Moving Pictures

March 3, 2015 — Leave a comment

MotionThe art of art, if you will, or more particularly the art of cartooning lies in the removal of all unnecessary and extraneous description till what you have left is the essence of what is needed to visually express the necessary information. Feel free to disagree, this might just be me!

Part of my journey through the landscape of personal creativity was the desire to free myself from the tyranny of movement lines!

I know, there’s nothing inherently wrong with movement lines, they serve a valuable purpose; indicating direction, motion, action and speed for example. I appreciate some artists have even incorporated them as an integral part of their illustrative style; I’m thinking Kirby or nearly every Manga artist. But for me I found they were easily overused and became an excuse for not developing and imbuing my figures with their own natural energy and dynamism, rather I would rely on a flurry of lines to mask the obvious lack of movement in my characters!

I guess it’s not dissimilar to clumsily putting the words “I feel sad” onto a face that you suspect isn’t adequately expressing that emotion already. I’m sure I’ve read screen-writing books about this sort of thing – don’t say it, show it.

I would think to myself, ‘If I can draw figures with sufficient kineticism I can do away with movement lines forever!’ Well, maybe my reliance on them, at least. I’d seen others do it: Jaime Hernandez, Adam Hughes, Grzegorz Rosiński, I’m sure you can think of others.

Okay, I admit (as I did previously in paragraph three) movement lines are useful, and having them in your toolbox is very handy. The key word here is ‘reliance’.

They still make an appearance in my artwork from time to time, but nowadays I’m in charge! Oh yes, and their inclusion is purely from necessity rather than trying to cover up my own lack of ability! My lack of ability is now on display for all to see.

Ha ha, I joke, of course (sort of).

Comic 365: Pages 1 – 8

February 4, 2015 — 1 Comment

C365So that was January. 31 panels in 31 days? Check. Delivered, as promised.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about look at this or this.

I admit I’m quite surprised at how slow the pace has been; moving the story forward. I’m blaming the fact that this isn’t the normal way to write and draw comic strips.

(Turn away now if you don’t want to read any unwanted director’s commentary or potential schpoilers.)

I assumed our heroine would have arrived at her destination by now. This is still the opening credits! Maybe this is an opportunity for me to flag up that I think this might take longer than 365 days! Comic 731 anyone?

Talking of blah, it’s been interesting to look at the pacing now I’ve laid out the panels onto pages. Unfortunately by drawing one-a-day the tempo of the tale has been (maybe unhelpfully) heavily influenced by ‘real time’. Twenty four hours wouldn’t be the usual amount of time you’d spend in the gutter (technical term for that space between panels, not a literal gutter – though the comment still stands if that’s what you thought I meant).

Also as you may have seen, I’ve been using a couple of art pens, which have taken some getting used to. I normal hang out with the brushes and ink gang, y’see.

And getting some visual consistency has been challenging. It didn’t feel like I nailed the heroine’s ‘look’ till about Day 21.

Apologies, it sound like I’m complaining! This is meant to be fun, Flicko! Soz.

It has been an interesting experiment so far, and I’m sure there will be more interesting developments to note along the way. I appreciate I’m making a massive presumption that you’re interested in these meandering shoe-glazing reflections!

If you’re still here at the end of February we will chat again, and on that occasion I will try to turn up with a smile on my face rather than the contemplative visage I’m currently sporting!

Don’t forget you can see the brand new panels every day here. Just a push button push away!

Previews of Previews V

January 28, 2015 — Leave a comment

DocA copyOkay, so let’s get back to what this website was set up to do: to bring the wonders and pleasure of reading ‘Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet’ the graphic novel to a watching (possibly) and waiting (unlikely) world!

And for those who are struggling to contain their anticipation and excitement (all of you!) I will be announcing some smilesome news very soon. Consider this a teaser, if you will. Or even if you won’t. Either way: high fives for everyone!

Dear Wolverine

January 27, 2015 — 3 Comments

imageDear Wolverine

I trust this letter finds you in good health.

It has been a few years, I admit. Time stands still for no one, as they say!

How are your anger management issues now? (If that question doesn’t cause you to fly off the handle!)

Do you remember, you used to be so mad and full of rage, such a temper, like a tiny seething time bomb of bristles, that stank of cigarettes? You were like an animal! (If there’s an animal that smokes half chewed cigars.)

To be honest it was kinda’ sad, as if your angst defined your identity so much you didn’t know who you were anymore.

I’m not dismissing your past, mate, I know you’ve been treated badly, betrayed, ripped apart. It’s just feels a little bleak as I know you had so many friends who seemed to genuinely care about you and look up to you. It’s a shame the love, companionship and community of your mates and ex-mates didn’t seem to factor into your healing process.

I always thought maybe you just needed a hug. Not that I was going to try! I left that to one of your many female admirers – who worryingly all seemed to be a lot younger than you!

You certainly were popular though! Everyone wanted you at their party, to be seen with you, everyone wanted to be like you. Well, maybe not the hair.

