KICKSTARTER ANNOUNCEMENT

TOMORROW, which in this timeless digital world accounts to 28/05/19, at 15:00 GMT the Funk Soul Samurai kickstarter will go live around the world. This campaign is not just to put to print the new issue of Funk Soul Samurai, but also to get a shiny new special edition put together that features parts 1 and 2 in a perfect bound A4 book. So let me tell you a little bit about why I think it’d be great for you to contribute some money to the project, and what it means to me.

Funk Soul Samurai 1 came out a few years back. I was putting it together at the same time as 50Signal 2, as an exercise in getting some stuff out of my system. 50Signal allows for some great stuff, but its character is basically a slovenly potato being, they don’t do much physically beyond walk around and fly a space ship. But part of me constantly wants to do the book where everyone does back flips, gets into wicked mad sword fights and stuff explodes. Funk Soul Samurai was born from my want to create something where exactly that happens. Nothing really explodes in issue 1 so I have made up for it in the second story.

The main character, the titular Samurai, is heavily based on the design ideals of Jet Set Radio Future, a game I played on the Xbox was a youngster that featured amazingly designed characters skating about future Tokyo resisting tyrannical police rule. I drew the character for the first time whilst very drunk watching Glastonbury on TV. I can’t find the drawing as its been lost to the annals of time, but I remember drawing this hoodie wearing guy with a huge nose (not unlike the space-guy from 50Signal’s) poking over the top of this stripy scarf, equipped with a sword and a wallet chain hanging loft his belt. It’s not a great drawing, but the idea of sealing down the pizazz and kinetic energy of Jet Set Radio into a comic book would be beautiful. When I needed something to doodle to keep my head from melting, I turned to a revamped version of this character and put him out there fighting mutants.

The title Funk Soul Samurai is a butchering of the song title Sweet Soul Brother from Jet Set Radio’s Soundtrack.

I made the comic up as I went along, and just worked out what should happen next on a moment by moment basis. I didn’t know there’d be a giant squid monster in it until the moment I needed it to turn up. I approach every page with an idea of my end goal, but how I get to that I formulate on the fly. It’s an antidote to the heavily scripted stuff I do elsewhere. Funk Soul Samurai’s new edition is no different. I wanted to respond to the criticism that FSS1 lacked plot, as its effectively one long fight sequence, by having FSS2 have more of a drive. A reason why the violence is taking place. So I knew exactly what should happen in FSS2 but I left it open to how its going to happen. Moments of inspiration just came to me as I went through, ideas pieced together over time rather than in the writing process, so I can do something like last minute decide to add a GIANT MISFIRING LASER into the mix and just draw it happening.

I am hesitant to call the latest issue Funk Soul Samurai 2 because its not really a sequel. I mean it is, because the prize milkshake from issue 1 turns up in issue 2, but if you’ve not read the original, you will still have everything you need to enjoy the new one. It’s just a simple tale of a Samurai with a skateboard freeing a town from the grip of a totalitarian military force.

With giant robots.

And a Giant Laser.

And a Fist fight in a jazz bar.

And a nuclear Air Strike.

And a Chainsaw fight.

I wanted to up the ante on this and really deliver an action spectacular. For the Kickstarter I made up names for the issues rather than number them, so issue 1 is FUNK SOUL SAMURAI: RAMPAGE OF THE UNCHAINED APPETITE, and issue 2 is FUNK SOUL SAMURAI: EMERGENCE OF THE CONTINUING PUNCH or something to that effect. I think that is right. If it isn’t Bash is going to slap me about. EMERGENCE OF THE CONTINUING PUNCH is a wild ride, and features art I am really proud of, and nunchaku.

Partial inspiration there from Ninja Gaiden, and also Brandon Graham’s King City.

For me, Funk Soul Samurai is a celebration of all the stuff I enjoy about animated violence and Saturday Morning cartoons. Things like SWAT CATS that I loved as a kid, but also things like (believe it or not) Blade of the Immortals. I described it to someone as John Wick if it was a Dreamcast game, because to me that’s what it is, and the fact that people dig this strangely drawn, rough and ready bout of self expression is endlessly encouraging to me. It’s a hard sell to tell a weird story in a weird way, and people backing are taking a risk on me to deliver something mental.

