Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Nottingham Comic Con and Thought Bubble Con reports

As the year draws to a close it's time to reflect on my last two cons of the year.

It was my first time at the Nottingham Comic Con, and what a fantastic time I had there.

Despite the road being closed where the car park was situated (and the sat nav sending me back up the same road all the time!) I finally parked up and found my way to the venue thanks to a fellow exhibitor who helped me carry my stuff in.

The venue itself was great and the staff on reception were very helpful and I found my table very quickly and got to work. I was sat next to the extremely talented Dean Beattie (check out his Random Trials series) and Matthew Harrower, another extremely talented artist, both were great company on the day.

As the day progressed, sales started strongly and I had one of the best days I've had all year. Lots of great comments about the books and my work (which helps!) and the venue itself was spacious, bright and full of people there to buy comics, which makes a change from some cons!

Managed to meet up with friends like Chris Imber, Chris Jenkins (of the Reckless Hero stable), Gavin Mitchell, Emily Owen and lots of others.

Hats off the organisers, Kev and Kel Brett who put on a great show. I also got my copy of 'Forest Tales' the anthology I contributed my hastily created four page strip. Some very talented folk in there.

All in all a great day, and the best con I've been to all year without a doubt.

As long time readers of my blog will know, I wasn't selected to get a table for Thought Bubble this year, but thanks to Dave West getting in touch and letting me know fellow artist Barry Renshaw wasn't able to attend, there was a chance of a table after all.

A little while later Barry decided to do the Saturday and me the Sunday, which suited me as it saved on accommodation costs. When we finally got confirmation from the organisers that we would be splitting the days it was only then I could say I'd be at Thought Bubble again (if just for one day!).

As the day got closer I admit to being in two minds about going, a general feeling of tiredness and wondering whether just doing the Sunday (usually the slowest day) had me concerned.

On the day I decided to go and set out nice and early on the Sunday, having been there before I knew the way there and easily found my way to the area to collect my pass. Obviously there was no record of me taking over the table, so I had to dig the emails out to prove it - not a good start!

It felt weird going to the venue and setting up when everyone else was still recovering from the Saturday night parties, but I decided to make the most of it. I was sat next to a couple from Canada who produced very nice work and some comic back issue sellers right at the back of the hall which wasn't ideal.

The day started very slowly, and carried on that way but it was great to catch up with friends from previous cons, and many people again had nice things to say about my work and bought some comics and art. I even got some paid sketches to do which was really nice, one guy bought my stuff over the years and sought me out for a sketch. The other guy saw his sketch and wanted one for himself, which was great!

Comic sales weren't great but I more than made up for it with art sales, so all in all a slow day but I was glad I went.

At the moment I'm very undecided about carrying on next year, I only have two cons booked (True Believers in February and ICE in September) but I am wondering if all the effort - and expense - in doing all this (on my own essentially) is worth it now.

My other options are to collaborate with others and share the cost that way, but at the moment it's very uncertain whether I will carry on.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

DEADTIME is starting!

Starting from this week, I'm going to be presenting the short strip that Mo Ali and I originally planned for the Nottingham Comic Con anthology 'Forest Tales'.

'Deadtime' is written and coloured by Mo and drawn (far too darkly) by myself.

It's a dark fairy tale but quite fun, I still need to finish it off but I think the deadline (for deadtime!) will help me get it done, be a shame not to finish it off.

Be back next week for page 2!!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Nottingham Comic Con 'Forest Tales'


A few months back I was asked (as an exhibitor to this years Nottingham Comic Con) if I wanted to take part in an anthology book put together by Kev Brett, the organiser of NCC and who I finally had chance to meet at the recent ICE con in September.

Of course I said 'yes' and prompty forgot all about it until very near the deadline!

As it had to be 'all-ages' I originally was going to produce something cartoony, but asked my good friend Mo Ali to write me a story as I wasn't too confident in my own writing abilities.

Mo produced a cracking little tale but sadly it was thought to be a little too dark for the book, which is fine and totally my fault for making it too shadowy and grim :-) Less of the black ink next time I think!

With time of the essence I remembered what I originally planned to do, and jotted down a quick idea, roughed some pages up and I had my 4 pages. In just under 2 weeks I had the full strip done from story to full colours. It was quite tough as I wrote it as I was going along but as the story relied on repetition, I was able to re-use certain panels which obviously helped!

My originals are not the cleanest I've ever done as it was very rough with multiple drawings done, scanned from odd bits of paper and all put together in photoshop, but I'm pretty chuffed with the end result (as is Kev which is great). I was even quite pleased with the first bit of solo writing I've done for years.

It features a character I created years ago (who I always wanted to use again) and it was great fun to do even if the deadline was a very tight one... one of these days I will not leave everything to the last minute!

Next up are two pinup pieces I've been asked to do, then back to my much-delayed project. More on that later.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

ICE Comic Con report


Well, it's been a while since my last update so better late than never I thought it about time I did actually update my blog!

This last Saturday I headed off to Birmingham for my second ICE comic con, once again organised by Shane Chebsey and featured a fabulous guest list, with numerous pros and small press creators alike.

This time I pre-booked my car park so not to be startled by the £20 parking fee I paid last year (this was a more reasonable £4.50!) and with the aid of the sat-nav I found the car park easily and no sooner had I parked up than I saw a familiar face park next to me.

