Thoughtbubble 2000AD PitchFest Thoughts…

Saw this tweet on twitter and so I tweeted out some thoughts, added them here cus it’s really more of a blog post anyway.

Here’s my advice on writing: Future shocks are stories with a sting in the tail, but that’s not the limit. Look for a twist every single page – more if you can. Change your scene, make time jump, do something interesting, the comic four pager has a very specific grammar, and you’ve got to use that.

Grab the reader as quick as you can, jump in to the action, then start revealing elements, and on each reveal say something about the story, make the reader rethink it.

The twists can be big or small. Keep the reader thinking they’ve worked it out then BLAM hit them with another twist until the final when, they suddenly realise they’ve been staring at the answer the whole time.

I did a “create comics workshop” and we’d play with writing futureshocks, talking through twists, taking a basic concept and playing with it, turning it around and figuring out what goes where. Future shocks tend to be plot driven, but you should tie it with something that means something emotionally.

If you have a story already written start thinking about how you can ramp it up – both by adding more twisty complexity to it and by making it much more emotional. What is the theme of the story? figure that out and reinforce it (the theme might be “families can be suffocating” or “you’ve got nothing without your health” (I mean it can be literally anything, so don’t limit yourself to these trite ones I’ve written).

Another thing I love is trying to fit as much story in to those four pages as possible. Cross vast distances, bring the reader through decades. Or slow it down, four pages that tell a story of 11 seconds.

The great thing about the short story format is you can deliver an entire world, so do so!

What I’m saying is they should be fun. Have fun. Then write your synopsis, a good synopsis will be your lodestone guiding you through lots of rewrites, making sure you’ve not padded the story or lost your way. You’ll be amazed to, after writing the story and writing the synopsis how much of the script isn’t germane to the story and that’s an opportunity to go in, excise those bits and add extra stuff that really emphasis the emotionally stuff.

Now, my advice on drawing…

Make the story understandable and readable without dialogue.

Show your finished art to someone who doesn’t read comics and ask them to explain to you what’s happening – if they can do that then you’ve done a good job. If they can’t then there’s something you need to fix. If they go “where did that guy come from” that’s a problem. If they say “are they indoors” you’ve done it wrong – if they can’t tell where / when the story is happening you need to fix these things AND storytelling is MORE (SO MUCH MORE) important than whether your art “looks nice” – I’ve seen amazing art that can’t tell a story for toffee and incredible storytelling that actually when you dig in to it is pretty crude looking.

Chimpsky’s Back!

This week’s 2000ad (prog 2234) features the first solo outing for Noam Chimpsky – super intelligent bonobo and all round good egg.

I talk a little about doing the cover here and talk to Mike Molcher about Chimpsky and Dept K on the 2000ad youtube page here. Also, you can download some Chimpsky Wallpaper right here. (And if you scroll down I’ve a few treats if you enjoyed that wallpaper…)

But for fun here’s some pencils for the first three pages…

This was the last strip I did pencil and ink, I’ve largely switched to fully digital now. I might return, but I’ve been liking the results I’ve been getting, and for the first time in a long time I feel like I’m getting inch-by-inch better at drawing.

We’re going to see a lot more of the space-mansion as the series progresses, and so – lo! I built a 3d model in Blender.

This has been pretty damn useful for getting fun angles (though you can see I ended up adding extra details when we get closer, and the central fountain in the 3d file lacks the Ape holding a monkey wrench I added as a fun nod to 2001.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the strip, it’s been a real fun one to do, and has some art which I think is amongst my best coming up.

Oh, and finally, the cover to Chimpsky – the pencils looked like this:

And, finally, here’s some bonus material, in the form of lots of wallpapers at much higher resolution with special left/right versions for mac/pc users…


Blender, if you’re not familiar, is a free (open source) 3d program. I’ve dipped my toes into blender every few years but it started life with a painful interface (in fact many 3d programs have awful awful interfaces, why – for example – does zbrush put it’s standard menu – file, edit, window, etc in ALPHABETICAL order? madness)

By Blender version 2.8 they’d normalised the interface to something most people would recognise, and I’ve – lately – been pouring more time in to learning it.

