Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top 20 of the year day 5

Final thanks to the graphics department of the ITV chart show. If you enjoyed this feature, please let me know and I'll do it again!


"The Wolves (Act I & 2)"

3 SEA FROM SHORE - School Of Language / THE WEEK THAT WAS - The Week That Was

"Rockist" (School Of Language)

"Scratch The Surface" (The Week That Was)

2 49:00 - Paul Westerberg

"With Or Without Her"

"Devil Raised A Good Boy"


"Id Engager"

"An Eludian Instance (live)"

Top 20 of the year day 4

A thousand thanks to the graphics department of the ITV chart show.


"My Year In Lists"

"We Are All Accelerated Readers (Maps) (live)"

7 LADYHAWKE - Ladyhawke

"Dusk Till Dawn"


"Crooked Legs"

5 NOUNS - No Age

"Ripped Knees"


Top 20 of the year day 3

Thanks as always to the graphics department of the ITV chart show. Let me know in the comments if this is the sort of feature you enjoy, I am happy to round up my twenty favourite singles of the year this way too.

12 REAL EMOTIONAL TRASH - Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks


11 VAMPIRE WEEKEND - Vampire Weekend


10 ALPINISMS - School Of Seven Bells

"Half Asleep"

"Face To Face On High Places (live)"


"White Winter Hymnal"

"Ragged Wood"

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top 20 of the year day 2

Courtesy of the graphics department of the ITV chart show.

16 DISTRICT LINE - Bob Mould

"The Silence Between Us (live)"


14 DISTORTION - The Magnetic Fields

"California Girls"

13 WE BRAVE BEE STINGS AND ALL - Thao and the Get Down Stay Down

"Swimming Pools"

"Bag Of Hammers"

Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 20 of the year day 1

From the graphics department of the ITV chart show. Updated every day! I couldn't find any contemporary videos for #17 and #18.

20 DO YOU LIKE ROCK MUSIC - British Sea Power
"No Lucifer"

19 RIP IT OFF - Times New Viking
"Teen Drama (live)"


17 WELCOME TO - The Welcome Wagon

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Well, Christmas is over for another year, Baby Jesus rides his unicorn into the distance and Krampus sleeps in the mountains. I am sure 12 months from now we will reunite and talk about what we did in the crazy, crazy month of December 2008. I hope all your Christmas dreams came true (provided they were within reasonable parameters).

Monday, December 22, 2008


I tried to draw a comic in 5 minutes today. In actuality it was more like ten minutes but I think you can really smell the difference.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Lest I forget, I have added Lizz Lunney to the links list on the right. Lizz has about 12 blogs, she doesn't mess around when it comes to getting information out there. I have said why I think her art is so good before and will not say so again without a considerable stipend.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Sometimes I don't get to see my shirts until months or even years after I design them (I only own a very few of them myself - I prefer a shirt with buttons). But occasionally people send me a photo. And as George Harrison might have said, my sweet lord:

Thank you Andrew Kozma, a man who is plainly some kind of self-styled lord of the moths.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winning the battle, losing the war

I don't think we are going to solve my specialized problem (passim). If I keep on trying I am going to end up breaking the computer. Here's a picture which is a consolation prize for the triers.

As the year draws to its inexorable end, i thought I would apologise to everyone I was short, terse or brief with in 2008. I never mean it. If I cut you short shrift at a con, wrote you an email precisely three words long (and none of them good) or just gave you the bad eye (Vivian Girl style), I was probably very tired.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bizarre and specialised problem that perhaps no-one will be able to solve

There is a prize for a reader who can answer this question successfully. A really great prize. I have spent hours on google and forums looking for the answer to no avail.

I have a Lenovo X61 tablet and it is great, the finest thing. You draw on the fancy old SXGA screen, you put it in your bag, glorious. Home and away, the art stylings.

But two pieces of software (Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Manga Studio 4 - both EX and Debut versions) share the same problem. One time in maybe 100 pen strokes pressure sensitivity is lost and the pen produces what I can only describe as an ink blot!

It occurs more frequently in MS 4 - usually when drawing something like an eye, with a little circle inside a larger one. Once it happens in one place on the screen, if I undo it will happen again and again in that same spot. It happens with far less frequency in Sketchbook Pro.

I cannot recreate the effect in Manga Studio 3, or Photoshop CS1 - which both work fine. I originally tested MS4 on another machine running XP service pack 2 (this one has XP SP3) and what I'm describing never happened there.

