Friday, December 12, 2008

The List

I've just finished one of the longest projects I've ever worked on. At least, the most amount of work to do in the least amount of time. The List, written by Paul Bedford, is an urban tale of horror, violence and religion. Hpop illustrated part I and pencilled part II which I inked.
More can be learnt at and some other sample pages can be found at my comicspace website
Part II of The List will be launched on the 17th of Jan 2009.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Leeds Though Bubble comic expo

Last Saturday I went to the Leeds international one day comic convention called Thought Bubble. It was actually part of a much bigger festival that involved lots of other art forms but Saturday was entirely dedicated to comics (and those things that seem to follow comics around, like Freddy Krugers with bouncy heads).
Leeds was quite a bit smaller than Birmingham in terms of publishers and retailers but there were just as many artists and indie stalls. There were even a couple of stormtroopers.
My mates from Newcastle had a stall (which I had hoped to put the second part of Don’t go into that Barn but it had not arrived in the post before I had to set off) so I checked their stuff first. What strikes me over here is that production values are quite high. There are very few photocopied slapped together sort of things. And even if they are photocopied people tend to find the best they can. Some people told me they had searched for months to find the right public photocopier. Also the indie guys tend to get a stall as a group. So you’ll find a table with the Manchester people, the London people, the Newcastle people etc.
Anyway after a quick little look around I noticed the pro’s corner and went over. There were huge lines around such names as Jock, Alex Maleev, Doug Braithwait and various others. I continued down the line to where I came across a fellow who’s work I had loved and hated as an adolescent reading 2000AD. There was no one in front of his desk so I went up and had a chat to Peter Doherty. You may recall from my Birmingham post that I said Duncan Fregredo was one of the nicest guys in comics, well, so is Peter Doherty. We chatted for a long time and eventually I showed him my portfolio. He pointed out lots of stuff that needed fixing but then said that they were things he needed to work on too. He explained to me a rule of continuity about sticking to one side of a group of people and the importance of good colour. Peter is a great colourist. I then bought a comic from him he did for the Grendel series several years ago. Great artist and an alright story which got better when I did a bit of research on Grendel the other day.
I then went to a seminar about the (artistic) success of comics to movies in Hollywood with Mark Millar, Andy Diggle, Jock and some other guys whose names I forget. The basic conclusion that was drawn was that comic movies are only successful if there is some one in the production team who actually gives a shit. For most people it’s just a job and if they make back their millions that’s all that matters.
Before plucking up my courage to go and talk to Andy Diggle I showed my folio to Fraser Irving, a young artist, mad as a cut snake, hired by Diggle to 2000AD when he, Diggle, was editor. He was great fun and told me that basically your success or non-success really hinges on which editors you present your work to. Fraser insisted that he would not be hired today if he was starting out. I told him about my ideas of approaching the French to which he put on a snooty French accent and said “backgrounds, where are your backgrounds? Stone? That is not stone. I want to feel the stone!” And like Fregredo he said that the money is no good unless you’ve proved yourself.
After some lunch I made my way over to Andy Diggle. He insisted that as a writer he didn’t think he’d be much help but I was asking him as an ex editor. As an ex editor he said 'go for it'. He reckoned that editors look for good story telling and said I had good story telling.
Wow hoo!!!
But wait, there’s more. Here’s the thing they all asked me. “Are you staying in the UK?” “No” “Bummer. ‘Cause doing the convention circuit is the only way. Building friendships and showing people your dedication and your year to year improvement.” That’s how Jock got hired by Andy Diggle.
Bummer indeed.
Maybe I need to stay here, brave the grey skies, interminable wet and mold and put that theory to the test. A job in comics or happy sunny life?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The beginning of a new era

As many of you may already know Local Act Comics is closing its doors as of Jan 1 2009. Have no fear though, Dicks is still going to continue. I have figured out or thought about exactly how yet but I'm thinking about web comic with a yearly trade.
I was already thinking that about moving into complete story format so really nothing will have changed.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to than LAC for all that they've done over past 2 years and say that you will be missed.
Don't go into that Barn part 2 is out too though it's not up on the website. To find it go to your local comic shop or go to and email Dave to send you a copy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Birmingham comic expo

