Folklore Thursday: Cephalophore

Previously published on patreon.com/holdenreppion and if you can support us there, that would be awesome!

Folklore Thursday: Cephalophore

This particular Saint is St Denis and from a statue in Notre Dame De Paris. (Based on a photo from wikipedia in the public domain)

Ok, today – as I write this – Monday the 16th – Boris Johnson has announced that people should work from home, bars and large entertainment complexes should close and people should minimise travel in disruptions none of us will have ever experienced before (but may be how it must have felt when WWII broke out).

So it’s been a struggle to do anything. Plus, as it happens, some of these folklore tale tweets lend themselves very nicely to a narrative and some … less so. (I think the more sentences the better for me, but it’s been a weird day so I can’t be sure).

Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to do for this one, and googled around for some image reference and I found this.

I thought maybe just an isolated pic of this statue would be good, one drawn with some delicacy – a bolland-like rendering of the line I thought. (Whether I’m very far away from that or not is immaterial, it’s more about where I’m aiming).

Inked up digitally in Clip Studio, then on to colour using a mix of a flat fill, gouche brush (both the normal and dry brush) and then some rough water colour) I coloured it a stone colour and thought it needed a bit of colour (I’ll do that sometimes, mix in some green or blue or red) then I thought it would be interesting to add blood red pouring from the neck. The statues of these saints are curiously bloodless. So I liked the idea of adding something a bit more gory into this very sanitised vision of a headless saint.

I was 50 this year, born in 1969, the year the troubles really kicked off in Northern Ireland (I’m from Belfast) and I spent my formative years in the 80s worried about nuclear armgeddon while watching riots on tv. It’s easy to forget that art is important in that sort of environment. But it was for me. Comics where the thing that kept me sane. And while, my friend Rob and I often joke about how “well, we’d better get on and finish this comic because if we don’t… well… it doesn’t really matter”. Actually, sometimes making comics does matter. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need to keep you sane.

Anyway, take care.

Bad Sector

Out this week from 2000ad in all good newsagents (If those things still exist by who knows, it’s been a weird week)

The Judge Dredd Megazine Issue 418 and the first part of the three part Judge Dredd: Bad Sector written by Arthur Wyatt.

Hoping you like this, because it’s a thing we want to revisit.

For your delight, here’s a couple of pages of it in B&W

Of course, if you’re self imposed isolation, you can always buy the meg digitally from the 2000ad app or from the 2000ad website. (Downloadable as a PDF or CBZ file)

Self Isolation Day 2

Have already eaten one of the children, and am convinced the moon is speaking to me.

Look, it’s not so bad here. Life’s pretty much normal, except the kids are home and my wife is home. I’d forgotten how much of a racket they make. I’ve a surprisingly decent schedule of work on, so there’s obviously some wheels still turning (or, at least, those wheels have yet to grind to a halt).

Kids ended up doing a bit of school work, but it was a fairly light – just a bit of home work. “It’s not fair, the whole point of homework is to reinforce what you learn at school, there’s no point in doing homework if you’re doing school work at home” – a reasonable point, somewhat destroyed by the fact it’s literally half an hour of work.

As anticipated the schools are closing. God, Boris looks out of his depth, the only thing I think we’ve got going for us the scientific advisors seem to be doing the heavy lifting. We’re now at a point were Universal Basic Income is brought up in the house of commons (today by the SNP) and not just instantly dismissed (makes you wonder if we can do it now in this time of crises, shouldn’t we have been doing some of this stuff years ago?)

Anway, officially schools are closing on Friday, but largely in NI the schools have closed for a couple of days (or at least are getting by on minimal staff as everyone who has the least bit of the sniffles takes the precautionary step of self isolating). We, me, Nathan and Annette have all had a bit of a sore throat and an occasional cough which is just enough for you to think “well, I’ve got this thermometer here, no harm in checking” about twelve times a day. (Pretty sure it’s the regular old whatever that goes around normally)

Our flat has a shared common space, and that’s less than ideal, and we don’t have a garden the kids can roam around in, which, again, less than ideal, BUT we do have four rooms. The kids bedroom, and my studio room, our bedroom and the living room (plus a balcony, kitchen and bathroom). We evolved a dance now, through the years of the kids growing up. Like we all seem to prize our alone time (Nathan, especially – as a baby we’d marvel at how he’d stop crying AFTER WE STOP HUGGING HIM and just put him on the ground – never seen the like).