I suppose it could be a driver problem but I've tried a few variants of the Wacom penabled driver to no good effect. It could be a hardware problem, but it's a very strange one if it is.

Has anyone ever seen this before? Can you help? Or is it time simply to give up on computers and live under a tarpaulin on Saddleworth Moor?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stanshall Aloud

Last night I went to see the Vivian Girls. Their album is ramshackle fun (kind of a shambling C86 sound) so there was no guarantee they would be any good. Sometimes a record like that is the sound of a weak band doing their very best. But in person they were better than on record, a fierce, confident and concise outfit! When I got home I felt I had to draw them immediately (after going to bed and spending several hours doing other things).

Prior to the show, the red-headed one gave me the skunk eye something rotten for daring to look past her. They had some ferocious tattoos (including, I believe, an ice-cream sundae) but I have drawn them the wrong way round to illustrate the fine and sailor-like artwork on show. I am sure Mojo or Spin will write to me to draw them again after this showing so I will draw the tattoos next time.

Vivian Girls on Myspace

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

RIP Oliver Postgate

I was sad to hear today that Oliver Postgate has died. But at 83 he had a good innings, and he packed more into his life that most people will manage. I strongly recommend his autobiography 'Seeing Things' - he invented many animation techniques for TV on the fly and his life is a fascinating story. A true maverick.

I never tire of the mice's song

Moon-based japes

Welsh wintering

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Fancy Burns Faster

Here is the cover for the next book if it ever does emerge (it probably will).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Scary Go Round book 7 update

A few people have asked about progress on book 7, which I was close to finishing up months ago. Unfortunately due to a combination of paying for printing in US dollars and the pound being worth a lot less than it was against the dollar, I've not had the necessary funds to print it to the standard that I would like. I had the money put away for it but suddenly I need half as much again.

Every book I've done has been beset with one problem or another; producing nice glossy colour books in fairly short runs (under 2000) requires a certain amount of cunning. To make a living from webcomics, you have to drag the absolute maximum profit from each of your burnt offerings. I can't tell you how green with envy I am when 'Dragon Face Comics' or 'Gamey Times' boasts of paying for a book with preorders - it takes me months to hit that mark. I did manage to pep things up last time by drawng a postcard to go in each of the first 400 books (the breakeven point on that occasion). Let me tell you what drawing 400 quite nice drawings in a couple of months is like. It makes you want to not ever draw 400 postcards ever again. And it certainly makes you not want to draw 600 of them.

In response to this annual complaint, someone will ask me "why don't you do pre-orders until you have enough money, then print?" The answer is that turnaround is slow on a book and I don't like to take orders until I have a due date.

I am not just here to gripe, after all I choose to do these things (in order to eat and live in a house). I am very proud that I run a business with no debts. The fact that it will kill me with stress at 47 stops me having to worry about saving for a pension. I will be on an exercise bike shouting into a huge mobile phone (about "perfect binding" no doubt) when something will pop and I will fall into a crumpled heap to be discovered by my model wife.

I think that what I need is a patron. A patron is a fat man in a waistcoat and buckled shoes with a pocketwatch who gives me a vast quantity of money and lets me get on with it. I am not going to piss it up the wall, no sir, anyone who knows me will tell you I am a cheap date. So I suppose the question is, is this you:

If it is, I have a figure in mind and while you will not get it back in material terms, your place in heaven is assured.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Feeling rough

Today's comic was a hard translation from rough to finished drawing, I leave you to draw your own conclusions from the evidence below.

The last panel took ten tries to get right.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I thought about designing some Christmas cards this year, but thinking is not doing. This is a tradition, I have thought about designing Christmas cards every year since 1999.

Here is a little picture that is as far as I got.

Oh well, maybe next year friends.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Surf City

For one day and one day only I am overexcited about the new, new sound of Surf City. Their sound is somewhere between Animal Collective and Flying Nun NZ bands of the 80s like The Chills. I think their self-titled EP is the first genuinely exhilarating new record I've heard this year (and I've heard dozens). Listen to them in the My-space.

In other news, you now follow my blog on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oh wait

As it is nearly the last month of the year, I am compiling my album chart of the year and trying to listen to every notable disc released in 2008 before deciding if each is a flash in the pan or a monument to our times like Fairweather Johnson by Hootie and his Blowfish. In common with previous years I will try to work out what people see in Deerhunter (answers on a postcard) as it never sounds anything like the reviews say. I think I have spent more money trying to understand Deerhunter than I have on other bands that I actually like.

