Space Available

December 8, 2014 — 1 Comment

Space 1There was once a street urchin. Every night he looked up from the gutter to the sparkling sky, dreaming of a life covered in stardust than actual dust. But he wasn’t an astronaut or cosmonaut, invariably he had naught. How would he achieve this wish of tissue-like vulnerability?

He chose the unexpected route; he gathered bottle tops and empty milk cartons. From these he built the most remarkable inventions and artful objects that sent the buying public rushing to drag their bank managers out of their beds to empty the vaults and shower the street urchin in mint.

Deals were struck, contracts signed and handshakes shaken. The civilised world fawned over him and his bottle top masterpieces, the uncivilised world toasted his health as ‘one of their own’ made good. The street urchin was a footstep nearer his goal.

Amongst the plethora of celebrities and influential faces that sought to sun in his growing radiance as the World’s Greatest Artist, he inevitably found himself in conversation with the World’s Richest Man; a shadowy character who stood in no one’s shadow, who left no stone or leaf unturned; the inviting stench of wealth followed him like a wet papery smell, and his hands felt like the hands of a man who has been counting old coppers and coins whilst inexplicably failing to wash them. They got on like a house with a fire; warm and cosy.

The World’s Richest Man introduced him to sailors, gymnasts, lion tamers, call centre workers, popular singers, air stewardesses, au pairs, oil tycoons, diplomats, ambassadors, TV quiz show hosts, racing drivers, baseball players, women footballers, chocolatiers, biologists, optometrists, out-of-work actors, generals and of course, spacemen.

Conversations always turned to space and travel, but it was the last of these people groups that gave the least quizzical looks.

The spacemen admired the street urchin and his roughshod journey from the gutter to the front page of the weekend supplements; riding the back of his bottle top and milk carton creations. They felt an unexpected affinity with him as rockets can look a bit like bottles and are the same colour as milk.

Strings were pulled as backs were scratched, so the time finally came when our street urchin found himself stood on a set of steel steps in the Florida breeze, his tiny tired fingers resting on the cold metal handrail, looking up at his giant cylindrical dream. But as he placed that first tentative step towards the small open door above, that beckoned him to his destiny…

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve recently negotiated the end of my contract with my old publisher, so I’m looking at self-publishing the graphic novel as an eBook now. I’ll keep you updated. Sorry, I could have said that at the beginning.

Too Big For His Boots

November 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

Billy Bootsa“Billy Dane owned an ancient pair of football boots which used to belong to old-time soccer star, Dead Shot Keen. In some strange way, the boots enabled Billy to play in Dead Shot’s style.”

When I was younger those were the words that introduced Billy’s Boots; a weekly comic strip about a kid whose magic boots allowed him to play football like a school boy Messi, when without the boots he really played like a messy school boy!

(Sorry, I wanted to use the Messi/messy gag, so forced it in there anyway.)

Basically, Billy’s life was a deception! He was living a lie. He was a rubbish player but here he was presenting himself as a footballing maestro. A charlatan in muddy shorts! It was the boots that did all the work.

“Oh, I scored again.” No, you didn’t, the boots did! “Billy, you saved the school’s reputation and we’re county champions!” No, he didn’t, the supernatural shoes did, they’re county champions. This is one of the few times his team mates really should have been kissing his boots.

Also didn’t he ever consider that his feet would one day outgrow his fabulous footwear? And what then? “Hey, didn’t Billy Dane used to be a great footballer? What happened? He had such potential.”

This also raises the question of how tiny were Dead Shot Keen’s feet?! A grown man with feet so small that a twelve year old boy could easily wear his boots? He must have looked a bit top heavy.

But maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe Billy’s the classic unreliable narrator and the genius boots are actually a form of denial. He has known loss in his young life; he’s an orphan and lives with his nan (who is ALWAYS losing his boots or taking them to Oxfam every other week). Maybe he doesn’t dare believe he is brill at footie, maybe it’s easier to say it’s the talented trainers. It hurts less if things don’t work out then.

Plus, saying you have magic boots means you don’t ever have to turn up for training – at half six on a cold and wet Sunday morning!

Or maybe this is all about the transient nature of childhood, and how precious it is to enjoy playing football with your chums while the days are still long and innocent – though the dark clouds slowly rise above the south stand; a reminder that one day adulthood and obligation will catch up with you (once the ‘magic boots’ no longer fit).

After all, Billy is clearly going to be his nan’s main carer by the time he’s in his mid-twenties. Responsibilty can’t be avoided forever.

I think I’ve been too hard on the little fella. Okay, live your fantasy, Billy Dane, enjoy those ‘magic boots’, before reality eventually kicks in.*

* Pun intended.

Previews of Previews III

November 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

Doc54More doodles from the past that will be seen in the future (if that isn’t too confusing). I drew most of these back in 1997; ancient times! Back then everyone thought 2014 would be all intelligent computers, flying cars and hilarious footage of cats playing the piano. I guess, one out of three isn’t bad.

P.S. For more regular comic doodling look here. No presh.

Dear Iron-Man

November 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

iron m2Dear Iron-Man

First of all, let me say a massive congratulations! What has gone on with you in recent years? Everybody loves you! It’s like you’re a different person! When I knew you, all those years ago, you were like the boring one in the group (no offence).

I think part of the issue was that the buddies you assembled round you were far more interesting and exciting than you (no offence). Actually are you still friends with that annoyingly patriotic kid, the blonde one? You two were inseparable; like two peas in a beige pod.

But look, I’m only saying this because the change in you really is marvellous. It’s like you’ve let the mask down and the guy inside is actually far more entertaining than any of us ever guessed. You used to be so grey, but now you’re golden!