Someone once told me that in my comics work I want to be both in front of and behind the waterfall, and if I try that I’ll just stay under it getting crushed; as in I want to both be a Grant Morrison style thought provoking philosophy wizard, and also a cartoonish nut bag, and trying to be both things will lead to my destruction. To that I say:

Diogenes once said “there is only a fingers difference between a wiseman and a fool”

*fart noise*

*Slide Whistle*

So, the kickstarter will carry some prints from great artists whom we will reveal in time. There will be commissions from myself, and stickers. But to me the big draw in the comic itself, which will be either a 32 page A5 booklet, or a 52 page A4 special edition. The Special edition is my hot tip for you. It allows the artwork to be show at a larger size which gives it room to be absorbed, but also, has a special cover yet to be revealed.

At the end of the day this project rests on your pledge, and without it it doesn’t exist. Simple as that, if we don’t hit the goal this never happens. So please, I beseech you, pledge something, anything to this labour of love. Let me show you what I can do, and for your money you’ll get a cool thing and I’ll get to make more of this crazy stuff. The more we get in our first few hours, the more attention we will get, and the more people will see the project, and hopefully it will snowball into something huge and amazing, and have stretch goals and stuff.

If I get enough money I’ll try and make it a hardback book.

The Wheel That Steers Us

I regret nothing.

So King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have released another album. It’s April and they’ve only released one album? COWARDS! In 2017 they managed to release 5 albums all in. After taking a break in 2018 they’ve released their fourteenth album in 7 years which is absurd. In a world where artists release an album once every 2 to 3 years, they’re really putting everyone else to shame.

I can’t help but put this in terms of comics, probably because I think of all things in terms of comics and art. The grand plan, 52 issue epic series that shows off how much Borges you’ve read, quite often is the dominating idea. Especially in indie comics people will work on one idea for huge amounts of time ensuring that the grand scheme comes to fruition. There’s a lot to the said for just making stuff too. For just firing out an idea, for rubbing a few brain cells together and conjuring something quickly out of the blue. That huge project isn’t going anywhere.

Make a jazz album. You owe it to yourself.

At time of writing I am laying in bed, and I feel like I should be working. It’s 11.56am and I would be unconcious if it wasnt for a sleep assassin sent from the Gas company who arrived to fix the boiler. Inevitably he took one look at the boiler, announced a part was required to fix it, and he would need to come back another day to work his mechanical necromancy.

The reason for my slovenly behaviour?

Avengers: Endgame. I went to one of TEN midnight screenings of the latest mumblecore indie film from the minds of the Russo brothers. TEN MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS, Of which SIX were double bills. In one cinema. Madness. I had never done a Nerdy double bill before, and only one drunken midnight screening of the Room a million years back, and being an old man who likes to be in bed by 10.30pm I thought I wasn’t going to make it. But I was on the edge of my seat for the duration. A tour de force. A sombre contemplative movie about loss, that also happened to be the most fun I have had at the cinema in a long time. I smiled so much my face hurt, I laughed as much as I was on the brink of tears. Chief Engineer Bash wept so much towards the end that I got prune fingers on the supportive hand I had out on her shoulder.

It was brilliant.

I have tried to embed a GIF, so I hope that its worked. If it hasn’t then we are doomed. All doomed.

This is my second attempt at animation through the updated Procreate App. The last update got rid of the layer limit which really used to bug me, and allowed layers to be exported as gifs. Animation has been something that has eluded me for years. I remember the early days of NewGrounds or YouTube and thinking: I wish I had done that. Well now I have sucked. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

One day I will get the time to do a full episode of a Funk Soul Samurai Cartoon, or like an animated introduction for a fake Saturday Morning TV Show. Man, I have so little time, and so many ideas.

This was my first attempt at animation:

I am a big fan of nudity.

All in, this week has been one of lots of nothing in particular and very little to talk about. However, in the coming week I’m running three D&D games, hosting a session of the Creative Writing Society I lead, and having a few meetings about future events and things that I can’t talk about but are very exciting.

