Dredd Chrysalids page 5

Ok, took a detour, but back to it (can we get this finished before xmas? who knows… maybe last page will be drawn while downing mince pies and baileys…)

Ok, this page slightly disappointed I didn’t get more Judge Death in there – the dredd/death confrontation should be a bigger moment, but really feeling the limits of the 6 page format – still, one page to wrap this all together neatly… can I do it? we’ll see…

Let me know what you think – I’ve been pleasently surprised, there’s definately stuff where I’ve been rewriting it while drawing it, and it could be my mistake in the past to try and keep writing and drawing apart, and they (for me at least) are really rather tightly intwined.

Anyhue, here’s pencils and greywash …

The Mandalorian

Look, I’m a sucker for a monster-of-the-week story, or Lone hero wanders the earth, misunderstood and having adventures along the way. So, if I *had* seen the mandalorian it would probably be my favourite Star Wars thing. So much so, it may be the only time I’ve ever done a fan star wars strip… And here it is…

This came together VERY quickly.

While doing the Dredd strip I got it in my head I’d love – LOVE – to draw a Mandelorian comic (and especially in an official capacity) and I even posted this on twitter:

(the thing with drawing that Dredd, is I really want to write and draw a Mandalorian strip, but man does not feed his family by writing and drawing fan strips…)

4:25pm

So you know, I wanted to draw some sort of strip, and I was willing myself not to, but I thought if I could think of a one page Mando strip, that would be fun to do then … you know… I might just do it.. and lo, not 5 minutes later on twitter:

(I DID just think of a one page mandalorian story mind you…)

4:56pm

And it was this story pretty much exactly as you see it. (Though I was gonna cut to Mando being tossed and turned every time he speaks in panels 1-3 but in the end there wasn’t the room and I felt it worked without doing that).

Told my son about it (he’s 11 and loves baby yoda – seen it on the meme-a-verse) and he loved it which sealed the deal, I was gonna do it. But when, then I thought it’d be fun to run a poll on it on twitter, so I set a two hour poll and pushed it a few times, the results came in at 7ish (the time on the tweet is when I asked the question)


Mind you, I’d already pencilled the Mandalorian strip, in true Adrian Veidt fashion I’d literally finished it 26 minutes before the polls closed (wrote and drew the story exactly as I saw it). All that remained was inking, lettering and greywashing and here we are. Hope you like it!

Dredd Chrysalids page 4

And here we have it. The meat and bones. With a bit of luck the story is clear and it doesn’t just feel like a massive info-dump (and there’s enough info to get what I’m trying to do…)

I quite like the flashback framing panel, big rounded panel borders (all done in clip studio) here’s art without lettering and the pencils…

Dredd Chrysalids Page 3

This page changed a fair bit between my initial thoughts (writing/thumbs) panel 1, I flipped dredd so we’re seeming him rather than the Kleggs (we’ve seen them once, let’s get a good look at Dredd – beside the mystery of them being there/disappearing is better played off panel, I think – teleporter tech or something else? we’ll find out) last panel in particular, again, flipping from a wide shot – showing the entire scene to dredd’s face, keeps some mystery up and it’s good to get an emotion close to scared out of Dredd, isn’t it?

(As an aside: these are pretty tight for pencils from me, but if I were inking them and had more time [the constant enemy] I’d spend more time on some of those Dredd faces – this is me acknowledging that last face is not great)

Here’s all the back room stuff, you’ll see some tweaks I made from the pencils to the final here:

Dredd Chrysalids Page 2

Ok, page 2. I’m less happy with the script, the art and the letters. But sometimes you need to let a wound have air to heal.

The first lettered draft of this, I had dredd muttering those captions to himself, but it felt wrong. Popping them in a caption fixed that, reads more like a dredd script. But, for your delight I’ve kept that version of the lettered art below.

I’m not sure the lift reads as much like a lift as it needs to (if this were a paying gig, I’d be spending a bit more time figuring this out) and my lettering lack-of-skills are really starting to show here. But anyway. That’s page 2.

Dredd Chrysalids page 1

I’ve had a Dredd script on my hard drive for over a year, from an idea that’s over a decade old, and it’s just been sort of … sitting there… so I decided yesterday that, sod it, I’m never gonna polish it enough to expect 2000ad to print (let alone submit it to them for their consideration) so what I’d do instead is just pencil and letter it and post it here, hoping to get it all finished for xmas, so here’s page one lettered up along with behind the scenes commentary…

Ok, I’ll not post the script up, not until it’s all done, but here’s the layouts (which are largely impenetrable by anyone but me, and get more vague as they go along) page 1, as you can see, maps pretty close to the final pencils.

Lettering by me, using Evil Genius font from Blambot (home of many fine, fine fonts). Normally I’d ask Jim Campbell to letter any of these stupid ideas and I’ve no doubt he would’ve done a much better job than my hamfisted approach – but it’s nearly xmas and who wants to do unpaid work at this time of year? (Apart from me, apparently…)

Layouts:

And here’s the raw pencils for page 1… Scanned and tidied, added panel borders, resize a couple of things, made panel 2 push into panel 2 to just force the readers eye a bit to that panel (I had planned to have Dredd’s head here jut out of the panel, but that would have made it hard to place lettering)

I printed a template out in Clip Studio that shows me the safe area and some guidelines for drawing some standard panels, then pencil on that – I don’t pay too much attention to getting the borders exactly right as I take this into to clip studio and add panel borders digitally, ordinarily I’d then print that out – with the panels as blacklines and the pencils as a light cyan colour (ie a ‘blueline’ pencil) and ink over that, but since I won’t be inking this …

I decided to greywash it instead

And that’s it for page 1. If anyone fancies paying me to ink this page and owning the original artwork, you’re more than welcome to contact me at pjholden@gmail.com

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…

Folklore Thursday: Vrillon

This was a lot of fun.

I’ve been itching to do a scifi-ish tale with one of the folklore stories since we started (I am, at heart, a 2000AD artist, scifi is the norm for me) I honestly didn’t think we’d ever get to do one, but this presented a neat little departure. And I hope the twist in the tale end of it comes through (because I always need to explain the jokes: it was a hoax! AN ALIEN HOAX!)

I thought drab dreary 1970s england colours set against bright colourful alien life would be a fun contrast. On first pass of the thumbs I drew for it I thought I couldn’t draw an alien, because… well, the alien is never seen, but then I figured that would give me the freedom to do what I wanted – it’s an alien in the imagination, so he’s superimposed on a static TV background (I created a layer in clip studio, filled it with black, generated some perlin noise that was nice and big, then smeared some of it, then converted it to lineart – that gave me the static I wanted.

Anyhow, hope you enjoy it!

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.

22,000 panels that always work

Yes, it’s a four blog post kind of day.

I love twitter, but stuff gets buried, and it’s harder to do long form thinking on it.

Anyway, was thinking today (after stumbling across this procedurally generated maps of cities for dungeons and dragons) that it would be cool to do something similiar for comics. Something that could give you a whole bunch of panel layouts generated from a bare minimum of input. You put in the number of panels and it gives you a dozen layouts. You could select one panel and make it an exterior, or another and make it inset, and click you’d get another dozen layouts all keeping that in mind.

I’ve always been fascinated by the grammar of panel layouts. Let’s take the simplest count of panels: 2.

Here’s a bunch of options:

And that’s before you get into bleeding images off the page, circular panels, batman shaped panels or what’s even in the panels.

And some of these I think work better as first pages, and some work better as last pages (notably, the second panel being smaller, or inset below the midline of the page feels like a full stop on a page).

Three panel layouts explode your options, and it just gets wilder and wilder.

And I like nice readable panel layouts, so there’s some rules I’m a real stickler for, I love stacked panels, but stacking order is important:

Stacking on the right of a large panel is perfectly readable, stacking on the right can be illegible (though clever tricks with lettering/art can make it more readable, but really do yourself a favour and don’t do it!)

And here, dear reader is some examples of five panel layouts:

I keep meaning to (though never seem to have the time to) go through some of the great works (Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, er.. probably others) and draw out their panel layouts. I find them fascinating.

(Of course, Hass, of “Strip Panel Naked” has gone in to depth about panel grid layouts and I recommend you go and join his patreon/watch his youtube!)