News Roundup

I feel some stuff has happened, so time for a little News Round Up


We’ve decided to pitch Murderdrome to CLiNT – they’re looking for iconic characters with a black sense of humour, and, basically, that’s what Murderdrome Is. Which means you get to read the first six pages (actually the ONLY six pages) for the first time ever. You can read it at at the Millarworld forums (and compare it to the everything else that’s being pitched) here:

(No idea when Millar will review the many, many strips in that thread, but I’ll let you know as soon as I know.)

Or, you can skip past the jump below and read it on its own.

Some PR has arrived for Strip, and I’m happy to say I’m doing the first issue’s cover. Featuring hot sexy lady, Dude with a gun, magic bloke and big old shark with hook through its jaw. All good. Read the details here: (eta on Strip is early 2011)

++ITEM: New York Comic Con++
++Dateline: 8th Oct – 20 Oct 2011 ++

Every part of me is screaming don’t do it, but I’m doing it anyway. It’s a tough con this year, as I hadn’t planned to go, so didn’t book anywhere. Instead I’m sleeping on the floor of the Eclectic Micks up in Brooklyn (this will be peculiar and odd and an adventure, but I’m old and creaky and want a bed, so we’ll see how it goes).

Details on the NY Comic Con here: 
++Dateline: 16th Oct – 17th Oct ++

I was determined to do either New York or BICS this year. Since I’d decided not to do NY, I booked BICS thinking let’s go the extra mile and brink the wife. So we’re both at BICS. (Then I thought, hey I don’t have enough money, why not go to New York anyway).

Also: please buy some artwork off me. I will need the readies.

++ITEM: Wexworlds 2011++
++Dateline: 26th-28th Nov++

James Bacon has very kindly invited me down to Wexworlds. I’m gonna be knackered but it should be fun.


Manga Studio Page Sizes

For reasons unknown, Manga Studio omits templates for US sized comics. You can find the specific sizes buried in the help of the support website, but here they are for everyday use:

Reduced US Page Size – Page Size = 8.5 x 11 inches Finish Frame = 6.63 x 10.25 inches Basic Frame = 6 x 9 inches Bleed = 0.25 inches
Full US Page Size – Page Size = 11 x 16.5 inches Finish Frame = 10.38 x 15.75 inches Basic Frame = 10 x 15 inches Bleed = .18 inches


The Happy Prince

Things Unseen #1 in an occasional series.

Oscar Wilde’s the Happy Prince, this is the first 8 pages of an attempted adaptation by Malachy Coney and me, from … uhm.. ’98 (according to the signature in one of the scans). Not sure what happened – but it didn’t get beyond these first few pages.

Mal had relocated the entire thing to Belfast, and hence, the, at the time unthinkable, image of Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams walking along at the start. I like some of the inking – page 1 has a certain charm (mostly, I’m sure, to do with just how much of Belfast I crammed in there) and the first panel of the last page has some nice inking. Also, I think the dog has certain goofy something. Anyhue, hope you like.


I pencil these at A4, using a 2H pencil (very rough and scribbley) then I ink them with a v5 tech point (over the rough pencils). Then scan it in, and correct it and add a bit of shading to give it some weight.

Image 1 is the pencil/ink rough stage. (I redrew Dredd’s arm in photoshop to point it slightly more to the viewer).


I then enlarge that in photoshop to A3, convert the image to RGB and convert he line art to blue line (using IMAGE->Adjustments->Hue Saturation, setting it to ‘colourise’ and the HUE to 180, Saturation to 80 and Lightness to 60-90 depending on how light I want the bluelines). Once printed I ink that directly on the paper, using a nib pen and black indian ink. I might, also, at this stage, add a border to the page – here I added a very simple curved line border that I inked over to give an old fashioned feel.

Inking took a couple of hours, pencils too about 20mins. Turned out very quickly, partly because this technique stops you needing to rub anything out (although I did erase Dredd’s arm in photoshop and redrew it, but that was very quick) and partly because it’s scribbly and fun to draw Dredd standing on ruins.

Pretty happy with it, the composition is nice and there’s even a little story going on, which I leave for the viewer to figure out…

Making your system bullet proof

In a former life, I worked in IT – and have, subsequently, some strong views on backups.

My current working computer system is an iMac – running two external hard discs. Recently I’ve had a confluence of bad luck with my imac – hard disc died, then replaced, LCD screen with dead pixels, then replaced and, finally, power supply died – and has now been replaced.

Where you’d be tempted to run to the hills screaming, none of this has been an issue, and here’s why:

3Year Warranty + Time Machine + Dropbox (oh, and an iPad and an Macbook).

3 Year Warranty – I used to tell people never to bother with these, back in the days when you (or, certainly, I) could open a PC up and replace any faulty part with something out of my spare parts drawer. Once I moved to macs I started buying the three year warranty – and I stopped thinking of them as a warranty and more of a way of guaranteeing that I will have a working computer system over three years – given that I used to upgrade computers every six months or so, three years seemed a mighty long time. I’ve never regretted the extended warranty, my last iMac had a faulty LCD screen that was replaced – and would have cost the guts of £500 if I’d needed to buy the part, let alone cost to repair.