So I will leave it there for now.

Good night.

Even my Metaphors are Suspicious

So here’s a fun thing:


I found a website that extracts your most listened to songs from Spotify, and, as far as I can tell, the “Long Term” option means most listened to since you got Spotify. Its more likely that it means Spotify in it’s current form, because I’ve had it since it was in Beta and Spotify Premium meant that you could listen to the Tron: Legacy Soundtrack. Paper Planes by M.I.A. was very big back then.

I promise this is not going to be an “old man on the internet” post.

Any-who, if you wanted a proper look at a list of music I listen to, without my trying to impress you or stun you with something that you probably wouldn’t have heard of, well its up there.

The only acceptable violence against pigs

Its been a long long time since I wrote one of these. At least it feels like it. Remember the vampire-Keanu-Reeves-exploding-bus-2019-analogy that I did last time. Its only feeling more and more on the nose. Since I wrote my last blog post I completed my Wah-Wah Records zine, attended MCM Birmingham and Swansea Comic and Gaming Con, and have almost completed the inks for Funk Soul Samurai 2. The Wah-Wah zine was something I proposed to Alan Nutton, who runs the store, because he wanted to do something special for the 5th Birthday. Working on a project for someone who is passionate about what they do is infectious. I was proud of the end result, and the 100 copies are all gone now. Its the quickest I have ever had anything sell out. In 48 hours they were all gone. People kept posting pictures of theirs next to their record collections on Alan’s Facebook so I might have to harvest some and make a gallery.

The DREAM TEAM

Comic Cons are strange things. You can go to a 100 different ones, and they will all be different. Birmingham was very quiet considering the huge number of people who were attending. The Comic Village was tucked off in a corner and it was so light on the ground there were a few quiet hours where I wished I brought a book. I met a few people that were very passionate about comics, and I am thankful to everyone who stopped by and said “Hi”. I did manage to make a Funk Soul Samurai fan of Geof Darrow, who has been a hero of mine since I read Hard Boiled at TOO YOUNG TO READ THAT THING. He gave me a pull quote for issue 2, and is excited to get his copy in the mail.

Swansea on the other hand did not have the millions of fans queuing for years to get in, but it did have an endless volume of people who were really into comics. Everyone who stopped by was engaged and proud to be a massive geek, and it was one of the best conventions I have ever been to. If every comic con could have the same sort of focus and atmosphere as Swansea Comic and Gaming Con then the industry would be a much better place.

I am sad to say that at time of writing I am unlikely to be attending Thought Bubble 2019. Whilst I was very excited to be a part of it at its new home in Harrogate, I didn’t make it through the curation process and am on a wait list for a table. Considering the volume of people who applied and the sheer volume of amazing talent in the British comic community, I’m probably going to be absent this year.

When you are rejected from something, or get that email telling you that the writer has gone with another artist, or that you’re screenplay for Sharknado 12: Shark Pope has not been optioned by Syfy, its hard not to take it personally. I have to say that getting the news that I’m not going to be a part of my favorite convention hit me pretty hard. I questioned whether I was any good at comics, because I processed it as a judgement of me as an individual, as a creator. Which of course it isn’t. I know my output hasn’t been that huge recently, and I haven’t put out a new title in an age. I have plans for them, but a plan is just a plan until you make it. The advice I have is to fail upwards. To use rejection as a springboard for further success. I didn’t get in this year, however I am going to give it my all to make sure that I will do next year. I’m going to keep on making stuff as best I can because that is what I do.

