Folklore Thursday: The Sphinx

Folklore Thursday posts regularly appear early for subscribers to our patreon, you can can see this post here.

Phew, can’t believe it’s taken this long for me to get around to doing a pastiche of Frank Miller’s style for Folklore Thursday. I’ve done similar b&w and one colour, but Ancient Greece story surely calls for it.

Fun fact: according to wikipedia (look, I don’t have long to research each of these, so a quick wikipedia search is it) Thebes was a fierce rival to Ancient Athens and sided with the Persians during the 480BC invasion by the Persians. So … er.. that’s why the Spartans are trying to get in (probably)

Can you believe we’re now 11 strips away from finishing our first year of this! Crikey.

Suppose, pandemic willing, we should start thinking about what’s next…

Midweek update

Hello sports fan, it’s time for the midweek update.

So, what can I tell you so far: I’ve lost track of the days, I’m unsure what work I’ve done, and I’ve had my second cornovirus haircut and now my hair is a clumpy mess of shaved and unshaved bits.

Ok, on to work:

Last week I finished inking a WWI story that I’ve been doing for a little while (it needs approval)

Here’s a sneak peak:

Spiky Mallet. Timmy Mallet’s more angry cousin.

My original plan with this was to do traditional inking, but time got away from me, so it ended up being all digital. Annoyingly I think the all digital looks better, but it feels less satisfying to do.

Also, on the cards: started ep 2 of an entirely new Chimpsky! Bad news for those Chimpsky haters out there (I know you exist) no idea when we’ll see this but it’s fun to let loose in mega city one again. Also, did a cover for it.

Been tasked with doing a cut out and keep Judge Dredd, so that should be fun!

Couple of days ago the Times ran a Roy of the Rovers story written by Rob Williams, and drawn by me (colours by John Charles)

Image
Photo from the 2000ad/Roy of the Rovers twitter stream…
The actual strip, coloured so the colourist could see the white logos I dropped on there. (c) Rebellion Developments Ltd, probably.

It’s been a strange month, this. With Judge Dredd: Chimpsky’s Law running in 2000ad, and Judge Dredd: Bad Sector running in the Megazine and then the Roy of the Rovers and, unbelievably, NEXT week finally the graphic novel “The Stringbags” by Garth Ennis and me comes out (ably assisted by Rob Steen lettering, and Kelly Fitzpatrick colouring) and shepared with love and care by Gary Thompson at Dead Reckoning.

Book Cover: The Stringbags
pew pew pew / cover by Me with colours by Kelly Fitzpatrick

Since there’s an 11 page preview of this here, I think I’d be ok to show you a few of those pages unlettered in b&w, right?

If you’re not sick of hearing me talk you can listen to the 2000ad podcast I did last week here:

Oh, if you’re in the mood for WAR stories by me, Rob Williams and I have a destroyer strip in the Battle special coming out on the 19th of September.

Image
pew pew pew too

I really shouldn’t, but here’s a bit of this too… (which you might have already seen on twitter)

Crikey, that’s been exhausting. I hope you don’t get sick of my art!

I came out of last year a bit worried that I didn’t have much in print to show for the work I did – I think I’d a few little bits from 2000AD (actually about a year ago first Chimpsky strip was printed) and I think the Image Comics Savage Dragon and maybe a few other bits and pieces, and after finishing the graphic novel I wanted to get stuff in print. Anyway, for reasons I don’t quit understand it’s all arriving at once. That’s the way, though, innit.

And I haven’t even mentioned Dept K yet…

Folklore Thursday: Jack-in-The-Green

This strip appeared on our patreon first here. John Reppion has written an accompanying essay here.

Hello! Back! And we’re opening up with a big full colour piece!

Lots of fun drawing this, trying to get a bit of John in the the Jack here (more spirit than actual lookie-likie) 

Panel 1 was gonna be the green-man style face, turn on symmetry and just go to town. 

The Floral garland King, riding a shire horse is a very peculiar thing. Nabbed some photo reference for the King and then went off to google maps to find a good bit of street to use, I’d already inked the foreground man-on-horse. Was pottering around the google street view of Castleton, Derbyshire when I stumbled across “Ye Olde Nag’s Head Hotel” and by crickey it was perfect for what I wanted. So here it is.

