Comics


Break It Down!

Breaking the story down

This is the next stage in creating Uninvited Guests. I’ve taken the brief scene descriptions I wrote over Christmas, and laid them out as pages, ready for thumbnailing. Now I’m going to do a Marvel-ish method of partial scripting and page layouts as the next part of the process.


Progression

Uninvited Guests rough v2

I’ve done a couple of pieces of very rough concept art for the comic I’m planning. This is version two, done yesterday. Version one is below.

Obviously, I’ve got a lot of work to do. The monster isn’t going to be the clunky lupine thing in the second drawing, nor the flat black one in the first. I think I need to get to planning some layouts, and letting them suggest how to have it sneak into full view over a few pages.

Uninvited Guests rough v1


Lever Street

Lever Street 060118

Amongst this year’s plans is a comic, so I’m going to get more sketching done, to boost my confidence with pencil, pen and brush. I fully intend to improve, and this is here as much to provide a reference to check against at the end of the year as anything else.

The drawing was done in the coffee shop across from (and slightly to one side of) the building depicted. I’d have put in more details, but the windows steamed up and obscured my view.


The Berlin Job

I did a bit of a Spring clean recently, and came across this. On six postcards, I had done layouts for a comic idea. It dates back several years, and was going to be called The Berlin Job.

Set in an alternative fifties, where Berlin was the first city to have an atomic bomb dropped on it, it was going to be a heist story that turned into a conspiracy tale. As a team of crooks and ex-servicemen broke into the abandoned city of Berlin- looking to find the vaults full of looted treasure etc.- they would stumble across a terrible secret. Hitler was assassinated by others in German high command, and they had offered up surrender terms to the Brits and Americans, afraid of what would happen should the Russians overrun their capital. This was ignored, and the atom bomb was dropped as a show of force, taking out some of the Russians already in the city.

Now, several years later, tensions are building again, and the city is still sealed off, waiting for someone to come in and dig up its secrets.

The Berlin Job

Obviously, I never started this project properly, though I think there may be a larger, more polished version of the first page somewhere.

If it’s not obvious, the first three pages are side by side narratives from the end of the story and the point in 1946 (I had a set of backstories that would have explained why the war went on a year longer, if necessary) when the bomb was dropped. Page 6 is messy and cluttered. I’d like to think I’d have turned it into a double page spread, framed by either end of the building/block, if I’d gone ahead.

I’m always thinking about doing some comics again. Finding stuff like this just makes me ponder what story I’d like to tell that way.


Missed Deadline

I was a big fan of Deadline magazine, and used to own every single issue*. Well, now it’s being resurrected, as Missed Deadline.

If this happens, I’ll skip meals if that’s what it takes to be able to afford it.

*They all went to charity shops, after years of following me around, move after move.


Are you Charlie?

o-OVERWHELMED-570

I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever read Charlie Hebdo. I always bought a few bandes dessinee magazines, but I had a preference for lushly rendered ligne claire tales full of hard SF and occasional naked people.

Since the magazine’s offices were attacked, there has been an amount of self important commentary suggesting the cartoonists brought the violence upon themselves. It’s not just been from the sort of right wingers who would like to have the power to threaten and censor for themselves, either. People who would normally, and rightly, rail against victim blaming, have been saying, “Well, if they would go out in those covers, they were asking to be shot.”

They’re wrong, of course, and many people have explained why, so I’ll not go into that. But what’s bothered me is their inability to read a cartoon, or do some basic maths. Everyone’s been concentrating on the covers depicting Mohammed and the blame brigade are pointing at them and implying that the magazine was a non-stop anti Islam hate fest. There’s a pool of a dozen or so cover images from the period since 2006 (date of the image above), that are being concentrated on. But Charlie Hebdo was weekly. There were 52 issues a year (maybe 50 if they took a break for Christmas and New Year), which kind of makes the charge of concentrated Islamaphobia a little weaker. Of course, I can’t speak for the content of CH, and just how nasty it was to whom and in what ratio, but none of the magazine’s sudden critics can either, judging by their concentration on the most repeated cover images.

