We made it to May! I hope everyone is safe and well despite the obvious coronavirus-shaped elephant in the room. The longer our lockdown goes on, the harder it is to have anything new or positive to say. Nevertheless, remember to look after yourselves the best way you can, whether that’s marathoning box sets on tv or training for a marathon.
I’m still maintaining my goal of one comic a week, which I’m glad for! This last week I finished it a few days earlier (harder than it sounds…) and released it through the Good Comics blog. and shared all the comics in order this far.
Here are week’s 4 and 5 below, to get you up to speed:
After week 4, I decided to make a dumb poll on Twitter to see what everyone wanted to see included next. Thankfully the people voted for clearly the best option!
I’m starting to get into a good routine with these weekly comics, and I have the rest of the ‘story’ mostly mapped out. It’s still a useful challenge for me, and I’m looking forward to showing you all week 6 (when it’s done). Watch this space!
Rocks was very much a project of discovery and realisation about the way I make comics. Between finishing Moon and starting Rocks (note to self: consider more than just one-word titles for future books) I’d hit a wall with creating, and pushing myself through to the end of Rocks was tough yet rewarding. I’m very grateful for the information I gained from the BNSS, and Rocks will always be the one which helped me learn to pick up a pen again and restart my journey, releasing some of that pain I was feeling in Sparenting.
Lastly, you’ll be glad to know that I’ve started work on my next seasonal sketchbook! The remaining autumn/winter books have now fully sold out, and I will be finishing up spring/summer in the coming week or so.
Low and behold, I’ve managed to keep up my weekly comics! I completed my third week comic at 22:45 on Sunday night, so it wasn’t completely down to the last minute… but near enough. Take a look at week’s 2 and 3:
It’s been a fun challenge to work on, and in a similar mindset to Rocks last year, I didn’t initially write a storyline for this. I drew the living room, the bedroom, and in the third week, the entrance to my flat building. Oh, and my beat-up old Vans. The epitome of lockdown drawing.
BUT! I have been working on telling a story through the transition of colour more so than my usual approach, which uses one solid colour palette for the whole project. For example, Moon was peaches, blues and neutral tones, whereas Njálla was blues and greens with a touch of neutral, and Ø was bright pinks, yellows and turquoise. Cosmos & Other Stories is the exception to the rule as it was a collection of shorts, but there was an underlying general palette running throughout.
As it stands, each of the weeks have been pretty different so far, so keep an eye out for number 4 coming out this week (possibly around 11pm on Sunday again, if I don’t get started soon…)!
In other news, I’m currently running a sale over on my online Etsy store! As lockdown continues people are starting to feel their mental and physical health decline as a result of being stuck inside, and the temptation to go outside seems to be pretty overwhelming. So, stay home and read comics! Or make them. Or both.
Everything in my store is 15% off until Sunday 3rd May, including sale items. Use coupon code STAYHOME15 and treat yourself to something. Go check it out! I’m down to the last few copies of Njálla, the Njálla colouring book and Rocks, so be quick.
To put your minds at ease, all my packaging is done safely at home, and postage is purchased online and printed here too. All my comics fit in letterboxes, so I am able to socially distance fully to get orders to you. Safety first!
Finally, I just wanted to have a quick shout about the incredible Raze by Claire Spiller, published by Good Comics. It’s a beautiful comic about old Gods and our role in looking after nature and the environment. We were delayed by the coronavirus, but Raze has now arrived and all orders are being sent out sharpish. I can’t recommend it enough, and if you’d like to get your hands on a copy please visit the Good Shop.
Low and behold, I’ve actually managed to get myself behind my computer again and offer my wit and wisdom to the world in the form of yet another blog. Crazy! Apparently COVID-19 is doing wonders for my productivity at least 75% of the time (the other 25% is spent aimlessly being annoyed at everything and avoiding the news).
After my last blog I sat down and spent an hour or two really figuring out what I wanted to achieve this month – and why I haven’t been enjoying working on another comic I started months ago. Instead of dwelling on it, I mixed things up a little and set myself the challenge of a…
Weekly silent comic!
That might seem like a punishment to some, but as most of my comics have very little wording anyway, it’s just a further extension of what I normally do. This time, however, I wanted to do some drawing from real life and what better way to start than the room that I have spent the majority of my waking hours in. The living room.
