Archives For January 2016

Cover to Cover

January 29, 2016 — Leave a comment

Here are some sketches you may find interesting (no pressure). These are the rough thumbnails I drew a few years ago for the publisher I was with at the time, when presenting my cover ideas for Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet.

Here’s fun – why don’t you try to find the cover I ended up using? A firm handshake and solid thumbs up for the winner!

Postscript: Feel free to tell me if you think I should’ve used one of the other options, I won’t be offended. Hey, it might even start a fascinating discussion thread (I’ve seen these on other blogs!).


imageSlightly more than half a marathon, more like three fifths of a marathon! But come on, where’s the excitement in setting yourself a challenge if there isn’t the real possibility that you might not make it? Which, I hold my hands up, is what happened here. My quivering sweaty body lying in the road as tears and embarrassment stain my hopes of achieving that shiny medal of success (metaphorically speaking). Okay, maybe it’s not that bad.

The Comic 365 Challenge was/is a self-imposed project to create a comic strip, one panel a day, over the course of a year. Click that button here for more (but not much more) explanation.

It started well and continued fairly steadily through the first few months, but it did quickly became apparent this was going to take longer than a year! After all, the storyline wasn’t meticously planned out in advance, other than in the vaguest way in my head, with certain images and plot points I knew would happen, then basically stringing individual panels between these narrative buoys. (That’s story writing, kids!)

I also set myself the additional challenge of using blue pencil and art pens (whereas normally I would be found sporting a regular grey-type pencil, brush and ink). But the discovery that blue leads in a retractable pencil are frustratingly fragile, liable to collapse at the merest suggestion of pressure, soon sent me back to the trusty HB. I did stick with the art pen, even though the line became noticeably thicker as the pen got older and I unconsciously veered back towards a variation of line with which I’m familiar (like a brush, y’see). You can see this if you compare some of the early panels with the later ones.

But unexpectedly there was a wonderful delight in using Instagram as a window to the world, primarily from the immediate response and interaction with those viewing my fresh sequential produce.

My illustrating experience is one of spending time crafting and sculpting a tale or doodle, with no audience participation whatsoever, even when it’s gone to print let along during the process itself! I know this can be good and bad, but in regards to this challenge the engagement was an essential flavour of the scheme. Every ‘like’ or ‘comment’ added a joyful skip in my pen work, though there is of course an addictive quality which only becomes apparent when you’ve proudly posted up the Mona Lisa and received a disappointedly muted response. My desperation for the affirmation of strangers reflected back at me by a blank comments box. Sad face.

This is when you remind yourself that actually the ‘normal way’ of drawing is to receive a ‘muted response’ EVERY TIME you’ve completed a panel because… you’re working on your own! Stop being so cloying!

Where were we? Yes, August is when things started to slip, and the odd missed panel slowly started to grow into a whole stack of missed panels. Like Billy Liar stuffing the undelivered calendars back into his wardrobe, it comes to a point (in October) when you need to admit you’re not going to catch up. The priorities of life outside of social networking (is there such a thing?) take precedence over the virtual. The unseen referee holds up my hand to watch it limply splat to the canvas, announcing the match is over, and the winner is not me. 235 days complete, 130 remain.

But let us not be downbeat, fellow travellers! Though the tale is still not told at least we are now released from the shackles of weighty expectation and rattling on the bars of unrelenting deadlines. Now I can continue the story without the constraints. “Maybe you needed the constraints to actually motivate you, Flix!” Hmm, you might have a point. “Thanks.” You’re welcome.

Let’s see what happens next. But I’ll be honest, this isn’t my priority. I am keen to at least scan and present the current panels, and finish off the ‘final’ 130 images. I say ‘final’ because I already know the first 365 drawings would only be Chapter One! This is going to take ages. “Especially if you’re not drawing it anymore!”

In the meantime, you can view the panels on Instagram, you don’t even need to have an account. Of course, feel free to ‘like’ or add an effusive comment. “Stop being so cloying!” Soz.

P.S. If you were looking for an explanation of WHAT ON EARTH the C365 story is about, I’m afraid this isn’t the blog for that. Another time, kindly reader!

Selective Focus Close Up on Pile of Clock Parts, Assortment of Cogs and Gears in Variety of Sizes, Shapes and MetalsDid you know, many years ago people didn’t know what the time was? As in, someone would confidently claim it was ten o’clock whilst another fellow would insist it was actually a quarter past nine. Absolute chaos! A world without clocks, calendars or even numbers (in some parts of the United Kingdom).

