard trimmer doesn’t quite have the same settings)


Look, i’d’ve left that mohawk on but for the fact my wife hated it. And I love my wife far more than I love that mohawk. So off it went. (But goddam a mohawk suits my hair).

(My wife also hates my hair entirely shaved off but I lack the skill to do much about that one)

My weekly whiteboard has been largely ignored but gonna try and get it back in to shape. Need to be able to keep track of invoicable work – I’m starting to hit the blockages in work, I’ve work on but not as much as I normally do, and – from chatting with Pals it appears I’m lucky to have that. So many have been told to down tools (or, worse, the work just simply vanished).

It’s gonna be a blood bath for the creative industries, I’m hoping we’re all smart enough to pivot to whatever the new future is but even if we manage to, who’s to say that people can afford to spend money on comics?

It’s pretty bleak out there.

(btw this is why I shouldn’t blog late at night, I get very melancholic…)

Folklore Thursday: Gandreið

Originally posted at patreon this Thursday. I’m running a bit late on the old blog updates.

Ok, I feel like this may make little sense, there’s a logic in here, I swear…

So my first step was to google “Gandreið” which took me to a google book reference, and I kind liked that, but I’m in hock to the words of the tweet, so had to cover both bases…

Google book result was “Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe” and (and I hope I’m not stepping on John’s toes for any blog posts) it covers a Gandreið – (not being as smart as John, I just lifted the paragraph I was interested in and didn’t do any outside reading)

Here’s the paragraph:

“A man in a ream before the burning took place heard a tremendous crash which shook earth and sky, and then saw a man black as pitch riding furiously on a grey horse and holding a blazing firebrand, while around him was a ring of fire. ‘It seemed to him that he hurled the brand eastwards towards the fells, and that a great fire blazed up with such a fury that the fells were blotted out. He though that the man road eastward to the fells and vanished. ‘ When he told this dream, the response was: “You have seen the Gandreið, and this always means that momentous things will happen’

So anyway, thunder lightning (it sounds like a meteor falling to earth, no?) and I wanted to get that in, and the idea of it all being a bit dreamy.

So, does it make sense now? Probably not, but then right now, does anything?

John has posted an article with more background over at patreon.

Folklore Thursday: Eggs

Bit of an Easter treat, here’s the greywashed version and a b&w version you can print out and colour in (or print out and give to your kids!)

Originally from Patreon.

Hey, it’s an Easter Special!

This one was a bit of a struggle, I admit my motivation is starting to feel a little battered by everything going on, and then I decided to draw animals (I’m not a nature artist). Still, found this one fascinating. Sometimes folklore can be educational! ( nearly included Bugs Bunny in this strip, then thought better of the copyright law…)

Hope you’re all keeping ok. 

Leverets, I had to look up : baby hares.

2020 Week 14 Review

Ok, things (well, me) are starting to slow down. There’s a walking-through-treacle effect starting to happen now as the pile of projects to-do moves to the pile of projects completed, and nothing new is filling that to-do pile up (it’s ok, still have enough to keep me going – and it’s probably a more healthy amount of work)

Last week finished the pencils for the WWI story I’m drawing, finished that around Thursday. Friday I did some layouts on the new Dredd, and the weekend has been a washout. I did watch Pirates of Caribbean with my youngest son, Thomas (age 11), so it wasn’t completely wasted.

I’ve enough invoices out now, if they all come in I’ll be ok for a couple of months, but still need to keep forward momentum while it’s there.

So, next week: pencilling Dredd all week, and then the next probably, inking the WWI story, then inking the Dredd. And getting some invoices out.

I can pencil and ink 7 pages in one week, but that’s a pretty hectic pace to work, and I’ve tried to slow things down to 2 pages of pencils then 2 pages of inks, but done over two weeks (which is the set deadline anyway). That was giving me time to think about other projects, and start looking at creator owned stuff. But in the beginning of the current pandemic chaos I felt like creator owned stuff might be a luxury I can ill afford to think about just yet. But, I think, as the year progresses, I suspect short creator owned gigs might be worth looking at again. If only for a sanity check, and, lets be honest, if the government are gonna pay me 80% of my normal income for a month or two, it’s actually a good time to do a creator owned book!

