Friday 19 December 2014

The Chiari Conundrum

I'm going to be drawing a comic book soon, it's on Kickstarter right now. Here's the link

Chiari Conundrum

I've already painted the cover, here's a bad photo of the piece (it seems to be dark here all the time, I'll get a decent scan of it soon and update it here)

The man behind the project and the writer is Chris Hill. I worked with Chris at Marvel when we collaborated on the Triple-A baseball comic books for a couple of years. It's an educational comic. There's even chance to get your likeness in there! Check it out.

Tuesday 16 December 2014 is down and has been for some time.

I've been told my site is down and has been for some time, for months actually. I've been trying to sort it out but have so far met with frustration. 

Easyspace have done nothing to reestablish the link or get the site up again, they've managed to fail on every level. Their levels of ineptitude are fantastic. For example a phone call to them at 5pm is rewarded with a message that tells you that the office is now closed and to call back during office hours, between 830 am and 530 pm...for pity's sake.

So, sorry about that. Hopefully soon the site will be back up. In the meantime I'm still drawing and it only looks like I've let things slide and have disappeared or possibly died. If it continues to be a problem then I'll have to develop a new website and change all my banners and information...I'm hoping it doesn't come to that but Easyspace are trying their best to be so inept that it'll become the only option...

Thursday 11 December 2014

A few colour sketches: LSCC 2015 London Super Comic Con

Here's a few quick colour pieces I've done for family and friends recently...thought I may as well post them as the first examples of colour sketches. These are all A4. Maybe not the most exciting subjects, but hey, it's what I was asked for! I'm still hoping to get some more examples done soon, more comic based work, maybe some more colourful examples. But for now...

Wednesday 19 November 2014

LSCC London Super comic convention 2015

LSCC 2015, March 14/15

Excel Centre, London 

I'll be attending LSCC in March next year. As last year, get in touch if you'd like a pre-con commission sketch doing. They're basically copic marker,  finished/detailed convention sketches. I'd like to say they're similar to what Adam Hughes (did) or Copiel does for pre-con commission sketches...but they're clearly not as good as the sketches they do (And the price reflects that!) They do look quite nice though! 

Prices are £80 for an 11" by 17" (or A3 depending on where you live) and £40 for one half the size (A4)

Also, I'm adding sketches with colour, by that I mean a tonal copic one but with some watercolour added in. Not really bright, but pretty nice. I'll post examples and prices as soon as I've experimented a little and figured it all out. Just wanted to mention it!

Over the last year, well since the Film and Comic con in July, I've added in film and TV sketches too. Some examples at the end of this post.

I will be sketching at the con as well, both Saturday and Sunday but as I'm really slow and also can't talk and draw at the same time the number I can do will be limited. The sketches I do at the con are free, they're not as detailed or finished as the pre-con ones mentioned above...but they're ok. 

As the spots are limited I'll have to ask that you come over on the day and get your name added to the list. This is fair as otherwise, if people get on the list before the con starts, then I'm booked up before it even starts...

Also, a few people have asked about me doing other kinds of commissions for them before the con. These will be increasingly difficult to fit into my schedule as they take longer and I'm getting booked if you'd like a recreation, a full tonal piece or something else then it'll have to be sorted soon!

I'll also have a folder of pre-con sketches for sale (like last year) but this time I'll have a selection of the aforementioned colour ones too.

I'll be at my assigned table and have a banner with my name on it again too.

Here are a couple of pre con pieces from recent cons...

More detailed blog to follow at some point over the next weeks. Right now I'm a little behind on some work!

I'll post more examples in the next LSCC post including some of the colour ones (with prices)

Sunday 9 November 2014


In 1979, British TV reran the original Star Trek. I don't know how many I watched but the ones I saw burned themselves into my mind. They're still there now. That's indicative of how good they were as I only saw each episode once. There were no videos at the time, at least not in our house, to record it with. 

Each weeks episode was re-enacted in the playground at school. I was always Kirk. My friend Phillip Sherlock was always Spock as he had jet black hair and Nimoyesque features. (Yes, Sherlock and Watson, there were a lot of 'elementary' jokes).

In the evenings I'd use my space lego figures as the crew of the Enterprise and make the interior of the ship as best I could using the lego bricks. 

Kirk was my favourite. I really wanted a starfleet uniform too. The local Post Office had a Star Trek phaser and communicator for sale (they also used to sell BMX accessories too, hand grips, brakes, helmets, gloves, it was like a day out for a kid). I never got the set. There was a near disaster on the Isle of Man thay year too. I went there on a day trip with my family and my grandparents. I remember absolutely nothing about the ferry or the Isle of Man itself except that there was a Spock uniform in one of the shops. I stood there entranced whilst the rest of my traveling companions headed back to the ferry. A blind panic ensued, I was really bricking it, before I spotted my Grandad in the far distance, he was tall and always wore a trilby. They hadn't noticed I was missing. No-one ever mentioned it. I never got the Spock uniform.