The best punch

With that in mind, I am 5 pages away from finishing Funk Soul Samurai’s inks, if it doesn’t need anything additional. Writing Funk Soul Samurai is very different to traditional scripting, as I have an idea for what it is that needs to happen, and then I make it up as I draw it. The layouts and the action sequences happen as they need to in the environment that the story unfolds in. For example, in one scene the Samurai is surrounded by blokes who want to kill them. Originally I thought they would be armed with guns, and the Samurai would use the giant ray-gun I’ve been teasing since page 5 to obliterate them. But I had no idea how they would use the ray-gun. So the guns because electric staff thingies, and then a Rube Goldberg plot device came into play and everything is exploding. I make it up as I go along so I can keep it expressive. For example, here is a page of my thumb nails that is the closest I will ever get to a script:


I will go through a page or two at a time and work out the movement of it, where the panels go, where the sound effects sit and what needs to happen to facilitate the next big fight scene, and then I will go panel to panel and draw it in more detail, and then ink it. Then it gets scanned in, uploaded to the iPad, and finally coloured in. There will be more blog posts about it in the future, as we are going to Kickstart this baby in the coming weeks.

That’s me for now. MCM London is in a few weeks, but I’m going to be playing it cool for the majority of May before the ONSLAUGHT BEGINS. Check out my Events page for details.

When did M.O.D.O.K. Get legs?

Picture the scene: it’s Thursday night and I am ultra aware I haven’t posted anything on Instagram for a while. I take my iPad to bed and decide to do a little sketching. As I had just finished reading Secret Avengers and M.O.D.O.K. is a key player in that series, and I had just been informed by Sasha (my girlfriend, agent, manager, and friend who keeps her finger on the social media pulse) that March is March of the M.O.D.O.K.s I thought I would provide my version of this character. This is what I drew:

Now between you and me, I don’t like that very much. I planned on never showing that to anyone and calling it a day on M.O.D.O.K. drawings. It felt flat and joyless, a version of someone else’s drawing that I’ve repeated. It’s a kind of suck-through-your-teeth-and-say-I-can-see-what-you-were-trying-to-do drawing. I contemplated deleting it.

That’s a problem right there. I used to keep a sketchbook; almost solidly for six years I have had a black A5 sketchbook that I would draw in wherever I went. Buying the iPad has changed that as I have a tendency to crack open Procreate in my spare hours and draw straight into it. This means that if I don’t like something I’ll erase it, and that means that all the imperfect stuff goes missing and I don’t have stuff stored to learn from. A crap drawing has as much to teach you as one you’re really proud of.

On Friday evening I went to a talk by Kristyna Baczynski as part of the Leeds Girl Gang’s celebration of International Women’s Day. As part of her talk she said something that really struck me that I will now impart to you. When asked about producing content for Instagram she talked about how she thought that Instagram is on its way out, and that if you produce content specifically for it, then you’re not going to get paid and chances are the vile algorithmic demon will keep you from ever expanding your market. I realised that picture I had made was exactly that, art to feed into Instagram that would get maybe 50 likes and then blend itself into the soup of my feed. Some rap artist from Belarus would comment the splash emoji a few times in a year or so and I’d remember that I’d drawn it, and then that’d be that.

In the margin of my notes I sketched this out:

Inspired by Kristyna’s approach I decided to get back to it and I screen grabbed the thumbnail and stuck it in Procreate. I like the dynamism of the scene and M.O.D.O.K. has always been one of those characters that really appealed to me. It’s the audacity of the characters design, the fact he is a GIGANTIC FLOATING HEAD who is designed specifically to murder people. The original Kirby drawing has that heavy eyebrow and machine chair and its truly the sort of thing that can only exist in comics. It’s the bread and butter of 2000A.D. which is what I grew up on, so things like M.O.D.O.K. were the bridge between UK and US comics for me. Interest renewed I went full bore into the pencils.

Sasha asked me why pencils are done in blue. I know that in the past it was so that pencils could be removed from the blacks of the inks more easily, or at least that’s the tale that I’ve always been spun. I suppose that its partly a hang over from that, but also because that’s a colour that rarely gets an outing so its easy to spot on the final image. You can see where you’ve missed a spot. Here is an action shot of my blasting out the inks:

The photos of the process were made after finishing the image so some of the lines have been erased and replaced but you get the general idea.

I experimented early on with some tone on the inks, because there’s something about the depth of the blue pencil lines behind the inks that I often fear will be lost in the final image. But then I reconsidered and decided that I need to be more bold with my final colours and that’s how I should add depth. I learnt quite a lot treading out of my comfort zone with the Placeramblers poster I did last month and I wanted to apply that to something I was more confident with. Digital art can provide you with so many cool things to play around with like textures and brushes, so I took this as an opportunity to marry the two things together.