To warm up, here are my top ten records from this year that weren't released in 2008.

1 PETER GABRIEL 2 - Peter Gabriel (1978)
I only bought this because I liked the cover, having long laboured under the impression that it was full of prog nonsense and downbeat sentiments. Actually it is full of scissor-kicking synth pop and Robert Fripp and you can get it from Oxfam for £2.99.

2 DREAMS COME TRUE - Judee Sill (r. 2005)
Judee Sill was a nun, a prostitute, a heroin addict and at one point married to "Whispering" Bob Harris. This is not the record you might imagine it would be.

3 SWOON - Prefab Sprout (1983)
Their debut, produced by Field Music's dad (I think). Tricksy sounding!

4 THE BIG SHOT CHRONICLES - Game Theory (1986)
I downloaded this from a blog but if the band want royalties I will send them by all means.

5 NEVER HEAR THE END OF IT - Sloan (2007)
I bought this last year but it was 76 minutes long and impenetrable (judging by the 7 or 8 copies in Vinyl Exchange, I was not alone in feeling this). It turned out to be their best album by miles.

6 HEAVEN OR LAS VEGAS - Cocteau Twins (1990)
7 TALLAHASSEE - Mountain Goats (2002)
8 OLA PODRIDA - Ola Podrida (2007)
9 EAGLE vs SHARK OST - Phoenix Foundation (2006)
10 DOWNTOWN COCALUCCIA - Julia Hummer (2005)

The club is open

I don't have anything to write on the blog at the moment. It's entirely possible that my brain has failed. But I should mention that Titan Books were kind enough to send me this:

A sophisticated infant, I had a pretty good idea of the difference between an average illustrator and a genius even at a young age (I can remember expressing forthright opinions as such as early as 8 or 9 years old), and I can remember attempting to copy Jamie Hewlett's spot illustrations from Commodore User when I was 11. As meek and moderate youth, Tank Girl's anarchy seemed distasteful to me, but I have never stopped enjoying (and learning from) Jamie's artwork and The Cream Of Tank Girl is full of his great drawings, alongside looks back to the fertile late 80s UK indie comics scene.

Friday, November 14, 2008


All right I am a spent force, see you next week.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thought Bubble

Yes, good news for the people of Leeds, you can meet me at the Thought Bubble Festival on Saturday, I will use the wiles of Giffen and Bonxie to trick you out of your money, then you can stumble around and wonder how I managed it with only a papier maché seabird and his "friend" of indeterminate genus.

There are lots of talented types to see there, here is a list of a few who are worthy of a look:

Adam Cadwell - "Manchester's Mr Drawing"
Chamonkee - really beautiful artwork
Oliver East - his 'Trains Are... Mint' is bucolic brilliance
Marc Ellerby - apparently he is "always tousled"
Liz Greenfield - the former Stuff Sucks impressario has developed a spectacular new visual style
Kelly Hernandez - Kelly is amazing!
Lizz Lunney - a great cartoonist with a lovely gentle approach

I have run out of time but I'll come up with some more tomorrow, leaving you to contemplate the "gentle approach". What do I mean? I DON'T KNOW

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Haim Saban presents (in Maplevision)

Based on the photographic evidence below, there is every chance that Giffen (of BONXIE and GIFFEN) will be joining me at Thought Bubble on Saturday. He will be signing autographs between 3.00 and 3.02pm. I don't know if Bonxie will be there, something to do with not knowing how much time I want to spend making papier maché paste this evening (I am a man still in the prime of life after all).

Monday, November 10, 2008

He might be a plumber

I designed a business card for reader Chris Griffiths. Chris knew that I was the man to provide a turnkey solution for him. My blue sky thinking is unparalleled. Well done me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

You're welcome

Well, for eight years I have kept freedom safe for a nation, but as of this morning, my work is done. Following my many fact-finding tours of the USA, order has finally been restored. As I watched that hatchet-faced witch Ann Coulter feasting on crow, I knew that it was time for the Freedom Eagle to take off his crown, hang up his cape and move on to pastures new. From now on I will simply be known as 'The Horse'.

Look for me wherever the seed of TRUTH needs to be ploughed into the fields of JUSTICE.

I accompany this post with a commemorative sketch, one that proves that I have not quite mastered the art of drawing a horse.

