Saturday, 24 September 2016

Nor Con 6 cancelled.

Hi. Very sorry about this but I can't make it to Nor Con 6 on the 8th September. Due to my current workload I just can't do it. On that note, for all those people waiting on art...I'm on it! Please contact me if you need anything by a specific date.

More soon!

John

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Nor-Con 6, 8th October



I'll be a guest at Nor-Con 6 on the 8th October. I'll be sketching all day, these are free but aren't as finished as the pieces that I do beforehand as commissions or to sell! Come by early to get on my list as it is limited.

For pre-convention sketches, continue reading!


All the pre con commissions are done in pencil, ink and Copic marker. I can do something different, say pencils only, or linework, just let me know. I'll also be doing colour pieces again, basically they're copic marker pieces with watercolour added. They're a lot more finished than what I can accomplish on the day of the con and they're pretty cheap!
Here are some examples:


A4 B/W. These are £45.











A4 sketchcovers, these would be £45. If you want to supply your own comic then send it quickly! I do have a small stock of titles...there'd be a small charge if you want me to supply the cover. These are pretty popular at the moment!














 
A4 Colour. These are £55



A3 B/W. These are £90




These tend to be more full figure than the A4 ones as they're twice the size!

A3 Colour. These are £110





I don't mind doing a couple of figures on the A3 colour pieces, as long as it doesn't get crazy with detail.

That's all the info you'll need. Look forard to meeting you on the day!



Tuesday, 6 September 2016

NICE: Postscript and review

NICE! Back from another great weekend put together by Jeff and Bub Chahal and the staff and volunteers from Close Encounters. This year was especially relaxed and friendly with more than the usual amount of very reasonably priced artwork and sketches on offer. There were a lot of very happy people around over the weekend!

It's a comic con that has an emphasis on comic creators. If you've not been before then check it out next year. There are even 2 decent hotels within a couple of minutes walk from the venue. It reminds me of the old Bristol comic cons in it's approach and ambience, the helpful staff who are happy to assist and the easy interaction between fans and guests.

As regular readers of this blog will be aware, I usually attend comic conventions with my friend and sometime collaborator Russ Payne. Not this time. NICE is an actual comic con and knows the difference between a comic artist and someone who clearly isn't. Besides, he was on holiday with his family in a cottage with no power somewhere near Bradford. He was missed however as I was subjected to more ridicule in his abscence. He may return next year if he promises not to draw anything.

I was planning to travel by train as I had no banner to take (it died in Swindon and I've not had time to design a new one yet) and would be travelling light. And I can't drive (although I have had a lesson in the past year)Mentioning this to my friend Scott (the one who drove Russ and myself to LSCC a few years ago, kidnapped us afterwards, got us back at 0230) he decided that, if I paid for the petrol, he'd drop me in Bedford on his way to Swindon where he was going for a weekend talking about fish and all the guff that goes along with keeping them. This was the obvious choice as I don't think I've ever managed to find a seat on a train to Bedford before. 

The plan was to set off at about midday to arrive around 5ish. Of course the M6 was it's usual roadwork filled failure. There were miles upon miles of roadworks yet I saw only four workmen that were actually moving around. Two were in diggers and there was one flapping his arms around holding a piece of paper. The other one showing signs of life was drinking tea in a digger. To be fair there were two additional figures sat in diggers but they were either asleep or were mannequins dressed like workmen...

The journey was uneventful outside of a substandard Starbucks experience for Scott. His triple expresso looked like something that fell out of a 1980's vending machine. It was the same Starbucks where, when Russ asked if he could please have a skinny latte, was told 'no' in June. I'll make a note of the name next time.

Scott and I arrived at the hotel at around six. I left my art folders and a box of sketchcovers with some friends in the foyer and headed up to my room to drop my bags off. When I returned to the foyer ten minutes later people were passing round the art from the opened folders and were trying to give me money. It wasn't a problem. Scott had to get off as he was desperate to get to Swindon for his weekend of aquatic talk.


Burt Ward pre con commission




Marvel Girl A3 pre con commission

I headed to a nearby Indian restaurant with friends. Had a nice little chat with Mark Farmer about Angus McBride, one of my favourite illustrators on the way to the King's Head where I caught up with Doug and Sue Braithwaite. As I touched upon previously, NICE is very similar to the old Bristol con in this way where artists, writers and fans mingle together in and around the hotel well into the night. Jeff suddenly appeared laughing  his head off, sat on a barrel like a giant leprechaun. I think he'd had a bit to drink at this point. My 3D Star Wars t-shirt was what set him off.
I intended an early night but someone (I think it was me) started a conversation about The Force Awakens and I got to my room at 3am. I was really looking forward to a quiet nights sleep, no room sharing, no snoring. At 330am someone in an adjacent room decided to have a shower and then use a hairdryer. Why?

