Immersive Thinking

Hey, so I’ve been spending a long time thinking about where I am and where I’m going, and how I take forward the stuff I’m good at and find things for me to do that can really challenge the full set of skills that I have – if you’ve only known me a few years you’ll assume that covers comics and visual storytelling, if you’ve known me for decades you’ll know that also covers programming, IT, acting and a whole slew of weird and esoteric interests.

I’ve been pushing this year to explore VR/AR and what I can do in those fields.

One meeting led to another which led to another which eventually led to Kainos and the building of an immersive experience called Dragon Slumber.

The remit was to create a walk around environment, there was a super tight deadline and physically massive space.

Of course, I didn’t know that, and had been briefed the space was a pretty small, table sized area. So, thinking on my feet I flipped around the idea of a walk in wizard’s den (or at least a small section of it) and turned it into a large tower were you’d come face to face with a life size dragon.

Of course, there’s more to it than that, I conceptualised the environment, everything from names of characters, designs, and a short, fun narrative designed to hook kids. All around the tech and the limits of the tech (including a smart little effect for Lottie – the little fairy that a child has to guide around the dragons)

So we’ve been chipping away at this project, Kainos handling the tech end and me building everything in the VR space using Tiltbrush to rapidly prototype (and I mean rapid, if you thought I was fast at pencilling, sculpting in tiltbrush is insanely fast for me)

I’m not sure where this leads next. There’s talk of trying to get to SXSW (which is happening pretty soon) and me talking to people about this immersive tech and what can be done, and what I can do specifically in the area, and while, it’s not entirely out of character for me to feel confident, I actually feel pretty confident I can offer something unique to immersive tech. I’m strongly attracted to narratives, and storytelling, and I love the playfulness of tech and what can be done when you think about this stuff a little sideways.

Anyway, we’ll see. It’s been an experience so far.

You can read a bit about DragonSlumber here.



Goodbye 2018…

Hey, look I know you’re thinking this place has shuttered, but it hasn’t – I promise. 2019 I’ll try and keep this up to date.

It’s been a pretty solid year for me, worked more-or-less constantly, came in to the year finishing the Garth Ennis scripted World of Tanks volume 2 (and a collection is coming in the New Year) and came powering out the year drawing a Garth Ennis scripted WWII graphic novel. This one’s just over the halfway mark, but you’ll not see it until 2020 unfortunately – that’s the nature of the book publishing market apparently, they do these things in SLOW time…

If you’re a long time reader you’ll know I usually try and do a little end of year comic summing the whole thing up. That stopped last year, too much work on unfortantely, and this year is similiarly afflicted (and, truth to tell I really want to do something that isn’t a half-arsed, half-sketched throw away, and yet to do that requires even more time… so here we are).

So let’s quickly run through stuff from this year:

Writing – did couch to 80k, a writing exercise, writing something every day for seven weeks. I dropped out in the final week, it’s all about writing a novel and I thought – well, that’s not what I’m doing. But I regret that. From there I wrote a couple of draft zeroes of things (things that I quite like) but never got them outside of that state. Which is frustrating (I’m just frustrating myself here, really) I do have a 40-50 page script that needs a few passes and a publisher interested, but it’s unpaid and it’s a big commitment to write let alone draw. So not sure how that’ll pan out.

Drawing – already said it, but aside from the couple of hundred pages of wwii stuff I’ve drawn this year, there was a Judge Dredd, a Savage Dragon (to be published) and – finally – a Marvel strip. One page of X-Men, thankewverymuch.

Fit and Healthy – I’ve been to the gym, thanks to my Pal Andrew, seven weeks of weight training and spin (fancy word for cycling on a cycle machine) and it’s been knackering, and fun, and exhausting and incredibly time consuming. I want to keep it up, but I’ve gotta find a way to do it so it takes less time! (Also: I actually didn’t lose any weight at all, but that’s on me and my awful diet than anything Andrew did)

Podcasting – Oh suger! It came back! 10 years ago (or more!) I started a podcast with the tweet “does anyone want to do a podcast with me”, Ron and Scott answered and we podcast for a good 32 episodes over a couple of years As The Sunnyside Comics Podcast. Lots of things happened in that time, and we went our separate ways as it felt like the podcast came to a natural end, but we’d talked about starting back and following a really fun dinner with the guys we decided to go at it again… and it’s working. We’re about 38 episodes in now, we’ve done more than the last time, it feels more sustainable and we’re a little less comics focused (as if we ever where) but it’s a fun time, you should listen at