Time Machine is apple’s backup software – it’s pretty crude, but very effective. Set it to back up once an hour on an external hard disc and you have a pretty bullet proof system for most people. If the external hard drive fails then the internal one is usually ok and you can quickly buy a new one (even Tesco’s sells external hard drives now!). Internal drives can be easily replaced to, though slightly more awkward to get at.

Dropbox – well, if you don’t have a drop box account then you’re a fool (why not nip off and get one now, it’s free: ) Drop box allows you to set up a local folder on your computer where it will then invisbly synchronise those files over the internet. You can also install dropbox on multiple computers with your account and the folders will be kept in sync across every computer. This means that, if you use it as a working folder then it’s backed up remotely, and simply logging in from another computer will give you access to all of the files you had. I can’t stress how stress free this is.

iPad – used the iPad for general webbrowsing because the…

Macbook – is my wife’s. And, as happy as she is for me to borrow it to work on Manga Studio, she’s not so keen for me to borrow it to sit on the internet…

And that’s my setup. (Well, not all of it, that’s the setup that allows you to worry a LOT less about your computer blowing up on you…)


Meme: Influence Map

Blimey, this took some doing. And, of course, I’ve probably missed out loads, but here’s my influence map as I see it. And I’ll explain why in a tic…


My intent was to start with the guys that probably influenced me in a thousand untold ways, people I read and loved as a kid and probably copied or imitated. Many of whom I haven’t really tapped into since I was 12. Then I wanted to move into people who are more obviously an influence, people who’s styles I’ve conciously borrowed techniques/renderings from. I will borrow a rendering style from an artist but i try and keep my art style – the actual shape of my drawing – my own. But, of course, it’s already been influenced by those that have gone before.

When I started reading 2000AD, Steve Dillon was the guy I most admired. I’m not sure why, he’s probably one of the least showy of the 2000Ad artists on Dredd at the time. But his work was rock solid, easily digested and, I hope – gave me a good story telling foundation that I tap into to this day.

Dave Gibbons and Ian Kennedy were two of the main people on Rogue Trooper (along with Brett Ewins) and, when Rogue turned up, Dredd didn’t really get a look in from me. Even now, much of that work can still be looked at as a high point.

Ian Knox – is a Belfast cartoonist who, these days, is mostly known for political cartoons, but, when I was a nipper, Ian was drawing “Cheeky” and a whole bunch of other weird, goofy, freaky humour strips for IPC/Fleetway (always to be replaced by cheaper and less talented knockoffs – but his line was unmistakable).
Gil Kane – picked up his art sometime in the late 80s – though the work of his I was looking at was probably from the 70s.
Alan Davis – first saw him in 2000AD, and loved Captain Britain.
Arthur Rackham – Children’s book illustrator, and one of the first artists biographies I ever owned was about Rackham. Incredible gnarly trees.

John McCrea – John’s art style has probably seeped into mine, as I’ve been friends with him a long time. He moved off to England when I was in my 20s, but he pops back to Belfast and we meet and chat and he’s a great bloke who I’m proud to have as a friend.
Mignola – show me an artist not influenced by Mignola. They LIE!Gary Leach – 2000Ad/ The VCs/The Warpsmiths. Gary has a beautiful smooth line that’s distinct enough that I’d recognise it even in that snippet of leg.
Gabriel Ba – somehow more three dimensional than Mignola, but obviously influenced by him.
Mike McMahon – when I was younger I never really ‘got’ McMahon – I think I was blown away by his Slaine work, but I wasn’t into fantasy – so I mostly ignored it. Now, of course, you can see the genius in everything he did. I’ve borrowed a surface scratchy style from him – a style he did by accident when inking with pen, I’ve borrowed and, hopefully, it’s part of my repertoire now and not just a simple life from Mike.
Mike Western – I loved war comics, Warlord, Battle and Commando – were all with me before 2000AD. And, while I probably didn’t connect the name to the art then, the art is so recognisable to me that a quick trawl through was able to turn up names and art that I knew I loved as a child.
Chris Sprouse – gorgeous clean line, no way to hide a weak drawing with that line!
Kevin Nowlan – beautiful inking. I once deliberately tried to mimic his inking style on a Judge Dredd strip and, got to show him the work – he said he liked it, I mumbled that I had a copy of his art on my desk at the time of drawing it. Then I slunk off like an idiot.

Duncan Fegrado – I’ll be honest, I love Duncan’s work – but have no idea how I’ll steal what he does for my own use. But I’ll figure it out eventually.
Joe Culquhoun – Like Mike Western, Culquhoun is a war comic artist that I was always attracted to. And, looking at his art, Mikes and Geoff Campions art – it strikes me that the goofy faces, broken noses and general lumpiness of the faces is really something that’s embedded in my art.
Geoff Campion – My reading history is a little odd. Much of what I read as a child – in the mid/late 70s, really comes from the 60s, as my dad would often buy me old Lion/Victor/Valiant annuals, and looking for artist and art that I recognised keep turning up the same handful of names, Campion is one of them.

Anyhue, that’s it. It’s been quite a trip through memory lane. You could do worse than spend some time reading through

I now throw the floor open for discussions!