Friday, 4 December 2009

The downside of blogging

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying this blogging lark. It's helped me to focus on my creative goal, and I've produced so much more work this way, over the last few months. I'm driven on by the need to fuel the thing, I'm stimulated by the jolly feedback and the knowledge that there are - let's see - one, two, three, four folks now officially "following" me and the development of BLIP. Four folks, taking at least a passing interest in my comic book endeavours. Okay, so that's a teeny-tiny figure in the Great Wide Web of Things. But for me, personally, it's a source of great encouragement. It gives me something to reach for, when the creative candle burns low and the Ghosts of Self-doubt come a-knock-knocking once more...

But there is an iddy-biddy downside here. You see, a blog needs content. And there are times, like now, when you just don't have much to offer up. Or rather, you've got stuff , but when it's taken out of context it just becomes another meaningless image file, squatting in cyberspace. BLIP is particularly tricky, in this regard, because of its structure. Most pages are single-panel and if you've stopped by this blog before, you'll already have noticed how many lose their significance, when you present them individually. With luck, next time, I'll have a run of pages to show off. But for now - ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls - may I present my latest undertaking... three shapes... er... moving past another shape...


Thursday, 19 November 2009

Cosmic Jellyfish


In case you hadn't realised, BLIP is just... out there... somewhere in the cartoon galaxy. And this first encounter has been freeformed, rather than planned. I wanted to release myself from my usual regime, and let things develop in their own way. See, I have a rotten habit of over-analysing my work. I'll hone and hone and hone a project until, if I'm not careful, I've lost the creative spark that got me so excited about it in the first place and I'll drop the thing cold. As a consequence, I'm quite ridiculously guilty of never finishing things. Seriously. You should see my attic, stuffed to the rafters with projects started but ne'er to be finished. So here I've changed tack. I've thought about the basics and sketched out the slimmest of thumbnails. But for the most part, I've let my mind wander down whatever path it chooses, towards some sort of intergalactic conclusion that makes sense to me, at least. The aim being to just get drawing, pronto, and to GET SOMETHING FINISHED. In capitals, just like that. And I've adopted a handy motto/mantra, which I've printed out and stuck to the sloping ceiling above my desk:

Get it done.
Get it done.
Get it done.

Even so, at the end of last week, that ol' chisel of mine was out once more, chip-chip-chipping away at the conceit of my story. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't work. I could do this. I could do that. Oh, I was honing away alright, and I came perilously close to blinding my creative process again. I was all for tossing the thing aside and starting something new and exciting instead. But this time, I forced myself to keep on drawing, and what do you know, eventually, that funk began to clear. Come Tuesday I could see again. And lo and behold, it was obvious I was still on the right track, and had been all along.

Curse you, you artistic fog, you!

Mind you, you can surely forgive my uncertainty. I mean, this first BLIP strip already features swathes of signal-munching Space Lice. And now, well, I've only gone and thrown a jellyfish into the mix. Yes, indeed. A Great Cosmic Jellyfish. I told you this was a freeformed adventure...

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Wee Beasties

So there's me, with my head in the stars, speculating on the interstellar exploits of a wee alien, when all the time I should have been looking closer to home for my inspiration. You see, we've got our very own little visitor, right here in our back garden. Whoever or whatever it is, has taken up residence in our olde wall. I say "olde" because it's Grade C listed, along with our house, so whoever it is, they have good taste. And they like rose hips. A lot.


That's quite a spoil heap. Our two Springers are drawn straight to it, whenever we open the back door - sniff, sniff, sniff - and that rose hip in the hole confirms there's an internal residence.

I'm guessing it's your common woodmouse, and I'm also guessing that he/she has brought a few familial companions with them, which means our own home is about to be over-run with the little blighters once more (It comes with territory, I'm afraid). But I'd love to know exactly who or what it is, and have taken to leaping out in to the dark each night, with my trusty flashlight ready to blind the culprit(s), mid-nibble. But all to no avail, thus far.

Actually, this visitation is quite timely, as I've now entered the final third of my first BLIP book, and my thoughts are turning towards the next adventure. There's going to be a lot more flora and fauna on show in that one, and juxtapositioning of size and scale... but I'll save the detail for another day...

Meanwhile, there's our own little visitor to ponder once more. And sniff.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Decompression

I'm no comic book fool. Before I began this Not-Particularly-Great Endeavour of mine I sketched my li'l story out in thumbnails, checking the flow of things, seeing what worked. But you know, in my head, I'm always editing. How can I streamline this? How can I take my adventure from Point A to B in the most efficient way? I'm all-too aware of that dreaded comics term "decompression" and it's burning bright, at the back of my mind, with every page I create.

