Saturday, 29 May 2010


Once upon a time publishers sent us illustrators copies of the books we had worked on as a matter of duty, these days the complimentary copies are less forthcoming. This may well be down to publishers being understaffed and overworked rather than some conspiracy, of course. Luckily I have Wendy Dye of the Art Agency to hunt down the books I've worked on, and this morning something I did four years ago finally arrived in book form. Well done Wendy!

Before I get to that here's some other books that have turned up. The Merlin books I've blogged about a few times here are pictured above and below. The designer did a nice thing for the chapter headings, chopping my illustrations. Below you can see the scattered mix of text, comic strip and straight illustration that I was playing with. It's a shame this series got cancelled (due to some supermarket deal rather than the reception to the books I'm told) as I would have liked to continue the experiment.

Another set of books I blogged about turned up recently as well. This is a series of 'junior spy adventures' called The MI Five. This was my first experiment with manga Studio, I tried to use the tight deadline and new tools to give a real 'drive-by-illustration' speed and frantic feel, working without pencils and drawing free hand over thumbnails. In fact the second image here with the bashful boy and girl was my first ever attempt at using Manga studio.

And below is the book that turned up this morning. At the time I did it I had no work and was prepared to turn my hand to anything. Despite the terror that blazed in my head when I was offered a 3-D pop-up, natural history book to be done 'realistically' in water colour, I still said yes.

Each spread required four A3 watercolour paintings with areas that could be removed to reveal the image beneath. I had to work with a paper engineer who had some kind of masterplan I was only partially aware of. I'm not someone who paints with watercolour, so it's fair to say I felt totally out of my depth on this project.

My daughter loves this book now it has arrived, so I'll give it to her. Makes it all worth while.

Friday, 28 May 2010

The Third Policeman

Wish I could put up the cover design I'm working on right now, but I can't. Hopefully I'll be able to reveal all in the next week or two. In the meantime here's something I did under the influence of red wine and sunshine in an attic in Salisbury in 1997. It was intended as a cover illustration for Flann O'Brien's the Third Policeman. I was reminded of the book the other day when watching the finale of that, almost distracting, BBC thing, Ashes to Ashes; both had a similar ending/reveal. Strangely enough, the approach I took for this illustration, sort of Picasso-esque, is representative of the story inside.

I'll try and put up something new next time.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Solipsistic, Norris, adaptions and the FA

This is one of those 'here's what I've been up to' posts. The top image is from the-thing-I-can't-talk-about-yet, not until it goes tits up or gets the final thumbs up from the publisher. The plan with this book is to scan the pencils and shift the levels rather than ink it. I know some people do this very effectively, so if any one has any tips I'm all ears.

I've also just finished a series of strips for the FA. I know I said I'd never draw another football strip after 6 years of doing football comics, but I needed the money and they asked nicely.

I completed the Lovecraft adaption I was writing and the script is winging it's way to the artist.
And this is my bread and butter these days - a weekly cartoon for Inside Soap magazine. This one is from a couple of weeks back and shows a switch to something a bit more design-y and atmospheric.

Next up I have four Horrible Histories covers and a comic strip about the TT, then I start work on a rather wonderful Doctor Who story by Jonny Morris I've just received which will appear in the Christmas edition of Doctor Who Monthly. After that I will be contributing a strip to Solipsistic Pop 3.

Solipsistic Pop 2 is available here. It's a beautifully produced book that smells wonderful and has a gorgeous cover by the very talented Luke Pearson. The whole thing is put together by another talented comic creator Tom Humberstone. The stories are intimate, funny and peculiar. The book introduced me to a number of talents I was shamefully unaware of like Stephen Collins, Kristyna Baczynski, Anna Saunders and Jack Noel plus others I'd heard of but hadn't read like Adam Cadwell and Marc Ellerby.
Contender for my favourite comic ever is Eightball by Dan Clowes and this collection reminded me of the joy there was to be found in Eightball.
Jumble Sales are Holy and Sweet Mystery were probably my favourite stories in Solipsistic Pop 2 - one features Freddie Mercury and his wolves and the other has people weeing on sweets - that's my kind of read.

Monday, 10 May 2010


Did this drawing of my brilliant Mum today. It's based on a photo of her when she was 17. A giant version of the photo used to sit in the window of Hartley's Photographers on Poole High Street in 1963, much to my Mum's embarrassment. From Hartley's the Photographers to Dinlos the blog, hopefully she won't be embarrassed by this version.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Captain America

Something I fiddled with between jobs today. This is Captain America as seen in the early TV series rather than the Marvel comics version. I'm no expert on the superhero genre, and I doubt anyone will ever offer to let me draw a superhero story given that this is how I choose to see them.
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