An Ode to Sparenting

Good morning all!

Welcome to November. I have something special for you all today, a new comic that I’ve been creating on-and-off since June. Although it’s not that long in pages, it took some time to finish purely because of the subject matter and its personal nature.

Also, it’s in a new format for me. One long, continuous comic that is available online for free, and as of yet I have no plans to print.

For anyone outside of close friends and family, I don’t often talk about the struggles of being in very close, emotional proximity to an ongoing and often unpleasant argument over separation and childcare. Some days I manage just fine, and some days I don’t. But, being in this situation for a couple of years now means I’ve been able to reflect on who I am and what my job title should be.

There’s probably not a huge amount I can say as a foreword to my newest comic Sparenting, but here’s something nice from my good friend and fellow comrade at Good Comics, Dr Paddy Johnston. He wrote this to share Sparenting on the Good Comics blog, but it seems perfect for here too:

This week’s Good Friday is something very different, and very personal for the three of us as publishers. I’m lucky enough to have Sam and Rozi not just as co-publishers, but as close friends too. We all met through comics, but if we were to stop doing it, we’d still be close friends, and there’s so much that we share and have shared on the journey of friendship over the last few years.

As such, I was really touched when Rozi let me be the first person (apart from Sam) to see her latest comic, which totally floored me, and not just because it tackles her own personal emotions and a subject I’m aware of contextually. If I didn’t know her at all this comic would still have really affected me, because it nails the art of sharing the personal and emotional whilst still offering an accessible story. Any one of us could be the person she describes, the exhibit in a museum she draws, the empty name tag stuck partially to a shirt not made for name tags to stick to. 

This is why we do what we do, and why comics are often the best kind of medium for what we at Good Comics want to share. Rozi’s words and her pictures are for all of us here. If you’ve enjoyed Rozi’s previous works such as Cosmos, you’ll be familiar with her style and tone, but I’ve never known her work to be this open or this raw. I really hope you enjoy it and connect with it as much as I did.

Paddy

Without further delay, here’s Sparenting.

x

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Now you sea it, now you don’t…

Good afternoon all!

This week I’m going to talk a little about digital painting. Now, as I’m sure you’re all aware by now, I’m a linework-and-paint kinda creator. I have a very set way of working which I’ve used for the past few years, which has made now a perfect time to try something new. Change is the spice of comics, as the saying goes.

Being a sea-dweller, what better to try out digital drawing on than the source of inspiration for so many, and my nearby natural neighbour. Check out the process shots:

The process of making artwork stayed largely the same, aside from using zero paper to create it. It’s definitely a quicker process as there’s no light-box involved and it’s incredibly easy to erase any mistakes or resize elements that aren’t quite right.

I started drawing with a digital file size of A4 but I found the quality of the digital brush I used at that size to be a bit too fuzzy, so I used the first ‘inked’ drawing I did (image 2) and resized it and traced over it onto an A3 digital file. Much better!

LHS: New version / RHS: First inked drawing

Block colouring with flat colours (“flatting”) is a useful tool I’ve used in digital drawing before, although as it doesn’t give the true effect of a nice slap of paint I used a digital watercolour brush over the top to add in some grit.

There are some really amazing benefits to digital painting that I’ve found so far. For one, there’s no buckling effect from wet paint on paper. This usually makes scanning difficult, and involves a lot of post-scan editing (also, digital painting = no scanning!). Also, being able to work on the same document, adjust layers and get rid of things that haven’t worked it a massive bonus. This cut down my creating time massively.

6. Final page

I’ve also been really impressed with the new software I’ve tried. The most common creative package is the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) which is around £50 a month for an individual (gulp), and I can safely say there is nothing I spend that much a month on than household bills. Yikes. Instead, I opted for the Affinity Photo which is a flat licence fee of £50 – though it’s currently on offer with 20% off. I used pre-loaded brushes plus the DAUB Watercolour & Washes set to finish it off.

So.. what do you guys think? Cool, right? It’s definitely been a fun process and I think I’m interested in trying out a few more comics in the same style. Who knows, maybe my next book will be full digital – after I’ve printed my rocks, of course. Which reminds me, I have some printing to do…

Until next time!

x

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