Thursday, 31 August 2017

...a flash of purple sparks...

Jasmin's character is the end of the demo... 

...this poster is the beginning...'s the 'To Be Continued!' bit -

And now - The Middle!

After a busy bank holiday weekend - (we had visitors from a county far far away - deepest brightest Surrey) - I was rather tired, and probably did not have as much do-a-demo energy than I hoped to have. But I felt that the spark of comic book creativity was strong in King's Lynn. 

I wasn't wrong. No sooner had I arrived at Gaywood Library and set up a comic friendly zone in the area they had allocated to me, than young Logan took an impromptu seat at the comic round table and quickly coloured in an image of the Hulk on a template sheet!

The demo was to start in 30 minutes, but seeing Logan at work I was bitten by the bullpen bug and commenced drawing his favourite superhero for him - ol' Greenskin himself, and thanks to Logan for providing the Hulk's own deathless dialogue - "Hulk Smash!" - what else?

Sam and his brother Thomas also arrived a little early for the demo, but just in time for Sam to ask me to draw the Silver Age Green Lantern - off template and with red gloves and boots - but still in brightest day and blackest night!

Ok - we've got a group of comic creatives raring to go - we agreed to go 'round the table with each person to suggest a costume design element. Sam at 5 o'clock wanted us to start with the mask, but boots at 7 o'clock got the thumbs up. Imogen suggested reeeally long boots. With spikes on a spiral - and we're off!

In the meantime Thomas asks if I could show him how to draw Cyclops visor. This is more like it - when I was at school all our queries were about algebra, history and french.  CRZZZ!

Travelling clockwise - Tom asks to keep the gloves consistent with the boots - long and spikey; Thomas wants an elemental chest emblem - water and fire; Sam interjects that a detached head floating in a ball of fire - "Dormammu!" yells Thomas. (I'm thinking - 'How do these kids know who Dormammu is?' and then I remember Hollywood!) Jasmin and her mum prefer no trunks, a blank torso, thighs and shoulders!
Sam insists again for a detached head floating in a ball of flame. I'm still trying to figure out what to draw next. No neck! says Sam.

Phew! We're coming back for colour.

Dimensional Man by Thomas!
Lightning Girl by Imogen

In the meantime, while I'm co-creating, they're creating their own characters! 

Check out Thomas's 'Dimensional Man' (optic blast included!); Imogen's ultra kinetic 'Lightning Girl!'; Sam's flashy 'Boy Racer!' and Jasmin's mum's uber tactile 'Cacti Man!' - kinda reminds me of a customised version of 'The Porcupine!'

Boy Racer by Sam
Cacti Man by Jasmin's mum

It's time for Imogen to leave, and while the guys are busy designing the new age of comics, Jasmin steps up to the marvel spotlight and she and mum envision a new hero or villain - can't say at this point. But we start with power! 

Outstretched arms - hands holding high voltage lightning bolts!! Back to base with shiny high laced boots, denim cut off shorts and fish nets; Sam wants a mask again - Jasmin is thinking visor - there's a discussion with mum - we're holding off on the visor. 

We're going for a chest bullet belt and camo crop top with turtle neck doubling as spiked choker! There's a natural shuffling of personnel - Sam at 5 sits where Imogen sat at 7, and Nikita takes Sam's place. 

I've no idea what the time is - but it's never too late to create!


The super angular visor is in, and graphic black bob is out. Face is out - featureless mask and massive plats in. No name, no mission, no problem! 
Multi tasking style - Nikita and Jasmin have also conjured up the 'Love Cat' and 'Bear Grilled' while Tom produced graphite warrior 'Black Hole!'

Love Cat by Nikita!
Bear Grilled by Jasmin!

A big thank you to Nikita who stepped up to the easel and drew a blockbusting version of Big Hero 6's Baymar - well done! (And thanks also to Nikita's dad - a big Watchmen and Sandman fan - for showing me his very own Dr Manhattan!)

Black Hole by Tom!
Baymar by Nikita!

Before we got down to playing Dr Spectrum with the colours, Sam asked for a 'quick sketch' of Daredevil. I started with the feet and just worked my way back, couldn't see where I was going...

 Hope this is OK Sam

Having recently purchased a veritable arsenal of Winsor & Newton Promarker colours, I was armed and - maybe not dangerous - but certainly ready, to colour in those newly created characters. 

