Friday, 31 December 2010

Things to come


So here we are, on the cusp of the new year. I wonder what the next twelve months have in store? Where will my li'l alien buddy take me, once this first adventure is all wrapped up?.. What strange new encounters might he have, as he follows that signal through the depths of space?... Whom might he meet?.. What might he see?... And what about all my other strips and characters, how will they slot into place?... It's going to be a fascinating year, that's for sure!...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

I should be happy

Crikey, I've finally finished colouring parts one and two of BLIP, just like I promised last time I blogged here, and... erm.. actually, it's a very curious place to be. I mean, I should be happy, I've hit my target and I have all these lovely pages to show for my efforts. In fact, I've pencilled, inked and coloured more pages than I've ever managed before. Yay. But instead, it's somewhat sobering. See, what I'm already learning is, you never really finish a page. You can sign it off, and it can go off into the world pretending to be completed. But you know it's not. You can see all the errors and mistakes and colour adjustments which mean it's far from finished. I don't think I'll ever be properly happy. Mild contentment might be the best I can muster. And I already know I'll be going back to many pages to tweak and adjust them as I proceed with part three...

Ah, yes. Part three. Now that's truly put the mockers on any celebration. Those thumbnail sketches spilling out of my sketchbook remind me that, actually, I'm still only half-way through my cosmic encounter. So it's all a sham. I haven't finished anything. But parts one and two are nearly, just-about, I-should-be-a-lot-happier-with-them, they'll-suffice finished. And that's as good a place to be, as any, I guess!...


Sunday, 28 November 2010

It's back!


Yep, we've had a load of the white stuff dumped on us again. Ten inches, at last count. And it's not even December. 2010 has been a very snowy year. But as luck would have it, we've just taken delivery of  a brand new boiler and central heating system. That's something we didn't have last time and, boy, does it make a difference. Now we're all toasty in our King Street home. We're able to emerge to take fab photos of  Elgin Cathedral and its environs, and - heaven forbid - we can even enjoy the picture postcard scenery at last.

Creatively speaking, the snowy weather is hugely inspiring. But I'm having to keep things in check because, despite all of my previous promises, I'm still working on BLIP, slogging through the colour work, adjusting things, terribly s-l-o-w-l-y. And alongside that, I've been preparing a short story for my favourite sea-dog Pedigree, R.N. It's a six-page encounter set around All Hallows' Eve. Even so, as the world turned white this weekend, so a second short story idea pushed its way into my head. A Winter one, this time. So that's two trim tales for me to work on. And if I'm not careful, there'll be more on their heels...

Oh well. These two tales will enable me to test the waters, so to speak, before I launch into that full-scale sixty-page adventure I've already scripted and prepared. I'm desperate to get drawing, but I need to finish BLIP before I go any further. I mustn't dwell on Pedigree, or that beautiful new snow, and just keep focused. So it's BLIP, BLIP, BLIP all the way for the time being. And I'm hoping beyond hope that, next time I post on this blog, I'll be holding the finished article in my hands. What a wonderful Xmas present that would be!...

Monday, 11 October 2010

Starzoids and Moon Ticks

There are plenty of weird and wondeful space creatures in the BLIP universe. I've already given you a glimpse of several Space Lice, those bio-mechanoid Limpets, and the Great Cosmic Jellyfish they like to interact with. Today, however, I thought I'd introduce you to two more species who put in a wee guest appearance in our first story.


First up, we have the Starzoids. These are the equivalent of galactic starfish. You'll find them everywhere, from Adromeda to Centaurus A. There are many-legged variants, and they come in all sorts of rainbow colours, but they all share a fondness for liquid methane. Look for them in the shallows, or basking in the rising heat of a Red Dwarf, until it all gets too much for them. Then we get to witness the spectacle of their mass exodus to a new home. It's a naturalist's delight...


And we'll follow up with an example of a Moon Tick. They're parasitic beetles, and they're quite harmless, unless provoked. You'll find them on every barren moon going. They'll scuttle out of their craters to scavenge on - well - whatever's in reach, they're not at all picky....

