Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lois & Clark sadly not pictured

I love Smallville. I can't believe it's run for nine seasons. Anything that runs for so long will have its ups and downs but I still enjoy it. Here's a comic... about SMALLVILLE.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday is treat day

In a recent exchange of ideas in a secluded internet zone (maybe a newsgroup or a BBS, not sure), Aaron Diaz of Dresden Codak fame used his powers on the original pencils of this panel...

...and made this!

Obviously I was very excited about this and did a kind of ungainly victory dance. BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! If you want to have a go with the same panel, you can download the pencils for it by clicking on the picture below.

Why not post your efforts in the comments for this thread? Do you have the skills of a powerful wizard? Or just want to practice? Have a go, Joe! Here's the original comic as it ran on June 30th.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ms Tackleford Beauty Pageant

After a brief survey of whether it was "sexy" or "sexist", you can now get my Ms Tackleford Beauty Pageant poster. £7.50, as close to daylight robbery as the law will currently allow.

As you will plainly see, Esther has gone for full black metal regalia and good on her. It was fun to draw Natalie and Moon again, characters of the past! And as you can see, Erin is up to no good with her unique brand of bad-tempered hellfire. In case you are interested, Shelley won, with a brutal speech about the plight of the narwhal tipping the scales in her favour.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Everyday Guest Strip

Here's a guest "The Everyday" comic I did for my friend Adam Cadwell. Adam is a great draughtsman who encouraged me to do more closeups in Bad Machinery, something that I think has really paid off. You may struggle to detect any of my professional respect for him in what follows.

(Vimto is a sasparilla-style cordial drink that Adam may be alone in drinking past the age of 15)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Writing For Scary Go Round/Bad Machinery

I received a message the other day through one or other channel (telex perhaps), asking how I go about writing the 100-page stories for Bad Machinery. I was never the most careful plotter in the past, which lead to a lot of Scary Go Round stories that petered out or ended unsatisfactorily.

Of course, such is the nature of expectation that I'm pretty certain that any ending will be unsatisfactory that doesn't definitively terminate every single plotline you have been dealing with, and in a long, ongoing project that was very difficult. It lead to a "drift in/drift out" of stories that I didn't mind, because I enjoyed making little worlds far more than tying things up in the kind of neat bows that don't exist in real life. But I was also a lazy plotter and my best received stories were the ones that started and ended properly, with points mapped out in between.

So for Bad Machinery, I made a strict rule to rein in my bad habits - 100 pages a story, with all plotlines within self-contained enough that they could be read individually. I decided on a three act structure to help me get my timing right. This was a technique I used for my "Heavy Metal Hearts And Flowers" book back in 2004, why I never used it again is a mystery.

Before I start writing I will have had a theme in mind, a central protagonist or a location. I'll do research , draw a lot of sketches of characters, kind of get a feel for the shape of the project and get excited about it before I have to have any structure at all. In the past I would set off in a direction and after a few weeks find that I had set myself up something quite dull to write and draw. By thinking ahead in an abstract way, I can avoid making bad decisions on the spur of the moment or losing enthusiasm quickly.

Once I'm ready to write and have the jist of the story in mind, I write out all the plot points I can manage on lined paper. The first act will be very detailed with everything (narratively) I need for the next 32 comics, there will be loose ideas for the middle third, and a skeletal structure for the final part - really just an idea of the ending and how to possibly resolve conflicts.

I'm meant to write 4 comics a week, to draw the following week, but with a strong structure I can often write more, as the dialogue is the easiest and most fun part to do. During the course of writing I will add things in which occur to me during the drawing of strips and they can be expanded when I come to write acts two and three.

Finishing the plot for part three is the hardest part of the writing because I have to make sure I finish everything and balance plot against dialogue. But it's a problem solving exercise that I've come to enjoy more and more over the years.

By keeping parts two and three loose until I get nearer to them, I get the benefit of both knowing where I'm going, and knowing that I have time to deviate from that path.

Unlike drawing, where I have to sit in one place in peace and quiet, I plot and write dialogue all over the place, often when I'm out and about. Nothing stops that part of my mind like modern distractions so I try to get as far away from the Internet as possible whenever I can. I've done this more and more in the last year and hopefully the results are evident.

I'm always happy to answer writing questions if people need help.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Esther Project colour tests

Still doesn't have a title, but it certainly has HAIRCUTS.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Vector afternoon

I was getting the original Scary Go Round story, "Gas", ready for publication this afternoon. It's eight years old and hard for me to look at now - that's a lot of water under the bridge! But I found when I was making the 6-panel pages into fours that I had to make a couple of extra panels to fill gaps.

What an exercise in finding out where consistency ends and vanity begins! A lot has changed in eight years. You can see the panels below and make your own mind up. I think vanity won.

The first panel is one of the originals. The other two are new.

Friday, August 06, 2010


I'll be putting this up for sale on Monday after a weekend of sober reflection and crust-gnawing.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Pepper & Archibald

Pepper & Archibald
Originally uploaded by scarygoround
This was a commission I did for a Mr Kleman in Europe's own Sweden! It's resolutely jolly, it took me a few days to work myself up to this level of clean-lunged, clear headed decency. I hope you like it! Remember, if you want a one-off piece like this, visit my commissions desk! I'm currently taking on new work.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Wood stick, thin, then lead within

I've been getting bored with pencilling on the computer (no problem with its efficacy, just sick of sitting by a screen all day) so I've been trying to get back in touch with paper. As detailed previously, I sketch all the time, but I get a bit of stage fright when I have to draw "properly", I tend to tighten up too much and draw stiffly.

As I am planning to take a break from Bad Machinery between chapters on an as-yet-undecided project, hopefully with some room to experiment outside the 100-page youngling webcomic idiom, I thought I might try some old-school pencils. This plan may wither on the vine like so many before it but I will do some loosening up exercises over the next few weeks, just spend some time with my feelings on the matter. Here are a couple of practice pages, one is a redrawing of an old page, the second is some character design work. They're just for fun, neither is anything like perfect, they are submitted without further exposition.