Twitter – ah, I promised I’d cut it out and I failed. I have set up tweet delete, I genuinely don’t think it’s healthy that every stupid thought is kept online. I don’t drink or take any sort of mind altering substances, but I’m still fairly capable of thinking stupid things and typing them on twitter and then regretting it – this way if I forget it doesn’t matter, they’re gone (and they’re probably best forgotten) course the flip side is sometimes the things are actually worth keeping … which brings me to …

Blogging – er.. ok. It was a bit rubbish…

All the blue blobs are days I blogged. It’s pretty light through Oct/Nov/December. (Not sure why March was a blizzard of posts, but there we go).

I can make no promises, beyond I’m slightly more conscious that some of my better tweets (not the stupid jokes, rather the clip studio paint advice) is no longer available, and so I need to keep stuff like that on the blog. No promises though.

Anyway, time now for some unlikely-to-be-kept New Year Resolutions:

1. Be better.

That’s it. I’ll try and be better. Better at drawing, better at being human, better at all the things I want to do – try not to half-arse stuff.

Have a good New Year. See you in 2019.


November 5th is the anniversary of my mum’s passing. November is a crappy month not just because of this but it’s become one of those cursed months that collects deaths and anniversaries and birthdays all of which are overcast by the losses.

Anyway, that in mind, it was coming up to Halloween and I thought I’d write a fun little ghost story – at least that’s where the idea started, but that’s not what it became. In the end it became a letter to my mum, and I think it’s about grief, over the long term.

It was cathartic to write and draw, but it’s done, I’m blessed with far more good feelings when I think of my mum than bad. Mostly thinking about her just makes me warm inside.

New York

Heading off to the New York comic con in October.

I’ve done the NYCC a few times before, but this is the first time in several years and so, I’ve been trying to get meetings set up and see if I can chat to various publishers, drop portfolios, etc.

I’m not expecting to come away with firm work commitments, but I am hoping I can chat to all the publishers that I think I would sit comfortably with and send them ongoing packets of work.

I’ll be working on this book I’m doing right for about six more months, but after that … nothing. So I’m trying to figure out how to land work before I need it, so when I need it it’s waiting on me. Up until now I’ve been able to secure work just through word of mouth and luck, but it’s easy for publishers to forget you exist – because every year there are new artists out there, and older ones looking for more work.

So that’s it. I’ll probably organise a signing at the 2000AD booth, and I’ll be certainly dropping by the Dark Horse booth (having just finished World of Tanks with them) and I’ll be dropping portfolios at various booths (it’s always a gamble, but DC, Marvel, Aftershock, and more are all open to portfolio drops).

If you’re in New York I’ll still be hanging out on twitter, and probably organising my day around it, if you like my work and want to commission a sketch for New York we can organise a pick up somewhere, I’m sure…


Twitter Holiday

I don’t think I’ve the average twitter user. I follow around 3000 people, which is a preposterous number. Over time I’ve accumulated people based on whether they’re comic industry professionals, people that make me laugh or, more lately, politicos and journalists.

Part of me wants to go through and cull it back to something like 100 people, but I’ve no idea how to go about that without it turning into a dusterfluck. (and one time I unfollowed someone they noticed and asked me why and, like a coward I ignored the question – here’s why: just because. You were first. I’m sorry.)

Occasionally, in a fit of “why the hell am I allowing this to get to me” I delete my twitter app, and it helps. I’d still use twitter – I can just go to the website, and look at it in there. But, it introduces a little bit of friction in to the process, so instead of holding up my phone and flicking in to twitter while I wait on something, I see that it’s too much hassle to go to the website and do something else instead.

It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly helped.

Yesterday I took myself off twitter before I got annoyed with it.

I can’t honestly say I missed anything. Yes. I cheated a bit, checking twitter every so often, and even looked at my brand new personal – just for friends & locked from the outside world – twitter.

When I worked in computers and was trying to get a comic career off the ground, it was very easy for me to keep these two worlds separate: work was work and comics was everything else. They didn’t mix. I didn’t acknowledged the existence of one thing in the other’s sphere. They were two perfect, distinct circles in the Venn diagram of my life.

