Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Another Sneak Peek

I just uploaded my new strip idea to Zuda for their consideration.

It's called Max Overacts. It's a daily strip following a little boy who dreams of being an actor, much to the annoyance of his sister, parents, friends, next door neighbour, and everyone else inbetween.

Here's a few finished panels I pulled out of some of the strips.

Max wears his heart on his sleeve for his unwilling leading lady, Janet.

One of Max's favourite pastimes is impressions.

Max's sometimes best friend is his ventriloquist doll, Curio.

Impressions of an angry grandfather.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


That's what my script pages look like. (Click on it for a closer look.) I thumbnail directly onto the script wherever there's space, and when I'm faced with the space I have to work with, that's when I hack my script into shape. There are hardly any Celadore pages that read exactly like the script (sorry, Kwanza) because as I go through and draw the thing, new situations, plot holes (or rather, vague plot details) always become apparent to me.

I decided to show the process for screen 165 because it's vastly different from script to final. Just look at the two thumbnails against the final page. The Altoids panel is in the top right corner in the thumb, and in the bottom left on the final. And everything else in between is completely different.

Most of that comes from the old cliché of characters writing themselves. Sam, Evelyn and Cel, and all the rest, occupy a massive part of my head where they're constantly jockeying for space and telling me how to do my job. With Sam disappearing into 1950, Evelyn was suddenly faced with her true feelings for Sam, and of course, he's got to be punched for doing so. None of that was in the script, but it was so natural, I had to do it.

Anyway, once I get a vague direction, and before it's been too long that I forget what all the crazy instructions to myself mean, the pencils get done...

Then the inks... (I always ink the dialogue before anything else)

And then, I got that awesome filter plug-in for photoshop that fills in all your shapes for you. It works for me because my art has a lot of closed 'fields' that makes it easier for the plug-in to figure out where the edges are. Once I got the plug in (which I got when I started doing chapter 2), my process went a little like this...

1. Double click the background to turn it into a layer.

2. Duplicate the layer, then select 'multiply' for the new layer from the drop down menu.

3. Go back to the original layer, and run the filters. First the multifill. Then the flatten. And you end up with something that looks like this. I know. Crazy, huh?

The benefit of this filter is that you can change everything without worrying about the ink layer that just sits on top. No more accidentally colouring your linework, which means less cmd-Z! ;o)

Then I go through with the paint bucket to fill in all the fields with their actual colours. Sometimes I have to use the pencil tool, mainly to fill in eyes, etc, where my black lines didn't close their 'field', but mostly it's bucket tool time.

This page was easy, because I just sampled colours from the previous pages set at night. I sampled all the dark colours, so I only had to go through and colour in the highlights. I just select each colour field with the wand, and do each area one at a time.

You'll notice for the snow I used a bright blue. The reason being if I had've filled it in as white, when I went through and selected all the white, I would have got the borders and speech bubbles too, so it's better to isolate them with weird colours, and change them later.

Anyway, to see the final screen, after the pencil work, and the gradients, etc. it's at Zuda, of course!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sneak Peek

So, I finished working on Celadore last week. Over the course of working on Celadore I was always working on other projects in my sketchbooks in case Cel never continued. Since it probably won't be, production has begun in wild crazy man style on my next strip.

I will most likely be submitting it to Zuda, (anyone know any quicker ways to get paid to draw your own ideas?) and hopefully make it the first gag-a-day strip to win! Woo!

Here's my character sheet. Lots of strips written, 6 pencilled so far, stay tuned.

Left to right - Sir Allan, Andi, Janet, Max, Klaus, Ma & Pa Fogherty, and Curio

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mad Mac and Cheese

This here is my entry into Mark Penman's Design an Antiquarian competition, that's running in conjunction with this month's Zuda throw-down.

