Monthly archives: April 2010


Point of Contact – Standing on India 1

I'm standing on India!

Originally this was going to be “I’m standing on Africa!” The day I thought of it I couldn’t get it out of my head and really wanted to stand up and proclaim it. Which isn’t a good thing when you’re sketching layouts in the pub.

For various reasons it has become standing on India. At first I was going to use NASA’s Blue Marble images as reference, and the copies I could find didn’t give me a good view of Africa. (Of course, when I went looking for images to demonstrate this dilemma, I found a view of Africa.) Then I realised that, based upon the timeline of the story, most of the continent would still be in the dark, even if it were midsummer. So I moved East a bit.

In the end I found a model of Earth for Bryce, which can now provide reference for all future shots looking down from space. Shading and the cloud layer were added in Photoshop Elements 8.

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Trailer Time

A bumper collection of trailers this week to make up for last week’s tiny offering (brought about by a temporary internet disconnection).

The Sicilian Girl.

Unthinkable. I hope it’s more intelligent than the 24 style “torture is the only way and it always works” piece that the trailer makes it look like.

TiMER. Okay, it’s a romcom. But it’s a sci-fi tinged romcom starring the vengeance demon from Buffy.

The Other Guys.

Baker Boys: Inside The Surge

The Action Hero’s Guide to Saving Lives.

Tomorrow When The War Began.

Charlie Valentine.

The Metal Box.

Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City. A rather dull trailer for what could be a fascinating film.

Machotaildrop.

Liquid Stone: Unlocking Gaudi’s Secrets.

L’Affaire Farewell


Who’s afraid of the big bad Nick Clegg 1

I listened to the leaders’ debate on Radio 4 last night, so I didn’t get to judge any of the body language. And I’m easily distracted, so I kept reading stuff at the same time and not paying total attention. With those provisos I, like so many others, am going to declare Nick Clegg the winner. His constant referrals to “Sheffield, where I’m MP” grated a little, but it wasn’t as painful as Brown’s laboured attempts at jokes or Cameron’s smarm.

So the Lib Dem leader has gone from “Who?” to a refreshing alternative to the tired other two. Therefore his performance is being attacked by MPs from Labour and the Tories. Tom Harris- whose online persona I quite like, even if he has now slipped into bitchy campaign mode- tries to tell us the debate wasn’t that important after all. Meanwhile John Redwood- who’s unlikeable online or off- tries to throw some mud.

Congratulations to Nick Clegg. He’s got the two main parties worried. Certainly, he’s not going to be Prime Minister, but he could end up holding the balance of power and that’s got Labour and the Conservatives worried.


Non-repro blue

I’ve been finding, with the last few pages of comic I’ve drawn, that I have to mess around with brightness and contrast in Photoshop to cut down ghost images from pencils which haven’t erased properly. It’s time to go looking for an old artists’ tool. Non-repro, or non-photo, blue pencils are a colour which isn’t easily picked up by scanners, so is less likely to create blurs and shadows behind my inks.

A quick search found this comparison of blue leads for mechanical pencils, my drafting tool of choice. So, I’m going to get myself some Pilot Colour Eno Soft Blue leads, before they go out of stock. We’ll see if they make a difference.


“Climategate” was an imaginary scandal after all

A second (of three) inquiry into the methods and organisation of the Climatic Research unit at the University of East Anglia has found the science done there to be valid, if the team doing it ws a little disorganised and not so good at keeping records. The unit’s work is valid, and the made up scandal never disproved their conclusions anyway- no matter what any of the climate change deniers may have wanted to believe.


In memory of Jilly’s- All Stood Still 1

Note My only piece of Rockworld fiction, this was part of a parallel worlds story which never got very far. If pale blue aliens were going to materialise anywhere, the middle of Jilly’s dancefloor would be the sort of place they’d choose. Can anyone remind me which song I lifted the title from? There’s another line about “Still stood still”.

The only tan man in a world of black and denim, Sam surveyed Rockworld. There was a statuesque lady in a basque over by the pool tables, lots of large hairy rockers and more than a few of the short cute indie chicks he lusted after. One day, he really had to talk to one of them.