Stay safe, hold your loved ones tight.

Papercraft Dredd

Ok, paper craft is overselling it. It’s a Judge Dredd standee.

One of my earliest memories of Dredd is building Justice-1 out of computer punch card, and making little Dredd and Hershy figures (these were, doubtless, no where near as good as I remember them being).

Still time moves on, and here I am now a professional artist working on Judge Dredd and you know… I thought it would be fun to go back and do a Judge Dredd Standee and here it is:

Having printed it myself I’d say: don’t stick it to card that’s overly tough! I should probably have added a cutting guide, too. And the little inset cuts should probably only be half the height, with whatever little bits you’re using about half that height too. (And I should probably have drawn those little inset bits too, just for completeness)

I drew this Dredd to fill an A4 page, which is a little big, I also did a youtube video – a 25 minute long, me chatting to myself (and using cues from Richard Herring’s Emergency Questions 1001 Conversation Savers for Every Occasion) to prompt thoughts while I draw. The 25 minute time is the length of a single pomodoro, and I obviously didn’t get the Dredd finished in that time, but it was enough to start, and you can watch it here:

If you enjoy it, would appreciate a like, and any comments you might want to leave – to help me figure out whether it’s worth doing more of these things.

April 2020

Woosh. Where’d it go?

Look, I could beat myself up here, but the reality is no-one could’ve been expected to get much done this month. Dealing with lock down, two kids needing educated, wife working from home and then, after a year long illness that required almost constant hospitalisation, my Father-in-Law went in to hospital, visiting a hospital an hour round trip away, for my wife donning PPE gear, while I went home and looked after the kids was tough through the month, but then, sadly, last week we were told he’d have days to live. He passed away on Monday, his funeral was on the Tuesday.

But, the harsh reality is, I only get paid to complete pages of work, and this month was particularly bad. Last month, by comparison was fairly good, so I’m hoping with a bit of care we can navigate from this month to the next without being too squeezed on income.

(If you’re unfamiliar, here’s the pattern of how it works:

DAY 1: I look for work. (If I’m lucky that won’t take a month, it’ll take a day)
DAY 2-30 : I do the work. And invoice for the work.
DAY 60: I get paid for the work.

So, that’s a two month gap between needing money and getting money, which is why you’re always trying to keep work flowing. And have enough savings tucked away you can move through any speed bumps)

Now, here’s what I actually drew…

Folklore Thursday: I drew 3 folklore Thursday strips. (I’m double checking that because, wow, I’m amazed I got any of those done). That means I missed one strip, though, for the first time. Understandable, but not ideal.

Judge Dredd: I finished inking a six page Dredd strip, I can’t honestly tell you if I pencilled it last month or this, but let’s say I finished it this month, and that’s what’s important! (because I can invoice it)

Judge Dredd: Finished a cover. Yay!

WWI Story: Finished a cover! Hurrah!

Roy of the Rovers: Drew a one page Roy of the Rovers, it’ll turn up somewhere cool, but I can’t tell you yet.

So, if you’re keeping count, I’ve drawn a total of 9 things I can invoice for, and an additional 3 things I can’t. 12. Easily the worst month I’ve had this year. And certainly, I hope, not a prelude to how this is all gonna shake out.

I’ll be honest, my big hope is I can hold things together long enough to get to the Government freelancer income that will be 80% of my average income over the last three years. That plus whatever work I can find should keep the homefires burning. But it’s a finite time period, after that, the hope is there’ll still be a comics industry, and they’ll still be looking for artists…

Folklore Thursday: Kodoma

Originally posted at Patreon.com/holdenreppion

I’m trying to transition my digital drawing over to the ipad and away from the big desktop. Partly this is about space, partly display quality (ipad pro vs cintiq lo res) partly about affordability – if my current big computer system goes (a 27” cintiq and a mac mini) I couldn’t afford to replace it, but I could afford to replace my ipad. (Maybe… probably not actually)

So, my I pencilled, inked, coloured and lettered this on the iPad Pro running Clip Studio Ex.

Now, on to the art. The colours here were inspired (of all things) by a screen saver running on my apple tv (YES, I AM ENTIRELY AN APPLE HOUSEHOLD, I’M SORRY) it was a great shot of Hollywood with a weird coloured sky. It may not even have been pink, but that fused in my head with the colours of cherry blossoms, and here we are.