Looking at the table plan beforehand I'd presumed I'd be on the balcony and that's where I'd told everyone I'd be here and on other social media. I was in error, there was no-one on the balcony. Still, at least it was the right convention, if not the right building.
I was determined not to take on too many sketches this year as I wanted to fulfill all requests after my  enforced disappearance at LSCC earlier in the year. Didn't quite work out. It's the same problem as always, I can't talk and draw and I like to look at the person I'm talking to...which stops me drawing.


Daredevil TV series pre con commission


Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl piece I sold at the con

I did a Fred Flintstone one that was a lot of fun, I think that was my favourite one of the weekend. I quite like the new DC logo too. People were also dropping off comics for me to take home and do my more finished commissions on so I was constantly making notes about that. With regards to commissions, if anyone did set something up with me then please get in touch to make sure I know what I'm doing!
People also popped by to share artwork they'd bought at the con. Cam Smith (great guy and artist, good to meet him) was selling some nice pieces at very reasonable prices as was Mr Farmer and Adi Granov. Everyone I spoke to had managed to pick up at least one piece they considered a bargain.
One guy was after getting as many artists as possible to draw Prince in a sketchbook. He was a little despondant in the morning as he'd only got one artist lined up in the first hour but by the end of the weekend the sketchbook was looking great, there must have been fifteen pages filled, including a really nice Bisley piece. I'll be adding to it at Thoughtbubble (the book, not Simon's art).


Flintstones sketch I did on the Saturday

Furiosa from Mad Max, pre con commission

I drew at least three Harley Quinn's over the weekend, each one a different version. I also sold two pre done ones on the day that were different again. How many versions of her are there?
I had an ever changing cast of helpers sit with me at the con. Admittedly a fair few just wanted a rest but it was nice to have a bit of company.
I won't say I missed Russ being there shaking the table whilst he 'drew', but I did miss defacing and confiscating his equipment. Thankfully the guys stepped up and there was a lot of vicious banter flying around mostly at my expense.
By way of comeback I asked each of them for a quick sketch. I think it's something I'll continue at each convention. Mick Skinner set the bar high with his Batman...


From top left, clockwise, Tony, Nigel, Mick, Larry and Rich. I think Nige was drawing Conan.


I was asked by a fair few people about the book I'm writing with Russ, when it'd be published, how it was going. There wasn't any point in lying. Russ is still recycling the same inane paragraphs he wrote 18 months ago. He's convinced I'll think they're new if he changes the order of them. He's been unable to write recently after a series of ridiculous events. His kitchen basically jumped the shark in January and took until the beginning of August to be sorted. Also, he was on a game show in July that should be aired very soon, it's called Rebound. I'll post details of when it's on as soon as I find out. It'll be interesting to see if he plays himself or one of his alter-egos on the show. The gameshow only took a day out of his life but his ego reached new heights afterwards and so for the past month he's been a genius in his own mind. You can imagine how easy it is to reason with him.

Jeff Chahal sorted a meal on the Saturday night for all the guests and the volunteers which was great. It was at the same Indian restaurant I ate in the night previously.
Great comics based chat in the bar of the hotel afterwards. Favourite members of the New Teen Titans and just how good Gil Kane was were some of the highlights. I got an early night, 1am, only to be woken at 2 by someone having a shower. This was repeated at 4, along with another use of a hairdryer. Madness. Perhaps the hundreds of javelin throwers also staying in the hotel kept accidentally stabbing themselves and had to clean blood off their bedsheets...

Sunday was much of the same. Some fantastic news, at least for me, was that I sold my Biff Tannen sketch. I'd had it for a few cons but knew, given time, someone would come along who appreciated it...it was one of the best likenesses I've ever done and I'm glad it's now in someone's collection. I also managed to offload my colour Atom smasher piece (for a hefty discount)...a commission piece that the person never turned up to collect (one of only two times that's ever happened). It's finally gone, thanks Mick!
Scott arrived a little late (traffic) to pick me up but that gave me chance to be introduced to Chris Geary who's done some really nice war books with art that evokes the old EC titles and Alex Toth in particular.
I found there was a lot less room in the car on the return journey as Scott had brought along crabs, a ton of starfish and some tube worm thing along with a load of equipment that he possibly talked about at length (I shut down mentally after a while, it's not my mid-life crisis).


