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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Nuke the site from orbit…

It’s the only way to be sure.

I pulled the trigger on deleting my tweets. (I used

Why? I don’t think there’s anything contentious in there, but over 12 years and 60 thousand tweets the odds are that I can’t tell you exactly what was in my mind on every single tweet.

Twitter and social media in general has become a cacophony. It’s like being in a quiet room filled with people you can hear the hubbub of genial conversations rise in volume, as people start whispering to the people close to them, then get louder so they can be more clear to those people then suddenly every one is shouting nonsensically and a fight has broken out.

We’re at the rising volume stage.

I don’t think there’s any value for me being on twitter any more in the way I have been. I’ve secured work from it, that’s true – I’ve managed to do some cool, extraordinary things and hang out with people I’d never have met if not for twitter.


But I find myself looking for stuff to be angry and frustrated about. I mean, that’s not what I tell myself. I tell myself I’m keeping informed. But that’s what it amounts to. Every morning, a 2 minutes hate. Except it’s never just two minutes. It’s most of the day.

I’m also not entirely convinced that human beings can manage social media at the scale it is.

We’re just a bunch of stone-age tribes managing with digital-age technology.

Right now, my mind is on deleting twitter and taking a step back, photos and when books are coming out and blogging and maybe looking for an alternative. Somewhere where the network is smaller and more focused, but I dunno, it may well be that horse has bolted.

Weekend Visit

From the book 712 More writing Prompts, this prompt was “Write a thank you note for a weekend visit where everything went wrong“.

Dear Aunt Mabel,

It was lovely to see you this weekend. Even though it was only for a fleeting second as you caught us right in the middle of a bank robbery.

It is unfortunate that, while we got away with the money, just as you arrived so did the police.

Hopefully see you again in 10-15 years.