The left-leaning victim blamers are all determined to see racism aimed at France’s muslim population, and have decided that cartoons about the prophet are an example of that. A favourite argument has been that, with drawings of Mohammed, Charlie was “punching down when it should have been punching up”. But they’ve only come to that conclusion because they can’t do something as simple as decode a cartoon. They see that the image is supposed to depict the prophet and decide that it’s nothing more than a simplistic attack on Islam and, by extension, an attempt to demean muslims. There’s a snobbery in their refusal to actually look at the cartoons and work out what they’re really saying. Cartoons are a juvenile art form, they’ve decided, crude scribbles meant for the young and the simple-minded, so they can’t possibly be loaded with nuance.

Let’s look at that cartoon up above again. I’ve seen a few, slightly different, translations of the caption and speech bubble, but the gist of it is- ‘Mohammed despairs of the extremists, “It’s hard to be loved by arseholes!”‘ Ignore the edict against depictions of the prophet and this is a very sympathetic depiction of him. Here’s an entity with the empathy to be apalled by the actions some are claiming to do in his name. The only people who should be offended by this cartoon are the very arseholes whose behaviour has driven the one they claim to revere to tears. Similarly, another image, of a returned Mohammed about to be beheaded by a masked ISIS type, is showing, in a suitably brutal way, how the terrorists have diverged so far from the religion they claim to represent that they wouldn’t recognise it’s creator.

In those two cartoons, CH attacked the people who would go on to attack them. They also stood with the thousands of muslims who have been killed in Syria and Iraq by arseholes who think praying in a slightly different way merits the death sentence. But some people are too busy trying to read shallow intentions into the images to look deep enough to see that.

I’m not in possession of large reserves of physical or moral courage, I leave that sort of thing to my protagonists. Only once has anyone demanded that I shelve something I was planning to write. But he was an obnoxious, bullying little shit, so I carried on with it, only putting it aside when it became obvious that my drawing skills weren’t good enough to produce the sort of art it deserved. I have written, and will write in the future, stuff that offends people, but I couldn’t say that I’d carry on with it when faced with constant death threats. It’s galling to think that, if I were attacked, there’d be some self-righteous pricks who’d turn around and say, “Yes, but just look at the tacky genres he was writing in, and such short books, lacking any pretentious prose. It’s not like he was creating worthy, literary novels, is it.”

Fuck those idiots.

Je suis Charlie.


Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 04

jdcc04Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 04

author: John Wagner

It’s a good job I’m getting the Case Files books digitally. By the time I’ catch up with today’s Dredd, I’d be in need of a room just for the books if I were buying paper copies.

File 4 contains another of the great Dredd epics- the Judge Child Quest. This is one I haven’t seen the whole of before, because back when I was picking up the Quality/Eagle reprints, this was a mini-series of its own. Disaster is coming to the Big Meg, and it has been predicted that only a child called Owen Krysler can save the city. Dredd sets off to find the boy- who has a justice-eagle birthmark on his forehead and is a powerful precog- first in the Cursed Earth and then outer space. Along the way, he has to battle the King of rubbish, the Angel Gang, ship eating planetoids and a human hating robot empire. The tale is episodic, much like the original Cursed Earth story, with Dredd encountering strange creatures and situations that aren’t all directly related to his mission, before the final showdown with the Angels and his important decision about the Judge Child’s fate.

The rest of the collection sees Dredd back on Earth, stopping block wars and fending off the poisonous attentions of wayward last Angel, Fink.

All in all, another classic slice of Dredd.

From:: Garth Owen Goodreads reviews


Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 03

jdcc03

author: John Wagner

Still a big batch of classic Dredd, this collection suffers in comparison to the concentrated thrill power of the previous edition.

Lacking an epic tale, where the second edition had two of the greats, this collection feels bitty and a little disjointed. Having said that, the inventive future city stories are still in evidence and lots of interesting and important background is developed.