Harley Quinn, drawn beforehand that I sold at the con


Movie Hulk pre con commission

The journey home involved a reasonable sized detour to Crewe for Scott to pick up some lights for a fish tank he'd won on Ebay. Fine. But next time I've been waiting to wee for two hours and you refuse to stop because you need to be somewhere for 10pm don't lock the doors and windows when I try to get out at the traffic lights...but thanks for the lift.

If you've not been to NICE before then give it a go next year, it's the friendliest con I've been to and one of only a handful of comic conventions in the UK that concentrates on comics and comic creators as opposed to celebrities and knock off prints by some bloke who has nothing to do with comics. It's centrally located wth easy access to food and drink and the train station. No, Bedford isn't the easiest place to get to, especially from the north, but it's worth it. Thanks again to Jeff, Bub and all the volunteers and helpers!

Next con appearance, Nor-Con 6 next month. Details to follow soon!



















Tuesday, 30 August 2016



With NICE being this coming weekend I figured it was time to do some updates. For those hoping to get on my sketchlist at the con: If I take requests beforehand then I have no spaces left before the con even starts so to be fair to everyone it's a case of getting to my table on the day!
The Legion art meet: After speaking with people I think it's best we meet at the convention itself, say 4pm, on the Saturday as there are a few concerns about carrying art around in the hotel bar. Of course, feel free to come by the table at any point to chat also. And there'll be chance to chat after the con itself too as I'll be around all evening (although I am hoping to get to bed before 5am this year).
I'm at table 53, up on the balcony this year! I don;t have a banner this time as I'm in the process of designing a new one (my old one died in Swindon) so look for the gap between other banners!
I've drawn 20 head sketches for sketch roulette this year. Check with the organisers, Jeff Chahal and Bub Chahal or look at the official site for details of what's happening with that!
I'll be getting into Bedford about 5 on Friday and will be hanging around the hotel.
Here's a piece I've done for the con, a copy of Adam Hughes' cover for Betty and Veronica #1 (I really enjoyed the comic by the way, reminded me of the late 60's DC Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis comics) with Betty and Veronica as Saturn Girl and Phantom Girl of the Legion.


A Captain Marvel sketchcover. Obviously it's the original Captain Marvel and not the current Marvel one. I am hoping to get one of her done if I have time but the chance to do the big red cheese on a cover with his name on it was too great for me to pass up.



Here's a Deadpool one...


I've actually had too many commissions to get through this year so there's a more limited choice of new sketches to purchase at the con. I'll have some discounted pieces left over from past cons also. I dont tend to sell online so these sketches are onl ever really on sale at conventions. Come check them out! See everyone at the weekend!

Monday, 22 August 2016

NICE Comic Con Commissions

Pre convention sketchlist is now closed! 

I'll have some pieces to sell at the convention though. Also, I am doign a limited number of free sketches at the con itself. Come by early to get on that list!

See you there!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

NICE Comic Con Legion Art meet!

A few Legion fans are meeting up at the NICE comic con in Bedford on the 3/4th September to have a Legion art show and tell. So, if you want to join in then message/email me and we can figure out a time and place that suits everyone. It'll be great to see any original Legion art whether it's published pages, commissions or sketches. If you don't have any Legion art but just want to chat about the book or check out the art then come along, eveyone's welcome!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Writing a Book part 3:The journey...

The following is an account of the past ten months or so in the journey of writing a book with Russell Payne...initially I was going to break up the following into three distinct blogs but decided against it! So there may be different tenses used in the following account...

The last months of 2015 were bleak where the book was concerned. Russ had jumped the shark. Not literally obviously, he can't swim, but his meagre offerings in both September and December made me question the entire project. Both of us were frustrated for different reasons. Russ couldn't understand why I didn't see his genius. I couldn't understand why he didn't care about narrative, character development or writing anything that wasn't comedy. And by comedy I mean an irksome, consistently unrealistic inner monologue that every character seems to share.

Payne was fully aware we weren't writing a comedy.

September: Flying over Canada on my way to the Baltimore Comic Con I read Payne's offering. He'd assured me it was great so I settled in to enjoy it. The park worker in Russ' fourth chapter, a middle aged woman obsessed with lines, order and who possessed a deep hatred of children was gone, replaced by a 14 or 15 year old girl called Emily. That in itself was an enormous positive step.

