Wednesday 28 July 2010

Pencils, other old stuff and a couple of doodle experiments.

So other materials. The next set of pieces are from really early days, they were done for a variety of Fanzines and small print magazines.

The first two show pieces I did for a British small press magazine in pencil. They are not 'perfect' as they were drawn more or less complete without major changes. Any redrawing created some deterioration in the paper/card surface, which was something I wanted to avoid. These were done about 20 years ago, and of the two, I prefer the second. 20 years, sigh, I do feel decrepit.

The next two show pen work examples done for fanzines. The first dates from 1978 for a magazine called 'The Border Ruffian No 2'.

The second was done around the same time, and was one of a small 'series'  published in a German SF Fantasy zine.

To finish a couple of more typical pieces, including one of my favourite beasties.

 I had intended to add some 'experimental doodles' but that will now keep for another day... instead let's sail into the sunset for now.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Brush and ink

Time does fly, and as I see it's been a while since my last post I thought I'd 'catch up' as they say. This feature is primarily about brush and ink work rather than that done with a pen.

As I remarked in my last post, I was comic artist for a while in the UK. I did not work for boys comics [mainly because I wasn't asked] but girls both weekly and in annuals. The comic market for a long time in the UK was dominated by two companies: DC Thomson [of Beano fame] and IPC, formally Fleetway, [of 2000AD fame]. I was introduced to the world of drawing comics through a comic artist, Ken Houghton, who ran a comic artist evening class at a school where I taught Art & Design. He was a lovely patient man, a very good teacher, who died too young, and is missed by those who knew him. One of his other students at that time was a very young 16 year old called Sean Phillips who has since risen to be a well known comic artist working these days for for Icon, an imprint of Marvel Comics [Criminal], and Marvel Comics [Marvel Zombies]. {updated thank to Dave Morris}.

Most of my comic work was done for DC Thomson, which although it still exists with its headquarters in Dundee, does not have the comic output it once had. Titles that I worked on included Bunty and Tracy [I've yet to meet anyone who actually admits to reading such comics]. For IPC I had the chance to work on a couple of pieces for a comic called 'Misty', including, in full colour, one of their annuals. Although in the case of the annual strip I had the same problem as I had with the Robin Hood game book, to make the creatures 'recognisable' as Hammer Horror 'types', but not so much anyone could sue. Still it was fun.

The actual comic process involved being given x amount of pages [usually three] and what was called a 'panel' script detailing scene setting and dialogue spoken, they were similar to radio and film scripts in many respects. You had some freedom about layout but always had to leave space to accommodate the 'speech' balloons. You were given roughly two weeks to complete each weekly segment and not expected to miss any deadlines. If possible it was sensible to create a backlog in case of accidents or incidents. The worst was while I was working in Papua New Guinea, when six pages were lost in the post and I had to redo them fast. I've often suspected it was wasn't the mail that lost the work but a counter clerk at the post office, who just took the stamps as a 'finders fee'. After that incident I always ensured to watch the parcels being franked, and funnily enough, nothing like lost artwork ever happened again. Strange.

In those days, none of the original artwork was ever returned and I only have a few comics, which I bought myself [now somewhere under piles of other stuff ] and poor photocopies that were given to me for 'character continuety' to remind me of the work I did. At the moment I can only find a a couple of bits of photocopies, and they're in poor condition, to show examples of that working period. I've 'cleaned' them up as best I can without too much loss of detail, but they're not great, however, as examples of  brush work they at least show the difference from dip and technical pen.

From the look of the strip parts shown below, the first was done for Bunty and the next two forTracy [but I could be wrong [as usual].

So, there you go, a couple of examples of brush work. For those who like more detail they were drawn with an HB pencil and brush inked [except panel borders] with a Windsor & Newton series 7a sable brush size No. 2. A brush that is sadly no longer available, yes they still sell a Series 7 but it's not got the hair length or handling of ink quality of the 7a series.
By using ink of course, even with careful cleaning, you went through brushes like a dose of salts. Well I did . Why do companies often 'cancel' excellent tools for a weaker variant? Barmy I'calls it.

On an aside.
I did do one item, in brush and ink, for a competition run by Marvel Comics, involving the Hulk where you had to write, draw and think of an idea of a 'what happened next' scenario, in their [now defunct ] magazine called FOOM. I'm very vague on the detail now, but the prize was lots of Marvel 'goodies' and I considered it might act as useful 'try out' as it was supposed to be judged by an artist and an editor back in the States.  I had thought my entry had come to nothing until a year or so later, when a friend remarked in a letter about how pleased I must have been for 'winning' that competition. This was a real surprise as I heard nothing since I posted of the art page, so he sent me the relevant copy of FOOM, where I read how excited [?] I was to have been the winner of the competition, and to have received all those 'goodies' as prizes. So I contacted Marvel and asked about where all my prizes were as I'd never heard from them at all - I received a cursory note from some editor minion and four old copies of FOOM  [including the one that said what wonderful prizes I'd received]. Even to this day that shoddy behaviour rankles. [Altogether now.... Ah, sad little you.] My opinion of Marvel has remained little changed since such treatment. [Ah].

Thursday 1 July 2010

Scene on the Road

First, a big thank you to all who have decided to follow my blog about my artwork.

I have 'cracked' the 100 followers, wow, and I feel like a jet pilot of yore when the sound barrier was first broken [little tear in eye!] a momentous event at the time.

What twaddle - I do however wish to commemorate the event in some way and have dug out a parcel of stuff for future posts, but in the interim  - I thought, what can I use to 'mark' the event [and my birthday]?

The following post is to mark that event and 'show' an example of work that I couldn't find a reason to post. I found this piece had been posted online by someone and I always wondered what became of it, and the other work I did.

Many moons ago I was not only a fantasy artist, but a general commercial one, and worked on lots of stuff most of which is long forgotten. Among those 'jobs' was my being a comic artist in the UK, of which I'll soon post a couple of cobbled together photocopies of originals [as examples] for you to see. It's not exciting, but it will give a 'flavour' of the sort of work I did.

I also did work for the occasional magazine. One of these was a magazine called Penthouse, if you don't know what Penthouse was, or are under 16, please cover your ears now!

The feature was called 'Scene on the Road'. It was to be a saucy piece, ala Donald McGill, which showed each month, a different 'Scene on the Road' - each which would feature a different UK road sign. It was fun, but didn't last long [not raunchy enough].

Donald McGill was for many years the 'King' of the British seaside 'saucy' [some might say vulgar] postcard, who was actually put on trial as a purveyor of pornography [in the early 1960's I believe]. Although he was prolific in his output I doubt he made any 'real' money from his work. There is a 'quality' about his work that says it was as much a labour of love, and I know from an Australian friend back in the 80's who thought he'd design some traditional cards for the South Pacific market that for each card he sold he would receive about 1.3 cents [and that's Australian dollars not American].

Anyway, here it is ...
If anyone is interested in the work of Donald McGill I've made a link to an excellent article by George Orwell on the subject of McGill and his work [and hopefully got this right] .

For those interested, this is an example of Pen, Ink & Brush, coloured using Dr Martins concentrated watercolours.

That's all folks, till another day.