March Madness

Trying to count up the work I did in march, but, as you know, it’s been a crazy month.

So let’s start with stuff I know I did:

10 pages pencils and inks for a new 2000ad series. Hurrah.

Four folklore Thursday (pencils, inks, colours and letters)

Sundry drawings for a TV show thing (which I’ll be unlikely to talk about for a couple of years, given how TV works)

Completed a 14 page thing for a charity comic, (Though I came into the month with 2 pages done already) so let’s call it 12 pages.

Pencilled a WWI story, it’s 8 pages, but have only done 6 so far (getting the last two done today, but that’s gonna be an April finish)

So, my total for March is… 26 pages finished, and 32 pencilled. Actually that’s not bad.

So, here’s how April stands:

Gonna finish this WWI story, pencils have to be finished (two pages), then approved (probably next week) for inking next month.

I’ve got a new Dredd to do, it’s a four parter, though only the first script for it. Starting that next week and, hopefully rest of script will arrive (hoping the writer remains able to work in this, the not-quite-end-times-but-it-doesn’t-half-feel-like-it) and I can plough through at least two parts of it.

Then, May, finish the remainder of Dredd and… that’s it. I have a 20 page project which will pop up at some point, waiting on script (but it’s an unusual comics/not comics publisher gig)

Gotta keep on, keeping on.

Socially Distant Diary Day 5

(oops, you know, I’m gonna stop numbering these diary days, five days in and I’ve already confused myself)

Didn’t go out – well, not true, nipped to the shops for Mother’s day. Felt odd, realised it’s because I’m not buying for my mum (who passed nearly 16 years ago now, I suppose) but buying for my wife. Nathan and Thomas have such different personalities it’s kind of fun picking cards for them to give to Annette (how different? Well, Thomas would happily pick or even draw his own card, Nathan will just about sign a card and give it to Annette and not really think about it).

I haven’t had a stomach ache in a couple of weeks, but it feels like there’s one bubbling under right now. I’ve been trying to keep a food diary, but the further it gets from the last attack the less reliable I am at keeping it.

I think if there’s a culprit – based on my notes – it’s either the stack of buns and chocolate I ate, the burger (which had barley in it, which contains gluten though I’ve been told it’s more likely IBS with a wheat trigger than a gluten trigger) or it’s just something my stomach does every so often and there’s almost nothing I can do to prevent it.

That’s why I’ve been keeping the food diary, what did I do today that I’ve done before, what did I do today that I didn’t do last week.

Maybe I’ll be lucky, but if not, I’ll be curling up around a hot water bottle (which is about the only thing that seems to make any sort of difference, pain killers don’t help)

Normally I feel pretty lucky if I’ve been left alone to work all day, but it usually comes with the price of either knowing I could’ve been out with the family somewhere or I’ve accidentally ignored them all as they wanted to go out and I didn’t.

Today, and I think the next who-knows-how-many days, it’ll be knowing everyone wants to go out and feeling like I should too.

One thousand people diagnosed in the UK over the last 24 hours. I set up my spreadsheet 10 days ago, when there was 83. Simply multiplcation (previous days numbers * 1.23) would tell you right now to expect 1k. The fact it’s tracked so closely shows you why the government are trying to put this genii back in the bottle. At this rate, in another 10 days you could see 9-10k Diagnosed PER day but that figure would rise daily, and 10 days after that you could be looking at closer to 100k per day.

Unless we do something. And the measures of shutting everything down is one of only tools we’ve got, right now, but we’ll not see results from that for at least a week (possibly longer).

No legal obligation to lockdown in the UK yet. But it’s pretty clear there’s a very large amount of the population see the governments “social distancing” advice as notional. Kids out congregating together, a clump of 8 people walking from the park (packed tightly, chatting away).

Lockdown is coming. I can’t see how we can do this without enforcement. But Northern Ireland, famously, tends to react badly to police enforcement.

Folklore Thursday: Dragoni

When I get one of John’s tweets, I try and let them perculate around my head a little.. What does this conjure up? Is there a story in this, can i make it a story, and, sometimes… does this make me laugh?

