Obsidian Black

During the summer I played with some writing, and just spilling stuff out and drawing it in my notepad, this is one such experiment. If reaction is good I might finish it, but I expect it’ll forever remain unfinished…

I did finish the script (written as chunks of dialogue and split into pages in my notebook) but I only pencilled the first three pages and inked page 1.

White Rabbit

I wrote the story for this shortly after doing M for Dynamite with Declan Shalvey (2018), I was convinced it was a good story with some fun plot twists and a start sequence that would be great for James Bond (but later a quick rewrite and John Regent was born) and including stuff that felt like it was on the cusp of breaking into mainstream attention (white power groups, russian spies, hackers, betrayal, incels and more)

Anyway. I took the treatment and ran it through Chat GPT to see if it could write an exciting synopsis and crikey, it’s very good at that…

Here’s the blurb:

Get ready for a thrilling, 64-page graphic novella about REGENT, a skilled assassin tasked with taking out a notorious hacker known as the “White Rabbit.” But as REGENT soon discovers, the “White Rabbit” is actually a young, nonverbal autistic girl named ALICE. Betrayed and on the run with ALICE and her mother GABRIELA, REGENT must unravel a web of deceit and danger that stretches from London to Athens. As they’re pursued by ruthless terrorists and uncover the truth about ALICE’s computer, REGENT forms a deep bond with the young girl and fights to protect her at all costs. Meanwhile, a shocking revelation about REGENT’s own employer threatens to turn his world upside down. Can REGENT bring down the mastermind behind it all and emerge victorious, or will he be dragged down the rabbit hole for good?

Twitter/Mastodon Test!

In an ideal world, microblogging on wordpress (using “aside” format) would change what gets posted to twitter or mastodon so you could see the entire post contents. As though I’m actually tweeting/tooting from my wordpress blog. Let’s try, shall we?


Honestly, one of the things twitter has ruined for me is the ability to think of blogging as anything other than long form posts. Twitter took the place of short form thoughts and then my attention withered to the point that I could no longer make long form thoughts. So… I’m gonna start microblogging here.

That’s it. That’s the post…

Christmas and Birthday Book Haul

Hey you! Been a while! I’ve loads to tell you about, bought a new/old house, family got covid over xmas, and I’m another year older, but let’s cut to the sweet meats – what was the book haul this year?

Two (count ’em) Artisan Editions (these are the paperback equivalent of the artists editions and I think they’re a little smaller – no matter, the good stuff is what’s inside and they’re priced at a reasonable price too)

The first was the Gil Kane The Amazing Spider-Man artisan edition (via forbidden planet here). Gorgeous stuff, I love Gil Kane though not checkign the cover initially I thought it was a John Romita spider-man aritisan edition, as Romita’s deft line work is all over this, but I think he was inking or finishing a lot of Kane’s work on this (or at least for some of it)

Second, Steranko’s Nick Fury Agent of Shield artisan edition (here’s an amazon link as I couldn’t find a Forbidden Planet link) I’ll be honest, I think Steranko as a creator passed me by totally (of course I knew of him, but I never really looked at any of it) so it’s interesting to see just how kirby it all is.

Outside of the artisan editions, there’s also:

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen- Who Killed Jimmy Olsen – quite looking forward to reading this hefty volume of what I presume are wacky adventures.

Radiant Black, I love the logo and have absolutely no idea what it’s about.

We Only Find them When They’re Dead – scfi goodness from my ol’ Pal Al Ewing.

and finally…

Outer Darkness. I realise this got cancelled after one series (I think?) but I kind of love the art and the premise of scifi/religion stuff.

And that’s the book haul! I’ll be honest, every year I build a big old wish list and thank god for cheap image books. Any book I really like I’ll invariably buy again in a nice hardback edition.

Come back in a few days when I might have finally gotten around to doing an all new comic book version of review of the year…

Northern Ireland Comics Creator Club (NIC3)

Are you a Northern Irish comics creator looking for a place to connect with others in the industry? The NI Comics Creator Club (or, simply “NIC3“) is a new Google Group that aims to provide a space for people of all ages and skill levels to share information, collaborate, and support each other in the creation of comics. Whether you’re self-publishing, printing, or trying to break into the industry, this group is for you.

Join us at https://groups.google.com/g/ni-comics-creator-club. While the group will be informal at first, as membership grows I plan to establish regular posting. Let’s build a thriving community of comics creators in Northern Ireland together!

Dead bird sketch

I’ve deactivated my twitter account.

I loved twitter, signed up in December 2006, and would be considered a high usage person (or a “saddo”).

Twitter has given me extraordinary experiences that could have only come about because of twitter – most recently, the current gig literally came about because I had a gap and posted on twitter “I need work!”. More on that as I can talk about it.

It was twitter I leaned on when my son was going through periods of anxiety and things were tough, and got to chat to Count Arthur Strong (from the self titled tv show- and extraordinarily funny show) , who sent me some CDs of his radio show to cheer him up, and I sent some comics to him in exchange. (he’s a comic reader!)

I spent a day hanging out with Jonathan Ross, because he saw my tweets about Clip Studio and wanted to learn how to use it.