Mad Mac and Cheese

When you have multiple personality disorder, paranoid delusions, OCD, a hyperactive adrenal gland, and addictive personality, there's not many options for work than to be self-employed, so that's what Mac did. With his medications, foil-lined akubra (those damn aliens), a direct line to the spirit of Charles Darwin (he says), and his scouting rat, Cheese, Mac travels the world, doing whatever it takes to get the next big meal ticket.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fan Expo Sketches

This was my first time having a table at a giant comic convention. I had done Supanova twice before, but it's really nothing compared to this. Wow. So many people. So many people who love comics, and so many more willing to give 'em a go.

I had a pretty measly stall between CK Russell's technicolor wonder of superheroey goodness, and Marc B's orgy of screen printed delicacies, with just my three books of the entire run of Celadore, a little postcard stand, poster and business cards (which didn't even have my email on them. Yep. I'm a genius.)

Friday was a slow start. Mostly because I was still trying to get pencilling done on Celadore and chat at the same time. But then Saturday came, and I started sketching random superheroes to try and grab a little more attention with some known properties, and before ya know it, I'm sketching for everybody. Sunday was such a steady stream, I didn't even eat. Food for the soul is what got me through that day.

The All New Batman & Robin

This guy was the first to snag a free sketch, by just noticing it and asking how much. I wasn't really serious about the sketches, so it went for free. Originally it was just Damian, but he wanted Batman too, so I did a 'mostly-cape' cheat's version. And didn't even get that right.

The Escapist

This guy (I forgot so many names, I'm sorry!) had a kick-ass collection of Escapist art from a LOT of cool people. I feel very proud to be part of this collection. It's truly a masterpiece gallery. I also LOVE the Escapist, so jumped at the chance to draw one up.

You Too Can Be Batgirl

Then I was visited by two lovely gals, Kristen and Jane, who had a stall down the way selling their wares. We did a sketch exchange and I did them as superheroes. Something I've always thought would be fun to do at cons if my confidence in drawing people as they look was any higher. Sadly, it's hit and miss, and I could probably just end up angering people.


Then they came back with with their booth buddy, Shane, (Kristen and Shane's stuff can be seen at and requested a Leeloo for their friend who couldn't make the con. I will draw any challenge given, so, after some early morning Sunday net research, there she came.


Late Saturday I started doing better sketches with a view to selling them for Sunday, so I did this Supergirl, brought it home, and promptly left it on the scanner. Oops.

"Happy birthday ... Mister President Luthor..."

Someone got this awesome Supergirl anyway (I love drawing Supergirl.)

Harley Quinn! - I also enjoy drawing Harley

Two young gals around 8 - 9 had sketch books (starting at an early age, good on ya, dad) and they got a Harley and a Jean Grey (which I forgot to take a pic of).

Kala, from Marc B's Mecha Libre

At the very end o Sunday, I did an interpretation of my neighbour Marc B's character from his Mecha-Libre, in exchange for a snap-dandy print that'll look great above my desk.

CK Russell getting some Spidey love

On the other side, CK snagged my Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane pic, as it sat there too long without any purchasing love.

The Postscript table

Down the end on the other side of our table 'island' were Graham, and his lovely fiancé Michelle, who I went with to the Diamond Industry night. (It's very surreal to be eating dinner at the table over from a bunch of very famous Star Trek actors.) That was a great night. Lots of stimulating conversation to be found. You can check out Graham's Postscript comic here. And join his facebook group if it tickles all the right spots. If you enjoyed Shrek, there's a strong chance you will enjoy Postscript, and Graham was a very nice, talented dude. I saw a lot of me at that age in him, so I have every confidence he'll get to where he's going.

The Proof gang were sitting not too far away from my table, so Sunday morning, I went and got my copy of number one signed, and went back at lunch with this little fan art piece. They loved it. It may end up in the back of the book, which would be neat. I love Proof.

By far though, my favourite piece for the day was this one, for Ty, who does the Batusi Blog.

Thanks to Darrell Ferguson for providing the Detective Comics issue for the reference. Though I have the issue, I didn't have it with me. Save!

