Saturday, October 22, 2016

Just came back from Fort Con - Fort William's first comic convention where we ran a little competition to give away a copy of Geeks #1
Your The winner was Douglas McIntosh of Glenrothes with a total of 22 correctly named shirts.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Brute

The second wander through my collection of bloody awful Atlas Seaboard comic books.

(The previous wander is here: Planet of the Vampires)


The Brute, like Planet of the Vampires, only lasted three issues.   In the first episode of The Brute we open with three young brothers exploring an incredibly well-lit, previously unexplored, cave. "I -- I bet we're the first people to explore this cave ever!".  The three of them come face to face with a giant, blue, prehistoric man-beast who we all know from the cover is THE BRUTE!


"Good >CHOKE< Lord!". Gasps one of the kids, showing the writer's  unerring ear for the teenage vernacular.  The prehistoric man beast  kills, and presumably eats, two of the lads leaving the last one to escape and propel the plot.

 

Actually the fact that the man beast eats two of the boys is only implied (this is a 1970s Comic Code approved comic after all) but the fact that it is even implied was, I would imagine, pushing the boundaries of the code but, more importantly, does allow me to pose the question, "Ate two, Brute?"

(Sorry.)

"But what manner of beast is this murderous blood thirsty monster? Is he man or animal? Beast or something worse than a beast?" (...erm?) After a flurry of rhetorical questions we have a three page flashback through the aeons to the days of the bestial sub-humans, to the days before man, when "nature created scores of races midway between man and ape". (All of them, by the way, pinky-skinned and with an innate urge to wear Comic Code approval securing loincloths.)  Anyway, one of these pink-skinned, men-worse-than-beastial, subhuman brutes gets himself frozen (were not shown how) into a solid block of ice which somehow (were not shown how) ends up deep in the bowel of a cave.  Apparently the glaciers were prone to "carving labyrinthine caverns in the faces of great stone cliffs" (and there is precious little detail given how that happens either).  So he sits there for a while... the next three panels read "The eons passed...", "The centuries passed...", "Eons came and went...".

Until! Aeons (and centuries), and aeons later...


"Think this new atomic power plant will have any adverse effect on the environment?"

"Oh, it may raise the valley temperature five or six degrees, but not enough to make any real difference!"

Now that's what I call an Environmental Impact Assessment.

drip... drip... drip...

"Meanwhile," (or 'later' as that was all told in flashback) "in a local hospital some miles away from the cavern..." bullish local  police chief, Chief Frazier (male), and the local caring anthropologist Dr Turner (female - and no prizes for guessing where that dynamic is going to lead) visit Larry the surviving brother who has been driven insane by his experience.

The cave is cordoned off and, after dropping some tear gas down a fissure that "leads right down into the cave", a cave, remember, that no one has ever explored,  the Brute is forced into the open where he kills an over-eager TV camera man by throwing him "to gory smithereens against the wall of the rocky cliff..." before being tranquillised.

After a court hearing the Brute is released into the care of caring anthropologist Dr Turner for study, despite the somewhat understandable objections of the slaughtered kids' father who concocts a cunning revenge! Months later he creeps into the lab, slugs Dr Turner and frees the Brute. "You're free! Maybe after you've killed a few more people they'll see I was right about your being a menace and give you the fate you so justly deserve!"

Only 'maybe'?  I really like the idea that he's thought this one through, been planning it for months, but still has doubts.  Needless to say the Brute has become quite fond of the Doc and is not best pleased that the old git has slugged her. Grrrr!  The Brute seems reluctant to go and kill some people just to make the old man happy so the the old bastard shoots him.  The Brute barely notices the bullets that "smash into his massive shoulders" and hurls him into a concrete wall with "the unnerving sound of shattered bone" before shambling off.

Next day.  The doc gets a ticking off from the judge and Chief Frazier gets to go Brute-hunting  with shoot to kill orders... 


...while the judge goes off to get whatever the hell happened to his finger sorted out.  I think that's supposed to be his finger though I can't work out how it is attached to the rest of his hand. The drawing in this comic is particularly awful.  For one thing the Brute varies in size alarmingly from panel to panel.  On the cover he's a couple of storeys high. The first time we see him in the book the teenage boys are about the length of his forearm. By the time he's being studied by Dr Turner he's shrunk to the size of a small chimpanzee.