This one I think I hit, very quickly on the idea that the Island of Dragons could be a wonderful little Richard Scarry city where everything is a dragon. I don’t know if it worked (initially I was going to trace a Scarry piece and just change all the characters to Dragons, I think the joke would’ve worked better, but it was a little too close to death by copyright infringement, so I went my own way). And I’m proud of the little “Scarry Movie 2” film showing in the Dragoplex (2 seemed funnier than just a plain old Scarry Movie)

On panel 3 I hunted and hunted for the exact outline of the Island of Dragons and just couldn’t find it on the map, defeated, and time running low, I traced around a couple of interesting shapes to give me my island (and the sea here was created by making a ‘rake’ brush in clip studio, which let me stroke a couple of lines to get those many many lines)

Hope you like it! (If nothing else, enjoy the little dragon lady feeding the little dragons scraps from her sandwich)

Addendum: As a kid, visiting the library was my first exposure to illustrated books – Asterix the Gaul, Lucky Luke, Tintin, and the books of Richard Scarry (which I loved even as I grew well out of their age range). I will always find those works charming, and I think my one regret as a parent is that we don’t visit the library enough (now, in my defence, that’s largely because we now have a massive kids book library in our home – our kids room had a small walk in wardrobe built into the room and we ended up gutting it and putting shelves in there so they’ve got an extensive library of books, but you don’t get exposure to things that will surprise you when you own your own library). Anyway, Librarys are good, and if you’re in the UK you should join one and then sign up for their digital stuff so you can access audio books, ebooks and magazines.

2020 Week 7 Review

Monday 10th: pencilled 3 pages of Chimpksy ep 5 (the final part)
Tuesday 11th : pencilled remaining 3 pages of Chimpsky ep5
Wednesday 12th: Inked Chimpsky ep5 pages 1 & 2
Thursday 13th: Inked Chimpsky ep5 pages 3 & 4
Friday 14th: Inked Chimpsky ep5 pages 5 & 6
Saturday 15 / Sunday 16: did some channel hex stuff.

At some point last week (I think Tuesday?) I pencilled, inked, coloured and lettered this weeks Folklore Thursday story.

So that’s Chimpsky’s Law finished. I have it on good authority, the Niemand droid has another series in their scopes.

Next week is shaping up like this, I’ve an 8 page strip called Destroyer for the new Battle comic (written by Rob Williams) I’ve pencilled it all (did it the week before last) and inked up the first page, and so, this week I’ll be finishing the inks of that off. The plan is to get the inks finished by Friday when I can free up for Channel Hex.

How’s Channel Hex going? Well, I’m still tweaking things, still waiting on a new draft of a script (but that’s ok, no rush) I’m more convinced than ever that there’s a proportion of my future career that may lie in kickstarter based projects. The audience is smaller, the income potentially greater and the creative control is unlimited. But it may take me some time to find my way to that. (And it may not turn out to be the land of milk and honey)

After next week, frankly, I’ve no idea. I’m hoping sometime midweek I may land another gig, but you can’t really count on anything as a freelancer. That’s the life.

Folklore Thursday: Threshold

Crank up the manifest, hoist the gibbert, weigh up the anchorage. We’re back!

Having tried to push myself to do a little bit of writing over Christmas (you can see the results at my blog pauljholden.com) I thought I’d approach this first Folklore Thursday of the new year with an eye to creating some sort of story (and I mean more than just the surface thing). I started laying out the pencils to the tweet and found that, well, all I was really doing was illustrating John’s words. Not actually adding anything of significance. So I thought I’d add a character – that at least gave me a little agency.

Having adding something like a protaganist, I figured the easiest thing to do with those words was make him get younger – so he’s stepping back in time, but ONLY in his own lifetime. Then I thought – I don’t think that’s what John meant, but I liked the fact there was room to decide that’s what it could be. So then I added a little impetus to our character, maybe he’s finding this place and wants to travel back in time but he’s been tricked.