The beer had taken him away from the dislocated feeling that had lingered from Market Street. Now he needed to dance. Where was everyone else?

Out on the dancefloor, hiding behind one of the pillars, the gang were safe from extreme mosh. They were collecting discarded bottles, though. Another lee. Sam tapped one bottle aside, just to see where it rolled. He guessed the rhythm, matching the beat through trial and error. At this time of night everyone was too drunk to mock his geek level lack of coordination.

The playlist boiled down to six or seven songs he recognised, three he didn’t then back to familiar territory. An acceptable ratio. The DJ launched straight into Teen Spirit. Everyone on the dance floor puffed up. Lots of people off were drawn in.

Sam had once had the hair for this song. Now it was too short. It didn’t flap, let alone fly, around his head as he banged. He imagined it growing out on the down swing, swirling round and obscuring his vision on the up.

Everything slowed down, went blurry. The song was driven by a slow strong heartbeat rather than charging anger. The other dancers were dark blurs, black on black on black. All merging together, lost in the trance. Sam was moving as slow, but he could look all around, his eyes spinning in their sockets.

There. In the middle of the dancefloor, a fine, slim shape, the faintest hint of blue. Appearing from nowhere, with a residual glow from the journey. She looked around then walked off, the crowd parting before her. Normal speed rather than the treacle slow of the dancers.

For a moment Sam was distracted. Across the dancefloor, the only other person in focus. Short, dark hair, pale face, an indie chick from his sweetest fantasy. She was staring at him, briefly distracted from the new arrival.

And the music was back, proper speed. Sam staggered, off balanced by the shift. He considered running across the dancefloor, after the blue glowing woman. Or the dark, staring girl. It wasn’t going to work. He could skirt the dancefloor, intercept them at the door.

What he might say didn’t occur to him. He just had to catch up with either of them. The gang were staring as he took off, he didn’t have to look around to know that.

The blue woman was through the door, the people she passed oblivious to her, and turned toward the Rock room. The girl was a few steps ahead of Sam. She had a fitted top and snug jeans. Sam had just seen someone materialise on a crowded dancefloor and he was thinking of cupping a hand and feeling those arse cheeks. His priorities were still in the right place.

Through the Rock room and they still couldn’t catch their vision. Into the PVC room. It was a dead end, maybe now they could get some answers.

Except she wasn’t there. There was a woman in an all white outfit, hot pants, bustier and fishnets, dancing with herself, but no mysterious glowing lady.

The indie chick turned to Sam. She had big brown eyes, pale skin and fine features. If she talked to him he was going to fall in love.

“That’s the second time that’s happened to me today.”

Smitten, Sam could just nod. “Me too.”


RIP Jilly’s Rockworld

Jillys Rockworld This is the worse news I have will ever have to impart here. It is with the heaviest of heart that I must tell you all that Jilly’s Rockworld has finally closed its doors for the last time. As of now we are no longer. The recession has another victim. A great club and an institution in Manchester for many many years is now only history.

More here and here. Manchester Confidential has more on the story.

Bugger. I know I only went there two or three times a year and it wasn’t as good as it used to be, but it was an institution and I shall miss it.


Underground Manchester- under Great Northern and G-Mex

Underground Manchester

On Sunday a few of us went on an organised tour of old canal tunnels and air raid shelters under the Great Northern warehouse and G-Mex (now Manchester Central, back to the original station’s name). It was a short but fascinating glimpse of a piece of industrial history.

Experimenting with longer exposures gave a few good results.

Underground Manchester

Underground Manchester

Relying on the flash gave far grainier pictures, but some shots I didn’t have the time to set up a long exposure.

Underground Manchester

There are more pictures in my Underground Manchester set on Flickr, and Ickle has a few as well.

I believe this is the Irwell end of the canal we were exploring.

Dead end lock

After the tour I tried a few long shots of the Central Library.