Sketches I forgot to take a photo of - another Spidey sketch, Grizzly for a guy with a funky He-Man themed sketch book, a sketch of Eve and Sam for Danielle who was awesome enough to read my comic overnight and came back for a sketch (the world needs more Danielles!) and a few others I'm already forgetting (which is why I was taking photos!) including a Hulk for Darrell who was unlucky enough to be the first to ask for a sketch and thus, got my rusty warm up. Sorry Darrell. I feel I owe you something better.

Other highlights.

Meeting Andy B who does Bottle of Awesome at Zuda, and Raising Hell, who was polite enough to point out in the Webcomics 101 panel, by the Transmission-X crew, that I was in the audience and did Celadore, to which crickets chirping would have been welcome. :o| The panel was great though. Funny guys who kept each other in check from rambling too much. Glad I went.

Being interviewed by Clark Kent (who is really Jamie Aaron Kelley), from WGBS News - you can watch their newscasts on youtube - t'was a blast. These guys played the part real well. Just fantastic. He totally looked like Clark Kent, even with the mannerism of constantly pushing his glasses up. Perfect.

I was also interviewed by an absolute gentleman, Tim Ashdown. More news on that when it appears on the webs. He has a podcast, and good taste!

Also in our table island was Emily, who, as well as fighting the equality battle on both fronts (get it?), does the webcomic Tom Boy Tara, which I had seen online already, so it's always nice to put a face to the talent.

I met tons of other awesome people, including Anthony who had the most enthusiasm for my work I've ever seen outside, well, me... and also cries when watching the Iron Giant, so you know he knows his stuff. I also met Bruno who is starting up an interesting webcomic-slash-print on demand hub, the fabler, which I will keep my eye on, possibly use, and truly hope to see succeed in generating a viable business plan and some income at last for webcomickers.

I love that kids, 10 and under it seems, were attracted to my comic a lot, with their parents trying to tug at their shirt collars, while they stood there transfixed, unmovable. For the mum who had the little girl with the awesome taste in comics (The Courageous Princess), if my recommendations got lost in the insanity of the day and you somehow find yourself here, they were Akiko, and the Elsewhere Chronicles. Good stuff. I didn't mention Bone, but does anyone need to these days? ;o)

Anyway, you're all bored of me now, right? Thanks again to everyone who took the time to stop and chat, request sketches, took postcards, business cards and generally made my day. Speaking of postcards. Anyone know good places to stock the 4,800 out of 5,000 I have left? ;o)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Well, look what just arrived in time for Fan Expo.

A big ol' box of postcards!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A blight on the landscape

Who might these lads and lasses be?

Find out in Celadore Chapter 3.
Just two weeks to go!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sam Little does Big Celadore Fan Art

Sam Little, one of the brains behind Zuda's Hammer, and his very own Untrue Tales sent me some fan art! Nice!

Sam looks like he's straight out of a Bill Plympton toon. Love it. :o)

Click the image for bigger love!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Rants in my pants!

I get a little depressed when I keep reading the same arguments again and again about webcomics, and Zuda, making money, rights issues, blah blah blah.

And it's HILARIOUS to me that webcomickers are coming out to complain about how to make webcomics more economically viable, and what's going to be a good model, because they all shot themselves in the foot. The internet came along, and everyone jumped in, deciding to sidestep the syndicates and go straight for that pie themselves, and now it's all over their faces.

I wanted to do comics since I was 5 years old. Since I read my first batch of Peanuts books back to front every day for a year.

As I got older, I worked on my strips, sending away my first solid strip attempt when I was 18, but it turns out I was too late. The syndicates were falling away already. Some had stopped taking submissions entirely, some were in the early stages of disappearing for good, and some sought new strips purely by headhunting off the internet. My dream was crumbling before me, and all I could ask is 'Why?'

Because people were putting comics on the internet FOR FREE.

Surely, anyone can see the inherent problem with that? How is anyone going to place a value on your work, when you can't be bothered placing one yourself.