CONSUMER REVIEW 2 - Wacom Felt Nibs

If you find that your Wacom pen skids around your tablet solution like Bambi on ice, I strongly recommend you buy a set of Wacom's felt nibs, which lend a pleasing tooth to the drawing surface. They don't last as long as the regular plastic nibs but you may find they enhance your drawing experience.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Here he is

I haven't seen kids dragging round a motheaten Guy Fawkes since I lived in Sheffield, but I'm sure that out there, somewhere, people are still burning big-hatted rascals in effigy. The exciting thing about going to the bonfire in Heaton Park is that, without evasive manoeuvers to avoid the flying fireworks and bangers let off by high-spirited youngsters, you can be burned in actuality, which I am told is better and "more authentic".

I am so worn out by the US Election that I have decided to ignore Hopey and Walnuts. It was too much election.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Terrors


Today I applied a Boxwave Crystal Clear screen protector to my tablet pc screen. Within ten minutes of use I had torn it off in total fury, screwed it up and thrown it in the bin. I might as well have thrown the money straight in the bin. And I have to say that I actually did a very nice job of applying it neatly and without bubbles. My rating for this item is 2/10 (or 10/10 if you like something that gets covered with scratches immediately, and that your pen sticks to in some places and skids over with impunity in others.)

To cheer myself up I looked at this SGR pumpkin picture sent to me by Tiffany Shaw. Thanks Tiffany. You saved me from becoming a vigilante.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Scary Go Round site problems

IMPORTANT POST (tell your friends)

Are you having problems getting on the Scary Go Round site? Specifically, does the page get stuck on the advert at the top and then go no further. If this is the case, please post in the comments with which browser you're using, and whether you're on a Mac or PC. If you don't have a blogger account, please email me ( with the subject line "site problems".

If you haven't been able to read the comic, I have a 1994-style page here (compatible with Netscape 2) so you can catch up.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lollipop land

Ha ha man imagine if I was actually being paid to make this:

And I have had quite enough colouring in for one day:

Friday, October 24, 2008


I'm working on a new canvas print for the Thought Bubble show in Leeds next month. The colours below are just testers, but the lines are probably final. Maybe I'll give it a bit more sky. Toto is definitely going to be a square dog.

If you like my Dorothies, be sure to comment as it helps me decide whether to do a run of 10 or 20.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book worm

I'm looking at the new Scary Go Round collection and trying to decide (well, I have decided) whether to leave out the Christmas Island story (and the little two week appendage with Shelley and Shelby in New York). It's substantially weaker material than what would replace it (the Carrot story currently running) but is there anything that wouldn't make sense if I take it out? I'll probably have to patch up a couple of holes in the plot but I often spot them too late. I throw this question open to you...

...the audience.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Maybe I am fickle

Kate Williams is now number one in my heart for history. Yes sure Schama is fine and there is also Starkey with his imperious delivery and round tortoiseshell glasses, but after watching Timewatch the other day, my mind is made up and I am not moving on the issue. Wave those hands! Lisp and stomp around! Oh my god I just fainted.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More bad designs

I'm starting to take a twisted pleasure in these awful tshirt ideas. This one is designed for people who spend a lot of time thinking about the semantic web and tuples.

BOFFINS. And I'll go further:

Plus Dr Music

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Damned souls apply within

I have a new eBay auction, of the piece below! If you don't want to buy it, you can just look at it, that's fine, looking's free. It's a nice piece, about 11" x 14". And I have started it at one English pound. A pound!

All right that's quite enough looking, move along now.

One for the potato fans

I have helped my old friend Jeffrey Rowland (we have been friends for 9 years I think) out with a new spin on one of his classic designs at Topatoco.

There will be another post later today that will be a feast for the eyes and a curse upon someone's eBay wallet. Three words: gams, hallowe'en, goths. Put that in your tag cloud and smoke it. But now I have to go to the post office will the indignity never end &etc

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hot metal

I had great fun last week making Sarah and Esther's zine. Of course I did exactly the same thing when I was their age! I used to mash things out on an old-school manual typewriter and fill in the gaps with drawings. On one occasion I typed inserts on toilet paper; we made our own fun in the country and I am not ashamed to say it. The important distinction I made was that I only produced one issue of each, which I showed to whoever among my friends I could get to read it (and tacitly acknowledge my genius). It wasn't a vicious rag like Guns For Eyes though, having been burned early on by my "talent" for vicious satire and cruel gossip, I occupied an anodyne space.