And the fact that she is impressed by his using a tool to drag a bit of meat (that's supposed to be meat - honest) into his cage when he has been wearing clothes and sporting a fine necklace made from animal teeth for the whole time she has known him makes you wonder if she is really cut out to be an anthropologist.  I'm pretty sure she's not cut out to be a comic book character.  Just look at the way she's treading on the police chief's word balloon.  Okay, it was pretty careless of him to leave it there but there's no need for her to put her foot in it. 

Anyway that was pages ago.  The last time we saw the Brute he was about ten foot tall, throwing a bereaved parent at a wall and shambling off.

"Meanwhile, at a small private airport not far away..." the writer and artist let the readers know what they think about the comic they are making by writing 5HI7 all over the last page.




(Talking about crappy drawing just take a look at the red propeller on that plane top left. Those lop sided blades would shake that plane to bits as soon as the motor turned over.)

And as the plane takes off from "runway number 12" (this is obviously one of those very big, small airports) someone who looks suspiciously like Chief Frazier breaks the fourth wall and wonders if he is supposed to be Chief Frazier and should he say something?  Possibly "If this is 'meanwhile'  how can I be in the courthouse and here at the same time?"  So maybe it isn't Chief Frazier - but why is he looking at us like that?  It's creepy!  Stop it!

As the Chief Frazier-a-like stares at us, the Brute clings to the underside of Songbird 5HI7 and flies off unnoticed to the next issue where he will, we are promised, face

"The Horror of the Reptile Men"

I can almost not wait.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Rorschach's Journal Third of September, 2016. Tonight a pizza died on the streets of Fort William:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Blogging has taken a back seat recently to getting Geeks #1 'to press' (I think that's the term).  We sent our printer what we thought was the finished art work last week.  All spellchecked, and lined up, and dusted for fingerprints and everything else we could think of.  

A couple of days later he sent us a PDF proof copy.  

There were spelling mistakes.  

How?  I have no idea.  We had stared at the thing for so long, gone over it and over it, and we'd still managed miss them.  Three days later with Merriol, Mum, and I going over printouts with a variety of coloured pens and utter nitpickyness, we got it finally finally done.  A second proof.  Everything is good.  We'll spot something I'm sure when we get the physical copies but with luck it will be so vanishingly small the regular reader will have to use an electron microscope to spot it. (Number 37 in 'My Great Hostage to Fortunes' sentences. )

Meanwhile, here's a short strip I did for the latest issue of online SF magazine Mythaxis:






...
 . 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Here's a bit of serendipity.

This morning I looked at a page of pencil I did yesterday for a strip I'd just written and I was a bit pleased with it. As I said in an earlier post I hate the inking process. Copying the drawing in ink seems to kill the fun that I had doing the drawing in the first place. It's such a slow laborious process (for me anyway) I just can't be spontaneous while I'm doing it.

Today I thought, "You know, I'll just scan the pencil and see what that looks like."

The strip didn't have to match anything I had done previously - these were new characters - so I'd had fun and played a bit more than usual.  I scanned the pencil drawing in and it's okay. A lot less constipated than my normal stuff.  A bit of tweaking in Photoshop and I'm happy.

Later, while having a cup of coffee, I pulled down a book of Berkley Breathhed's Bloom County strips to read - this is a book that has been sat on my shelves undisturbed for maybe five or six years? - towards the front of the book Breathhead has included a page of drawings from his sketchbook.


Every idea - good or bad - started just like this.
 The tragedy is that pencil drawings never look quite 
as good once they've been civilized and transferred
 in ink onto the blank strip - a pity. 


Huzzah!  I'm not the only one.

Here's the strip:

Gooks

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Keeping focussed on editing the Geeks comic is hard. Yesterday, my comic drawing time got sidetracked into drawing this, which popped into my head as I was falling asleep the night before - ALWAYS keep at least one notebook and art materials by the side of your bed!









Nice to have a rest from wrestling word balloons - and we are now 200+% funded on Kickstarter. Woohoo!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I post my strips up on Flickr.  The last strip I put up there had 139 people look at it yesterday.  Because I can see how people arrived at the page I can tell you that of the 139 - 130 got there via Flickr's search  tool.
115 were looking for "boobs"
12 for "boob" (just one?)
and one was looking for "july 10 2016 boobs"

"July 10 2016 boobs"  is so weirdly specific that there has to be a story behind it.  If you work out what it is please let me know and I'll see if I can draw it.
I have often thought that the best way to really appreciate something is to try and do it yourself and find out how bloody hard it is to get right.

