27 May 2006

General Stuff

I haven't been finding/making much time for online over the last few weeks, hence the lack of updates/comment responses lately (not that I've had a whole lot of comments to respond to!). This will probably be the case for the next month or so but hopefully I will have a broadband connection from home starting some time over the summer (I'm moving to Wavertree at the start of July because the owner of the Manx isn't renewing contracts) and then I'll be able to chuck myself into blogging as of yore.

I've neither forgotten nor finished the 'How to make a book' posts but I'm a bit stuck - the next post will be about making the pages in Photoshop and I'm not sure how to tackle it and how much detail to go into. You'll read it here when I've worked out what to do!

Because opportunities to blog are few and far between right now I'm making the most of this opportunity now and updating as many times as I have time for so sorry if it's a bit of a dump and please make sure you scroll down and read everything...

sing page1web
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This is something of an experiment. My intention is to tell various stories of a mythical hero in comic form. The stories have come through various mediations to reach me and via me, to reach here. Originally they were songs passed on as part of an oral tradition going back (possibly - probably?) several millennia. These songs were written down in the nineteenth century then creatively edited together into a single narrative over thousands of lines and dozens of songs/poems. Both the oral songs and the edited literary version were not in English and so they had to be translated before I could read them and begin the process of turning them into a comic.

The comic above is from the first song (or 'canto' in my translation). The main gist of the opening canto is the story of creation and the birth (like an 'origins of...' story in superhero comics) of the mythic hero that my comic is to be concerned with. Before it gets into the meat of the creation story there's a kind of general introduction to the whole thing and that's the bit of it that I've posted above.

The 'experiment' bit is to do with the absence of words. I worry that much of my comic-y efforts consist of a piece of text and a picture that both say the same thing and I've ben trying to address and steer away from this - flights was, in part, one such experimental attempt to change this. So, as the comic above was taken from a song about singing a song that tells a story, I decided to do away with words altogether to tell this part of the story. The decision was also partly motivated by my desire to avoid breaching the translator's copyright or attempting my own translation (especially when my translator is deep in essays and too busy to assist). After this (and depending on feedback and the way I feel about it in time, this) it will be wordy but for now it's silent and I want to know how you feel about that. Can you unwind a narrative from the pictures on their own? Do you need some words to make sense of it?

I'm being vague on purpose about the source of it all because I don't want you to google it and fill your head with preconceptions that colour and clutter your feedback. I'll explain more and post a version with words for comparison when I find time over the next few weks. Until then, please let me know what you think, even if just whether you did/didn't enjoy this.

Moi Moi Dr M!

You may recall that I posted several pictures that were meant as farewell gift to a friend retunring home to Finland last summer to take up a post at the Maritime Museum in Helsinki. She visited a couple of months ago which gave me the kick-up-arse necessary to finish off the job - albeit the last painting was somewhat rushed - and so I'm posting them as a set for the first time.

Thankfully Mikko (the loose-tongued handsome devil wearing the Andreas Baader sweatshirt in the first painting) hadn't told Sari what her leaving present was going to be and so she was well chuffed with the paintings when presented them. She says she'll frame them and I'll get to see them on her wall when I finally reach Moomin valley later this year (fingers crossed).

18 May 2006




Dedicated to Saul, who introduced me to the twin passions of Footy and West Ham, and the best friend I ever lost touch with.

Commiserations to all Gooners while I'm at it, especially Dan.

12 May 2006

How To Make A Book part five: Drawing & Painting the Illustrations

(This series of posts starts with part one and continues with parts two, three and four)

This post, as befits the subject, will be more pictures than words.

Armed with my story board and my list of required illustrations, I decide which illustration to tackle next then start out by making a rough pencil drawing onto watercolour paper.


The pencil drawing is then inked with various sizes of waterproof ink pen, refining and improving the original pencil sketch, then the pencil is rubbed out with a mouldable putty rubber.



The drawing is then attached to a rigid board with masking tape and painted with gouache watercolour. If you check out my flickr thingy by clicking on the next image, you'll find 20 photos showing each stage of the painting but I've just used a handful of them here. The basic rules (which I nearly always get wrong at some point) are work your way from light colours to dark, top left to bottom right (unless you're left handed).


When the painting's done, it's left until completely dry. If any of the lines have become indistinct under the paint, these are re-inked. Finally, the completed illustration is removed from the rigid board and scanned.

The whole process can take anything from an hour to a couple of days depending on the size and complexity of the image. I have a (much regretted and fought against) tendency to overpaint a lot of stuff, especially during this project, so everything probably took a good deal longer than it should have.

3 May 2006

Gone Away

Just a quickie to let you know that I'm heading east to Doncaster tomorrow and while late 20th century computer technology has now arrived at the family homestead, it hasn't yet worked out how to communincate with the wwworld. See you all later...

A prize to whoever can tell me, in my comments, what was originally in the jar...

2 May 2006

How To Make A Book part four: Final Story-board & Getting Organised

(This series of posts starts with part one and continues with parts two and three)

The next stage of the process, after designing the visual elements and roughly laying out the general direction of the narrative, was to polish the story, produce a final story-board and make a plan of action for completing the book.

Before embarking on a final story-board, I took a hard critical look at the draft story-board to see how it matched my original intentions for the overall project. Contrary to what I wanted at when I started, the story was still very dad-focussed so the final story-board had to make Petunia Petalbum the narrator and the person through whose eyes and mind the universe is perceived, and also make the dad character less-knowing, not as knowledgable or in command of things as he believes himeself to be. This in mind, I spent about a month working out the story-board below.

I don't think anybody is ever completely satisfied with anything they do and I certainly wasn't sure that this new story-board matched the the ideas in my head but it was closer than the previous effort and the fast approaching deadline removed the luxury of worrying about it any more - this was what I was going to work with, this was how the final story would look.

I've never been very organised and to a certain extent I enjoy this aspect of my character and the creative consequences that arise from it. However, it's probably the least effective way of ensuring a deadline is stuck to (or got somewhere near at the very least) so I decided to change the habits of a lifetime and organise this project properly. To this end, I made three lists covering everything I needed to do to make the book: a list of all the painted illustrations the project required;

of the speech bubble text incorporated into some of the illustrations;

and all the typed text;

Nothing was set in stone. All of the elements in the lists could change as work on the project proceeded. They were a starting point, a plan of action and sign showing me the way to the finishing line. Armed with a stack of scribbly paper and a head feeling somewhat mushy around its stew of ideas, I started work on the illustrations required to tell the story.


...is the irrational fear of chins. Apparently it's for real. This was an illustration I did for an article about phobias in a student magazine available across the north of England. It's the same article I did the 3r3ction illustrations for a few months back. This is much larger than the original artwork which was 70mm X 70mm.