Now, subscriptions don't work, paying to read won't work, etc. because the precedent was set. Readers now could read comics without paying 50 cents for a paper. And the comickers could now get readers without having 50 percent of their revenue taken away from them by the 'evil syndicates'. Um, what revenue? No one is paying you! Money is now completely out of the equation when it comes to reading comic strips. And now you want it? I really wish someone had have thought of that to begin with.

Sure, the standard contract from a syndicate was pretty terrible, 50 percent of the take, the option to have someone else take over your strip should you burn out, etc. There were even editorial mandates to contend with, some so constricting it destroyed some great strips. But they could go out and get your strip in to 100 papers within a week. They had access to overseas markets. They did a LOT of good stuff for that share of the take. I have a degree in advertising/marketing and I could never hope to do anything like that.

The system was in place, and the system worked, but everyone decided to go out and destroy it.

I know papers all seem to be in trouble now, but the syndicate death toll rang LONG ago.

Well, so there I was. 18, with a head full of dreams and ideas, but no real avenue to send my strips, and no desire to completely devalue my work by giving it away for free. I gave up, I retreated to the 'real world', went and got myself an advertising degree, floundered in crappy jobs, all the while scribbling comic strips mainly for my own enjoyment and growth.

There are people out there who are having fun, posting their comics on the net, working full time jobs and producing in their own time, and that's great, but if you want to make a living out of it, why would you ever give your work away for FREE? That's just bad business. When I go down to the art supply store, they certainly don't give their pens and paper to me for free.

Then Zuda came along.

Zuda, who were willing to PAY me for my work? Hot damn. And I get to keep my copyright? HOT DAMN. They'll take care of all the web stuff? And the advertising, and the promotion? HOT DAMN. I could at least handle that part of it myself, of course, but hell, all that advertising degree gave me was a strong desire to never work in advertising.

Thank god for Zuda! No more call centre jobs for me, no more soulless storyboard work. Just working on my comics, and spending my money. Zuda haven't taken any of it from me yet. Shock! People are reading and discovering my comics every day, when they used to sit in my drawer amusing no-one but me. Horror! I am telling my story the way I want to. The editors haven't changed any of my story, if anything, input from Kwanza has improved my stories. Omigod, Zuda is the devil!

Grow up.

You all want to be some kind of modern day Rockefeller with your comics, desperate to cling to any potential money should it (ever) come along, but you're giving your comics away for free! Your ONE asset!

Life is short. Let someone do the work you don't want to do, so you can produce the best and most art you can. Computers and web design mystifies me and I can market my comic if I really want to, (but I don't have to). All I have to do is work on my comics, make my deadlines (easy when you're enjoying yourself) and have steak for dinner.

So Zuda have a share in my property should it ever expand beyond its comic roots, if it's ever a movie or a cartoon, DC gets more of the pie, so what. I still get some, which is more than none. You want to hold on to the rights of something that no-one's reading, or have a share in the rights of something that IS out there? The odds of my 'property' ever becoming something else are still pretty slight, but they were non-existent before. Why? Because I don't want to make myself hoarse selling fish at the market, I just want to supply the fish. People like the fish, they WANT the fish. They don't like the guy yelling at them.

You can hate Zuda if you want. If you're some kind of 'cool' anti-establishment robot that likes to hate things just 'cos it's interesting to say at parties, whatever. You can see Zuda as a necessary evil, just like the syndicates were, in delivering the 'fish' we really want.

As a fish supplier, I'm just glad someone's moving them for me so they don't stink out my fridge.

You can try and do it all yourself in the hopes of success so you can retire early, buy a big house, fancy car, ivory toilet roll holders, congratulations. Here's your Greed Award. Or you can let someone else HELP you, share your success, and still live pretty well anyway, practically stress free. As Linus would say, from those Peanuts books I read all those years ago, and continue to do so, 'In 500 hundred years, who'll know the difference?'

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More Chapter III characters

Some more final (mostly) designs on some characters who will be showing up in Celadore chapter III, which is coming along nicely.