So now, I usually take up my studio room (of course), my wife works in the living room up until dinner when we all share that space, then in the evening I might go in there with her, and our youngest, Nathan will slip off to his room to the playstation. Then, when Tom goes to bed, Annette’s in bed, Nathan will come to the living room, curtly ask “can I have the living room?” and I’ll get up and mooch off to my room.

The boys can enjoy being in the same room, but sometimes they need to go to different rooms and you might find Nath sitting on the chair in our bedroom, Tom playing the playstation in their room. OR Nathan playing the playstation and Tom in our room playing the Wii U (good idea to open up all your old games consoles and liberally dot them round the house connected to every TV you can find).

Yesterday I showed you my studio, today I’ll show you some of the original art I have hanging up in it:

I love all of them, the Cully Hamner, Jesus Redondo and Chris Sprouse page were from my mate Johnny (who I hope is ok, I haven’t seen him in years!)

The Jerry Paris piece was a commission for my 50th birthday. Jerry was my guiding light when I was a teen and was adrift in teenage hormones and anxiety over loving comics but ashamed to be reading them, I’d pick up copies of Computer and Video Games (C&VG) with Jerry’s art in it just to keep looking at comics. I live off ink.

The John McCrea piece is special to me to, John’s an absolute hero of mine, and we’ve known each other for over 30 years. The page features Justice-1 and when I was a kid, my Uncle Paul and I built that ship out of computer punchcard. Now, in memory it was pretty much an exact scale model. But come on, it was computer punch card.

Anyway, stay well everyone. It’s easy to let the whole thing overwhelm you. You can still go out and go for a walk, and enjoy a sunset. Those things haven’t changed.

Self Isolation Day 1

Hey!!

Look, we’re not entirely self isolated here. Taking reasonable precautions, things aren’t maniac yet – though they will be soon.

So I’m comfort blogging.

Our kids are due back to school tomorrow (we’re in Northern Ireland, today was St Paddy’s day, normally there’s a parade, in previous years we’d take ourselves off somewhere but not this year.)

My Own Personal Bunker

When I was a kid, in the 80s (yes, Virginia, I am that old) I dreamt of being confined to a nuclear bunker (you can tell how much I enjoyed school like that this was my dream) stuck in bunk beds with rooms connected via tunnels to my parents room and a small living room and I fancied we’d have some sort of video setup with a large video library (stored in another part of this bunker, which, weirdly, was – I fancied – directly below our actual house).

Anyway, that was the place I put my imagination while the world seemed to be ticking towards nuclear war. And I know, you’ve probably read Watchmen and the stuff about the nuclear war doesn’t seem any where near as urgent now, but by god it did then.

So, we’re all at home. Kids not going to school (my youngest is in the at-risk group) and if he’s at-risk it seems like idiocy to send my older son to school. Both schools are being cagy, not telling you to keep your kids home but certainly not encouraging you – to quote the youngest son’s school :

“Please keep your child at home tomorrow if…

they are in the at risk group OR they have any symptoms OR neither of the above but you are anxious about them attending school.”

Which, I think, given government guidance, that’s a fair enough shake.

Other news: it was claimed amazon were stopping shipping anything but medical or nonessential home goods to warehouses. But, it turns out that’s not true (although some small tiny vestigial grain of truth is in there)

To be honest, I’ve been wondering what would happen with amazon deliveries.

On Wed 11 I opened up a spreadsheet and threw in some numbers of where we might be headed, based on the idea that we were likely to see this thing have an exponential increase – the numbers I used where taking the previous days cases (54) and the then current days cases (83) work out the ratio 1.53 and just multipled that by each days numbers and man it gets scary quick.

Today they announced 413 6 days later. My spreadsheet had 413 at 5 days later (the official numbers took a weird dip yesterday, going from 332 down to 152 then back up to 413. I think the dip was a change or confusion over how many people were being tested – as the Govt decided to not test everyone, I think that had enough backlash they changed their minds)

The Government Daily Confirmed Cases up to the 16th of March.
The Government Dashboard – where you can see these figures updated daily is here.

Assuming my spreadsheet is a day out, and going at that continuing rate you’re looking at 1,500 in one day a week later, and 9k per day two weeks from now.

