Monday 23 November 2009

Issue Two Premiers At Thought Bubble!

Issue two is here! I'll be setting up a Paypal link for you to get a copy as soon as I can, but until then if you're in the UK then you can always email me and I'll sort one out for you.

And it arrived just in time for Thought Bubble, a great big newish but already full-scale comics convention in Leeds, at which I had a table on Saturday. Look, here's a photo of me drawing something festive and, according to one commentator after he saw the picture, "look[ing] about fourteen". You can see the new issue there in the foreground at the bottom of the picture, right next to a sneaky peak at something yet to come!

You should click all these pictures so you can see them properly. The power of Christmas compels you.

As you can see I had some prints available on the day, some of my own and some by Abby Ryder, but mostly collaborations between the two of us, and mostly taken from last year's Advent-ure Calendar. That's the thing we do in December, stories about the young Santa's early adventures, with a different illustrated episode posted every day. We're putting together a website to host previous episodes currently, so I'll show you that when it's ready.

Here I am selling something to someone. Note the actual Demon Tomato in the foreground, which one girl's instinct was to squish in her hand. Luckily she caught herself before she did it, realising it was a real tomato that I'd embellished with googly eyes and angry eyebrows, and not one of those squishy stress toys.

Readers should note that this isn't a plot spoiler, as the eyes were only an allusion to the title of the comic: in the comic, the Demon Tomato itself remains a perfectly normal tomato and is only mistaken for a demon by the alien warlords who want to attack Earth in order to destroy it.

The most popular of last year's smaller drawings seemed to be these:

The PE teacher (or "games master") at Elf School, where the young Santa learned all the tricks of his trade and helped save the world from the Antisanta.

Mr Blessed, the Beard Growing teacher, whose role, like his voice, cannot be understated.

Those were the pictures of mine most chuckled at by visitors, along with Abby's excellent painting of Santa vs. King Emperor Titan, which you should click on to see all of:

You can (and should) look at more of Abby's Santa Versus illustrations on her blog.

Thanks to everyone who came and bought things, or just stood at the table for a natter*, and to our pals Tom & Jaime for ferrying all my boxes and equipment (and self) to Leeds, and all the genuinely really helpful staff Lisa's gathered together to run Thought Bubble. By all accounts it was a very comfortable convention to work at!

Remember to email me for your copy of issue two (it's dead good, and only a couple of quid), and stay tuned for info about the lots and lots and lots of pictures I've now got to draw very quickly over the next few weeks.


* A Snatter natter.

Tuesday 8 September 2009


Yes! Great! I've finally finished every little silly bit and bob that I needed to do to get this issue right, wrapped it all up, and sent it off to the printers. Sounds easy, doesn't it, but so many bits and so very many bobs kept coming up that the whole place is swarming with them now. I've got a folder full to brimming with extra pages and things I decided ought to go in, which means that Demon Tomato #2, which was originally much shorter than the positively bumper first issue, is now exactly the same length but with more pages of actual comic than issue one!

I'm pretty excited about it, so to celebrate, here are three pages of it! These are consecutive pages, so it's a nice chunk out of the middle for you to sink your special reading-teeth into. You can of course click these to make them all big and readable.

If you happen to have read issue one already, those pages do contain a rather big clue about how the cliffhanger is resolved, but I've shown you them anyway because the really interesting part is what happens immediately after it's resolved, which isn't spoiled here. The pages also give you an example of the comic's tendency to wander off and spend narrative time with previously non-speaking (or completely unmentioned) characters, which you've already seen if you've read the page where it skips off to look at what's going on in the throws of a sweet little alien war. That's a few blog posts ago, if you haven't.

So! Demon Tomato issue #2 will be available hopefully in a short few weeks, and if fate bends itself to my favour I might even have them in time for the British International Comics Show in October. If not, or even if so, there's no reason to think it won't be available at Thought Bubble in Leeds shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, here's the cover, with colours by Abby Ryder.

That's what it looks like! Remember it! This issue's pretty good, you'll want to get this when it comes out. (Just a bit of subliminal advertising there. You probably won't even notice it.)

Tuesday 16 June 2009

A Comic Without Rules

I was at Wirral Grammar School for boys today. Don't worry, I was invited. There's a class there who are working on producing their own comics, as a fun end of term project. I was asked to come and talk to the class about comics, how to reasonably go about making them, and what different sorts of comics there are.

