Friday Fixup: Paul Ridgon

Paul, kindly decided to take part in this, and set me a page. As ever, his original followed by my annotations:

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Ok, before we begin: 2000AD is my bread and butter, but I’m always concious that there’s a danger with things like this that I’m trying to hammer someone else into the shape of ME, and look – one of me, frankly, as my wife will tell you, is enough. So it’s a struggle to try and NOT do that (this is entirely on me, not anyone who contributes). Anyway, taking Paul’s page in isolation…

I think my first thought on this was… well, this isn’t a comic page – it’s four images of four locations that are entirely unrelated as far as I could tell. There was no continuity linking the panels together,  no chain, now clues for the readers that they’re four images that are related to each other. So that was my first task, figuring out what’s going on.

Panel 1: I do this trick occasionally, where you’ve got an establishing shot and everything is happening in that location, Paul’s original felt small, like a vista of a location. So I opened it up, by bleeding the entire location down the page and by opening up the top it feels bigger somehow – now at least, it’s clear that what follows is all happening in the city.

(I also added some spots of light below the panel, in the borders too) to show we’re moving deep into the bowels of the city as we read down the page.

 

Panel 2

I think we have two jobs with this panel, one establish that the Judge-Cadet (if you’re a 2000AD reader the fact they’re a cadet will be obvious from the white helmet) is near the bloke standing outside the building (a building I decided was a refuelling location) and that the cadet is holding a baton – without this it’s unclear where the baton on the last panel comes from. I also added, behind them, the figure of a Judge (cadets are normally accompanied by a senior Judge, and in the dredd world set stories that senior Judge is usually Dredd).

I have them passively watching, because that’s the sort of thing that would happen.

Panel 3

It’s too clean! I added MOAR SHADOW – we’ve established it’s a noirish strip in that first panel, so we’ve got to follow through, in the original it’s in danger of looking like a CGI rendered cut scene, so I’ve added shadow to help indicate this is an exterior location (without it it could well be part of an interior) and since it’s outside and probably low down in the city, we need dirt and grit and – inexplicably – sheets of a4 paper floating around. I’ve also added some furniture to the tops of the buildings, just to get away from the perfect square shape of everything. And, deep in the panel, a silhouette of the cadet. It’s subtle, but it’s there.

Panel 4

As my 13 year old would say “OOF!” It’s not terribly clear in in the original whether this is a baton thrown to distract or one that’s impacted him and gone further in. So I had to make a choice. My choice – for the sake of impact – was to really get it more visceral and in your face, larger baton, in the foreground, and some blood pouring out and losing a tooth help to give it impact. (Also speed lines, and directional lines pointing to the action).

Everything, EVERYTHING, should be helping to enhance the storytelling; shadows, textures, everything. If they don’t deliberately push a reader towards reading what you want them to read then they’re sort of useless decoration. Also, and this is entirely on me, I’m not a big fan of the Clip Studio Paint hash brush it tends to show up in a lot of people’s work and just pushes any charm or personality or quirkiness of your work out of the way, moving to a homogenous bleh. But that’s me.

Anyhue, thanks for asking me to do this, take from it what you will, I think art is pretty solid, this is really about squeezing every millimetre of quality out of a piece of work but like most things is entirely subjective.

Free Comic Book Day 2000AD Regened

I love 2000ad, I’ve always loved 2000AD. While I’m pretty sure I was reading it from prog 1 in 1977 (age 7), my earliest distinct memories of the strip proper start around 1980 (age 10) and the Judge Child Saga, and building Justice-1 out of computer punch cards with my uncle.

In my memory that Punch Card justice-1 was a perfect replica of the space ship, including a Bike bay with tiny paper card based figures of Judges Dredd and Hershy ready to head off on their Lawmasters dispensing justice to the alien and weird.

Pretty sure it was bobbins though, but my point is: 2000AD runs deep.

Getting to draw Dredd was my single ambition for a long long time, though ambition is wrong, it felt like having an ambition to be the first man on the moon – yeah, sure, someone did it, but it could never be you.

Now, of course, I’ve kids on my own. I still read 2000AD and it’s grown up with me – content shifting from goofy childlike dream states to more sombre, serious, adult contemplative stories about mortality (and knob jokes) – like most, I lost touch with it in the early 90s, regained it and am off and on again reader depending on what’s in it and whether I have time. I tried to get my oldest son interested, but it was never his thing. My youngest on the other hand – well, he’s an avid reader, he loves to draw and we’ve subscribed him to the beano. But 2000AD. Well… 2000ad is a smidge too adult for him (a rather large smidge). But, free comic book day bought 2000AD regened.

Now, I’m on record as saying lots of time that I’d love 2000AD to go younger – things I’ve suggested in the past include: shifting the megazine to a younger readership (the meg was always supposed to be the adult version of 2000ad, allowing them both to have a distinct voice, well, let’s accept 2000AD readers will never change, but Meg readers can be broadened? right? that’s my theory) if not that then, you know, selecting reprint material that skews younger and bundling it in to a reprint comic that’s packaged in a way that you can give it away to nephews, neices, sons, daughters, etc or, and this is the real stretch, just launch a cool all ages comic, talk to the guys doing zarjaz and turn that in to a professional publication with kid friendly fare.

