Christmas

Juggling Act

Good afternoon festive followers.

So, it’s now December. It’s also now only two-and-a-half weeks until Christmas Day, and I have also still not bought any presents. This is all very much unlike me, as I’m usually on a mission from mid-October and by now I would be calmly relaxed and have everything ready to go. Apparently, however organised you think you are, things like uprooting and moving to a new place and finding work completely scuppers that up. But regardless, the festive season is a time of laughter, love and lots of food.. And to kick of the season of giving, I give you.. inks!

Despite the adjustment period of sliding back into the 9-5 (or in my case, 8:30-5:30) I have managed to squeeze in some comics work. Hurrah! This third short story I’ve been working on for my Spring 2017 release with Good Comics is around 75% done now, with some final last-minute working out to do on the final page, and then some serious painting to do. It’s been a pretty deep, emotional story to work on, but very much grounded in the everyday rather than my usual backdrop of myth and fantasy. Hopefully it’s a relateable story to many, and I’m really excited for people to read it.. Mainly as I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on this 4-pager and I’m pretty dang proud of it thus far!

With 10 almost-complete comic pages for this collection of short stories so far, there’s a long way to go and a lot more to do before the pencilled in launch date of Spring. And, I still have to figure out and write the rest of the stories! But it’s all great fun, and what would be a better use of my time in the break over Christmas than eating large amounts of food whilst writing and drawing stories.

In other Christmas related news, last posting dates are ebbing closer! My last posting dates to arrive in time for Christmas for all UK comic and card orders is Tuesday 20th December, with last orders for hand-painted made-to-order Njálla t-shirts being Monday 12th December. For international orders I’m going to play it safe and say the last order date for posting is 10th December (as the Royal Mail dates vary per country). I will still continue to post orders out after these dates, but your orders may not arrive in time. Don’t forget I have some excellent stocking filler items for sale on my Etsy store, with Sneaky Business vol. 2 and my latest release Ø for just £3 each, and the Njálla Colouring Book for £2!

Finally, this past weekend saw the Best of the Year on Forbidden Planet with guest writer Andy Oliver of Broken Frontier! A guaranteed passionate read about the best bits of 2016’s comic talents, Andy even has some nice things to say at the end of the article about my work. Check it out via the link here and get some more excellent Christmas shopping ideas..

And that’s it for now! Keen-eyed people will note that I missed my first #colour_collective this past Friday, sadly due to being massively overwhelmed with my new schedule and opting to curl up in a ball rocking back and forth instead of working on drawing things… Or something like that. I shall endeavour to be back with that this coming Friday once I have my routine down, and I will be back with hopefully lots more to show you next Wednesday! Until then, have a good week one and all!

 

x

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Season’s Greetings!

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

Well well well, it’s almost that time of the year! We are four short days away from the joy of family, feasting, and being propped up in a corner after many glasses of wine. Lovely stuff! Although I always look forward to the Christmas break, it’s felt particularly needed this year.. With a stressful term one of the final year of university down, only two more to go until I graduate. It’s not all tinsel and puddings in the next few weeks, mind you; I’ll most likely be writing the majority of my dissertation over the Christmas break and I have a few other things to do before returning to lectures in the cold and dark reality of January. But, in the spirit of not wishing time away, all that nonsense is in the back corner for now. Phew!

My usual update last Wednesday had to be delayed due to assessment, but that means that I now have even more to tell you all! First up, you may remember the commission I did for the Hope Centre a few weeks ago, for their Christmas appeal. Well, it took a little while but I finally got my hands on a printed copy of the newsletter featuring my illustration. How exciting!

It’s been really nice to see my work in print. I mean, comics-wise I’ve had a pretty dang awesome year and drawing for narrative is my favourite thing to do. However, working on an editorial piece like this and seeing it out there in the world is a rewarding moment and important for my portfolio. Rejoice! The Hope Centre in Northampton, as I mentioned in that previous post is an important charity. If you fancy helping them out at this rather cold time of the year, head over to Just Giving and their Hope for Christmas campaign.

