Friday, 8 November 2013

Midnight Man

Now I'm all done with The Absence (I checked over and approved the printer proofs at Titan Comics HQ the other day - so that's the 272 page collection officially off at print!) I finally have a little time to fulfil a few promises I've made over the last couple of months to people.

Some time ago, artist Andy Bloor (check out the amazing Wolfmen series, drawn by Andy and written by Dave West) asked me to do a pin up for his and writer Mo Ali's new comic Midnight Man.

Plot details of the comic are shrouded in secrecy, but Andy has been posting artwork from it on his blog, so I had reference material and, after the fairly slow-paced Absence I was excited about drawing something that had, like, superheroes with guns and explosions and action. In his black trench coat, the titular character has a design which allows for a great deal of expressive movement and so I knew I wanted to do something with a lot of energy and along with Andy's cool mask design (an eerie blank face, with a simple arrow pointing up) I also figured I could do something quite graphic.

Mulling it over for a few days I wondered if there might be some mileage in using the arrow in a way similar to the poster for The Dark Knight Rises (see below).

From a low angle like this provides it meant I could have the Midnight Man falling onto the viewer - always a cool angle to draw a superhero. I sketched a pretty loose interpretation of what was in my head.

Happy with the general way it was progressing I wanted to sketch it up with heavier black to figure out how the composition would work.

From there I worked up a more polished pencil version. (Sorry about the pic - it's a crappy photo rather than a scan).

I spent fricking ages getting his legs and feet right. Like ages. I wanted a pose quite realistic, but the problem with that, when you're dealing with such a weird angle and position, is that (weirdly) it can look too forced and not natural enough.

So anyway, finally happy with it, I inked it up.

And there we were. I left it for the night and came back to it the following morning.

Imagine my annoyance when, the following morning, I discovered I didn't like it anymore. It felt too static. My artwork is pretty loose (some might say slap-dash…) and I'd spent so long trying to make it 'neat' I'd over-worked the inks and it had lost the spontaneity. And I'd also gone off the general pose - it too lacked the energy I was after. 

I searched the internet looking for something to spark an idea and eventually found this image:

There was something about it I like - the total lack of control and the way the guy is utterly giving himself up to the jump. Legs right back, arms outstretched. That said, it wasn't perfect - it wasn't very heroic and frankly he looks a bit bloody terrified. So, with that all in mind, and while trying to keep that urgent spontaneity, I sketched this doodle as quickly as I could:

Aha. There was something there - not just the pose but the mere fact that it reminded me not to over labour the drawing - keep it loose and sketchy. 

While drawing The Absence I'd have three stages - loose pencils, then I'd tighten those up, and then ink 'em. But for this I missed out the middle stage. I did a really rough pencil sketch - just to get proportions right, figure out where the head was gonna go and whatnot - and then went straight to inks. I ended up with this: 

I liked that. And I liked it even more the following morning. 

So I scanned it in, and played about with it in Photoshop for a while (adding various textures I've built up doing The Absence, and using some photo collage) and this is the final version. 

I'm really happy with it. It has the exact feel that I wanted and looks pretty close to what was in my head at the beginning (and it's not often that happens…)

And what's even better, Andy and Mo both like it too. I love their work so I'm hugely proud to have been asked to do it, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the final Midnight Man comic! Make sure you all buy it.

Next week, I'll be posting details about a signing (my first signing oh god oh god I'm so nervous) I'll be doing for Titan Comics at Thought Bubble in Leeds.

Monday, 4 November 2013

"Stiff Competition"

I was recently asked to write a short thing for MyM Magazine about The Absence and it's nomination in the British Comic Awards. Instead I wrote an overly long, rambling thing but they ran it all anyway.

It's available now in all good newsagents and the iTunes store.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Available now: The Absence #6 - FINAL ISSUE

All done.

This is it. This is the final issue of The Absence and it's available on Lulu now. £3.50 for 58 pages. Lulu have changed their publishing formats so it's perfect bound with a spine whereas the earlier issues were stapled. Not much I can do about it sadly - and actually I had to go back and rejig the earlier issues so any bought now will also have spines.

Can't quite believe it's all over.

(Well, over until Titan Comics release the graphic novel collection (which is available for preorder on Amazon) next March anyway…)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Absence: Nominated for Best Comic at the BCA

Well, now here's a thing. Issue 5 of The Absence has only gone and got shortlisted for Best Comic at the British Comic Awards! 

I'm utterly blown away by the news and I'm so proud to be up there amongst so many great creators and books. It's a huge honour. And the fact Lenny bloody Henry (one of the final round of judges) will actually be reading my comic makes my head spin.

In other news, due to the publication of The Absence graphic novel by Titan next March, I've had to take the first three issues offline from Lulu. It's a shame, but I understand that it would damage sales of the collection. The last three issues will be available until Christmas when I'll also have to retire those.

(That said, I do have some spare copies of 1-3 kicking about so if anyone wants one, just drop me a line. But don't tell anyone else I told you that, right?)

Friday, 6 September 2013

"I'm just showing you the horizon"

After 5 years, the sixth and final issue of The Absence will be available soon.

Here's the teaser blurb from the back:

While the terrified villagers evacuate their doomed town, frantic work continues in the caverns deep beneath their feet in a last ditch attempt to save it. 

Marwood Clay, already mistrustful of the mysterious Dr. Temple, meets a man from Temple’s past who finally seems to validate and confirm Clay’s worst suspicions. But even as he learns the awful truth about his nemesis, little does he realise the full horrifying extent of Temple’s masterplan. A plan which, now his strange house is complete, Temple can finally reveal. 

As Clay and Temple’s intertwined history is revealed, events in the small coastal town race towards their catastrophic conclusion… 

Here's a picture of some dead rats.

Cover to come…

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Absence #5 - AVAILABLE NOW

 There were a couple of minor quibbles in the first proofs I received so I've tided up those up and now the fifth issue of The Absence is available online from Here's a link:


It's £3.50 for 52 pages (50 pages of strip, plus another two page essay thingy I wrote about the origins of the story).

The Absence is a six issue miniseries, so only more issue to go! Script is written, thumbnails are done. Nearly there…

Friday, 3 May 2013

"How many people have you killed, Dr Temple?"

Huzzah! Issue 5 of The Absence is done, and at the printers! It's 52 pages long and took about 5 months which makes it the quickest issue (in terms of size to speed) EVAH! Which is just as well, since I now have to squeeze out the sixth and final issue before October… Thankfully the last issue will be a little shorter. I've been head down and working (both on The Absence, and, at, well, work) which explains the lack of blog udpates.

Where issue 4 examined Marwood's history, issue 5 takes a look at the past of the enigmatic Dr. Temple. Here's the blurb from the back:

Following the horrifying discovery of a massive chasm beneath his home and in an attempt to help save the village from certain collapse, Dr. Temple enlists the help of an old friend from his time in a military experimental science unit. 

But with Irvine Pink’s arrival also come memories of Temple’s tragic childhood and recruitment by the enigmatic and dangerous Taylor, a man whose motives are never quite what they seem and should never be trusted. 

Meanwhile, as the doctor and Pink race to discover the truth behind the missing villagers, Marwood’s suspicion of Temple continues to grow...

And here's the cover.

That's Taylor on the front there. He's already made a couple of appearances in The Absence (most notably in issue #2) and he gets a little more screen time in this issue. 

In other news, a story I drew and painted a couple of years ago has made it into this month's CLiNT magazine! Written by JP Rutter it's a short tale of haute cuisine, absolute desperation and crushing horror. A bit like the Great British Bake Off, then. Here's a photo, now go and buy it.