Friday, 17 December 2010

Snow and secrets

In tribute to the horrific fucking weather conditions at the moment, here's a DPS from #3 which is set, aptly, at christmas time during a particularly bad snow storm. I wonder who all those people are searching for...?

In other news, I got THIS remarkable gift as my office Secret Santa (excuse the crappy iPhone snap - was taken late at night whilst slightly drunk...):

How cool is that! Someone (not sure who, but I have my suspicions!) has gone through the trouble of branding a t-shirt and sketchbook with the logo from The Absence! Very nice indeed. Makes me wonder if I should produce some Absence-related merchandise (although just producing the damn comic is proving a challenge).

Thanks Secret Santa!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Who would live in a house like this...?

Yeehaa! We got ourselves an old timey lynchin'!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Santa's Little Helper

To speed up production on issue #3 of The Absence, I've recruited an assistant...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Temple: Issue 3, Page 20, Panel 6

Taken on my iphone, hence the crap quality, but there was just... something about this tiny, throw-away pic of Temple which I really liked. Not too laboured, but captures, I think, the quintessential qualities of the character, caught in the moment. What moment? You'll have to wait until I finish #3...

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


I'm not lucky enough to be the sort of person where an idea for a story drops fully formed into my lap, and sitting down cold to write about a particular subject or theme has always been a struggle. Whenever I've most successfully written anything in the past (short stories, unfinished, unpublishable novels, whatever) they've always heaved themselves out of a soup of ideas which I've collected together over a period of time.

The ingredients for this primordial soup can come from many sources. Something in the news, a conversation, an old memory which randomly surfaces, even just a single sentence in a book. They stew together in the dark until something - usually a new 'ingredient' - causes them to spark and suddenly a narrative begins to form. This foetal narrative is fed and nurtured and slowly it grows, gnawing away at me until, finally, I write the fucker down in a notebook.

The genesis for The Absence was no different. To avoid spoiling the story I shan't reveal the initial 'spark' which caused the entire story to splutter into life, but I had a lovely revelation recently which made me discover a 'hidden' idea behind my comic which even I hadn't realised.

A couple of months ago, shortly before starting issue #3, I was at my parent's house. I was preparing to leave, putting on my coat in their hall and I suddenly noticed a small picture on the wall.

I'd seen this picture, many, many times before. It's a drawing done decades ago by my grandfather and now in the possession my dad. My grandfather drew for a hobby - and from what I gather he was very good. He died when I was a kid and my memory of him is hazy but I'm often told I inherit my artistic nature from him. My dad is a draughtsman and has my grandfather's technical excellence and eye for detail whereas I tend to come at drawing with a faster, more slapdash approach (mainly due to my complete lack of patience and short attention span).

No one in the family seems to know exactly when this was drawn, nor even where exactly the village is. My grandfather used to go for long cycle rides, so the general consensus is it's simply somewhere he stumbled upon while out. I used to study the picture when I lived at home. I have always drawn - and having another member of my family with the same interest has always made me feel close to him even though we barely knew each other. So everytime I passed this picture in the hall I would look at it, and imagine the scene as it unfolded for my grandfather, the man delivering as the woman watches on while the horse sweats in the sun. And I would imagine the village we can't see.

I moved out of my parent's house about fifteen years ago and haven't really given the picture much conscious thought since. But that day, putting on my coat and preparing to leave, I noticed it again. And I realised where the village in The Absence had begun to grow.

I've put a little homage to the picture in #3. Of course it's not as good, not as technically proficient or as detailed as my grandfather's (and yes, it's also been snowing in mine...) but I liked the idea that the village my grandfather found that day on his bike, might just be the one in my comic.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Friday, 22 October 2010

Review #2

Another lovely review here.

Might be another one in a few days, too...

Thursday, 21 October 2010


After sitting on The Absence and doing no marketing of it at all, I've finally got my arse into gear and started putting it out there a bit which means I have some upcoming reviews I can post.

Like this one.

Nice! I'm happy with that. More soon, hopefully...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Detail of #3 cover

Slight change of style for the cover of issue #3. The eleven year old Thomas Birdwood plays a larger part so I wanted a children's book style illustration. It'll still go through an intensive Photoshop process, but this is the painting for for the central image.

It's much more controlled than my usual slap-dash approach, and so it came as a surprise when I realised I could actually still paint 'properly'...

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Survival Stories

As I've previously mentioned, Insomnia Publications (who I'd signed a contract with to publish The Absence) has filed to cease trading. This is unfortunate for two reasons: 1) it means they won't be publishing my damn book, and 2) it seems that because the owner hasn't specifically applied for bankruptcy and has apparently disappeared into thin air (owing many people money - although not me, thankfully) I, and 60 or so other creators, have our contracts currently stuck in 'limbo'.

Good times.