In other news, earlier this month I was interviewed by Tom Mortimer on behalf of Dirty Rotten Comics, following my Rejsen comic being printed in their fifth issue back in August. Thanks to Tom for a genuinely interesting and deep chat about comics, and the guys at Dirty Rotten Comics for having me! Here’s a little extract below.

T : Something I’ve noticed about your work is that, in each case there seems to be a uniting sense of journey. You have a lot of movement through spaces, establishing shots and interactions. There’s also a nice echoed mapping of movement in the visual pacing of the panels and the unfolding nature of it also reflects the way the formation of the narrative itself works. These things surface, and it can be seen as a sign of connection with the medium. How much of this was a conscious decision, was it all planned?

R: I’m very interested in pacing with comics; how movement through a story can be subtly distorted and played with. It’s not really something that can be done in other mediums, so it’s been great to play with it as much as a story allows. It was particularly relevant in The Red Road, as it’s based around the poem which has a similar movement through time, or more lacking any specifics of time. Part of it was definitely a conscious decision, though I’ve learnt a lot more about pacing with every new comic I create.

The Rejsen submission I made for Dirty Rotten Comics was completely incidental, it was more just a reflection on how many different places you end up sitting, standing or waiting on a platform during years of travelling by train to Manchester. The movement in comics and playing with time is still something I’m getting to grips with doing. It’s a constant learning curve!

– To read more, click here to head to the Dirty Rotten Comics interview with yours truly.

Dirty Rotten Comics #6 OUT NOW! Click above for #5

In other news, as I mentioned in my last post, I went to my first ever Laydeez do Comics event held in Gosh! Comics in London last Monday! I didn’t manage to get any photos as I was so enamoured with listened to two such inspiring individuals talking about their work; Rachael Ball and Mike Medaglia. Mike started with talking about his work from the past few years leading up to now, with his success of One Year Wiser – the hugely popular book of 365 illustrated quotes and mantras, the subsequent One Year Wiser the colouring book, and his latest venture of creating comics for the Mindful Life Illustrated on Elephant Journal. Go Mike! Next up speaking was Rachael Ball, the creator of The Inflatable Woman, an einspiring tale of one woman and her life experiences after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ve not had a chance to read The Inflatable Woman yet, but Rachael’s inspiring talk about her own battle with breast cancer and how she took on creating this story from scratch was moving, and how she weighted the graphic novel with dark parts equally balanced with humour really shows her talent. And, I mean, she has arguing penguins in the story. What’s not to love? You can buy Rachael’s The Inflatable Woman from any decent book retailer, and Mike Medaglia’s online shop can be found here (though don’t bother him whilst he’s on holiday!). And of course, the wonderful Gosh! Comics have stock of both their work. And lots of other talented people. You should go pay them a visit.

Thanks to Keara, Wallis and the folks at Gosh for being welcoming as always, and I briefly got to see some ever so friendly faces before dashing through Soho on a one-horse open sleigh.. Err.. I mean.. By foot.. to get my train back home to Northampton. I’m really glad I made time to go to a Laydeez do Comics event before speaking as a part of the Broken Frontier themed event in January! Though now the pressure is on to make people believe that I’m actually interesting. Yikes! Saying that, I do have a fondness for making In Design presentations, so I can spend a happy Christmas dropping in images and making it all look rather fetching. So, as I mentioned last time, the next Laydeez do Comics London is on Monday 18th January – tickets are free but must be booked and sell out fast, so if you’d like to come and hear me stutter make sure you get yourself on the mailing list now!!