On the 4th of Oct I went down to Birmingham for its comic expo experience. I got up at 5am to catch a train in Newcastle which would get me there at 11. Not an excellent start to the day which didn’t help seeing as I was recalling my experience at Bristol. Bristol wasn’t a bad experience but I had been overwhelmed and hadn’t taken the criticism I’d received very well.
I spent the train trip doing sumdokus and talking to a male prostitute who hated working out. Apon arrival the usual British weather welcomed me and I cursed myself for having forgotten to bring a hat and coat. Once at the venue (which was held at a place called ‘Think Tank’ and was a sort of science museum/ cinema/events complex) though I was happy that I didn’t have to cart a coat around as well as all the comics I picked up.
Immediately the difference between the Bristol expo and the Birmingham expo were apparent. Most notablely the lack of stormtroopers, the more intermate space and far less people. Birmingham’s expo is only a couple of years old but it has had really good write ups and has been getting bigger each year. It’d be a shame if it got too popular and became like Bristol but that’s the price of success, I guess.
As I walked around I saw many of the same small press stalls that were in Bristol. There’s a lot of talent here but as always the production values varied wildly. If only people could count on sales and put more money into their production. In the end though it’s the quality of the art and story not how flashy it looks.
I started to wonder what I was going to do with my self for 6 hours when over the loud speaker came an announcement for all those who wanted to get their work critted in front of an audience. Get slammed in front of a bunch of people I don’t know? Why the hell not? Sadly I was second last in the queue and missed out but I managed to corner Gary Leach afterwards. He gave me a good old thrashing but I was prepared this time.
Colin Wilson had told me last year that when presenting work to editors and pros to only show your most recent work and to not make excuses. I put this into practice at Bristol but wasn’t really ready then.
Gary was very thorough and basically said I shouldn’t be making the mistakes I’m making so I felt pretty good about that.
During the crit session a familiar face from way back when in the late 90s appeared. When Impact Record was still the best shop in the world. James Pearson, one of the guys from the comic desk, got up to have his work critted. I found him afterwards and found out that he mainly wants to be a writer and is actually doing quite well. He’s living in Brighton now and laments the loss of one of Canberra’s finest institutions.
After all that I was feeling much invigorated and went and showed my stuff to Duncan Fregredo. There is not a nicer man than Mr Fregredo. He basically said all the same things as Gary Leach but chatted on in such a pleasant way about anything and everything. He was sitting next to Sean Philips who has some nice things to say too.
Duncan was then nice enough to give me a little scribble of Hellboy. Great guy.
After lunch and a bag full of comics I went to see a debate about which was the greatest comic ever made. Watchmen, The dark knight returns, Liaka, From Hell, Cerebus: High society, Akira, Alice in Sunderland, Batman year 1, Maus and many others were pitted against each other by various comic creators. The comics were paired up, two creators discussed their pros and then the audience voted (with little thingies we had attached to our seats) and one comic was knocked out. Despite Frank Miller being called “batshit crazy and Akira being the first comic to truly bring anime to the west Watchmen still won. I believe mainly because it is in the public eye at the moment. It is a fantastic comic but it has dated a bit and the art isn’t as good as it could be. (If Dave Gibbons had done it when he was doing Rogue Trooper it would have been fantastic.)
Finally I went and got my portfolio reviewed by Mark Chiarello, art director for DC. He immediately asked who my influences were, told me that they came through in my work and that it was a relief to not hear the names Jim Lee, Todd Mcfarlane or names to that effect (I can’t remember who he said). He was suitably impressed and said if I sent him my website address he’d pass it onto the guys at Vertigo. He told me not to expect anything and I don’t but never the less it was great to have the compliment.
A great experience all in all and a crying shame that Australia can’t keep it’s local talent to make such great shows at home. Mark said that he had been invited to go to Armageddon (or Supernova. He couldn’t remember which) but said that the distance was too far to travel. And that’s the problem. How can we expect to invite pros over for a weekend and have them not dizzy from jet lag. We’ve got to build ourselves up and let the public know that Australia has a fine body of creators. Keep going Arvi and everyone else keep Doujicon alive.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The end of the drought?