Manchester Cenral Library


It’s a two horse race, apparently. Let’s bet on the 100-1 shot

Tom Harris MP has pointed out the main problem with this election, though I’m not sure that’s exactly what he meant to do. Come May 7th we’ll have to put up with one of two unpalatable leaders. Gordon Brown is the least nauseating of the two, even though he’s not particularly likeable and the party he leads has given us Afghanistan, Iraq, PFIs, multiple useless laws and the Digital Economy Bill. Cameron tries hard to be likeable, but he’s still the leader of the Tory party. Which counts amongst its members people like John Redwood, former Shadow Secretary for the Environment, Transport and the Regions who goes out of his way to suck up to the climate change denier demographic.

So the choice is the devil we know or the devil we don’t want to know. Mr Harris seems to be saying that we can vote for change* all we like, but we’re not going to get any. No wonder so few people vote when the options are put to them in those terms.

*By which I mean actual change, not the Tories “Change” which is just them being on the other side of the chamber.


The Christians demand special treatment 1

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, wants employment tribunals involving Christians to be adjudicated by judges “with a proven understanding of religious issues”. In other words, judges who’ll rule in favour of the Christian defendant no matter how weak their case. This was reported as a good thing, to be supported and defended, by the Daily Mail and inspired the usual drivel from Melanie Phillips. Just imagine the frothing anger that would have been on display if a prominent imam had said it instead. (And is it any surprise that they make Lord Neuberger, with his very Jewish name, the bad guy of the report and opinion piece?)

Workers have every right to refuse to perform certain tasks if they deem them to be dangerous, illegal or counter productive. I don’t believe that using your religion to justify your prejudices counts as a valid reason not to do your job.


Trust me, I’m a politician

I used to know the world’s most reliable man. If he said he’d do something it wouldn’t get done, if he said he’d be somewhere at a certain time he’d fail to turn up, telling you he was only five minutes away meant he was in a different city. His combination of lies and incompetence was so consistent that it was possible to make plans based upon the opposite of what he said.

The General Election has reminded me of him. That the three main parties are launching their manifestos this week, starting with Labour today, is giving me more flashbacks.


Point of Contact- what a hangover

What has Sally seen? What is so beautiful? Find out next week.

You may notice that the panel sizes in this page are different from previous pages. This is because I crop the web comic pages to (or very close to) the edge of the art. Most of the previous pages have been full bleed, extending not just to, but beyond, the edge of the printed page at the size I plan to publish it. (More or less, I’m drawing Point of Contact to the dimensions suitable for a US comic, but I plan to publish it through Lulu, and their comic pages seem to have different dimensions again. This is something which has elicited much swearing from me and will no doubt elicit much more.) This page none of the art escaped the panels. There didn’t seem much point in reproducing the white space of the border.

You’ll also note a change in the lettering size and the use of bubbles. I think the text may still be too large, I shall be playing around with font sizes over the next few pages until I’m happy then going back and re-lettering all the previous pages for the print edition.

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Do double yellow lines mean anything? 2

Do double yellow lines mean anything?

This is a Mercedes parked on double yellow lines and well up onto the pavement. Nothing so strange about that. But it’s parked right in front of the entrance to the Bootle Street Police station in the centre of Manchester. I’ve blanked out the number plate, because anyone who can get away with this obviously has a bit of clout, but if the Police would like to actually do their job…….

I know that parking on double yellows down a little used side street isn’t much of a crime, but doing it right outside the Police station shows a bit much arrogance and contempt for the law for my liking.


At least my MP voted against the Digital Economy Bill

John Leech, Liberal Democrat MP for Withington, explains why he voted against the Digital Economy Bill.

He has my support on May 6th, though I was going to vote for him anyway. I’ve started voting Green locally and Lib Dem nationally. Though, if the Lib Dems ever managed to get some form of proportional representation adopted for national elections I’d stop voting for them. (I just hope this doesn’t put them off).

I’d vote Green this time, but that might help Labour take Withington so I’m going tactical. Not even talking to Eddie Izzard would persuade me to vote Labour, but they’re welcome to send him round.