Sunday, 31 January 2010

Dredd Unmasked

Another thread on the 2000ad message board. This time the challenge was to depict Dredd without the helmet in under 15 minutes. I did this in pencil in about 5 or 6 minutes whilst taking a break from drawing the next episode of From Below. It's a bit scrappy but it's only a sketch.

I had a go at quickly applying colour in Artrage before cleaning the image a little and combining with the colour layer in photoshop. It's still a far cry from a finished piece...
If I was going for a finished pic I'd replace the pencil layer with an ink and use additional layers in photoshop for shading and highlighting as I've only used minimal tone in Artrage. I kind o' like the pencil layer and often find I lose something in the inking. Enough distraction!

The Boys

Probably my favourite comic outside of 2000ad over the last while has been The Boys by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. It's hilariously OTT and also has a point to make about big business and US politics. I've never been a fan of spandex goons and I love the way that the 'Supes' are relegated to the status of a moronic sideshow, albeit a pretty dangerous one. If you haven't read it, check it out. Anyway- here are some sketches of The Boys I did when I was between strips for Dogbreath.

click for a bigger image

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Doctor Maniacus

Here's a picture I did for a 2000ad message board competition- it's Shadow Warrior Doc Maniacus from the ABC Warriors strip. A mixture of paper & ink, artrage and photoshop with the balloon done in Illustrator (big thanks to Jim Campbell for his tutorial and additional assistance in teaching me how to do that).

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Something Wicked 5- Confession

'Something Wicked' is the horror anthology from Futurequake Press. The latest issue is No. 5 and I did the art for 'Confession' written by Rob Spalding and lettered by Dave Evans. I can't say a lot about the story- you'll need to buy it to find out more, but here is page 2...
click on the image for a larger view

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

From Below- Dogbreath 21 and ongoing

From Below is written by Alec Robertson again and lettered by Dave Evans- 'The Letters Machine'! It started last issue of Dogbreath (#21) and continues in 22. It features 'Noseless' Laura Gonzalez as the main Stront- a character introduced in 'Shadow'. I like this character, for various reasons and I like drawing her too.
I recently noticed a comment in an old post on the Quaequam Blog, under an early preliminary drawing of the characters from 'Shadow', where someone says "Typical- the only female Stront is a glamorous norm". Now, this is daft. Laura has no nose! In 'normal' society she would be considered hideously disfigured. I'll talk a bit about the decisions made by Alec and I for the character.
We could have made her like Big Cynthia from 'The Schicklegruber Grab'- but it's too obvious and not particularly 'cliché- busting'.
My take on Big Cynthia is that she is a male character drawn as a female. No concession is made to her femininity whatsoever. Carlos could just as easily have drawn a bloke and she could have been named 'Big Cyril' or something. It makes no difference.
Durham Red is a character I'm not overly keen on myself, and Alec positively, irredeemably hates her as a concept! For me she's that gun-toting, sassy, hardcase femme fatale that has become so passe. Add the fact that her 'mutation', whilst possibly being interesting, flies in the face of most of the mutations in Strontium Dog over the years. Unlike, say... the X-men, most S/D mutants have debilitating or utterly useless mutations which turn them into sideshow freaks or 'monstrosities' in the eyes of normals. We didn't want to make Laura like Durham Red.

Laura's mutation in profile

Whilst her mutation is certainly subtle, she could never stand with the cheerleader set- a small bony lump with two holes in her face for nostrils ensures that she could never be accepted as 'a hottie'! It's a pointless mutation that cannot be hidden from normal society and puts her very firmly in the 'sideshow freak' category. The biggest problem is that a convention with many artists in comics is to keep the nose as minimal as possible on a female seen face on. If you've ever tried to draw a stronger nose on a female character- you'll know why that is! So we went for 'in your face' profiles.
Anyhoo- Laura always seemed to be a rather sad and under confident type figure to me (possibly because I've seen some unfinished scripts for her that play on this) and I wanted the reader to feel sympathy for her- that she would be quite pretty, if only she had a nose! Almost as if this was what she was feeling too-"if only I had a nose!". As a result I felt that, rather than getting all pumped and manly, she would try to make the best of other assets- in the way that real people with buck teeth or a crooked nose often do. I certainly didn't want her to be all tits and erse, so I tried to give her more regular proportions. I had hoped to retain her femininity, but make her vulnerable to merciless piss-taking by 'norms'. She's also not sassy, gun-toting and uber-cool. I find her very human- polite, under confidant and she doesn't always do the right thing. I hope this will come across as the tale progresses.
Laura and her new partner, Wolfboy

Introspective shite over. I gave her a revamp for several reasons- I liked the way that in early Stront tales Johnny's costume changes continually and one way to achieve this was the occasional haircut. Again, a fairly realistic thing- especially, perhaps, for a woman who lacks a little self-esteem. There were a few bits and pieces about her costume I liked and a few I didn't- both for visuals and because they were a pain in the bollocks to draw continually! Here is a sketch I did whilst deciding on her new look, along with one of her new 'partner'- Wolfboy. Wolfboy is basically a kid who Laura has taken under her wing. He's a little young to be a bounty hunter and again I think this shows a softer, more vulnerable side to Laura- if a little foolish.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Last Word on 'Shadow'

I wanted to post one more picture from this story. There was one flashback panel in the final episode which depicted Harry making a bomb. Alec and I thought it was quite an important picture as it showed beyond any doubt that Harry had once held the same views as Visionary Lygate, but the bomb got covered with a speech balloon. With hindsight- we should maybe have asked for it to be moved, though we just assumed it had been deemed a bit too controversial having the 'hero' portrayed as a 'terrorist'. That may or may not have been the case but it's Dave and Rich's comic- they pay for the publishing so that's their prerogative. Hence, we didn't say anything at the time.
However, it was Alec's story, my art and this is my blog- so I've decided to put it on here without the dialogue, that's my prerogative. So here it is...