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Big Bang Theory

I want to end my little interstellar encounter with a bang. So I've just come up with this. It's only a quick scan, sans adjustments and colour, straight off the desk, but you can get the feel of the thing. Right now I'm not a hundred percent sure of its placement. It could come a page before or after the big climactic panel I've already put together - I've got some flexibility. I need to sit with the artwork a little longer and see how it all flows. And as for that climactic page itself, well, I've completed and coloured that one, and personally, I love it to bits. But I'm not going to reveal it here.... Show and tell, and all that...

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Show and tell

How much of your work should you show in advance? - That's the Big Question I'm faced with right now. I've finished drawing parts one and two of my interstellar encounter and am now knee deep in Photoshop layers as I make the final adjustments to each page. It's a horrendously time-consuming process, with far too much internal debating going on, but there's a little skip of joy to be had as I eventually click and save those final TIFF files, in turn, knowing that I'm one page nearer my goal and counting down to some sort of publication. Now I want to share them with the world as they appear, but I reckon I have to hold back a bit, and wait until I can give everyone a fully-fledged, all-singing, all-dancing preview to get their teeth into. Well, okay, by "everyone" I mean the seven folks who have kindly subscribed to this stop-start blog. But as I've said here before, the fact that anyone at all is interested in my cosmic endeavour gives me a fuzzy feeling inside. I am most truly grateful. And so's my li'l alien buddy. He wouldn't have got this far without you...

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Evolution

What was that I said, back in May? - Sheesh....

One year ago, I had a plan to focus on a simple comic project. I wanted to create a short dialogue-free adventure which would help to develop my Photoshop skills, and give me the satisfaction of being able to hold up my very own self-made comic book, and to this end BLIP was born.

Now let's jump forward twelve months, and what do you know, my little toon sprint has evolved into something more akin to a marathon endeavour. Seriously. Forget my previous posts here, the way things stand, my efforts of the last year now amount to no more than parts one and two of what will eventually be a three-part first adventure in space for our little alien-in-a-bubble. Yes indeed, we're now talking 120+ pages - Yeek!


Part one is 7 pages long, part two is 56 pages, and I'm currently half a dozen pages of re-scanning, colouring and adjusting away from its conclusion. As for part three, well, that's another 60+ pages rolling out ahead of me, on to the horizon. Now if you think that my output is a tad slow, bear in mind, I'm having to fit this in around my work on Toonhound, my freelance endeavours, development on my adventures with Captain Pedigree and my Victorian Adventure novel (here), a crumbling Georgian property in desperate need of renovation, and a ridiculously demanding night shift that I simply can not afford to surrender at the moment. So with all that pulling at me, 63 pages in twelve months surely isn't too bad....

Well, regardless of what you think, I'm very happy with my work, thus far. And to sustain my ego still further, I'm considering printing up the two finished sections independently, in a wee while, so's I've got something to show the world as I toil away on part three. BLIP has been a big experiment for me, and on those terms, it's been a hugely rewarding success. I love, love, love to draw the strip and watch as my li'l alien trip comes to life. I've taken a fair few wrong turns along the way, however. See, I never planned out this adventure in advance. It just sort of happened. I think that's why I'm loving it. There's no one telling me what to do, or how long I can journey for, so my creativity is untethered and able to travel where ever the mood takes me...

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Look into my panel...

Here's the latest single-panel page from BLIP. As usual, it's presented in isolation, so it won't make much sense. And it might make you dizzy, like it did to me when I was colouring it. But there you go. More BLIP. As promised. And I'm very happy with the way it's coming together. I'm inching ever closer to my final, completed comic/book/graphic thingy. Oh, the excitement is tangible...

Friday, 12 March 2010

Old friends

Dagnabbit. I've been buzzed by those old Distraction Flies again. Try as I might, they've been circling in my head and teasing me away from BLIP. In particular, they've drawn me towards two old projects that I've now dusted down, ready for a relaunch someway, somehow, soon.

