Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vegetable Happiness

Yesterday I got a salad craving, so I bought and dressed a cucumber. When I started eating it my canary started jumping up and down and screaming at me. I moved the bowl about a bit and her beady little eyes followed it around, so I cut her a slice of cucumber and she ran at it and skewered it with her beak like a jousting knight. She's right, winter has gone on long enough and some fresh vegetables would be much appreciated all around... so today I crossed the road into Dulwich, where the richer people live, and visited the posh veg shop. I brought back two organic artichokes, a beautiful mango, a wet garlic and a lemon that was so perfect that I'm still cutting slices off the squeezed-out rind to dip them in sugar and eat.
I also bought some herbs from the garden center, and a strawberry plant that looks like it wants to achieve something. And best of all: my garden seeds arrived at last, so I can start growing this year's tomatoes and aubergines and beans and gherkins for the balcony...

So I shall eat the artichokes now, and then I'll sort through my events calendar again, it's gone to that point again where I'm not sure which event is which and need to mark them out in red on a big piece of paper.
Also my canary is running around my feet, what does she want now? - Ah, nesting material, unsurprisingly. For some reason she loves pulling the bobbly bits off people's socks for that. This morning she shouted at me for eating eggs, not that she disapproves, she just wanted some herself, especially the egg-shell which she likes to crunch up and eat for calcium, to lay her own.
I can see another year of tiny eggs and moody canary ahead.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday off?

I went to my first Comics Fair yesterday - I mean, the first one where I was on the other side of the table. I had brought a box of "Shark and Lobsters Amazing Undersea Adventure", that being the only comic of mine which I had to hand on short notice. I decided to be discreet and not try too hard to convince anyone to buy because after all my offering was a commercially printed picture book, and I didn't want to draw too much cash away from people who printed and bound their own, and whose fair it really was... I just wanted to see how my work went down with people who love comics, really. And it was a rather nice experience that way, people did like the art, they read it and laughed, I had some interesting chats and I got to draw customised sharks on demand into the books I sold (and the people who did buy the book seemed to really, really enjoy it). And I made enough profit so I can go to the movies and have a nice meal some time soon.

Today is a day off - more or less, because actually I want to lay out ten pages of comic to catch up, but at the moment I am thinking of my actual work days as days off, and days where I am marketing or discussing books as my work days.

And you know what, I am still going to make this a real day off and run off to play Dungeons and Dragons in a pub by London Bridge, right now, bye!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Arh, Space!!

I wish I could afford a studio, I really do. I've run out of space in the wardrobe to store all my non-essential items (that would be all the things I'd like to look at in my living space), I'm using my plan chest as a bedside table, I'm using my boxes of author's copies of my books as a shelf, I'm using my bed as a sofa, I threw away everything I could do without... sometimes I can really see why people want lots of money.
I just find it so hard to do things in the right order in the morning if the rooms are mixed up, I wake up in my workroom and start on my emails, then I remember I'm still in my pyjamas and can't decide whether to have coffee first or a shower... the jumble in the room jumbles my morning mind. I wish I could do things exactly the same way every morning, but how can I when my studio sprawls all over my bedroom? I thought going out to cafes to draw and write would solve it, but I still need to store all my materials here. Ugh. And it's such a lovely house to live in otherwise!!
Why does London have to be so awfully expensive - a studio would cost as much as flat for two in Berlin (that's my estimate, anyway). Arrrrrrrgh. Ah, whatever, I'll have another go at tidying, pruning and compacting today, and then I'll stand on the balcony with boggly eyes and grinding teeth, and then I'll do some work because some work needs doing.
Some re-invention is needed. Good thing Spring is coming, and that I can go out on the balcony again sometimes... except there's a cafe next door with people watching me while drinking their espresso. They can actually look right into my room as well.
Grrrnh. This reminds me of the time I got so wound up that I got myself a cardbord box to sit in and painted it with beautiful cloudy skies and far horizons on the inside.