The point of the last paragraph is that I really loved the uniforms. And it was the green of Kirk's that was my favourite...Yes, it's called command gold, I know, it looked kind of yellowy on the tv screen...until the remastered box sets came out restoring everything to it's intended hue (including Spock's skin colour in the first two seasons, until the budget was cut in season 3). But it's green, despite being called gold. Avocado green... Anyway, Kirk was the classic boys' hero, every word uttered with gravitas and import, all action, impetuous, intelligent, heroic.

The TV series finished. I saw the first few movies, the Wrath of Khan was pretty neat. But I couldn't relate to the movies. I was a kid, the crew were older, too old after having been introduced to them only recently in their prime...and, this may sound really shallow, the uniforms weren't very good. I just didn't like them. 

I'd also discovered Star Wars. Back in 1977 when my dad asked if I wanted to see the original movie I perpetrated an epic fail when I declined and asked to see a Herbie movie instead. What an idiot. I can't imagine how my dad felt. He should have lied and said there were no more tickets left for Herbie...but in 1980 I saw Empire Strikes Back and it was Star Wars all the way. The day after I saw the movie I went to Argos and got some Star Wars figures. Still have those figures, except Luke's headscarf (it's the Hoth version) has been partially eaten by a rabbit.

So Trek was put aside, a fond memory. I never read the comics. I never got into Next Gen (I've watched it over the past few years and I enjoyed it) or the other series of Trek...

It was the 2009 movie that rekindled my interest in Star Trek. I didn't see it at the cinema, that's how bothered I was about it. But one night whilst sat up with my sick daughter I put on the DVD.

I'm not going to get into it here about which incarnation is best, whether the Abrams movies are just mindless spectacle etc. There's so much Trek out there for everyone to enjoy. It all has it's place. But the Abrams movie renewed my interest in Star Trek. The casting was great, the time travel plot was plausible, the opening scenes with Kirk's dad were fantastic...Karl Urban as Bones, Simon Pegg as Scotty...and the uniforms were back, if updated!

The next day I got the season one box set of the original series, remastered, on DVD. It's great. Spock's face, as I've already spoken about, has a green tint, the planets look real, the strings are gone...but the original phaser blasts are left in. It's crisp, it improves on the original series, but doesn't detract from it like Lucas' fannying about with the original Star Wars did. It's not overdone. It's basically how it should have looked 40+ years ago.

Less than a week after I'd watched season one I'd ordered the other 2 box sets. It shows how good they were that after 40 odd years, they're still good to watch now. (There are some very good episodes in season 3 when the budget had been cut to about $5 an episode. It succeeds despite the limitations, except Spock's Brain. Obviously).The plots are intelligent, the stories are viable, not dated at all. It shows what a visionary Roddenberry really was. And what a great group of writers he had at his disposal. 

Around that time I started doing cursory searches for Star Trek shirts, authentic ones. I quickly realised I couldn't afford a screen used one (a Tribble is a lot more than I could afford), but I wanted an authentic shirt. It had to look like the one's from the series. My 7 year old self demanded it.

I've always demanded authenticity. I had the same problems with NFL jerseys in the 1990's, replica football shirts more recently. I detest fake goods and also things that don't look exactly like they appear in the movies...

Anyhow, I stumbled across the Anovos site. Yes, they may seem a little pricey, but you get what you pay for. The premier line of tunics is as close as most people are going to get to the real thing. I got the  Kirk season 3 shirt. It's great. The sleeves are a little short, just like Shatner's tunic. But he was right when he said that the season 3 shirt clings to all the wrong places...

Season 3 Captain Kirk Tunic

I eventually caved and bought an Into Darkness shirt's not as good quality as the original series one, but that was a lot more money. And, being pedantic, it doesn't have the seam that runs all the way down the outside of the arm like the Into Darkness shirts. It's like the 2009 movie shirt. I'd say it was basically what the extras would wear from the Abrams movies. And I'm happy with that.

Into Darkness Kirk Tunic

An aside, if you want to wear a Star Trek shirt at a restaurant I recommend the Khan or the Kirk undershirt from the Abrams movies, it's affordable (from Anovos) and is a lot more acceptable to wives and civilians. Order a size or two up, they're very snug.