If you're a Toonhound regular, you might recognise this chap. This is Captain Brutus Alexander Pedigree - Pedigree, R.N. - and it seems his first riproaring sea-bound adventure has finally come together, in the form of a fully-worked and ready-to-rumble storyline. I've harboured fantastic dreams about this Sea Dog for the last - oh - ten years now, so it's very exciting to be able to sit back and see that everything works, all the plot points slot neatly together and there's an explosive denouement in the Solent that looks great on the page. The Eye of Pharos features a nemesis from Pedigree's past, a Stygian Witch and a dastardly plot to kill the King of England and steal the throne. It would be - nay - should be a 60-page album, but I mustn't get carried away here. After all, I still haven't even drawn the first page!

And then, well, there's my long-gestating series of Victorian Mystery Thrillers. The genre is back in vogue now, following the popular exploits of Mr Moore's Gentlemen and Mr Ritchie's hit film. But I was ahead of the curve when I started. Honest. Anyhow, I have now fathomed out the plots and arcs for four Darke & Wilde adventures. That's Mr Darke, known as The Twice Dead Man, and his troubled companion Mr Wilde. They could be great fun, though once more, my dreams are running away from the reality in which I have written only the first 8,000 words. But they're good words. And as first drafts go, I'm very happy indeed. I've written lots of scripts and screenplays before, but have always felt that a novel, or novels (ha!), might be beyond me. I don't have the patience for all that additional detail. Or at least, I didn't until my two lead characters finally coalesced in my head last week. It's taken ages to get here, now everything's flowing like water, and the characters are writing their own dialogue. I've never really experienced that before and it bodes well.

So what of BLIP? - Well, he's still here/there. In fact, he's just about complete. I have maybe five or six pages left to draw and colour, so stay tooned for a proper BLIP-only posting very soon. I might just add, I'm very happy with what I've achieved, if a little perturbed at the length of time it's taken to produce an encounter that's so very slight on the page. Seriously, when you see it, you'll wonder why on earth it took me so long... But don't blame me... Bzz... Blame those fiendish Distraction Flies... Bzz... Bzz...

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Hard Times

Okay. Admit it. You thought I'd gone. You thought I'd given up with this whole blogging lark, chucked my Bristol Board out of the pram and headed off into the furthest reaches of cyberspace. But I'm here still. Honest. I've just been busy. Busy, busy, busy, busy. Like the proverbial bee. And there have been a few obstacles between me and my darned comic strip, since Xmas. Like this:


15 inches of the white stuff built up over the New Year period, confining us to quarters, and it was accompanied by several nights of intense frost. I think we reached -13 one night and, as a result, a pipe in our outhouse burst and completely washed out a wallet that was already wet with the tears of an expensive Xmas period.

My other work - my far-too real shift work - also decided to stamp its size 12s all over my free time, with extra hours and stress on top of a working regime that's being kicked and punched eveywhichway by the Powers That Be, who are using the word "recession" like a beating stick. It's driving me towards an early grave. Seriously. I have to get out of there.

But how can I when, when, one week after that pipe fiasco our faithful TV decides to blow its final gasket? Yep, our 28" Hitachi bit the dust. We bought it with our wedding vouchers, ten years ago. It was our original widescreen friend. Our best pal. We'd laughed with it. We'd cried with it. Now it was gone. So we dried our eyes and bought a gleaming 40" Series Seven Samsung LCD that's a wonder to behold. But one look at my poor, poor wallet gets the ducts flowing again.


Meanwhile, there's BLIP, which I've been coming back to at every available oppurtunity. You might recall, this was supposed to be a 48-page shoo-in, back in the day. And it was all supposed to be wrapped up for Xmas. Ha. If only. You see, over the festive period I reached that magic page count - or at least, I pencilled and inked that far - only to experience something of an epiphany. Why, this li'l old cosmic encounter was over too briefly. It needed more breadth. So I scrapped and rejigged a run of pages, and I expanded it, and now, I'm currently steaming through a bunch of additions which will bring the finished project in at around 56 pages.

I guess that's the beauty of a self-managed project like this. You can add an subtract as you please, without interference. Of course, the danger is that you end up tweaking and adjusting forever, as your original finish line fades in to the distance. But that's not likely here. Not with the Night Shift From Hell looming large over my life. It's there at all times, grinning over my shoulder, beckoning me towards its filthy maw, and it will swallow me whole if I let go of my dreams for just one second...