Emily, it turns out, was obsessed with lines, order and...you get the picture. He just recycled the same chapter and put a different character in there. Butcher, another teen now made an appearence in this passage and he was a welcome addition. He did have some hair problems though. He had short hair in chapter one and four and yet later in the book, he flicked his long hair over his shoulder. The 25 pages didn't take long to read. One long conversation was repeated twice more in different chapters. I watched a couple of movies for the rest of the plane journey.

Let's move on...it still bothers me.

December 2015, a new deadline; the day I left for France to visit my parents. No need for him to print the chapters out this time, I had access to a PC whilst over there. Here is not the time to write about my feelings upon finishing reading the still unfinished draft at that time. We've both moved on. However I will admit that I did write a 3000 word synopsis for a book project of my own that week. Russ is fine with that. He fully understands why.

With hindsight the fact that we both enjoy different books, Russ writes only comedy and is, let us say, disorganised and an advocate of the path of least resistance should have prevented us from ever moving past the idea stage of the project. Reckless optimism on my part is probably a major contributor. The fact we're still working on the book together shows that the book we're writing is pretty good, something worth persevering with. Or it shows that we're both as imbecilic as one other. One day soon I hope to discover which.

February brought a good ten hour chat driving to and from the London Super Con. We ironed out many plot and character issues and also a few continuity problems. Well not really continuity problems but things that would've created difficulties for us in the future if not addressed now. Upon returning home I wrote up the notes so Russ could remember our conversations.

A note on Russ' mind. He actually went to a memory assessment centre recently to see if he was suffering from early onset dementia. They told him that they don't usually test people as young as him but allowed him to take the test anyway. He nailed it and was told he possesses a perfect memory...No-one can understand how. Not even Russ. Although he's probably forgotten he ever went. Maybe he imagined the whole thing.

At that time I'd decided to rewrite the last third of my chapters. There are various reasons for this, the main one being that it wasn't good enough.

We were both in disagreement about the length of the book at this stage too. In this case Payne was right, I'd written way too much. I read long books and I was going off that as a comparison. we're not writing in that genre though! I'd also pushed ahead with the second book in the series, just to bide my time waiting for Russ to catch up really and was up to about 30,000 words on that already.
We both realised that we could cut the first book in half as it made much more sense plot wise, it was a natural place to end and now the book ends on a cliffhanger which I like. It also means we both have a head start on the second installment in the series.

The book, when completed, will have alternating chapters, Russ' first, followed by one of mine. I say mine but the idea is that when we get past the second rewrite stage that we'll edit one another's chapters to create more of a singular writing style. Also, we'll hopefully eliminate or at least cover over one another's weaknesses that way.

The entire series is written in the first person and there are, I believe six different point of view characters in the first book alone...it's a lot of work. The book is also set in two distinct time periods. That's a lot of work too. It isn't unambitious.

COLLABORATION!

It had to happen at some point, we're actually working together. Previously we were really writing solo projects that we then hoped to piece together. I was working up a historical fiction adventure, Russ was writing a strange and confused comedy.

This collaboration may be a passing phase but I hold out hope that it isn't. I'm rewriting a couple of chapters again after a recent thirteen hour car journey to Colchester and back where we discussed much. In fact 90% of the journey the conversation was based around the book. We both admitted our shortcomings and worked out key changes and sub plots (it's surprising how one small comment by a character can affect so much!). Last week we even worked together on one of his chapters, a true collaboration.

So, the upshot is that it's going well right now. Russ is still a massive conundrum to work with but I've found a new coping method. I put him in the book. If you know him at all then you'll recognise him instantly.

I initially wrote him into book two but since I penned those 30,000 words book two is now book three and is set in a different time altogether. So that tale will probably be a standalone book published sometime after book two (see, reckless optimism!). It's an important part of the story but doesn't quite fit into the sequence of alternating chapters that the first four books at least will consist of.

Here are a few of the illustrations I've done for the chapter headings for book one along with the names of a few of the characters.


Emily Sellers




Matthew Talbot


William Talbot

So, there you have the names of three of the characters who have chapters from their point of view. No, they're not all from the same time period...but they are all connected somehow. 