Into Darkness Khan undershirt

Another very cool thing are the Juan Ortiz Star Trek posters (collected in a hardback book). He's created a poster for each episode of the original TV series. Here are some of my favourites. Check out his website at

Tuesday 4 November 2014


Some of my earliest drawings I still have are of Battle of the Planets. Before the 1980 annual came out I'd never seen a still image of the team and as we didn't have videos yet I used to try and draw the characters as quickly as possible whilst watching the cartoon. 

I didn't find out until years later that there was a comic published at the time. It probably wasn't available in the UK anyway. 

I also had a really cool Battle of the Planets t shirt. It was a nylon white one with the whole of the front an image of the team. No idea what happened to it, or all the other ones I had, Superman, Batman etc. 

I was hoping to post a picture of the team I did in 1979/80 here...but it's disappeared. Pity, it was very funny, tiny figures drawn in biro on an A2 piece of drawing paper. I can only find a Spidey and a Batman TV series piece. 

For those of you who may be reading this and have no idea what Battle of the Planets is, here's a link to the opening credits. Awesome.

Battle of the Planets intro

Years afterwards I discovered that the cartoon was an edited version of Gatchaman. As a kid I had no idea that One Rover One, the droid, was added in by far inferior American animators. It's pretty obvious really. I still don't know how the series ended, or if it ever did. 

Jason was the best character, the one everyone wanted to be in the playground. When I was breaking into comics I got to paint one of the Dynamic Forces BOTP trading cards and it was Jason. I met Nick Barrucci, the publisher, a few years later (the company has since become Dynamite Entertainment), he hadn't realised I was such a fan. I could have done more!

Here's the trading card.

At the time I went over to Dynamite, in October 2002, the company were selling t-shirts of each of the characters so I got one of each, except Jason as they couldn't get the colours right and hadn't produced one. My wife never wore the Princess one...

Here's a piece I did for the cover of Incognito Comics, for a catalogue cover I think. Love all the different colours I used for this one. This is, unfortunately, the only copy I have of the art. I was quite late getting a PC and digital set up...and as a consequence I've lost copies of most of my early comic work and all the paintings that led up to that time. I didn't even take photocopies of any of the pencil art (which I sold for about £10 a page to a comic store somewhere near Liverpool!)

Tuesday 28 October 2014


I remember there was a massive issue with the prelim for this piece as it looked a little like Hugh Jackman. So I tried to make Wolverine look more like the Frank Quitely version. When I was working for Marvel there was a memo that went out to all creators on a regular basis explaining how we couldn't use likenesses in any of the art we did. Fair enough. I think the only time I did was when I used the movie J Jonah Jameson on the cover of Civil War Frontline #2 and it was no big deal. 

There was an artist who did use likenesses though, to a ridiculous degree. In fact he traced photos of celebrities, models and even other artists work. He irks me...

So, which Wolverine artist do I think is the best? I'd go with John Byrne. He added a lot to Cockrum's Wolverine, tweaked the look and perfected it. I still think Claremont and Byrne's X-Men is the best run of the title ever. It's good to read today 40 years on...Byrne drew a lot of them definitively, Colossus, Phoenix, Wolverine, Cyclops, Banshee, Storm...I'd take Alan Davis' Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde over Byrne though.

If you think of classic, iconic images of Wolverine, then you think of a John Byrne drawn image.

I thik my attempt at a Wolverine cover was ok...some of the anatomy work is alright, the detail in the jeans is pretty good, I should have loosened up a little though...And the background trees are too sparse.

Monday 27 October 2014


And here's my Thor cover...I guess if this one hasn't been used yet then it's a bit dated now, Loki isn't a woman anymore!

I painted this a little differently from how I usually work. I painted an initial bright underpainting in oranges, reds and deep browns, kept it loose, and then worked the sky into that. Then I painted the figures in over the top, leaving the oranges showing through in many places. I actually had a broken hand when I painted this...I'd take the brace off and very carefully place my hand on the board and slowly paint as carefully as I could.

There've been some magnificent Thor artists over the years. But I think the thing for me is whether an artist can capture the scope of Asgard, the massive tapestry of the world Thor exists in. Very few can. Kirby, obviously, his Thor was some of his top work. Next would be John Buscema, such an underrated artist, his Thor had the gravitas that Kirby's did. It was his ability to show both the small incidents within the enormous mythical setting and the incredible, earth shaking battles and conflicts that set him apart from most of the artists who followed Jack Kirby.

The next artist to attain that level was Walt, he fit so much into that title, Beta Ray Bill, some of the covers are incredible.

And I think the last artist to get the grand scale right was Olivier Coipel. From the slow town cafe characters to the monumental buildings of Asgard...he got it right. And Thor had the right size and bulk too...not just an overmuscled hippy like too many draw him. He looked Norse too, European at least.

