Under another stonking cover by Cliff Robinson and Dylan teague we have episode five of Chimpsky, but before I start that – just let me say, I’m annoyingly jealous of what Dan Cornwell got to draw in Dept K, I WANTED TO GO FULL KIRBY! Goddammit. Anyway, that looks great (he says begrudgingly through gritted teeth)
Now Chimpsky! Episode 5 – and Norm finally comes face to face with … well, let’s not spoil it. If you remember back to episode 1, Norm in space, things all around him, I’ll let you in on a secret; I wasn’t entirely sure what was going to lead to that page 1 opener (but it’s such a striking/fun thing, I don’t think you’ll hold it agin’ me – will you?).
Comic production can take some time, page 1 of this strip was probably drawn three months before page 1 of Episode 5 (I don’t have the exact details but that wouldn’t be weird for 2000ad) deadlines are frequently about 2 weeks for six pages, though sometimes longer and sometimes less. So, you know, ideally I’d like those two sequences to mesh together a little better, but … I also wanted that opener to really pull you in to the story … more of a cover than a first page, really…
Chimpsky is now desperate to escape the ship’s AI and it’s apparent attempt to kill him… or maybe it’s leading him somewhere…?
You can see here my pencils are pretty scrappy, but it’s a fairly straightforward thing to draw, so not a lot of planning, and I was pretty happy with the results, love what Simon Bowland has done on lettering, and Chris Blythe’s colouring remains top notch.
Out this Wednesday, featuring episode 4 of Chimpsky’s Law: The Incredible Mr Chimpsky.
In which the family Jepperson point the finger of blame at Chimpsky, and Chimpsky – at last – tells us who the real killer is!
I hope this strip conclusively answers the question “is this a little Hitler moustache” – the answer is no – it’s a little tall moustache that splays out at the ends, and if you read it as a Hitler ‘tache, that’s on you. (Or me for my art being not as clear as I thought it was)
I’m pretty pleased with Chimpsky’s grimacing face on that second page there, some fun things to draw.
Out last Wednesday, 2000AD Prog 2236 features Episode 3 of Chimpsky’s Law: The Talented Mr Chimpsky
Wherein out four handed friend, begins to see the Jepperson’s come to various sticky ends, finds himself fighting for his life and J’accuse Chimspky!
There’s some fun PG tips style Chimps playing card nonsense in this issue, and I think I was generally pleased with the art on it.
One of the Things with this strip is there are SO many named characters, and they all needed distinct looks, and then there were an abundance of UNNAMED characters, but again – a distinct look. Even the chimps, all fundamentally the same but you still needed – at the very least – to distinguish Chimpsky from all others. Largely with Chimpsky, I did that with body language and story telling – keeping him the focus or making sure he’s much more aware of what’s going on than the other apes (who are largely just reacting to whatever thing is happening just now – all acting is reacting!)
The Jeppersons though I designed the first bunch that I thought we’d see more of – at this point I had no idea of what fate befell each of them, so, don’t think there’s any spoilers if I show you this.
The 2000ad cover I did that ran a few progs ago was originally supposed to be for this issue, I suspect it was just abstract enough it could be run at any stage and the first episode felt like a pretty good spot for it.
The reaction to this strip seems to be largely very positive, so hopefully we’ll get to do more (I mean, assuming Chimpsky makes it out alive, right? RIGHT???)
2000AD Prog 2235 is out this week, featuring Dept K – by Cliff Robinson (lineart) and Dylan Teague (colours)
It’s kind of exciting to see characters I designed handled by Cliff – we’re two very different artists operating at two ends of an extreme, I think, so when Cliff draws something I’ve designed (or, has happened once in the past) I’ve drawn something he’s designed it’s fun to see where are sensabilities take us.
I tend towards chunky and clunky character designs but with a certain elasticity / cartoony-ness that. Cliff has a more delicate line that is more realistic and elaborate.
(Still very peculiar to me that while Dept K and Chimpsky are running those are two sets of characters I co-created)
Anyway, on to the business at hand, Chimpsky Part 2 – at this stage of drawing I’ve abandoned paper and pencil in favour of the cintiq in toto – largely this is eyesight related (my eyesight slowly but surely getting worse since I first started my professional drawing career in what – I can only assume – is some sort of unspoken bargain with the devil – sure I’ll help your career, very very slowly, but also, while that happens I’ll make your eyesight just the bit worse…) but partially a growing frustration with the physical tools of drawing, which can be so bloody pernickity. One day the ink is fine the next too gloopy. Frustrating.
last week I mentioned I designed the mansion in Blender – building models of things you’ve got to draw over and over again is a time honoured tradition (here’s some classic Pathe news clip starring Frank Hampson and his assortment of models for drawing Dan Dare – I am no Frank Hampson, shucks I’m not even a member of his team that helped him produce the art, but if it’s good enough for those guys…)
My Blender knowledge is pretty perfunctory, but I knew what I had in mind, and in order to help keep the damn thing looking the same from panel to panel, I figured a 3d model is the best way to go, it also helps you keep on top of the insane deadlines you have to deal with as a comic professional.
So I drop the model in to clip studio, press a magic “render” button (actually labelled “LT Convert Layer”) and get a nice simple line art translation. I then proceed to draw all over it, because a rendered 3d image is too perfect, and would stick out like a sore thumb. So you draw over it, adding texture and details and just generally stopping the thing look like a 3d model.
Anyway, here’s pencils for pages 1 and 2 and colours by Chris Blyte and lettering Simon Bowland.
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…
Well, like buses, you wait for one series you do in 2000ad to go down well enough with the fans for Tharg to ask you to do it as an ongoing, and then suddenly two come along at once.