At the moment I am slaving away at the comic book and really coming to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into the lettering of comic books.  It's a bugger!  I'm also spending a lot of time wondering what the hell I thought I was doing this time last year. 

When I draw the strips I draw it in pencil, then again in pen, then I scan that pen drawing into Photoshop and 'colour', and tweak, and letter on the computer.  When I have finished faffing about it's not uncommon for a strip to have 40 or so layers.

[For the uninitiated think of Layers as transparent sheets with bits of the drawing on. Pile all the sheets up and look through them and the image is complete.  You can draw, erase, and  slide individual sheets around or stack them in different orders - or make what's on them more (or less) opaque as you wish - or... well, the possibilities are endless and, as you can imagine, it's sometimes hard to keep track of which layer, which bit of drawing is actually on.]

Most of my finished files have a background layer (the original drawing), a 'Black and White' layer on which I tweak lines and erase mistakes, two or three layers of greys, a couple of layers of word bubbles (sometimes bubbles overlap and it is easier to nudge them around if they are on separate layers), the tails of the bubbles get their own layer, as does the 'Whiteout layer' where bubbles join, each separate speech gets its own layer (whether you want to or not, it's a Photoshop thing) etc. etc.etc. 

It soon mounts up.  As I have gone on I have got more organised.  I now diligently name the layers as I make them and have them organised in a, by now routine, set pattern.

A year ago I was all over the place.  The files I'm working on are total chaos.  Half my time spent relettering and tweaking the old strips is just spent trying to find out where the word bubble I'm supposed to be altering actually IS.  I mean I can SEE it - but can I find it?  Can I buggery?  

It's very frustrating not being able to find the thing you can see right in front of you.   

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Merriol and I have started work in earnest editing the comic book.  The first pass through the strips and we'll be working on the text working pretty strictly - though not slavishly - to the comprehensive and well set out rules of comic strip grammar here:


I came across the site last year.  I wish I'd come across it earlier.  The lettering on some of my earlier strips is just plain UGLY and I'm having to redo them panel by panel, balloon by balloon.

Going to be a bit of a slog but will, I think, be worth the effort.


Friday, July 01, 2016

Woohoo!


That went a lot more quickly and easily than we had any right to expect.  Our Kickstarter thing has 27 more days to go and we're already over our target.  This is a good thing.

As this is our first project we're not going to complicate matters by adding new targets and offering new rewards - so called 'stretch goals' but we're not going to turn down additional pledges.  (For one thing I'm not sure if we can, and if we are able to I don't know how we do).  The money from additional pledges will go towards an increased print run and upgrading/buying art equipment, like some posher paper for me to draw on, and Letraset ProMarkers - ooooooooh....Letraset ProMarkers*.

All we really have to do now is finalise the page order, proofread the thing to death - we WILL miss something. Get the artwork fitting the templates from the printer, wait till the Kickstarter campaign has finished and get everyone's names ready for the backers' Thank You credits...   (Should they be in alphabetical order? or order that people backed us? or in order of their shoe size?  This sort of thing still needs to be decided.) We have to get their addresses, and make all the mini-comics, buy packaging material, and... etc.... etc....

Well, there goes our summer holiday....

It's going to be brilliant!  And we can't wait.  Thank you.

It sure as hell beats Skegness!




*and cakes

Thursday, June 30, 2016

More Kickstarter

Well so far so good!

Strike that. So far - VERY good!

The Kickstarter thing is going better than we expected/hoped. We've 19 backers and are 63% funded in less than 24 hours. We're surprised, and relieved, and happy - and that's without my mum chipping in... Hello, Mum!


Here's a shorter link to the page:



EDIT:  as I was typing this up we had another backer.... it's now 66%

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Kickstarter

Merriol and I just pushed the button on our first Kickstarter campaign!.... Actually,  to be truthful, we pressed the button, reloaded the page, waited for M's phone to catch up so she could take a photo of the momentous occasion, pressed the button again, wondered why nothing had happened, realised we had pressed the wrong button, scrolled down the page, filled in a box we'd missed - pressed the OTHER button and...

...we have a live Kickstarter project! - woohoo!  Yay Us!  And here it is:  Go click.  Go buy our comic book!


Please....



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/689964224/gosh-wow-comic-book


Pudding

We like puddings in JunkMonkey Mansions.  I suspect if the kids could work out a way of living on puddings (and crisps) they would be happy. Some go down better than others.