For the uninitiated, "decompression" is a term applied to modern comics storytelling. Google it and you'll find lots of folks talking about it. It's all to do with the way today's comic artists tell their stories, st-r-e-t-ching out action via single panel pages and telling their tales via repeat panels with sparse dialogue, so that a 24-page modern comic can be read in a heartbeat, and all that it entails for publishers, blah-blah-blah.

Um. Kind of like I'm doing here.

Look, I'm so aware of what I'm doing it's almost painful. But in my case, this is my own comic experiment to create as I please. And if I want to stretch a wafer-thin encounter out over 48 pages, then I'll do just that, and you can't stop me. So there.

But, but, but the point of this blog post is that, even here, in this laid-back, self-created comic environment, I'm always thinking about the pacing of my tale, and how best to present it. And although those initial thumbnail sketches I made are essential, I'm still editing, even as I finish each page, so to help me I've taken to creating rather jolly finished thumbnail pages. I reduce 24 of my completed pages on to a single A4 page, so's I can look at them in sequence, checking the flow of the story and just as importantly, the mix of the colour scheme, all on one sheet. And it's been darned handy this week, because I've now looked at the finished article(s) and I've been able to edit out two whole pages of action and tone down a big shouty example of colour overload. I was on page 34. Now I'm on page 32. But my spacey tale flows a whole lot better, now I've condensed the action, and it looks better too, now that I've recoloured a panel. So there you go. It begins with thumbnails, and it ends with them too!...

Friday, 16 October 2009

Layers of difficulty

So far, I've been colouring BLIP using Photoshop layers. And there have been no problems . Drop each colour on a new layer, combine, and voila. I know there are quicker methods. I just like working this way. But when you up the ante, it can't half cause problems. Take a look at page 25:


I've got a number of pages like this. Dropping all of those colours on to different layers has proved tricky for this beginner, and once or twice, as I've shifted between layers I've found myself adding touches of the wrong colour to the wrong layer, and - the biggest sin - dropping colour on to my top layer, which floods the black line copy. I'm working at 400%, a lot of the time, and it's very easy to miss this kind of thing and realise too late that you've just saved your file in this flooded state. I did that twice on this page. I'm guessing it just takes practice, and it's all part of that big creative Learning Curve!...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

New readers start here

Now that I've shown my hand at Toonhound, it seems a few new readers have hopped over to this blog to read up about my cartoon endeavours. So it probably makes sense to go back, right back, to the beginning and explain a bit more about what I'm up to with this BLIP project, and the thinking behind it.


I've set myself a task to create a 48-page Small Press comic, by the end of the year. Now, in the past, I've had the most dreadful habit of abandoning projects halfway through. Seriously, I've got umpteen unfinished creations scattered around my attic workplace. So BLIP is one final attempt to get me focused upon my prize. And to that end, I've set myself some stringant guidelines. I'm sticking to single-panel pages, with intermittant three-panelers. There's no dialogue, and currently, no fx sounds. And it's all being drawn in clean black and white, without shading, and scanned and coloured on Photoshop. That's because I find it all too easy to lose myself in a crosshatching haze. I can spend way-y-y-y too long on a page, if I'm not careful, scratching in background detail, and forever altering dialogue. So no shading, no dialogue or superfluous rubbish. I just want to be able to move page to page, quick as I can. That way, I can pick it up on a whim, inbetween the demands of Toonhound, the house, the dogs, and my always-forgiving wife. And there can be no excuses for not reaching my goal. Except that I've not used Photoshop like this before. Not for colour comics work. So that's another box I'm ticking as I go.

It helps that BLIP is a ridiculously simple concept, that fits the bill so precisely. Seriously, I'm jazzed about this one. It's all come together so neatly: What if there was an endless signal passing through the depths of space? And what if a little alien in a little bubble ship latched on to this signal? Where has the signal come from? What does it mean? And why has our little alien buddy latched on to it with such determination...?

I think you'll agree the possibilities here are endless. I know the answers, but I'm not telling, at least for a while. In the mean time, you'll just have to dig out the clues buried in the various cosmic encounters. And yes, I said "various" because I already have four 48-page adventures planned out, with far too many more swirling around in the creative ether. But I'm not jumping the gun. I've got to get this first Tall Tale out of the way. It's already October and I've only just reached the 30th page....

