Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Page 2 Colours

 I have a good few pages in the bank now, I'll begin posting them up here with a little more regularity than I have of late. Real life deadlines been getting in the way a tad. Grr.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Issue 1 Cover Colours

Colours for the first issue cover. Pretty happy with how this turned out(for the moment anyhow...).
Big squashy thanks to colourist to the stars Jordie Bellaire for giving me a tutorial on glows/special effects colouring! Invaluable.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Issue 1 Cover B+W

Here's the inked version of the (as it stands) cover to issue 1. Colours to follow in a couple of days.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Page 1 Colour

Change of pace today, wanted to show some colours since a lot of people seem to be responding well to them. Here's page 1 pretty much finished, just missing to odd bit of lettering. Really enjoyed colouring the first few pages, the only downside being it seems to be taking me a good 12 hrs to colour a single page. I assume I'll get a little faster as I go though.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Page 7

I've jumped ahead a few pages to number 7 here. I'm heading to Thought Bubble in Leeds next weekend, and I want to bring an action sequence with me as well as the more quiet opening sequence, hence the leap forward in time. Pages 7, 8 and 9 contain the first dino scene. I've been pencilling page 9 today and I think they're turning out pretty well. When I get back the following week I'll go back and draw the intervening pages(4, 5 + 6), and that will be the preview section of the book finished, inks-wise. After that I'll be trying out some colours and hopefully really bringing this thing to life.

I have the first cover drawn too, I'll stick that up very soon.

This page took bloody ages, about 3 days in full. Just because of all the dense jungle more than anything, I guess. Needed to solidly establish that the squad have moved deeper into the rainforest, and get some nice, thick atmosphere and tension going.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Page 1

Here's the first page. I had to re-draw the first couple of panels, my initial attempt was pretty awful due to so much time away from the board. But happy enough with this attempt, looks a bit closer to the version in my mind's eye.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meet Mr. Write

I just finished the third re-write on my script, and I think it's pretty much good to go at this point. I've been over it again and again with a fine-tooth comb, and at this point it is what it is; I'm just second-guessing myself. To shy from the drawing of it at this stage would be procrastination. I've no doubt that small changes in dialogue, panel count etc will creep in here and there as I actually illustrate the thing, but barring any serious cold feet, the writing has now been put to bed.

I'm delighted that it's finished. Still have no idea whatsoever if it's any good. I ran the bones of it past some of my mates in the biz(heh), and they seem to think it's a goer, so we shall see. For two months plus worth of work, it seems in some ways a small accomplishment. I guess I'm used to quantifying productivity through stacks of finished artwork, a much more tangible endgame. That said, I'm certainly happy with what I have ended up with. From a loose outline containing a rough beginning, middle and end peppered with some cool set-pieces, to what I think(hope?) is an exciting, action-packed, coherent and original story.

The proof, as they say, shall be in the pudding. To the drawing board!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nobody said it was easy...

Man, I'm really getting stuck into the full script now, and it's tough. My outline is pretty water-tight, for good or for ill, so I'm not hugely worried about wandering off the beaten track or anything. But as I progress, I'm coming across elements that I suspect have maybe been done in some form before, and that can at times be in danger of bordering on the cliché. I'm second-guessing myself all the time, and I'm not sure if that's a positive or a negative. I certainly respected writers before, but now I'm simply in awe at the ones that can conjure up purely original concepts and ideas, and execute them in a fresh, invigorating way. It seems like pretty much everything has been done in one form or another somewhere along the line. Maybe the trick is to put a fresh twist on any given cliché, to present it in a new and interesting way.
It's true to say that the matinee adventure serials I'm trying to emulate were ridden with such clichés; all the various entanglements and cliffhangers being recycled over and over. The execution was what mattered, whether it got folks on the edges of their seats or merely became predictable and tiresome.

Hmm. I used to assume in a way that simply because it took far longer to draw a comicbook page than write one, that the artist had the harder job. I was wrong. Dead wrong.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ishikawa Minamoto

Ishikawa is ex-SNLF(Japan's Special Naval Landing Force). Enigmatic and cheerful in equal measure. Snappy dresser.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Writing vs Art: This Time It's Personal

Today I sat down to start typing out the full script, having finally nailed down the detailed outline. On the very first line of page 1, I'm struck by something. How much do I describe in the script? I'm going to be the artist on this book, so I don't really need to dictate every last nuance of each scene in flowery prose, but I do need enough information to tell the story.

