26 June 2010

Finished inking another page of OXYGEN at last weekend's Supanova in Sydney. Here's a preview of the last panel of that page inked, cleaned and toned.

In the last few days I've already thumbnailed/sketched the next page out, so now it's just a matter if laying it out onto the finshed artboard for penciling and inking. Hot diggity!




Written & Illustrated by Justin Randal

A visually stunning piece of work. The mood that Justin creates in CHANGING WAYS is superb, as we follow the main character and his family through a rainy night of terror in a small town. Well written and masterfully illustrated. See examples of the book here.

Illustrated by Tom Bonin, written by various people

Tom Bonin's nior-styled B&W ink work has been a favorite of mine and others in Australia for a while. Originally published by LAC Comics a few years ago, Tom has continued writing and drawing stories with his two leading protagonists in DICKS (Short for 'detectives', no the other thing)... but in this issue, he's handed over the words to four leading Australian comic book writers (James Andre, Tom Taylor, Jason Franks, and Jen Breach) while Tom does all the art. The four different writers give the reader very divergent/interesting stories. I liked it a lot. A solid, fun read. Email Tom from his website and buy a copy.

(Volumes 1-4
Edited by Seamus Cooney

Each of the books' covers placed together forms a typewriter image (as shown above).

Honest, clear and beautiful. It's the best thing I've read in a long time, by far. These volumes contain wonderful letters that Charles Bukowski wrote to various people in the latter half of his life as he was struggling to survive the world and write. As it says on the back covers, 'I wrote letters to many in those days... it was rather my way of screaming from my cage.'

VOL.1 (1958-1965)
VOL.2 (1965-1970)
VOL.3 (1971-1986)
VOL.4 (1987-1994)

If you're a Buk addict like me, then you'll devour this series. They're published by Virgin Books Ltd.



22 June 2010

SUPANOVA: Sydney 2010 ---
Just came back from a great weekend at Sydney Supanova behind the Gestalt Publishing booth pushing my books to a new city. Here's how it went...

FRIDAY: 18.06.10
My sister drops me off at Melbourne's Avalon Airport for my mid-afternoon flight to Sydney. I check my bags and head to the metal detectors. Eventually, they allow me into the departure lounge after three attempts. But just as things are running smoothly, they announce my flight will be delayed by an hour. Oh great, I think... but the gods are looking out for me, as I notice a large screen TV in the sports bar playing the final game of the 2010 NBA playoffs. I'm saved! I sit down, and am surrounded by about 10 people (with American accents) gesticulating at the screen. An hour passes. The Lakers win. My plane arrives five minutes later. The planets seem to be aligning.

I'm corralled into the winged tube, and i shoot up at 45 degrees toward the sky. My feet walk the floor of Sydney's airport an hour later as the sun is setting. I'm no traveller (and a creature of habit), so following airport signage to find the train station that will (hopefully) take me into Sydney is a little unnerving. The train arrives just as I get to the platform. The planets are still aligned for me. After three stops, I get off at Museum Station and lug my heavy baggage across a city block toward the Vibe Hotel. Check in, up to my room, throw everything onto the carpeted floor, and flop my back onto the bed. (Sigh) - I'm here.

At this point, my roomie for the weekend (Jason Franks) is enjoying the experience of a tight seat belt across the groin as he looks out over clouds, so I decide to walk around the nightlife below my hotel room as I wait for him to touch down. I haven't been to Sydney in 20 years, so this should be fun. It's now 5.45pm, and just before I leave the hotel foyer, I ask the chick behind the counter, "When do the shops close around here?", Six o'clock, she says. Damn... planets misaligning. I head out toward Kings Comics ( a few blocks away) hoping that it'll be open. Get there and it closes at 8pm on a Friday night. Good. Good. Peruse the books on shelves. Some nice stuff, but I have most of it. It's then that I hear a gentleman ask at the counter (in a foreign accent), 'Do you have anything by Colin Wilson?'. I smile immediately as I pretend to look at a book. You see, Colin is just one of the many people who get together for a casual drink at our Melbourne comic meet-ups every month and I only realise the extent of his popularity when I go to conventions. Anyway, the staff at Kings Comics search their computers and shelves and only find his latest Star Wars stuff. 'No, no. I want his European comics.' he says. Sorry sir. It was a funny moment.