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Pages & Buses

So here I am, struggling to work around conflicts of THE ZONE (see my previous post) and fighting a growing desire to just sweep my pad and pens and everything else associated with my current creation on the floor and give the thing up altogether, because I just can't clear my head of that all-pervading daily clutter, when all of a sudden, a page rush is upon me. Productivity comes at me like a blurr and before I know it, I've done three whole pages in one day. That's three pages drawn and inked and scanned, ready for colouring.

Wow.

It's like buses, isn't it? A trio of the darned things have trundled up to my attic bus stop, all in a row, after a barren week in which I've scoured the timetable fruitlessly. And today I'm already riding two more pages, all the way to Adobeville - Ding! Ding! - Goodness, the sense of release is almost tangible. And it's come just at the right time, when I was beginning to think my Magnum Opus was perhaps in danger of becoming a Magnum Hopeless. There's still a way to go, of course, but I'm approaching Page 30, and that's a pyschological barrier I've been eager to hurdle. This first BLIP book is a 48-page encounter, so - do the maths, folks - I'm beyond the half-way point now, and beginning to ease towards my second act conclusion and finale.

Of course, I really shouldn't get too excited. I've some big plans for said finale and they'll be mighty tricky to pull off (unlike that ridiculously simple page below). I'm sure there'll be a queue of pages stalling or breaking down completely on the roadside, as I progress. But this weekend has been a good weekend. The Conductor has ruffled my hair and waived my ticket!...

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

THE ZONE

With its (mostly) single panel pages, you can hardly call BLIP a complex comic project, but when you're juggling your creation around your endeavours at Toonhound, a busy home life and three nights of exhausting shift work a week to ensure the mortgage gets paid - well - that's when you find out just what a labour-intensive process this comic making mularky can be.

It doesn't help that I'm not that good at drawing. Sure, I can knock off a quick cartoon, but my technical skills and my ability to draw properly, they can be a bit lacking. And I'm hindered somewhat by having a slightly squiffy left eye that can drag my creations a little askew, at times. That's not to say I'm some dribbling one-eyed pirate. It's just a slight astigmatism that I have to work around. And if you add that to the above, you can see why, more and more, I find I have to be in THE ZONE before I can begin drawing. But finding THE ZONE can be a nightmare, at times, and it can be sent scurrying in to the shadows by the slightest of things: an ill-timed phone call, the dogs wanting out, my turn to cook, etc. Take young Stan here (below). Who can resist a face like his?


If you throw in my near-constant tiredness from all that shift work, you can begin to understand there are weeks when THE ZONE has fled the house altogether and vanished up the street. And it all means that my simple little project designed to get me focused on my cartooning is in danger of becoming a mammoth undertaking. And yet... in a strange way... I'm finding that the frustration of being out of THE ZONE has actually been a good thing. It's been a wake-up call. If I really want to do this cartooning thing full time - which I do, I know with the most absoloute certainty now - then I have to learn to keep on, no matter what. I can't go running after the security of my ZONE when there's a deadline to meet. THE ZONE won't put bread on the table. It won't feed the dogs and it won't pay for our little Georgian house to be properly renovated...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

What a dummy!

No. Really. What a dummy. See, I've just put together my very first BLIP proof. A dummy comic, if you please. And I'm almost beside myself with giddy glee. It's a greyscale A5 edition, with a colour cover. Nothing fancy. Just the first 23 pages, printed up for my own amusement on Tesco Finest Copy Paper via my ip6700d, and saddle stitched using my old WH Smiths stapler. The cover design needs tweaking, and there's a bit of creep in the page alignment, but I love it, I love it, I love it - curling corners and all, darn it!


I'm quite taken back by the quality of thing. I had no idea that I could produce something like this from the confines of my attic. It's a real jolt in the arm, and it's made me even more determined to get back to my Bristol Board and complete the rest of this spacey tale, and - oh - so much more besides. And funnily enough, despite all the effort I've poured into Photoshop, layering and colouring every page, I think BLIP looks just as good in greyscale. It's certainly a cheaper way to go, initially, when I finally crank up my Small Press... So you can colour me very excited indeed!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

On site with BLIP

For those who might be interested... there's an iddy-biddy BLIP web site on the way very soon... er... HOORAY!... and all that...

Though my blog posts have been thin on the ground of late, I've actually been super-busy behind the scenes, drawing BLIP, creating his little cyberhome and... dusting down an old friend, who is soon to embark on a dangerous - nay - legendary adventure... But that's for a future posting...

BLIP has also been a great adventure for me, thus far. I'm slowly getting the hang of this Photoshop lark, learning how to cut corners and deliver the art I want in double-quick time. I haven't been this jazzed about cartooning since... well.. my school days, I guess... and BLIP has been a way for me to ease myself back in to the cartooning world... big panels.. block colours.. nothing fancy... If my li'l alien buddy finds a fan or too online, well, that would be the icing on the cake. But I'm not fussed. I'm just happy to be back at the old drawing board again!...

