Sunday 28 December 2008


Keen-eyed, dull-lifed people will be readily aware that I haven't updated this blog since October. Now, I know what you're thinking, you're thinking that's because I'm very lazy aren't you? But no! Emphatically and pleadingly no. I've been fairly prolific in November and really prolific in December, because I have been doing this:

Advent-ure Calendar 2008!

This is a thing that I do each year at the SA forums, the premise of which is a bit complicated but goes something like: I play an exciteable, illiterate child, who wants to help out those who don't have an advent calendar by sharing his. His turns out to be magic or silly in some way, everyone ends up sucked into the ancient adventures of Santa during his early life, and fun times, or at least times, are had. All of this is presented in the form of several posts to a thread, at least one per day, in which the child talks the readers through what today's door (or "dore") looks like, and what chocolate is in it. But with time travel and characters from Christmas films.

This year, the whole process has been exhausting! I did start early, just like I promised myself I would, but there's just something about a deadline, isn't there. Until December actually began, I was drawing bits of it here and there, not really getting very much done. Just like last year, it was only when I found myself actually having to do it, really having to do it right now otherwise it wouldn't get done, that I started to really do it. Unlike last year, the workload was something like a a hundred billion times more, because I decided to use proper, (arguably) full-quality illustrations instead of the crude MSPaints of previous years. If I was going to spend December whacking together a lot of drawings, I reasoned, I'd better make them good enough to put in the portfolio afterwards.

Abby liked the idea, and agreed to help. In the end she did what she has described as "some," and I'd insist was at least as much work as I contributed.

In short, the day after Boxing Day was a huge relief, and although I've already ended up doing a new job for someone, it's still a huge relief to have this big project out of the way. When every day's the big deadline, it can get overwhelming.

I'll be posting some more of the drawings we produced for it on this here blog soon, but if you can bear to read something badly spelled (don't worry, it's deliberate!), then you can find the whole story RIGHT HERE!

So, soon I'll have the opportunity to get back to work on the Demon Tomato. Issue two is finished in all but reality, so it won't be long before I'll be able to stitch the thing together and start selling it alongside issue one. Although the print run is fresh and shiny, the actual original pages of the comic are starting decidedly to yellow and curl, and those are the ones that survived that time I left them next to an open window in a storm. So it'll be a quite exciting prospect to actually have a second issue done now that I'm a grownup and can produce these things a lot faster - and that of course will open the door to printing issues three and four, which are new, just about fully pencilled, and dangerously close to being fairly goodish.

What I'm saying is this: if you liked the Advent-ure Calendar, please try reading my comic. It's quite nice, it displays some potential, and it is available precisely HERE.

Sunday 5 October 2008

Demon Tomato in Birmingham

I spent this weekend at the Birmingham comic con, where people dynamically woosh around and look all futuristic and exciting, like this:

Actually, they don't! They look normal - but that's what they look like if you accidentally have your camera on the wrong setting all weekend! But blurry or not, that's where we were, selling copies of the Demon Tomato to unsuspecting passers-by, as part of the Manchester Comix Collective table.

Here I am at our table, along with Lizz Lunney. I hadn't met her before, but when I was reading through her comics I giggled so much she thought I was making fun of the customers or something. Not pictured, Adam Cadwell and Chris Doherty, who were both there and had comics on sale (also brilliant - an autobiographical comic-strip and a high-school murder-mystery B-movie homage story (did I get that right Adam?) respectively), they just weren't actually sitting there at that moment, and Abby Ryder, who was drawing sketches of superheroes for people and taking pictures of us.

Our favourite customer of the day was this young lady, but we forgot to ask what her name was, so I can't thank her properly yet. (Sorry!)

She came and spoke with us for a while about how she hadn't been interested in comics until recently, when she'd seen some of her brothers' comics and thought they looked pretty good. Then she went looking round the whole con, and eventually brought her family back to us to pick up a Demon Tomato. Now she's got her own comic and doesn't have to peer over her brothers' shoulders any more.

You never know, she might think it's really rubbish - but she didn't seem the shy type. I'm hoping if there's anything she doesn't like about the comic, she'll march over and tell me what it is, and help me make the next ones better.

So, thanks to everyone who stopped by our table and bought a copy of the comic, and of course to everyone who bought other Manchester Comix Collective things as well. The aim is to get as many people looking at our work as we can.

The rest of you can read the comic by following the link in the previous post, below this one...

Thursday 2 October 2008

Demon Tomato: YOU CAN READ IT NOW.