I may add Alan Davis into the mix too. I saw an issue of prelims that he'd done for an issue of Thor that blew me away. It felt like's exciting to think there's an issue out there that could be that good that I've not seen yet...

Sunday 26 October 2014


Here's a World War 2 piece. I've always enjoyed painting Captain America with his uniform battle damaged. I wanted a bleak image so I toned down or muted the colours to a certain degree and I tried to keep the piece loose as well, get a sense of movement in there...
I may have failed with the movement. It turned out to be a pretty patriotic image...

After chatting a little about my favourite version of Spidey in a recent post I may as well throw a few thoughts down about my favourite Captain America artists. I really like Alex Schomburg's Cap. His covers in the Golden Age were everything that Captain America should be, drawn at a time when Cap was at his peak, his most relevant, during World War 2. I'd also throw Syd Shores in there as well...I actually think Norman Rockwell would have been the ideal artist for Captain America, or JC Leyendecker, I'd have loved to have seen their depiction of him...imagine a series of Saturday Evening Post covers by Rockwell, some showing Cap with the troops, some showing Steve Rogers' life in the army. 

Of the post thaw Cap, I do like the Bryan Hitch version, but that may be down to the writing more than anything. I really enjoyed the Millar/Hitch Ultimates...I think they did the man out of time thing in a realistic manner...

Saturday 25 October 2014


Here's another stock cover I did for Marvel a few years back. One thing that works on this piece is the lighting in the sky, I think I caught the look of twilight over a city pretty well.

 I went for a Romita Sr. Spidey for this cover, a little chunkier than others draw him. Romita Sr. is the definitive Spider-Man artist in my opinion. I read Spider-Man weekly as a kid, British b/w reprints of the American Marvels. But I was never really a Marvel Comics reader, it was all DC. 
I did look at the odd issue, I had a friend at school who read all Marvel and no DC, we recommended titles to each other once in a while. I did buy Excalibur, the only Marvel title I ever reserved each was the covers that drew me into that series, really clever and funny. But, on the whole, I never read Marvel...there is a point to this, it's not just a pointless tangent, bear with me...

By 1994/5 I'd stopped buying comics, it'd started in late 1991, was exacerbated by my internship at DC comics in Jan/Feb 1992*

I left collage and started my first job in the design field. I realised that I wasn't good enough, quit, and enrolled on a foundation art course, paid my fees and learned to draw. I got into painting, fine art, French Romantics, Rembrandt.,,and left comics behind.

One weekend, on my way home from University I had a few hours to kill inbetween train connections in Birmingham, and came across a comic book shop. I saw an issue of the Flash with Quicksilver on the cover (well, he was called Max Mercury now), the old Quality Comics character. I bought it and it was good. Mark Waid was the writer. I went back and bought some other issues. On the way back to the train I came across a second hand book store with comics in the window...they had old British Marvel comics, all in b/w for 5p each. I filled my rucksack. And I was introduced to John Romita Sr. 

And this is the point really, I first saw his art as an adult and it was very different from seeing an artist for the first time as a kid. I was now educated about art, I didn't rate an artist because they were drawing my favourite character...and Romita blew me away. Deceptively simple, beautiful characters, stylised to a point, dynamic storytelling. As I stated near the beginning of this blog, the best Spidey artist. Ditko, I like what he did, but I prefer Romita. Love the Gil Kane Spidey, probably put him second, Andru and Esposito, maybe I'm biased because that's the Spidey I read as a kid...but it's a great incarnation. 

If you've never read the classic Romita/Lee Spidey then give it a shot, in an older paperback or collected edition if possible to avoid the inevitable garish and uncomplimentary digital recolouring...

A page from Spidey #50. An image used in the movie and in countless comics since

I include this cover as I actually did a painting of it as part of my degree show at University. It was 8ft by 6ft and had me as Peter Parker (some things never change)...last I heard it was still hanging in the University dining room. I may have a photo of it somewhere...

A the same time I discovered Neal Adams' Marvel work, John Buscema, Walt Simonson's X-Factor and Thor and the Byrne/Claremont X-Men...I'll talk about all that another time.

*I've mentioned this before to a few people. In late '91 I was in the final year of my HND in graphic design and it was time to sort out a work placement, or internship, at a company, a local design or advertising agency ideally. I hated the course by that point. I'd enjoyed the OND and figured the HND would be more of the same. It wasn't. Anyway, I applied to Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Marvel Uk etc, you get the picture. And DC wrote back to say that if I could cover my own expenses then they'd be happy to let me do my work placement there, in New York. So I got my 21st money early and funded the trip. I'd never been away before on my own, never flown anywhere. I was naive and clueless. The Y on 41st and Vanderbilt was where I'd be was pretty terrifying. I stayed one night, a bloke asked if I wanted to come to his room. There was no hot water in the communal get the picture...