BLIP copyright Frazer Diamond / 2009

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Almost, nearly, just about there...

Okay, so I haven't finished part one of BLIP as quickly as I'd hoped. But Im almost, nearly, just about there. And here's page 18, to prove it...

BLIP copyright Frazer Diamond / 2009

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Super-domestic-girl

Picked up a bargain in my local TK Maxx, this week. Three DC Showcase editions for just £3.99 each, which means I'm now feasting up 1500+ pages of vintage DC brilliance. And the first, DC Showcase Presents: Supergirl is an absoloute peach of a purchase.

Now I don't know about you, but I've never actually sat down and read the early DC material. I'm familiar with it, obviously. Heck, everyone is familar with this stuff. Or at least, they think they are. Everyone knows it's a bit hokey, right? But sitting here, on page 134 of this magnificent compilation, I've gotta tell you, this stuff goes all the way down Hokey Street and beyond. It's so mired in its 50's philosophies it leaves you aghast and agog and the sheer audacity of it all. Coincidence and happenstance abounds left, right and centre. Supergirl performs the most outrageous fantasy feats and manouevres in a heartbeat - stuff that leaves the mind boggling at its ridiculousness. And best of all, she's performing most of her super-miracles merely to allow her alter ego - Linda Lee - to fit in to Middle Americas's desire for domestic servitude, or to save the kiddies blushes at her orphanage hideaway.


Here's my favourite, thus far: Supergirl wants to stay at her orphanage to maintain her secret identity, so she figures if she burns a roast with her x-ray vision it will stop a pair of prospective parents from adopting her - after all, no good parent will want to adopt a young girl who can't cook properly!

Aint it a doozy? - Oh, you could go on all day about this one. In those first one hundred pages, Supergirl has tossed horses around like salads, she's turned herself into as Super Fairy Godmother, and helped a lad get adopted. She travelled back in time and tamed a fire-breathing serpent. She's tasted from the Fountain of Youth and visited an Interplanetry Orphanage of the future. Linda Lee's feats have been spectacularly daft, and they all been done to allow her to fit in to this cockeyed vision of 50's society. There isn't a super-villain in sight.

These strips frequently leave you laughing out loud at the utter stupidity of it all. But they're also brilliant. I'm so thrilled at having finally caught up with this stuff in such an affordable and accessible away. So thank you DC. Thank you for this great 500+ page slab of archival wonders. I've got Teen Titans and Justice League editions to tuck into next, and I'm sure they'll bring their own unique flavours to the comic table for me to savour. One things for sure, though, I'm hooked on this whole Showcase mularky. I want more. I want a library of these volumes lined up here in my Elgin attic, to dip into as I please. Oh, I reckon I'll be visiting TK Maxx a whole lot more over the coming months...

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A lousy preview

Well, here goes nothing. What you see below are the opening seven pages of my very first BLIP tale, in which our hero in a bubble follows that strange interstellar signal and encounters a rather hungry Space Louse...

BLIP copyright Frazer Diamond / 2009

Saturday, 23 May 2009

The Genius of Jason

Oh, what giddy glee. There's a new Jason book on the way. Low Moon is published by Fantagraphics this June, and frankly, this particular reader can not wait. Serves me right for mentioning Jason in that reason posting. I've been devouring his back catalogue again, ever since...

Jason is just the sort of artist/creator that I'd love to talk about at Toonhound, only, he doesn't fit into the remit of the place (he's Norwegian, and Toonhound is Brit-centric). It's one of the reasons I've started this blog, so that the folks who slip through the net can get caught and celebrated here. Anyways, let's get back on topic... Jason's work is bleak and brittle and completely beguiling. His anthropomorphic characters are put through hell. They're dragged backwards through life's hedge and left staggering blindly on the pavement. Each clean line panel quivers with meaning. And in the last few years, he's added melancholic swatches of colour to proceedings - muted blues and purples, autumnal reds and browns - colours that compliment the mood of each tale beautifully...



Why are you doing this?, The Living and the Dead, I Killed Adolf Hitler - It's just impossible to choose a favourite, but it must be said, Hey, Wait... tore my heart out when I first read it. The book is split into two distinct parts, and together they take us from the unfettered joys of our childhood days, to the splintered reality of adulthood. And there's a twist - a turning point - halfway through that shatters the first-time reader... What a book this is...