I recall you were pretty adamant about that haircut. Actually you were just adamant all over, weren’t you?

But joking aside, there is something serious we need to discuss. I think the thing that disturbs me most, the thing that truly upsets me is that you used to be a role model for guys like me (well, maybe not the smoking) – no, you were one of my heroes because you were short! What changed? Now whenever I see you around you’re like over six feet tall! Where did THAT growth spurt come from?!

And what’s with the Australian accent? I don’t know who you are anymore.

“Join the club, bub” I’m sure you’d say, “And stick another moose rib on the barbie.”

Kindest regards, I look forward to seeing you again soon.


Watch the Birdie

January 20, 2015 — 6 Comments

untitledIt’s important to enjoy this moment, my friends. This time next year we’ll look back and smile as we recall this period of digital tranquillity when it was just you, me and the three other regular readers of this blog, sitting here shooting the virtual breeze.

Oh yes, this time next year small children across the globe will be rushing into their nearest toy emporium, knocking cheap plastic Mockingbird action figures off the shelves – because they’re in the way of the loom band display – ha ha, no, because they want to get the latest Mockingbird-related product of course. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from watching Wars in Space (or whatever that film’s called) it’s this (a) makes lots of toys of your thing, (b) make more lots of toys of your thing, (c) don’t stop making lots of toys of your thing.

I’ve done the maths and the math (depending on whether the Atlantic Ocean is on your left or right) and I’ve systematically calculated that the world of media is ready for a bird-based fictional character.

Think about it: Sir Walter Disney had Mickey the Mouse, Stanley Lee had the Spiderman, and Bob Kane and his mate had Mr Batman… you can see where this is going can’t you? Mice, spiders, bats… it’s now the turn of the birds!

Not in the Hitchcockian type way obviously (sorry, Daphne), where you can’t leave the house for fear of having your eyes poked out like two tasty balls of suet by a horde of mad crazed feathered rascals.

Look, people clearly love cartoons and comics that are associated with a furry or creepy-crawly creature. We’re a nation of animal lovers, as the parrots are fond of parroting. I could cite many white-glove-wearing animal folk who have won the hearts of the worldwide population, and so I will: Bugs Bunny, Pink Panther, The Green Hornet, Spit the Dog, Roland Rat, Bear Grylls, Russell Crowe, that cat in the funny video. And some of them weren’t even wearing gloves! How many more Dalmations do you need to convince you?

Do not be surprised if by the end of the year, whilst sitting quietly in line in Specsavers, you find your suet eyes focussing on a poster for the latest optical insurance being advertised by a small cartoon girl in a yellow jumper!

Enjoy this non-Mockingbird world we live in while there’s still time. You have been warned.

image“You’re always pushing me around… I can’t give you what you want… This isn’t working, maybe you should be with someone else…”

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, haven’t we? When you realise your choice of art material isn’t giving you what you need. It used to be so good.

Or maybe this is a new relationship and you’ve just got to stick with it. Change and adjustment is required to make this work. Yes, I’m still talking about art materials.

You can’t expect acrylic paint to act like Indian ink, or a 2B to act like a 2H, or a scalpel to act like a rubber (ERASER, I mean!).

Over the years my choice of instrument has been the brush, to ink my pencil lines. But recently I’ve been using an art pen and, I’ll be honest with you, it’s not the same.

The brush and I had such amazing times together. With just a minor amount of pressure the brush performed a varied and beautifully thick line – whereas the pen insists on providing the same width no matter how much I press and cajole. It’s so uncompromising!

With just a minor caress the brush gave the gentlest and finest of wondrous lines – whereas the pen insists on fading away when there’s even the smallest let up of pressure applied! It’s obstinately consistent, I’ll give it that.

“That’s the line you’re getting, sunshine – no more, no less!”

But why should I be surprised? It’s unfair to expect a new relationship to be the same as the last one. You’re right, I need to value the qualities the pen does have, rather than projecting my seething perturbation on it for my own lack of artistic prowess.

If I remember correctly it wasn’t easy with the brush at first. We had to get to know each other: what it was I was after, and the parameters within which the brush could meet those needs. YES, JUST LIKE A REAL RELATIONSHIP (it’s all about me).

Hey, I’m a big believer in commitment, even when the other party constantly needs me to pick them up and lend a hand to do even the simplest of tasks!

“I’m fine, can we start again?… And no more eyeing up my thinner friends… or the thick ones either…”

We’ll make this work. Now where’s my old mate, Tipex?

Comic 365.15

January 5, 2015 — 5 Comments

Comic 2015A couple of weeks ago I had this incredible idea (“Sounds like you, Flicko”). I admit, it’s not particularly original (“Sounds like you, Flicko”), but as the Famous Five would say, I think it’s jolly exciting.

I know there are many off-the-shelf and established drawing challenges and exercises out there. Some involving a daily sketch on a particular subject (e.g. the Joker laughing), others a drawing-a-day for a month utilising a specific technique (e.g. the Joker laughing, in watercolour), others more collaborative in a relay race type way (e.g. I draw the Joker then you draw the next image in that sequence, possibly the Joker laughing?). And from what I understand, the intention of these various artistic undertakings is to bring some discipline and inspiration to the creative process, and maybe dare I say… fun.