From left to right - Colin, Carp, Taffy, and Kristin

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Runner-Up Art Prizes

Three more pieces of art to be sent out in the mail shortly.
Julia, yours is coming.

Math-San created the tofu-lovin' Hunger Homer as his new band member.

One of my favourite lines from Jen's script. Hee hee.

Rockin' hard with Taint Buzz, created by Dan Pevar.

For anyone wondering how they might get their own free art by me, next time I have a script competition, I encourage you all to enter! ;o)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chapter 3 is coming

I've been busy designing a whole bunch of new characters for Chapter 3. Some major, most not. Up the top is Leon, and down below, sharing a log with Sam is Amy and Sam (Samantha). More to come soon.

Celadore Script Competition - results!

So, I got six scripts for my first ever script competition, which is six more than I expected!

Since it was such a small number of participants, everyone will be rewarded for their efforts.

The five runners up will each be sent an original piece of art by me, drawn for your respective scripts. A favourite panel, or a richly described character, etc.

Walter Ostlie, best known around the Zuda boards as slidestudios and responsible for Cubicles, and art chores on the Rejects, is the grand prize winner. Wally will be getting his four screen script completed by me, and the original art.

It was hard to pick a winner, and in the end it came down to a kind of synergy. When I read Wally's script, a lot of panels formed in my head instantly, unlike some of the other scripts which while all had their moments, indeed gave me a few of those 'oh hell, how am I going to fit all that in to one panel?' moments.

Which brings me to two points emerging comic writers need to keep in mind when writing their scripts.

1. If there's more than one thing going on in each panel, it's too much.

For example, and this is the most common example I've ever seen, if you have two characters talking (facing each other) it is impossible to show both their reactions. I used to get this a lot from seasoned book editors also, so it's not really just novice comic scripters who do it. Hell, I probably still do it.

But, if it's a reaction shot, you need to decide whose reaction is the most important and stick to that. If we see the back of the other character's head, so be it. Much like when kids learn to draw and eventually realise you can't show everything, ie. both ears are drawn visible on a 3/4 view head, this is that same thing. But for scriptwriters. :o)

And 2. Be aware of your space.

Say you have a page/screen with 9 panels, it's okay to have some large speech bubbles in maybe one or two panels, but not in every panel. And certainly not three large speech bubbles in one panel. You could do that if it's only 1 to 3 large panels to the page/screen, but not in 9 tiny panels.

Also, when two character's speech bubbles do overlap in one panel, as in a back-and-forward exchange, it works better with short sentences, and not long paragraphs of speech. That could be very hard to lay out.

Sometimes I think this comes from thinking of your script as for a movie/tv show, and not a comic. When writing a scene, we tend to play it out in our heads, with actors, and sets, etc. - like life - so take a second look at what you've just put down and make sure it works in the comic medium. If you've put down scenes that have too much going on, go back to point no 1 and edit, edit, edit. Try to find a focal point. The one thing that panel has to get across.

Wally, your script had some great pacing, and also fit well within the Celadore world. Something that others didn't do so well. Which is my fault really, for not explaining everything about the Order, so sorry about that, folks! Oops. You can hit me when you see me next.

The Hunger are only meant to be masquerading as a vampire band, even though they are actually vampires, and some of the scripts had them acting a little too vampiric publicly. Wally's script has some bigotry against the vampire band, but it's vague, so I twisted it to mean the locals who threaten them just don't like tough, goth rock chicks in them there parts.

Putting Angus (Aprils' missing pomeranian) into the script was also a selling point, as it immediately made me think of another little side story of how Angus got from Boston to a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Poor doggie.

Plus, and this is just another personal preference, I'm not one for pop culture gags, so while some of the parody singers that popped in some of the other scripts were funny, it's not something I would find myself ever putting to paper. To me, it's the difference between Dreamworks films that date really quickly due to their endless pop culture references, and Pixar, which has character/situation based comedy, giving a more timeless quality.