If you do 3d in comics at all, you’re probably more familiar with sketchup – sketchup is a brilliantly easy way to build simple 3d models, but it’s ownership has changed hands a number of times (build – ironically – first by a company called @Last Software, then bought by google who made it free, then by Trimble softeware who stopped making it free).

You can still get a free Sketchup, but, largely, it’s hard to find and many people spring for the licence which gives you more features as well as ways to convert sketchup 3d models into other forms.

I’ve been on a bit of a crusade to pursued comic artists to move from sketchup to blender, primarily because it’s cheaper (nothing is cheaper than free, right?), but also I think, more powerful.

In the process of learning sketchup I’ve been following a few youtube videos, firstly, this guy:


Who does a lot of gaming/blender tutorials, building low-poly (ie simple) models in 10 minutes. Which strikes me as the right balance between I NEED TO BUILD A 3D MODEL and I DON’T WANT TO SPEND ALL DAY BUILDING A 3D MODEL.

Blender relies fairly heavily on the keyboard and he says the keys as he’s using them so you very quickly get a sense of how fast you can build when you’re familiar with it (keys you’ll learn : E to extrude, I to insert – you’ll hear those a LOT)

I watched a bunch of these just to get a feel for blender (he’s on video 57 of Build a low poly thing in 10 minutes, which means he’s done it over a number of versions of blender, so i’d start with the later videos to see what it looks like at the moment, before going earlier)

Also this is a good youtube video, take copious notes!

Another great youtuber is Ian Hubert – Hubert makes “lazy tutorials” how to build buildings super quick, very lazily but with lots of details. While Hubert’s focus is for indie filmmakers, there’s lots of good stuff in there.

In my experience, I’ve pretty much avoided worrying about textures, instead focusing on building objects with enough shape so that I can see what they are. I’m still figuring out the best way to work with textures. The end results I’m after are a 3d model I can bring into clip studio (blender saves models in its own .blend format by default) as an OBJ file and put in a scene, I then use clip studios LT render to convert the 3d to simple piece of line art (I like to work this way because it’s super high resolution and I can move the model around on the artwork making it less hit and miss than, say, grabbing a screen shot of a 3d model and drawing over it).

One final youtuber is this guy Paul O Caggegi whose focus is on making comics and using Blender.

There’s lots of free models on sketchfab, and some you can pay for too. If you’re doing wwii stuff it’s pretty darn useful.

I’m still digging my way through it, but largely I’ve been pretty happy with some of the stuff I’ve done, both editing sketchfab models I’ve downloaded and creating whole new things for the new Chimpsky strip I’m working on.


March, eh?

Time has become a non euclidian space.

Somehow it’s the 7th of March 2021. It’s probably a Thursday*. It’s always a Thursday.

*No, it is, of course, Sunday. I think.

I’ve plenty of work on, thankfully, should see me working for several months actually – which is, frankly, the best position to be in.

I’m currently the is currently the Dredd artist in 2000ad, in a turn that surprised me, that means on the twentieth anniversary of my first published work (also a Dredd) I’ve doing Dredd. Certainly, by any measure of success I ever set myself before breaking into comics, this is the apex.

But, you know, I’ve probably a solid 20+ years ahead of drawing -(and about 19 of them will happen this March) that translates to about 4,000 pages (that’s 20 pages per month) not a lot when you think of it in those terms.

I had planned on a few things, but this year and the past couple have caused me – like anyone with any sense, I think – to draw my horns in and just sit out and work.

Anyway, without getting too bogged down, this is a merely a proof of life post. Kids start school again in a couple of weeks (for a little bit) expecting to get the vaccine by August, and maube… just maybe… we can start hoping for comic conventions again. Man, I miss those.