There's currently all manner of legal proceedings currently rumbling away to help us get the rights to our work back, however some of the creators had an anthology work in progress which, luckily, was outside of their contract from Insomnia. They've decided that the graphic novel, 'Survival Stories' will be used to raise funds for the CBA - the Comic Book Alliance - which is an organisation which fights for the rights of comic book creators and are helping with us the ongoing Insomnia problem.

They need to raise $3,600 to get the book printed. All the creators are working for free. You can read about the book, and pledge money (pledge over $15 and you get a copy of the book once it's printed), here:


Thursday, 29 July 2010


As I've previously mentioned, the fact that Insomnia is now defunct is almost a blessing because I can now put each 'chapter' (Insomnia wanted it as book) as individual issues as I'd always intended. I had a grand scheme for the covers but only got to do one, however now I get to follow the idea through! Each cover is a half-and-half - illustration at the top, and a photo montage at the bottom.

This is the first one:

And this is the new one for issue 2:

None of these photos exist as real places – in the second one for example, the hill, the trees, the sky, the fence, and each crane all come from different images which I've composited together. It's Winter's Hill, where Temple is building his house...

Sunday, 25 July 2010


So, Insomnia Publications is dead, as is my contract with them which is a shame but hey ho: at least it means I get to do The Absence as single issues, as was the original plan. If I can muster the enthusiasm/energy/time maybe I'll start going to some cons and doing this small press thing properly. Or maybe I'll shop The Absence round to other publishers. People seem to like it...


6 pages of issue #3 (as it will be known now - none of this 'chapter' bullshit anymore) is flashback. I've already established a style for the flashbacks, having had a couple of panels in issues #1 and #2. They look like this:

It's black and white art as with the rest of the comic (albeit with a slightly looser line), with a wash of grey over the top. Looks simple but it's a pain in the ass (although weirdly satisfying) to do. Here's the creation of a page I've been working on from #3. First, the line art:

Then I place a piece of tracing paper over the top and paint with black ink the areas I will eventually want grey. Again, I do it roughly and quickly. The flashback sequences are supposed to be fluid and loose (like a memory) - and I have to do it quickly because the tracing paper has a tendency to ruck up when it gets wet. It'll look like this (sorry about the photo - shitty iphone camera):

This is the overlay when separated from the art:

Once the two pieces are scanned in, I place the overlay on top of the art in photoshop and set the opacity to 30%. Can't post that till I get the art scanned but this, at least, is process. And it's a process I need to get used to: almost all of #4 will be a flashback...
And what's Marwood so terrified of? Well you'll have to wait and see...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


The Absence chapter 3 is rumbling along (took a minor detour to work on a friend's comic story which hopefully I'll post later, along with some #3 pages). In the meantime, here's a pin up I did for Martin Eden's Japandex project which spun out of his hugely successful Spandex comic. Read about it here:

After the (relatively) real world of The Absence it was nice to paint a traditional superhero with a mask for a change!
Full disclosure and all that – it was based on the cover of Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

When Temple met Clay

The first meeting of the two lead protagonists is a significant moment in The Absence, but I played it low key. I wanted Temple to feel he had all the power in the scene, almost patronising the disfigured Clay with his compassion and concern. But Marwood Clay is a dark horse (to say the least) and Temple will soon see his new 'friend' from a different perspective...

With chapter two now finished I'm deep into chapter three. Should have some stuff on here soon but typically it's turning out to be a difficult chapter with a lot of insanely fiddly special FX (flashbacks! snow!) I have to grapple with.

Friday, 12 March 2010


I've almost finished chapter 2. It's all drawn - just gotta tidy up the scans and then letter the bastard and then I'll have 60 pages finished. 60!

One of the reasons it's taking me so long is my determination to not allow time to force me to produce substandard work. I'm learning all the time and I'm constantly going back to old pages and worrying them a little on the computer to try and tidy/rework them. Sometimes it even means a complete redraw. The final page of #2 is such an example. In this instance however, it wasn't the drawing that annoyed me, but the story telling. This is something else I'm learning and exploring - ways of telling the story and making it flow cleanly between the panels.

Anyhoo - the upshot of all this is that I end up with a lot of extraneous material. This is a panel with Temple from the afore mentioned last page of chapter 2. I was always quite pleased with this drawing - it captures the energy and looseness I like in my work. So I thought I'd post it here.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Rocks and Rolls

A pic! It's been a while. Been busy actually drawing the damn comic - uploading work-in-progress always seems like a luxury I don't have time for. But I've scanned and am currently piecing together about twenty new pages (chapter two is gonna be about 32 pages in total I think, so it's longer than chapter one!) Here's a pic from it. Can't explain too much without plot spoilers, but the car belongs to a chap called Taylor who is Robert Temple's 'employer'. Can't tell here, but this panel is a biggy which spreads across two pages.