Folklore Thursday: Henbane

Originally available on Patreon. Which remains free to read, but if you help support us you can see the strips early!

The henbane here is a trace of the henbane image available on wikipedia, and is in the public domain. (Still, I think this is quite a pretty rendition of it)

First step was googling the flower and when I saw that big long stem I thought Oh! I could use that for guttering (literally I make this stuff up as I go along)

Witches flying first was the pointy nose cliched witch that was losely based on my memory of Mog and Meg, then the naked witch after I remembered the painting Witches going to the Sabbath

I don’t mind admitting the Necromancer was loosely based on Alan Moore, but that’s how I feel about all big bearded Necromancers – he’s pretty much the archetype for me. And the demon is, of course, based on me.(not really)

I think I drew the witch holding the flower and I hadn’t thought about the necromancer holding a flower but just sort of drew his arm up and then realised he could be doing the same thing.

It always looks like there’s a grand plan, but, honestly, it’s all made up.

(It did occur to me this would make a nice print)

2020 Week 13 Review

I suppose it’s a mark of how weird this month has turned out that I’ve lost track of updating the blog (I try and update every Sunday and just sort of forgot the day of the week)

Anyway, here was last week plan: finish pencilling a WWI strip I have on the board. It would’ve been finished a week early. The move on to inking the new 2000AD strip I’ve got on the board to finish.

How it went:

Well, minor panic when I looked at the invoices I had out for the month and realised I needed to shift some stuff around to make sure I got an invoice off for the 2000ad gig. So it got finished last week.

I can pretend comics is nothing but glamour and fun, but as someone once pointed out to me: I draw comics for fun, but I get paid to invoice.

I’ve lost a little bit of focus on slowing down, checking there’s not too much on the board to do and giving myself one day at least to do creator owned work.

This week, I’ll be finishing pencilling this WWI strip, and moving on to a Dredd, but might take a day.

I’ve been working every minute and hour to get work done. It’s not healthy, and it feels horrible in a house with my family and me just constantly working. Hoping to start pacing myself better. BUT I’ve been lucky enough to have work, and I don’t know how long it will last during this, what I think we’re all gonna start calling, the lost year. So I’m torn.

Anyway, hope you’re all coping with this ok, this, right now, though, this is probably the easy part.

2020 Week 12 Review

Phew. Quite the week, right?

Ok, if you’re joining late, I decided to journal my working week – I vowed to try and approach work differently so I didn’t suffer burn out or guilt over not producing enough work (while at the same time producing enough to feel like I’ve done enough work).

We’re in the Corona Virus World now though, so that’s all out the window.

Let’s cover work first:

My scheduled plans were a fun 2000ad strip for the 2000AD regened issues. Hard to get my head into that place. I also ended up doing some TV preproduction stuff that I can’t talk about.

Kids at home last week, and my wife started working from home. It feels like a vice is starting to surround us all, mind you.

I managed to get all the stuff done I wanted to do, but it was a struggle, and really largely in the past couple of days in a frenetic burst of pencilling.

Next week I’ve a different gig, WWII short story, 8 pages. Intend to get it all pencilled in the week (8 pages of pencils is very doable, 2 pages per day though there’s a fair amount of research to do for it).

I’ve put any creator owned stuff on hold, right now there’s no telling how long paid work will last, so I’ve got to grab as much of that that comes my way as I can.

Personal stuff: Mother’s day today. I managed to get out get some chocs, a present and some flower for Annette. I generally don’t visit my mum’s grave – it’s just too sad (to be honest, it’s unusual she has ashes there, so not really a grave, but it’s also where my brother is buried and I used to drive mum up there all the time for her to care for his grave and anyway, the memory is too strong for me to face sometimes). Today I really wanted to visit the grave. And I can’t.