Working in a similar method to the last couple of comics I’ve done, I sketched out my idea into a sketchbook, refined the pencil drawings, took a picture and loaded it onto my computer to digitally draw all the linework. I then printed off a copy and used my lightbox and some gouache paint on mixed media cartridge paint.
It’s also been a great excuse to pull out some of my favourite small press silent comics from my bookshelves, including comics from the likes of Emma Raby, John Cei Douglas and Lando.
The next instalment is a follow on from last week, and I have the idea and concept sketched out already – so the ‘story’ will continue soon. Keep an eye out!
In other news, I also finished up my Major League Mugs drawing of Pee-Wee Hoss McGraw! (see my last blog if this makes no sense to you).
I painted it on cheap sketchbook paper so it got a little muddy in places, and I didn’t do as good a job on the text as I’d hoped, but as the Flomaton Funyuns would’ve been a pretty gritty minor league team anyway, I figure they wouldn’t have minded.
Finally, in hope that this may help out another person stuck at home with a grumpy family, last week’s home art school activity was making papercut illustrations together. I started as I meant to go on, with a whale:
Welcome back! The calendar has ticked over to April and we’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic (in case you weren’t already aware). I hope you’re all safe and well wherever you are.
Now we’re all settling to a new normal of being inside, it’s really time for me to get back into writing. So here it goes! Here’s what I have for you today:
Start of spring sketchbooks
Quarantine drawing challenge & free comics
1. Spring sketchbooks
Remember a few months ago I made some autumn-winter sketchbooks? Well, they’re soon to be back with the next season: Spring-Summer 2020! Back in late-February, I picked up some new papers from the magical Shepherds fine papers in London especially for the next set of sketchbooks. My new prized papers have been sitting quietly waiting to be collated, and it’s on my list to do.
It goes without saying that it’s a really stressful and scary time for everyone. However, one of the most heartwarming side effects of the COVID crisis has been people’s response to opening up their skills and creativity for all.
Good Sam has also announced the quarantine drawing challenge of designing your own old-timey baseball player! It all started with a ‘find your 1800’s baseball player name and evolved into something more:
As Pee-Wee “Hoss” McGraw, I’ve started designing mine up already. We’ll post a gallery of as many as possible over on the Good Comics website. Here are some tips/guidelines!
Try and make the designs to 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches.
Baseball has a long and rich history including some amazing women and people of colour players, so be creative!
If you don’t like your ‘name’ from the challenge above, feel free to make up your own.
If 1800’s America unnerves you (i.e. the slave trade) , feel free to make it a modern-day vintage style card.
In February we launched the brand-spankin’ new Good Comics newsletter. It’s monthly at this point, but we also send out random news as and when we can, like about our upcoming release from Claire Spiller! (more on that below)
I’ve been pretty lax towards keeping my site up to date, so I have a couple of more recent projects to share with you! Firstly, earlier this year I was commissioned to create another back cover for Star Jaws issue 31!
As it was the February issue I went for a valentine’s theme, with a love letter from Senator Bail Organa to his wife Breha Organa – the adoptive parents of Princess Leia before Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed being enthralled in the Star Wars universe. Yes, I researched a lot about Alderaan’s most iconic landmarks and foliage. No regrets. Click here to see the full back cover in action!
Secondly, I also worked on a submission for Two Set Mag: ‘a zine focused on writing, with a healthy dose of art and photography – all by skateboarders‘, as described on their site.
I’ve also been busy with the Good Comics team preparing for our latest release, Raze by Claire Spiller. Claire’s work is beautiful and she’s well rehersed in printing comics so she’s been an absolute dream to work with – check out her latest work and pre-order your copy of Raze today. If you like my comics, this will be up your street! Treat yo’self.
And that just about rounds it up for now! A few other things have happened, like turning 30, having my feet tattooed, having an incredible pre-birthday celebration with Sam in London and learning how to homeschool a 10-year-old. But hey, better save something for the next blog!
Another year is almost over, with another fresh on the horizon. We made it!
In the midst of the grey area between Christmas and New Year where few brave souls really know what day it is, I thought I’d take the opportunity to celebrate 2019 and look at what it’s brought for me.