During my first day at DC I was approached by Eric Kachelhoffer who asked if I'd like to stay with his family (as the Y wasn't the ideal place for me to be). I jumped at the chance. For the next 2 months I lived in Mineola on Long Island and got the train to Manhattan each day with Eric and sometimes Bob Rozakis (The Answer Man) who I was working under for the most part, during my time at the company.

I worked with some really talented and interesting people at DC, John Wren, who'd worked at Charlton with Giordano, Ditko and Aparo. Bob LeRose who'd worked with Lou Fine and Neal Adams at Johnstone and Cushing back in the early 60's. I basically settled into a working life at DC, never doing anything touristy at all. 

It was a great couple of months. I was shifted around a little, one day I'd be photographing artwork for reproduction or the archives another I'd be commanding the switchboard. I also got to go through two or three longdraws of original art and send it back to the artists. Brian Bolland Animal Man and Wonder Woman, Bisley Lobo, even a Don Newton Batman splash was hiding in there, must have been there for at least 7 years...I got to meet Murphy Anderson too, a really humble, guy, and a brilliant artist.

But I think seeing the struggles of the staff, the low morale, a lot of negative things really, talented people who were at breaking point after being beaten down for was a different side to the 'wouldn't it be awesome to work in comics' dream. And also, comics themselves just weren't as good as they used to be. Had I grown up or outgrown comics? Nah, I just don't think they were as good as they had been, Anyway, I stopped reading comics.

Friday 24 October 2014


When I was coming to the end of my contract at Marvel I was asked to do a few paintings that could be used when a cover was needed in a hurry. So they had to be pretty generic and able to be slapped on any issue, no matter the content.

Here's the first one I did, of Johnny Storm. I have no idea if it's ever been used. If anyone knows whether it has been or not then let me know! Technically I'm not supposed to show any art that hasn't been published...but it's been about 5 years since I did this piece so I don't think there'll be any issues...

I thought this was pretty good when I painted it, and I think it is now, which is unusual as I hate everything I draw or paint immediately upon completion.

Someone I showed it to said it looked like the cover for Kamandi #1. I'd never seen that cover so I checked it out. The Statue of Liberty appears on Kamandi #1...but that's the only similarity. Sometimes a cover can look cool without having been ripped off another cover.

I like the juxtaposition of the hot colours of the Torch against the greens and blues of the background. 

Wednesday 22 October 2014



In this issue the Legion of Crime break their incarcerated teammates out of prison. Element Emperor isn't a very nice man really...

Again, not had chance to colour this one yet but I eventually hope to have time to colour the whole series. I did this piece before I figured out something about inking whilst looking through Barry Kitson's art at the NICE convention last month.

This series will run about 20 issues. When it's finished I'll be getting a collection published that'll have a lot more information about what would have been the content for each issue, sketches, unused covers (I've binned one off this week, issue 16, I inked it and then realised I didn't like anything about it!) thumnails...I'm open to ideas about what I should use as the cover image!

Wednesday 8 October 2014

L.S.C.C. 2015


I'll be attending LSCC again next year. I'll add more information as it becomes available. I can say for certain that I'll be taking commissions and that I'll be doing colour ones for the first time. Keep checking in for more information. I'll post some examples of the colour sketches so you can see what they'll look like.

I'll also have the second volume of my cover recreation brochure 'Covers that never Were' available for sale too. 

One thing I've noticed at conventions over the past 12 months, a lot of people are after a sketch of  a specific character. All you need to do to get a character you want, doing what you want, is to contact me beforehand and arrange it. My prices are very reasonable!

More soon!

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Mickey Mantle and Captain America, updated

So, here's a couple of better photos. Digital photography is never ideal for oil paintings but I think these are a little better than the washed out ones from the last post....

Not perfect pics, but you get the idea...

Monday 6 October 2014

Mickey Mantle and Captain America

Here's a commission piece I've just finished. Set in the 1960's when Cap's been thawed out. I know Bucky shouldn't really be there, but that's the cool thing about commissions, you can have what you want happen in them! Sorry about the overly bright photo, I took it in full sunlight...I'll get a better one when the rain stops!

 I wanted it to look like an old image too, not washed out but definitely a historical piece.

 Here's a photo of the unfinished piece, it's actually a better photo as it shows the dark areas under the stadium roof as they actually are!

 I'll keep this post brief, just talk a little about the painting...the original ref was from a small photo I found online of President Kennedy stood chatting with Mickey Mantle at a ceremony (retirement perhaps?) for Mantle at Yankees stadium in the mid to late 60's. I adapted it slightly as it was only an upper body shot, and as I've said, it was a small image, a couple of inches...why didn't I use a different, better pic? Because it had the right stadium ref (and I like a challenge!)