Then one day a clever chappy said, “Hey, why don’t we divide the year into twelve easy sections?” “Why not eleven?” piped an opposing voice. “I like twelve!” concurred another. So after much to-ing and poo-ing they decided on eleven. A year would be sectioned into eleven months. Unfortunately the person taking the minutes was the chappy who championed the twelve option, and so this is what was officially written, and as anyone who has any experience with minute-taking will tell thee, if it’s written down it’s official and cannot be tipexed out (even by a Mayor or Police Constable who would prefer the text recorded otherwise). That was 1932, and ever since a year’s length has been recognised as twelve months!

So here we are today, shuffling into the 2016th Century, stepping over the decomposing husk of Old Father Time and high fiving the tiny optimistic palm of Baby New Year. An opportunity to reflect on the previous eleven months. Ha, I mean twelve, of course!

And in the spirit of positivity let us not dwell on the shades of gloom, my friends; the crushed hopes which can easily litter our memories of the past 365 days. Nay, let us focus on that which is, rather than that which is not.

“Wise words, Flicko, you should post that on Facebook alongside a picture of a cat and goldfish getting married.” Thanks, compliments indeed.

Get ready for the bullet points, it’s reviewing time. Links included!

  • Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet. PAST – A remarkable year for the graphic novel, which of course is the primary focus for this website – lest we forget in the joyous cavalcade of marginally humorous remarks. The digital edition was released from its electronic shackles in July and immediately made itself at home with Mr Kindle and his master, Mr Amazon; along with the Apple Family Store. But most encouraging was that it was accepted onto the virtual shelves of Messrs Sequential and ComiXology. We could talk about sales, but as aforementioned, let’s keep this positive! Smiley face (with a hint of deeper emotion). It’s been a long time coming (as they say), and I am genuinely thankful this adventure of one girl and her planet has finally seen publication! FUTURE – Release a print edition, supply to willing shops and start showing up at some o’them Comic Cons.
  • Weekly Pages. PAST – These ten sample pages continue to hold their own on the Homepage, a new selection of panels appearing each Friday to continue the tale for anyone committed and patient enough to be reading each new page week by week. We’re now on the final chapters which thankfully contain the more polished artwork! FUTURE – It looks like I’ll run out of weekly pages by the autumn (that’s right, the whole 128 pages of the graphic novel will have been shown), so there’s going to be some pressure (I’m not sure from whom) to produce some brand new artwork. Let’s see what happens.
  • Comic 365 Challenge. PAST – For those who joined this vehicle of vibrant creativity and impossible claims at the beginning of year 15, what a ride it was, eh? Oh, the highs and not-so-highs of trying to draw an image a day to create a 90 page comic over the course of a year! It can’t be done, they said. Let’s just say, I’m always willing to prove others right. FUTURE – I’ll write about this more in-depthly (is that a word?) next week as I know I’ve got a lot explaining to do; mainly, what happened to September, October, November and December? Wink.
  • Blogs. PAST – The blogging is not the essential content of this website, but I appreciate there are those for whom words delight over pictures, and the desire to be entertained and brain-massaged by profound insights and punchy prose, is a priority. I am assuming most of these readers, as described, would’ve jumped ship during the course of last year, if not before! And those left are the kindly readers who find small contentments in rambling sporadic musings and borderline banter, which is generally what is served at this metaphorical greasy spoon. If you do insist on topical references, well-researched cultural commentary or shouty polemics, then I’m afraid this is where our faceless friendship must end, because this is the kinda’ quality I’m generally chucking out there: exampli gratia. FUTURE – Some more blogs about stuff and other less specific subjects too.

I think we can leave it there, I’ve said enough (“You’re not kidding!”) To be fair, if you’re still reading by this point I can only be partially blamed. This is a two way street, chum.

Happy new 16, Mock-fans! Your support and interest is appreciated – I am now being genuine. Group hug.

Sir Flicko


ComixologyI know you will find this hard to believe, so prepare your ears and brain for processing hard to believe stuff. But Comixology – the digital comics download people, covering all devices – has accepted your favourite comic book into its virtual ranks!

“What? Asterix and the Funny Foreigners?”

No, your other favourite, Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet, and for a cool £5.49 ($7.99) depending on your currency choice.

As I mentioned when Sequential took on the comic, this is a remarkable encouragement because Comixology don’t accept any old tat! You have to have top quality tat to get the double thumbs up from them. Which is what I imagine happened when they took one look at my seemingly random arrangement of squiggles and natter. “Send that limey kid an electronic mail expressing our interest in his quaint British doodles.” Probably said by a cigar-chewing Texan gent, as he steps into a pink limo, packed full of loose notes, open bottles of Frizzante spilling across the white suede upholstery and a boot/trunk overflowing with Quality Street’s purple ones… ah, the high life!

What are you waiting for? 128 pages of sci-fi perils and futuristic adventure are only a button press (and small transaction) away! See you in the funny pages.