So how much is enough? How much is too much?

This leads me to the age-old debate in comics: Are the words or the pictures more important in telling the story? Neither. The script and the art should be married seamlessly, so that the reader isn't thinking about the script or the art as diparate elements. They're thinking about the story; the sum of the parts. Ergo; the writer and the artist should be partners, in it together 50/50. But in my own experience, this tends maybe not to be the case at times.

Comics are a visual medium. Some may say that the art is what you see when you open the book, and in a very real sense, yes, on the most basic level the art does carry the story throughout. It's a visual delivery system for the writer's ideas. That said, the art would be a series of non-associated images if the writer hadn't described the basic story in his scipt. Both are essential elements. 50/50. But there's a problem. In any given work-for-hire comicbook, the 'power' is rarely evenly distributed between the writer and the artist. The writer is developing the premise and ideas, and going on to outline his/her story in the script. But not only does he/she describe what is happening, who is speaking, where the characters are in relation to one another etc, they also proceed to dictate the way they want this content to look on the page. The writer more often than not describes in fine detail how many panels there are (thus dictating the visual pacing), where they want the 'camera' to be, where the characters are to be placed, and the background/setting/lighting etc. All visual elements. Surely this should be the artist's job? If you handed a script to the director of a film complete with minutely described camera angles and scene directions, he'd laugh at you and tell you that he's got it covered. The director's job is to direct. Decide how to establish and progress a sequence visually. Where his cameras will be placed, how he will direct his actors to deliver the dialogue, as written by the writer. Along with his cinematographer and lighting director he will decide what the mood and atmosphere of the picture will be, referencing the script for the emotional thrust of the scene. The film script is a guide for the director, not a mandate.

I work a fair bit in storyboarding for ads, animation etc as well as comics. Never have I gotten a storyboard script that described exactly what was happening in each shot. The script will outline the sequence, giving you ample information on how it progresses, and telling you what elements need to be in each shot. But they want the artist to come up with how the sequence will be shot; it's why they hired you. The artist on a storyboard is there to come up with the coolest way to visually describe the sequence, in fact that's the only reason they're there.

And then you have comics. Probably the only medium that can be described as being as visual as film. The story, like film, is told in sequences of pictures. And yet the way many comics are executed is very different. In most comics the artist is generally hired to draw the pictures that the writer precisely describes in his script. The writer not only developes his/her idea and describes how it plays out on the page, he/she goes on to instruct the artist, the 'director', as how to tell the story visually. The artist has gone from being a collaborator to basically a hired hand, an illustrator of a series of individual pictures that take place one after another and depend entirely on the visual storytelling skills of a prose writer that generally has less knowledge of how to visually progress a story than the artist. The artist should be the director, the actors, the cameraman and the cinematographer. Anything visual should be a part of the artist's remit, not the writer's.

Now, that isn't to say that some of the writers out there don't have a decent eye for visual storytelling. Many of them are more in tune than others. Some of then have a downright fantastic mind's eye when it comes to mapping out the visuals.
The bottom line though, is that without actually sitting down and figuring out the nuts and bolts of a comicbook sequence through various thumbnail drawings, you simply can't know the best way to convey the story. The best shots, angles, panel count etc. This is something artists have spent years learning to do. Why not use this resource?

What often happens nowadays(again, this is only in my experience), is that the artist will sit down and thumbnail out the sequence as described by the writer, figuring out how to make their version of events workable. Sometimes a writer will nail a great way to visually progress the sequence of events. But not in the majority of cases. Usually the artist figures out how to make the writer's version work, instead of expending the same energies on coming up with his own version, unhindered by the thought that you might be offending the writer if you don't stick religiously to their description.
Basically, a lot of the artist's work on executing a given writer's script can come down to problemsolving.
There have been so many instances of spending a large amount of time on trying to figure out how to make the writer's shot-choice work. On figuring out how the hell to make character A stand in a particular place next to characters B and C, incorporating the dictated camera angle, and still have them talk from left to right so as to keep the visual flow of the scene nice and smooth. On occassion a writer will have a particular visual idea they're in love with, something in their mind's eye that indeed can look very cool and moody for that particular shot. But they oftentimes don't understand that you need to organically arrive at that shot and progress from it in the preceeding and following panels, that the book isn't simply a series of pretty looking static images. What that leads to is basically illustrated prose. Surely it should be the artist that dictates the visual storytelling? The pacing, the ebb and flow?