If anyone from Marvel wants to option my script for M.O.D.O.K.: Agent of Shield, contact my press office.

I am extremely proud of the end result. I think that its a really solid image and I’m glad I stuck with it. I now have an image too that I can share on Instagram. The moral of the story is if you make the artwork because you want to make the artwork, then you’ll both have a product you can be proud of, and also something to pop around the social media as well. Drawing a thing to share with your followers is all well and good, but if you’re doing that for the viewer and not for yourself, it becomes a task, a job to do, and it loses its energy.

At least that’s what I got out of it anyway.

Stay tuned for news on coming convention appearances and new products in the shop very soon. But for now, thanks for reading.

And apparently he got legs in an issue of the Incredible Hulk when the writers decided to bring him back as a scary character again rather than a comedy foil. Instead I’m all: Get you a M.O.D.O.K. who can do both.

New Blog, Who Dis?

Its 2019, and despite the fact that this year has been eight decades long it seems to be travelling at a thousand miles an hour.

Also its on fire.

I anticipate that when 2019 gets turned into a movie that vampiric Keanu Reeves will be playing the cop attempting to wrest the steering wheel of the year out of the maniac hands of Willem Dafoe who will still be wearing those false teeth he had installed in Wild at Heart.

Hows it going? I’ve missed you.

So here’s the deal…

The above image is the cover to a comic I am making for my local record store Wah-Wah Records. They’re celebrating 5 years of being, I believe, the best record store that the fine city of Wakefield has had in its existence. By the way, when I say ‘fine city of Wakefield’ its not fine like a wine and more fine like “Huh, okay whatever”.

The cover is an obvious riff on Doctor Octagonecologyst, to give it its full name, last year’s record by Kool Keith, which happens to be one of Alan’s favourite albums. Alan is the severed head featured above at the steady hand at the tiller of Wah-Wah, and the man who gets me my Thee Oh Sees albums.

At the moment I am in the process of clearing the deck. I am finishing all of the jobs I agreed to do last year before assessing what needs to come next, and working on that. I have been in the past easily distracted and I certainly feel that its been the cause of a few delays. I mean, its been four years since Funk Soul Samurai 1 came out. That’s a long time. It’s my New Year’s Resolution to get shit done. Lets stop talking about what we are going to do and simply do it.

To that end, a month ago I moved into a studio in Leeds and started working out my year. I can’t take the whole credit as the majority of this planning is being done by my partner in crime Bash, whose name you will see all over this blog. Already I can feel its going to be a big year. So far I’m going to be appearing at MCM Birmingham, Swansea Comic & Gaming con, and Glasgow Comic con, with my sights on a few others. I’m feeling tired already. Where is Keanu when you need him?

Did you know Keanu is Hawaiian for “bad ass parkour vampire”? Google it.

Here’s a thing

Did you know I appear on a podcast?

Myself and my friend Christopher R Moore, of The Awful Truth fame, (whose latest EP features a still from one of my more experimental video projects) intermittently record Skype conversations that he edits and sticks on YouTube because we like to think we are entertaining. The reason I bring this up is that I started our Look Back on Ye Mighty 2018 and Despair! episode by talking about how much buying an iPad Pro changed my art life. Its genuinely improved the way I do things, and this ghost mermaid is one of the first things I drew in Procreate. I did a series of them, calling them Spirit Warriors for the purpose of Instagram and they will be appearing on my store to purchase really shortly. So if you’re into that, check it out.

That sheen is ridiculous.

If you follow me on Instagram you can see time-lapse videos and things of the development process.

Wunderbar.

Image result for ales kot secret avengers

I will finish shortly I promise, but I want to talk a little bit about Ales Kot and Michael Walsh’s run on Secret Avengers. I’m a big fan of Ales’ work having got into his four issue mini-series The Surface back when I used to walk into comic shops and just buy stuff. Those days are over by the way, as I have such little time to read stuff, comics just sit in piles, neglected, like white goods by the side of the road. Anyway, The Surface was the right type of meta-comics magic, and it made me seek out Zero which was the right type of super-spy wonderment, and Secret Avengers had been on my radar for a while.