Fantastic artist and all-round nice guy, Chris Imber (you simply must check out his Operation:Boom and Last Sheriff books) arrived about the same time as me, and luckily he knew the way to the venue so it was a stroke of luck we all met at that time and walked there together (which stopped me from no doubt getting lost like last year!).

Setup was easy and I unpacked my new banner (see above) and books and waiting for the show to start.

All in all it was a good con, very busy and I had lots of interest in my books (and artwork) not all of it translated to sales (most did) but I had a good day, didn't sell as much as I liked but did better than the last few cons I did. Met some lovely people, some who even came back to buy books like they said they would... a rarity!

I did manage to get away from my table to meet legendary British comics creators, Simon Furman and Geoff Senior (who many out there will remember from 80's Transformers Comics, Death's Head and of course, Dragon's Claws) and it was my collection of Dragon's Claws comics I had them sign. Made my day that it has to be said, even though Geoff looked though an issue with the look of someone who really didn't remember drawing it! :-)

Had a good chat in the pub afterwards with Chris and the Bretheren Born guys, and then it was time to drive home. On reflection, a good day, about as well as I expected listening to how others did but there's that nagging element that there's simply too much competition (not necessarily a bad thing), too many cons out there vying for buyers money. It's certainly not getting any easier out there, and being a guy on his own, I am wondering whether it's worth all the effort and expense in continuing.

Nottingham Comic Con next month, my last of the year having been unsuccessful in getting a table for Thought Bubble this year (which I'm still sad about) I hear good things about Nottingham, so I'm hoping for a good day and one that might just give me the nudge I need to to carry on.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

A new review!


Stevie Robinson who runs the 'Other Worlds Than These' blog has reviewed Midnight Man here so pop over there straight away and read it. In short I think he loved it!

I'm going to do a quick review of the Cardiff Independent Comic Expo that I went to in June.

I live a good distance away from Cardiff, but heard so much good things about it, so I thought 'why not!' I booked a table and waited for the day to arrive.

My good friend John came with me, bringing along his own wares to sell, a very cool and sharp idea, beautifully designed (he's a designer as well himself) and after a good journey there (I think we got there in just over 2.5hrs) we arrived at the venue... well after a few wrong turns as it wasn't the easiest place to spot when you don't know where you're going!

Setup was easy, and made easier by the helpful staff there, and Iz, one of the organisers even dropped off bottles of water to thirsty exhibitors, which was very welcome!

We were sat next to Gavin Mitchell and Emily Owen, both well known in the small press world, and just beyond them was Red Mask from Mars creator and Awesome Comics podcaster Vince Hunt, with his friend, horror writer Daniel Marc Chant.

All in all it was a fun day, a bit quieter than we would have liked (something to do with the football going on I think!) but we did have busy spells and sold a good number of books, some prints and even some artwork! Lots of nice comments about the books, which is nice and I also did an art-swap with Vince. So I now own a very nifty page of original Red Mask from Mars artwork, which I'm very chuffed with. If you haven't read his book, do yourself a favour and rectify that straight away.

The day went very quickly and before long it was time to pack up and make the long journey home. I have to admit the driving was pretty tiring, nearly 5hrs in one day... but the con itself was good and one, I think, I'd make the journey back to next year.

Monday, 8 August 2016

End of an era...

It's about time I actually posted something on my blog. I need to do a review of the recent Cardiff Con I went to, I will get that posted later this week.

In the meantime, I have decided to leave my position as designer for Accent UK.

I've been with the guys at Accent for nearly 10yrs (well, as of next year it will be the 10yr anniversary of the publication of Zombies and The Wolfmen, the first books we did together) we did a couple of short strips for their earlier anthologies (Twelve and Monsters) but it was with those books that I took over the design fully, and also did the artwork on Wolfmen, the first 'proper' comic that Accent did.

Over the years I firmly believe we raised the bar with regards small press/indie comics, elevating them as close as we could to a professional level.

I'd like to think I've left behind a very solid body of work, with the designs I did for 'Robot Shorts', 'WesterNoir' (which I co-created) and 'Stephenson's Robot' being among my favourites. And the fact that many reviews mentioned my design work is very rewarding indeed, and shows that good design (in comics) is not overlooked.

I'm sure the future of Accent is in good hands, and I will be as keen as anyone to see their new endeavors, I'm sure elements of my designs for them will live on.


Friday, 27 May 2016

Griff Gristle: Here Be Monsters Pinup


I was delighted to be asked to contribute a pinup to the fabulous sounding (and looking) Griff Gristle: Here Be Monsters comic which at the time of writing this is nearly finished its succesful Kickstarter campaign (and completely smashed it!).

The book is from the writing team of Rob Jones and Michael Sambrook, with art by the talented Rory Donald and published by Madius Comics. I met up with the guys at Thought Bubble last year and they're not only very talented and creative guys but they ooze enthusiasm for comics, both their own and those published by others. So with that in mind I was only too happy to help out.

Above is my contribution, where I join other talented sea dogs such as Vince Hunt, Ian Laurie, Neil Ford and Matt Rooke in all doing pinups for the book.

The bar was well and truly raised by those guys, I hope I got somewhere close to them.