Point of Contact

Point of Contact, page 1

Starting today. A fun tale of first contact and the problems which ensue.

I’m still learning a lot about producing the art, so bear with me. It’s intended for publication as a black and white comic, hence the tones and shading.

I’ll be doing production notes as I go along. In jokes, nods to other media, that sort of thing.

Geri is wearing a UMIST top. The University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology is no more. In our universe it merged back into the University of Manchester a few years ago, before Geri could possibly have gone there. But in the alternate where Point of Contact takes place it obviously didn’t.

Dan Moody is named after Dan Moody, reprobate and fellow Cumbrian of my acquaintance, though that’s partly by accident. I’d given my characters first names then asked if anyone I knew would like their family name immortalised in comic form. Dan the character was already half christened when both the Moody siblings volunteered their surname. Cartoon Dan has more hair than real Dan. I know how he broke his leg, but it’s only going to be revealed if the story calls for it.

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The Webcomic List

It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it

Gizmodo has high resolution images of Earth. Really nice. Sadly, neither of the ones they’ve got is quite right as photo reference for one of my favourite lines from part 1 of Point of Contact (I’m not going to give it away).

NASA have more images. And there’s a Goddard Space Flight Centre Flickr account.

Point of Contact debuts next Monday

The first page of Point of Contact will be up next Monday. It’s already scheduled, and I’m currently working on pages 2 and 3. If all goes well I may get page 4 pencilled and possibly inked later today.

The comic’s already on a couple of webcomics lists. I don’t know whether it’s in the spirit, but you could always do your bit to push it up them ahead of page 1’s debut.

The Webcomic List

Current state of the Sounds of Soldiers cover

Sounds of Soldiers cover

I’m still not happy with it, and it’s missing blurb on the back and the title and author on the spine, but it’s getting there. I’ll still be unhappy with the version which goes to print, but I’m trying to adopt a policy of getting stuff done and released.

Yesterday I pencilled and inked two pages of Point of Contact. They’re not detail rich, and there’s a lot of shading to be done to them before they’re complete, but it’s better than spending days worrying about layout and stuff. Point of Contact will premiere here on March 1st with a page a week until I’ve got enough pages in hand that I can move it up to two a week.

Point of Contact page 1 rough pencils

Page 1 pencilled, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

I finally got off my arse (metaphoricaly, I had to sit down at the drawing board) and made a start on Point of Contact. This is the rough pencil of page 1. Don’t be too impressed by the anatomy, it’s all traced from print outs of Poser work. Next I have to tidy up the middle and bottom rows and add some background details, then ink it.

This was taken in low light using my phone, the panel borders aren’t really that distorted.

Roles and ranks in the British Army 1

From the armyjobs website, some information on the structure of the British Army and descriptions of the responsibilities of different ranks. I need to get these straight in my head before diving into Point of Contact. I think there will be a Lance Corporal Lee and Captain Ruaine who shall become important secondary characters as the story unfolds.

The White House in 3d

Part 2 of Point of Contact (I know, I haven’t even begun drawing part 1 yet, after Christmas, I promise) has a scene in the oval office. There’s a White House photostream on Flickr, which will be good for detail reference and images of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton to get a good likeness. Even better, there’s a section in the White House museum dedicated to 3d models of the building, key rooms and Air Force One and Marine One.

Space Family Moody

After putting out a call via Facebook and Twitter for volunteers I had a few people willing to give their family names to characters in Point of Contact (previously referred to as “The Space Comic”). Moody won the coveted position after four of the character names through being suggested first and twice (that’s a little unfair on everyone else as I think the Moodys are the only siblings in my friends list, but that’s the way it goes). Please bear in mind I thought of the forenames before putting the surnames out to tender.


Dan Moody. I’m never going to hear the end of this, am I? Dan is married to Alice and father of Sally and Martin. He starts the story with a broken leg, which is one of the factors that decides the roles everyone else plays. However, I may never explain how he broke his leg. I know what happened, but it may not need revealing.


Alice Moody- wife of Dan, mother of Sally and Martin. This is the design I’m least happy with. I’ll get better at drawing her as the series goes on.


Martin Moody. Martin becomes the leader of the quickly formed “away team” in the first issue. A geek, but also into stuff like parkour.


Sally Moody. It’s been all I can do not to make the whole story about Sally and have her making all the cool discoveries and inventions. Originlly she was going to be sixteen, but I’ve aged her to just turned eighteen because there’s this solier she really fancies.


Geri Webster. Martin’s girlfriend. Shares a fascination with blowing things up with Sally, which means they’ve bonded when none of Martin’s previous girlfriends got on with his sister.


George Savage. Martin’s best friend. Martin’s had a falling out with his parents and they don’t talk much any more, so he spends a lot of time woith the Moodys when not at university.

There are a load of support characters to be designed, but I have the core and I have the layouts for the first twenty two pages. I really, really should get started.

