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.

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.