I do remember you at parties, knocking back the tinnies, I guess you came out of your shell then. I hope that didn’t get out of control, mate. To be honest, some of us were a bit concerned at the time and considered holding an intervention for you at one point. Not because of the alcohol consumption, but for being so boring (no offence)!

Okay, I admit, you did tell the odd inventive story here and there, but generally the suspense killed us in most of your tales.

None of that matters now, eh? If you’ve maintained your capitalist outlook I assume you’re still pretty loaded – and with your new found popularity you must be feeling invincible! Unless you’ve still got your heart condition, in which case, I apologise.

Anyway, let me know if you fancy going to the cinema sometime, I know a few of my mates who’d be keen to join us.

See you soon,


Drawing From the Past Again

November 13, 2014 — 2 Comments

After some pleasant responses to my last set of drawings from the past I thought I’d go for a zequel. Again, some doodles from various jobs or speculative efforts drawn from the murky mists of time (or even the odd memory stick). And hey, I’ve even chucked in a rough pencil drawing. I’m really making myself vulnerable and opening up now. Be kind, dear digital friends. (Weak simpering smile.)swimmer1


1914 – 2014

November 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

ww300We don’t forget their sacrifice.

Drawing From the Past

November 5, 2014 — Leave a comment

Many years ago I was a freelance illustrator. You may remember my work from such well-known publications as… er… as… (cough) indeed, they were heady days! The all-night parties, the beautiful women, the constantly flowing champagne and oodles of cash – yes, I illustrated all of those at one time or another.

In memory of that creative period, here’s a sampling of doodles, some that did and some that didn’t see print. It’s hard to remember which are which now after all those crazy late nights… lying in bed worrying about where the next job was coming from. Good times!ragnar150colourApanam4workshopparis5dalek

Showing Your Age

November 3, 2014 — 2 Comments

globalAThem kids today don’t know how good they’ve got it. And when I say kids, I mean kids of the Digital Age (should that be capitalised? I’ll check my History of Man wall chart later).

I remember, last century, when drawing comics was a lonely affair. Scrawling away, locked in a darkened room. Well, not locked, that’d be strange – and not darkened either (“Exactly, how would you draw?” Okay okay!). Sitting in a well-lit unlocked room. But definitely on your own. And far more on your own that we would even imagine today!

When I first started writing and drawing comics, I didn’t know anyone else who did (discounting my older brother). I knew SOME other children who read comics, but actually writing and drawing them, there was no one to my knowledge within a reachable vicinity who did such a thing. I’m sure they were there, but I didn’t know them (probably locked in darkened rooms somewhere).

It’s incredible thinking about it today, that you can tap a few simple words into your lap tablet or talking/listening device and find a whole world of other creators, just a mouse ride away.

When I originally self-published my stuff I had no idea how to get it under people’s noses (the original comics had a scratch n’ sniff promo). So I put adverts into the main UK comics journal at the time, Comics International. I sent some copies to reviewers that I’d seen in the main UK comics journal at the time, Comics International. I sold them to my friends, family and people in my church, who religiously read the main UK comics journal at the time, Comics International (see what I did there?). I sat in the small press section at the UKCAC 1997 comic convention feeling way out of my depth and slightly perplexed as to how I was actually going to shift all these boxes of pristine and freshly printed comics, that I’d rammed between the shaky legs of my trestle table.

To be fair I’m still thinking that today, except the boxes are now in the garage.

Of course, I’m not saying things would’ve turned out differently if Mr Internet had invented his global communicating machine at a more convenient time for me.

Alright, maybe I am saying that! Things would’ve been SO different if the internet had been around earlier! 1995 to be exact. Them digital kids don’t know how good they’ve got it!

(Do you like the way I bookended that? Thanks.)

Badger D“Why on earth has that character got the head of a badger?!” That is a question I’ve heard many many times (twice). And I’m expecting to hear it even more once this crazy graphic novel is released and rockets up The Times bestseller list! (That. Is. Not. A. Joke.)

“Stop avoiding the question, Flicko!” Okay. We’re talking about anthropomorphism, as in, applying human forms or attributes to something which isn’t human. Of course, we all know this has been going on for years!

The ancient Egyptians had their share of animal-headed deities (e.g. jackal, falcon and crocodile), the Hindu pantheon as well (e.g. elephant and monkey) and in centuries past European explorers would often return home with tales of distant lands populated by men with the heads of dogs, even up to the medieval period.

But really it’s from literature and other media that I’ve taken my influence. Whether it’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, Alice in Wonderland, Une Semaine De Bonte, The Magic Finger, Jungle Book (which I hear has been made into an excellent book-of-the-film), Snoopy and any number of animated ‘funny animals’.

But in the early Rupert Bear stories, that’s where I particularly found talking animals to be pretty creepy and disconcerting, yet fascinating, especially as they lived alongside their human counterparts without anyone necessarily commenting, “Er, excuse me, but do you know you have the head of a hamster?”

So that’s my justification, y’honour, for including an evil mad scientist with the head of a badger in my comic! It’s grounded in an established history of literary anthropomorphic acceptance.

It’s handy as well, as it communicates – without words – this is not a normal situation; this is a fantastical world you are entering. I like to think it stimulates curiosity.

And if you’re drawing a black and white comic, a badger is ideal! I know, based on that, he could have been any monochromatic animal. But to be honest, there’s a certain simmering malevolence I was going for that I don’t think a Friesian cow could exactly pull off. Let alone squeeze those udders into a lab coat! I rest my case.

PoP2Another selection of images from ‘Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet’, which (as you no doubt already know!) you can read each week, page by page here. Yes, it’s another shocked face from Rossi. What is he getting so worked up about?