2004 Q&A

Some context, in 2004 a young fella called Tim asked if he could interview me for something (I forget what it was for, I stumbled across this old email while scouring my archive of emails which I thought had all been deleted)

I’d just got married, my mum had died shortly after. I was working for 2000ad while working a part time day job in computers. The warhammer gig mentioned here was bought and paid for but warhammer went under just after they paid me, so it never saw print, sadly. I’ve added annotations in square brackets.


ok so last time we went over what you are doing now, so i’ve got a few
questions about how you got into art in the first place…
Oh and My sincerest congradulations on getting married…:)


1.  What got you into art in the first place, and more to the point

I’ve always drawn and I’ve always enjoyed drawing – even before I’d
seen a comic. Started reading comics when I was about 8ish, prior to
this I was in a remedial reading class in school as I just wasn’t
interested in reading. We used to holiday in this caravan site (very
small, isolated place with bloody awful weather) so there was very
little to do – mum used to buy comics for us to keep us entertained.
2000AD/Warlord/Battle Action, etc. I started reading cus I had nothing
else to do and was pretty much hooked. I read anything I could get,
one year we found (my cousins and I) a bunch of Avengers comics in a
bin (Adam Warlok, Thanos, all that stuff) and that was me hooked on
superhero comics. Wasn’t long before I started making my own comics
(using carbon paper to reproduce and make multiple copies). Stopped
reading comics at secondary school (around the age of about 15) cus of
peer pressure (also stopped drawing after failing my ‘o’ level in art
at about 16) but started again at about 18 cus I’d seen a single page
of the Dark Knight Returns (this was around ’88) and that got me
hooked again – plus a local comic shop had opened and that got me
started both reading and drawing (John McCrea was co-owner of the
shop, this was long before he’d done any pro-work) – incidentally
thats the same shop Garth Ennis used to shop in (again, before he was
famous) – and where his long-standing working relationship with John
started. [Garth and I started working together around 2009 doing war comics for the most part, and that working relationship continues along!]

2.  Have you worked on anything not of the 2000A.D. series lately?

Currently drawing something for Warhammer
( and working up a proposal for a
series for 2000AD, also working on a proposal for a series for Image
comics (Image don’t pay a page rate so not sure if I’ll actually be
able to afford to do it) [The image series became “Fearless” with Mark Sable]

Any print type things or work on other books?

3.  Have you lived in Belfast all your life?  (I do plan to get to
Ireland one day… I hear it’s beautiful with lots of beer!  🙂 )

Yup, around the 12th of July I start getting itchy feet because you
start to see the worst in people, but a nice holiday usually sorts
that out – my wife will tell you I’m a real Belfast lad – I love the

4.  Do you come to the states anymore?

Only been to the states once in 1993 [actually went to canada, and drove down to the border, crossed it into the states to go to a big retail mall and left again… ] plan to go to a San Diego comic convention at some point. I love the idea of America but find it’s currently president to be … less than palatable. [went to the states in 2006 and been a fair few times since, and boy, didn’t Trump make George Bush slightly more palatable…]

5.  Are you able to do most of your corrispondance over the internet?

About 90% of it, I email artwork back and forth to editors and writers
(and some final artwork is also delivered over the internet) helps
keep the thing alive in the editor and writers minds. [was 2004 really the early days of the internet? I suppose it had really just started finding it’s feet]

6.  Is there anything that you like to do before starting a long
project?  (i.e. warm up excercises, doodling, quick sketches?)

I find myself doodling as a way to stop myself working – if I really
need to draw a page I just start – the doodling and warm up is just a
way for me to put off the hard work. (I will try and draw the bits I’m
more comfortable with to begin with)

7.  Do you ever wish you would have gotten into another career?

I wish comics could be a career – I’m not convinced I can make it –
maybe I’d’ve had a much brighter outlook in the early 90s but at the
moment I can only see two types of artists surviving/thriving in
comics: the really amazingly good and the really amazingly fast –
anyone in between is gonna find it tough. [Still think this is true, fast or good are where you can make money, anything in between is bloody hard going]

8.  Do you find working for others taxing?  (I mean as far as comics
go, I know its taxing doing comp. work for others)

Yes and no. The work I’m doing for warhammer at the moment is based on
an idea I’d had for doing Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai as a comic
and I was gonna write and draw it myself but it’s easy to procastinate
and never finish something like that – whereas cus I pitched the idea
to warhammer they assigned a writer and are gonna pay me to draw it
it’s actually nearly finished (and I’m quiet proud of bits of it). [written by James Peaty, never saw print, sadly as warhammer folded]

9.  Did you ever learn to do color for yourself, or does someone do it
for you?

Any coloured work is done by other people, I’m greywashing (painting
with just greys) at the moment and I’d like to maybe paint something
at some point. I do draw for a colourist – making sure there’s enough
there for them to do something interesting with the page.