That decided, I started seeing what I needed to add to the art to sell that little narrative. I added a loved one in panel one (thus fulfilling something I’ve always wanted to do which is to draw a doomed romance comic) and then panel two I was going to have him drop a note detailing the cancer diagnosis of his wife. But then I wondered if I couldn’t add a second narrators voice, a conversation he was having. (or had had). Which would help explain what was going on for him. Layering and layering the story telling. I’m hoping it worked.

Also, that last bit of captioned dialogue is partly the response in the conversation he’s having with some unnamed person but also partly me having a little fun and saying to John [Reppion] har har, I tricked you – you thought this was going one way and it went another 🙂

I’m not sure what John makes of it yet. Could be he hates it (hope not!) but we’ll see.

Happy New Year, everyone!

(And bonus, the b&w version…)

Folklore Thursday Celestial

Originally published at https://www.patreon.com/holdenreppion

Unusually this particular folklore thursday tweet went through a rewrite… I’ll start with the finished article, here it is:

On the 23rd of September the Sun will cross the Celestial Equator, marking the Northern Hemisphere’s Autumn Equinox. As Earth enters the final quarter of its year, celebrations like Mabon and Harvest Festival are held in thanks for all that Summer has bestowed. #FolkloreThursday

We’re constantly fighting a number of limitations of time and space (not being timelords, this will always be the case)

John’s original tweet read

On Monday 23rd of September the Sun will cross the Celestial Equator, marking the Northern Hemispheres Autumn Equinox. Thanks Giving festivals take place around the Equinox, including the CofE Harvest Festival (est. 1843) and the Modern Pagan Mabon (est. 1970) #FolkloreThursday

Altered because, as John says “[the edited version] It still sounds a bit like the voice-over in a planetarium, or the start of a BBC documentary, but I think it’s a bit more poetic and interesting (hopefully) “

All drawing is disappointment. You learn to live with the limits you’ve set for yourself. I had a few hours to do this and lacked time to dig in as much as I wanted – ideally the wall of space behind the earth would’ve included an accurate starmap, and an earth that was more realisticly inked/coloured and maybe more of a crowd. But you have to get-it-done. 

So Google Earth to the rescue, and a quick search fo 3d stonehenge and a photo of a horn of plenty for some ideas and that was the pencils…

Tiers of a Starblazer

So been thinking some more on the idea of a digest style comic on kickstarter and what sort of tiers I could do, and again, very open to ideas/thoughts on this. It’s not the sort of thing I want to leap in to without thinking about a great deal first.

There’s a lot to be said for the idea of one single price for one single product (Keep it Simple, Stupid) but then there’s a few fun things you can do on a kickstarter, so here’s some notions – not final ideas, not final prices, just … starting points…

There’s (obviously) a digital comic tier – £1 – a pdf download.
At some point, any comic like this I’d want to look at getting on comixology, but probably for something like £2.50

A Softback Print comic – I’d like to charge £5-£10 for a softback. Not sure how practical that is, but it’s something I’d be comfortable paying for a comic.

A Hardback Print comic – probably around £10-£15

A Portfolio edition – hardback plus a set of prints, from some other industry pros (maybe?)- in a nice little envelope? £ 35 – 50 – 100? (Depending on who I get to rope in and whether I want to make this really limited?)

Broadly speaking I think you’d divide original art into three levels: full page (A), title character page (B), other page (C)

Original Art – one hardback plus a page of C art – £35

Original Art – one hardback plus a page of B art – £50

Original Art – one hardback plus a page of A art – £100

(Again, KISS though – maybe just one Original Art tier at £50 to cover any random page?)

And I think that’s it. All copies signed, obviously. I’ve seen other artists offer sketches or other things to be done, but I think that really skews the amount of work required -and I’d like the book completed before kickstarting (so the idea of adding people if they pay to be in it is a bit .. not for me) I’d like to do the book and then fund the printing and and creation of it. What I don’t want to do is become obliged to do more work (I mean, there will be more work – signing them all and sorting them and posting…)

Another thing I think you need to consider with kickstarter are stretch goals – but I’ll think about that another day…

Starblazer

Starblazer was a UK Digest sized that ran (according to wikipedia) from 1979 to 1991, though not sure how they were distributed in Northern Ireland as I’m pretty sure I never saw one.

