Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Death Sentence Issue 01 is READY

Death Sentence 01 is ready for the printer!! And if that's not worth a blog entry, I don't know what is.

It takes a lot of focus to make a 22 page comic: The idea, the writing, editing, the typing up, the penciling, inking, colouring, lettering, graphic design, logos, covers, printing, distribution, and marketing. And all that awaits you in return is penury and indifference. Truly the creative impulse is a mysterious and wanton beast. What possible good can come of this madness?

Creative satisfaction - and the triumph of love over money! On that basis - I salute independent comic creators everywhere! 

On with issue 02! When we get to the end of that little beauty, we'll start to think about a publication date.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Verity, Toilets, and Lettering

So this started out as a tonal study for a painting, but I liked the line and worked it up into a presentable state.

Still waiting for the lettering back for issue 01, which is being done by the excellent Jimmy Betancourt at Comicraft. Hopefully it'll come in today! Mr's Nero and I are out for a large one in Edinburgh Fri/Sat and I'll be in no fit state to edit anything thereafter.

Monday, 5 September 2011


Writing has attributes more akin to a psychological condition than a profession. An overpowering compulsion to get up in the middle of the night to commit an idea to paper is often how a script starts. The subconscious throws up some emotionally resonant story ideas, untroubled by analysis. Intriguing concepts come in that magical half-state between sleeping and waking, where dialogue and scenes flow effortlessly - or when the mind’s on something else like driving or washing-up.

If I don't sit down straight sway and write it all down I worry I'll forget what made it so beautiful.

I’m a plotter. Once the idea’s been transcribed I can't write a script until I nail down key events, how it ends, and what the point of it all is. Plotting’s a blast - a kinetic brainstorm of stimulating ‘What Ifs’ that get whittled and shuffled into form: A cerebral process, like solving a puzzle. When a plot and its subtext truly work I'm in turns thrilled, upset, and amused by the fate of my protagonists; When it doesn't the characters lie stillborn in the notebook, awaiting revivification.

A page long synopsis of the whole story follows. The synopsis gets broken down into individual scenes, a sentence or two on each. The scenes are laid out on cards so I can see at a glance how the plot points fall. Each column is a different character's arc, and I shuffle the cards about, coalesce, remove, and rewrite until everything motors to a satisfying conclusion.

Plot breakdown for 'Death Sentence'
By this time dialogue and imagery has started to flow. I'll get gripped by a scene or a sequence and start acting it out, jotting down the lines and reactions. No descriptions - just dialogue. I write fast and with a natural cadence. I'll sometimes try a scene three or four ways, and restructure the scenes underlying dynamics, but I’ve learned not to rewrite much of the dialogue itself. It helps the scenes zip along, and seems to lend the characters some elusive truth.

When I have enough scenes I start reading back. Much of what I write doesn't impress me, but the scenes that do get typed up in final format with panel descriptions and other sequential notes for the artist. I edit by the cunning technique of removing as many words as possible without losing meaning. I show the script around, and filter feedback carefully into apposite tweaks. When the scripts as good as it's ever going to get I send it on.

On Death Sentence I'm working with Mike Dowling, who swiftly sends back his wonderful artwork - that's the magic of Mike. I'll read through the art with the script and marvel at his talent. I’ll check it all works as it should, occasionally suggest the odd change which it's up to him to embrace or not, and delete dialogue wherever possible to let his imagery breathe.

It's intoxicating to watch a scene that only months before rattled though your brain play out on the page. You learn an enormous amount from analysing a fully realised page - sequential subtleties which enhance subsequent work. Hopefully that means each issue is better than the last, but that's beside the point. Writing's a compulsion: You either do it or you don't.

Friday, 2 September 2011


One of the characters is getting some major new tattoo work in issue 4. Just designing them now - doodles really, as you'll see if you enlarge. Here's a preview...

I'm sure Mike will be fucking delighted! ;) He's already doing sterling work dropping the other tatts onto Weasel and Verity. But it gives the unique vibe we're after - so well worth it.

Also made some new PS brushes for skin texture (just lots of blotchy spatter) and hair (chest, beard, and curly locks) which are working really well in this painting.