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…)


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

Why Not!? Xmas Special

If you’re a long time reader, you may know my 11 year old son, Thomas, has taken a hankering to make some comics (and you can download them from free from here).

Well, he decided he wanted to do a Christmas Special, and here it is – the Why Not!? Xmas Special! Free to download.

If you want to let me know what you think of Tom’s comics, please leave a comment and I’ll make sure he gets to read it (and if you’re of a generous spirit you might want to reward him by donating to my paypal – he’ll get it all, don’t worry – he’s too young for his own paypal…)

[wpedon id=55]

Folklore Thursday: Santurnalia

Just one more thing…

So, here’s a special thing, just for you (for the moment) a two pager.

John will be tweeting a two tweet thread.

I had planned more, but this came in late with double the normal workload. I struggled a little with building a story telling narrative around the first tweet, so instead I decided to try and play something clever, a christmas bauble on christmas tree, but it would be the planet Saturn, with the god Saturn behind it (the god of course, lending its name to the planet).

That done, I wanted to do a more traditional comicbook narrative thing for the second tweet, but time really did kick my arse (panel 1 would’ve been hundreds of gladiators killing and stabbing each other, panel 2 bodies piled upon bodies in front of the temple of Saturn and panel 3 the ancient roman symbol of christianity – the Chi-Ro symbol on banners in front of a burning rome.

Even I, as fast as I can be, just couldn’t turn that around in a day (not given my time-budget on this is only about 3 hours). So sketched and abandoned, and instead this, which actually is thematically closer to page 1 and not-so-subtly suggests that Christianity is build on the blood shed of rome.


Xmas Options

Comes this time of the year, and – owing to my prior working life in IT (tech support/programming) and my reputation as someone who still enjoys tech, I’m normally asked by friends/family what they should buy the loved ones in their lives who want to draw (and especially if they want to draw digitally). So here’s a tiny list of things, in what I’ll call my “XMAS FAQ”

“I have a new(ish) computer, my kid wants to draw on it, what do I need?”

You’ll need two things: hardware AND software, let’s take hardware first:

In terms of hardware, you’ll want a graphics tablet. Graphics tablets come in two basic forms – one without screen and one with screen. Obviously, there’s a price difference. In terms of usage, the screen is preferable, but really, you can do a fine amount of work without that. So here’s a few options:

Wacom One

Wacom are the brand name to beat when it comes to graphics tablet, and yet – certainly at the entry level area they’re fairly reasonably priced. The Wacom One is priced at £29.99 and you can pick it up from Amazon here.

Moving up the Wacom line up to a slightly larger surface area, the Wacom One MEDIUM is only a tenner more (and worth it if you’re going to be spending large amounts of time haunched over the tablet) it’s £39.99 and again, from Amazon here.

(Both devices are mac and windows compatible)

If you’re feeling super generous or if this isn’t your first graphics tablet, you might wanna think about graphics tablets with screens (a category wacom had come to dominate so completely previously that, like hoovers, they’re in danger of the brand name becoming a noun – the Cintiqs). The Cintiq 16 is Wacom’s opening offering here, but they start at about £470 which puts you out of xmas present and into professional purchase category.

Luckily a whole range of other companies have appear to fill in that gap between £50 and £470. Now, hand on heart, I haven’t used any of these, but I can talk a little about the things you need to keep in mind if you’re buying and so, caveat emptor.

XP-Pen Artist 12

So, the things to keep in mind:

Screen size – how big is it. The bigger the screen the more of the art you’ll be able to see. Now, as a rule you can use a device like this AND a second monitor but you can expect a little neck strain if you’re constantly popping your head up and down. That said, even with – as I have, a mahoosive 27″ screen, it’s a) never enough screen space and b) I only ever find myself drawing on one section of it.

Now, the other factor with screens is resolution – higher is better. Lots of screens will talk about HD or FHD (High Definition or Full High Definition – in this area those acronyms amount to the same thing). FHD resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels. Which is decent enough for most things, and weirdly, FHD looks far better on smaller screens than on larger screens (because they’re squashing more pixels in smaller and smaller areas). Old computer screens would be 92 pixels per inch (ppi), ipads around 260 ppi and iphones about 300-400 ppi (around 300 ppi the eye can’t even see individual pixels anymore).

Pictured above is the XP-Pen artists “12” – (it’s actually 11.6″ in size, measured corner to corner) and is a relatively inexpensive £199 – from Amazon here.