This was a recent one that came from our last trip to an Asian supermarket:

Mmmmm Pudding Powder! 

Mango flavoured pudding powder that's 100% - something...

Eating it reminded me of this strip I drew a couple of months ago and don't think I've posted here.

Nom Nom Nom


Oddly the usually bizarre Engrish that Asian packaging designers scatter about their boxes is uncommonly readable. Mind you 'Pudding softly or hard by adding or reducing water capacity.' is pretty good.

And the laws of physics are obviously different in the Far East.

Water in China boils at 'about' 90 degrees C????

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ma foi!

J'écrit un petit BD en français... voila!

 En français! 

Thanks are due to a friend (who, probably quite wisely, wishes to remain anonymous) over at www.sffchronicles.com for correcting my spelling and some bits of really clunkingly bad grammar.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Boom


Boom Boom Boom Boom.

On my drawing board I have a piece of paper with various bits of good advice from artists writ up on.

Today I took this classic from Wally Wood to heart:
"Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up."  
90% of the basic panel of the guys sitting on a sofa was traced from a previous strip of them sat on the sofa and the arms were drawn separately and it then it was all cut and paste in Photoshop.  Pasted in layers like simple cell animation.  The fastest strip I've drawn in weeks.  It wrote itself instantly too. It popped into my head as I was opening the car door coming home from work - and I had it written down in the sketchbook before I turned on the ignition. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ohh! My fear of commitment - on paper - takes another step backwards (or forwards). More proper drawing - pen and ink on paper then coloured in in Photoshop.

 (Clickify on the image to bigger it up.)

 Ruins 

 (I've been reading a lot of French comics recently.)

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's a long time since I wittered on about crappy movies here.  Partially because I haven't been watching many.  My 'spare' time recently has been taken up with drawing and reading comics.
Sometimes I read really bad comics. (Not that difficult really given that 90% of them, like everything else, are crap.) So I'll witter on about crappy comics for a bit.

One of my current fascinations is for the short lived publishers, Atlas / Seaboard, which, in 1975, set out a full-frontal assault on the Marvel / DC duopoly, an assault that lasted several heady months before folding.  A short history of the company can be found here.

There are several things I like about Atlas Comics:
  • They're cheap and not particularly sought after by collectors.
  • There are only 65 of them.
  • They are - for the most part - bloody awful.
Point one may have something to do with point three.

I'm slowly collecting the lot with my pocket money. Putting together runs is very easy; titles like Planet of the Vampires! only lasted three issues and, over its three issues,  manages to sum up the whole operation for me with the covers alone.

"A World Gone MAD! 
Six Astronauts Return to 
Earth and Find it Ruled by 
VAMPIRES!"

The cover of issue One (lovingly rendered by Pat Broderick and Neal Adams) shows our heroic hero, and heroic heroine, heroically shooting someone who is feebly throwing small rocks at them off-panel. They're doing this while standing in a manner that suggests they are trying surreptitiously pull twisted underpants out of their arse-cracks without putting down their weapons.

Our heroes ladies and gentlemen!


(Incidentally the 'six astronauts' promised on the front cover turn out to number five and one of them gets killed on page three having appeared in only two panels and delivered one line of dialogue.)

So, returning to a post-apocalyptic world (two years after they lost contact with Earth) our all American heroes find a society divided between disciplined, jumpsuit-wearing, well-armed, scientifically-enlightened dome dwellers on one hand, and the hairy, brutal street tribe savages so popular in Italian SF movies of the time. As you may have guessed all is not as it seems and the disciplined, jumpsuit-wearing, well-armed, scientifically-enlightened dome dwellers are really VAMPIRES! who harvest the rough, tough street boys to scientifically drain them of their blood and scientifically make a serum they need to survive the mutated plague that threatens them .. dah dah dahhhhh!

 I could hardly wait to see what happened next...

  

By issue two's cover the disciplined jumpsuit-wearing, well-armed, scientifically-enlightened dome dwellers are suddenly wearing cloaks and have claws, and widow's peaks, and fangs! and all the rest of the Dracula shtick - and what the hell IS that handy nipple-access zip doing on that woman's uniform? (and why isn't it unzipped?)

At this point I should mention that the four astronauts who made it past page four of issue one are two married couples. One couple is white, that's them on the covers of issues one and two, the other couple are black.

Here they are.  That's them on the cover of issue three (a logo change after only two issues?)

