2020 Week 14 Review

Ok, things (well, me) are starting to slow down. There’s a walking-through-treacle effect starting to happen now as the pile of projects to-do moves to the pile of projects completed, and nothing new is filling that to-do pile up (it’s ok, still have enough to keep me going – and it’s probably a more healthy amount of work)

Last week finished the pencils for the WWI story I’m drawing, finished that around Thursday. Friday I did some layouts on the new Dredd, and the weekend has been a washout. I did watch Pirates of Caribbean with my youngest son, Thomas (age 11), so it wasn’t completely wasted.

I’ve enough invoices out now, if they all come in I’ll be ok for a couple of months, but still need to keep forward momentum while it’s there.

So, next week: pencilling Dredd all week, and then the next probably, inking the WWI story, then inking the Dredd. And getting some invoices out.

I can pencil and ink 7 pages in one week, but that’s a pretty hectic pace to work, and I’ve tried to slow things down to 2 pages of pencils then 2 pages of inks, but done over two weeks (which is the set deadline anyway). That was giving me time to think about other projects, and start looking at creator owned stuff. But in the beginning of the current pandemic chaos I felt like creator owned stuff might be a luxury I can ill afford to think about just yet. But, I think, as the year progresses, I suspect short creator owned gigs might be worth looking at again. If only for a sanity check, and, lets be honest, if the government are gonna pay me 80% of my normal income for a month or two, it’s actually a good time to do a creator owned book!

March Madness

Trying to count up the work I did in march, but, as you know, it’s been a crazy month.

So let’s start with stuff I know I did:

10 pages pencils and inks for a new 2000ad series. Hurrah.

Four folklore Thursday (pencils, inks, colours and letters)

Sundry drawings for a TV show thing (which I’ll be unlikely to talk about for a couple of years, given how TV works)

Completed a 14 page thing for a charity comic, (Though I came into the month with 2 pages done already) so let’s call it 12 pages.

Pencilled a WWI story, it’s 8 pages, but have only done 6 so far (getting the last two done today, but that’s gonna be an April finish)

So, my total for March is… 26 pages finished, and 32 pencilled. Actually that’s not bad.

So, here’s how April stands:

Gonna finish this WWI story, pencils have to be finished (two pages), then approved (probably next week) for inking next month.

I’ve got a new Dredd to do, it’s a four parter, though only the first script for it. Starting that next week and, hopefully rest of script will arrive (hoping the writer remains able to work in this, the not-quite-end-times-but-it-doesn’t-half-feel-like-it) and I can plough through at least two parts of it.

Then, May, finish the remainder of Dredd and… that’s it. I have a 20 page project which will pop up at some point, waiting on script (but it’s an unusual comics/not comics publisher gig)

Gotta keep on, keeping on.

2020 Week 13 Review

I suppose it’s a mark of how weird this month has turned out that I’ve lost track of updating the blog (I try and update every Sunday and just sort of forgot the day of the week)

Anyway, here was last week plan: finish pencilling a WWI strip I have on the board. It would’ve been finished a week early. The move on to inking the new 2000AD strip I’ve got on the board to finish.

How it went:

Well, minor panic when I looked at the invoices I had out for the month and realised I needed to shift some stuff around to make sure I got an invoice off for the 2000ad gig. So it got finished last week.

I can pretend comics is nothing but glamour and fun, but as someone once pointed out to me: I draw comics for fun, but I get paid to invoice.

I’ve lost a little bit of focus on slowing down, checking there’s not too much on the board to do and giving myself one day at least to do creator owned work.

This week, I’ll be finishing pencilling this WWI strip, and moving on to a Dredd, but might take a day.

I’ve been working every minute and hour to get work done. It’s not healthy, and it feels horrible in a house with my family and me just constantly working. Hoping to start pacing myself better. BUT I’ve been lucky enough to have work, and I don’t know how long it will last during this, what I think we’re all gonna start calling, the lost year. So I’m torn.

Anyway, hope you’re all coping with this ok, this, right now, though, this is probably the easy part.

2020 Week 12 Review

Phew. Quite the week, right?

Ok, if you’re joining late, I decided to journal my working week – I vowed to try and approach work differently so I didn’t suffer burn out or guilt over not producing enough work (while at the same time producing enough to feel like I’ve done enough work).

We’re in the Corona Virus World now though, so that’s all out the window.

Let’s cover work first:

My scheduled plans were a fun 2000ad strip for the 2000AD regened issues. Hard to get my head into that place. I also ended up doing some TV preproduction stuff that I can’t talk about.

Kids at home last week, and my wife started working from home. It feels like a vice is starting to surround us all, mind you.

I managed to get all the stuff done I wanted to do, but it was a struggle, and really largely in the past couple of days in a frenetic burst of pencilling.

Next week I’ve a different gig, WWII short story, 8 pages. Intend to get it all pencilled in the week (8 pages of pencils is very doable, 2 pages per day though there’s a fair amount of research to do for it).

I’ve put any creator owned stuff on hold, right now there’s no telling how long paid work will last, so I’ve got to grab as much of that that comes my way as I can.

Personal stuff: Mother’s day today. I managed to get out get some chocs, a present and some flower for Annette. I generally don’t visit my mum’s grave – it’s just too sad (to be honest, it’s unusual she has ashes there, so not really a grave, but it’s also where my brother is buried and I used to drive mum up there all the time for her to care for his grave and anyway, the memory is too strong for me to face sometimes). Today I really wanted to visit the grave. And I can’t.