If the artist is lucky, they'll know the writer well enough that they can give them a quick shout and say 'listen man, can I change x, y and z in this sequence? It isn't really workable in its current incarnation in the script'. And any writer worth his/her salt will be absolutely fine with that, they know that it's the artist doing his/her job, and bringing their skill set to the table. But with many of the books I've worked on, I've never talked to the writer in my life, maybe a short email here and there when I have questions. I'm loathe to change anything in these scripts without asking first, and so I spend hours thumbnailing various iterations of the page, trying to shoehorn in the exact shots that the writer has specifically described. Even when I do request to change something, its only after spending ages exhausting every possibilty of trying to make the writer's initial shots work.

So how would I prefer it was done? I'd prefer if the writer wrote his script with more room for the artist. Let it be a truly 50/50 collaboration. Describe any scene setting, breaks and story points. The general timing and mood. All dialogue, obviously. Tell me how many pages I have for a sequence, how it begins, how it ends, and what happens in the interim. By all means suggest elements like panel count, shot choice, and character placement. Lighting, panel-specific mood, atmosphere. These descriptions can be of great help to the artist, and will let him/her know what kind of look the writer envisions. But leave it up to the artist to make the final call on all of these visual elements.
This would give the artist exponentially more freedom to express himself/herself, and tell the story in their own distinct visual style.

Now, it's highly possible, and perhaps likely, that I simply haven't risen to a point in the industry yet where I'm given that bit more leeway and latitude with scripts. Maybe I need to pay a few more dues before I get to the point where I'm truly a 50/50 player on a book. And that's A-ok with me, I believe these things need to be earned. But I also believe that a slight shift in the creative process could and would lead to better comics being produced.
It also has to be said, that a lot of the writers that I've worked with would probably have been more than happy to have me contribute more to the process of planning each page, but I simply didn't ask them. I was always too worried that I might step on somebody's toes, or that I might be out of line. Which is obviously a failing on my part!

All told, I guess all that's needed is a slight mindset shift on everybody's part, where it's a given that if the artist feels that it's necessary to improve the storytelling, he/she is free to make changes here and there. At the end of the day, if the writer or editor feels that the artist's choices hindered the book rather than improved it, they'll look elsewhere next time.

Anyhoo, my long-winded point being that on a book which I'm writing myself, I should worry less about including every facet of description from the outset, and merely give myself a detailed outline of the story. How each sequence begins, progresses  and what the outcome is, and how this leads into the next scene. And so on. Hell, I could even leave it 'til the whole thing was drawn to add dialogue, but I think I'll include it at the script stage, as it usually helps me define a character's body language and facial expressions.

DISCLAIMER: if you are a writer whom I've had the good fortune of working with, it isn't you I'm mentioning as writing awkward shot descriptions. It's that other guy. Please keep hiring me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Break It Down

Today I finished the sixth draft of the outline for the book. I'm very happy with the beginning, middle and end of the story at this point, and have figured out most, if not all of the scenes and sequences. I pitched the story to a few of my buddies a few weeks back, and have gotten to the point where I've jettisoned everything that didn't work, and retained and enhanced the stuff that did.
One thing that's throwing me a smidge though is the act breaks. Not what they are, exactly; that much is very clear. It's more like where they occur that's the dilly of a pickle. How do I have them happen at the exact right moment in the narrative so as to act as natural cliffhangers/issue end points? I've been tackling this script as if it were a movie script, simply because this is how I generally think of scriptwriting in my mindgrapes. If the 'movie' is to be 120 minutes long, then ergo my story will be 120 pages long, which neatly fits 6 issues worth of material, and forces me to zealously seperate the literary wheat from the chaff. This has been working out fine. But the problem with act breaks and climaxes etc in a movie script is that they can happily occur at the organic points in the story without worrying too much about their placement. There are no required breaks every 20-odd pages in a movie, so there is far more scope for choice of positioning. In a comics script, however, this aint the case. As well as figure out a cool, appealing story with interesting characters and a rollercoaster ride of events, you need to somehow neatly position said events so that they peak at the correct positions in the story, ie the issue breaks. Far less leeway. This also somewhat negates the traditional three-act structure of movie writing, although I get the idea that even in movie writing, this is a pliable element, and some great flicks have acts coming out the wazoo.
So as I say, I've figured out the story content, length and quite tight structure, but now I have the tricky task of shifting small elements here and there so that the act/issue breaks fall just so. Niggly. All a very interesting exercise though.
I guess to bypass this entire issue I could simply work on the story as a complete graphic novel, and therby remove the need for specific breaks. But I am loathe to lose the serialised nature of the story, in as much that the tales that I'm trying to emulate and pay homage to were strictly serialised adventures, and that cliffhanger aspect was a huge part of the fun. Food for thought!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Elizabeth Huntington-Moss