 
No seriously. That's them. The blond bloke with one arm? he's black.  And the large-breasted white girl girl with the ripped shirt (there was a zip, you morons!) with all the small turtles glued to her skin?  she's black too.

This is what they look like on the inside.

 (Knowing how people scream when they are
dying is part of basic astronaut training.)

I don't know much about the schedule that the artists and writers were working to, or how long a lead time they had, but you would have thought that by issue three, someone in editorial would have noticed that they'd got these guys' skin colours wrong. And it's not as if you weren't 'allowed' to put black characters on the front of comics.  Marvel had a black character on the cover of Captain America back in 1969.





Not that it really matters because one of them is dead half way through this issue and the other writes himself out of the plot a few panels later.

So. Of the promised six astronauts on the cover of issue one we are down to two.  And one of them dies before the end of this book.  Maybe that's why there was never an issue 4. The last remaining character snuffed it before they could get round to writing it.

EDIT:  Maybe not! I just found a double page splash in the back of the comic (which I managed to miss on multiple readings).  The splash looks like someone traced a couple of Jack Kirby panels and it shows our male heroes back together- in more of the endless supply of spacesuits they carry around with them (our white hero gets one Kirked to shreds in every issue.)


Utterly Kirked


Next Issue:   

In the Black Depths

Beneath the Fortress Dome -- 
a New and Terrifying Menace!

REVENGE of the VAMPIRES!



I would guess that the new menace was - oooh I dunno?  More vampires?  Hairy ones with stupendously long left legs?

(I hope that's his leg...)

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

I like drawing Hats. After tentacles they are my second favourite thing to doodle. I can doodle hats for hours and not get bored. Sometimes the hat will be dangling someone underneath it and sometimes that person will do something interesting or tell me a joke.

The Squid
Sometimes I manage to combine hats AND tentacles

Meet Fate. (If you haven't met him before that is.)  Fate turned up in my sketchbook, dangling under a hat while hovering over a depressed horse that was considering throwing himself under a passing truck. Three pages, an exploding ice cream factory, and a bus full of nymphomaniac Swedish athletes later he wandered off the page leaving a bemused, but no longer suicidal, horse behind him.  I possibly won't get round to presenting the world with that strip but Fate turned up again few days later (with less gratuitous nudity involved).


FATE! 

And he keeps coming back:

Fate

 
The Return of Fate 

I like this guy

Thursday, May 26, 2016




A new strip up on the Flickr page.

 Pounce!


The first Jet Starr for a couple of weeks. (I must get round to finishing the football saga. There's only one more page to draw but two or three more pages to letter and ink in Photoshop.)

I drew today's page when I was in Sheffield visiting the in-laws a couple of months ago, and then it sat for a long time doing nothing because I quite liked the pencils I had done.

My least favourite bit of drawing my comics is the inking. I'm not a natural inker. Of all the stages involved in getting from a stupid scribble to a strip that I can put up on the web, and walk away from, inking is the one that brings most disappointment. I like writing the jokes, which I usually do as I'm drawing rough thumbnails so I pretty much know what is going where as I write, and the pencilling is just the best bit - but inking to me is often a joyless chore. This page of spacebabe/squidulon wrestling sat on my drawing board for a week waiting for me to have the courage to ruin my pencils. Then I had an inspiration. I inked the girl's tits in the first two panels. Then I had to do the rest of those panels so it didn't look like I was even more of a perv than Merriol thinks I am already. And then I had to do the rest of the page because it would have looked silly otherwise.

The other thing that held me back was I couldn't get the punchline quite right. As I was shading it tonight in Photoshop I threw out the original line and found this one.

I'm a bit chuffed with it. In a week I'll think it's awful.

As usual.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hello world.  It's getting on for a year since I posted to this blog.  Time to get it back on its feet and stumbling forward again.

One of the reasons I'm doing this is because Merriol (wife, mother of my children, and crochet ninja) has linked to this blog from https://www.instagram.com/gosh_wow_comics/

I have no idea what the hell Instagram is all about, it appears to be some sort of 'liking' site, not dissimilar to Facebook, where people compete to see how popular they can appear to be.  But she is determined to drag me and my comics kicking and screaming into the Twentieth Century....

So, until I can think of anything interesting to say, here here's a picture of me trying to think of something interesting to draw.


And here's the last thing I drew, as posted on the twice a week (Wednesdays and Sundays - weather permitting) Flickr page where most of my cartoons end up these days.


FCBD
More soon.

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Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

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