Thursday, 4 June 2015


Here's the cover to Death Sentence issue 3 - a homage to the great Bill Sienkiewicz. Bill's work was the first to really blow me away and inspired me to be an artist and get into comics. If you'd told little me I'd ever get the chance to bring things full circle on our own comic I'd have passed out. Bill's painting's a hundred times better than mine in every regard of course, but it was a fun learning experience. And if you've never read Elektra Assassin by Miller and Sienkiewicz I can't recommend it highly enough, it's a surreal masterpiece.  

Death Sentence 3 is out August 12th and you can preorder it from any comic shop today. Issue 1 hits the shops June 10th.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Death Sentence Launch Tour

Mighty Martin Simmonds and I are signing first edition copies of Death Sentence London 1 from the launch date of 10th June onward:

Four countries, six dates, & one bemused passport official*

ENGLAND   Newcastle - Forbidden Planet  - 10th June 2015 - Noon - Monty
SCOTLAND Aberdeen - Asylum Books & Comics - 13th June 2015 10-30am - 5pm Monty
ENGLAND  London - Orbital Comics - 17th June 2015 6:30pm - Martin
QATAR Doha - transfer arrivals lounge* - 25th June 2015 midnight - Monty
AUSTRALIA Melbourne - Ozcon MCEC - 27th -28th June 2015 All day - Monty
SCOTLAND Glasgow - GCCC at CCA Glasgow - 4th July 2015 All day - Monty

Be there. Your day will be immeasurably enhanced as a result.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Death Sentence signing - Forbidden Planet

Wednesday, 10th June, 2015 18:00 - 19:00
Newcastle Store,59 Grainger Street, Newcastle, NE1 5JE

Join MONTY NERO signing DEATH SENTENCE LONDON #1 at Forbidden Planet Newcastle on Wednesday 10th June from 6 – 7pm.

The smash-hit sex-and-superpowers epic returns, with a brand-new artist and an all-new ongoing series that picks up where the bestselling graphic novel left off!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Cover Painting Process - step by step

UPDATE: The Death Sentence LONDON graphic novel from Titan Comics is in comic shops and book shops now,

This is my favourite cover to Death Sentence: London #1, out on June 10th. I'm really happy with the feel of it so lets take a look at how the cover came together.

Fig a: Firstly I was doodling on the sofa while watching Downton Abbey on TV. That show bores my ass off, so you've got to keep busy. I was really just thinking about capturing the right mood. There's a certain feeling of reality and despair that this sketch seeemed to hint at. Death Sentence characters don't pose, or try and look tough. Obviously her left hand wasn't resolved and so on, but that's easily fixed. It's not a brilliant drawing, but I liked the feel of it so I scanned it in.

  Fig a:

Fig b: I ink in photoshop with a pure black watercolour brush on a new layer. I think I got the brush from Imagine FX magazine about six years ago. It doesn't look smooth or neat, and it gets thick or thin very responsively to pressure. It's the closest thing I've found in PS4 to a real inking brush. I tried to sort that pesky arm out at this stage, nice and loose, and when I'd finished I dropped the transparency of the black ink layer so it looked a bit more subtle.

Fig b:

Fig c: Next up is some colour. I mostly paint character colours with a fixed size brush called 'Ragged Hard Round' (that came with the watercolour brush). I have to change the size manually all the time, rather than use pressure sensitivity, which is fine if you use a shortcut on your graphics tab. (I paint with an old Wacom Intuos 3, never seen any need to upgrade.) The pressure sensitivity on the pen makes it easier to blend in different shades and build up colours in a free fun way.

Folds are tricky at first, you really need to study how they work like you study anatomy. But a fold is really just a highlight above a shadow, sometime sharp and jagged and sometimes soft and tubular. Once you study how and why folds are formed they're not difficult to paint, they only look wrong if you put them in the wrong place or in the wrong direction.

Fig c:

Lighting is really the key to painting, and I find a good trick is simply to remember light primarily comes from the front, from behind you. So things get a little darker as they get near the edge (or side) of any form. Other than that it's simple three point lighting (there are loads of tutorials about that online). There's no point tying yourself in knots with complex lighting.

Fig d: The next question was what should she be sitting on? A chair? an amp? A crate of beer? Rubble? Hmm How about a big fluffy cloud or something like that?. Nah, that'll never work. ;)

I cut round the character with a selection mask to get rid of the white background, and then used a rotating splodgy kind of brush which works well for clouds or skies. It rotates randomly each time you press down with the pen so it's a case of rolling with happy accidents and erasing things you don't like until it takes on some kind of form.

Fig d:

The pattern on her skirt is dropped on top on another layer at 50% transparency and moved about with the 'warp' tool. That way you still get all the shadow and folds you already painted in behind. I also like to add a lot of green, red and blue into the skintones at this stage, usually in bony areas (cool colours) fatty areas (warmer colours) and from different reflected light sources either side of the character.

