Any resemblance to creatures living, dead or fictional is entirely coincidental.
I wanted to do a one page short story, there’s a variety of cool muck monster things in fiction, and I love the pairing of god with streetwise magician (who is named here Jack)
The pencils on this show though, that it took a fair amount of fiddling to get something that I thought would work.
(And even now, having written the dialogue and then stripped it off just to upload it here, I think dialogue-free might be better?)
I’m sure John won’t mind me saying I’m taking full blame for the comic strip, John’s tweet (as contained in the captions) is all I had to go on.
I think the story element of this works well paired with the info captions. And I suspect this might be the direction I start pushing more of the strips in. It doesn’t feel like writing, though, of course, it is.
There’s a alternative version of this which is much more of a kids comic one, I started drawing and abandoned it fairly quickly.
We ended up, somehow, out of sync with the folklore thursday account, tweeting our stories on week ahead of theme (christmas, a confusing time all round). So this is a resync strip. John sent me the tweet and I had all sorts of ideas for what Hidebehinds could look like (9 meter tall stick humanoid stick insects stuck in my head) but I wanted to do a goofy cartoony style, and so, this is what you get!
I could’ve gone gory, had toyed with the idea of the a hidebehind suddenly spotting the reader (after despatching the lumberjack) but that would’ve need a creepier art style than what I was going with.
Seymour Roger Cray was an American supercomputer engineer. Beneath his suburban home he constructed a series of tunnels. When Cray reached a creative impasse he would retire below. “While I’m digging, the elves will often come to me with solutions to my problem”
I’m fairly sure: Cray was messing around. And I think we’re only just getting by with this as a folklore tale by the skin of our teeth. THAT said, having slept, ate, and breathed computers from an early age and always ALWAYS been fascinated by Cray super computers, I’m not gonna argue the point. If Elves are what he said, Elves is what I’m drawing.
Reading John’s tweets usually fairly quickly pops an idea into my head, and this idea appeared fully formed. Initially though, I drew the supercomputer in Cray’s head with a whole bunch of Elves working away at it, but then it felt wrong – we don’t hear mention of the elves until later in the tweet and so I didn’t want to spoil that fun surprise too early. If anything I regret not making the direction of Cray’s walk follow the reading direction, if I had time I’d redo it (and if a publisher comes along and wants to print the entire run of these things, I’ll certainly look at them all again…)
I can’t remember when I first heard or say a Cray supercomputer, but it was fairly formative. Look at that weird part alien, part Henge computer design (it’s actually more of a C shape, with a gap, but I stuck that in the rear view on this drawing). She’s a beaut. And, as time wears on and Moore’s law keeps progressing, she’s now only about a fraction of the power of whatever device you’re currently reading this on. Ain’t technology grand?
(Now If I can just convince John that Turing got his ideas from pixies, Ada Lovelace from Gnomes, and Steve Jobs consulted with swamp monsters then we could have a full set of technological folklorist…)
Crank up the manifest, hoist the gibbert, weigh up the anchorage. We’re back!
Having tried to push myself to do a little bit of writing over Christmas (you can see the results at my blog pauljholden.com) I thought I’d approach this first Folklore Thursday of the new year with an eye to creating some sort of story (and I mean more than just the surface thing). I started laying out the pencils to the tweet and found that, well, all I was really doing was illustrating John’s words. Not actually adding anything of significance. So I thought I’d add a character – that at least gave me a little agency.
Having adding something like a protaganist, I figured the easiest thing to do with those words was make him get younger – so he’s stepping back in time, but ONLY in his own lifetime. Then I thought – I don’t think that’s what John meant, but I liked the fact there was room to decide that’s what it could be. So then I added a little impetus to our character, maybe he’s finding this place and wants to travel back in time but he’s been tricked.
That decided, I started seeing what I needed to add to the art to sell that little narrative. I added a loved one in panel one (thus fulfilling something I’ve always wanted to do which is to draw a doomed romance comic) and then panel two I was going to have him drop a note detailing the cancer diagnosis of his wife. But then I wondered if I couldn’t add a second narrators voice, a conversation he was having. (or had had). Which would help explain what was going on for him. Layering and layering the story telling. I’m hoping it worked.
Also, that last bit of captioned dialogue is partly the response in the conversation he’s having with some unnamed person but also partly me having a little fun and saying to John [Reppion] har har, I tricked you – you thought this was going one way and it went another 🙂
I’m not sure what John makes of it yet. Could be he hates it (hope not!) but we’ll see.
So, here’s a special thing, just for you (for the moment) a two pager.
John will be tweeting a two tweet thread.
I had planned more, but this came in late with double the normal workload. I struggled a little with building a story telling narrative around the first tweet, so instead I decided to try and play something clever, a christmas bauble on christmas tree, but it would be the planet Saturn, with the god Saturn behind it (the god of course, lending its name to the planet).