So without further adeu - here's Elemental Man! (Well, it's not so bad. Thomas wanted 'Dorspiku!) 

 Apologies to all for not having time to discuss, list and compare all the characters that I had in my display today - particularly to Thomas who was unsure whether the Silver Surfer was a villain or hero. 

Before I could say that while the Silver Surfer was not a villain as such, being the herald of the planet devouring Galactus he would by no means have been viewed as a hero when he first appeared. Thomas mentioned that the Surfer was indeed a villain when he was in the thrall of Thanos! 

By now I didn't know what he was talking about, or where I was going. Before I could defend my knowledge of Marvel history I quickly reminded myself that being twelve, Thomas was forty eight years younger than me - and me having not really read many Marvels in the past fifteen years - he probably knew what he was talking about. 

...and coincidentally, 
Fantastic Four #48 was the issue featuring the first appearance of both the Silver Surfer and Galactus!

'Nuff Said?

I didn't realise it until I got home and uploaded the photos I had 
taken, and sure - I knew that of all the genres the workshop could 
have been placed in, we were in the 'Crime' section. 

But it was only later I noticed the very much more than 
appropriate placement of the character sketches!

A big thank you to Elena for organising the workshop event in conjunction 
with Richard of the Youth Advisory Board and Norfolk County Council. 

A Galactus-size thank you to Imogen, Tom, Thomas, Jasmin, Sam and Nikita 
for taking part and creating a new universe of Super Heroes and  Villains!  

And a Hulk-sized thank you to Logan for starting us all off so well!!

Monday, 14 August 2017

...She's not leaving home...

'Wednesday Yes. Morning no...
1 o'clock as the Stroke Association begins  
Listening to suggestions - I know they'll say more
I go up to the easel clutching the marker pen
Quietly colouring the costume in 
Stepping off the page she is free'

Sorry about that - I listened to Sgt Pepper the other day and 
cannot say 'Wednesday' without a blast of lyrics.

Anyway - within my workshops at the Downham Market Stroke Association...

..I'd covered New Life and Craft Life,

'Create- A - Christmas - Card'

'Create - A - Sunflower'

...done Half Life and Still Life -

'Draw - The - Missing - Half!'

'Still Life'

...thought it was time to do - Larger than Life!

I'd been threatening to hold a Superhero Demo/Workshop from the beginning. 

Just to get us all in the zone I brought a healthy dose of comic books and graphic novels, and for good measure a display of superhero sketches and demo designs.

I divided the members into two groups, and Chris on the left cheerily volunteered himself and his side, as the more villainous of the two; and by default on the side of right were Joanne, Logan and all those - on my right!

It seems while I was easel-eyed and busily responding to heroic sartorial suggestions from all and sundry, the group was busily creating, 
sketching and colouring their own comic characters. 


Thanks to Paddy, Logan, Joanne, Chris, Jean and all the heroic hecklers that contributed ideas - it wasn't long before we not only had two dynamic new additions to the pantheon of heroism and villainy - in the name of Horatio and Wanda - but also a bakers dozen of brand new super characters to give any Legion of Superheroes a run for their 30th Century credits!

Additional thanks to Paddy for suggesting hero Horatio's appearance might 
be further enhanced by the inclusion of a scimitar style machete - and 
would I please not forget to add the dripping blood. In colour.

...tea anyone...?

Thursday, 13 July 2017

...stilletos - fishnets? - forearms - 6-pack - hair - bare - patent leather - stormy weather...

...well if the members of the Denver Village trust weren't quite prepared for the evening I had in store, neither was I - until I split the group in half. The left hand side to chose the characteristics and appearance of the hero, the right hand side to choose the wrong hand side - the villain!

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

While Chairman Terry Wright recounted the minutes of the last meeting, I thought I'd stood idle beside my easel long enough. And I was getting itchy anxious fingers.  A few quick five minute sketches later I was mumbling something about my previous talk - something along the lines of how precise and measured I had to be when drawing local landmarks and buildings with an old steel dip pen and indian ink. 

How they took absolute ages, and while they were my interpretations of actual scenes - I'd be counting roof tiles and bricks - they had to accurate!

 ...and don't get me started on signage and lettering!

I referred to artworks such as the Downham Market Clocktower and Ely's illustrious Toppings Booksellers (in that window - how many books?!). I assured the gathered throng that there'd be no architectural dawdling, no cautious referencing, no small mindful movements, no transcendental breathing. No me sitting on my own thinking...and thinking.