10. Have you ever thought about branching out into other medium?  (3D,
or perhaps sculpture? Games or animation?)

I’d like to get away from computers and do more stuff by hand – I’ve
been toying with doing some sculpting but it’d be more for my own
enjoyment than anything else. [eventually played with building a massive VR landscape that NI took to the annual SxSW festival – that was fun, but unlikely to do it ever again]

11. Did you see Judge Dredd the movie [the Stallone one]?  Bring up any bad taste?
(Personally I own the movie and thought it was hilarious, in an action
packed way)

Saw it twice at the cinema (was working in Milton Keynes at the time
for the Open University designing interactive multimedia CD type
things – I was on a job placement for my degree  in computers, which I
dropped out of in the final year cus I thought I was gonna be a rich
comic artist …) I was homesick and had just started dating my
then-girlfriend, now-wife. The first 10 minutes are just spectacular,
and Stallone looks the part but ‘I AM ….. TH’L’W’ just sounds awful
and it’s a question of watching it through fingers from then on.

12. On a more pesonal note, are you a fan of movies?  (I find I work a
lot better when I’ve got some cheesy horror film or something in the

I love movies, the quirkier the better. I Bought a DV camera a couple
of years ago with the intention of making a small movie, and I still
have that intention… it just may never happen 🙂 [readers: it never happened]

13. Have you lived in Ireland all your life?


14. Does the website get you many hits or e-mails?

I’ve no idea – it gets more hits than I expect. I did it, originally,
as a way to let people I know know what I’m up to as I’m bloody awful
at emailing people, but there’s a lot more ‘strangers’ read the
website than I ever expected. [Websites and blogs used to be a big deal kids!]

15. Who would you reckomend I go see about getting into comics?

My generic advice is to draw and draw and draw. Do lots of small press
work (Digital Webbing presents would probably be a good avenue) [does this still exist? maybe] . Get
to know some writers and work with as many different ones as you can –
you never know which of them will be in a spot to push your artwork in
front of an editor. The go to conventions and show editors and other
artists your stuff looking for advice. [still solid advice, when cons are on again]

16. Do you keep a clean or messy workplace.(I have noted that many
artists keep and extremly messy workplace)

I find it easier to start work if my workplace is very clean, but
after working for a few hours my workplace is incredibly messy, so now
I have a little ritual of cleaning up before I start a brand new page
(which means if I’m not in the mood to draw I clean up and then start
anyways – it’s a good way to overcome the initial fear of the blank

17. Do you ever come to comic conventions here in the states?

Haven’t done so but fully intend to get to a San Diego convention at some point. [Nope, never intend to go to San Diego, New York comic con started in 2006 went to that and some others, san diego looks like it would be horrible!]

18. Play video games?

I love video games, but never play them for more than 2 minutes at a
time as I’m rubbish. But I’m always amazed at the quality of the
graphics. [still amazed at the graphics even now]

19. Have any pet peeves?

George Bush, Hypocracy, National ID Cards, The General Public,
Politicians, my own laziness, Tony Blair (who, on paper, is as far
away from Bush’s politics as it’s possible to go, but in practice is
his bestest mate) and er.. there’s probably more. [sigh politics]

20. Do you ink?

Yup. use black indian ink and a brush (can never remember the
name/make of it, but it’s thin and longer than most brushes).