First off, I’m really late to talk about this, but still excited to tell you all about my friend and co-founder of Good Comics Paddy Johnston’s new book Stealing Home: Rookie Season. See the excitement on my face? See it??
Stealing Home a collection of newsletters published weekly throughout the baseball season – not to be confused with hardcore baseball writing, the collection is about life and the game, with a delicate array of anecdotes and thoughts on America’s greatest sport. Each newsletter is also beautifully illustrated by my bae Samuel C. Williams, with bonus comics by him too. I was also lucky enough to be involved too, with my comic about Justin Smoak gracing the final pages of the book. Check out a preview below:
Having come directly after finishing Sparenting, it was another emotionally raw story to tell, and I’m truly honoured to be part of the Stealing Home collection. And check me out – I finally have some baseball knowledge! It’s only taken a year and several Big Boys Don’t Bunt podcast episodes, but I’m a seasoned expert now!
So, with Stealing Home rounding out my year, what else have I been up to? Well, at Good Comics HQ we were fairly busy, launching our new website and podcast, plus attending shows far and wide. I also made my editorial debut, working with Mohar Kalra on his newest book Novelty, released in June. We also welcome Paddy’s son Eric to the world, who will be an excellent Creative Director of Good in a few years. We also spoke at the Laydeez do Comics festival earlier this year, talking potential creators through our submission criteria and our ethos, which was a really proud moment for us. And we even managed a Christmas party!
For my personal work, I took the year to really slow down and practise what I’ve learnt over the last few years in newer and interesting ways. Firstly I worked on Rocks, which began as a panel-a-day experiment, musing on rocks which turned into a self-published comic. Paring back my preparation and writing on the go was a new experience for me, and it taught me a lot about how little I really need to prepare for a comic.
In summer I began working digitally for the first time, using new software to draw directly onto the screen – removing the need for thumbnail sketches, roughs, pencils and inks on multitudes of paper and instead working on one digital file with multiple layers. I experimented with some ‘sketchbook’ pages and a short comic called Ebbs & Flows, before spending a couple of months working on Sparenting.
Aside from that, I’ve spent more time learning how to woodwork, whittle and create sourdough. I’ve read 30 books this year (which is an all-time record for me, usually totalling around 5 a year before now…), I’ve practised my sewing skills and made more of an effort to look after my body and mind. I’ve also undone some of the efforts of looking after my body by fracturing my hand and spraining my ankle whilst skateboarding (but had the most fun in doing so). I’ve also been lucky enough to travel to two beautiful cities, spending time with those I love.
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.
It seems to be fully-loaded cold and flu season in my neck of the woods, and everyone is sniffling and coughing near constantly. Including me. I’m not sure whether mine is down to autumnal hayfever, a low-lying cold that’s waiting to emerge or my entire head being taken over by a goop monster. Who knows?
Anyway, it’s a busy time of year in the run-up to that yet-to-be-mentioned gift-giving holiday that occurs at the end of the year. I’m finishing up a web-comic, launching a top-secret community-based project and tending to general life tasks which now also include catering for my three new gerbil assistants: Peach, Nugget and White-Knuckle Rog (more on them another time). But still, I have things to show you all!
Firstly, the autumn-winter sketchbooks I announced a couple of weeks ago are selling fast! There aren’t many left, so if you’d like to join the club of seasonal strugglers, you can pick up your sketchbook here. Each order is lovingly wrapped in brown wrapping paper and posted in a card envelope so it reaches you safely and can be recycled easily.
If yours arrives and you want to share some of your autumn doodles, please do email me as I’m planning on setting up a gallery to share our autumnal feelings. You can contact me here.
It’s been a while! The last few months have flown by in a blur, and somehow it’s October. Autumn has a way of catching me off-guard every year, and somehow the days have become suddenly chillier without me noticing until I’ve already set foot out of the door.
So, what have I been up to since my last post aside from being cold? Primarily a new web-format comic about family. But that’s been a difficult, emotional piece to work on as it’s really close to my heart. It’s not too far off from completion, but I’m taking some mental space from it for a few weeks so I’m able to do it justice. Secretive, I know! All will be clear soon.
However, I’ve also been working on a new, exciting project I get to share with you all today!