There would be me standing - waving my arms, in public, not thinking at all, energetic discussion, black broad marker strokes, fear and laughing, (a lot of noise), and if at all possible - in place of fifteen to twenty five hours, on and off - very very little time taken! 

- a blink!

In short - hand me the half blindfold, set the clock - point me at the board and tell me what to draw! Ok I might give you a clue, offer guidance - 'Wolverine claws?' 'Dr strange collar?' 'Emma Peel patent leather?' - but your the voice - I'm the hands. You're the remote, I'm the TV. 

And hey I would never ask me to draw toe to knee laces!

OK you're the bosses. But see no, hear no, draw no evil.

I already had the template for the guy on the easel and suggested starting with the feet, the boots. Gotta start somewhere - might as well start at the bottom and work our way up. Like most of us, I seem to have selective hearing.

Thought I heard someone say 'buckle' or 'buccaneer', didn't want to ask - or to attempt to decipher - so carried on regardless. 

We agreed these would be Captain America fold down before the knee boots, not Lady Rawhide fold down thigh boots. (now those are laces!)

When you start at the boots the only way is up. If you're calling out for strong bare calves, I just know were talking roman soldier gladiator skirt. Someone shouts out kilt - and yes I have seen Outlander - and that pretty much sets us on course for 18th century Scotland via Roman Britain! 

I suggest adding metalwork to the skirt but am told to keep it strong and simple. I sneak in some trim while everyone is looking. They trust me. 'Course the skirt isn't held up by blu-tak so we agree to draw a chunky leather belt - the Communal Creators yell out for a double 'D' buckle - I draw it in before they can change our minds.

Since we're rising on the horizontal, I recommend similarly buckled gloves/gauntlets for the hands - a deep voice from the back row wants him holding a bottle of something called 'Double Diamond'. Never heard of it meself, I oblige anyway. 

Luckily I hadn't drawn the fingers yet.

As we're clearly on course for a big brawny battler, his arms and chest remain bare, and yes - he must definitely be hairy. Not sure what it's called but I describe a piece of fabric - like a sash - worn diagonally from the right hip to left shoulder - sure that's what Jamie wore in Outlander (or was it Conan in Shadizar?), the votes are in and so is the double 'D' emblem. 

So up to now we've got a headless horseman - and no worries people - the audible audience is neither sleepy nor hollow. I'm hearing thick strong neck! - square jaw! - and beard! of course beard!

OK - now he's just missing his skull - are we talking horned helmet like Loki, Magneto's Corinthian headpiece? I keep the mohawk idea to myself. Weird Frank Frazetta death mask? 

I can't quite make out what Thelma is saying. I walk over with a sketch pad and draw what I think is her idea, I show her - she nods/shouts YES!

Listen up guys, our big brawny battler from the 1800s is wearing - I can't say it.

I can say it - I get confirmation from the crowd. The right hand side of the audience is left laughing. wearing a tartan beret!!


Last but not least - we need a name. Well, we're halfway there - we've got the double 'D' is place. So my comic book brain is quick-firing up 'Demon Dread'; Diabolical Denak'; Durok the Demolisher (OK you got me - that's from Thor #192).

Amidst the confusion and cacophony, I hear a strident voice from the back. Again. I'm sure it's Double Diamond guy, but I've got selective eyesight, so I cannot be sure.

Our guy - who has to be up there with Solomon Kane and Conan; Errol Flynn and Spartacus; and Rob Roy MacGregor and Roy of the Rovers - has a name!

And you know the Sandman says naming something makes it real. 

But I cannot say it. 

Before I can stop myself, I run my Winsor and Newton Promarker across the top of the page and christen our boy - this scourge of the high and low lands, this fighter of fights, this drinker of drinks, this wearer of kilts! 

He didn't exist half an hour ago, and thank you Denver Trust (the left half).  

Let's hear it for Communal Creativity - he's here and he's now - I give you the one, no longer lonely - 'DENVER DAN!!'


...that's taken longer to write, rewrite, pshop pix, and rewrite than it 
took to do the Denver Demo. I was going to report the truth the whole 
truth and nothing but the truth, but I am done. 

Join us next time for the Communal Creatives right side 
response to left hand Denver Dan - I don't believe the alliteration 
either, and I was there.

 PREVIEW - me and my 'you cannot be serious' face.



...and the poster that launched two faces, a little fear and a lot of laughing!