I don’t know how bad things are going to get here. I hope we can get through it, I hope you can get through, but the horrible thing is there’s an absolute inevitability about how awful it’s going to be.

And I hope when we’re through it we take a look at the world we’d built and its many many failings and decide to do better.

Socially Distant Day 4

What to say…?

Spent all day on twitter fielding robot drawings for Will Sliney as part of his #weWillDraw initiative. Will’s very good at this stuff, coming up with something and having it go viral.

Anyway, I got 2000AD involved (because – as you know, I’m a 2000ad droid now – that’s a message for myself in my twenties, in case I somehow invent reverse time capsules – and, while I’m there, buy apple stock.)

It basically took my mind of the whole end-of-the-world show.

Then today, the four o’clock press conference with Boris Johnson – who’s face now looks like it really wants to escape his head – announced that all pubs, gyms, cinemas and restaurants are closing. Forthwith. No messing around.

This was coming.

Now we sit and try not to infect our neighbours and try and keep ourselves from becoming infected.

As a unit, there’s four of us – me, Annette, Thomas and Nathan. Thomas has asthma and may be susceptible (though from what I’ve been told he may be lower risk than I first imagined).

Nathan at 15 has a tight group of friends, and while the internet can allow him to keep connected to this small social group, I can’t imagine what he’s missing.

I think there’s an optimistic hope in the air this is a two to three month deal. I don’t think so. I think this is until we find a quick acting test – at which point some strictures can be relaxed. But we may find things like international travel requiring you to have your movements monitoried for a fortnight before and after (so they can backtrace whoever you’ve been in contact with) and testing as you get on and off planes – possibly even three or four days of testing before the flight.

Then, 18 months later a hoped for vaccine. Which, I think, assumes the virus will behave itself and not start wildly mutating. In the event of that happening… well, the worlds a different place then.

I don’t think it’s easy to describe to people how different travel was before 9/11 – certainly in Northern Ireland the changes post 9/11 weren’t too great for us (we’d already had enhanced security at airports) but I remember the culture shock of going to London in the early 90s (pre 9/11) and seeing police walk around – without guns. At the airport, no guns. In the streets, no guns. It was amazing to me, having come from Belfast where armed police was the norm, and police cars looked like small tanks.

It will be a profoundly different place and we won’t really notice the difference. Until we watch old tv and it’ll seem weird, something not right – like rewatching friends and thinking “what’s missing?” “Oh yes. Mobile phones and the internet”.

I went to Dunnes today – it’s an Irish supermarket with a decent presence in the North of Ireland. There’s a distribution warehouse / store around the corner from where I live (as a matter of fact, before Dunnes bought it, it was derelict building of some sort where I used to play as a kid).

I’ve been nipping into Dunnes every day over the past week. A behaviour I’m not normally prone to, but I suppose – rather than hoarding as many people seem to have done – I’ve been just making sure … my cupboards don’t fall below … let’s call it “big shop level” (you know, you do one big shop, the place is heaving with food? that)

Today at the door one member of staff was there with spray, proferred (optional) gloves while I shopped, and asked me to wash my hands.

Inside the store tills had lines marked on the floor in two metre increments for you to keep a distance in the line and the exit was a one way system. Dotted around signage like you’d see in a disaster movie that was being heavy handed about fighting a pandemic.

At some point this will be the normal, and I’ll find it weird to get to close to someone in the queue. Which, in the end, may be no bad thing.

Social Distant Diaries Day 3

Look, you have your own worries, and problems and wotnot, so honestly feel free to give these posts a large swerve.

I suppose I should clarify – I started calling these posts Self Isolation Diaries, but, honestly I’m not self isolating, I’m just keeping a tabs on my sanity during this, the 21st Century plague. We’re all fine, though I’ve a sore throat – because of course, but it’s really mild. And absolutely nothing to worry about. Except everyone is worrying about everything.

