Chimpsky

I’m not exactly sure what the script said, but I think it said something along the lines of Chimpsky sits high atop the city. Not sure what Ken (Neimand) the writer was expecting me to do and I probably wasn’t entirely sure, but for the longest time I’ve been fascinated by the monkeys in Belfast Zoo and their high poles.

Belfast zoo is set on Cave Hill and has an incredible view over all of Belfast, and the monkeys (and there’s a LOT of different monkey enclosures) have various poles set out for climbing, resting and playing on.

I used to look at them up there, a single monkey on a pole and wonder what exactly they would be thinking. Seeing that view.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking. As it happened, at the time of cover the 5G towers were in the news (and we were still aways from pandemics and mask wearing, timing just sort of happened), and I figured Mega City 1 would probably have a lot of communication towers just sitting around – granted we’ve never seen them before (that I’m aware of) but Mega City 1 – like Dredd – is quite a malleable place, so it’s not weird to do it.

Anyway, my first Chimpsky cover (details here) looks like this (image below) and today I stumbled across a photo from 2005 I took of the Monkey in Belfast Zoo and … well.. the similairities are striking… I promise you, I’d entirely forgotten about the photo when I did the cover (I wish I’d remembered about it, I would have traced the figure…!)

2000ad Prog 2239

SK Moore

Wow, what a cover. One thing you can’t fault SK Moore on is ambition. It’s been quite a run of covers for 2000ada over my chimpsky run, any one could be a best of the year, easily. Anyway, on with this week’s chimpsky!

Now, as a special bonus treat, it rarely happens (but it happened twice- once in this week’s chimpsky and in next week’s – where I pick up something in the script wrong. In this week’s I misinterpreted how angry our chum Chimpsky would became and so drew a full on raging monkey attack – but, Ken felt it was too much (and he was right) so it was swapped out in favour of a more restrained any-moment-now-i’m-about-to-do-something-awful panel.)

Since I hate to waste anything, here’s the unused panel…

BTW I’ve been posting these things hoping for some feedback in the comments, but have only just realised I’ve had comments off – so I’ve no idea if anyone has been reading them, I hope you have!

In a couple of weeks after the series has run I might start talking about where I think I failed in the story, where my frustrations with what I wanted to do and what I just couldn’t make my art do sit. STAY TUNED!

2000AD Prog 2235

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.

Chimpsky’s Back!

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…

Department K

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 …

Next week… watch out… Chimpsky’s IN SPACE!