It's an upbeat, happy image, which I think is right, two icons having a chat, a bright day at Yankees stadium. I've drawn Mantle before, with a couple of JSA members...but that was a tonal piece that was coloured digitally...

Here's the coloured one. It was done by Sue Braithwaite...she was teaching me to colour digitally at the time!

And here's the original tonal piece...

I'm a big Mickey Mantle fan, I'll talk more about that in a future post...

First though I need to take another photo of the finished painting at the top of this post!

Thursday 18 September 2014

N.I.C.E. Comic con, postscript...


This was the third NICE convention and the best.  It's a con for comic fans. There's a little cosplay, a few dealers, but if you like sketches and meeting artists, getting stuff signed, then this is the con to go to in the UK.

Jeff and Bub, who own the Close Encounters stores and put on the con each year really look after, not only the artists, but the fans too.

Can't say enough about how awesome the con was. I'd recommend it to anyone who's into comics. I'd also recommend it to any artists or writers who are approached as guests. You'll be treated well, there's food and drinks available all day for the guests (Jeff's mum makes some awesome food, and for people who like to eat badly there's crisps, chocolate bars and doghnuts too).

As always the weekend was an adventure. I went with Russell Payne (he was hosting a few panels) as I usually do. It was a trip that, for him, was combined with taking his daughter Chloe (you'll remember her from the LSCC post) to University in Westminster. So we needed to set off a lot earlier than usual. I figured he'd be late and so I read a book in the bath for most of the morning. It was the 4th part in the Adventures of Odysseus series by Glyn Iliffe. Recommended.

Russ arrived 90 minutes late with his wife Wend, Chloe and a lot of stuff in the car. We got the postcode put into the Sat Nav (borrowed to eliminate Russ' random, erroneous left turns on every journey we do together), I squeezed into my alloted space and off we went, following the purple road to Bedford. Well, after we'd put all the stuff that fell out when he opened the boot...and made Russ put back the pair of broken glasses he found in the road (he collects rubbish, he pulled a mouldy book out of a skip recently).

The plan was to drop me at the train station in Bedford and then Russ and his family would head off to London and stay the night in a hotel, Russ would be back at midday on the Saturday to sort out his first panel. 

The M6 was one long roadwork. And then we hit the M1. Someone had decided to park their car in the third lane. Great idea. Thanks.

But, with the help of the Sat Nav, I was dropped at the train station during Friday afternoon. After a quick walk to the Close Encounters store I was escorted to the hotel where I'd be staying. 

I checked in and went up to my room. It had a single bed. I looked everywhere for the second bed that Russ would be using. Nothing. Turns out, Russ and me had been split up...he was sharing with someone else. 

I got some sleep that night, the only sound being the air conditioning. Great view overlooking the river in Bedford and a bridge. There was entertainment on at breakfast the next morning, rowers speeding down the river in those long boats you see in the Olympics and the Oxford Cambridge races. It got really exciting when one of them decided to drive straight into the bridge, adding the extra suspense of whether any other rower would stop to help her drag the boat to the bank. 

I set out to not do too many sketches this year. I failed. I also didn't bring two vital Copic markers, my W1 for skin tones and my I was artistically compromised. Maybe I shouldn't have been cocky and spent so long in the bath...Russ arrived at about midday and headed off to do a panel. When he arrived back his ego was out of control. To be fair, he'd only had a couple of hours sleep after a night in an awful London hotel. Him and Wend were awoken at 6am by the sound of drilling in another room. But there's no excuse for swaggering about.

I'm not able to draw and talk at the same time. I like to look at people when I speak. So if I was a monosyllabic fool to anyone who came to my table I apologise. sketching, Russ looking very tired

That night Jeff and Bub had put on a buffet next door to the hotel. It was a little dark but I discovered plenty of veggie food and sat outside chatting and eating by the river. It was a great set up. I had a haloumi wrap (...I don't know how to spell haloumi and can't be bothered doing a spell check, but you know what I mean). Everyone who was there enjoyed themselves. There was a lot of chat about what title or artist got people into comics in the first place. George Perez on the New Teen Titans was thrown about a lot in that respect. 

I got to have an in depth chat about American Football too, that I had with Mick. I've never mentioned American football at a con before but we'd been chatting about football for a while and were talking about whether we'd played at school etc. I never did, I started playing American football at college though. Mick asked 'what position?' immediately. There was a bit of back and forth, throwing out names of players to test each other, see if the other one was a civilian or not, thankfully we both know what we're talking about. I enjoy the probing, the striving to discover if the other person has real knowledge of a subject or just looked it up on Wikipedia ten minutes ago (...Nick Hornby covers it well in the book Fever Pitch, even if you hate football it's a good book) ...I've been trying to find out what Mick does for a job for a while...he may work in IT. Or that might have been a lie...I will find out.

