Thomas’ “official” Nintendo Magazine

Nintendo magazine vol 1

Earlier tonight, from tom’s bedroom “Daddy… spell “OFFICIAL'” – I shouted the spelling to him.

An hour later “daddy spell ‘Attachments'” … “Tom, what are you doing?”

Turns out Tom (9) was making his own “official” Nintendo magazine. Tom is a doer- he decides to do something and just powers on with it. The pdf of the magazine is here, hopefully you’ll find it as delightful as I did. He wrote the index out in advance and then spent a few hours doing the rest. He was too tired to draw a comic, and it was the last job, so I volunteered to draw a story for him if he came up with one. So that’s what you’ve got!

Let me know what you think and I’ll pass it on.


I love S/FX I think they’re vastly underused, and – certainly as an artist – I think, when possible they should be drawn on the artboard.
I draw my s/fx in Clip Studio Paint, and it’s a technique that’s really simple but produces really effective results.

Step 1:

Create a new layer (Layers->New Raster Layer), call it SFX (you rename a layer by double clicking the name of the layer in the layers window, this turns the name into a white box that you can then type over)- this will sit on top of all other art layers (and even on top of the frame layer if you’re using one)


Next, in the Layer Properties (make sure Window->Layer Property is ticked) turn on the Border Effect (it’s the little black circle with white outline). This sets a border around anything drawn on this layer.

Set the Edge Colour to black (just click the edge colour, which defaults to white and select black) andlayerproperties.PNG increase the thickness, your mileage will vary here according to your tastes, but I like a decently thick outline.


Now, set the pen colour to white and select your favourite drawing pen…

And write your SFX on the SFX layer, and you should get something like this…


or this


or this


or …



well, you get the idea…

(Originally published in my patreon, in case you’re feeling deja vu!)


There are some weird things you don’t think you have to think about when you do a project like “M” – one of them is… what will I call the files – because in about three years time when someone asks will I be able to find a file if it’s just called “M”?

So I ended up calling it “James Bond: Project M” – basically SEO for my own files.

M is 30 pages, written by Declan Shalvey, with colours by Dearblha Kelly letters by Simon Bowland and put together for Dynamite by Nate Cosby and due out on the 21st Februday. I did an interview with the BBC NI Arts Show, which should be fun and is on this Thursday at 10. Once it’s online I’ll throw a link up.

Here’s an interview with me and Dec and Here’s some art!

Firstly, the layouts for these five pages …



The Detectorists

The Detectorists is a BBC TV written and directed by Mackenzie Crooke about a couple of easy going, slightly goofy metal detectors (“Detectorists!”) Sorry, about Metal Detectorists.

It’s a lovely, breezy, gentle comedy and it’s so incredibly well shot that every frame is practically worth stealing for comics.

I went through a couple of episodes on twitter and highlighted some of my favourite shots in the show. So here, for your edification and delight, is a run down of those panels.

Many of the shots of the Detectorists, especially the outdoors are taken from this low angle, and as pointed out on twitter by fellow 2000AD art droid Henry Flint, it’s an angle that evokes nostalgia (since we were all bairns when we saw things from this angle). We see less and less sky as we get bigger.

This is a great shot, the foreground figures are tied together by that tree and it completely mimics their shape – then time and effort to get a shot like that from what’s around. I think one of my favourite things about the show is the way it uses landscape and natural surroundings to get these sort of incredible story telling shots.

From Wally Wood’s classaic “22 Panels that always work” L-Shaped panel. There’s a few of these, again using the natural shape of the trees to form an L shape and placing characters in shot, LANCE (to the right) out on a limb, as it were.

Framing your character by shooting from inside the cupboard. Background light keeps Andy in silhouette too.

Here’s a simair trick, but using deep foreground to help frame the character and placing them in front of the only strong light source – the window – literally framing the head.

The focal point in this conversation between Lance and grown up daughter is poster – it’s right in our faces here for good reason. They’re going to address it in a second, and it’s best to let the audience see it.