Fig e: The angle of the figure sketch looks like we're looking down at her, so that kind of implied a view of some kind in the background. The story's mostly set in London, so the city to paint was clear. A did a quick google to find some reference photos. After staring at them for a bit I realised you basically ID London from Tower Bridge over the Thames, just like you do Sydney from the Opera House. So as long as I had that, people would recognise it as London. The other buildings I kept as simple as possible, because it's background stuff. You're painting a city, not buildings, so you don't want to get bogged down in unnecessary detail. The city blocks are literally three different shades on a fading gradient, 1 shade for top surfaces, 1 for shade side surfaces, and 1 for shadow surfaces. You might think the top shade would be lightest, but it actually worked better with the left side catching the sun. I always use square brushes for painting tech and man made structures. They come with Photoshop and you just need to load them in from the brush folder. They key thing is to make sure the colours all fade as you move back to get a strong sense of aerial perspective.

Fig e:

At this point it occured to me that this was looking similar to Frank Quitely's brilliant Superman cover. I didn't mind that all. If this was going to evoke his work in some people's minds then that was an extra feel good bonus.

Fig f: Her cartoon face and scarecrow hair is sticking out like a sore thumb at this point. I don't think I paint hair that well, so I tried a simpler approach this time. Her hair is just two colours, mainly a mid tone with a few highlights added. I just painted a simple profile over the face rather than trying anything clever. It's okay, I'm not nuts about it. I think she lost a bit of personality at this point. To firm up these kinds of details I switch to a different brush which doesn't blend, but gives solid accurate colour with a hard edge. I used that for some of the other details like belts, bracelets, buttons too. First thing I did when designing the characters was paint all the tattoos separately on a transparent layer, as it saves Mike and Martin lots of time on the comic art. Once I positioned and warped them I just painted over them a bit to get the right tone and curvature for that area of skin.

Fig f:

Fig g: Painting clouds and sunsets isn't complex. There's loads of ref online or out the window and with a few simple linear gradients and rotating splodgy brush marks worked in you're in business. The river's just a mask with a straight gradient from front to back. The key thing is using the right range of subtle colour variations - that's what makes it look real

At the end of volume 1 we left it a little ambiguous as to whether Verity had survived or not. You can read it several ways. This cover tells you she's in the new comic without giving too much away. Maybe she's in heaven? Maybe she flew up there? Maybe its one of her artistic illusions? Readers could make up their own minds and then read on to find out what actually happened.

Fig g:

I wanted to inspire a spiritual, sad kind of feeling by using those unusual and moving pinks and oranges you get at sunset when golden clouds glow. It's not a colour range I've seen dominate many comic covers, so I figured it would stand out a bit.

I think I tend to 'fix things' in my drawing too much when I paint. I look at the sketch and think 'that's not accurate anatomy or 'that looks cartoony' and repaint it meticulously. That tends to kill some life from the painting in my view. I love the painting but I'm not that pleased with her face for that reason. Increasingly I'm trying to leave my 'mistakes' in the drawing because they maybe give the painting personality and energy. I'm constantly looking at my pencils and thinking 'damn, that looks better than the cover. Why did I paint that out?' But that's the great thing about art - you're always learning and evolving your technique.

Death Sentence London #1 is out June 10th 2015 and it kicks off a really cracking twelve part story. I'm just writing the last issue in that arc now, and Martin's finishing up the art to issue 5. There's another four part story after that, then a six part story, and so on. Death Sentence is basically 'ongoing' from this point on.  Following up the first series was quite a challenge but I'm satisfied this is worthy. Advanced reviews have been great (see the entry below from 6th April). You should probably contact a comic store now to reserve a copy as most shops sold out last time.

UPDATE: The Death Sentence LONDON graphic novel from Titan Comics is in comic shops and book shops now,



Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Variant Covers to Death Sentence London 1

There are four covers to Death Sentence London #1.

I only paint these, and make the comic, so I don't know much about how this works - other than any comic shop can get any cover if they order it now.

A: Regular cover by Montynero
B: Variant cover by Simmonds
C: Variant cover by Montynero
D: Variant cover by Dowling

Last time issue 1 sold out in days, and variants were selling for crazy prices.

Contact a comic shop and ask for the comic you want now:

Monday, 6 April 2015

Spoiler Free Reviews for Death Sentence London

Early reviews of issue 1 and 2 are full of spoilers - so...