I've spent the last three days being jealous of Barnaby Ward. He's got to stop what he's doing, and stop it now. Amazing work.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Early scrapings

I had a go at the Book 7 cover today, it didn't quite work out how I wanted, so I'll have another go (probably another few goes) but I thought I'd put it up here for posterity anyway.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I know you have been wondering what has happened to the Internet's hottest new tech comic strip "AAPL EN FUEGO", well another installment has just arrived, I wonder what Mr Steve 'No Belt, No Problem' Jobs is up to now...

Oh my sweet lordy yes, the internet is safe once more.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Oh do stop complaining John

Or maybe it is the late-period Zack from Saved By The Bell, I don't know. Either way, in 2008 it's box office poison.

It's over

I am conceding defeat and admitting that I have no more shirt ideas left. Last week Chris Hastings and I sat down to design tshirts, a lovely afternoon of brotherly brainstorming. After about my fifteenth idea, Chris said, "these ideas are all perfect things that no one would ever want to buy".

In case you don't believe me, here are three designs selected at random:

Acknowledging that the elephant in the room for the last week has been the law of diminishing returns, I have spent the afternoon rolling around on the floor wailing. But I am all right now. After all, this existential crisis has been going on for years.

I'm sure the comments on this cheerful post will be full of disproportionately huge monetary offers from the great media organisations so don't you worry about me. I will be fine.

ADDENDUM: Reader Noel Clark sent me an Applecat pumpkin to cheer me up, here viewed from two angles.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Power from the needle to the plastic

I'm back from the twin threats of the American wedding and my brother's stag night feeling strong. At one of these events I explored my ability to blast away with a shotgun and let me tell you, Sarah Palin was right, that's livin'. See below my vanquished foes:

It turns out that I am the kind of man you want on your side when it kicks off. Who knew?

Regular blogging will now recommence. Cutting the ribbon... ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen: MR CLIFF RICHARD!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ten zesty years

Today I'm celebrating ten years of making comics on the internet. How am I celebrating? By being drunk all day. A cup of wine instead of orange juice, Baileys on my cornflakes instead of milk, irish coffee and a vodka jelly shot as a sharpener to finish. For someone who barely drinks any more, this is very uncomfortable, but binge-drinking is all the rage and I need to get my spurs. Hopefully my spurs aren't on a high shelf as I am having problems standing up.

Of course, I am telling a lie. I am actually working furiously hard before I take off for the Dumbrella Wedding Of The Year in New York in two days! My good friend Andrew Bell is marrying a special lady and I will be there in my suit, top hat, spats, velvet lined cape, cummerbund and woad. The dress code is severe but Andy promises pomp and pageantry of the first order and we must all do our part. Jeff Rowland and Tallahassee are going to dress as Herne The Hunter and the Lady of the Lake, Steven Cloud intends to adopt the livery of Robin Hood, Jon Rosenberg is going as Stringer Bell from The Wire and Rich Stevens says he is going to be "skyclad", I guess we'll find out what that means on the big day!

The Scary Go Round front page is a big mess of gratitude today but I imagine the blog readers are the most faithful readers (or the most in need of diversion) so thank you, blog readers! I'd draw you a picture but the jelly shot is kicking in now and I can't actually hold a pen.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


For reasons beyond my control, yesterday I sought out the cheapest watch in town. It had to be a Casio. Of course I bought it in Argos, and I was pleased with my £7.99 efforts. That is until I put on my Casio F91W. Suddenly I was overcome by a sense of shame and ennui so powerful that I hooked my sweater over my wrist so that people could not see this craven timepiece. My old watch was nice. This one... seemed nasty. Reassurances to the contrary warmed my heart but did not soothe my mind.

That evening, my brother called and read generously to me from Wikipedia about the cheapest watch in Casio's arsenal. Why not visit the Wikipedia page for the F91W and scroll past the technical details to the long section marked claimed use in terrorism.

That's right. I, the Freedom Eagle, have bought and now wear the watch that hates America.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ling-wa fran-ka Ming-Na

One thing I know in my heart is that there are about 80000 English-language webcomics. But do other countries have a similar tradition in their own languages? France and Belgium are hotbeds of comic art, but do they have their own equivalents of "Control Delete Alt" or "Very Good Cats"? Is there a Latvian "Overcompensating"? And whither the Polish "Order of Some Sticks"? Surely the Russians, the leetest haxxors of all, have their own tall-eyed "Gurl Genius". Are you foreign? Perhaps you know the answer!