Some background: It’s the changing of the seasons. And, I struggle.
Don’t get me wrong; the leaves changing is beautiful, the sound of rain is serene, but feeling sleep deprived and having cold extremities is awful. It’s depressing, and it can feel never-ending.
So, I wanted to make something that inspires creativity during the wetter, shorter days but doesn’t have the same pressure as 160 plain white pages of a new store-bought sketchbook, or any organised drawing challenges you find online.
I hand collated and stitched these little books using GF Smith Colorplan 135g paper (citrine and vellum), kraft offcuts, semi-translucent and natural papers. The sketchbooks are just 16 pages long so there’s no pressure of many pages to fill. They’re roughly A6 size to fit in your pocket or bag, and each sketchbook is hand-printed with the specially designed autumn/winter logo on the front, ready to customize.
I’ve made a limited stock of these sketchbooks, so if you’d like one you can grab it for £4 + free UK shipping (Or £6 incl. shipping everywhere else in the world). Check it out on my store here.
What do you all think? Could you use some relaxing autumnal drawing time? Share your doodles with me and I’ll set up a gallery so we can all see each other’s work and conquer the season together.
And that’s it for now! Until next time, keep dry and toasty.
Did you know it’s August next week? I did not. Where is this year going and what am I doing with myself?
All of these questions and more sponsor this week’s blog, seeming as the panel-a-day comic I started back in LATE-FEBRUARY is finally going to print. Sheesh! Autumn is only a stones-throw away. Wouldn’t it be gneiss to have a new comic out? It’s all too easy to take these long days of summer for granite. Granted. Geddit?
Okay, I’ll stop.
So, as I mentioned, my panel-a-day experiment comic-zine Rocks is finally going to print! It took me a while to figure out exactly how I wanted to print this (mainly because of my ‘art n’ comic stuff’ cash fund being dangerously low…), and in the end I opted to lay the spreads out by hand and have a local printer print the pages onto A3 sheets for me to trim and bind myself.
I went to check out a proof copy last week, check it out:
I’m really excited to have another zine coming out into the world. Self Care & Vegetables feels like so long ago now (and it was: it came out in 2017!) and it’s really nice to have another more handmade book to add to my collection. The final layouts are still hush-hush for now, and I have some other tricks up my sleeve… so watch this space for the big reveal! Of quartz, you’ll be the first to know. Ahahaha. Haha.
Okay fine, you can stop rolling your collective eyes.
In other news, this weekend is the hotly anticipated Swindon Zine Fest! On Saturday 27th July from 12pm-4pm the Central Community Centre in Swindon will be overrun by zinesters and comic creators… and Good Comics.
Sam and I will be there with our newest title Novelty by Mohar Kalra (check out our interview with Mohar here), as well as some newer distribution titles like Storm Clouds and Ghost Beach by Australian creator Ben Mitchell (who also chatted with us on the latest episode of the Good Comics Podcast). Take a look at our blog to see what we’ve been up to and get a flavour of what amazing stuff is happening in comics – and, if you’re in Swindon on Saturday, come by and say hello!
Lastly, I’d just like to point you in the direction of our Paddy’s new baseball-and-life themed weekly newsletter, Stealing Home. Here’s one of my favourites. Paddy, ⅓ of Good Comics, is an incredibly gifted writer and even if you’re not that into baseball, his newsletters are insightful and interesting. Plus, Sam, the ⅔ of Good Comics does the beautiful illustrations for it. And I, as the third-third (apparently there’s not a keyboard shortcut for that one) of Good Comics feel like it’s my duty to tell you all how fantastic it is. You can sign up for his newsletter here.
And that’s about it for now! Keep your eyes peeled for Rocks being out in the open, and keep tuned for what’s coming next… (hopefully this one won’t take 5 months to finish)
This week I’ve been reading:Spying on Whales by Nick Pyenson. It’s really good. This week I’ve been listening to: my newest favourite podcast, Sh*gged, Married Annoyed by Chris and Rosie Ramsey. The married couple talk about life, relationships, arguments, annoyances, parenting, growing up and everything in between. It’s hilarious. This week I’ve been watching: my muscles grow. Went and got a gym membership didn’t I! Healthy body = healthy mind.