Time for more artwork methinks. This is British MI6 Agent Elizabeth Huntington-Moss, one of the female leads of the story.
You can see that I re-drew the nose and softened out her mouth and brow a bit in the colours, just to make her a tad less harsh looking. I'm kind of playing around with colours on these character design sheets just to try and nail down a style for the series in general.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Write Stuff

So, turns out this writing lark is pretty difficult. Structure, setting, character, composition, scene design, act design etc etc. Complicated process. And that's assuming you have a halfway decent idea to begin with. Over the last month I've been reading various recommended texts on the subject, and re-reading some of my favourite guides on visual storytelling for comics and other media. Very informative stuff.
At the risk of echoing common opinion, I've found Robert McKee's 'Story' to be the best representation of the nuts and bolts of story writing, and is an excellent primer as long as you're bringing reasonable storytelling skills to the table to begin with. It doesn't wave a magic wand for you; let you simply drop x y and z into the corresponding slots and viola; there's your story in kit form, good to go. But it does put across some very illuminating theories and ideas, alongside clear examples of how to implement them. Now, you'd want to be pretty deluded to imagine that you could learn how to write a successful story through reading a book a couple of times, but it's definitely been of some help. Other books I'd recommend: screenplays of films you feel match the tone and pace of your story. In my case, I've been studying Lawrence Kasdan's screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark very closely, and handily have the illustrated edition from 1981 that contains the original storyboards running concurrently with the script. Another winner is Paper Dreams: The Art and Artists of Disney Storyboards. This book is full of phenomenal examples of visual storytelling married with script, and I learn something new each time I read it. A couple of Alex Toth collections, just because they're such a good representation of the basics of solid sequential storytelling, and I often leaf through them looking for things to emulate, or in layman's terms; 'rip off'.
Also in my reading pile is Will Eisner's famous how-to book, 'Comics and Sequential Art'. I had attempted a few times when I was younger to slog through this at times very worthy text, but it's only in the last ten years that I've realised how chocabloc full of great information and technique it really is. What else... oh yeah, the comicraft book on how to letter a comic! The last time I attempted to letter my own art was on a book called Freakshow back when I started out, and the results weren't altogether pretty. This time I'll be sure to do it correctly.
At the end of the day, of course, no instruction book is going to present you with a handy how-to guide on how to concoct and execute the perfect script through some convenient recipe for literary alchemy, but I figure there's no harm in going in relatively prepared. I figure I have a pretty decent beginning, middle and end of a story, and books like 'Story' helped me figure out an appropriate delivery system for those components. That coupled with the various scripts i've worked from over the years have given me enough ammunition at least on how to structure a comicbook script correctly. These are just the books I'm looking through at the moment. Any suggestions for other books I should be reading; please have at it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In Like Flynn

Figured it was probably time I started showing some artwork here, as the blog was getting a little text-heavy. I'm not going to start drawing actual pages until I have the entire script nailed down, but I do have all the chareacter designs etc completed so I'll stick a few up over the next while.

This is Tommy Flynn, or 'Irish' to his squad-mates in the marines. He's the main character in the book. Obviously these clothes are not standard marine-issue(although they are all US military wear of the era - A2 flight jacket etc), this is the look he sports after certain events shake up his status quo. I'll post his colour-scheme up very soon.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Quality or Quantity?

One of the most exasperating aspects of work-for-hire books can be the turnaround time. On any of the projects that I've worked on to date, the most time I've ever had to draw(pencil and ink) a page has been a day. Now this is normal enough in the scheme of things; any artist working on a monthly book where he/she is drawing every issue will only ever have a day to complete each page. In many(most?) ways, this is a good thing. It forces you to be less precious with your work, and teaches you shortcuts and tricks to make the work go faster. But it also inevitably leads to compromise. There are only so many hours in a day, and after 12 to 14 in a row, you can get pretty burnt out. So you produce the best page of artwork you can in the given time-frame.