If you’d like a much bigger screen there’s the XP-Pen artists 15.6 (which IS 15.6″ across) here and but it’s priced at £399 and the Wacom Cintiq 16 (16 inches across) is currently £469 and, if you’re going that much it’s probably worth going with the Cintiq.

If you’re after larger screen real estate and don’t mind a drop in the resolution you can look at the XP-Pen Artists 22E – a 22″ screen with a FHD resolution (so it won’t look as nice as the smaller 15.6″ screen but you will have more room to spread out on)

These devices are largely compatible with mac/pc – and should work on windows 10 and mac os x latest version (but always check)

Now, hardware out of the way, what about software:

There’s really one beat-them-all option and it’s Clip Studio. Clip Studio works on mac or windows and comes in two flavours: PRO and EX and there’s a hefty price jump between them. For almost everyone (and I even include professionals in this) PRO is exactly what you need. For a few (and I love it, so it’s absolutely for me) you’ll want to move up to EX – which includes features for handling multipage documents as well as making long animations.

I do all my digital work in Clip Studio EX.

So, to recap: almost any graphics tablet (from a budget of £35+) plus Clip Studio Pro (about £30)

Clip Studio does regular sales too, so if you DO want the EX version you can upgrade when a sale pops along and it’ll still be fairly good value.

I don’t have a computer, my kid needs something to draw on, what do I need?

This is my new favourite thing, because this stuff didn’t exist 20 years ago, and it does now. Now, I AM an apple fan boy, but in this instance, the hardware and software actually ARE the best out there. But here’s my recommendations:

An iPad (budget will dictate what you go for here, but I recommend…

iPad 10.5″ 128Gb RAM from Amazon £ 399.00

Apple Pencil (You need the 1st Generation) £89

And, PROCREATE – an absolutely stellar drawing app for the ipad which is about £8.99.

If you’re a little strapped, you can go down a model on the ipad to the 32Gb RAM one, but honestly that’s just opening you up to a world of pain – you’ll find yourself constantly managing the amount of stuff stored on it.

You don’t need the iPad pro (though it’s lovely) the basic iPad with the apple pencil and procreate is an amazing tool for drawing. If you’re looking to do comics professionally, you could subscribe to Clip Studio (which is a subscription on the ipad) which works out around £4 per month for pro or (around) £60 per year for the EX version.

Anyway, that’s my advice, I hope it’s of use! Happy xmas shopping…

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…


I’ve signed up for the Masterclass website. Masterclass run a bunch of web classes from various luminaries in their fields explaining how they do what they do. It’s all very very high production quality, though that’s reflected in the price – £170 per year though, this weekend they had a special buy one membership and give another away (and so, you could, if you were so inclined, split the costs with a mate)

I remember there was a little of stink in some small areas of the comics community when Neil Gaiman was advertising his Masterclass – there was an odd feeling that he should be offering this all up for nothing (I mean, I’ve been paid over the years for passing my knowledge and it’s pretty limited, so I’m not sure what people where objecting to)

So, I have, of course, signed up for his class. I figured if I can do one class per month over the next year I’ll have had good value from it. Some of the writing classes are 30 or so lessons, so one per day should do it. And I figure if I do the writing I’ll also do at least one for just entertainment, as it happens there’s a Penn and Teller teach magic (it’s cool, I’m not about to start doing magic tricks, arthritic fingers somewhat limit my prestidigitation but it’s nice to learn stuff, right?) so I’ve signed up for that. And since they suggest you sign up for three classes, there’s also a Gordon Ramsay one, for cooking (obviously) which I will be trying to learn stuff in too.

Anyway, you’ve a day to make up your mind (took me a couple of days) And I’ll try and keep a track of which of the classes I do and keep you in the loop…

Folklore Thursday: Rübezahl

Look, I’ll address this head-on. Yes, that’s Alan Moore, Leah Moore and John Reppion. I wasn’t asked to do that (John never asks for me to do anything, it’s all me) but reading the tweet, laying the panels out and thinking “I need a weather giant, a wise woman and a wizard-like Monk” and it suddenly occurred to me that it would be both perfect and funny.

I started colouring it with the sky with a view to full colour, but I’m a bit up against it here at the moment and then I thought I’d use the same blue for the giants – as I wanted them to feel ephemeral rather than big solid giant then realised I didn’t really need any colour (phew, that saved some time).

Sometimes I wish I had more time to attack these things, but you don’t always get what you wish for.