This being the future, they had a laser display board that I was able to project images onto, so I blew up one of Chris Ware's incredibly complex diagram comics. He does these amazing things where there's no starting point, no end, panels and pathways knitted together in very unusual ways, and not even a correct way up. You just have to start somewhere, anywhere, and let the comic pull you along until you come out with your head spinning, but having read an extremely immersive and rich comic. The comic in question is the one that you come to about a page into (at least the paperback edition of) Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Boy on Earth, which you should all go and read if you haven't already. I'd love to post it here, but obviously it isn't mine.

I'll tell you something that is, though.

I showed them this because I'd just finished showing them something not nearly as brilliant, but conceptually related, which I'd like to show you as well.

When I was six years old, I decided I wanted to draw picture-stories. I didn't even know about comics, I just knew that a picture was like a snapshot of a story, so in theory you could tell a whole story just using pictures. But I didn't know about the rules or the traditions of comics - even the simple ones like reading from left to right - so I had to make them up.

I remember wanting to devise a layout that would let me tell a whole story on one page using loads and loads of tiny little images, but that would let the reader know at a glance who the comic was about. The idea was that if you had lots of them, and you knew which character you wanted to read about, you could easily pick the one you wanted just by flicking through them.

This is what I came up with.

Just looks like a scribbly mess - it's interesting, but it isn't actually readable. When I found this page a year or so ago I thought I'd never make sense of it. I could tell the two figures at the bottom were the two main characters (the at-a-glance filing system I was talking about), but I thought that was all I could work out. But then I noticed the page is covered in little arrows, pointing from one panel to the next. If I could work out where they all led, I might be able to read the comic!

And in the end, having made sense of it all, I drew this:

You can click that to see the full-size giant new version of the comic. A completely re-drawn version of the exact same comic, but this time easy to read, easy to see, and with easy-to-follow arrows pointing the way. Feel free to compare the two and satisfy yourself that I haven't cheated by changing the story, this is a 100% faithful remake of an epic infant-school opus. I think you'll enjoy it, if rambling stories about nothing by a six year old are the sort of thing you like. And if they're not, what's wrong with you?

If anyone who was actually present in the class is reading this, and I didn't have time to answer your questions, either leave a comment here, or if you'd prefer to email me then my address is in my profile. Dr Warren has it as well though, so if you'd rather ask her to send something on to me I'm sure she'll be happy to.

Thanks for listening, chaps!

Oh, and I did find that video in the end, with the pig and the wolf guy and all the photos. It's here.

Sunday 29 March 2009

Issue two character previews

Continuing the Bits Of Issue Two theme, here are a handful of drawings taken from the pages of Demon Tomato #2. I didn't want to ruin the story (having done a fine job of that in the comic itself, arf arf), so here they are removed from their dialogue and existing just as little colourful pixies in the blog-o-sky. Colourful being an important word, because they've been coloured specially for presentation here. Well, and there.

Friday 27 March 2009

Another issue? Really?

First of all, here are cats.

They're from the second issue of The Demon Tomato, which is getting finished off right now, ready for print some time very soon. They were coloured especially to be turned into a mothers' day card, on the basis that they're cuddly without being horrendous, so here they are presented in full living colour. The second issue is slightly slow going, because I'm still entangled in a lengthy battle with a malfunctioning computer, but the actual drawing and inking is going very well.

"But!" You say, if you've read the comic, and if you haven't you can pretend to have by nodding and pretending you said "But! I very plainly saw at the end of the first issue several drawings from the second. What's the story, is it done or isn't it?"

Well, it is, and in fact it already was when I printed issue one. But there have been problems with it, one of them being that it didn't have the right number of pages to make up the numbers you need to print something. To that end I've been drawing some new pages, telling some bits of story that I should've told in the first place anyway.

And here is one such page, this is the latest new page for issue two, presented here in full because I don't think it's got any particular story spoilers in it.

Enjoy! And click on it to enjoy it bigger, big enough to read.

There! If you did enjoy, read the rest of the comic when it comes out. Meanwhile the first issue is still available, hint hint.

If you live in Manchester like I do, you can find the comic on sale in two places without having to wait for it to arrive in the post. Travelling Man, that nice comic shop in the Northern Quarter (over the zebra crossing between Forbidden Planet and Affleck's), and Sandbar, which is a pub just near the Man Met art building on Oxford Road. Which, if you've never looked at the writing on it, is the one that's got a little park in front of it where the fruit cart is. You know the place. Cross the road and head up the road you can head up and it's on the left. Yeah, there. No, on the - yeah.