21. Do you draw in straight pencil or do you use a blueine lead first?

2H or 4H pencil, using a .5 mechanical pencil – sometimes I pencil
very losely (one of the benifits of inking yourself) and often I’ll
ink while pencilling (for example, I might ink a foreground figure
before I’ve pencilled anything in the background ) [as my eyesight has got worse my preference is now for HB pencils, or digital]

22. Do you make your own sheets for the pages, or you do buy from
blueline or someplace like it?

I buy 220 gsm A3 size paper pads 25 pages for about £7 sterling. [actually about £10 nowdays] And
then rule it myself. They don’t stand up to a great deal of erasing
and it took an awful long time for me to get good enough at inking to
ink on them as they’re not smooth pressed, but they’re my favourite
type of paper for pencilling on and I’ve used them for (off and on)
about 15 years.

23. Do you do your own background art?

Yup. Everything on the page is drawn by me – unless it’s coloured. 

I just wanted you to know that i haven’t been to the comic store in a
long while either, but plan to get back there soon, that is in part
why perhaps i haven’t seen anything new?  Sorry about that, I’ll pick
up what I can, and at the least I’m sure that my brother-in-law has
all the newest.  He’s a bit of a Dredd Freak…

heh. I don’t have that much stuff out there – and what I do is UK
based. Maybe in the next few years you’ll see me all over the place
(but I wouldn’t hold your breath). [I\ve drawn a fair few things since then, it’s true…]

24. Have you ever thought about maybe starting your own company?

Er… for comics I am my own company, as all comic work is freelance
(even if you have an exclusive contract you’re still a freelance
worker). I could branch out into illustration of
magazines/advertising/etc, but I love drawing comics and I make enough
money part time that I can be choosy about what I draw.

I’ll add a question:

‘Do you watch/listen to anything while you work?’

I listen to the radio, although now I’ve got a mac I’ve started
listening to CDs again as I can get three days of music witout having
to change the CD (using iTunes). Since I’ve had broadband for years, I
use it to listen to the radio (bbc radio 1 – chris moyles show, and
bbc radio 2 – jonathan ross show) and sometimes Air America (although
it gets old kinda fast). Occasionally I’ll throw a DVD on a listen to
the commentary but I can’t watch ’em as it gets too distracting. [as I’ve aged my radio station has now shifted to radio 4, I can’t even imagine listening to radio 1 at all now. Radio 4 and spotify]

And that’s it, funny what changes and what remains the same, innit. Far more of my work is digital now, though I used a computer way back then, it wasn’t absolutely an essential part of the process like it is now. And you know, since then, I’m now at home in the middle of a pandemic with a 16 year old son and a 12 year old, things must have been so much quieter back then…

2020 Vision

Sigh. Does anyone want to look back over what they did last year.

I suppose the one significant thing we’ve got to take from it all is that we need to be kinder to ourselves and to others. I fail at both, often. Not through want of trying, but rather the unthinking idiocy of just being human. Cruelty can often be the undercurrent of humour, and I’m probably guiltier of most for going for the joke without giving a thought to the cruelty (and I’m sorry to everyone who suffered one of the tiny little barbs of me making a joke because it seemed funny for half a second).

Anyway, mea culpa out of the way, how was your year? (I realise, 2020 being what it is, sitting writing this on the 29th of December is asking for another Black Swan to leap in and disembowel us all, but here we are)

For me, it started with a decent resolve to make notes on everything – keeping weekly posts on what I’ve done and what I’d intended to do, partly this was just a way to fill the blog and keep a connection to the wider world (a thing easily lost when you’re at your drawing table, head down and working away) and partly it was a good self motivator – yes, work is happening, and look, you even took some breaks and did some creator owned stuff.

Of course, I hadn’t planned on a world wide pandemic, which buggered that right up.

I’ve kept working throughout it, jobs were lost, of course, and productivity took a nose dive as kids had to be homeschooled or my wife ended up working from home, and I had to abandon a slew of things that there just wasn’t time for or required publishers who were no longer looking at projects.

Minor miracle we’ve come through it all, I suppose.

I’m glad I kept some of those productivity notes now though, as I look at a productivity reboot for 2021. I realise new years are entirely arbitrary points in time (time, of course, being an illusion, lunchtime doubly so*) but I’ve always loved them. Suddenly, some mental cobwebs are blown away, and, rightly or wrongly, I reset and think “Well, who cares if you blew it last year, this year… this year could be different”. It’s a placebo date. For many it’ll make no difference, and for a tiny few (me included) it actually does make a difference.