In fact, you know what? I'm going to stop fussing and start looking for a small studio in the Peckham area. - Let me know if you know of any! Just a bright little room for one somewhere, why not. Might never happen, but looking is better than complaining.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spot the Bird

It's spring, and the finches are exploring new possibilities.
spot the bird

Soft Weight


I woke up this morning feeling utterly cross. I felt cross yesterday already... simply because I didn't get to do any comic drawing at all, instead I was trying to organise all the things I'm supposed to do in the next few weeks. Events, meetings, birthdays, deadlines... and at the same time I couldn't find some of my important things (glasses, pen, hairbrush) and kept falling over stuff that I haven't got around to dealing with, and other stuff that has been displaced by that stuff, and I felt like somehow life was becoming seriously irritating in a small but constant way. I am not starting my days right. In fact, I still haven't had breakfast.
So I spent some time sitting on my bed admitting that I'm just irritating myself again by trying to not miss anything ("I can just leave a bit early and arrive a bit late, and I know for a fact that train doesn't REALLY take that long, and I can just re-think that bit of work while walking to that meeting...") - and now my diary is re-adjusted.
Phew, I truly am not used to this pace of things!

I really wish that pen would turn up. And my glasses. That's what you get for having glasses with really thin frames, I just can't SEE them.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I'll be at this year's UK Web and Minicomics Thing on Saturday, Ellen Lindner is kindly letting me share her table, and I'll be selling and doodling additional sea-life into copies of "Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure" (which just about fits in there, seeing it was a stapled little booklet before it got taken on by a picture book publisher, and it's all panels and bubbles, and not very long).

I'll also be selling some beautiful handmade books by Matthew Robins.

Aaand Another Chapter finished!

It's starting to be a respectable stack of paper, and fragrant too because it's pasted together with some Italian glue that smells of almonds.

No more drawing today, instead I'll be re-writing the next chapter because I still need to lose at least one page in this half, and also because I don't think the character development is all it could be.

In the last couple of days I've drawn the very first scene I scripted as a comic, and my favourite piece of dialogue so far. So now I feel inspired to keep up the standard. The next scene is one that's left over from the earlier incarnation of the book as a novel, and it doesn't quite seem to sit right. If I manage to fix it by the end of the day, I'll be happy.

Note: I did manage to lose TWO pages, fix the characters, improve the monster and add a huge amount of tasty salad. I shall only answer to the title of "Her Exalted Awesomeness" for the rest of the day. Except if someone calls me for dinner or anything like that.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The General

I had a brilliant night out jiving at the Rivoli Ballroom yesterday, and so today I'm slightly slow. Which accounts for me forgetting my pencil sharpener when I went out to draw today's roughs, and so once it was blunted I packed up and went on to the bookshop.
To my surprise I bought the 50th anniversary edition of "The General". I rather like Michael Foreman's illustrations in this, and have been thinking about buying it before, but I'm glad I didn't because look what a lovely cover they did for this reprint - embossed, gilded and with a pretty pattern underneath. Mmm. All that's missing is scratch -and-sniff flowers and gunpowder.

Now I shall sharpen my pencil and look for some reference for a whole page of jungle full of strange animals, and when I've done that, another chapter is wrapped. Whee! That's almost half the book done!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Trusty Reader

Just in case you thought I'd never used that Sony e-Reader again that I bought last year, which would be very understandable given that I do own a netbook as well and that this gadget is really quite, um, particular... it has actually proved useful. I'm still drawing my graphic novel in cafes, and I always take the latest copy of the script on the reader. It's small, I can scribble notes on it as I could on print-outs, and the battery lasts for days, I can sit at a small table without it getting in the way, it's absolutely excellent.

That's a morning's pages with the frames worked out. As it turns out, a nine panel grid seems to be good for most things, and by now I'm working fast enough so one soy latte and one small pot of green tea sees me through three spreads. Then I am normally so pleased that I buy lunch, which is working out a bit expensive. But hey, the comic is getting done!

But not today, I took the day off to fix that dress and practise dancing, I'm going to a jive dancing evening tonight and had not tried the steps since about 1993. I fell asleep after experimentally dancing through most of "Best Of Elvis" and just woke up having remembered some more steps in my sleep, I think, but I won't know before I've drunk this here cup of tea to wake back up properly.

Dresses, again

Today I fixed one of my favourite dresses - I got it as a present years ago, and somehow it's developed a saggy bit in the middle. Or maybe I have. In any case, I cut the middle out of it and glued the rest back together, and now it's good again.

If you noticed I am posting more pictures of myself you are right. I plugged in the webcam, you see. And I have a new camera.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another One Wrapped!