In today’s new normal:

Tescos and other stores have limited any single item purchase to three per customer. Which sounds fine, but they’ve basically hacked their tills to set this limit, so they can’t ring up more than 3 of any one thing, and that includes bags. So if you end up buying five bags worth of stuff, good luck with three bags! (My wife overheard someone attempting to buy four black puddings, only to be refused – I presume it’s a meal for four. To be honest, it’s small mercy to the fourth person who now, at least, doesn’t have to eat a black pudding.)

Day 2 of Home schooling, and so far, Thomas has shown real promise in the Wii classes, and Nathan has really excelled at Chatting-to-his-mates-on-discord 101.

I’ve managed to get bugger all done. Partly that’s the non-stop run of news. Man, I thought news had been fairly hectic on the run up to brexit, but now, I reckon we’re getting a solid 30-40 hours every 24 hours.

One of the things I did on the run up to the current corona-caused chaos, is start being very generous to myself with amazon tat. It felt like a good way to know how bad things were gonna get it amazon stopped delivering and so I thought I’d test that. Every day I’d order new tat. But now I have some cool stuff. Got myself a blue snowball microphone, and a mic stand and a new iphone 11. (On credit, so, if the world ends at least I won’t have to pay it, right?)

I will be honest, I’m more hopeful now than when this whole thing started (and it started for me a few weeks ago when my brother got caught up on the first appearance of it in China, it felt both inevitable we’d experience it here and at the same time impossible – not dissimilar to thinking of a parent dying, you know it’s going to happen but you just can’t process it until it does)

The light at the end of the tunnel, as I see it, at least is: we lockdown. This slows the transmission of growth rate of the virus. Life can’t ever be the same. We start developing a vaccine concurrent with various tests. The test will broadly fall into two categories – the test to check if you’ve already had the virus, but don’t currently (and are likely to be immune to it and can return to work) and the test to see if you currently have it. That test will make a huge difference. Especially if it can be fast, self administered and tell without any symptoms showing. We can start finding a new normal then. And, eventually, we’ll get a vaccine.

But it seems likely, even with a vaccine the world has changed and it just isn’t going back.

See you tomorrow!

Folklore Thursday: Cephalophore

Previously published on patreon.com/holdenreppion and if you can support us there, that would be awesome!

Folklore Thursday: Cephalophore

This particular Saint is St Denis and from a statue in Notre Dame De Paris. (Based on a photo from wikipedia in the public domain)

Ok, today – as I write this – Monday the 16th – Boris Johnson has announced that people should work from home, bars and large entertainment complexes should close and people should minimise travel in disruptions none of us will have ever experienced before (but may be how it must have felt when WWII broke out).

So it’s been a struggle to do anything. Plus, as it happens, some of these folklore tale tweets lend themselves very nicely to a narrative and some … less so. (I think the more sentences the better for me, but it’s been a weird day so I can’t be sure).

Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to do for this one, and googled around for some image reference and I found this.

I thought maybe just an isolated pic of this statue would be good, one drawn with some delicacy – a bolland-like rendering of the line I thought. (Whether I’m very far away from that or not is immaterial, it’s more about where I’m aiming).

Inked up digitally in Clip Studio, then on to colour using a mix of a flat fill, gouche brush (both the normal and dry brush) and then some rough water colour) I coloured it a stone colour and thought it needed a bit of colour (I’ll do that sometimes, mix in some green or blue or red) then I thought it would be interesting to add blood red pouring from the neck. The statues of these saints are curiously bloodless. So I liked the idea of adding something a bit more gory into this very sanitised vision of a headless saint.

I was 50 this year, born in 1969, the year the troubles really kicked off in Northern Ireland (I’m from Belfast) and I spent my formative years in the 80s worried about nuclear armgeddon while watching riots on tv. It’s easy to forget that art is important in that sort of environment. But it was for me. Comics where the thing that kept me sane. And while, my friend Rob and I often joke about how “well, we’d better get on and finish this comic because if we don’t… well… it doesn’t really matter”. Actually, sometimes making comics does matter. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need to keep you sane.

Anyway, take care.