I googled the Kodoma – and you’ll largely get these cute looking sprites that, I think, are from a Studio Ghibli film so I ruled those out. That said, I couldn’t help myself and added little eyes to the stars of twinkly light-sprites.

Next an animal, I thought fox would be fun, and because I’d drawn two stars it seemed right to draw two foxes. Ditto with the humans.

And the final panel was gonna be black and white but the rest is pretty monochrome anyway, so I thought I’d change the background colour to orange for the fire.

Anyway, that’s it. Just the facts this time. Hope you’re keeping well!

Five things I wish Clip Studio Would Add…

I love Clip Studio and have been using it for years, it IS full featured – to a remarkable degree, but there’s things it doesn’t have (and, unbelievably things it used to have too) and here’s my person wishlist:

  1. Auto Actions expanded to include settings for export / print options. I export for two reasons: one is to send preview png files to editors/writers and the other is to send tiff files. I do both from the export menu, but I need to remember the settings between the two – please let me save those settings so I don’t forget and have to redo exports. It’s driving me mad!
  2. Give me a toggle to automatically hide/show draft layers. Clip Studio is smart enough to allow you to ignore draft layers when you use the fill tool (so if you have four layers and a draft and fill on layer three, it will look at the four layers as a complete unit and ignore the draft, super handy for digital inking) – but sometimes i want to see the lineart with the clutter of the pencils, and I have to go to the layers option and turn off draft layers individually (though, if you’re smart you keep all your draft layers in a single folder)
  3. Smarter perspective rulers – let’s see the perspective line you’re about to draw before you draw it – there’s precedent here both Paint Tool Sai and Lazy nezumi Pro (both windows only) allow you to see the perspective line you’re about draw before you draw it (great for ensuring you’re following the same perspective of a building when you’ve drawn it with gaps)
  4. PDF Export on desktop. Come on! I can do PDF export on the ipad but not the desktop. That’s just bonkers.
  5. AI Flatting. Let me select a layer, ask for flats, and get a new layer with flatted fills in one smart go. Come on. Clip Studio in Japanese apparently has a plug in feature and this (or something like it) exists as a plug in. But I’d love it as a standard feature in clip studio. I realise there are people out there earning money as professional flatters, and I suspect they still will – because any automated flatting will never be as smart as a human flatting (esp if you’re working with a colourist for a long time) but for me who does the odd colour job, what I wouldn’t give for an AI flatter.

OKAY ONE MORE BONUS – please for the love of god, give this to me – feature request:

Let me save and share document presets. I use two document presets, 2000AD and US Comics, and every install of clip studio I have to recreate them (and it’s not easy since the numbers try and automatically correct themselves which means you key it in right, but then find the numbers have changed themselves and now you’ve to fix those) every time I recreate presets it’s a 20 minute job laden with mistakes. JUST GIVE ME SAVED/SHARED PRESETS – I can save and share brushes, why not this one thing?

Look there are probably loads of other features missing, and many people will probably think these features hardly matter – but honestly, I think these are things that could really improve workflow.

Now, someone at clip studio, go ahead and do these, thanks!

2020 Week 16 Review

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

William Butler Yeats “The Second Coming”

Yeesh. Missed a week of the weekly reviews. And nearly missed this weeks. It’s been chaos, and not just at Holden studios – the world is just. Yeesh.

So, to catch up week 15: pencilled a new episode of a four part Dredd. I might have done other things. I can’t remember.

Week 16: determined to get the Dredd all inked. Ok – did most, missed a page. Gonna finish that tomorrow. Also finished off a cover (suddenly remembered the deadline for it was the 20th – ie tomorrow – and while I’d coloured up the main figure I needed a background, necessity being the mother of invention I figured I’d add a pencil/greywash combo – and I think it turned out pretty good.