I walk around Sydney some more, and as I head back to the hotel, I realise my favorite beanie has fallen out of my jacket pocket somewhere in the streets behind me. Planets misaligning some more. Don't like this city, I think. Get to my room, Jason phones, and I let him in to the room. Just then, the 2010 World Cup soccer match between Serbia and Germany starts on our hotel TV screen. Planets lining up again. I forget about the beanie. We kick back, watch the game, and Serbia beats Germany 1-0... Yes! Planets in perfect alignment. Eagerly chat about the day ahead of us tomorrow, then we crash in our seperate beds.

SATURDAY: 19.06.10
Get up, brush teeth, clothes on, bags on shoulders, and downstairs for hotel breakfast. Jason and I order the same spread - Poached eggs, toast, grilled tomato and coffee. Jason's arrives first. "Start without me", I say. We chat as Jason hoofs it down, and after he is wiping egg yolk off his plate with the last piece of bread, we notice that others who have come after us are all eating. They've forgotten my order, and we're late. I get a refund and double-time-it to the train station with Jase on an empty stomach. A few stops, and one alight later, we're at the convention. This was the queue at the front:

Jason turns to me and says, 'This queue reeks of virginity.'

We get in. Jason goes to his table (that he's sharing with J.Marc Schmidt), and I head over to the Gestalt Publishing booth. The only two downsides of the event were the HORDES of cosplayers raping my eyes, and the loud wrestling ring that was right in front of our booth...

The wrestling noise blaring through the speaker, as well as the crowds it attracted that were pushing against our booth, was pretty annoying.

It was so irritating having wrestlers like this in our way...

I mean, how annoying. Right fellas?... fellas?


I was humbled to sit behind the Gestalt booth with some of the most accomplished and best people one could hope to meet. Gary Chaloner, Justin Randall, Christian Read, Colin Wilson, Tom Taylor, and publisher extraordinaire, Wolfgang Bylsma.

The legends... and me.

Chris Sequiera (in the hat above), is the writer of SHERLOCK HOLMES: DARK DETECTIVE for Black House Comics, as well as other works from Marvel and other publishers. (thanks for that info Jase)

Gestalt was launching Justin Randall's fantastic new Graphic Novel, CHANGING WAYS. Go get it. It's awesome.

Gestalt is amassing a whole range of solid books across the spectrum of genres and tastes. All superbly printed in the highest quality.

Have a look on the Gestalt Publishing website in case you didn't make it to the event, and pick something up.

While Colin Wilson was signing at our table, the fan I mentioned previously that was at Kings Comics last night was getting Colin to sign some books. I immediately recognised his 'accented' voice and asked him, "Were you in Kings Comics last night?". Yes, he replies. Colin then says, "Is this the guy you were talking about Bobby?". We all laughed, and I had a small chat about French comics with the gentleman. He was also gracious enough to grab some of my books.

After Colin went back to his Star Wars booth, he left behind a few drawings he did in between the fan signing/sketching. The pages were illustrations of Blueberry and Judge Dredd. I forgot to take pics of them, but Jeezus!... people would KILL for these, and Colin just hands them over before heading off and says, 'Here you go, I was bored.'

Two comic book Gods chatting...

A fair few Melbournians came up to Sydney for the event. Great to see interstate support and familiar faces.

The master, Joe Kubert had a booth right at the entrance to the event. If you were a comic book purist and fanboy then this was THE best thing at the convention by far.

The panorama shot of the event I took in the morning just before it got real busy. Click on the picture to see it larger.

At the end of the day, it was the usual, "Where are we catching up for drinks later?" scenario. It's always the same. We organise everything for these conventions except for the mandatory catchups afterward. Well, it was no different this time. A bunch of us spend an hour walking around trying to find an available place to sit, eat and chat where we could actually 'hear' each other. We settled on a slightly overpriced joint, and waited another 10-15 minutes for a seat...

Eventually we were seated, and we ordered the cheaper meals on the menu. Hey... we're comic book authors, not Hollywood actors.

Jason Franks (aka: Boozer), drinking again...

...and another drink.

After a great time chatting about the day, and eating a range of beef burgers, chicken burgers, and fish&chips... we parted ways, with Tom Bonin dropping Jason and I off at a train station. We got off in the city (about midnight), and headed to a bar to drop off a set of keys to THE TWILIGHT AGE creator, Jan Scherpenhuizen (in brown jacket below).

As Jason drank a beer (again!)... and chatted with Jan Scherpenhuizen, I chewed the fat with comic book author/illustrator Nicholas Hunter. It's not often you can talk with someone and get into the 'meat' of comics, but Nicholas is definitely a guy who thinks about comics in the same way as I do. At about 1pm, my eyes were heavy, so it was time to hit the sack.