Then there are the books that you get 3 weeks per issue to draw, because of certain mitigating circumstances. I recently drew a run on a title that simply needed to be drawn in three weeks apiece over three issues. It isn't down to anybody else's failure on any part whatsoever; sometimes that's just all the time that's available. So you do the best you can, and hopefully it'll turn out well enough that nobody will notice that some of the pages were hurried along in places. But it can lead to some work that you're less than happy with, work that you wish you could've had just that teeny bit more time on. Early last year I drew a mini-series that needed to be completed in an even shorter time-frame; 2 weeks per issue. This was due to the tie-in movie's release date being just around the corner, and the fact that our story was a prequel tale meant that it would work much better if released before the movie and read as a primer. So we double-timed it, literally, but we got there. The book was really well-written, so it was actually good fun to work on, though it was a killer getting it in on time.

But get it in on time you must, since professionalism and time-keeping are incredibly important aspects of the comicbook creative sphere. Now these examples are not meant to be complaints, far from it; they're just the most extreme recent examples I can think of. As I mentioned above, the norm is you get one full day to complete one full page. And that is pretty darn do-able when you get down to it. That said, the frequent result is that I usually come away from a book wishing I'd had a bit more time to make the pages just that bit better across the board.

More and more lately I've been realising that in 20 or 30 years, not many people are going to remember a large body of work that is competent and solid, but not particularly stand-out or significant. I need to take the time in places to do some work that allows me to spend longer with each image, that lets me wade around in the creative pool discovering new techniques and methods. To produce an entire project of work that I'm really excited by and proud of. In other words, to end up with something memorable.
I'm thinking, would I rather my favourite movie director rush a new movie out once every year simply to meet a quota, or would I prefer he take his time and craft something that really says something, regardless of execution time? Well, maybe not quite regardless of deadline, because that way chaos lies. But certainly giving something enough time to breath and gestate.

So this time I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. I'm going to take TWO(count 'em!), maybe even three(steady) full days to complete each page, from pencil to inks to colour. I've always wanted to take a bit more time with the work, and now I can. I'm hoping that I can manage to surprise myself, and that the work will be even better than I imagined. He said confidently.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dial D For Dangerousness

So what exactly is Half Past Danger? Well, it aims to be high adventure of the pulpiest vintage.  It's the tale of an Irishman(surprise surprise) serving as a US marine in the pacific theatre of WW2 during 1943. He becomes embroiled in a rather hairy situation out there that has potentially worldwide ramifications. As a result he gets dragged into a heart-pounding adventure that encorporates British spies, US super-soldiers, one rather cheerful ninja, and most importantly; Nazis versus Dinosaurs. Pterodactyls v Messerschmitts, Panzers v Giganotosaurs.

I'm hoping it'll be a heck of a ride, very much in the vein of the classic matinee serials that influenced the likes of Raiders of The Lost Ark, The Rocketeer and the 60's Bond movies. Adventure serials like Dick Tracy, Tarzan, Doc Savage and Flash Gordon. All going according to plan it will share the pace and tone(if not the quality!) of those movies and serials. Lofty aspirations; I know. But these are the kinds of high adventure stories I've always loved and gravitated towards, and I have what I think are some pretty cool and original angles and ideas. And besides, aim high or go home, right?

Obviously, corralling all of these disperate elements into one cohesive, fluid whole will be the trick. A bunch of cool concepts and set-pieces does not a coherent, flowing story make.  That's where the real meat of the writing process lies. A beginning, middle and end that effortlessly blend and satisfy(Mmmm...).

All of the design work is done, and I'll start posting bits and pieces of art very soon to introduce the characters. Right now I'm on the fifth draft of the treatment, and after I get that nailed down I'll be heading into full script. I'll start documenting these processes over my next few posts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oh Heavens no, It has to be TERROR SWEAT!

So, quelle surprise; being a freelancer is scary. During every job, you're looking over your shoulder to see if the Real Job police have found you yet. The constant fear is that someday very soon, the jig will be up. The downtime between each job(which hopefully isn't very long; like Bon Jovi you'll sleep when you're dead) is spent frantically searching for the next paying gig. At least, that's been my experience. Some guys have reached that top table, and dine out on constant, fulfilling, well-paid work. Some guys.

I seem to straddle the middle ground like a stunted colossus. I do get fairly regular work, and have done for years now. But it rarely comes easily to me. Maybe 4 or 5 times ever I've had one comics job roll straight into the next. The more commercial work comes much easier, I could finish up with comics tomorrow and probably make a comfortable career storyboarding animation and ads for the next 35 years. But comicbooks are where it's at.

