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foo5
13 April 2012 @ 03:58 pm


Click the image above to read the entire book from the start. If you've been waiting to read it complete then now's a good time, no plans for a print version just yet (one day) so you might wanna sit back and enjoy the story online before book two begins.

Corporate Skull is the story of a man who hates his life and his job, but is transformed when he loses his face in a horrific photocopier accident. He becomes CORPORATE SKULL, hero of the workplace, a drunk, rude and violent success, leaving a trail of destruction and body fluids in his wake. But Skull's initial enthusiasm for his job is tested when questions about his employers emerge, questions involving dark conspiracies, incredible secrets, and rather huge quantities of blood.

Corporate Skull contains offensive humour and violence. So ENJOY!
 
 
foo5
12 April 2012 @ 02:24 pm


Japan was famously reticent to embrace the western world until about a hundred years ago, and to be honest if they could’ve seen what we were going to do to their character design they’d probably have resisted a little bit longer. Put up bigger barricades, turn off the lights, and convince western noseybonks that no one’s in, because otherwise we’re popping round and taking all your stuff.

These days, just saying something is Japanese or Looks Japanese is enough to make it suddenly interesting. As if ‘Japanese’ meant the same as ‘flecked in unicorn heads’ or ‘a mirror to your very soul’, it’s now a lazy adjective to make you think something is new and exciting. Fact is, there’s plenty of terrible Japanese art same as there is plenty of terrible EveryOtherCountry art, it’s just we’re still in the honeymoon period with Japan so it can fart, burp, and not flush properly, and we won’t mind.

If you’ve been to Japan, you’ll know much of this is actually well deserved. It’s a beautiful place and a wonderful culture, alien and new, yet friendly and familiar at the same time. You’d have to be a stone cold-hearted bastard not to love it. What annoys me is the constant fascination with a thing, anything, JUST because ‘It’s Japanese’, it’s at the expense of discerning opinion, and a little too trendy as a statement to be taken seriously.

Worse though, is what we in the west (are we still calling ourselves that?) have learned from Japan, and flung through our uniquely moribund shit-filters. Much of the Japanese pop aesthetic, from products to services, is about anthropomorphising things, putting a face on it, making it smile and having our bitter insides bubble with the cute. When we realised Japan TM could be a whole new way of doing things, we latched onto the idea with gusto, wrenching their cute faces off and stapling them to our own drab existence. In the last 10 years in particular, our artists and designers have put a smiley face on everything, written some Kanji underneath it, and told us to piss off and enjoy it.

While making the world a happier place isn’t necessssarily a bad thing, the licence it has given lazy bullshit artists is. It is now exceptionally easy to create a character on your software of choice, cutting and pasting big eyes and gormless mouths onto ice creams, apples, roadkill, whatever the hell you want. No need to explore the character, learn its shape, get a feel for who it is. Now you can use more than two line thicknesses, call it kawaii and tile it across your merchandise of choice. A steady stream of idiotic, dead-eyed bastards, dancing and smiling and puking all over your material goods.

If character designers really wanted to learn from Japan, they could learn how to create CHARM, not zeitgeist. Look at some of the most iconic Japanese characters to emerge over the years - Pikachu, AstroBoy, Domokun, Totoro, all very different but all lovingly crafted, learnt and grown by hand. You can see who they are, what they think, where they come from, and often this is by looking in their eyes. Irrelevant of what style of eyes a character has, from blinking dots to huge expressive bulging eyeballs, you can see a character’s soul in their eyes just as you can a human’s.

What we have here, instead of charm, is photoshop. Since something being Japanese is still automatically grade-A cool, there’s no shortage of cynical component-building by committee. A factory line of characters with interchangeable eyes, MAW-mouths and those BASTARD two finger salutes. Everyone from big design companies to individual illustrators are flattening our already grim world under lifeless, soulless and inane disposable NEW FRIENDS, telling us they’re awesome BECAUSE THEY’RE JAPANEEEZZZ.

While it’s fine as an artist to be influenced by another country, it’s rather imperative you make what you’re doing your own, otherwise what’s the point in doing it? In the UK (since I live here) we have an absolute wealth of talented character designers, all crafting their own creations. From Aardman to Burgerman, from Jonathan Edwards and Feltmistress to Nick Edwards, and SO many artists besides, we’re rich in style, talent and charm. I’d urge anyone to check out the Pictoplasma site (since the conference’s on at the moment) as an example of the variety available to a character designer.

