Thursday, May 29, 2008

In The Navy

Trying to come up with new tshirts this week has been like pulling teeth. There is literally nothing that hasn't been done by someone, somewhere. But I just keep making up terrible ones until something comes out that works. So immediately following "OH F*** IT'S A TR***", I produced this. Can you tell what it is yet?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lying very still

I claimed in my last post that I cheated death. This turned out to be premature. The following five days were spent groaning, wailing, crying and blowing my nose, over and over again. I called the priest five times, five times he went away disappointed. At last my body is recovering but my holiday was ruined. So I am cancelling my second week of idling and drawing comics that you won't see until week commencing June 9th! Then, when you are absolutely unaware of it I will take a week off and you won't know about it until you hear that my body has been pulled out of the East River, full of gin and barbiturates.

I note with interest that the best show of recent years, Mad Men, is almost out on DVD, so here is the link if you haven't seen it. A must for anyone who likes pleasing their eyes and their mind.

I think my Book 6 books are off the presses now and almost on the boat, so pre-order with postcards will commence this week. I have drawn 340 of 400 so far, it has been the most interminable task of my entire career. And I don't use the word "interminable" lightly.

I finish this entry with some designs I made for personal bathchairs when I was at a low ebb. The observant among you will see diagrams of "what Formula One drivers might look like".

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Death cheated, Mount Eerie revealed

MOUNT EERIE + No Kids @ Manchester Kro Bar, 21.05.08

Prior to this show, my main concern was that I didn't keel over during it, as I was very ill. But following an afternoon pep-talk, a packet of Sudafed, your positive mind-transmissions and the hot white internal thrill that comes with seeing two very quiet musical acts, I survived, and even thrived.

No Kids are the new masters of pop, possibly the shyest and most retiring masters of R&B melody that I have ever seen. It's entirely possible that they wrote their grooves in PERL, LISP or COBOL. Their 'Come Into My House' disc is one to listen to with your ears - you can rely on it!

As for Mount Eerie, who knows what you are going to get? Certainly not songs you have ever heard before (I had heard two), but for one man strumming a guitar accompanied by some films of fog, Phil Elverum knows how to transfix the local heads. Steering clear of his more epic jams, brevity was the order of the night.

The venue was tiny and everyone left rejoicing. Certainly more artists should try leaving the windows open - it keeps the spirits high. Victory! 9/10

I apologise for the very poor English in this review. It is not my first language (apparently).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Death stalks the cartoonist

I have returned from the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Minehead a broken man, too tough to cry. I have got festival plague, it is all about the mucus and the moaning about my condition now.

Maybe I will revive and live to fight another day, but I am on holiday and typically for my holidays, I am sick. I just could not keep the adrenaline level high enough to power through. Perhaps if you are a sky wizard believer, you could pray for me, or if you aren't, just send me some powerful atheistic vibes and mind transmissions.

I don't think I am going to do a festival review this time as I need to save my energy for disease fighting, antibody production and flu-powder stirring. Tomorrow night I am going to see Mount Eerie in concert and should I survive through the night without having to call a doctor, no doubt I will be so pleased that I will write something about that instead.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Muggle Formation

I found a useful article on how to stop the annoying 'save for web' colour shift in Photoshop. I hope this is helpful to some of you.

Just in case this post is considered "too useful" and "not self-referential enough", let me report that due to an accident, I have spent the last three days listening to contemporary country music, the bad-for-you musical McDonalds that dare not speak its name. I now look like this:

I am preoccupied with trucks, "shooting the moon" (?) and freedom. I know all the words to 'Coalmine' by Sara Evans but I must never, ever sing them aloud. God bless America.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Don't it make my brown eyes blue

Last night I went to see the Envelopes, the excellent Swedish band, and there were about 12 people there. I didn't have the heart to count. I thought this was the most disgraceful turn of events on an indie circuit where "Liam Fray" and "The Courteeners" can pack venues with sets of wall to wall "shit" that makes you want to "die". It was probably down to poor promotion, but I still felt rotten.

Plus (and I do not say this lightly), Joshua Brooks in Manchester is the only venue that makes me want the smoking ban rescinded. It stinks of a different kind of sewage in each of its zones.

Anyway, the Envelopes are amazing quirky pop done right for us all to enjoy, here is their Myspace! When bands play to twelve people two great albums in, they usually split up. So get on the (extremely small) bandwagon while you can!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


By which of course I mean, "listmania".

I love compiling, over and over again, my favourite albums of all time. If I can't get to sleep, it's a good exercise which always sends me off. Of course, it's an arbitrary exercise too - when you have listened to things hundreds of times, there can be no number one and the positions constantly shift.

1 ALL SHOOK DOWN - The Replacements
2 #1 RECORD - Big Star
4 NIXON - Lambchop
9 LOVELESS - My Bloody Valentine
10 STEVE MCQUEEN - Prefab Sprout

11 AJA - Steely Dan
13 BANDWAGONESQUE - Teenage Fanclub
14 FINN - Finn Brothers
16 DOOLITTLE - The Pixies
17 HOLLAND - The Beach Boys
19 COURT AND SPARK - Joni Mitchell
20 YS - Joanna Newsom

"Holland" is only someone's favourite Beach Boys record when they have listened to Pet Sounds so many times that they never ever need to hear it again.

PS There is a rule when I make these lists - one album per artist.
PPS Some of these records I got on "twofers" - I don't know where #1 Record by Big Star ends and Radio City begins, and I don't know where Stands For Decibels by the dBs turns into Repercussion. But if you care about sounds you should own them all!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Colouring tips for beginners

I wrote the following tips to help a friend colour her comics in Photoshop. I don't know if she'll actually find them helpful but if you, like me, have a slapdash attitude to colouring comics that basically comes down to "once I've filled all the white bits, I'm done", maybe this will help.

(PC users substitute the world 'ctrl' for 'apple')


1. Start with a 2-bit image so it is just black and white pixels, then convert to RGB or CMYK mode. You can either rub out your pencil lines or tit about with the threshold value on your scanner.

2. Select all the white areas with the magic wand (deselect 'contiguous'), then hide selection edges (View > Show > Selection edges) (it is useful to set a shortcut for this - apple-comma is usually free)

3. Fill away with the paint bucket, with 'anti-alias' deselected! I recommend only using colours out of the CMYK palette with one eye on eventually printing things.

4. Use a thin pencil tool line to join up any gaps in your linework as you go round. Deselect and reselect after you draw a black line as you will inevitably hit the black and accidentally colour the little line you just drew.

5. Keep deselecting and reselecting the white as you go, in the end you will have little isolated islands of white selected and often you can just use the square tool to plough colour over them.

6. It is fastest to learn and use keyboard shortcuts so you can go round quickly, clicking menus is annoying and they get in the way

I - eyedropper
B - brush/pencil
G - paintbucket
Apple-D - deselect all
W - magic wand (set tolerance to 3, turn anti-aliasing off)
D - default colours (black foreground, white background)
X - switch foreground and background colours
U - shape tool (set to 'fill pixels)

I hope this saves you the hundreds of hours I wasted before I reached this way of doing things! If you are conscientious about colour, you probably have your own way of doing things, but it probably takes you more than 45 minutes per page!