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.

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.


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.


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!