Of course, whatever I decide about 2021 the year itself may have other plans. We’re nowhere near at the backend of the pandemic, certainly here, in the UK, we’re still dealing with it (either we’re at the peak of a second wave, or closing in on the beginning of a much much worse third wave) we’ve got brexit to look forward to (everything until now has been a buffer against whatever the worse brexit has to offer us) and, brexit, panedemic out of the way, what will the government do to pay off the enormous amount of debt it’s had to rack up during the pandemic (and being a tory government that usually means massive cuts to services).

But sod it, those are things I have almost no control over, so there’s little point worrying about them.

Traditionally, I look over whatever my resolutions for 2020 were and see how I’ve done – but, frankly, getting the other side has been an impressive job. (Also, I don’t appear to have made any resolutions last year beyond “DO THINGS” so, even getting out of bed counts)

Next year?

Get more organised. Stay organised. Try not to work all the time (or, rather try to limit work + worrying about work to 5 days out of seven). Keep on top of the boring tax stuff and invoices.

Not sure what work has lined up for me next year. Doing some Chimpsky, there MIGHT be a long project in there (originally scheduled starting in November, so we’ll see if it comes off) and, you know, just try to get through 2021 in one piece.

Christmas Films List

I asked yesterday on twitter for a some films I can watch during decemember as a kind of Christmas run down – specifically looking for films that are seasonal (but not xmassy) and then xmassy films. So you start the month with something set at winter (or in the snow, like, for example The Thing) and you end on something that is a perfect xmas movie (like It’s a Wonderful Life)

So here’s the suggestions (copied and pasted from innumerable twitter replies, so forgive any duplication/missing suggestions), and in no particular order:

  • Billy Wilder comedy Stalag 17 is actually a Christmas film.
  • The Junky’s Christmas on Christmas Eve 
  • Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
  • Die Hard
  • Gremlins
  • Christmas In Connecticut. Dec 14.
  • Holiday Affair. Dec 19.
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Dec 23.
  • TV episodes: MILLENNIUM – Midnight Of The Century
  • THE X-FILES – How The Ghosts Stole Christmas
  • THE WEST WING – In Excelsis Deo, Noël
  • BTAS – Christmas With The Joker, Holiday Knights, Heart Of Ice
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE – Comfort And Joy
  • TALES FROM THE CRYPT – And All Through The House
  • Scrooged
  • Rare Exports
  • Family Stone
  • Noelle
  • The Night Before
  • Jingle All The Way
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas is a TV special, not a movie, but it’s required viewing, and is best in mid-December.
  • Von Ryan’s Express.
  • Bad Santa
  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Christmas Day, after dinner.
  • Black Christmas 1974
  • Krampus 2015
  • Better Watch Out 2016
  • Elf,
  • Muppets Xmas Carol,
  • Nightmare Before Christmas,
  • Ghostbusters II.
  • “Trading Places”. Christmas Eve
  • ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 remake = New Year’s Eve
  • cliffhanger
  • home alone
  • The Office Party,
  • Lethal Weapon,
  • Hateful Eight
  • Arthur Christmas.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Iron Man 3 Spider-Man: Miles Morales (begins on Christmas) Elf
  • Tokyo Godfathers
  • Brazil
  • The remake of Miracle on 34th Street is a fave
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Lethal Weapon
  • Rocky IV
  • Caste Away
  • Coming to America
  • The Ref
  • Hogfather
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night II
  • Santa Slays
  • The Bishop’s Wife

Anyway, trying to work my way through them, started on the Dead Zone, which is about the least xmassy (probably more an oct/november film)

WordPress and Comics

I’ve been using wordpress for … well, as long as there’s been a wordpress. At various times, I’ve attempted to make it work for me to do comics online, and I’ve never really managed it. This time though, it was time to give it the old college try.

Over at – the generic website I set up for doing comics stuff with people, which has been underutilised for some time, I’ve made it the new home of the webcomic Monster Macs by me and John Reppion. Monster Macs will be on patreon, and twitter, but over at it’ll be displayed as a simple webcomic. At some point I’ll look into adopting it to fit the webtoons format, but that’s a fair bit more work, I think.