Placement of people, focusing on “Garfunkel” draws your eye to him, as do the lines in the table, though in case they’re too on the nose, they’re broken up by a cluster of empties-without background we instantly know we’re in a pub.

If this were a comic panel, you’d read left to right, the van has entered the scene and our heroes haven’t quite noticed it. And it’s the same on screen.

I love tall thin panels, I think they’re fairly unique to the medium and they’re great for showing isolation and loneliness. BUT LOOK AT THIS! I think it’s as close as you can get to that. The solitary (close) figure of Andy, in the BG the foreman walking away from him, his body language is doing a lot to sell it too, but that sense of isolation is all there. Great shot.

I love this as a final little good night shot. Real sense of the wide open space, like a full bleed comic panel.

Anyway, there’s plenty of episodes to watch – series 1 and 2 are on netflix right now and series 3 (the final series) is on the iplayer. Go and watch it, and thank me later.



There are some parts of the drawing process that feel close to rituals for me.

Cleaning out a pen for drawing borders is one I actually miss – declogging a rotring isograph’s inner workings to let the black gold flow in perfect 1.4mm width had to be done every weeks, in order to lay out panel borders.

Clip Studio paint and it’s always perfectly crisp lines have replaced it totally, which is a pity really because you feel sometimes that you miss that moment of comtemplation that is both required for drawing but not part of drawing.

Rubbing the pencils of a page out, after inking. That’s gone too, for me. Though I admit, I miss this a lot less – the danger that you top right of the page will suddenly crumple in as you work the eraser over the page was always very real. I print in blue lines and ink over them, no more rubbing. No more collected smotes of eraser rubber needing brushed off before a scan.

Actually I’m glad I don’t have to do that stuff anymore.

Cleaning down the studio after completing a book. That’s a good one, My favourite, in fact. Clear the desks, clean the drawing table (scrapping off encrusted ink that’s built up over the month you’ve been inking). Putting pages and pages of a book away in as drawer. Knowing it’s all scanned in hi res and the originals will probably never be seen again (why not just burn then? That would have a cathartic resonance, surely?)

Tearing the plastic wrap off a new clean block of A3 bristol board, tearing off its cover and marking the margins for the first time. I like that.

Anyway, M is now finished. On to the next thing (TV stuff and TANKS!)


Birthday Booty

Hey, it was my birfday the other day (it’s ok, I know you got me a card but got mixed up over the dates, it’s easy done). The only good thing about my age is I enjoy how taken aback people are when I tell them.

Wait, no, the only good thing about my age is I get a birthday haul. And here it is, you might like some of these things too.

(This bulging bag of birthday bonzas may look small, but I would note my wife took me off to the fabulous city of Derry for the night. I like Derry, I enjoy the accent and I love that they like books)


Extremity by Daniel Warren Johnson (colours by Mike Spicer) I’m hoping it’s a terrible read (though I’ve heard it isn’t) because that man is far too talented an artist to also be a good writer.

Abe Sapien book 1 – one of those massive Dark Horse tomes, I have a run of the BPRD: Plague of Frogs and this is a fine companion.

The Goddamned – I’m not sure what to make of this, rm Guerra on fine form, written by Jason Aaron, it feels very influenced by the movie Noah (or Noah was influenced by this).

There were sundry other bits (I got me a cool little R2D2, not a sphereo robot one, but a nice heavy metal one) as well as some other bits and bobs.

And that doesn’t even include my xmas haul (“Alexa, play my “oh-crap-I-have-a-deadline” playlist)

Happy another year getting older, comic book chums



I’m bringing blogposts back, back again

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Happy Christmas.

Look this is my new home. Patreon was a fun experiment, but I’ll be honest, I felt like a heel asking for money (though I appreciated all those that offered). And I missed having a blog home.

So here it is.

Nothing here really until the new year starts proper, so, in the meantime, happy xmas!

Ok, this isn’t xmassy, but the colours are about right, right?