Yes! It's the moment you've all remembered happening! (I know you haven't been waiting for it, because I know nobody reads this blog yet, but one day someone might, and then they'll remember this happening!)
The Demon Tomato is finally on sale, and it's in all sorts of places should you wish to read it.
You can get it at:
Travelling Man, a chain comic shop that's all about being bright, airy and family-friendly as opposed to dark and dungeonesque. There are a few of these shops dotted about, but Demon Tomato is currently stocked in the Manchester and Newcastle branches. If you're actually bothered enough to do this, you can also ask the staff to call the Manchester branch, who will happily send them a copy for you. They're really pleasant, try it. Even if you don't want the comic you should try it, just so you can see how nice they all are. Plus you should read the comic.
The other place you will find Demon Tomato is the Birmingham International Comics Show! It is happening on Saturday and Sunday at something called the "Think Tank". You'll know it because it's a great huge building somewhere near the train station with "THINK TANK" written on it, and lots of people in Decepticon T-Shirts walking to and fro around the perimeter. In fact, if you spot any obvious geek parties anywhere in Birmingham, follow them, you'll end up there. I have done this before, it works.
You'll find this comic on the Manchester Comix Collective table.
Now, assuming I'm right about having no readers (and why should I have, I don't know how to get any and so haven't done it), you won't be reading this until the con has finished anyway. So that's an opportunity missed. But there's still that web link and the Travelling Man shops.
This is what the comic looks like:

So keep an eye out for that. And in the spirit of giving, here's a work-in-progress panel from issue three, which has a drawing I'm particularly fond of, a very bendy picture of the comic's main villain, Mister Cherrycrumble.

Thursday 10 July 2008

A Box of Comics

That, if you can't tell, is a box of comics. There were a hundred of them in there when the picture was taken, and if you're reading this it means, at this early stage, that you have probably read one of them.

That's right, this is a photograph of a comic you've read, back before it ever ventured inside a comic shop. There, already I've made it worth your while following that link on the back cover, haven't I? No? Well it's all I've got, you're just going to have to lower your expectations or something. Go on, lower them now, and then w
e can carry on.

Now you've done that, you'll be very excited to hear that those are one hundred copies of the same issue of the same comic, The Demon Tomato #1, and that I have a box full of it because I made it!

I think it's safe to say that most people whose job it is to write or draw comics has a Pet Project, the sort of thing they think of as Their Main Thing, that we work on (or, more usually, plan to work on) between jobs. This is mine. We have to try and stop ourselves from talking about these, because we almost always end up sounding mad or delusional, talking about what sounds to everyone else like some daft old nonsense, but calling it "my real stuff," or, "my personal work." I've caught myself saying similar things myself, but if I ever say it to you, don't believe me. This isn't in any way real or serious, it is precisely some daft old nonsense. But I reckon there are enough people who like daft nonsense to warrant my going ahead and making it anyway.

Yep, this box is the result of what should have been a few weeks' doodling but (as is often the way) turned out actually to require multiple years of drawing, re-drawing, re-imagining, publishing, re-imagining again, re-drawing, re-re-drawing and finally fiddling endlessly with the protoforms of ideas that eventually became The Demon Tomato. And of course, all those years and all those revisions mean I've got what amounts to a fair bit of "behind-the-scenes" gubbins to show anyone tedious enough to be interested in what goes on "behind the scenes" of a man drawing something on a bit of paper. Is that you? Is that how bored you are? Then READ ON!

And look at that. This is it fresh out of the box from the printers', looking all glossy and done-up, like a proper comic or something. When your job is to draw pictures for companies - and mine is, by the way, I should have said that earlier. I draw or colour or ink things for people, often for kids' magazines like you might find on the shelf in the supermarket - you get used to seeing something you've drawn printed nicely and on professional-looking paper and so on. But when everything in it is yours, not just a few drop-in illustrations, it feels quite different to receive a boxload of it in the post. I heartily recommend it to anyone, and hopefully with future updates I can go on a bit about how to do it.

You don't need me to, mind. It's not very tricky in this day and age, the hardest part is bothering to knock together twenty-something pages of artwork (thirty-something, in this case,) busy as we can all be. But m
aybe if I talk about how I did it, the next comics genius might read it and realise they could have boxes full of glossy copies of their own pet project by now. And then they'll produce lavish pages of exquisite artwork, and it will break records and we'll all love it, and mine will look like utter rubbish in comparison and then I'll probably wish I'd kept my mouth shut in the first place.

In the meantime, here's what a hundred copies of something looks like: