2020 Vision

Sigh. Does anyone want to look back over what they did last year.

I suppose the one significant thing we’ve got to take from it all is that we need to be kinder to ourselves and to others. I fail at both, often. Not through want of trying, but rather the unthinking idiocy of just being human. Cruelty can often be the undercurrent of humour, and I’m probably guiltier of most for going for the joke without giving a thought to the cruelty (and I’m sorry to everyone who suffered one of the tiny little barbs of me making a joke because it seemed funny for half a second).

Anyway, mea culpa out of the way, how was your year? (I realise, 2020 being what it is, sitting writing this on the 29th of December is asking for another Black Swan to leap in and disembowel us all, but here we are)

For me, it started with a decent resolve to make notes on everything – keeping weekly posts on what I’ve done and what I’d intended to do, partly this was just a way to fill the blog and keep a connection to the wider world (a thing easily lost when you’re at your drawing table, head down and working away) and partly it was a good self motivator – yes, work is happening, and look, you even took some breaks and did some creator owned stuff.

Of course, I hadn’t planned on a world wide pandemic, which buggered that right up.

I’ve kept working throughout it, jobs were lost, of course, and productivity took a nose dive as kids had to be homeschooled or my wife ended up working from home, and I had to abandon a slew of things that there just wasn’t time for or required publishers who were no longer looking at projects.

Minor miracle we’ve come through it all, I suppose.

I’m glad I kept some of those productivity notes now though, as I look at a productivity reboot for 2021. I realise new years are entirely arbitrary points in time (time, of course, being an illusion, lunchtime doubly so*) but I’ve always loved them. Suddenly, some mental cobwebs are blown away, and, rightly or wrongly, I reset and think “Well, who cares if you blew it last year, this year… this year could be different”. It’s a placebo date. For many it’ll make no difference, and for a tiny few (me included) it actually does make a difference.

Of course, whatever I decide about 2021 the year itself may have other plans. We’re nowhere near at the backend of the pandemic, certainly here, in the UK, we’re still dealing with it (either we’re at the peak of a second wave, or closing in on the beginning of a much much worse third wave) we’ve got brexit to look forward to (everything until now has been a buffer against whatever the worse brexit has to offer us) and, brexit, panedemic out of the way, what will the government do to pay off the enormous amount of debt it’s had to rack up during the pandemic (and being a tory government that usually means massive cuts to services).

But sod it, those are things I have almost no control over, so there’s little point worrying about them.

Traditionally, I look over whatever my resolutions for 2020 were and see how I’ve done – but, frankly, getting the other side has been an impressive job. (Also, I don’t appear to have made any resolutions last year beyond “DO THINGS” so, even getting out of bed counts)

Next year?

Get more organised. Stay organised. Try not to work all the time (or, rather try to limit work + worrying about work to 5 days out of seven). Keep on top of the boring tax stuff and invoices.

Not sure what work has lined up for me next year. Doing some Chimpsky, there MIGHT be a long project in there (originally scheduled starting in November, so we’ll see if it comes off) and, you know, just try to get through 2021 in one piece.

2019 A Year in Comics

Ok, let’s try and figure out what the hell I did last year. Things can be broadly divided into things I got paid to do, but I can’t talk about and things I got paid to do ages ago and are now out. (And I’m sure I’ll miss loads, but as best as I can remember, here we go…)


I was probably drawing stringbags. No… wait… I think I was flagging a bit and accidentally went off and did some cool VR/3d Work that ate up a bit of time. Trying to produce 20 pages of comics per month plus that was nuts.

The problem with committing to a long long graphic novel is it’s several months of knowing you’ll have money (hurrah!) but also several months of not having anything out on the shelves.


The VR stuff took up a big chunk of the month, still finishing stringbags though. (the book was divided into three chunks and right here, I think I was in the middle of part 2)

We launched the VR experience I helped build. That was fun.

And that led me to start exploring starting a business around VR stuff. But… things soon went off the rails.


Stringbags, Stringbags, Stringbags…


FLINCH! The TV show I storyboarded for came out on netflix (it’s stupid, and bonkers but it can be very funny) and I went and saw a screening in the cinema. Most of that work was done a couple of years ago (but hey, I got a screen credit!)

(also still drawing stringbags)


2000AD Prog 2131, Noam Chimpsky – I did the cover too. Cool. Bringing my 2000Ad cover total up to a gob smacking … 4.

Thomas, my 11 year old son, decided to write and draw his own comic – and amazingly he did just that – he’s done three issues of Why Not!? (a fun anthology comic, bursting with ideas) and a whole issue of Monkey Arms (one of the main characters from why not!?) mostly drawn over the summer school down time. Like an idiot though I offered to help, assuming his interest would flag or he’d burn out. Neither thing happened. So I ended up lettering and inking and printing his comics. You can download them here.

So, comics, the biggest thing, I think, is I FINALLY FINISHED the 174(176? it’s a LOT) page graphic novel that had been eating up most of my drawing time over most of the year.

That’s coming out in May, please please please go and order it and buy it and read it and leave me nice reviews.

I think around here my Father-in-law went in to hospital, and bar a six week period where he was returned home to recover (he didn’t) he’s been in hospital since. At time of writing we’re doing hospital visits every day. This has taken a lot of thinking/processing time and it’s occasionally a wonder anything creative is happening at all.


Started thinking about what’s next, after Stringbags (still drawing it at this point). Decided I’d like to do a kickstarter starblazer style book (digest sized, 64 pages, b&w) I’m coming back to this – I had to let it slide for various reasons, but I’m definitely coming back to it.

My brother John went into hospital, and came out paralysed from his waist down. Up until this time he’d no back problems to speak of (or at least none I was aware of) and suddenly, his life is radically altered. For the next couple of months we ended up dealing with this and my father-in-law – visiting two hospitals, sometimes on the same day. I think at my peak I ended up visiting two hospitals twice each.


I had some downtime and so I cast around for something to occupy me that wouldn’t be too strenous. And I find twitter comics. Just taking someone’s tweet and adapting it into a comic. That was so much fun that I partnered with John Reppion to produce comics every thursday as part of folklore Thursday. Partly this was just about making sure people know I exist (get some free comics on twitter, hope they get seen) and partly it was an exercise in writing – basically every tweet I’m adapting into a comic, and even though I’m drawing it I have to write it as an adaptation of a tweet.

Anyway. Still drawing Stringbags. And from this month on, folklore Thursday a one page strip every single Thursday. Yikes.


Finally! Savage Dragon came out – the issue I drew a short (6 page strip for). I drew this… maybe over a year ago? But it finally came out. Hurrah for being on a shelf!

And .. what’s this… I’m nearly finished Stringbags? Holy moley gaucamole! Hurrah for finally finishing this. Time to do something else!

(I mean I loved doing it, but you really do go through a whole “EXCITED! excited! working! getting.. near… end… oh god.. please let this be over” thing when you’re doing any work, but especially something this long)


Got me a three part Dredd for the Judge Dredd Megazine! Whoo hoo! Unfortunately it was paired with those words no artists ever wants to hear “just finish it in when you’re ready” NOOOOOO! That’s a passion killer! Firstly what usually happens is it starts to take forever – I CAN do 25 pages per month (god, I’ve done 49 pages in some months) but megazine dredd dips to 12 pages per month as is, without having a big open deadline. But the real problem is… well, basically I’m only paid for finished work. So the longer the work takes the less money I make. Oh well, I’m getting my dream gig of drawing Dredd so churlish to complain in any way.

You’ll see this strip in the new year.


Took on a day job! Well, sort of. Hub Games needed an in house artist and asked me if I was available for month of so. Like a idiot I thought – “HAH! Those fools won’t know I’ll do this during the day and go home and draw my comics! I’ll be RICH!”

Reader. That is NOT what happened. I worked full time hours every day, and was knackered. Not only that, but some days I was dropping wife to work and picking her up and looking after kids, and so was just shattered and barely able to function. Dredd got put on hold (which is what happens when you’re told “when you’re ready”) and I got no comics drawn.

Well, except for this very silly frankendredd story.


Finishing off the three part dredd. Did a fun little story board for tv (can’t talk about it) and started a five parter for 2000AD! Hurrah. Again “When it’s ready” (MURDEROUS!) Decided to pitch a cover for the dredd I’m drawing – it’ll be the cover for the third and final part. Classic Dredd type stuff. Bringing my cover count now to FIVE!


And here we are… Been drawing the new Dredd, thought why not pitch a cover and I did and I got it accepted and I really like it and now my 2000AD/Megazine cover count is SIX! (turns out I can just ask and sometimes they’ll say yes!)

Finished drawing part one, pencilled part two, took a break over xmas, went a bit bonkers and drew a Dredd script I’d written some time ago. Took it out of a drawer, blew the dust off it and just went “Sod it, PJ, you’re never submitting this, you might as well draw it yourself…” and I did. And I don’t think I embarrassed myself too much.

Flushed with that success (of sorts) I then wrote and drew and coloured a silly one page fan strip of The Mandalorian. Which went down really well with fans of the Mandalorian. So pleased with that.

Sometimes you’ve got to just DO and never mind sitting back and worrying about how people will respond to the thing. And that’s a lesson I need to take with me into 2020. Just DO.