Finally, as of Friday afternoon, University is now finished for the year and I am free as a festive bird (although not really, as I mentioned at the start.. But I’m pretending for a few days)! War Horse is finished and progress on The Next Big Thing will be continuing over Christmas, and hopefully in January I might have some good news regarding the latter. For now, I’d like to wish all my readers (Hi mum!) a very merry festive season! I will be back in just over a week with an update before the New Year, potentially a compilation special looking back over 2015 and how snazzy it’s been. For now, though, enjoy!!! See you on the other jolly side!

x

 

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Looking Forward

Good afternoon homies,

So, the turkey has run out and the mince pies are slowly vanishing, and Christmas is well and truly over. Next stop, New Year! This strange void between Christmas and New Year seems to be a time of self reflection, and particularly for myself, looking back at the last couple of years brings me to a rather scary cross-roads. 2012 was the year I succeeded in getting accepted into University, 2013 I had my first exhibition in Northampton and spent 6-months working on HOAX: Psychosis Blues, and in 2014 HOAX: Psychosis Blues was launched alongside the theatre show and signings in both Manchester and London. As I sit here looking back, I can’t help but feel a little anxious as to what 2015 will bring. Will I continue to charge ahead and find a way to successfully launch my own comic? Or will I fall at the first hurdle? An analytical and creative career such as illustration has the ability to make you feel constantly on edge. Whilst having a yearly catch up with my dear friend Katie earlier, we discussed the cross-roads of being in our mid-twenties and where to head next. Really, this is a crucial time. Crucial, exciting, and terrifying. Ahhhh!

Anyway, on a lighter note, a promised post with more of an update than my last. This festive season I offered to design my parents Christmas cards based around their passion for the dog breed, English Bull Terriers. They’ve rescued two from unhappy homes in the past, most recently Jack the Dog who seems to be oddly comfortable in almost any sleeping position possible. So, I decided to use a clean line drawing with limited colour, mainly to save on printing costs as I added colour by hand afterwards. They seemed very happy with the cards and I’ve had a few compliments since, so I figure it was a success! And from that, and making my own Christmas cards year sent out to family and friends, I will be looking at selling cards online in the foreseeable future, by summer at the latest and going forward. Yippee! The card designs are pictured below;

Bull Terrier Christmas Cards
Bull Terrier Christmas cards for my parents…
…and my own quick Christmas card design for this year, last-minute thrown out towards unsuspecting friends and family.

 

I think one thing I’m definitely aiming for in the coming 12 months is a larger online presence, point and example being an online shop. In Andy Oliver from Broken Frontier‘s eternal wisdom (in this article – How *Do* I Get Coverage for My Self-Published Comic?), to have reviews you need a website, and a place for people to BUY your work from. So whether I’ll build something through this website or whether I use Etsy, I have some important logistical decisions to make when I return back to Rozi HQ. Another thing I’m considering is how to publish my comic, whether to sit at the uni laser printers for hours on end to keep costs down, or to go to a printers and have my work professionally printed. Though, with that costing an arm and a leg, something like Kickstarter may be my only choice. In other words, I have a lot of thinking to do. Maybe I should have another slice of Christmas cake first, though..

In the past month or so I’ve also been making personalised Christmas gifts for friends, which has included painting on mugs which is something new! Looking at Isabel Greenberg’s ceramics, this is definitely something I could get on board with, as they really do make nice gifts. Unfortunately I have no pictures of the mugs, or the mini-comic pages I made, but I have plenty of ideas for upcoming items to sell. Anywho, I believe that’s it for now. The fire is crackling away and the dog is snoring, how peaceful! To all my marvellous readers, I hope you all had a wonderful festive time and a marvellous New Year! Here’s to 2015! x

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Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines..

Good evening ladies and gents,

So, I’ve managed to temporarily peel myself away from the looming pile of degree work I have next to me to remind you all that I’m still alive and kicking. I have decided that whichever smug bastard said that art courses at University are easy, clearly never did one. You can kind of swing copying notes and blasting out essays a few days before, but making a whole book? Writing and drawing? That takes some next level commitment and organisation skills (if I may say so myself..).