But then I left my day job and it became all about comics, and I think I miss having that place I can have that’s just me. I did a bit of acting the past couple of years and that was great, and I tried to keep comics away from that, but it’s hard, because… well, that’s who I am.

Anyway, what I’m saying is… I’m having another twitter holiday today. I make no promises beyond today. App is still deleted off my phone, though I will still check it, but I’m determined to wean myself off it, much in the way I eventually cut facebook out of my life.

I’ve really come round to thinking that social media, as much good as it can do (and it did me a great deal of good over time) has become too all encompassing, a victim of its own success. At its worst it’s a perfectly honed tool made to bully or simply a machine to make you insecure about your place in the world, but at it’s absolute best it’s like an industry party that never ends, but good lord, even that would exhaust you.

Anyway, in the words of the Dread Pirate Roberts, twitter, sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.


Friday Fixup:As-For-Stuff

Is… is As-for your name? PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

I’ve banged on before about the importance of real names for comic creators, so I will say nothing.

Ok, As-for sent me a double page spread, and then a follow up double page spread. Here’s both.


So I’m going to talk about these for a bit.

The first double page spread here is interesting, As-for told me it’s deliberately disorientating, and it is. But I’m not sure what it’s trying for. It feels like the opening sequence of Watchmen, where Dave Gibbon’s drills down into the Smiley faced badge from a height, it disorientated, but it also let you know where you where. It was easy to read. A different angle to look at stuff. I think there’s a few problems here we need to think about – how am I supposed to read this? Is it a linear narrative? is it a non linear collection of vignettes? (What Scott McCloud would call Aspect-to-Aspect or Non-Sequiturs). The first column of panels feels like we should be reading that as one tall read, but that throws you off where to go next.

I have one talent; my reading comprehension is pretty low, so things like this confuse me.

The advice I’ve given for years about story telling is pretty rock solid, I think: ask someone you know/trust (ideally a partner, someone who is on hand most of the time) what they think is going on in a page. Don’t ask them if it’s any good (if they love you of course they’ll say yes). Ask them to explain the narrative, this is entirely non-judgemental, don’t help of prod them just let them look at it without dialogue and see what they’re seeing. It helps if they don’t usually read comics either, then they won’t try and read it properly.

I’d really recommend you do that, that would show exactly where you’re doing wrong here.

So my primary thing on the first page was just trying to help the storytelling (I actually like the art, it’s crisp, and clean and fun, it’s obviously a little round spy cam looking around a space ship, though I’m unsure what the closing lens has to do with it, this version cleans up the reading order…


Ok, on to this second double page spread, and I really like a lot of the art here, lots of great small figures, fun to look at, but … I really can’t make head nor tail of what’s supposed to be happening. My guess is young dude walking along, gets in to fight, but I’m not entirely sure how the top sequence is supposed to be read? I think you’ve some really solid ambitions in storytelling but they’re not quiet within grasp yet – I can see some Frank Quitely sensibilities in the work, but Frank (aka Vincent) knows how much information we need to see to helps us get from one panel to the next, no matter where they are. You also really need to include some backgrounds, I LOVE – LOVE the use of white space, esp where some of the characters are leaning on things that we don’t see, BUT – we need to see some of these things somewhere. Are we behind a warehouse? In space? In the crushing void of the neverwhere? You really want to establish your backgrounds fairly frequently, at an absolute minimum once per page is a good rule (and even then that’s for a solid background with lots of information about where / when we are) after that you need to drop little hints about the background (fight in a library? have some books flinging about behind our protagonists, fight at a dockyard? some gulls flying away as our bad guy punches the good guy)


In the images above I’ve tried to reconcile how I think the page should be read vs how it’s being read. The path in green is the order I think As-for is thinking the story will be read, in the path in red is how I think a typical reader will see that page. The edited image I’ve tried putting the panels back in the order I think you’d read them.

Story telling is key here (I’m in two minds though, I really like As-for’s clean art style, but I think it’s a little too far and they’ve got to figure out how much information is too little information… as a storytelling your job is conveying information about the story, too much and it’s a waste and can slow a reader down but too little and it’s hard to know exactly what you’re looking at)

Hope that’s interesting or helpful!





Look, I tried this before and only managed a few issues, but I’m not one for giving up (well, ok I am one for giving up, but then I forget how hard it is and so  I try again)

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