It was a late night Saturday, like the old Bristol days, creators and fans chatting in the bar till the early hours. A variety of subjects were covered, comics obviously, art, TV shows, football, Star Trek and an in depth chat about baldness with Adi Granov and Ian Churchill. Ian also did a trick with his head and a glass. 

I headed off to look at the art Barry Kitson had brought to the con and left Russ and Steve Dillon chatting with Jeff about 70's films. I was pretty amazed at Barry's new work. The detail was incredible, some of the lines were so fine and's really changed the way I look at inking. I'm not a very good inker but studying those pages has helped a lot.

 It's actually been an educational couple of weeks concerning art. I spoke with Alan Davis about Neal Adams recently and we spoke about artograph machines and the way Adams pencilled and inked. Again, massive eye opener, altered the way I approach drawing...(well, it will, I've not actually tried yet, it's all in my head though. And I've only done a couple of recreations and a painting in the time since the conversation.) and then on the Sunday I was kindly gifted a copy of the Bolland cover book (thanks Katie). Inside Brian talks about a colouring technique from when he was working on Animal Man that again, opened my eyes to new techniques.

The other art discovery was made when I received a package through the post last week. My friend Aidan Lacy told me it'd be coming but I had no idea what was inside. I was speechless when I opened it and saw a Giffen page from Legion of Superheroes #294 and a Nick Cardy page from Aquaman #37, my favourite issue. When I'd recovered from the awesomeness of the gift I spent a good while studying the art, especially the Cardy page, and again, it's already affecting the way I draw, making me a little bolder with my lines, more confident. It's very, very different seeing a scan of an original piece of comic art and seeing the actual art.

Aquaman #37 page 17. Love the perspective on the final panel

Legion of Superheroes #294 page 11. A page from an awesome storyline. 

So it's been a good few weeks educationally. I'm hoping to see some changes in my art over the next few months.

I left Barry pondering when the last time a classic villain had been created in comics and slept for a few hours. I was really looking forward to finding out how Chris (who was sharing a room with Russ) would deal with Russ' snoring. 

Breakfast wasn't as exciting, no-one crashed, but there were some longer boats that had many rowers in them. And I got to chat to Dave Kendall about Madefire and animating comics. It's something I'm working on quite soon and he was making the concept of it clearer to me as it's a different way of approaching the art.

Russ turned up eventually and, as I suspected, Chris had to deal with the snoring. He woke Russ up at 04:20. Russ had been in bed for 10 minutes and already Chris had had enough. 

I quite like having my own room.

Jeff had brought a box of old fanzines to the con and I went through them with Dave Hine. Some of the prices of comics for sale were hilarious. Spider-Man #1 for 60p...some early Gibbons, Bollland and Don Newton art in them too. 

I almost got through my sketchlist, I fell two short in the end.

I met a lot of new fans over the weekend, the lady who I found out later read my blog (thanks! and if you're reading this then I'm sorry I was slightly subdued, tiredness and my lack of communication skills whilst drawing is what I'm blaming!) Arni from Denmark, Simon and a Blackpool fan who relocated to Bedford years ago...I've just drawn a blank to his name, typically, but we had an in depth chat about the ineptitude of Oysten and the general destruction of the team (I went to watch them tonight, I was convinced to buy a season ticket this year...they weren't very good. According to Radio Lancs, Gomes saved the penalty with his legs. He didn't, he missed it). It made the supporters of other teams feel a lot better about their own teams.

After the con I headed back to the hotel with Russ. I didn't see him much at the con, he was all over the place, he did a Barry Kitson retrospective that genuinely went well...we barely saw each other...he was shouting a lot on the Sunday, the two nights of sleep deprivation had affected him. And he had a couple of drinks.

The plan was for Russ to head back to London, pick up Wend and say goodbye to Chloe. I didn't want to intrude on the farewell (translation: I wanted to stay and chat at the hotel about art and comics) and Russ said it'd only be just over two hours before he returned. He left at about 5:30. 

I figured I'd just sit in the bar and get something to eat later with Russ and Wend. I spent some time chatting with Ian and his wife Sasha, great people, thanks again for the Wacom and also Bub who I'd been wanting to chat with about art for a while. He really gets into the details, which I love, he can chat for a long time about it and is very knowledgeable. 

Jeff, massive fan of Sons and Daughters. I've never watched it, Jeff. It's rubbish.