I love cute. As you may well see from my own work, I adore and embrace cute loveable characters and do my very best to create them (I’ve had the ‘japanesey’ label thrown at me a lot, and I don’t mind so much since there’s obviously an influence there). So this is in no way a diatribe at the form or the style. Indeed there are a host of illustrators working in very cute styles (both hand-drawn and vector), obviously heavily influenced by Japanese art, who are producing some fantastic creations. My issue is with the whitewash of terrible cute characters for the sake of it, put together on a laptop by dissecting parts of each other, and shipped under the promotional tag of ‘Japanese’. It’s lazy, it’s ugly, and it’s insulting. Characters need life in them, personalities, motives, not just the same indentikit faces. They need to be sculpted and nurtured, built by hand, not by keyboard shortcut.

If designers and illustrators could stop being so damn lazy, maybe we could stop calling our art ‘Japanesey’, and start calling it ‘ours’.
 
 
foo5
27 March 2012 @ 06:59 pm

Wow, I didn't think I'd actually get here. Today I finished my final Doctor Who picture search for Monster Invasion magazine. After producing a total of 54 of them over the last year and a half, I'm finally at the end, and it feels weird. It's been such a huge part of my life for that time, producing one every ten days was a tough schedule but I'm so ridiculously honoured to have been a part of it, and to have the opportunity to enter the Doctor Who world even in the slightest way.


DWMI have kindly said I can show some of my favourites printed so far, you'll find them below. But while I may have finished drawing them there are still plenty yet to appear in the magazine over the rest of this year. So be sure to buy it from the shops, or subscribe HERE


(they're only lo-res versions, but click them to see slightly larger)



Gangers




The Curse Of The Black Spot




Smilers




Cybermen Factory




Sardicktown




The Pandorica (Underhenge)



And of course, don't forget a bundle of them were collected into their own book, available wherever you buy good books ( i would link to the usual amazon etc, but i think everyone gets their books from different places as per country)




Finally, I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone on the DWMI team who were just the greatest to work for. Being involved in Doctor Who also brought me in touch with loads of Doctor Who fans who have all been so nice. Thank you for being so welcoming!

 
 
foo5
26 March 2012 @ 03:32 pm


Arriving in The Dandy this week is my brand new comic strip, MEGALOMANIACS. Little meteorites crash-land into Earth, each containing a different alien/monster/robot/pile-o-goo, each of whom want to take over/destroy/eat Earth! Every week a new alien will attempt a nefarious scheme to seize control of our poor planet, and it's only plucky young hero Rory who knows about it!

I started work on this idea last Autumn, sketching out a ton of aliens and ideas to get it right. And I'm honoured The Dandy wanted to run it (though I do wonder if they know what they've let themselves in for). So go to your local newsagent, supermarket, or subscribe online, it all kicks off this week in a special Megalomaniacs bagged cover!



(Not to mention, of course, The Dandy is tirelessly and consistently producing a whole host of hilarious comics by a roster of some of the UK's biggest talents right now, you should be reading it anyway!)

PS. as an added bonus, here are some of the original Megalomaniac sketches, all of them to appear in future issues!

 
 
foo5
25 February 2012 @ 10:49 am


Today sees the triumphant arrival of Action Beaver to the world, at least in this incarnation (Bear readers may remember his random appearances some years ago). He joins the increasing number of woodland animals scrapping in Bunny Vs Monkey, my weekly strip in the Phoenix Comic. Action Beaver raises the ridiculous meter through the roof, as he crashes, bangs and squarks his way in and out of adventure on the hunt for an adrenaline rush.
Also in this week's issue, I did a special double page Bunny Vs Monkey puzzle spread, a preview of which you can see below. It was an absolute blast to do, hiding each BVM animal around the woods and building puzzles and a story around them all. And of course there's this week's BVM strip itself!

NOT TO MENTION the exceptional roster of artists, writers and storytellers involved with the Phoenix as a whole, YOU SHOULD BE GETTING IT! It's available on subscription here (or just click one of the pictures), or from Waitrose and some comic stores (I know Gosh in london is a strong supporter, anymore stores anyone know of?)

 
 
 
foo5
27 January 2012 @ 03:05 pm

Apologies, meant to blog about this a coupla weeks ago but really excited that Topatoco have got in a whole load of Bear and Loosh plushes, even the big Loosh! Grab 'em while you can!
 
 
foo5
22 January 2012 @ 05:58 pm
Sometimes I get asked advice about drawing comics. The benefits you’ll get from asking are akin to shouting your own name into a bin, in so much that it’s probably not going to change anything about your current lifechoices. I can give you all the advice in the world but it’s not going to give you the heart and fire you’ll need to already have. Dancers act like they have all this passion burning through their veins which they just gotta express, but it’s no different for illustrators (granted, less dancing involved). We don’t draw this stuff because it kills time, we do it because it makes up such a large part of who we are and how we’re defined in the world. And it’s not pretentious to declare that either – if you want to do this, you better believe the HECK out of what you're doing.