And that’s why we’re all in lockdown. So far as I can tell every country that’s really locked down has seen a corresponding drop in infection rate. Which is good.

What’s not so good is it’s likely without a vaccine that rate will leap right up there again.

That’s the thing, in the 80s I was scared we’d be at war, and now… now we’re at war.

2020 Week 11 Review

Oh boy.

Ok, let’s get stuff out of the way – this week got weird and it’s gonna get weirder. And sadly, not in a “I’ve an exciting project I can’t talk about yet” more in a “oh so, this is how civilisation ends”.

As much as my attention was entirely focused on brexit as it was happening, post election I turned the news off and decided I couldnt fight that fight any more (not that I did, I mostly sat and waited to either make funny jokes on twitter or to vote with my conscience.) And then the corono virus. I’ve been aware of it for a while, because my younger brother was in China teaching English as a forign language when it all got weird out there, and he came home (four months into a year long job).

Slowly but surely the UK following the path of china and italy and the rest of europe, we’re now at the beginning of it. Personally, I don’t think the world is gonna work the same after wards. It’s as close as a world wide existential threat as I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime (And I’ve lived through the troubles, 9/11, the fall of the Berlin wall, and the rise of the idiocracy)

It’s meant, I’ve got work done, but it’s been hard to get anything started.

So, that all said, let’s review last week:

FIRSTLY: NO Stomach Pains. Phew. A week off.

Workwise, finished a war thing for Alex De Campi’s War related charity book (this is Gulf War period). Did a few touch ups on another war thing (this is a near future war thing, not for comics) and got roped into doing some pitch art for a tv thing (that’s always a fun little side gig, when it happens).

Had planned on starting DK, the new thing for 2000AD. But that didn’t happen and I didn’t even get a look at Channel Hex.

I’m not gonna beat myself up. Channel Hex may have to go on hold, while I concentrate on getting as much paid work done as possible, because I think we’re in for some bumpy ride ahead (and by we – I mean all of us).

Next week, my plans are:

Mon-Fri : DK 2 pages of pencils per day.

It’s a 10 page strip, so 2 pages per day is very doable.

The current government advice is that schools in the UK will stay open. The Irish government order is schools should shut. I’m in Northern Ireland, and there’s a very obvious disconnect between these two things (yes, we’re in the UK, but we’re on the island of Ireland, so having two rules for two chunks of the same Ireland is odd. Especially if you’re on the border where schools intermingle)

In NI, lots of schools are moving teacher training days around to do their training days early in the week in anticipation of the UK Govt advice changing and schools having to teach remotely.

Should that happen (and I think it’s pretty certain, our kids are due back to school as normal on Wednesday and I doubt very much they’ll be back in) I’m gonna be working from home with the kids trying to do remote schoolwork (how that works I have no idea). And, possibly, my wife will be here too.

We’ve already started figuring out what room each of us will work in – I have my studio. Our bedroom as a nice chair set up in it, maybe needs a table, but Annette can work from there. Thomas can work from the living room and Nathan from his bedroom.

Of course, that plan probably won’t survive the first day. But it’s a start.

Look, it’s going to be rough, and I have a stupid job where sometimes the only thing keeping me going is the knowledge that when I grew up in Belfast and the news was full of awful, terrible grim things, reading comics kept me going. So that’s why I draw comics. Sometimes it’s what you need.

Folklore Thursday: Sin-Eater

Originally posted to patreon.com/holdenreppion (where if you subscribe you’ll get to see the folklore thursday strips early!)

There’s a few things in the pot for this one. Firstly, I wanted to yank some influence in from Laika – I’d been looking at some of my older (’95) work and the stuff that is super cartoony still stands up. So I figured it’d be easy to revisit that style. But it’s not. It’s NOT.

So googling some Laika, and stealing ideas for how far to push things (my biggest sin is that I don’t push things any whee near far enough).

Panel one was tough, I knew I wanted something obviously sinful, but not too awful and I was teasing out the story that I wanted to tell. My original plan was to have the sin-eater present in panel one, either as a participant in a massive orgy (a plan soon curtailed when I remembered how time consuming crowd scenes are so) or as a background, but I just couldn’t figure out the best way to fit him in.

So shelving that problem, went on to the next panel. I don’t think I conceived of him as a vicar just yet, I figured there’d be someone covering up whatever the sin was, I thought wife then shelved that, then father, shelved that, then a vicar (could be a priest, but I knew this was scotland/wales so priest became vicar) then it occurred to me maybe they’re both vicars. 