Russ rolled in after 9pm. I'd eaten one of my ribs by this point. We stopped off at a service station in Northamptonshire. It was full of nutters and there was nothing good to eat except pretentious meat based sandwiches for £300...we didn't make good time on the way home, we had to traverse the M1 and M6 car parks again...and Russ, despite Wend, me and the Sat Nav shouting at him not to, turned off the road for no reason. It's like driving tourettes, he just veers off inexplicably...We got back at about 0130. Yes, it's earlier than the last one, but it's getting ridiculous. Late returns have become a staple of cons.

Russ and I discussed putting on a con at the Norbreck Castle hotel, it's only a minute from where I live and has a big exhibition hall. Apparently there was a Trek con there once with William Shatner. We discussed panels, talks, guests. But it'll never happen. we're poor and have no organisational skills at all.

After talking with Adi Granov and Tamsin I may see if I can attend the Thought Bubble Con in November...

Monday 8 September 2014



My list for pre-con commissions is now closed. But, I'll be sketching all weekend at the con. I have a limited number of slots available for Saturday and Sunday. I'm pretty slow, can't draw and talk at the same time and am easily distracted so if you want to get on the list come by early!

I'll also have the usual collection of pre-done sketches for sale, drawn in pencil, ink and Copic marker. They're more finished than the sketches I draw at the con itself, prices are reasonable...see past con posts for details! As at the LFCC in July I'll have a mix of comic book and film/tv ones available.

Looking forward to the weekend, the con has gotten better each year and of course the sketch roulette will be taking place again after the success of last year,  where fans have the opportunity to get a free sketch from a comic book artist. Hopefully I'll get to have a look round this time too!

Monday 18 August 2014

Hulk vs Thor

Here's the finished painting...I intended to show more stages but lost the photos there's a big jump from the last time I posted images of it!

Wednesday 13 August 2014


Mike Grell, what a nice guy. I think Longbow Hunters was the first time I became aware of painted comic books. I remember I was blown away by the...not realism, but the movement, the physique of the figures, their anatomy. They weren't massive or bulky, or stylised. I liked that.

But at that point, I'd been aware of, and loved, Grell's art for a long time. The first time I saw his work was in the pages of Superboy and the Legion 206...I picked it up a few months into my comic reading life at a secondhand bookstore. It cost me 8p. From that moment on Mike Grell became my favourite Legion artist. Still is.

A cool page from issue 206. Love the pose of Invisible Kid in the last panel

 I love Cockrum's designs, the look of his 30th Century (inspired by Star Trek in many cases, never a bad thing). The Adventure covers Neal Adams did, awesome. Swan, Giffen, Sprouse, Sherman, Adam Hughes, Barry Kitson, Coipel, all great...and Steve Lightle, massive, massive fan of his work, some of my favourite images of the Legion were drawn by him...but Mike Grell is my favourite.

SLSH 210, signed by Mike Grell at LSCC 2014. 

Looking at issue 206...I think the way he drew the anatomy was different from other artists. I know, he was heavily influenced by Neal Adams, but Grell's figures were more lithe, more athletic maybe.

An action page from issue 208...panel 2 is probably the best Lightning Lad vs Lightning Lord image there is.

 I really liked how he drew figures lounging about, there was something in the weight of the figures he drew that worked for me.

The Legion of Super Villains chilling out. 

 It may not have been totally correct anatomically, maybe some of the backgrounds were a little sparse. But I love the vision he brought to the Legion.

He used a lot of facial expressions, his Legion were teens, but older teens, not generic youths as many artists depicted teens at the time.

Another great page from Legion #208

I've run through a lot of different styles in the way I draw. I guess I get a little obsessed about an artist and then I move on. But, Mike Grell, and especially his Legion work, is something I've always looked to for inspiration.

Looking through all these old issues to find the images I've posted on this blog...I think the way the figures lean whilst standing, the posture,  it's a great look, I think it's something I need to consider more in my work...

He defines the look of a fair few Legion members, in my opinion...Ultra Boy, Lightning Lad, Princess Projectra, Karate Kid, Invisible Kid for sure, Tyroc, Shrinking Violet, love his Brainiac Five...I do really like the way he draws Superboy. But Neal Adams draws the best Superboy. Heck, Grell does the best Ferro Lad too. Spider Girl is another...

No-one can draw Invisible Kid like Grell

And you know, the unitard Cosmic Boy is the one I grew up with, I kinda like it. I think a lot of fans hate it...I don't.

As I touched on in my LSCC Postscript Blog...I got to meet Mike at the con. He's a really great guy. He was doing some awesome sketches. I'd love to see him draw the Legion again...