So if that applies to you, and you can say ‘it defines who I am in the world’ without sounding like a proper tit (I can’t), then read on.





None. Not one. It always surprises me when people ask this, as if school has been telling them “yeah, well, if you wanna be one of them ‘artists’, you better make hella sure you have Chemistry and Spanish under your belt”. I have never, ever been asked what grades I got at school or college, and why would I? An editor/publisher won’t ask for your school record, and won’t care that you rescued an old man in a motorised wheelchair from a river for your Duke Of Edinburgh Award. All they care about is seeing what you’re showing them there and then, whether it’s your portfolio or your pitch, and if they like it they’ll take you on.

If you’re still at school and reading that, be sure to read this too. You do still need to study hard, and this is for two reasons. One, drawing comics probably isn’t going to make you rich, and even if you do earn a living out of it, it could take a decade or two before you get to that stage (no, really), so chances are you’re going to need an actual proper job to support yourself. So make sure you get the grades to find a nice one.

Two, you need the smarts. Drawing comics isn’t, contrary to idiot belief, an easy job for people who don’t know how theyr brayn wurks. If you want to draw comics well, you need an intelligence behind you, a certain level of awareness. When you’re at school, learning irrelevant minutiae does seem pointless, but when you leave you realise it was all to raise your general smarts. The best artists are the ones who have as good a brain as they do a drawing hand. I tend to use Kate Beaton as a good example of this, but really it applies to (probably) most of your favourites.

Point is, don’t be stupid. Stupid people make stupid comics, and they might end up making stupid TV shows which aren’t very good but hit the demographics, and they make the viewers stupid, and if you’re the person responsible for this then you are the worst sort of degenerate who shouldn’t be allowed to sleep at night.



A lot of the concerns I hear are from people worried about making their work public for fear of criticism. The ‘what if people don’t like it?’ self-doubt which scrapes its way across your subconscious nerves like a rusty nail and suddenly you’re face-down on the floor rather than risking the wrath of your detractors.

The only possible advice I can give to this is who gives a toss? There are billions of people in this world, and unless you invent Spongebob again and convince everyone you did it first, most of them are never going to see your work. And of those that do, only some will like it. Of those that don’t, most will just move on and find something else they enjoy instead. The rest, the tiny proportional slither left, the very few who’ve seen your work, and dislike it, and don’t want to move on, THEY will comment on it, because they seem to believe their opinion is very important. And they, are stupid. Because art, by its very nature, is subjective. It would be impossible to create art everyone enjoys, and why would you want to? Surely it’s better to create something personal and heartfelt, and risk a few vocal detractors. At least you’ve evoked a response in them, an emotion. Better that than finding an audience and just flat-lining them with boredom.

So what I tend to say to people is, if someone doesn’t like your work, then they’re wrong. And it sounds arrogant to say out loud, but it’s more self-preservation, and it’s an attitude you’ll need to adopt if you want to forge a career doing this stuff. If your work begins to attract even an iota of attention, especially with this new-fangled internet floating around, you’re going to get people criticising you. And it’s never constructive. It will proudly say it is, but it isn’t. It’s just someone you don’t know casting judgement on something they (literally) don’t understand. If you’re going to let that knock you down every time it happens, you’re never going to be able to stand up. You’re doing what you do because it means something, and no one else has the right to take that away.



Right yeah I know, confusing innit. I’m saying one thing then the other, but this is a very important point. I said the attitude above ‘sounds’ arrogant, but it isn’t. It’s confidence and pride. Arrogance is something else entirely, and it’s very very ugly.

Most artists are the humblest breed you could hope to meet, often shy, easily startled creatures who wear glasses and tweet about tea. Some are a bit more outlandish, usually the americans, but they’re still lovely. Very few successful artists (whether they be comic artists, webcomic artists, cartoonists, whatever) are outright pricks. And the reason for this is that they’ve worked long and hard to get where they are, they’ve taken the knocks and the kicks to the crotch (oh yeah, that’s a part of this job, you’ll find out), and they’ve earned their successes. They’re probably not rich (success does not equal rich, for the love of god please stop thinking comic artists are rich), they probably have a sweet little life getting to do something they love. They’re appreciative, grateful for their lot in life, friendly. They like that you like them. That’s pretty cool of you.

There’s a very small percentage who believe their own hype and are grade-A fatballs, but lets ignore them.