I find it so hard to get into posting without the internet close at hand. I have written some posts in word but have forgotten to post them up and now they seem a bit out of date. I'm going to try and get back into it now though. I've got some things worth posting. At least, I think so.
First up is the final part of 'Don't go into that Barn' will be out soon. A few things to tweek and then it's off to Dave at Local Act Comics.
The next issue of 'Dicks' is going to be a compilation of guest written stories (with some of my own). The talents of James Andre, Tom Taylor, Jason Franks and Paul Bedford will be featured. It was in fact James Andre who gave me the idea. He came up to me at the Melbourne creator comic meet and said that he'd written me a couple of scripts off the cuff. Doing this will be lots of fun and will give me time to get more ideas for the next full length story for our two heroes.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Fanging down the highway at 80mph, narrowly escaping getting sandwiched between trucks, almost run of the road by blind dickheads and then my son goes and breaks his leg in a shoe shop. He was on my shoulders and deciding he didn't want to be, jumped off. I meanwhile had a solid hold of his right leg. His weight and my grip on his poor little leg didn't give it much of a chance. You know, you hear cracking sounds all the time and you know everything's fine? Well, this wasn't one of those times. It was a sickening crack and I knew instantly his leg was broken. It ended up not being too bad. (A poor 13 year old at the hospital had a horrible compound fracture with his bone pieced through his leg. He'd only fallen down while running down a grassy hill!) Eti will have a cast on for 6 weeks but he's in good spirits, the only thing I fear is his boredom.
Now, onto the comic expo.
Everyone was there (or not there. Their name tags left by the door): Bisley, D'Isreali, Gibbons, Burns, Talbot, Chris Staros and many others whose work I recognised and whose I didn't but knew the name. Pretty much most of the big names who've worked for 2000AD. There were huge queues for Gibbons, Bisley and the other big shots. I managed to show my portfolio to a couple of people but didn't get the most positive of responses. There were so many talented people walking around showing off what they could do. I didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell.
Firstly I approached a company called Classical Comics. They're doing adaptions of classical texts such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Bronte, Shelly and Stoker. 3 versions in 1. Direct text, modern text and then something for the kiddies. A fellow I'd met in the queue, a penciller from Cardiff, told me I should show them my stuff. Which I did and was told that my style was too caricatured and then went on to say the stuff I'd inked (see 2 posts ago) was more lifelike! I was rather offended by this and finally got the guy to admit that he didn't like my stuff beause it couldn't be coloured easily. With that I moved on.
The next person I showed my work was John M. Burns. I asked for some harsh criticism and got some. (He was much more constructive than the fellow from Classical Comics). He told me to brush up on my figure drawing and to get some more clarity in my work. It was pretty hard to take but I took it and have come away more determined. I went away and mulled over his words for a while and finally rested on what he'd said at the end. Something about how he was sorry to be so critical but that if I wasn't stealing jobs from him in a year he'd know I'd killed myself. The way he'd slammed me I'd totally missed that compliment at the end. I'd better knuckle down get back to life drawing again otherwise he'll think I've 'run in front of a bus'.
I then showed my work to Matt Smith who was impressed with the inking I'd done but wasn't very keen on my own stuff. It seemed that he said if when I submitted to 2000AD I had more work like those inked pages he might have work for me. I heard him say to the fellow in front me, though, that there were alot of other regular 2000AD contributers not getting work so I took the compliment but definitely not going to get my hopes up.
Everywhere I went people liked my tracing abilities but not my original work. Oh well.
I actually talked to a lot of indie and small press guys and they were the only comics I bought actually. There's alot of fun stuff coming out in the small press and if any of you have some futuristic sort of stuff get it over to Future Quake. They were really nice guys and eager to publish budding young artists.
All in all a great show. I still came out of it feeling pretty depressed (stupidly). Getting told to sod off (not in as many words) by Dave Gibbons, when I approached him outside the expo, didn't help none but I guess I was looking for it. I just missed out on a sketch by D'Isreali (he was the only guy doing free ones. Tight bugger ain't I) too. A bit overwhelming the whole thing. I reckon I would've done better if I'd got a table. Oh well.
So I went off feeling a bit fragile (not looking at the positives of the day) and then Eti broke his leg.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