"Death Sentence was a singular work of art. How could you top that? Montynero and Martin Simmonds achieve exactly that." Popmatters

"Death Sentence: London is quite possibly the most important work of 2015." Popmatters

"Bloody brilliant" Comic Bastards

"messes with your brain, gives you a strange, surreal thrill ride, has one wild, outrageous moment tumble after the next while still keeping a focus on character...drawn with delirious surreal joy by newcomer Martin Simmonds. It’s both a reset and a continuation from the mini, setting us up for a whole set of great, loud songs after the band released just a few...Death Sentence: London #1 is like a great punk rock song, full of anger and outrage, energy and excitement, and a bit of scorn for those who don’t understand it. Writer Montynero pulls the reader in with its delighted outrageousness then balances that boldness with a touch of humanity. There’s a scene between a cop and his young daughter, for instance, that does a lovely job of bringing this wild story back down to earth in the most pragmatic of ways. Those moments make the scenes of gaping, teeth-filled monstrous, vaginal-appearing mouths in the Cthulu creatures even more intense than they would otherwise feel.This comic has soul and smarts, frightening creatures and frightening humans, and a premise that gets scarier the more time you spend in Death Sentence’s London. I enjoyed my trip to one of the world’s most terrifying cities." Comics Bulletin

"There are ALOT of powerful ideas in this as the struggle between the public & government’s is a fairly prominent issue in the real world today... A great start to this new on-going and I’m sure it’ll see more people flock to get hold of that initial run too so they can get the full story. Thought provoking, entertaining & engaging in equal measure" Comics Anonymous

"The original Death Sentence was comic of the year and I stated its importance to the genre. What Death Sentence: London has done is keep that importance but you can now feel Monty Nero, comfortable with his craft, breaking down further boundaries with a huge smile on face. This is a comic with very dark subject matter told by a guy who is just having a blast. Well done Mr Nero, well done indeed." Garbage File

"A high quality, good fun, action-packed, dystopian science fiction comic"
Sonia Harris, Comic Book Resources

You can order it from any comic shop from April. Find any store here

Saturday, 28 March 2015

New Ongoing Death Sentence

Death Sentence is back, back, back in brand new monthly ongoing comic. YAY! There are four covers to choose from, though if you want this one you need to order it from you local comic shop now. You can find a store here.

Check out this trailer for all the details: here 

I  also did an interview about the new series with Geeky Girls Love Sci-Fi if you want a bit more depth: here.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

What makes Death Sentence unique?

Art by Martin Simmonds, from Death Sentence #1 out later this year

Death Sentence is a comic unlike any other. This is a list of some of the essential components of the Death Sentence experience, in no particular order.

1) Death Sentence characters are normal people, with normal aspirations: Verity wants to be an artist and get back with the love of her life - Weasel wants to be a musician and earn the respect of his peers. Heroism and power isn't the point of their existence, which makes their story more relatable to everyday life. That differs from someone like Batman, who exists to fight crime, or Superman, who exists to protect the world.

2) Death Sentence characters are going to die really soon. The G-plus virus will kill them in six months. This changes their behavior, and drives their decisions. If you knew today was your last day you'd probably change your plans and adjust your priorities to embrace the most important things in your life. So it is with Death Sentence. 

3) Death Sentence characters don't pose, stick their chest out or strut around exuding great power and responsibility.  Why would they? They're ordinary people like you or I - albeit in an extraordinary predicament. They might look fed up, disheveled, embarrassed - or happy, sexy, and hopeful - but they always look and behave like a real person would.

4) Death Sentence characters wear everyday clothes. Things you could get in the high street, if you hunt around a bit. They have tattoos, the way people do. They look interesting and unique but they don't look like fantasy characters - or stylistic overhangs from a previous century.

5) Death Sentence is funny, raucous, rude and imaginative. It's like an hour in the pub with the most entertaining person you know, after knocking back a few shots. 

6) Death Sentence is adult. Think about the adults you know. They may well be clever, dumb, curious, vulgar, highbrow, sexy, funny, childish or serious - depending on what's happening. They might make you laugh or make you think - or switch their attention from global issues to the ridiculous minutia of everyday life. That's Death Sentence.

7) Death Sentence isn't aspirational. It doesn't portray an idealised society, or embody the best of us. It embodies the reality of us. It shines a Dickensian mirror up to 21st century society. Each issue takes whatever's happening in the world right now and distills it into 22 pages of explosive drama - with a thought provoking subtext to delve into if you want.

8) Death Sentence isn't interested in respectability. It doesn't need mainstream hugs. It's pulp entertainment - a visceral thrill from start to finish.

 9) Death Sentence has an original tone: freewheeling, dark, lyrical, funny, chaotic. It's not cynical either. It's hard to describe. You really have to read it.

10) Death Sentence is a comic pure and simple. That might sound obvious, but let me tell you - a lot of comics on the shelves are actually TV/movie pitches in disguise. Whereas Death Sentence exists to celebrate the sequential medium, and explore the storytelling techniques only comics can provide.

This is by no means a definitive list, but altogether it makes for unique experience. I'll no doubt add and amend it as things occur to me.

You can get the Death Sentence hardcover from any book or comic shop, or online retailer, globally.

More about Death Sentence here and here. The new series is out later this year.