Anyway, none of those things are likely to happen, but that said, I was taken aback that, this year, 2000AD decided to to create a younger reader title for free comic book day – and it’s a fun little package. Presented by Jako-Jargo, Tharg’s nephew – it boasts a CADET Strip (great Neil Googe artwork), a Strontium Dog (basically Johnny Alpha gets his licence) an insane-only-from-the-mind-of-Henry-Flint Board Game called Chet Jetstream (a sort of choose-your-own-snakes-and-ladders) a neat little future shcok Humancraft (pretty sure this should be an ongoing series, somehow) and a DR and Quich hijack free comic book day (plus an insanely detailed Intestenauts advert).

Now, I’m glad I enjoyed this, but that’s hardly the point. The point is… what will a typical 9 year old make of it, and for that, I have to ask Thomas… and he says:

“I liked it. No wait. I loved it. It was my favourite thing at Free Comic Day. I like Cadet Dredd Or Humancraft Or DR & Quinch or Chet Jetstream or wait.. that’s all of them. All of them”

So, what next?

Well, he liked Cadet Dredd so I gave him my Dredd book 1 to read, he read the first story and enjoyed it (it’s a bit of a massive book though, so I’m rationing it). I also selected ONE future shock from the Big Book of Alan Moore future shocks (specifically the story about the werewolves in space). Tom loves Goosebumps and I knew he’d enjoyed the twist, and he really really did.

I have no idea what 2000AD’s plans are beyond this, whether this was a clever ploy to get adults to start shoving older material into their kids sweaty hands (after all, you can no buy a fantastic amount of 2000AD reprint material) or whether it’s some under the radar skunkworks test to see if there’s a market for the material.

In either case, it’s good and Tom and I got a lot out of it, I hope 2000AD see there’s a value in an ongoing book like this, Tom certainly loved the anthology format and even though he found a lot of it unfamiliar (he called it “Docter Quinch” before I corrected him) he’s a quick study.

Anyway, well done tharg and all your little editor droids. Here’s to what’s next.

Coming up

So, it’s been quiet here, but, some finely tended things are, finally, starting to sprout. Let’s start with:

Phonogram – did a four page “B” side – here’s page 1 of it, lovingly coloured by Steven Denton

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Also, did a six page strip for Dwight L. MacPherson’s Interagents. Page 1 is full colour, the remaining are monochrome flashbacks…

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Next out of the gate are a couple of things for the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, a six part Dredd strip called “interlude” (ok, it’s not actually got Dredd in it, and it is an interlude, from the main story, but still – it’s written by John Wagner and is important for Dredd continuity)

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Following that, is a 9 page Megazine story, part of the new series of Judge Dredd: The Lost Cases, written by Alan Grant. Everyone else is doing there’s greywashed (which I didn’t know… actually, not 100% sure of it, but it makes sense) – and I was asked to do that too, but, like a maroon, I wanted to do it differently … old school ! My episode is called “Contract on Grud”.

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Finally, and, most importantly, I’m currently doing a three part series for [Haha! Made You Look!] publisher, written by [Seriously? You looked again!?]. I’m pretty proud of the work I’m doing on it, and ticks a number of wish fulfilment boxes for me, personally. And I’m not showing any of it just yet! Sorry!

Everything Comes Back to 2000AD – Interview

The podcast “Everything comes back to 2000AD” is a pretty entertaining way to while away some time while drawing, two comic fans rummage through the archive of 2000AD and start reading from issue 1 reading a couple of issues and reviewing them, then read the most current couple of issues and review them. While drunk. So it’s pretty sweary, but good fun.

Long term readers of this blog and the old blog – of which we will never speak – will know I’ve a mini-obsession about stuff like this – that is, creating your own media, putting videos, podcasts and comics together, for me, all belong in the same area of my head. Comics are easiest – less people, less technology, but, when I can find the time, I like to get involved in other media. So, when they started the podcast, like some desperate 10 year old I volunteered to be interviewed, several podcasts later and it finally happened.

I’m pretty sure I come across as an arse, rather than the charming fellow I am. And I’d also like to apologise to everyone I know. Especially if I said something offensive during the podcast (which I may have done, I’m refusing to listen to it…)

Anyhue, it’s around 90minutes long should be considered NSFW, and it can be found here. Hope you enjoy it.

Hue, hue, saturation and hue

Hey, I’ve been asked by one of the 2000AD message board crowd if I could supply them with some b&w artwork for a colouring compo, so, and, after checking everything was ok with the Mighty One (thanks Tharg!) here’s the artwork.

Dredd Colour Samples (it’s about 4Mb compressed).

If you’d like to download and play, it’s a cover plus some internal pages of artwork, at 400dpi in Tiff format. If you do colour them, don’t forget to ping back on the blog!