Next week:

  • Monday 20th gotta do this weeks folklore thursday. Finishing inking this Dredd.
  • Tuesday 21st– got an 8 page charity thing I’ve gotta pencils, so I think I’ll try and get layouts done, then layouts of the second part of this Dredd.
  • Wednesday 22nd– Dredd pencils, 1-2
  • Thursday 23rd– Dredd pencils 3-4
  • Friday 24th – Dredd pencils 5-6
  • Saturday 25th – Charity Pencils 1-2
  • Sunday 26th – Charity Pencils 3-4

Other things that happened this week:

I started inking the Dredd by hand on paper, then switched over to digital inks on the ipad. Finally figured out an optimum way for me to ink on the ipad – I’ve turned off pinch to zoom, I can still use two fingers to rotate but the only way I can now zoom in is in the fixed zoom in amounts using the on screen +/- or to keys I’ve mapped ‘0’ to ‘Print Size’ and ‘-’ and ‘+’ to zoom out and zoom in (strictlyspeaking, on my keyboard I’ve mapped ‘=’ to zoom in because the plus key is actually above it, and I’d need to press shift to do it.

Oh I cut my own hair. I’ve got a thing about my hair, I like it short – my usual setting is 1 at the back. And so, I figured I’ve got a beard trimmer I’ll give this a try.

It turns out, among my many many talents, self-hairdressing isn’t one. So, unable to figure out how to give myself a reasonable short back and sides, I ended up shaving it all off (well, giving myself a number 1 all over – or close to a one, my beard trimmer doesn’t quite have the same settings)

BUT NOT BEFORE I DID THIS!

Look, i’d’ve left that mohawk on but for the fact my wife hated it. And I love my wife far more than I love that mohawk. So off it went. (But goddam a mohawk suits my hair).

(My wife also hates my hair entirely shaved off but I lack the skill to do much about that one)

My weekly whiteboard has been largely ignored but gonna try and get it back in to shape. Need to be able to keep track of invoicable work – I’m starting to hit the blockages in work, I’ve work on but not as much as I normally do, and – from chatting with Pals it appears I’m lucky to have that. So many have been told to down tools (or, worse, the work just simply vanished).

It’s gonna be a blood bath for the creative industries, I’m hoping we’re all smart enough to pivot to whatever the new future is but even if we manage to, who’s to say that people can afford to spend money on comics?

It’s pretty bleak out there.

(btw this is why I shouldn’t blog late at night, I get very melancholic…)

Folklore Thursday: Gandreið

Originally posted at patreon this Thursday. I’m running a bit late on the old blog updates.

Ok, I feel like this may make little sense, there’s a logic in here, I swear…

So my first step was to google “Gandreið” which took me to a google book reference, and I kind liked that, but I’m in hock to the words of the tweet, so had to cover both bases…

Google book result was “Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe” and (and I hope I’m not stepping on John’s toes for any blog posts) it covers a Gandreið – (not being as smart as John, I just lifted the paragraph I was interested in and didn’t do any outside reading)

Here’s the paragraph:

“A man in a ream before the burning took place heard a tremendous crash which shook earth and sky, and then saw a man black as pitch riding furiously on a grey horse and holding a blazing firebrand, while around him was a ring of fire. ‘It seemed to him that he hurled the brand eastwards towards the fells, and that a great fire blazed up with such a fury that the fells were blotted out. He though that the man road eastward to the fells and vanished. ‘ When he told this dream, the response was: “You have seen the Gandreið, and this always means that momentous things will happen’

So anyway, thunder lightning (it sounds like a meteor falling to earth, no?) and I wanted to get that in, and the idea of it all being a bit dreamy.

So, does it make sense now? Probably not, but then right now, does anything?

John has posted an article with more background over at patreon.

Dad-A-Zine

I decided to take today off.

My all-powerful white-board/schedule has it today listed as “Script Caduceus” – which is the three part creator owned thing I’ll tell you about (I will probably never do, but it’s good to keep your brain occupied, right?)

Anyway, spent the morning at Tescos – my wife and I went (I realise we should probably have gone either me or her, but she can’t drive, and she’s been desperate to get to the shops – next time I’m gonna drop her off).

The queue was snaking around the entrance at the car park, then there were queues to get in to each aisle, so that ate all morning. In the afternoon I sat and realised I don’t function well without a task to do, so spotted a thing on boing boing about making zines, I thought “oh sod it” I’d make one for Thomas to laugh at.

So here it is, Dad-A-Zine #1

I’ll pop the comic here for you to read, and you can download the larger image if you want to print it out to keep (why???) (To print it, just print, the follow the instructions for folding a zine and boom, you’ll have a hardcopy!)