So us middle-tier guys work away, doing good work and being rewarded for it. I certainly have zero complaints; comics have been good to me. But as I mentioned in the previous post, something has been gnawing away at me, and I can't ignore it any more; it's too itchy. Must create, write, draw own comic.
And therein lies the terror sweat. Can I afford to take at least a few months off from my regular gigs to sit down and take the proper time required to nail this sucker? My biggest fear in life has always been failure. Not being successful, not making money. Which sounds kind of strange coming from an artist, I know. I'm one materialistic son of a gun. I've always had a weird dichotomy in my ambitions. Yes I wanted to draw for a living, but I also had two very successful parents, both reached the top of their respective fields. I wanted to emulate them; to make them proud. How do I marry the life of a struggling artist(which is a cliché for a reason) with my plans for world domination? Simple answer: I don't. It's an either-or thing. To be a full-time freelance artist, is in general to forego the monetary delights. Like I said, some guys manage both, but not many.

So what makes it work? This: when you're doing something that you love, money doesn't matter.  Another cliché, but if the shoe fits... Now, when I say doesn't matter, I mean once you have enough to pay the rent and get by, it doesn't matter. Because you will be content. Satiated. Secure in the knowledge that what you're doing has value, and that it will make your heart sing.

So, there's the rub. You gotta let go of the safety harness to try and stand on your own two feet. Will I have enough money to see me through this project? Will the book be any good? Will anybody bloody read it? Doesn't matter. All that matters is that I try. Even if it's a glorious failure, I'll at least have tried, and even if nobody else loves it, I will.

So lets have at it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

And Then There Was One.

How do.
I've started this blog to chronicle the production of HALF PAST DANGER, my first stab at a creator owned comicbook series.  As well as handle the art chores, I aim to write the script for this badboy myself.

Some background: I've been drawing various forms of seqeuntial storytelling professionally since 2001. Mostly on comicbooks, but also storyboards for animation, videogames and advertising. In all that time however, I never once wrote the script for any of these projects. That was some other guy's job.
Back when I was a teenager, maybe 15, I met a couple of like-minded fellas in Dublin who introduced me to the world of the American comicbook. Now this wasn't exactly my first exposure to such a beast; I had been a major fan of both the Asterix and Tintin books as far back as I can remember, as well as a lot of old British war comics like Battle. But these comics were different. They had larger than life characters, battling it out in incredible situations and predicaments. They were firmly rooted in the realms of imagination and impossibilty. This was it! This was for me. I had always loved drawing and creating, and now I knew where and how to channel those energies. I spent the following 10 or so years drawing with studiomate Stephen Thompson, learning our craft and concurrently studying classical animation in college. We've both worked on many comicbooks since, and for all outward appearances, achieved the Holy Grail; working as professional comicbook artists. Done and done.

...And it's been great. Being paid to partake in your favourite hobby all day everyday is just as it sounds; living the dream. There are obvious downsides. The days are long, usually at least 12 hours when working on a monthly book. It can be very lonely work at times, but more and more these days this is being offset by the various social media available online, such as twitter. To stave off the isolation factor, myself and 6 other pro Irish artists formed the Eclectic Micks, on online virtual studio where we post artwork and shoot the breeze. This work, coupled with regular on-the-side storyboarding assignments is how I fill my days.

But more and more lately, something has been feeling awry. Drawing these books hasn't proved to be quite as... fulfilling as the teenaged version of me imagined it would be. What could be better than collaborating with other like-minded people in telling the ongoing adventures of some of my favourite characters? Well, frankly, creating my own characters and writing the stories as well as drawing them. In other words, I'd get to tell the whole story myself. The current situation has been starting to feel more and more samey and stale.  Generally these days I tend to work on Licensed Character 'A' in Mini-Series 'B'. While these stories are generally perfectly well-written and engaging, I find myself longing for a change. A story that doesn't feature somebody else's long-established characters playing parts in somebody else's fiction. I want a shot at the wheel.

So please tag along as I work out exactly what the hell it is I'm doing. It'll be a lark! I hope.

Oh! One last thing - I aim to make this behind-the-scenes peek as interesting as possible; warts and all. I'll be honest about the mis-steps as well as the good stuff. For instance this, rather hilariously, is my third attempt at a first post. Yep, this is all I came up with.