I went to the Hexham writer's festival yesterday to see Bryan Talbot and Simone Lia talk about their recent comics: Alice in Sunderland and Fluffy.
The talk overall was quite good but this was mainly due to Bryan being an interesting person. The moderator was some idiot who had probably until now never read a comic in his life. He had done his research very well but his questions were superficial and boring. The crowd was mostly middle aged people, a couple of young guys and a few kids. I think most of them were there because it was part of the writer's festival rather than because it was about comics.
An argument that I'm quite interested in came up (but was not dealt with as much as I would've liked). The old argument of whether you create comics or graphic novels. Apparently the term was coined by Will Eisner when trying to sell a comic he'd done to a prospective publisher. After having been turned down several times because he was trying to get a comic published, he told the next publisher that he'd created a graphic novel and the publisher was intrigued. Bryan said he didn't like the term and used it only so people would understand what he was talking about. Many comic artists don't seem to like the term and it only the buying public that want it. It seems as a marketing ploy it works and maybe to get comics back into the mainstream it may be worth accepting. I do like these quotes that I came across the other day: As Marjane Satrapi say that the term enables ‘the bourgeois to read comics without feeling bad’; and Alan Moore says, they allow publishers to ‘stick six issues of whatever worthless piece of crap they happened to be publishing lately under a glossy cover and call it The She-Hulk Graphic Novel’.
Simone didn't have much of an opinion on the GN topic. She belongs to a different breed of comic artist to me who is more accepting of the term.
Anyway, I approached them after the talk and had a bit of a chat. Simone was, after being a bit weary, very nice a easy to talk to where as Bryan, though a nice guy, was a bit standoffish and I felt like a bit of a fanboy. I showed them both my work and both were very nice about it. I would have liked some criticism but I don't think they understood that. I also gave them both a copy of my latest comic. I don't know what thought of it. I would've liked to talk a bit more to them about the industry etc but they had other things to do so I went away feeling a bit deflated.
Simone's work can be found at and Byran's at (this is a bit of a strange site. Hard to navigate and clunky).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I've just been to a couple of art supply stores and the outlook isn't good. The store in Newcastle was the best but was still lacking in a few areas. It wasn't too bad though. I wanted a really good sable brush so I looked through the £60 ones but couldn't find one which could form a good point so I looked through the cheapies and got a really nice one for £5 instead. Money doesn't get you everything.
Using that nice new brush of mine I got to work on inking those pencils from 2000AD. I tried with a dip pen but it didn't quite do it for me. Andrew Currie sure likes to feather his work. God, he puts so much effort into the penciling there's really no point in inking. Put it in photoshop and up the contrast or just ink it straight up I say.
Here are the inks for the pencils I posted previously.

And here is the brush I did it with and a really nice nib I picked up too. If you like working with a dip pen I recommend this one.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Just came back from London. Lots of pints were consumed. Strangely London didn't have the effect it had on me last time I was there 5 years ago. I really enjoyed myself and didn't walk around looking like I might bite anyone who looked at me sideways.
I made it to Gosh! Comics opposite The London Museum (which I didn't go into). It's a fantastic comic shop! It's not very big but has everything except a big wall of the majors. That's right folks a comic shop that focuses more on creator owned material than all that American trash. I didn't have any of my work to drop off but they have a very nice 70/30 split going on for small press titles so when I get my stuff sent over I'll get myself back there.
Whilst down in London I met up with a friend I made while I was on exchange in Orléans 9 years ago. Roger Mason was the first comic creator I had ever met. He hadn't done much at that point but had great things going on already. He introduced me to Hellboy and Bone and because of him I turned to the stark B&W style we all know and love today. It must be said the "Dicks" story "Operation Centipede" was a homage to him.
Roger has since worked for 2000AD, had 3 Bande Dessinée published in France. At the moment he's concerntrating on his own small press title "The Mice" for which he's found a small indie publisher. Here are a couple of examples of his work.
This is from "Off the Hook" which he finished in 1999
This is a page from a short story of "The Mice" The final work will be a 13 or so part GN.
More example of Roger's work can be seen at and at

On another note but still to do with comics- I've finally got my first articulated desk! It's a real beauty. About 90 years old, cast iron with counter weights and cogs. I'm fully equipped now- watch out comic world!
Here are a coupe of picks.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


After a sickening 48 hours from my grandmother's house in Sydney to my mother inlaw's house in England I wasn't quite sure which way was up. Things have calmed now, the weather's better and it might not be too long before we move into our own house.
I've already asked 2000AD to send some pencils for me to ink over for my application to join their fold. I was pleasantly supprised by the the speed of their reply. I got the pencils yesterday and aim to start working on them as soon as I get a suitable work space.
I'm working on a 5 pager written by Tom Taylor for the application and I'm going to send in my inking over Henry Pop's pencils for The List part 2, too.
The pencils are by Andrew Currie and some other unspecified artist. Currie's pencils are for some Lobo comic and the others are for Conan. Here's a page from each.
There are a few things that trouble me about some of the drawing but I'll get over it.
I'll post up the inks when I get them done.