A future blog will contain a front cover image (already done the artwork, needs colouring and lettering) and a synopsis. The most I can say about the book at the moment is that it's a cross-genre affair.
There's a video in the works also, for advertising purposes. Russ will be filming that and I'll be acting in it alongside several other people. Then we'll both be editing and adding in the cool stuff. But I know that'll take time and I need to get a few costumes made for it before we can begin. And hats. My mum can't make hats apparently which is irritating and probably a massive lie. What she means is that she can't be bothered. She'd probably get along well with Russ.

NEXT WEEK...


No, that isn't when the book will be out. Or when it'll be finished. It's the standard reply I get when I ask Payne whether he's finished the draft of his half of the book. If it's not the cat (dead now thankfully and no longer a sap on the Payne resources or time) it's another problem with a part of the house falling down (for the past few months it's been the kitchen. Tedious.) or some other ridiculous turn of events that befall the balding fool on a weekly basis.

Russ has no time to write. So instead, what little time he does have is wasted in recycling discarded passages and terrible, unfunny puns and comedy inner monologue. It's not going to make the process any quicker in the long run...despite myself I sometimes have to admire his stubborn obtuseness. Most of the time I'd like to finish the project myself.

He did apologise yesterday though. For everything.

The rewriting process is interesting. Russ wants me to add in more flowery, descriptive prose which I'm attempting to do. He also takes issue with the way characters interrupt one another's sentences. Both fair points although I do like characters interrupting one another in frantic situations.

I'll tell you a tale now of a long car journey to a comic convention (Swindon) and the week preceding it. We almost quit on the book project.

Russ finished his second draft and handed it over for me to make notes and comments on. I did the same with his. The results were explosive. In hindsight it was quite funny, but not at the time, not at all. There was an outburst of vitriol and hate from both sides. I wasn't ready to pronounce Russ a genius and he took offense at my dissection of his words and well...everything else I did or said.
 I'm not going to go into details here, you'll be able to read a full account of what occurred in a second book we're collaborating on...a book that shows the collaberative process itself and examines the entire debacle of writing the book together in detail. It'll be quite amusing and I think, pretty original in concept and execution. I'm looking forward to that!

The days leading up to the Swindon con weren't pleasant at all though. I seriously considered not going at one point but thankfully things settled down. Russ stopped defending everything with the phrase 'but I like it' and we set off for the con at the ridiculous hour of 0430.

Russ had a few problems with my work, mainly a scene where, to be fair, one of the characters had turned into a Bond villain and spent the best part of ten pages explaining the plot to another character for no particular reason other than to explain the plot...He also took issue with a nasty incident where one of the 'heroes' is questioning a murderer and uses harsh and vicious methods to extract information. It involved an eyeball. I defended it as it's fitting for Tudor times and the way people behaved then...however it's gone. In the end, he was right.

However, he'd also gone overboard with pedantry...for example, questioning the levels of light as a result of the moon cycle on a particular date in 1551. I wouldn't have minded so much but he put more effort in trying to prove me wrong than in researching anything for his part of the book. It was irksome. He did explain, at length, my misuse of a particular word, 'clapped'...and then found that, if he'd bothered to read on in the dictionary, that I was right. I enjoyed that a lot. The fool.

Russ has got some new ideas for his part of the book...I really, really hope they include the concept of continuity, well rounded and distinct personalities and a linear plot. He's a re-cycler. He struggles to delete anything he's written for some reason. He just moves it about and tries to pass it off as new. Re-cycling...at the end of the day, it's still rubbish. Throw it away and move on!

We're both very excited about the new book that I've touched upon, the dissection one. Most of the journey to and from Swindon was taken up with conversation about that. The other book, the original one (the first in a series!)...it's getting there, we just need to get on with it really and push through.

Russ did state, at the beginning, that it was a terrible idea working together and it'd fail. It was the most coherent thought he's had in at least five years and he was right to protest. But we're still working together which proves the idea is worth persevering with, otherwise we'd have quit a long time ago in reality, and things are starting to shape up pretty well! It'll be interesting to see what other people think of it, whether they like it as much as we do!

Here's where we are as of the beginning of July. I'm still rewriting and I'm about halfway through. I'm addressing the 'Bond villain chapter' (Russ was right, it was a terrible scene!) once more as it's an important sequence which affects at least three other chapters so it's taking a while! Russ has replotted much of his part and also eliminated a couple of character's POV chapters as there were too many. It added to the confusion so that's a big step in moving forward. By the end of the month we should both have completely finished our rewrites! I'm excited to see what he's come up with!

The book may be out before the end of the year (our provisional deadline was September) but more likely early next! 

Next time I blog about the book I hope to be ready to ask for a few proofreaders to help out!