Anyway, back to me. As we were slowly creeping towards the end of the year, I thought it would be fun (there’s that word again) to set up my own (possibly unoriginal) comic drawing project stroke challenge stroke exercise. If you’re still reading I’m going to assume you’re interested, so here it is:

– Draw one panel a day for 365 days (or in common parlance, ‘a year’).
– Each panel is the same size.
– Do not plan ahead, story-wise, but see where the images lead.
– No roughs or advance sketches.
– No dialogue.

Now, this is where the problems start, because once I started mulling (yuletide pun, relevant at time of writing) over the idea I invariably started to plan ahead. I began constructing a story arc! I couldn’t help it, dear reader! I had an initial image in my brain head, and from that I started to craft and fashion what I can only describe as, a spiffing tale. At least, that’s what me and Enid Blyton would call it.

But rather than beat myself up (which is actually quite difficult to do – no need to offer assistance, thanks!) I just revised my self-imposed rules. They were only self-imposed, after all:

– Draw one panel a day for 365 days (or in common parlance, ‘2015’).
– Each panel is the same size, but double panels are allowed (still counting as one day, mind).
– You can plan ahead for the sake of clarity.
– Minimal roughs only.
– No dialogue.

Y’see, I didn’t want to spend a year drawing something that I feared would end up being a rambling mess (“Sounds like you, Flicko”). I’m not as avant garde as my care-free off-the-wall regular musings may suggest. Stop sniggering! I wanted to make sure that anyone following this strip wouldn’t feel it was a wasted journey by the time they got to the thirty first of December. And when I say ‘anyone’ I probably mean ‘me’.

So, if the curiosity light on your control panel is currently flashing you’ll be pleased to know I’ve set up an Instagram account to record the daily panels. At the end of each month I’ll collate these images together nicely and present them here.

Post script: If it all goes face-shaped and I fall flat on my pear, I will immediately delete this blog post and deny all knowledge that I ever committed to such a task! (“Sounds like you, Flicko”)


Merry Christmas everyone on planet Earth, from all at Angel Ten.

Previews of Previews IV

December 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

Doc14 copyDon’t be alarmed, gentle viewer, some of these panels show scenes of peril and potential emotions. The full picture (literally) will be displayed in the future, maybe sooner if I manage to wheel this Kindle thing out of the shed. Smiley face.

More terrific fun and perilous tension here.

Me and Matthew Broderick

December 15, 2014

Brod1bA few nights ago I dreamt about Matthew Broderick. There we were, in a cosy front room, fire burning in the grate, passing the time of day, chit-chatting. He looked different from how I remembered him; a bit worst-for-wear, slightly overweight, unshaven.

“Are you sure it wasn’t a mirror, Flicko?” Indeed, very amusing.

By the way, please note: I’m not a big Broderick aficionado, so don’t expect any insight here or clever references – I appreciate that is what you’ve come to expect in my regular blog posts (written with a totally straight face).

Obviously I didn’t really know what to say, I was as awe struck as one can be, knowing they’re dreaming about a real life film star in a not-real life situation. I must admit though, even his imagined self carried a certain presence.

For some inane reason, grasping for the appearance of nonchalance, I asked him how his marriage was going with Sarah Jessica Parker. It’s amazing the influence magazines like Hello, OK and Alright (is that one?) have, that I made the assumption this was a valid conversational avenue to pursue, based on having once read – sorry, I mean – looked at a photo of them together in one of these quality publications.

Even the tacit suggestion that his marriage may not have been going well… scrub that, I think I actually said, ‘Are you still together?’ Again, the accepted presumption that show biz marriages are transitory and meaningless arrangements. I’m surprised he didn’t slap me there and then. Maybe it WAS a mirror.

As I was waking from slumber, the comfy lounge slowly dissipating before my closed eyes, I initiated a conversation about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, observing that Ferris was representative of a normal school kid, and this wasn’t something you saw much of in movies. As in, generally US students in film seem to be a jock or geek or any of those other handy categories used to limit a teenager’s social development. Or is this societal shorthand only found on celluloid? (And I said you weren’t going to get any insight! “You were right.” Okay.)

I also wanted to talk about Election, one of my favourite films OF ALL TIME.

But even more crucially I forgot to mention my comic, whilst unashamedly raising the topic of potential big screen adaptation opportunities! Obviously I’d let him play the role of Rossi, if he wanted it. Assuming Bruce wasn’t available (Willis not Forsyth).

I woke up at this point. To be honest, looking back the thing that annoyed me more than those fumbled chances of furthering my own career is that Matthew didn’t even ask me, ‘So how are you?’ Typical celebrity.

Where’s that number for Hello? I reckon I could make some money out of this.

“If you hadn’t dreamt it all, mate.” Fair point.