One of the problems with WordPress is that I like NICE BIG CHUNKY IMAGES – get me to the source of an image as quick as possible, this especially useful on webcomics, but wordpress just absolutely refuses to do so – for reasons best known to itself.

With wordpress though, there’s usually a plugin – and because this website is hosted at (highly recommended, and fairly cheap) rather than it’s a fairly simple matter to install one ( wants you to pay extra for adding plugins)

So I added two plugins, firstly: simple lightbox. This makes any linked artwork display on screen in a maximum resolution on a layer on top, a nice classy way to view art. (And adds navigation when you need it)

Secondly I added the plugin Manga+Press for WordPress. This simple plugin lets you create a comic that you can update and it will archive it for you.

A neat solution, but it still wasn’t displaying the strip large enough and for that, I’m afraid, I had to dig deep deep into the archives of my brain for how wordpress worked.

(And you can nope out of this now – unless it’s relevant to you!)

Essentially manga+press gets you to create new pages in wordpress for the current comic, and it uses two template documents stored deep in the bowels of the plugin directory in order to display that. AND you need to edit these files if you want the thumbnailed image to have a clickable link to the larger image.

The first file you edit is wordpress/wp-content/plugins/mangapress/templates/single-comic.php – this php page simply the comic one page at a time along with a bit of navigation, but I wanted a link to larger image.

Normally this very simple file contains not-much and so I simply added a bit of code to do what I wanted…

 * MangaPress
 * @package Manga_Press
 * @subpackage Manga_Press_Templates\Single_Comic
 * @version $Id$
 * @author Jess Green <>
<?php mangapress_comic_navigation(); ?>

<div class="mangapress-media-img">
    // Grab the url for the full sized image... / PJH Added
     $img_atts = wp_get_attachment_image_src(get_post_thumbnail_id(), 'full'); ?>

    <a href="<?php echo $img_atts[0]; ?>">
    <?php echo wp_get_attachment_image( get_post_thumbnail_id(), $thumbnail_size, false );?>

<?php mangapress_comic_navigation(); ?>

All my little addition does is grabs the url of the full file for the post and creates a link to that.

This is sufficient to give each archived comic page a link to the full image. But, weirdly, not the current page which, oddly, has a slightly different template and as a little harder to figure out (because it’s been years since I’ve dabbled in html, php or wordpress)

You also need to edit the file in the wordpress/wp-content/plugins/mangapress/templates/content/latest-comic.php

And changed it to

<h2 class="mangapress-comic-title">
    <?php the_title(); ?>

<div class="mangapress-media-img">
      <a href="<?php  the_post_thumbnail_url(get_the_ID());?>">
          <?php the_post_thumbnail(get_the_ID(), $thumbnail_size);?>
<?php mangapress_comic_navigation(); ?>

<div class="mangapres-entry-content">
    <?php the_content(); ?>

And that’s it – not a lot changed (but by crikey it was hard to hunt down exactly what I needed in wordpress tags to get it to do what I wanted, and I’m not convinced there isn’t a better way)

Anyway, that might be of use to some!

PJ’s Live Sketch Show is Coming Back!

Hey! Hope you’ve had a decent old summer, and now it’s coming to an end, it’s time to start Season 2 of PJ’s live Sketch Show. If you’ve never seen it, it’s just me drawing sketches for an hour. I try and get a list of commissioned sketches up front (and it’s fairly cheap: £30 for an A5 pencil sketch) and get through about 5 or 6 on the day.

The show starts again on SUNDAY 30th of August at 8pm. This is a live show, but kid friendly, so if you’ve kids who wanna watch a comic artist draw bring ’em along!

You’ll be able to watch the show on twitter, facebook or youtube.

I did about five of these before July, and you can watch them on my youtube feed, had an enormous amount of fun and people got inexpensive sketches!

If you’d like to get a sketch, simply email me subject line “Live Sketch” and I’ll add you to the list. Right now that list is empty (and I’ll happily take payment after the sketch is done)

I’ve a faq here where you can find some frequently asked questions…