The stand out tale is the introduction of Judge Death (and Judge Anderson) as the cross dimensional wraith comes to Mega City 1 to pass judgement on the city- by killing as many of its citizens as possible.

The classic artists are still in evidence, but the double page spreads which were so common in the previous collection have gone- Dredd must have been relegated from starting on the centre spread.

Only a disappointment after the highs of the previous edition, this is still a good selection of classic Dredd.

From: Garth Owen Goodreads reviews


Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 02

jdcc02

author: John Wagner

I’m going to work my way through the Dredd case file books one by one, until I’m as up to date as possible.

I didn’t read these early tales in 2000AD, but caught up on them in the eighties in the Eagle/Quality comics US comic size colour reprints. Those issues, it seems, missed out occasional episodes for various reasons. Being a complete chronological reprint*, the complete case files keep throwing out episodes I’ve never seen before, which is always a pleasure.

This book features two of the classic Dredd epic tales- Cursed Earth and Judge Caligula.

The premise of Cursed Earth is stolen almost whole from Damnation Alley, the Judges travelling East to West across America rather than the other way. The over-arching plot of getting a vaccine to Mega City 2 breaks down into a series of shorter tales, as Dredd and his crew encounter the various bizarre denizens of the desert- vampire robots, cloned dinosaurs, alien slaves and more.

Returning from Mega City 2, Dredd is framed by power-crazy (and just plain crazy crazy) Judge Caligula, who is making a power grab for absolute control of Mega City 1. This story is more of a sustained plot than Cursed Earth. Cal’s plans are revealed piece by piece, Dredd and his band of rebels gain victories and suffer setbacks, and it all leads to a grand showdown.

The classic stories are complemented by a roster of classic artists, particularly Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland. Many of the episodes open with a double page spread, giving extra thrill-power to them.

*Apart from, in this edition, four episodes which have never been reprinted anywhere because they depicted certain fast food chains and a well known food advertising green giant and drew threats of copyright based lawsuits.

From: Garth Owen Goodreads reviews


DOOMED! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s “The Fantastic Four”

Back in 1994, legendary B-Movie filmmaker Roger Corman produced one of Marvel’s first movies. It was a feature film adaptation of The Fantastic Four, which at the time never saw the light of day. It has since been bootlegged and leaked, and has gained a cult following over the years.

Director Marty Langford has created a documentary called DOOMED!: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s “The Fantastic Four” which gives us the full behind the scenes story of the film’s troubled production and release.

via Trailers for DOOMED! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s “The Fantastic Four” — GeekTyrant.


Crossover

Crossover 1 Page 01B

I have a small stack of, mostly, Image comics from the nineties, a sharp knife and a guillotine, and I’m going to make some art. Working on some comic book themed ideas, my first series is going to be called “Crossover 1”. Two comics- Brigade series 1 issue 3 and C23 issue 3, collide in strips on the page. These being Image comics from the nineties, some of the resulting pages will be no less coherent than the originals.

There will be two versions of each page. A pages start with C-23 at the top, B pages with Brigade. Once I have a few more pages in stock, I shall be putting them up for sale on Spinneyworld and Zibbet.


The End of the Century Club

Time Warp was the second book of Ed “Ilya” Hillyer’s End of the Century Club stories. The stories were wonderful pieces of gutter level millennial magical realism with a dirty sense of humour. I highly recommend Time Warp and the first part, Countdown, but the reason I’ve been thinking about it today is the 8-page mini story which starts volume 2 and depicts the national rejoicing at the death of a certain politician. It’s chock full of the sort of Bacchanalian excess and joy that the Daily Mail imagines everyone else has been participating in, but also has a character voice their concerns that her legacy is still there.


Warren Ellis has got me thinking about Point of Contact again

Warren Ellis » SPACEGIRL And Why Your Funny Webcomics Bore Me.

Wouldn’t this be a demented, lovely, quixotic thing? If a bunch of people said fuck all you people who do nothing but newspaper comedy strips on the web, we’re going to do newspaper dramatic strips and do crazy stuff.

