Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Mope

The Mope
Originally uploaded by scarygoround
Super-seamstress Feltmistress has been teasing me all week with something she was making for me, and LOOK! It's my most mystifyingly popular creation of recent times, THE MOPE, rendered in glorious fake fur. It's an honour and a privilege to meet him. But why do I feel... so sad?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bob Staake

You are probably familiar with Bob Staake's work even if you don't exactly know him by name. As well as a series of iconic New Yorker covers in recent years, he's responsible for an astonishing run of childrens' books (often writing as well as drawing) alongside copious illustrations. His books feature gorgeous endpapers and the kind of attention to finish that I wish I could emulate - hopefully one day I will get there. Bob is very open about his process, if you follow him on Facebook he drops all kinds of anecdotes and insights on a daily basis. To the best of my knowledge, he still uses Photoshop 3 to generate his trademark style, making a mockery of the "upgrade curve" - as the video below displays. There are a number of videos of his technique if you search for "Bob Staake" on Youtube.

I honestly believe that among working illustrators, Bob is peerless today and an example to anyone who wants to see how to do the job right. Here's his website!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New links, new danger

I often fear that I neglect my blog these days, we get a little rush of activity, but then my interest is diverted to Twitter or Flickr or all the other places you can issue forth a swiftly-forgotten memorandum. I rather like how information soon dies on Twitter, I can stamp my foot about some terrible abuse of the English language and a day or so later, it's like it almost never happened. The human dream writ large.

I've added some new links to my blog list on the right, great artists whose work will enhance your day.

Dan Berry - Dan runs a great comics blog called the Comics Bureau, full of interviews and pointers to fine work. He is also one of the the most disciplined artists I have met; in the couple of years I have known him, his comics artwork has improved to an amazing extent, there are good things to come from "Dan Berry Wine".

Warwick Johnson Cadwell - I'm sure I've written about Warwick before, he's a stellar illustrator who literally never stops, despite working a variety of jobs and attending to his young family. He makes the rest of us look weak-limbed and shabby.

Eric Colossal - Eric makes games, but he also makes comics sometimes, and what comics! He has a great, expressive line and is a very funny writer.

Steffi Schütze - Steffi works primarily in fashion illustration, often with her partner Christian Nauck, but her blog is full of process work that I find fascinating. She also links to a lot of high-end fashion photography that I doubt I would ever see otherwise.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Giant Days cover

I'm making a little collection of the Giant Days story, just to bolster my range. It should be available soon. Here's the cover!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Little Goth Boxes

Here's a poster I designed yesterday...

The Little Goth Boxes

I'm in the process of reorganising that side of things so I don't (personally) have to ship tubes any more but this is a likely candidate for sale. I'm also designing some new items that I haven't sold before that I think you'll like!

My recent design efforts have illuminated some interesting issues. I can't easily make Bad Machinery merchandise because you can't really sell stuff with childers on it to adults. Books are one thing, the stories are meant to be like Calvin and Hobbes, good for all ages. But when it comes to visual stuff to sell, I can't make it work that way. Whereas Giant Days is easy, for pretty obvious reasons. It's broad and unapologetically sassy! Like a drunk aunt at a wedding.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Sketch Fiesta 12 and THE MOPE

The Mope

The Mope heralds a new Sketch Fiesta, my twelfth! Why not be like me, fill book after book with delirious inanities.

The Mope has proved a suspiciously popular figure. What next for this miserable lump?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2010 Chart in "full"

Here's my last chart post (if you're interested, all my charts from 1987-2010 are still up, here). I've added links to Amazon so you can listen to all the song samples, and if you buy one, I get thruppence. Nice.

No more music posts now, none. Back to normal.

3 BEFORE TODAY - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
4 HALCYON DIGEST - Deerhunter
5 HAVE ONE ON ME - Joanna Newsom
6 III/IV - Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
7 THE SUBURBS - Arcade Fire
8 S-M 2: ABYSS IN B MINOR - Serena-Maneesh
9 CLINGING TO A SCHEME - The Radio Dept.
10 COSMOGRAMMA - Flying Lotus

11 SHADOWS - Teenage Fanclub
12 INNERSPEAKER - Tame Impala
13 AT ECHO LAKE - Woods
14 GRAPPLING HOOKS - North Atlantic Oscillation
15 FIELD MUSIC 3 (MEASURE) - Field Music
16 AVI BUFFALO - Avi Buffalo
17 DISCONNECT FROM DESIRE - School Of Seven Bells
18 TEEN DREAM - Beach House
19 NERVE UP - Lonelady
20 MARE - Julian Lynch

21 TREATS - Sleigh Bells
23 KALEIDE - Sky Larkin
24 FANG ISLAND - Fang Island
26 EUROPEAN - Sambassadeur
27 LIFE OF LOVE - Callers
28 RELAYTED - Gayngs
29 MAKE YOU MINE - Best Coast
30 I WILL BE - Dum Dum Girls

Monday, January 03, 2011

Sound of 2011

On the first week of the year, the BBC website runs its BBC Sound of 2011 (for example) poll. With the greatest of respect - IGNORE IT. Here are the five acts to look out for this year - ending with the "Sound of 2011".

5. Botulism

Botulism is the project of Swansea-based audio technician Marcus Smith. Rather than embracing traditional instruments, Smith "tuned" twenty-four full-size hot air balloons then shot them with a cannon, sampling each explosion and using the resultant notes as the sole basis for his songs. A recent tour with Scouting For Girls showed that the act could also work in mid-sized venues. Look out for his 'Melt Their Faces' single at the end of the month, with an album due in March.

4. Macadamia 4000

Macadamia 4000's Pa'ul Welch and Nancy Bosson met working at Williamsburg's notorious 'Pies And Thighs' restaurant, where they discovered a mutual love of Prince, The Simpsons, and unfashionable right-wing politics. They've toned down the Tea Party rhetoric of their early indie EPs, but the synthetic funk of their major label debut "Palin" is still expected to make a few pinkos nervous.

3. Tunnel Under

Portsmouth hasn't been this hip since Telly Savalas popped in during the 1970s! Pompey three-piece Tunnel Under (formerly of S Club Juniors and Fightstar) throw off the shackles of their previous bands to create a sound blending ESG, Tom Tom Club and Oliver Postgate theme tunes! Their Mary Roze club night has had lines out of the door for a year, and the April release of their "Duttons For Buttons" mini-album ought to make them the toast of the festivals.

2. Stu*Stu*Studioline

Described by Radio 1's Zane Lowe as "the sound of a giant, musical fist smashing the Eastern Bloc", Poland-via-Coventry outfit Stu*Stu*Studioline's non-traditional approach, advertising mostly in delicatessens and independent supermarkets, turned out to be the start of a whirlwind 2010, leading to them being asked to accompany Roxy Music on their tour of abandoned London bandstands. Their 15-minute "Ghost Wheel" single was an indelible calling card, with its sonic maelstrom frequently described as "indescribable". Album "Magic Void" should stir a few hearts in February.

1. Maisie Blakefield

Championed by figures as diverse as Nigella Lawson and new Tory MP Zach Goldsmith, Maisie Blakefield has been writing songs since her early teens. After spells at Italia Conti and RADA, she decided to turn her attention to her first love - music. Citing Kate Bush, Annie Lennox, Alison Moyet and Crass among her influences, a bidding war in September saw her signed to Universal. Her first single "Spangle Stars" is out tomorrow.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A wretched scratching at the door

2011, 2011! This is the year! It is your time to shine, ladies and gentlemen! Or is it my time to shine? I have no idea. I don't think I've ever worked harder than I had to last year, at times I thought my brain had deflated like a second-hand beach ball. But I survived. Let's hope that some of that furious effort pays off.


* A few people have asked if there will be more Giant Days, and there's every chance that I'll do another month-long run in between Bad Machinery stories as it proved so popular last time. That would mean it would be back in May. I might collect the first story in a little book, though I'm not sure anyone is clamouring for such an item.

* Bad Machinery will continue for as long as making it is viable. At the end of each story I review the numbers and see what is to be done. I'll always err on the side of caution, as I love the process of making the longer stories, and writing these characters.

But I want to explore all the avenues for publishing it before I put it out myself (as hopefully it could have an audience outside the traditional webcomics sphere), so a collection isn't in the works at the moment.

I've been experimenting with my looser sketchbook style, I'd quite like to make some minicomics that exploit it to reasonable effect. Here's a particularly rough and ready page. I have quite an "attacking" pencil line but as soon as you ink it, it's gone. A note to my more timid readers: this was just for fun, I'm not going to start putting up comics this messy on the main site.

Style experiment 1