The digest size is a lovely format, I’ve been obsessed with for ages. Identical to the Commando comic (at least in terms of format) it’s  7 × 5½ inch size with 68 pages of comics. The physical size necessitates that the pages usually have an average of about 2 panels per page.

Printed on newsprint, with a glossy cover, I’ve been in love with the format since I first picked up a commando comic when I was a kid.

Where Commando specialised in war stories, Starblazer did sci fi tales.

There’s a number of things I like about the format, for one – it’s very drawable. You could draw a full page digest format sized page in an hour and a half, I think – pencils and inks. That makes producing one page a day very easy – functionally a single page is equivalent of about a quarter of a normal comic page.

What that means is you could easily draw a commando strip, a page a day on top of regular work load. (and if that’s a struggle, half a page a day, goodness, it’s so small you could draw it while you’re eating lunch).

One of the big problems with kickstarter for comics is that it’s pretty hard to get a kickstarter amount to fund the creation of a comic – John Reppion did the legwork here, and working out roughly £250 per page to make a comic (writing, pencilling, inking, colouring, lettering – all at a modest rate) you’re talking about 24 pages x £250 = £6,000.

That’s before you get in to printing the damn thing.

Let’s say you expect to sell 100 copies, and the print cost for 100 copies is £155*, and let’s call postage a simple flat £1 per issue, that’s another £100. So altogether you’re looking for £6255 – which breaks down at COST price of £ 62.55 per copy.

Which is clearly nuts.

Let’s multiple the print copies by 10 – selling 1000 = print cost £488, postage stays £1 per issue for £1000, total production cost is £7488 making each issue cost £7.48

Which basically makes the whole thing a non starter if you’re paying your team.

Now, the biggest cost is obviously script/art/lettering, but let’s say you do that yourself – while working on other things – the cost isn’t zero but you can bury the production costs into the general milieu of your day, doing a digest sized comic means you can really do a page a day (I find getting a finished page a day really helps with motivation) but you need a bigger page count, 64 pages or so …

Sums again – production of comic cost: zero.

Print cost (based on A5 print, 64 b&w pages + four pages colour cover/inside cover, for a print run of 100) £136

Postage £1 that gives a total print run cost of £236, or £2.36 per issue. Now if you can sell this at a £5 per issue on a kickstart (it’s a bit high, but it means you actually get to make a tiny profit) then bingo! You’ve made an amazing £234.

It’s not gonna make you rich, that’s for sure…

If you can scale up to 1000, you can go with : Print £581+£1000(postage) – £1581 / 1000 = £ 1.51 per issue cost, profits £3489

Which, actually, if you can then keep the momentum going and get yourself in some kind of flow, if you could manage to have a number of those little digest books coming out on a semi regular basis, say once per quarter, that’s a fairly respectable income for a project that really is just a fun little sideline.

(And if you can get some sort of momentum going and do something like that once per quarter, no reason you couldn’t do a horror, a comedy, a scifi, a romance and kids comic and more…)

And now for some Caveats:

Man, I think my postage and packing cost is way off … £1? That’s just me rounding to a nice number, probably something stupid like £2.35 or some other random, but high number)

The comparison wasn’t entirely fair, the £6k figure for a 22 page comic was assuming colours, where I’m talking b&w.

Also, I can only consider (*And I’m not really considering it, more doing some thinking-out-blog) doing this because I’m a reasonably accomplished artist who knows he can draw 64 pages and I’m comfortable lettering my work and doing a lot of the technically fiddly stuff, and while I’d probably want to write my own work, I’m sure I can put my hand up and look for someone willing to cowrite one of these little things with me, just to have something fun in print.

God it would be so cool though, right?

*This is cheaper than I expected, and just based on a quick google search and using this pricing website https://mixam.co.uk/comicbooks