Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
These are two examples of the cover inks for a series of kids' books I'm illustrating. They were done in Manga Studio which has freed up my line and sped up my work rate. Comic drawing is not the best way to make a fortune, so it's necessary to find a way of turning out pages at a reasonable pace. I'm hoping this software will speed up my strip work allowing me to take on more strips.
Monday, 23 March 2009
Thursday, 19 March 2009
Roy scores in the European Cup Final!
Back in 1993 I landed the job as artist on the relaunch of British comic icon Roy of the Rovers. Fleetway had given Stuart Green, the editor and writer, a green light to reinvent the strip and he asked me to provide the artwork. Previously Stuart and I had worked together on the ill-fated Glory Glory for Tundra UK and after its demise both of us had been kicking our heels wondering what to do next.
Glory Glory was a fortnightly football anthology comic intended for the newstands. It combined gritty realism, surreal comedy and stylish football action. It was the brainchild of Stuart and Frank Plowright.
Stuart's plan was to bring the same sensibilities to Roy of the Rovers. His ideas were brilliant but ruthless. The original title had been cancelled in March 1993 and the story of Roy Race ended with Roy crashing his private helicopter, readers were left not knowing if he was alive or dead. In September of the same year our Monthly comic started up and Roy awoke from a coma to find that his comic strip world had gone and reality had moved in. The first shock was discovering that he had lost his famous left foot, amputated after the crash.
A very different iconic image of Roy Race, not your standard front cover image for a football comic. caused a bit of a stir with criticism from some disabled groups and a TV show even linking the image to a history of comics portraying people in wheel chairs as failures or evil vengeful monsters. We were simply trying to show Roy's true innate heroism in the way he overcomes the 'worst thing that could have happened'.
The second shock was to discover that the new Roy of the Rovers was 'Delroy' of the Rovers, a ragamuffin who plays for Nigeria.
Third shock was to discover that his son, Rocky, has turned into a cocky little brat (this shock happens to most parents of course). Rocky is also in the Melchester team now, but it turns out he's not exactly a chip off the old block. He doesn't seem to be anywhere near as good as his dad was, he's grumpy, opinionated, self centred and ends up in fights, walking out of the club and even taking ecstasy. A whole new meaning to Racey's rocket.
As you can see from these pages, which show Rocky wondering around Melchester Rec in solipsistic mode, the story telling is often concerned as much with a face in the a Melchester Rovers' crowd or 'off the field' affairs as it is with the action on the pitch (a relegation battle of course!).
Much of what we did was disregarded by later revamps of the strip. Stuart wanted to be able to write about the history of Roy, but it was so ridiculous it undermined the whole sense of realism he was aiming for (for example Roy had been playing in the top flight for 40 years!). Some retconning was required. Roy's career was split in two and the early years were attributed to Roy's father. So we had a Roy Race dynasty.
Amusing bit of retcon here - Thanks to Roy Race England qualify for the 1978 World Cup
Flashbacks were a regular storytelling device in the monthly and I relished switching between eras often using different materials to depict a different time. This oil pastel and pencil stuff was for the dark theaters inside the old man's head - the only place for replaying games from a time before TV.
'Grandad' Roy in action as remembered by the ol' fella in the park
I went a bit over the top with some of seventies flashback scenes. Hand painting seventies designs as panel borders with gouache was never a good idea. And there's some dodgy drawing going on here...
An early experiment with flashbacks from issue 1
Another twist was having Melchester Rovers playing real teams with real players (albeit with the names changed). Here's Rocky battling with Bryan Figgs (okay, I made that one up! You get the idea).
The strip also ran simultaneously in Shoot magazine as a two page spread every week (Shoot was selling 120,000 a week in those days, hard to believe now). I took on the drawing duties there and the monthly strip alternated between artists. After a couple of years Fleetway had had enough of our antics and pulled the plug.
I never had any intention or ambition to draw football comics, but I'm glad I did it. Prior to Glory Glory I had been producing the psychedelic small press comic SLANG* with Sean Longcroft. Essentially I went from doing this:
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Two more Huzzah pages done since I returned from holiday - this orange page was done whilst still suffering nausea from a stomach bug, which I think helped the look of the page. The idea was to do something tormented and over powering as the grief-stricken Hexen Definitive* realises her baby that she thought was dead is in fact alive and has been hidden from her all this time.
With all that emotion in mind I left the page looking rough as hell to give it that cry-your-heart-out look. Feeling nauseous helped me realise how such news would knock her world spinning into the void. I guess the spiral staircase is a classic surrealistic device for achieving a sense of vertigo and disorientation, and the fellow with crescent-shaped head also seems to belong in some surreal nightmare/nursery rhyme. I'd love to say that I planned all this, but the truth is I just spent a few feverish hours scrawling away in photoshop and ended up with the whole thing virtually finished.