I’ve always liked the idea of the Secret Avengers. Not everything can be super public punching all of the time, and it makes sense that spy masters like Nick Fury and Maria Hill will be spinning so many super powered plates behind the scenes to keep the world going. A glimpse behind that particular curtain is a treat.

Kot is skeptical of the intelligence community, that you can tell from his work, and seeing him lay out his suspicions in the format of a super hero team up is a delight. The deals made, the lives traded, the things done both great and terrible to save the world. The best thing about the series though is the way he writes M.O.D.O.K., who is in my head a ridiculous villain who one cannot take seriously. I mean his name means “Mechanical Organism Designed Only (for) Killing” which is both inaccurate grammatically and absurd. So having him be acting on the side of the “good guys” makes an interesting parallel between the actions of heroes and villains. Rather than the film version of the Avengers who spend their time fighting killer robots, and then wearily looking at their hands wondering “Who asked us to do this?”, the Secret Avengers asks: If two people use the same methods for the same end, but one is for the state and the other is for personal gain, why is one person right, and the other wrong.

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Also LOOK AT THAT LAYOUT. It makes me want to do some trippy spy stuff, or some trippy sci-fi stuff. Or just something trippy and world-buildy and… NURSE BRING ME MY SEDATIVE… THE IDEAS ARE BACK!

Cards – Not A Magic the Gathering Parody (it totally is…)

Picture the scene: Nick Gonzo and Bash are walking through Leeds discussing an amusing Reddit post about the Planeswalkers in the Magic the Gathering card game. Nick is wearing his Studio Gribley 1000% Official Shirt (check out James Downing’s Insta here). Bash is wearing, well, it really doesn’t matter. The point is these two seemingly unrelated details smushed together like the two circles of a Venn diagram, where the overlap is the inspiration for “Placeramblers”.

Debuting at the “If not now, then when?” art show, Cards: A Collection will feature your future favourite bad-asses, including Ajingly (a cat), Hulaty (dino pal), and Lillian (skeleton mum).

Cards A Collection Magic the Gathering parody font

The title font was created entirely by hand, including the texture, lovingly mimicking the Magic the Gathering font. The cartoony design of each persona is atypical of the Gonzo style. It is soft, and whimsical, absent of Nick’s trademark black lines. The sense of humour is very typical of the Gonzo style.

Two versions of the full poster are available, one with the dark AF red and black background, and one with a crisp eggshell background. Both will be available to purchase at Geek Retreat Leeds from Sunday, and in the online shop after the showcase from Sunday evening.

If you can’t wait until Sunday, keep scrolling for a PLACERAMBLER PREVIEW

PLACERAMBLER PREVIEW

If not now, then when?

If ever we needed proof that time is Jeremy Bearimy, it can be found in the fact it is already the 13th February, 2019, now Thee Nick Gonzo art show announcement day to you, dear reader.

In conjunction with Geek Retreat Leeds, Gonzo Industrial is proud to present “If not now, then when?”, a showcase of sketches, paintings, comic books, and digital art created by our eponymous leader, spanning the last 7 years.

Featuring art from comics including 50Signal, Funk Soul Samurai, Pictures of Spiderman, The Wolf, and Octo-Cop, and prints including original characters and celebrities such as Godzilla, Rick & Morty, and Kylo Ren, the range of art on display will delight you, surprise you, gross you out, and occasionally make you question the lucidity of the artist.

Launching on Sunday, 24th February, Gonzo Industrial can be found in the Board Room at the Geek Retreat Leeds, ALL THE DAMN DAY, with prints, comics and stickers for you to buy, and £10 Procreate sketches for you to request – the only limit is your imagination. There’ll even be cosmonaut cake (it’s regular cake, the ‘cosmonaut’ is to keep it on theme).

So come say hi! We don’t have space sickness.

Well, Bash doesn’t…