That's not all folks!

...see you in the virtual funny papers...

Thursday, 20 April 2017

…should I stay or should I go...

...there I was reading through my 'Old Guys Who Like Old 
Comics' posts on facebook, and there's this advert for a 'Comic Book 
Inking Masterclass!' - with Cam Smith. Well I've heard of Cam Smith, 
and I've seen his great work on Bryan Hitch and Gary Frank - but I've 
never heard of a 'comic book inking masterclass' or anything like it. 

An offer I really shouldn't refuse.

Oh, hang on a minute, it's not the 60s, 70s or 80s, 'cause we never 
had anything like this back then. If you wanted to draw comics, well you 
just copied from them, and got on with it. And kept getting on with it. 

Ok, I did send off for and take part in the 'We're looking for people 
who like to Draw' mail order course which was advertised on the back 
of loads of comics in the 60s and 70s. 

This simple one with the happy
dog and the bright colours
- this is the one I sent off for...
Not this one - too formidable.
And Norman Rockwell -
which comics did he draw?

I know when I received it, I completed all the drawing tasks - 
perspective, anatomy, patterns, still life, tone, contrast, colours, 
hands-faces-eyes-ears and-God-help-me-noses and sent 
it straight back to the distant land that was America. 

No idea what happened to it after that. 

There were a couple of classes in the mid 80s, one was run by 
Wyn Wiacek, near the Elephant & Castle I think. I remember us 
all talking about comics - particularly Barry Smith's legendary 
pencil only pages in Conan #19 that Wyn said that he had 
seen up close and personal like. (What! He knew Barry!?)

Talking to anyone about a subject you generally kept 
close to your heart was a novelty. A room half full of 
like-minded people was a revelation!

...of course the other class was David Lloyd and Steve 
Marchant's London Cartoon Centre - 'not quite sure where in 
London it was, me being a Croydon boy. I do remember a large 
mainline station, taking a couple of tubes, and then passing 
Trellick Tower (?!) to get there. All looked a bit dodgy to me.

Just like the poster says - it was a lot of fun. Tutors were David 
and Steve, Dave gibbons, who invited us all to the pub and regaled 
with tales of meeting Steranko in London and Jack Kirby 
in the States. Unimpressed he said by Jim's stage entrance 
"...I am Steranko…" but of course justifiably 
impressed by Jack 'King' Kirby! 

The magnificent John Burns (of Countdown and Zetari!) did a 
night and Paul Neary (who I remembered from Skywald 
magazine 'Psycho' and Marvel UK of course) too. 

Bought this at Victoria - still got it!

One of the tutors whose name I forget, gave 
us all some some excellent and prevailing advice - 

"...drawing from comics is fine, but if you really want 
good understanding of anatomy and the body in action - 
nothing beats life drawing! Find a life drawing class and 
go to it regularly. And keep going." 

Brian 6/15 - Ouse Life Group
Eva 7/15 - Ouse Life Group.

…so where was I ? Oh yeah - Orbital Comics, 
Little Conduit St in the heart of London, is indeed a conduit 
to other worlds, and an ideal location - surrounded as we were by 
an enviable and inspiring array of Silver and Bronze Age mags 
(all at reasonable prices) - for Cam Smith's Inking Masterclass!

Definitely bigger on the inside than outside!

All told we were a thirty or so strong all ages group. We had a choice 
of two blue line pages of artwork to ink. One was predominantly Batman,
the other Spider-Man - being an old time Marvelite I chose the Spidey 
page less for company loyalty as for the dynamic drawing by 
Giuseppe Camucoli! No disrespect to the great Gary Frank!

In orbit.

We all brought along a variety of tech pens, markers, 
dip pens, brushes and ink. This being a traditional inking class there 
were no wacom tablets or macs in sight. After twenty minutes of advice 
and instruction from Cam followed by a demo viewed onscreen, I noticed 
people around me were taking the inking bull by the horns and going for it. 

I hadn't used my dip pen for months, and my 'Superhero Workshop' 
not withstanding, had not drawn any superheroes for ages. So this was 
as good a time as any to take a deep breath and go for it!

And what fun it was! 

A big thank you to Cam (and Orbital) for a hugely enlightening evening. 
Reinforced a few things I did know and learnt many things I didn't know 
- like which pens and brushes and pens the pros use (and more to the 

Cheers again to Cam for additional 
post workshop advice.