Now, since the internet happened (what was that like in the 20s or something?), a lot more people have been showing their work around, whether online or print-on-demand-ing their own books, etc. And that’s brilliant, a new medium for us all to share our little corners of the world. Unfortunately it has also brought with it a species of self-entitled runt, who thinks because they have a couple of comics on deviantart, they’re top of the tits now. They’re cocky and, yeah why not, arrogant. Worst of all, they think the world owes them all the attentions.

Now I hasten to add here, again, it’s a very small percentage. Most artists online are humble and friendly however long they’ve been here, and thank god for that. This is more just a warning about that attitude, about getting too far ahead of yourself. It’s really ugly, and it’s a surefire way to bury yourself. Now the internet’s full of artists trying to show their work, it’s harder and harder to be seen, so we don’t need these big wobbly bags of ego flopping their way to the front.

Best approach? Be cool, be nice, be appreciative. Chat to your favourite artists, learn from them, support fellow artists, form your own little personal community. And most important of all, spend time on your craft. Getting a domain name doesn’t mean you’re an artist, you need to put the hours, days, months, and years in. You need to earn it.



If you get hired to do your arts all over someone’s comic, or whatever the opportunity, remind yourself why this is happening. It’s because someone wants what you’re doing, specifically your view on the world. That makes this all very personal and rewarding. As such, it’s imperative that you stick to your guns.

By that, I don’t mean be difficult. I mean learn to recognise what you’re doing, what your brain is trying to create, and follow it. Don’t get nudged one way or the other, don’t lose track of what’s at the very core of your work, what makes it so essentially you. I’ve been a full-time illustrator for 13 years (cripes), and my work always has the same essence running through it. Even though I look back and think much of my older work is pretty terrible, it is still essentially me, and it’s fascinating to watch how that’s evolved and become more distinct.

That process never ends. You’ll die and never reach the pinnacle of what you’re trying to do, but that’s irrelevant. There’s no such thing as an end point with art, you’re going to keep going and growing and that’s the fun of it. But while your art’s core should never change, remember that the world around you will. And it’s so, SO important that you keep your eyes open on this. So important I could weep while punching myself in the bum. Just, please.

You can’t sit around hoping lady luck will poink you on the head and give you a comic strip gig. You have to go looking for them, and you have to put in the legwork. Not necessarily literally, I know a lot of artists go to show their portfolios and their faces at cons and that’s how they get known, but equally the bulk of my efforts have been stuffing photocopies into envelopes and sending them to everyone I could bother. There is no right way of doing it. But the onus is a lot more on you now, the opportunities for you to create your OWN career are unimaginably bigger than they were even a few years ago, and they keep going.

In my opinion, you need to build a rich arsenal of work around you, and jump on the chances you see to develop it even/especially if that's just for your own amusement. A bit like tying a mattress around you and pouncing on a lion. If you hear of a new way to publish e-books, run at that with something. If you hear of a new twatty social networking site to connect with artists, fling yourself at it. If you have a great idea for a webcomic about elves in binbags, go away and make it because it seemed like a good idea at the time. If you hear of a TV company looking for new ideas, ROLL DOWN THE ROAD IN YOUR MATTRESS COCOON AND SHOW THEM WHAT YOU GOT. Enjoy the thrill of the chase, the chance to find new avenues, the glory of a new technology making your shiznit 79% cooler. Any opportunity that happens to you could easily take years to come to fruition (seriously) so take the reigns yourself and keep creating and creating and building your little world up IRRELEVANT OF WHY YOU’RE DOING IT OR WHO YOU’RE DOING IT FOR.

Because you’re doing it because you love it, and you’re doing it for yourself. You didn’t earn grades to do it, you didn’t listen to idiots, you stayed friendly, and you did it because it was fun, which is genuinely the only thing that will ever matter.

And we’re as lucky as you are that you’re doing it.
 
 
foo5
12 January 2012 @ 01:47 pm
(click the comic to view it bigger)


They did change their logo in the end. In hindsight yeah, I was way too soft on them, but i believed them to be stupid rather than malicious. Their attitude from there just went beyond ridiculous into the comical, as if I should be grateful to them for their theft. Point is, if someone steals your work they may as well be kicking you in the jingles, and they'll throw all these cliche excuses at you but in the end it's still theft, and you should fight to get the respect you deserve. Not get so frustrated you explode blood from every hole.
 
 
foo5
09 January 2012 @ 10:29 am

Thank you for your patience, Corporate Skull issue 4 finally begins TODAY. NOW. I'll write a bit more about what's in store for this issue at a later date, but I'm hoping this issue will kick it out of the park.
Click this cover thumbnail to read issue 4 from the start. Enjoy! (contains swears and offensive humour)