I didn’t do an adventure strip, but I did try to do an adventure serial with US comic size pages. Point of Contact fell victim to my usual lack of time/discipline and an uncertainty about where the story was really going. I came in with a plan for hundred plus page tale, but began to lose my way quite quickly.

I still want to do some graphic storytelling, and maybe I’ll make Mr. Ellis’ day by having it be a newspaper strip (or blogstrip, sized more appropriately for screens and the three column layout I prefer). I certainly have a bunch of half ideas ready to throw at one another. Whilst unpacking I’ve been stopped by Timularo and Akira and want to do something crazy and apocalyptic.

Possibly with ninja. And zombies.

Let me see how soon I can clear space for the drawing board.


Hand made Black Bob cards – Spinneyworld

 

Black Bob is a brave, loyal and resourceful sheep dog who is always having adventures. Most often they involve sheep rustling and less well behaved dogs but sometimes there are runaways to protect and mysteries to solve.

Each Black Bob card features a panel, and the associated text, from a Black Bob tale. Each one is unique. The interiors are blank and they come with an envelope.

Spinneyworld does not like to damage otherwise healthy books and wishes to reassure you that the publications from which these images came were too badly damaged to be rescued.

Hand made Black Bob cards – Spinneyworld.


Itoshi No Kana

Amongst the many things distracting me in the last few months has been a website called Mangafox. It’s a site dedicated to’scanlations’ of manga series- scans of the originals translated and re-lettered by volunteers. It’s not legitimate, of course, but hey.

As I have a long standing interest in erotic comics I went looking for stuff in the Adult category. Two in particular got my attention. Koibana Onsen is the ongoing tale of an inn which specialises in erotic romantic getaways- and the various hang-ups of the staff. Itoshi No Kana is a paranormal romance which inspired a story idea from me.

Itoshi No Kana, according to the scanlators, means My Lovely Ghost Kana and concentrates on the relationship between the eponymous ghost and Daikichi. As the story opens Daikichi, whose name ironically means lucky, has lost his job and home and taken to squatting in an abandoned apartment block. Here he meets Kana, the ghost of the girl who committed suicide in the room he has chosen to inhabit. Their relationship soon becomes intimate, rescuing each other from their respective hells.

There’s a lot of sex in the first Kana book- the second is more concerned with their growing connection with the outside world- and it’s a lot of fun as well as being very hot. This is despite Japanese censorship rules which mean genitalia aren’t explicitly depicted- there’s a lot of allusion and, when that runs out, erections are often reperesented by a bar of white space.

Itoshi No Kana is a naughty example of the manga subgenre known as Magical Girlfriend. The MG can be an alien princess, witch or hot demoness who makes life complicated for some hapless protagonist. Most often, the protagonist and MG never get to consummate their relationship, continuing through endless scrapes punctuated by panty shots and other tittilation (aka fanservice). Kana ignores the rule of delayed gratification to tell a different story.

I’ve been tempted to do something Magical Girlfriend-y, on and off, for a while and Itoshi inspired me again. So I’ve started the tale of a young man who bumps into a girl who isn’t there as he crosses an old bridge. Having knocked her back into the physical world he becomes her lover and they embark on an exploration of hauntings, beasts and Boggles, all the while tracking down the man who killed her.

I see an episodic series, short stories with different monsters each time, but with an overall arc- the story of the ghost’s murder and revenge. The main characters’ sex life- and the mating habits of were-creatures, vampyres and assorted ghoulies- would be a major part of the stories. Not often enough to warrant the label of Paranormal Erotica (a popular genre on Amazon), but regular and hot nonetheless. So I’m going to do this series under my Garth Owen pen name, I think.

The first story in the series is tentatively titled The Girl On The Bridge and I’m 6000 or so words into it, using it to flesh out some details of the back story and world. I’m far too easily distracted by other ideas and stories I want to work on, but I hope to have this one finished soon.