The Vicar here is best on a memory of Ian Paisley – all brimstone and fury.

The third panel, sin-eater, was gonna be drawn with detail, but I mapped it out and figured this works as a silhouette and I’ll take any way to save time.

Final panel, hammering home the idea it’s a vicar, I googled scottish churches, got that, for the background. Initial plan was to have our sin-eater plugging his six-pence into a bag full of them (to suggest this is a fairly frequent business opportunity) then I thought if I grabbed the girls in panel 1 it sort of suggests this was part of a conspiracy. And I liked that idea – the Vicar conspiraring to keep the dead vicars crimes silent not just from the congretation but from God, by using a sin-eater, and the sin-eater masterminding a plan to kill the vicar and earn sixpence for his sins. I felt it was delightfully Inside No 9.

Anyway, It may or may not work. But I hope it does!

2020 Week 10 Review

Ok, this week, had a pencilling job to do. 14 pages of pencils, I’m drawing these 1:1 partly to speed this job up a little, partly because I’m trying to draw in a slightly more restrained less detail obsessed way.

Last week…

How’d I go?

Well, cheating slightly as I opened the week with 2 of those pages already done. Things we’re ok until Tuesday – when, boringly another IBS attack took me out for the day. Leaving me about six pages to pencil. But, somehow raced through them. Job done, and happily got a few pages of it inked too.

Then came Friday and Channel Hex day. That … did not go well. Just got stuck. Sometimes a page will just get your brain stuck and that’s what happened. I suppose if I was tackling this one day after the other it would be less of an issue, but I finished last Friday mid-page on a figure that wasn’t working and I picked up and tried it again and it … still wasn’t working. Several pages of attempts later and the angle of attack on the figures (showing it all from a different angle) and finally killed the beast. But it felt like I got no further on. Especially since I ended up fighting that page the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

As it happened, I also inked some of the 14 pager, quit fun to ink at that smaller size. Though, boy my eyesight is completely frazzled. Started wearing glasses when I turned 30, initially because I was getting headaches as I worked (at the time in IT) and when I’d draw (just as my career started really) – and had, apparently, an astigmatism.

Over the the years the prescription has gotten stronger and my ability to focus has gotten worse, I’ve two pairs of glasses one for computer screen work and the other – ostensibly – for reading. I ended up flipping between the two constantly when working.

I suspect when this job is done I’ll go to large size again. (And maybe even larger than normal)

Through the week I also started chipping away at Blender. Blender is a 3d program for modelling and animation. I’ve been playing with blender (well, even ‘playing’ is too strong a word – more dipping in and out) for years, but until 2.8 blender took an almost perverse pleasure in being unlike any other computer software (in fact, they all do, there’s one 3d modelling app that puts it’s menu bar items in ALPHABETIC order – like it’s been designed by a psychopath).

Anyway, 2.8+ is where it’s at. It has some similiar features to sketchup, but the bonus is it’s a) much more powerful and completely free. No hidden costs. I can build in blender and export as OBJ files to clip studio and suddenly have a cool 3d model I can trace over.

Here, for example, is a first stab at Dredd’s lawmaster (really just me noodling)

Built In Blender
Rendered as lineart in Clip Studio Pro EX

Ok, ok, the model is simple (and not nearly wide enough, dredd’s tyres should be a good third more of that width) but – as I say – this is first pass attempts.

I’ve used a lot of 3d stuff for the WWII work – using other people’s models (World of Tanks was great because they supplied all the 3d tank models I could ever need) but, of course, when you come to Dredd’s world it’s a different thing. And while I can draw Dredd’s bike from memory (OF COURSE!) so much more fun to play with the 3d model.

Anyway, that’s my outside of comics project for the moment.

I also wrote and drew another folklore thursday story for this week. I think it’s a fun one, inspired a little by Inside No 9.

Now, on to next week: the plan – ink up this 14 pager. Should be very doable, given I’ve about 6 pages already inked (har! I inked two today!)

Monday: ink pages 7,8,9, 10 (Yes, four seems insane – I’ve mostly inked page 7 and these pages are half normal size!)
Tuesday: ink pages 11, 12, 13, 14 (12 & 13 are a double page spread, reasonably confident I can kill them in one go!)
Wednesday: NEW THING! PENCILS DK(10 pager) 1,2
Thursday: Pencils DK 3,4
Friday: Channel Hex
Saturday/Sunday: Channel Hex.