More concept sketches for the space comic

crew concept sketch

Here are a couple of ideas for crewmen of the spaceship which crash lands on Earth in my still unnamed “space comic”. The starfishy fellow strikes me as an engineer- all those hands that can work on multiple problems at once and an ability to orient itself in all manner of ways. Of course the ship would have to have bars hanging from the ceiling of the crew areas so it could get around, but that’s just what you have to do if you have one of these multi-dexterous creatures onboard. The caterpillar thingy with three arms and many eyes looks like a bit of a bruiser, possibly they’re security. That is supposed to be a gun- built for something with two opposing thumbs and two fingers- within easy reach of its left hand.

ship concept sketch 2

And this is meant to be the spaceship. It’s meant to be similar to those big container ships which cruise our oceans. There’s a pod at the front which houses the crew, controls and any special cargo (and which has a hold where our human characters will take up residence), lots of containers- each carrying something different- and big engines at the back. I’m going to use a cop-out to get around the questions of the long timescales involved in interstellar travel. There are a series of “ports” into a parallel dimension with different physical characteristics and ships simply cruise between them. If, for any reason, a ship should drop out of this dimension they’re doomed to travel in real space, potentially for millennia, at sub-light speeds to get to the nearest port. Or they can wait and hope someone will come along and build a temporary- or establish a new- port where they are.

Of course, there are territorial disputes in the High Spaces, and pirates roam them. They attack, plunder and commandeer craft and occasionally one is “sunk” back into normal space. Which is how the story begins.

The White House Flickr feed

The official White House flickr feed. Photo reference for the Space Comic. I’ll stick Obama, or someone who looks a lot like him, in the comic but not Brown. For one thing Obama is going to have more international recognition than the British Prime Minister. For another, it’s unlikely the scotsman will still be in office by the time I finish. If there’s an election whilst I’m drawing the comic there might be a “call me Dave” cameo.

Questions of format

Befoer I dive into doing art I really need to work out what size my final pages will be on the Space Comic. I’d really like to do something large format rather than US comic, because I see it as being more European in style and I plan to pitch it over there when it’s finished.

Lulu do A4 (8.264″ by 11.694″) as one of their size options. ComiXpress, a more comic oriented print-on-demand company does an 8″ by 10.5″ format and is working on a distribution network to comic shops now that Diamond has set its minimum orders cut off lower than most small comic companies can hope for.

If I want to get the comic printed in this country Fallen Angel Media prints comics, including in A4, but I’d have to order in bulk from them. This is an option if I can get enough pre-orders I guess.

A4 is the way to go, I reckon. So I’ll be drawing it at A3 (slightly less, probably, to allow for bleed at the page edge).

I already need a new scanner. Guess I need it to be a bigger one, too.

Plotting and scripting the space comic

I’m putting together the plot and script for the space comic, lining up the scenes I’ve already thought of and seeing what connections they suggest. I’m using software called ywriter. It’s quite good for breaking a story down into chapters and scenes. I don’t think I could use it for a whole project, but it was useful for initial scripting of some of the Venn scripts and collecting and ordering Sounds of Soldiers from the published scraps so I could complete the first draft.

Of course, my approach to putting the comic together is going to be more slapdash than the use of ywriter suggests. I’ll probably start doing layouts for the first few pages and character designs at the same time and the whole shape of the story will change a bit as I go along.

The other thing I’ve been considering is a title. The only ones I have at the moment revolve around Contact. Contact itself and First Contact have been used already. Point of Contact, or Contact Point are possible, but they don’t jump out at me. The project remains the Space Comic until I find a title I’m happy with.

Helmandblog photostream

DMOCCCT-2009-004-I-102, originally uploaded by Helmandblog.

I’m looking for photo reference for my next comic, part of which will take part in Afghanistan. Luckily the Army has its own Helmand blog, and that has its own photostream on Flickr. I think this should be good for making the kit and vehicles accurate.

Work in progress- some early design work for my next comic project

The front cover and page layout of Shall We Take A Trip? haven’t been completed yet, but I’ve decided what I want my next comic project to be. It doesn’t have a title yet, I’m just calling it my Space Comic. But it has a premise and a few key scenes.

After being attacked by pirates a space transporter, and most of its cargo, crash lands on Earth. The ship accidentally swallows a farmhouse before recovering and the crew recruits the humans in the house- father, mother, early twenties son, teenage daughter and two of the son’s friends- to help them recover the cargo and convince the world’s governments to work together before the pirates get turned around and come back to lay waste to the planet and steal whatever they can. The battle with the space pirates will be book one, with enough left open for possible future tales.

After doing an adults only comic this one’s intended for most ages. In film rating terms it should fall somewhere between a 12A and a 15- some violence, a little strong language and a bit of innuendo.

I did a few sketchy bits of very early design over the weekend. Final versions will probably be completely different to what’s below. (I’m selling some of the pages from my sketchbook as I go. If you’d like the navigator or the space ship below they’re £5.)


The spaceship’s navigator/pilot. I’m working on the idea of the ship being flown by what looks like a box of worms. When they’re in close contact the creatures that make up the intelligence communicate very quickly. Different coloured worms would have different functions and they’d rearrange themselves depending upon what they’re calculating.


An early space ship design. It’s pretty, but not really what I want.


The humans- the younger ones at least- get power suits. The alien technology adapts to suit each individual wearer and evolves over time based upon how they pilot it and what it’s used for. These feel a bit generic, I’ll come back to them when I’ve done some character design.

I’m going to try to document the creation of this comic from beginning to end. It’ll be like a “making of” book about it.