HURRAH! I just drew three spreads that I'd been worrying about for months... the whole scene is set inside a plummeting plane with everyone tumbling about. I looked at models of passenger planes for days and worried...
But - hurrah! It's the first day where I actually feel I've done something slightly awesome. And I finished the chapter! All wrapped up! HURRAH!
Ok, next one.

I also ordered lots of seeds for my balcony garden, all miniature things, baby aubergines, black cherry tomatoes, gherkins... last year it all went wrong because my windows broke and I couldn't climb outside to water the plants. This year I'm doing it very seriously. Yes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Working at Home

After splashing out on designer accessories yesterday, I'm not feeling like spending the day in a posh cafe... also my room feels bright and airy today. - Not good for the back, working in bed, but it's the sunniest spot right now.
I think I'll go and borrow the signing table in my local bookshop in the afternoon to draw a couple of pages, if they aren't too busy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fox Scarf

Today I went into town to have my home-haircut tidied a bit and on the way I spotted this scarf. My first thought was: oooh I could make one like that. My second thought was: hang on, someone already did, they deserve the money! So I bought it, and it's very warm and soft and generally great. It's by Donna Wilson - I've long liked her beasties, but couldn't quite justify expanding my toy collection which is already spilling over the sides of the box on the top of the shelf. But a scarf, that I need.

Aquatic Awesomeness

Hermeto Pascoal , via BoingBoing (click link for explanation) - watching this started my day exactly right.
Also goes with the feeling I have in my head since I just got a neti pot, one of those miniature teapots that you stick up your nose to rinse it out with salt water, which is much more fun that I feared.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Haircut (about time)

I gave myself a haircut last night in an attempt to look less like I've crawled out from under a rock made of my own fossilized snot, which is how I feel after a week of this cold which keeps returning at night. - I'm supposed to be videoed reading bits of the cat book and such later today, so that's why, and if I'd not been ill and hibernating I'd have thought of going to the hairdresser's first. But I think I look passable now, this is me groomed now. - I mostly just cut off the bits that stuck out too far, seeing that my hair has decided to be at odd angles of late. Every time I pass a mirror, it looks like it's frozen mid-performance in some sort of experimental piece. Or like it's been waving at people.

I went out for a chamomile tea for breakfast and almost dozed off, first with my head on the table waiting for the tea and then with my nose stuck down the cup inhaling health-giving vapours. I bet I'm their favourite customer to have sitting in the window to make them look classy.

Must tidy room, also.

Oh, and: As Dave Shelton just deduced correctly, the White Sheep is doing a Kate Bush routine.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's gone over my head now

...and today I reached the second Splash Page.

The last page I drew is a right mess, but good enough to remind me what I mean when I draw it again. Forgiveable, I say, since it featured some detailed explanations and dinosaurs, the explanations having nothing to do with the dinosaurs, and all in weird-shaped panels, for technical reasons.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dancing Sheep

Today, I felt the need to sort out one of the scenes in my comic a bit more... that is, the need to teach my White Sheep to dance.

This raised some questions about her anatomy - I decided to give her a little bit more shape, and instead of letting her upper arms disappear into one blob of wool, give her trailing fleecy sleeves. Which means she now has a joint in the middle of her body, too, if not a waist.

Points if you can work out whose moves this is based on.
Well, points for me, at least...
(Ignore the third one on top, it's nothing like.)

Art Bin

Yestserday I went to the South London Gallery to have a look at the annex they will be opening in the summer - they took over the hosue next door, basically, and they've done clever things with it. Now there's a brilliant flat for an artist in residence on the top, with a view I was envious of, and downstairs they have all sorts of useful spaces for exhibitions and events, and what looks set to be a new lovely neighborhood cafe.