Unfortunately, timing meant I’ve had to bow out of the continuing adventures of Dept K (I’m honestly gutted about it) as I’m in the middle of US book, as well as drawing the on going adventures of everyone’s favourite super smart simian, Noam Chimpsky.
Anyway this week’s 2000ad features the the second episode of Dept K I’ve drawn (fittingly we sort of wrap things up cleanly enough that Rory And Dan Cornwell can kick off a whole new slate of adventures next week!)
In the meantime, here’s some of the b&w art from this week’s episode …
Thomas (my 12 year old son, who’s currently working on inking episode 2 of Servant 72) has introduced my to Junji Ito, and his brand of short story existential dread, and it’s really opened my noggin up to writing little short horror type stories.
From my notebook the idea was “Astronaut Frozen in Place on Moon – can’t move becomes part of moonscape”
Then I sat and wrote it out, basically writing out almost exactly he dialogue you see here, but with no panel descriptions, though I largely knew what they would look like.
Here’s the full script:
"Last Man on the Moon" [They left me here] The suit will keep me alive, maybe even for years but I can't move. We thought we knew everything about the moon. Here in teh darkest place deep in the South Pole-Aiken crater things are here. I can see them. The cew think I'm dead but I'm not. Just immobile. At least here I can see the stars. Until Sunrise/ Without the visor I'll see it once. Then nothing.
I’d probably futzed around with it forever (initially I posted it to twitter, and I’ve since tweaked some lettering, and redrawn the first face…)
Anyway, I’ve got a few more of these ideas scribbled in a notebook, as long as I can keep them managably small, I see no reason I can’t get them done.
A bunch of these, then I’ll tackle something much longer …
I’ve started obsessing over my studio shelf space.
Generally I’m a pretty lazy collector, I’ve books going way back to the dawn of my interests in comics (specifically copies of The Dark Knight Returns), books that I bought to read on holiday, and then I’ve started amassing hardbacks.
To give you some idea of the nonsense on my selves – I don’t have a first volume of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (I bought the individual issues), my second volume is a paperback, as is the Black Dossier (which doesn’t seem to have a volume number, but comes – I believe – between 2 and 3, Volume 3 (Century) I think I had one issue of the miniseries, and then I picked up volume 5 as a hardback.
Wasn’t a problem before now, I’ve probably read them all digitally on comixology or just sort of missed them. But now, having replaced two bookshelves that were waist high with a single tall shelf, I’ve started putting things on that shelve and noticing the weird gaps.
Locke and Key Hardbacks volumes 1,2,3 and 5 no volume 4. NO VOLUME 4. Idiot.
The previous shelf was behind things so I never saw any of it, I’d allowed clutter to come front and centre, covering it, and I had a mobile artstation unit sitting in front (I figured I could move it, so what harm, it turns out A LOT OF HARM. A LOT)
Anyway anyway, have started going mad like a windows 95 computer defragging a particualrly egregious hard disk, moving books here there and over there.
My main problem is I want to stack things where I can put my hand on them, but equally, I really want the ones I love to be constantly at eye level – so I’ve set up an Alan Moore shelf (got your usual V for Vendetta, Captain Britain, Watchmen, Futureshocks, League etc). But, of course, I’ve got gaps in things like Swamp Thing (not only gaps but I literally haven’t read a lot of it!)
So, past the Moore stuff there’s a Frank Miller/David Muzzachelli collection (small but nice). I’m totally missing Electra Assassin though (yes, it’s Bill S. not David M.)
Suddenly I’m noticing gaps. About three years ago my wife and I agreed that we’d pretty much got all the things, and the last thing I needed was more books I wasn’t likely to read (and worse, I’d already spent a Christmas or two asking for books that, idiotically, I’d forgotten I already had) here’s one such exchange, almost word-for-word:
Annette “What do you want for christmas” Me “Well, I’m largely ok, but I wouldn’t mind Alex Toth: Genius Illustrated“ Annette “I think you have that.” Me “Ho, no, I have the OTHER two books – but not that one” Annette “No, I’m pretty sure I got that for you last year” Me “No, I think I’d know if I had that book – it is flipping massive. I’d’ve spotted that on my shelves! HOHOHO!” Annette “…” goes into my room … comes back out brandishing a large object Annette “You mean this book?” Me (sheepishly) “…yes…”
Anyway, crises averted on that occasion, but at least three other times I’ve asked for, and received, gifts that I already had. And so, self imposed book exile began. No more buying.
I bought and read digital, that was fine.
But now… but now… I can see my books again. It’s weird, it’s like suddenly you have your own library (I mean I don’t profess to have anywhere near the books of Sean Phillips who appears to have opened a branch of forbidden planet in his studio but it’s more than average)
That said, there’s plenty of books in there that I enjoyed reading but am unfussed about keeping. I nopped out of the Walking Dead (started reading it when I had young kids and found I just couldn’t put up with the constant peril) so I have volumes 1-5 and volume 8 (where the flip are 6 & 7??) I have various sandman, but I can borrow sandman from the library as digital files to read, so that’ll do. I have invincible volumes 1-3 & 6 (sigh) and suspect I might wanna buy that in massive compendium form. I have about four versions of Hellboy Seed of Destruction (as well as most of it digitally) so I should gut that a bit.
Anyway, it’s taken me decades, but I think this is finally becoming the studio I’ve always wanted…
Thomas, age 12, has been putting every wannabe writer/artist to shame (including me, his dad) by sitting himself down and just writing and drawing his own comics. This is his latest – Servant 72. I won’t spoil it, but inside you’ll meet a nice friendly robot servant with a fixed rictus grin who – unbeknown to him – has been the happy-to-serve slave of a vicious intergalactic warlord.
Here for you to enjoy, please leave a comment, Thomas loves comments!