The good news is that I have a good feeling about this book. Essentially, it’s a 24-page graphic short-story based in the land of the Rocky Mountains fuelled by my desire to be back in Colorado drinking a Mountain Dew the size of my head whilst looking at those glorious mountains. I have written a short story based around myths and legends of the various Native American tribes who lived around Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Otherwise known as the four corners. Or, my other much missed home-from-home. Then from myths I made a plot, then that I developed into a graphic novel script, and from there thumbnail sketches, a mock-up book, and now I’m working my way through each final page tweaking as I go along, plus digital editing to finish it all off. It’s not a cheery book in any sense, but then none of my favourite books are, so I guess that’s just how I roll. Over the summer I spent so long practising writing comics and short stories, it finally feels like something has paid off and I’m well on my way to making this book hopefully the best thing I’ve ever written. The downside of having such a tight schedule and so much to tell, is that the level of detail is far less complex than what I put into, say, a one-off piece illustration. However I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, if I had 6 months to work on this and make it into a beautifully crafted standalone book to sell then it would be different, but for now I’m doing what I can with the limitations put in place. And I’m still determined it will be a success! In fact, I re-did 6 pages today, so I’m dedicated to making this awesome.

On completion of the book I will be looking into getting copies made and put up for sale in the new year which will be exciting! But for now, I can only show you all a sneak preview of some of the progress so far..

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Other than that, not much to report. I still need to design my Christmas cards this year, as well as my parents Christmas cards, making presents and a few other exciting things up my nifty sleeves! That’s as well as completing the book, writing an essay, completing another practical project consisting of four final pieces, constructing a seminar debate, making and presenting a 45-minute presentation and submitting to the V&A competitions. Phew! For now, that is all. Best get back to the grind; Over and out! x

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Christmas Wonderland

Well! What a week it’s been.

In my endless wisdom I decided it would be a great idea to work non-stop on my Christmas Tale, because who needs a decent nights sleep, right? Since my last blog post I’ve been drawing gingerbread ladies, reindeer, snowmen, penguins, polar bears and a rather young female lead character from morning until the depths of night, and having a pretty fun time seeing how much coffee I can intake whilst still maintaining hand stability. If there’s anything I’ve learnt from Dan Berry’s Make it Then Tell Everybody podcast, it’s that this is the illustrator life. It’s tiring, but hot damn I love it.

So, moving forward. As of yesterday morning I have managed to complete the main bulk of my book; the majority of my story is told in a magical Christmas wonderland with friendly creatures each doing their bit to support Father Christmas in the hours leading up to the magical day itself. My process with this project has been pretty consistent. Pencils > Inking > Colouring using gouache paint. Then half the job is done, and I digitally place each page over a separate backdrop which completes the page. So far I’ve done 16 pages with another 6-ish to do this week, then the creating stage will be complete! Here are three previews, have a gander;

 

Wheee!
Wheee!
Thud.
Thud.
No one likes a sad reindeer
No one likes a sad reindeer

 

Aside from the originally intended hard-copy, I am very excited to be working with my musically talented pal Adam Satur in the hopes of turning the book into a ‘narrated animatic’. In simple terms, we’re looking at turning my pages into a digital book via YouTube video with soundscapes, music, a narrator, plus voices/noises for the creatures. Bringing this second level to this project is really exciting, hopefully by the time I update you all next I’ll have more news on this secondary project. For more information on Adam and his teachings you can also visit Playing Musically on Facebook.

With the hard graft of this project wrapping up this week, I shall be working next on my script for the next major competition – which truth be told, I intended to start a lot earlier before the Offlife submission and my mutant bunnies got in the way. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to complete two pending projects before university starts up again in a months time – oh how the summer has flown.. Is it time for a holiday yet? Anyway, I shall be hauled up at my desk until Friday afternoon completing the rest of this book, so wish me the best of luck! Over and out x

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