As a fact bribe, here's a picture that will resonate in any ancient society's cultural memory.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Turn, karmic wheel

I think that if I could choose one perfect mode of existence, I would be Rag Dolly Anna. Now I know this is a controversial choice, I am a grown man and people are going to be crossing the road to avoid me after this. But watch this instructional film and rejoin me on the other side.

Rag Dolly Anna has a wicked time, all the time. She is only small but her concerns are few. She gets to:

1. See a fresh steam roller
2. Chillax with a nice bunny
3. Talk to a friend on the telephone
4. Push a little wheelbarrow (friends of mine know my love of the barrow)
5. Hang out with lovely old Pat Coombes
6. Have, not to put too fine a point on it, "a bunch of paper roses in her big straw hat".

Maybe the fact that someone drove into my car on Saturday causing a lovely crumpling effect, combined with the knowledge that my roof is leaking, has caused me to revert to an infantile state. I think someone had better send help, and fast.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008


Good homegrown home-made comedy is beginning to emerge on Youtube, proving that you can't keep an honest nation down because we are Good At This Sort Of Thing. Turn away, watery eye, from the sad fizog of BBC Three and watch a Radioface.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The vapidity of choice

Earlier this year I took one of my most popular and successful shirt designs, "I Am Your Secret Scary Friend", out in the yard and shot it. It was (I think) the first or maybe the second ever Scary Go Round shirt and it stayed on sale for five (count them), five years. That's a lot longer than blue Pepsi lasted for.

I was so sick of the sight of it, but the hot, seamy desire was still out there for what that shirt said about a person. So a new version is hours away from being on sale. It features a demond playing an organ and took roughly 100x longer than the original to draw.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bathroom 4 / Tree 1

I was going to post more about the bathroom but it is hard to complain as apparently (for once) I hired someone really good at their job. The work is almost finished but today the fitter told me to cut down a tree. And what an experience it is for a man to cut down a tree, now I see what lumberjacking is all about. Crash, crash goes the mighty oak (leylandi) felled by man, the superior organism in every way. Who is laughing now, tree? Who is in a skip now, tree?

Having had a skip for two weeks, I began to get nervous about the expense of such a giant, rusty, metal extravagance. But I was informed that "you can keep them as long as you want within reason". WHAT HO! I said, because the skip-hire economy speaks to a long-lost England where fairness was a suit each man, woman and child donned before breakfast.

Funds allowing, I intend to start work on publication of Scary Go Round book 7 very soon*. I'm currently working on titles. After the brevity of "Ahoy Hoy", I intend to stretch out for the next one. "Dazed And Confused In Chinese Taipei"? "One Hundred Wet Legwarmers"? "The Blunderbuss That Couldn't Say No"? Who can say what I will christen this rotten baby.

*Please remember that this inevitably takes me 6 months, most of which are spent crying

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Like a three-legged dog in search of a crutch

After a power meeting with Mr Andy Bell (who debated its "pervasive sense of magic"), I have made revisions to my poster. I post them purely for comparison.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dragon mountain colour friends

I coloured in my dragon poster this morning. It's ochre-tastic, sienna-mungous and earth tones-tastic.

I also working on a new Secret Scary Friend shirt to replace the old one, which I was so sick of looking at. Here's my scrawly rough, which has some clues about the final shape of things.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I attended Manchester Comix Collective's Drink and Draw this weekend and have the following to report: Batman. I drew a load of Batmans. I don't spend much time thinking about Batman and I've read only a couple of Batman comics ever, but apparently, I know all about him!



Monday, August 25, 2008

Tabby Time

Since Christmas I've been drawing Scary Go Round on a Wacom Cintiq in Manga Studio,and hopefully the improvements have been clear for all to see. The ability to squash down someone's head that you've drawn 5% too big, or to nudge an eye over a bit at the pencilling stage, is invaluable to an incompetent like me.

But the sick fact of the Cintiq craze that has swept comickers worldwide is that they are very expensive and about as portable as an ironing board. Wacom introduced a twelve inch model for pros on the go, it cost precisely one arm and one leg, and rumour has it that when you put it in your hand luggage with a laptop, it consumes all available space that you might have used for a bottle of water, and improving book, and a clean pair of underpants.