It was a fantastic day. Simply great.

SUNDAY: 20.06.10
Alarm goes off. Up we get. Same routine, and back down to the hotel's breakfast menu to give them another chance at trying to turn my money into a meal. This time the service was impecable. They most likely remembered us, because my eggs & coffee came out in a matter of minutes, along with extra tomato. "So this is what I watched you eat yesterday Jase?" I said. It was delicious! And after I actually ate breakfast, it was time again to catch the train to the convention.

I like the Sunday's of a convention best. My mindset is always intentionally set to enjoy the remainder of what's left. I go in with a good enthusiasm. The day will be awesome! I was determined to meet more creators today, and actually look around at what was on offer a little bit. Unlike yesterday.

Melbourne creators were everywhere...

Great to see the talented Tom Bonin again. We miss ya pal.

The highlight for me was getting to meet Australian creators I know only through the internet, but have never gotten to meet in person. Like David Tang here, that I've done comics projects with a few times.

Tim McEwan of famed comics series GREENER PASTURES handing me his famous black sketchbook to scribble something in.

All-round great guy, and talented artist of Sawbones, Trevor Wood.

Gestalt publisher Wolfgang selling to the public.

Chew Chan toward the end of Sunday.

Me, pretending to do one of those Facebook photos where it looks like someone else is taking it, but in fact I'm taking it myself. What a maroon.

The day eventually drew to a close. I shook hands and said goodbye to great people. Tom Bonin graciously drove myself, Jason and Trev to the airport, where our respective planes (Jetstar, Qantas, and Tiger) all departed within the space of an hour. Jason was first to go (almost immediately), while Trev and I ate something and chatted in the departure lounge about the weekend for about 40 minutes before Trev's plane was announced over the loud speaker. We shook hands, "See you at the Melbourne comics meet in two weeks!" - and then it was my turn to wait for my flight. It was on time (like everything else in Sydney this joyous weekend), and I was soon deflating in my seat as the plane headed back to Melbourne.

  • The Gestalt booth and it's wonderful people. (It was an honor and pleasure guys).
  • Putting faces to internet names.
  • Meeting new fans, and the talks.
  • The drinks and get-together on Saturday night.
  • Sharing a hotel room with the talented, Jason Franks.
  • The 'stacked' female wrestlers.
  • Sydney's public transport. Jason and I never waited more than 60 seconds for a train!
And to hell with all the childish Sydney/Melbourne rivalry... I think Sydney is great! See you all down at next month's Melbourne comic meet:



11 June 2010

Pretty much finished inking the cover last night, though I waited for the cheap black texta-ink (in the flat areas) to dry over night.

I did this so I could complete the remaining minor parts with white ink today (ie: The stars and small areas in the shadow of the people's clothing). By waiting overnight, the white ink has it's best chance to scratch crisply over a bone-dry black surface. You'd hope so anyway.



Click here to read what Tom Spurgeon says.



09 June 2010

Knowing my tastes, the talented local Melbourne writer/poet, James Andre emailed me one of his 'story-in-progress' pieces the other week called XXX Neon Sign because he thought I might appreciate it. He was SO right.

What I like about James' writing is that when he writes plainly and directly, he gives me a refreshing rush of truth that I seldom get from other authors. While the average writer might tell me of how drink ruined Faulkner and Hemingway, James shows me why a writer would drink in the first place.

So, we talk, and James is still in the process of tightening the first draft of the carrot he has put in front of my nose. The next time I see him is at the monthly comics meetup and we quickly end up talking about XXX Neon Sign. We agree that I'll draw the cover to the book, if he'll publish it... and with that starts a short volley of emails. Pretty quickly I come up with an idea that James likes, and I run with it.

Here's the rough I threw together...

I showed this to James, and with his 'thumbs up', I spent today's lunch break at the day job tight-penciling the final art-card. I got rid of the initial 'Florist' sign to the right, as I wanted the XXX title/sign to be the 'hero' on the cover without any competition.

And here it is... ready for inking. Mwoaahahah!
I can't wait to get at this baby.

(Note to self: Fix the aweful perspective at the bottom of the window. Yeeash!).



07 June 2010

Just a recent page from my sketchbook. I'm currently fleshing out a short story for DIGESTED.04. I'm always doing this type of 'free' sketching of different poses and camera-angles before I commit the right one/s to the drawing card.

And also, I came across a sketch page from Jason's FEEDING THE GOLDFISH short story (which I posted about last week).

I figured some of you might like to see the thinking that went into laying that page out.