And I’ve had thousands of small interactions with people I consider heroes that have brightened my day and just generally made my life richer, and even more with people I never knew but who’ve since become friends – I only did a podcast because I asked on twitter if anyone was interested in doing a podcast with me… that was over a decade ago and we had some fun doing that.

Of course it’s not all been amazing. I’ve found myself at the sharp end of a couple of pile ons (I quickly learnt, if you’re gonna reply to a high profile twitter user about politics, do so while wearing a very strong flame retardant suit – and turn off replies, and make your profile private)

And my own use of twitter has frequently adopted doom scrolling as my morning, deeply unhealthy routine.

The rot, for me, really set in pre-Trump, when it was obvious that outrage was becoming the currency, in an attention based world the one furious man is king.

But as long as you steered clear of that world, and avoided using words that could be triggers you could still have a pretty decent time, but it was hard to ignore the fact that the floorboards were starting to rot and moving to a different room in the party was only going to be a short term solution.

Musk’s purchase of twitter is going to be transformational, he likes the stuff about twitter that I consider its flaws and while Jack Dorsey and twitter’s previous owners were also not without their problems, Musk ownership and direction he’s steering the ship in are not something I find myself able to ignore.

So in the spirit of the best way to deal with a narcissist is to not deal with them at all, I’ve deactivate my twitter account. It was coming anyway, this has just been the final nail for me. I’ve watched friends disengage more and more with the platform as the far right successfully hijack language and weaponise kindness and consideration.

So, I will always be available here (or via email pjholden at-symbol gmail.com ) or I’ll be sending out an irregular newsletter via https://www.tinyletter.com/pjholden and while I’m on mastodon (@pauljholden@mastodon.social) and hive (@pauljholden – no idea how to link to it, sorry!) and instagram (@pauljasonholden) it’s likely my taste for social media has soured.

On the plus side it’s given me more time to read books, but I do miss everyone… well, maybe not everyone

(btw if this turns up on twitter, it’ll be because even if I’ve deactivated my twitter account it *might* reactivate to publish this… we’ll see…)

Friday Fixup: Rebel Yell

A Twitter snippet, that might go away – who knows with twitter at the moment!
An image of the above tweet exchange with a link to the original (just in case!)

Jim Stafford (website here: https://www.jimstafford.co.uk ) said “I’d love any tips you could give me to pimp up page 2 (the yelling heads). Other pages for context.”

Firstly, let me say this is good stuff, man, what can I tell you – drawing transformers is insanely hard. Adding character to boxy shaped vehicular robots? DIFFICULT.

And I suspect I can’t tell you much, but I can say what I’d do.

Page 2

So here’s what I’d do.

There’s a couple of philosophical points I wanna get out of the way first, and these are no criticisms of you (or anyone else) but purely what I would and wouldn’t do.

I approach all my art work with rhythm in mind, and how quickly people get bored. People get bored looking at incredible art if it’s page after page after page after page. We’re so hard coded to boredom, I once saw a tv show where a sea cucumber was set up beside a machine that poked it at exact regular intervals, the first couple of times the sea cucumber visibly flinched, the fourth/fifth time it reacted less and by the seventh or eight time it did nothing. Why? It was BORED. SEA CUCUMBERS get bored. We get bored as a mechanism to conserve energy and we do it at a fundamental deep low level.

(This is why reading a 22 page comic is easy and looking at the art of one is actually hard – also why if you’re going to convention with artwork to show an editor, six pages is enough, they’ll be bored around seven no matter how amazing it is)

Anyway I say all this because I think the rhythm on this page is pretty simple -Every face is a shout. Every face is a close up (and often repeated faces). By varying the head angle we can do two things, one we break up the monotony a bit (same character but a different angle maybe?) but we can also very subtly cue the reader about the relative positions of each character. The page before clearly shows where they all are in relation to each other, and so, for example, Rotorstorm (in panel 4) is to the LEFT of the captain of the ship, so we have him look to his left on panel 3.

The robot dude (I’m sorry I don’t know all of their names!) on panel 5 & 7 is situated above the captain so if our camera can get a perfect shot of the captain’s head it would be looking up at that robodude. And any opportunity for a dramatic up shot is to be welcomed.

I think colour has something to say in this page too. As things get more intense that colour could be changing over the page. pushing to red or orange or similair?

Plus you can pull dramatic lighting even when you dont have the lights to do it, dramatic uplighting on panel 8 helps sell the idea that robotransformerbot is looking at a very important screen.

Panels 5 & 7 I’ve also varied the emotional response on this cylctronicmegarobotcardude – panel 5 seemed funnier if it was delivered dry – like raised eyebrow, then panel 7 a more dramatic shout. Just giving each face a slightly different emotional reaction will help a lot.

Panel 9 I’d push that shout even bigger. BIG pull in to a big reaction. Helping the reader on an emotional rollercoaster on the page rather than a kind of straight line emotional train.

And that’s it. I’ll end with mu usual caveat, this is what I’d do at this moment in time, it’s not right (or even wrong) it’s just my opinion, and I hope it has some value (even if that value is in ignoring it and saying – no – I’m sticking to my convictions!)

If you’d like to be featured here you can hit me up in email via pjholden gmail.com – stick an @ between pjholden and gmail.com and you’re golden!