I don’t know how bad things are going to get here. I hope we can get through it, I hope you can get through, but the horrible thing is there’s an absolute inevitability about how awful it’s going to be.

And I hope when we’re through it we take a look at the world we’d built and its many many failings and decide to do better.

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.

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…

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

2020 Week 8 Review

Hey! Welcome back (unless you’ve just been lurking since the last post… in which case, nice to see you’re still here!)

Ok, last week I’d intended to ink up the Battle strip and … uhm… hunt for some work, so here’s how that went:

Battle story – all inked up. Pretty happy with it. Pretty much took as long as I expected, even though I went a bit hell for leather on the detail. Was intended to be in colour, but I’m sort of hoping it ends up in b&w.

Had another super exciting IBS attack (I have a ‘wheat’ trigger, but sometimes it just happens – largely once a fortnight nowdays) which threw me off for a day.

So the other big goal was to find some work, and heck that worked out ok. Lined up three (shortish) gigs: a pencilled gig (7 pages – henceforce JMcC) will I’ll do next week . A charity comic war gig, which is 14 pages (the following two weeks, henceforth AD) and a 10 pager which I’m really looking forward to (DK). It’ll be that next week.

So that’s next month taken care of. After that I have to hunt more work. I hope you’re enjoying this insight into the freelancer creative process!

(I’ve a couple of possible jobs that will represent more significant page counts – hoping to get a graphic novel off the ground, that would be around 100 pages, and represent a solid five months worth of work)

So next week is shaping up like this:

Mon 24th: Pencils JMcC Pg 3 (I’m pencilling page 2 of this today, and I pencilled page 1 of this yesterday) only one page pencilled, because I gots to do some email admin as well.
Tues 25th: Pencils JMcC Pg4 & 5
Wed 26th: Pencils JMcC Pg6 & 7
Thur 27th: Layouts AD
Fri 28th: CHANNEL HEX (I have start of a script, I’ve drawn a few pages already but I’m redrawing it)
Sat 29th: AD Pencils 1
Sun 1st: AD Pencils 2

I’ll not jinx it, but I can largely work out what I’m doing for the next four weeks.

Hey please let me know in the comments if you’re reading this stuff, and especially if you want more (or less) of it.

2020 Week 7 Review

Monday 10th: pencilled 3 pages of Chimpksy ep 5 (the final part)
Tuesday 11th : pencilled remaining 3 pages of Chimpsky ep5
Wednesday 12th: Inked Chimpsky ep5 pages 1 & 2
Thursday 13th: Inked Chimpsky ep5 pages 3 & 4
Friday 14th: Inked Chimpsky ep5 pages 5 & 6
Saturday 15 / Sunday 16: did some channel hex stuff.

At some point last week (I think Tuesday?) I pencilled, inked, coloured and lettered this weeks Folklore Thursday story.

So that’s Chimpsky’s Law finished. I have it on good authority, the Niemand droid has another series in their scopes.

Next week is shaping up like this, I’ve an 8 page strip called Destroyer for the new Battle comic (written by Rob Williams) I’ve pencilled it all (did it the week before last) and inked up the first page, and so, this week I’ll be finishing the inks of that off. The plan is to get the inks finished by Friday when I can free up for Channel Hex.

How’s Channel Hex going? Well, I’m still tweaking things, still waiting on a new draft of a script (but that’s ok, no rush) I’m more convinced than ever that there’s a proportion of my future career that may lie in kickstarter based projects. The audience is smaller, the income potentially greater and the creative control is unlimited. But it may take me some time to find my way to that. (And it may not turn out to be the land of milk and honey)

After next week, frankly, I’ve no idea. I’m hoping sometime midweek I may land another gig, but you can’t really count on anything as a freelancer. That’s the life.

2020 Week 6 Review

Ok, plan last week was to get a couple of things pencilled. And..er.. that’s not quite what happened.

Primarily I wanted to get Destroyer Pencilled, an 8 page strip by Rob Williams for the upcoming Battle Special (big deadlines, no need to rush) it’s pretty reference heavy, so I decided to get it all done and references all out of the way in one fell swoop. That ate up a chunk of the week. Then I wanted to get the final part of Chimpsky pencilled. But, alas, not to be. Stomach pain kicked in (a regular feature in my life, IBS – usually hits around 2-3am, then it’s a night of pain followed by a next day of really just exhaustion)

Still waiting on some channel hex scripting, so nothing done on that front either. Did some samples for a publisher, let’s see where that goes. And that’s largely it. Oh, did pencil and ink and colour another folklore thursday.

Next week:

Chimpsky, pencils and inks. Last 5 pages of the last episode, really plan to blast through it. Will probably get it finished by next weekend. 2 Pages per day, Mon 1-3 pages pencils, Tue 4-6 pages pencils, Wed 1-2 pages inks, Thu 3-4 pages inks, Fri CHANNEL HEX (reminder: nudge writer – but I might start working on the cover) Sat/Sun: inks page 5

Sat/Sun are always hard to get work done, family stuff.

Does that seem like a fast pace? It probably does if you’re used to my current laconic pacing, but that’s only 5 pages pencils and inks in 7 days – you really need to be capable of a page of pencils and inks per day.

The following week I’ll be focusing on inking the 8 pages of destoryer, it’s a more intense inkinging session so will probably require me to take the full week (on the other hand, it’s all digital which does tend to go faster)

And that’s my plans, let’s see how they stack up!