Sunday, 28 September 2008


I've been dipping in to a few books about drawing comics (like Chris I'm now a big fan of Scott McCloud) and realising that actually I do need the right tools for the job, if only to at least give visitors to our workspace at the Millennium Gallery, and Chris for that matter (yeah, alright, and myself), the impression that I know what I'm doing.

Which was a great excuse to go to one of my favourite shops, Pinders, and spend some cash.  Look at that art supply joy.  If I'd dug through all my stuff I might have found my old drawing pen and nib pens, but actually buying all this kit new, along with the Bristol Board and India Ink, was very good for morale.

I've been using the pens for drawing another project, which is room plans and writing - human figures with faces are completely absent - so not great practice, but it's getting me warmed up.


Predictably, since my last post I've been continually thinking things like: 
How could I not mention Chris Ware?
How about Howard Chaykin and Brian Bolland - they were massive formative influences when I was a teenager...
So, er, them aswell.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


I've just finished the last book of Animal Man by Grant Morrison. The artwork was fun and created a sort of nostalgia for the four colour DC and Marvel comics of the old days.

So I was thinking of trashing all of our ideas for the story of A Man..., and making it about two blokes, in a room, trying to write a graphic novel. Animal Man basically plays with some similar post-modern and self referential ideas.

I'll just have to make the original story work.

Hey Ho.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Current Influences

I've been thinking this week about how the look of the comic will be a balance of how I [we] want it to look, and what I am actually capable of.  And the extremely limited time we have available.  This in itself isn't unusual, of course - but for some reason because it is about drawing, it feels more worrying.  Perhaps because it is about making something physical, about making an object.  Or perhaps its because it is such a long held ambition;  before acting, before writing, before making films, installations, performances, before any of those things that I [we] did or do now, I drew comics.  Wanted to draw comics when I was older.

More about those early efforts another time perhaps.  But here are some of the current influences on how I [we] want it to look.  I think Chris [and I] would actually like A Man Amid The Wreckage to look like it was drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz, particularly his work on Big Numbers and his own weird and wonderful Stray Toasters.  I've been a big fan of his work since Moon Knight (particularly the later issues) and New Mutants.

However, I've been looking at and thinking about some more realistic influences.  Not that I am suggesting I can draw as well as any of the following, of course.  

I really like Jamie Hewlett's work, but it's the early black and white Tank Girl comics that have the most power for me.  The more stylised Gorillaz and Monkey work is great, but in those early, more 'realistically drawn' strips, you can see that, man, can he draw people.  Really confident.  I remember one of those early episodes having the words 'Brought to you in under 48 hours by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett' on the opening page, and under another panel he'd written 'Bad Frame. Baaaadddd Frame.'  Not happy with it, no time to change it; deadline looming.  An influence, I think, on the challenge Chris and I have set ourselves.

I love Tom Gauld's work, particularly his strips Hunter and Painter (originally in the Guardian) and Guardians of The Kingdom, which for me are about how people get on with each other, whatever their situations.  He makes these really nice Very Small Comics sets, too, which all fold out in different ways.  His drawings appear very simple, but when you look closer you can see that there is a lot of work in them.  A lot of lines.

Another favourite is Olivier Kugler, particularly his reportage and travel drawing.  Beautiful line drawing, and I love the way he gives a sense of time passing, and a real feeling of him being there, drawing live, in the location with the subject.

So, those are my bench marks; my aspirations, I guess.  I'm not expecting to get up there quality-wise, but hopefully in spirit and feel we might get somewhere close.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The Words of Alan Moore

I was reading my 'Writing for Comics' By Alan Moore this morning. He describes a scenario which is all 'plot plot plot' but with no point.

I think a major re-write of my story needs to happen before we go public.

A good thing happened this afternoon, Alex and I almost came up with a mission statement, which I feel is a step in the right direction.

On Friday we're having a meeting at the Millennium Galleries about how we're going to make the show. I've also found some cool websites with some neat superhero t-shirts.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


As well as taking in Peru and Armenia, part of the plot involves Cern. When I initially wrote the outline in 2001 Cern wasnt in the news and if it was on the tv it was a part of an episode of Horizon.

Now of course its everywhere.

I'm going to take this as an opportunity to shave the plot a bit and make it better - deleting all mention of Cern in the process - providing me with some sticky problems concerning some of the traveling of the main protagonist but nothing that can't be solved with some creative thinking.


Tuesday, 9 September 2008


I've just finished ZOT! by Scott McCloud and feel much happier about our unofficial decision to make the graphic novel in black and white. However, and there always seems to be a 'however', in his numerous footnotes he states that he often went over each panel several times before he was happy with them or before he went too far over his publishing deadline.

Also I'm reading 'Create Your Own Graphic Novel' by Mike Chinn and Chris Mcloughlin, which is helpful but one again serves to remind me of how little I actually know about making work in the medium.

I'm wondering whether we need help from computer technology but then this only creates concerns about how we would need to master the technology as part of the process. But then scanners and computers do appear to be integral parts of contemporary graphic novel production.

Once I get my tax return done I am also going to re-write the story - or at least the first chapter.

You see and then in '
Create Your Own Graphic Novel' they mention the art in Neil Gaimans 1604 where the illustrator went over his original pencil sketches with colour pencils giving them a painterly quality.... and it looks great. And seems quite simple.

Scott McCloud's website is now my favourite website.