I also wanted to see the Art Bin before it ended. It's "monument to creative failure" by Michael Landy, basically a huge transparent skip filling a whole room with a metal staircase to climb up and throw away your "failed" art. After this weekend, it all goes to a landfill. - Reading about it I thought: hmmm, whatever, and wondered if this was another comment on censorship, book burnings and such. But actually seeing it I was struck by a sudden sense of... joy! I love it! I really want to take some art there myself to dispose of before Monday.
I am so very familiar with the feeling of staring at some piece of FAIL I've produced using time and thought and materials, something layered and marked and laden with intention and, if I'm actually being honest, useless and boring. Then what? If one has a garden, one can put it between some temporarily boring potted plants for a splash of colour and hope it weathers well, somehow. If not, one can give it to a friend who needs something random to liven up a corner in their cafe or something, and then know that one will have to see it there again and again.
Or... YES! One can throw it away. One can. Yes. I can! Because I made it, it's mine, and it's not alive. It's just a waste of space. And not every mark I make deserves to be treasured. HOORAY!
I enjoyed seeing children with notepads writing about their favourite object and at what angle it was sticking out of the mass of stuff and what sound they figured it had made hitting the pile. Some of the paintings were slashed and kicked and mutilated beforehand. I wondered if that had been done in anger or joy. I also wondered how many things in there were former love tokens, stuff that you can't sell (it was a gift!), they wouldn't want it back, and you don't want to display (love is over and object isn't treasured beyond that). What joy it must have been to trash some of these! What relief, and sometimes, what a welcome sense of a non-event.
I wondered if there was anything in there that I'd like to rescue, and I decided: no. This isn't the aftermath of a hateful raid. This is just some art that the person who owned it (more often, who made it) thought wasn't very good, and wasn't good to give to anyone, neither. And so they let it go. - Yay.

(Mind you, better recyle than landfill, in everyday life. My own failed art goes mostly into the waste paper bank, in folded wodges.)

I left feeling happy and bouncy and thinking about new things to do.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Target hit! Whee!

Hooray! I'm back up to speed. Four pages of comic laid out today. Dialogue rewritten again, seems to happen on every page, much as expected.
I am wondering whether I should keep a running list of things I have to work out how to draw while I'm producing these roughs... birdsong, for example, or an assortment of odd objects for a jumble sale, a man made of cheese, a Nautilus-themed central heating system (not steampunk, more dreampunk), all things I am just pencilling in so roughly only I will know what I kind of mean. Other things I am working out as well as I can as I go along, especially the way my sheep characters go about doing stuff from lazing on the sofa upside down to synchronised dancing and advanced martial arts.
I better not stop to think too often while I'm drawing this. Man, I am very glad it's me who is illustrating this script so I can still make changes! Some of the things I wrote are very odd, even to myself. Some of the things I am adding in instead are even odder.

And I am very grateful to myself that I made those 3D sets for the whole thing beforehand, else I'd be lost as lost.
I'll show you a few rough panels in a while, but first I want to catch up with the schedule some more.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Still cold

Ah brr, I detest this cold. Why can't it be a comfortable one where I am tucked into bed reading adventure novels while someone brings me soup and entertains me with interpretative dance... instead I am shuffling around, buying food while trying not to look at the shelves because half the items are making me retch inexplicably, and cooking it up, eating three forkfuls and then flopping back onto my bed amongst a load of half-finished pencil pages for that comic which I've drawn about half of what I scheduled by today, simply because I've been to ill to draw at speed.
At least I've made an effort looking at the NHS page for colds, to check if it might be something serious, which it isn't, or if I should call the doctor, which I needn't, and I've read their list of suggestions and for the first time ever am trying things like eating ice lollies (may soothe throat) and putting warm flannels on my head and ears (may help somehow) and, yeah, keeping the heating on at night. All that stuff. Normally my approach is more like "stay in bed until it goes away and demand soup". I'm really no good at all that small-comforts-stuff, like herb teas and hot water bottles and strategic use of classical music, I think that requires putting a bit of one's mind aside to intervene and suggest such treats where I only have a simple mind that goes "RAH" and falls asleep when I feel bad. - Feels like useful exercise.

Right, am going back to bed for a bit. Then some drawing. In bed also.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Two days out

Well, my cold arrived at last, and I lost two days of working time because I was in bed whimpering miserably. I don't know why at the moment every bug I get turns into something blubbery and painful. But now I feel better, and I shall have a careful cup of coffee if my stomach permits it, and then I'll try and get back on track.
Also my tax bill arrived, I'd been wondering why it hadn't yet. - Well, it claims to be a second bill, plus interest. I'm sure the first one never got here, but then I get mis-mailed Inland Revenue letters for three or fours different people regularly, I guess my first bill is unopened in the corridor of some other house. - And I also got four catalogues all from the same art suppliers. Somewhere, computer errors are happening. Must they happen when I'm feeling sorry for myself already?
I finally got around to reading "The Road", and was impressed.
I bought Joanna Newsom's new triple album. I don't "get" it yet, although I'm glad her voice seems to have un-cramped. I liked the earlier sound but it did sound like it might hurt to do that regularly.
I missed several art events, two or three. Sorry.