The panel itself has that scratchy, unfinished look that Ezquerra often used to portray flashbacks and dream sequences. The lack of solid black hopefully makes it different enough from the 'real-time' panels to mark it out as a flashback.

Page Samples (Dogbreath 20)

The final episode of 'Shadow' brings the tale to an explosive, violent conclusion. It appears in Dogbreath 20 which, again, is still available to buy from the Futurequake Press shop. Here the action first moves to Drumossie moor on the fringes of the Highlands proper- a place steeped in atmosphere, more commonly called 'Culloden' after the wee village not far from Inverness (also the historic scene of the defeat of the rebel Jacobite army in 1746 led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart, at the hands of the British army under the Duke of Cumberland- 'Stinkin Billy', the Butcher of Cumberland). Here is page 1 and that axe-killing:
For the final showdown, we move further north to Ross & Cromarty where Harry tries to find the answer to the question "Can a man kill his past?". This is page 6:

I hope you've enjoyed these samples and if you want to see more, you'll have to buy the issues. It's not just a 'dumb actioner'- it's a fairly dense and intelligent story, which I am proud to have been part of. It really benefits from reading right through. Dogbreath is a non-profit fanzine which needs to be supported to keep it in production- stock is limited, so buy it before its gone forever!

Page Samples (Dogbreath 19)

These pages are from the second episode of 'Shadow of the Mutant' which appears in Dogbreath 19, which is also still available from the Futurequake Press shop (linked on the right). The whole story makes use of flashbacks from Big Harry's past and his involvement in the Mutant uprising and it's aftermath to help evoke 'Portrait' as well as show his link with Visionary Lygate. This is page 1:

and this is page 4, mainly told in flashback and showing Harry's viewpoint of that classic picture:

Page Samples (Dogbreath 18)

Posting time again. Call it a teaser, call it a sample- whatever ye like! Anyway, this page is the opener for 'Shadow of the Mutant' part 1. This appears in Dogbreath 18 which is still available from the Futurequake Press shop (see links on the right). It's the set up for the scenario and introduces the main characters. First person who can name all the Stronts who make background cameos wins the satisfaction that they are true S/D geeks! You can click on the images for a larger view.
Next up is page 4 from the same issue- as well as a touching tale, action packed and thought provoking, there's also a bit of tongue in cheek humour in the mix:

These are spaced out to avoid spoilers and are pretty low-res images. I'm showing the lettered pages to promote the story in general, rather than just the artwork. Each episode is eight pages long, so there's a decent chunk of story in there.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Dogbreath 19 Cover

As promised, here is the wraparound cover to Dogbreath 19, without the titles etc. This was completed on the final day of the deadline at stupid o'clock in the morning! I had completed the colouring on the figures and spent hours on the original background, but the original background really was appalling and was utterly obliterated in a fit of tired pique and replaced in a mere 20 minutes with the purple/ green/ blue that you see here (yes- green is in there too- the way it mixed with the purple produced a bluish blend into the very small amount of blue added).

I said last post that Shadow was a touching tale- but don't let that fool you- from episode to episode the violence escalates from brutal fisticuffs to a finale which starts with an axe killing and follows through with an entire installment of gunplay and explosions, fire and a rising body count. The whole thing hints of more background to Harry's former life as well as adventures new for the characters left standing.
And there is more- I know, because I've seen the preliminary scripts! Whether these will appear in Dogbreath, or whether Alec and I will need to do these as some sort of web-zine, I'm not sure.
Dogbreath always appears to be seen as the poorer cousin of Zarjaz- but it's my favourite and I think I'm correct in saying that it is 2000ad's longest running fanzine, so buy it and ensure it remains so. All hail Dave Evans and Richmond Clements for keeping it alive after Dr Bob decided to call time on her editorship. Long live Dogbreath!

Shadow of the Mutant

Here's a picture I did for fun as a kind of advert for Shadow of the Mutant- a three part story written by my good friend Alec Robertson for Dogbreath, the Strontium Dog fanzine. It features porcupine-haired bounty hunter Big Harry McShane and his ex-comrade Visionary Lygate, a die-hard mutant revolutionary, in a touching tale of a disillusioned man haunted by past demons.
Is Harry really on the right side- or is he trying to wipe away the feeling that it is him who is wrong?
The story ran in issues 18, 19 and 20 and all three are still available via FutureQuake Publishing. Once I get a better handle on this blogger thingamy I'll put a link up to FQP. I also did the cover for issue 19, which featured Shadow of the Mutant on it. I'll post that up without the cover lettering at a later date.
The story was a homage to Portrait of a Mutant- A Strontium Dog story from many moons ago in 2000ad. This story was the one that got me hooked on 2000ad and is still a firm favourite of both myself and Alec.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A Sample Page

This was a sample page I did for a project. It's in pencil and at A3, though I shrunk it and pissed about with curves on photoshop to even out the tone for posting on here.
Click on the picture for a larger image.
I did a few more bits and pieces for this as I was really keen on this project, being a bit of a fan of westerns from when I was a kid. The project didn't work out for me anyhow- C'est la vie, min!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Ah, Shite!

Now I have a follower!
That means I can feel the weight of expectation and will shortly feel the need to put something on here just so as I don't feel like I'm letting anyone down. I shall have to rustle through some shoddy bits of paper I have stashed in a cupboard to find something. Bear with me.