Keen to take my show on the road every once in a while, I decided to look into Tablet PCs. Despite being a Mac user, I will use a Windows when the time is right. And as a skinflint, I like a second hand laptop. But the screens on a lot of the tablets available are rather mean - 1280x800 widescreens or even a particularly unkind 1024x768 on some models. And those vicious shiny screens! Does anybody like them?

I was going to get a new HP Pavillion 2500 thing and live with the resolution,the shiny screen and "Vista" which is apparently Windows 95 for the very young. But I couldn't spend £700 on something I'd use once a flood. So following careful research I found the Toshiba Portege M200!

Yes, this machine is my new deal. Yes, it is four years old, with a sound card unworthy of the name, one pitiful speaker and a very bad attitude toward 'hibernation'. It has no optical drive. But it has a super hi-res 4:3 1400x1040 screen that is a real pleasure to draw on and it flies in XP. Even after lavishing laptop stands, stupid flexible rubber keyboards, firewire pc cards, a recovery disk and a DVD-RW drive enclosure on it, I'd spent £320 on a machine with a nicer drawing area than the 12" Cintiq for half the price. It is my guess that you could probably do this too if you wanted to.

Best of all, it has lots of programmable buttons for your shortcuts. I like to hit the space bar and various keys to scrub around artwork quickly, but a lot of the consumer level tablets just seem to have "media buttons" that aren't a lot of help. The M200 has a little joystick that you can assign five functions to (per application, per orientation) and four more programmable buttons. If you can, you might as well just plug an external keyboard in, but it's still very handy.

I would suggest treating it like a drawing appliance and not ragging it to death (I always ragged my PCs to death back in the dangerous 1990s), but for the busy artist on the go, I would say that it more than does. It might seem strange to be writing a glowing review of an ancient piece of hardware but if you can find on e in good nick, this is still an excellent digital artist's tool.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bathroom 3

Progress is going too well on my bathroom. I am nervous. I've yet to see a ne'er do well in my skip, nor hear the great sound of a supporting wall giving way along with a large part of the roof. But there's still time. I will say that my new bath tap is like a Dalek's nose and has an aerator which seems like a miracle to me because I am a simpleton. "Whuddahoppenadawadder" I said, like a big old rube. A big old Chaddy rube.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bathroom 2

Today was very exciting. A skip arrived (I learned that Canadians don't know what a skip is because they are all born with trucks) for the bathroom of the past. Of course, I took the opportunity to throw every unwanted item I own into it. That's what having a skip is all about (or rather, your neighbours having a skip).

My bathroom fitter is a LADY which is amazing. Usually a hairy arsed man is responsible for destruction around the home, but today there a civilised air about the place. It is like World War 2 and now I see how the war at home was won, with the sweat of sisters' brows.

Of course it is not all skip fun and gender equality. When the tiles came off, the wall beneath looked like ancient cake and had a similar consistency. Let us pray it can be "made good". Pray with me, blog readers. But the wobbly wall has almost been replaced and now feels sturdy enough to resist at least the initial Russian nuclear strike. Situated as I am just one mile from BAE Systems in Middleton, I will be the first webcartoonist to die in the coming conflict. So keep prayin'.

But progress is good and there is no need to "have kittens" today. I will return tomorrow with more of the same.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bathroom 1

Bathroom madness has begun. I have saved up for almost a year to have my hideous bathroom remodelled and on Monday it begins. But already the fitter has come round and pressed on some walls and the walls wobbled (like an early eighties soap opera set) and said "John whoever built this house was quackers please can we have a million pounds". So cruel you say but they are not wrong, my house was bodged from top to bottom in 1989 by a maniac. To paraphrase Richard Herring, he was a "fucking idiot".

Today, when scraping away the old painted over wallpaper, I found some of his excellent plasterwork. What happens is that you tap it, and it falls off, then you fill in the hole with Polyfilla or wet toilet paper or just raw fury. I usually employ a mixture of all three. I was so cross that I got the wrong tube of goo out of the cupboard and used Polyfilla Woodflex, which will no doubt explode in the night as I used it on a wall that was not made of wood.

I will provide more bathroom updates every day of this no doubt epic tragedy. It will be like an episode of Grand Designs, meaning I will end up overbudget with four mortgages. Younger readers may well wish to take note.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Eat eat whale meat when you need a meaty treat

Here are some Real True History doodles. Who was Beowulf... and WHY?