Oh, and here's something brilliant: Matthew uploaded a new performance of "Nosferatu and Me", one of my favourite songs of his, and now he also plays the guitar.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Some days ago I visited friends to join them for a round of HeroQuest... I enjoyed it, but I missed the fun of making things up and telling a story instead of walking through dungeons rolling dice. I was firmly set in roleplaying mode without realising it for a while, expecting to find something interesting in every heavily guarded room (there are three skeletons in this room and nothing else? Not even a table with playing cards? Or a little skeleton dog to keep them company?) and barging around trying to be in character (yeah of course I search for treasure before I search for traps! There's a gold throne here and I'm stupid!) and so on.
I used to play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons as a teenager, so playing something that looked so similar but was really a tactical board game confused me so much that I ended up running in and out of the same room for most of the game, falling into holes and using up people's spells to save me, in short, not playing the same game.

Anyway, it was fun, and it made me remember how nice it would be to get a narrative role-playing game going again. I hope we will some time.

Back to drawing, 4 pages to go today! I'll check whether I can sit in the cafe downstairs and drink tea and watch the Saturday Customers for entertainment. Just need to print out a few views of the sets I've constructed for reference first.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Four a day (ish)

I'm trying to draw four pages of roughs every day, to get the whole graphic novel laid out by April. So far it's not quite working out, but I'm not worried. I mean, it's not working out as four pages a day, more like two... I'm always slow and awkward at drawing when I start because I get so little exercise between projects. It'll improve and speed up. At the moment I'm still going back all the time, fixing up earlier panels. Today replacing rubber-limbs with elbowed and kneed ones, flattening out the perspective a bit and adding dramatic shadows. - I am also re-writing the script as I go along.
And I know I'm supposed to have worked out how to draw all the characters before starting on the roughs but... well, I'm working that out as well. I figure after drawing 90 pages of roughs I'll have them worked out okay.

All in all, I'm having the best fun ever.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Things today

Good morning!
Hmm, I got a virus-bearing email today first thing and deleted it, but it's a good one, I'm sure it's causing much trouble elsewhere. Came from help@UPS.com and pretended to have an invoice attached that needed printing out so I could reclaim a mis-addressed parcel from some depot. The only real information is the parcel date (13th of Dec, everyone sends SOMETHING around then) and the UPS sender. The receipt is a zip file, which contains an executable (I peeked inside carefully out of curiosity). So, delete it if you get it.

I shall go off to buy myself a figurine today so I can join a game of Hero Quest (with tailored rules I hear, potentially allowing rat warriors and such). I've not played any fantasy games in years, so this is a treat. - I still miss Dungeons and Dragons sometimes, but what can you do, I'm really quite bad as a dungeon master, and good ones (and especially ones that don't insist on a strict canon) are hard to find.

Two new things: I have discovered that I prefer good soy milk to real cow's milk, which is a big surprise, someone warned me against soy years ago and I just believed him. He always looked like he was going to cry at the mere mention of soy and then made a speech the gist of which got embedded into my brain... but it's faded, only a memory of retchy-face remains.
So I tried some, loved it, and have been having regular cereal breakfasts since, which is a big thing for me who normally can't face anything but coffee before lunch.

Second new thing: my latest project has taken up all of my mind. I'm pretty much off the internet, except to get reference for it. This, also, is unusual.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Inky Fox

I did try out all my inks yesterday, by the way...

Verdict: most of the Winsor and Newton ones I dislike a lot. The browns are watery, the greens and blues are... I don't know, not my thing. Anything with a good lot of red in is good, but not great. Washes were better than expected, but I expected them to be awful.
The old acrylics FW inks I used to use in college, however, are great! How could I forget about them? They make a wonderful clean vibrant line, whatever colour I tried. I'll definitely go back to them!

That fox is Winsor and Newton. See, nice red.

Building sets...

I just spent half the night learning google sketchup so I could build a 3D model of the house my comic is set in because I don't want to spend ages puzzling out the perspective later... the ground floor is almost done. The garage was the hardest part, I never planned for a garage when I first made this story up...
The furniture is mostly place holders to tell me "insert actual piece here", I'm not going to actually trace it off, else it would be a very eclectic household.