That done, I wanted to do a more traditional comicbook narrative thing for the second tweet, but time really did kick my arse (panel 1 would’ve been hundreds of gladiators killing and stabbing each other, panel 2 bodies piled upon bodies in front of the temple of Saturn and panel 3 the ancient roman symbol of christianity – the Chi-Ro symbol on banners in front of a burning rome.
Even I, as fast as I can be, just couldn’t turn that around in a day (not given my time-budget on this is only about 3 hours). So sketched and abandoned, and instead this, which actually is thematically closer to page 1 and not-so-subtly suggests that Christianity is build on the blood shed of rome.
“John, look, I think we need to get engagement on twitter up. The internet loves cats, so whatever the NEXT folklore tale is about — I’m drawing cats”
And thus, John sent me this:
Cat Sí are Celtic fairies in cat form. An old tale tells of a man walking at night hearing a voice say “Tell Tom Tildrum Tim Toldrum is dead”. Returning home, he repeats this to his wife, whereupon their own cat exclaims “Then I am king of the cats!” and flees. #FolkloreThursday
I’ll be honest, no matter what John sent, I was drawing cats. I’ve got to find ways to amuse myself.
And here we are. Usually ideas like this are about making sure I’m trying new things, if I can constrain myself in some way (esp if it’s a thing I never normally do) the thinking goes (well mine does) this might spur me into new stuff.
Beardsley, though, frustratingly, doesn’t seem to have drawn many cats. (No great surprise, he was a startlingly young 25 when he died) and so I was stuck with how to draw a Beardsley cat. Panel one cat was drawn on the basis that he tended to draw very wide bottomed figures, art noveauesque shapes. So I cobbled a silhouette around that. The spikes I added much later when the whole page was finished, partly because Beardsley did sometimes add fringes on to black areas, and partly because I wanted it to have some sort of air of the supernatural or – mostly – to differentiate it from the cat on the last panel. As it happens, the spikes I added made it look like Mog from Meg and Mog and that amused me, so in it stayed.
Panel 2, it’s Beardsley himself. A young man, never married so this is, clearly a fictionalised version of him. Beardsley’s work seems to have large black shapes (often fringed with white dots or black) and large clear white space. So it’s trying to figure out how to balance that all. Very pleased with the lettering balloon – done in Clip Studio, which is not a brilliant tool for lettering, but this was an easy effect to make (black on white balloon, white text, then the entire layer is given a black outline)
Panel 3, Beardsley and wife – just made her up. The picture behind them is “self portrait in bed” by Bearsley
Panel 4, finally our cat walks out – this is a Beardsley cat – taken from Pierrot and cat, from St. Paul’s – I’ve had to add a couple of legs as the original is behind another figure.
And the decorative around the frame element was important, but I felt I needed to get the thick black border for the full on Beardsley effect.
Hope you like it! One more to go before we call this year done, the next will be the last for the year, and it’ll be very wintery…
Look, I’ll address this head-on. Yes, that’s Alan Moore, Leah Moore and John Reppion. I wasn’t asked to do that (John never asks for me to do anything, it’s all me) but reading the tweet, laying the panels out and thinking “I need a weather giant, a wise woman and a wizard-like Monk” and it suddenly occurred to me that it would be both perfect and funny.
I started colouring it with the sky with a view to full colour, but I’m a bit up against it here at the moment and then I thought I’d use the same blue for the giants – as I wanted them to feel ephemeral rather than big solid giant then realised I didn’t really need any colour (phew, that saved some time).
Sometimes I wish I had more time to attack these things, but you don’t always get what you wish for.
I’ve been itching to do a scifi-ish tale with one of the folklore stories since we started (I am, at heart, a 2000AD artist, scifi is the norm for me) I honestly didn’t think we’d ever get to do one, but this presented a neat little departure. And I hope the twist in the tale end of it comes through (because I always need to explain the jokes: it was a hoax! AN ALIEN HOAX!)
I thought drab dreary 1970s england colours set against bright colourful alien life would be a fun contrast. On first pass of the thumbs I drew for it I thought I couldn’t draw an alien, because… well, the alien is never seen, but then I figured that would give me the freedom to do what I wanted – it’s an alien in the imagination, so he’s superimposed on a static TV background (I created a layer in clip studio, filled it with black, generated some perlin noise that was nice and big, then smeared some of it, then converted it to lineart – that gave me the static I wanted.
The below was published in our Patreon (which you can subscribe to and get the comic as soon as I draw it, which is usually a day or two early!)
“Does this work” has become something of a mantra between John and I, he’ll send me something and a “does this work” (and it always does) and sometimes I’ll try something different and email it to John with a “Does this work”
So, anyway – does this work?
Bar a couple of bits all the ghosts are photos of me, my wife and my kids. (The couple at the door is from our wedding photo).
I’ll admit this may be gimmicy, but it’s one of the pleasures of this format is trying something once and moving on to something else.
I think if I could, I’d do something better with the fairies, the playground stuff (overlaying a photo of something…?) and the circus poster – dig in and find something that’s a real circus clown poster (and out of copyright).