So, sorry to the couple of entrants who did that. You were the victim of my prejudice.

(Wally did give me a Twilight reference, but I'm not all about complete zero tolerance.)

So, sketches are underway for Metsuke, Jen, Julia, Math-San and Daniel. I heartily thank and congratulate every one of you on entering some great scripts. Keep one eye on your mailbox. Metsuke, here's yours, the first to be done. (You have a tshirt coming too, of course).

Daniel, there's a quick little sketch of Taint Buzz at the top of the post, to tide you over til I do the proper sketch.

Wally, you'll have to wait a bit longer for yours, as I draw up the full pages in and around doing Cel 3, which is now underway.

This was fun. I may do it again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ness's dog-walking service.

Between telling people's fortunes with possessed puppets and selling night cream made out of children's teeth to the rich and famous, Ness also runs a dog-walking service! Look who the lucky pup is today. "Oh, the humanity."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wax meets... the Hammer!

Gettin' my noir on with a little Hammer crossover. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Hunger

The greatest vampire band in the world, The Hunger, were seen in the big melee at the end of Celadore Part One. Unfortunately, in the kerfuffle they lost their lead guitarist/vocalist.

I have a competition running in my spiffy new facebook group where you can write what happens next when they have to recruit *gasp* a human, so here's the characters you have to play with.


Anna is now the defacto leader of the vampire population, after Christian's demise. She is a forethinker in vampiric alternatives. Synthetic blood. Animal farms, etc. She was the pioneer of peaceful co-existence.

She has been a vampire since early settlement of America, and now lives in a basement apartment, under a nice old lady and plays small shows with her band. It's hard to hit the big time when you can't make day appointments with big record labels, but she's happy staying small time. They have a lot of hardcore fans. Some of them nuts, of course. Since they market themselves as a vampire band.


Patience used to be in a two-man group with her husband. In the late 60s, he was killed, she was turned, and has since taken up with Anna, who saved her from a life of having to eat people. She was always calm, quiet and gentle, and still keeps it up. Want napkins with that baby animal? Yes, please. Just because you're a creature of the night, doesn't mean you can't still be a creature of habit.

Again, details of the competition are here.

Celadore hits Facebook

Okay. As much as I ignore facebook, it does have its uses. Which I fully intend to use!

There's no point in having the group unless you do something with it, right? Right! So look out for two competitions coming soon. One for artists, and one for writers. Win tshirts. Win art.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Movie within a comic

Miss Taken starring April May

And with this poster, something I drew up quickly for background detail for some upcoming Celadore screens, yet another branching story begins to percolate in my brain.

Imagine you're ten years old, and your grown daughter comes back from the future to tell you you've got to help her save the world. Imagine if she has to enlist her mother's help too, and this little girl happens to be your sworn enemy.

Yes, another story for another time. Yes, indeed.

*evil grin*

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Celadore Part 2 begins March 10!

Here's a few character sketches til then. Photoshop colouring under my pencils. I don't do it often, but it's fun! If I ever get to tell Cel's origin story, I reckon I'd try to do the whole thing like this.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sequels and tshirts

The sequel was finally announced at the New York con this friday gone, and it's a good thing too, 'cos it was hard to keep my mouth shut! Now I can rant about it all I like!

The whole cast will be back (except one) and a few new ones will be introduced. There are NO vampires in this story at all (yay, says the Zuda community). And there will be more panels than ever!

And true to Murphy's Law, my convention tshirts arrived today. The above image on a nice, bright red tee, and this one below on black. Not for sale, of course. Just wanted to make myself a walking advertisement. ;o)

The other tshirts I was supposed to have with me were THESE ones:

With the idea that I could do sketches with fabric pen in the blank Zuda box. I only had four made up (two girls, two boys) so I'll either hang on to them for a future competition, or just bring them to the next convention.

A big thank you to all my readers, and for leaving comments, and sending feedback and making a sequel possible. See you all soon with more new pages!