Jason is a genius. He takes the humdrum and amplifies it. He stokes up great flames of fantasy - time travellers, hitmen, and zombies - but is quick to douse it all down with a bucket of cold reality. And speaking of which, he's keeping me from my own work now, so I'll have to be strong, put his books back on the shelf and GET DRAWING....

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Ch-ch-changes...

Yes, alright, I've changed the blog. It's relocated here, with a new name. But you see, the old place was created before I'd really felt my way through this blogging lark. When Films Collide was the title of my very first Flick cartoon collection, back in the day, and my original intention was to give the old fella his own home to roam around the web. But everything's moved on now the cartooning bug has struck me again. I'm going through a hugely creative period at the moment, with fresh ideas and projects cropping up everywhere, and I've stuff I want to talk about that's kind of an extension of Toonhound. Hence the new home and title. Now all I have to do is to get writing and drawing and sharing stuff with anyone who might be slightly interested in what I have to say!...

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Phabulous Photoshop

Wow! - Photoshop has been a fabulous learning curve for me. I'm not professionally trained, and have self-taught myself how to use Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Coreldraw in order to create Toonhound and to knock my strips and toons into shape. But now I'm getting serious about comics, I've had to move up a gear and teach myself how to scan and colour using the Daddy of them all. And I've got to say... Photoshop has been mercifully painless, thus far, and totally inspiring.... It helps that there are so many terrific tutorials online, helping to smooth the curve.

It also helps that I'm keeping it simple for BLIP. Just flat blocks of colour. I'm a big fan of Jason, as it happens, and - well - sometimes less is more, if you know what I mean. Oh, by the way, the bug-eyed fellow below is a Space Louse. He pops up on Page 5 of our adventure, munching on those BLIP-BLIP-BLIPS - much to the chagrin of our tenacious space traveller. Anyways, that's quite enough waffle for now, I've a dozen more pages to colour... Photoshop beckons!

BLIP copyright Frazer Diamond/2009

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Not gone - just busy!

Hold your horses! - Don't panic! - My new-found enthusiasm for all things self-doodled hasn't gone just yet. I've simply been busy. Busy-buzzing-bee-busy, as it happens. Toonhound's needed a whole lot of work, of late. And I've been dealing with some super-stressful things on the outside world, from dogs with broken teeth to a planning nightmare that's unspooling opposite our happy Highland home. But despite everything, or maybe because of it, I've decided to embark upon the very first, fully-fledged, all-singing, all-dancing BLIP strip. Yep. And it'll be in colour, too. That's if I can get my head around Photoshoping and separating it all correctly, instead of quick-filling and painting with Fireworks. My old scanner's not so hot, either, and knitting those 600dpi scans together without errors is causing me no end of bother... Sheesh... Anyways, stay tooned for BLIP, beginning here... very soon!...

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Oh, the possibilities...

Interstellar hazards... Strange planets... Space Pirates... Yes indeed, the possibilities are endless...


BLIP copyright Frazer Diamond / F2009

Friday, 6 March 2009

What if...

What if there was an endless signal, blip-blip-blipping through space... And what if there was a little alien, in a little round ship, who latched onto that signal and followed it... relentlessly... on, on, on towards its distant source... taking us past a myriad of stars and galaxies, black holes and alien encounters?


Who is this alien being, and why is he following that signal so singlemindedly?... Is he lost?... Is he searching for home, for family, or friends?

And what of that strange signal... Is it a call for help, or a beacon of hope?... Maybe it's something more sinister... a trap, perhaps?... Or simply the residue of some lost event in a far distant galaxy?...

BLIP copyright Frazer Diamond / F2009

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Preeeesenting...

Something different... Not Flick... A new toon... in its earliest of early stages... I'm not quite sure where this is going, but then, neither is our hero... Anyways, without further ado, here's... well... we'll let our newcomer tell us for himself...





BLIP preview pages 1-5
copyright Frazer Diamond / F2009

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Incidentally...

...I've just composed another toon. Wowsers, what a great Western this is... Such a bleak morality tale... Why isn't there a special edition of this, on DVD in the UK? - Darnit, the distributors ought to hang their heads...

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The Return of Jack Arnold

Yesterday's post reminded me that Flick has touched upon the worlds of Jack Arnold before. Back in '99, I came up with this whiffing homage...


Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Hallelujah!

Well, now... It's official... It's 2009, and wouldn't you know, our friend Flick has hauled himself out of the creative ooze once more, after far too long away... Oh, yes... them films are colliding again!

Hooray, and all that.

First out of the mire is this take on a Jack Arnold classic. Hope you like it. Oh, and stand by for more movie mayhem soon... ish...