New project starting on Thursday – really looking forward to it – it’s a 2000ad thing and completely new, something with Rory McConville. New character designs, new characters, new strip! Exciting!

And that’s my week. Hopefully I can navigate next week without a single IBS outburst.

If you’re enjoying these progress reports let me know. If they’re as dull as ditchwater, let me know that too. No wait, on second thoughts, probably best if I don’t know that…

Folklore Thursday: Kālī

You’ll have to apologise for my brevity on this one. I wish I had more time to draw it again. Some individual bits I like but then I feel like it’s less than the sum of its parts. Oh well. 

Initially I thought “this will be amazing”. But I just didn’t have the time, and there was a deadline. That’s the reality of comics, sometimes the job is compromised by the need to get the thing out on time. AND I needed to get it out on time. So I think it’s ok, just not what I wanted to do (and I mean, it’s rarely exactly what I wanted, but sometimes you surprise yourself or it gets close enough that it doesn’t matter.)

(I do feel like I might attack this image again)

Original version of the art had “KALI” which, thanks to twitter user @halfacanuck who said:

You mean “Kālī” (long vowels). “Kali” (short vowels) is the name of the demon-lord of the Kali Yuga.

2020 Week 9 Review and February Round up

Ok, let’s start with last week‘s plan:

Draw up some pencils for a project, get started into a war thing.

And that’s pretty much happened. I also had to respond to some emails and… it turns out I’m bad at responding to emails. Follow ups and stuff, I’m just bad at it. This is me shaming myself.

Next week, I’ll get on top of those things. Monday.

Had another IBS attack on Friday, it’s become very regular. Dunno what to do about it at all. It feels like once the doc has gone “Yeah. you’ve got ibs” there’s literally nothing else to be done just suffer the consequences of that.

Will make doc appointment on Monday too. Also gonna try and reign in my eating a bit, nothing after six (I’ve cut out gluten a few years ago when the IBS attacks where less frequent but much more painful and that seemed to work, now the attacks are frequent, but a third of the level of pain)

Here’s how an attack works: usually in the evening I’ll get a sense that it’s gonna be a bad night, my stomach starts telling me it’s not happy. Then around 1 it’s sore, to the point where I know I’ll not be able to sleep, around 3 it’s very painful (I’ve tried buscopan, pain killers, andrew’s liver salts, and the only thing that seems to have a modicum of effect is a hot water bottle)

Around 5-6 the pain starts to lesson, at this point I’ve been awake all night, but now I can hit the bed and be reasonably confident it’ll ease off enough that I can sleep.

And, if I’m lucky, I’ll be left alone to sleep until 11. Sometimes that can’t happen, and I’m up at 8:30. That day though, is often just a write-off for me.

I’m lucky in that I work from home, so I can take a day and just crawl into bed and sleep it off. Many can’t. And god knows what it would be like if I was still working.

Anyway, that’s where we are with that. On to other matters.

Boy this month flew by, didn’t it?

Let’s take stock:

I drew some folklore thursdays (technically I drew 3, and had one in reserve)

There’s a couple of my absolute favs in this last month, so that’s good.

Other things I drew: finished off Chimpsky ep5 (6 pages), pencilled and inked Destroyer (8 pages) pencilled a thing can’t talk about (7 pages) and started on a War Story thing for a charity, pencilled and inked 2 pages.

So, that brings my monthly count to:

ProjectPencilsInksColoursLetters
Chimpsky 566
Destroyer88
Folklore Thursday3333
Pencil Project7
War Story22
Channel Hex2
TOTALS281933

OK, that’s not too bad an amount of work. I managed to get started on Channel Hex, and I’ll talk more about that next month when, hopefully I can tell you much more about it.

Next month I’ve got a war story to finish (time restricted, unfortunately) it’s 14 pages in total, but I’ve two finished on it, so 12 pages. PLUS a new thing for 2000ad, an entirely new strip created by me and Rory McConville. Which should be enormous fun. After that, I’ve got more Chimpsky to do!

If you sign up to my newsletter you’ll see some sneak peaks on the work I’ve done this month…

https://www.tinyletter.com/pjholden

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.