Sunday, 30 March 2014

The biggest influence of all

Blackpool, 1961.
It's a tough day, being the first Mother's Day since my mum passed away, but I couldn't let the day go by without posting something about her. I was extremely lucky in that my mum (or my mam as I always called her, as we do in these parts) had such a kind and gentle soul and was always supportive in everything I did. 

Mam bought me my first comics, taught me to read before I started school, and encouraged me to draw. I produced my own comics as a child, in biro on folded sheets of cartridge paper, and mam would stitch the pages together with needle and thread because we didn't have a stapler. When, at age 20, I quit my dead-end job, mam encouraged me in my ambitions to be a comic artist.

Blackpool, 1966.

We were always a small, close family. My dad had died suddenly in 1974 and mam never remarried. My Aunt Joan, who lived a street away, had slight learning difficulties so mam and I were always around to help or just give her guidance. Mam was devoted to looking after Joan, moreso as they grew older and Joan's arthritis affected her walking. Although I bought my own house in 1990 it was only a few minutes walking distance away so that I could help out too. 

Aunt Joan passed away in 2006, and mam's health deteriorated after then too, so caring for her increasingly took up more time as I'd see her several hours every day. Not that I minded. As you can appreciate from the few things I've mentioned here, I owe my mum everything. I would never have gained an interest in comics without her initial encouragement in my reading and drawing, and I would certainly never have pursued a career in comics without her unwavering support. She was not only my mother, she was my best friend, with a great sense of humour, always young at heart, and good company.

Mam, 1996.
As I posted here last year, mam died last May after a nasty fall in her kitchen (possibly caused by a stroke, but I'll never know for sure as the brain damage was too severe). No family left now. Having been so close to her all my life, the grief is still there every day. I know it's hard for some people who haven't been in that situation to understand such loss, or if they rarely see their parents, or have never been too close to them, but there are no rules when it comes to grieving. 

My mam, who never put herself first, who selflessly devoted her life to my grandad, my aunt, my dad, and me, would want me to keep going. So I carry on, because as I said, I owe her everything. 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Music Mad Jo

Having written and/or drawn thousands of pages over the past 30 years it's perhaps understandable that some strips slip the mind. Such was the case with Music Mad Jo and Her Personal Stereo, a one-off character I did for Oink! No.23, back in 1987.

Thanks to Phil Boyce's Oink! Blog I was reminded of that strip today, so I thought I'd share it here. I remember now that editor Mark Rogers suggested the advisory at the end of the strip, therefore turning it into something of a public health warning. That was fine with me, as perhaps the ending was too brutal and abrupt without it. 

Looking at it now, the colouring is a bit raw and undisciplined in places. I much prefer colouring with Photoshop, but of course it wasn't around back in 1987! I hope you enjoy the page anyway.

If you want to see more classic pages from Oink!, check out Phil's excellent blog which he updates regularly with a posting on each issue: 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Something for everyone

Detail of the original art.
Over the years I've worked on comics for every age group, and that's reflected somewhat in the two pieces of art I have for sale on eBay this week. First up, there's a World Cup Willie strip that I did for adult comic Viz several years ago. No, this isn't THE World Cup Willie, - just a Viz spoof on the name, - and it's not for the nervous!

Then there's a puzzle spread I did for a Coco-Pops promotion, aimed at the very young. I showed the coloured version of this last year on this blog (see here) and now I've found the original pen and ink version.
See here for more details and photos of the items. Two pieces of original art, both up for auction until Sunday. All bids nuch appreciated. Good luck!  

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

In the shops now!

I have work published in a couple of comics today so here are quick previews of the strips. Above is a panel from The Thing from Below, the latest two-page Team Toxic story in Toxic magazine, published by Egmont.

Then, over in this week's Beano, that menacing pig Rasher nicks Dennis the Menace's jumper from the washing line. That pig is always fun to draw.
Support British comics! We don't have many traditional ones left. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

London in July

I'm listed for another convention date this summer: the London Film and Comic Con on 12th July 2014 at Earls Court 2. I'll be there as part of Aces Weekly's "caravan tour", - although I don't think it means we're arriving like a circus. 

There'll be a whole bunch of fellow Aces there too of course, as you can see from the flyer shown above. Come along for a chat, a sketch, and, if you're not a subscriber already, to subscribe to Aces Weekly! Oh, and a guy by the name of Stan Lee will be a guest too. You may have heard of him.

The event lasts the whole weekend although I'm there for Saturday only. Full details at the London Film & Comic Con website:

For more info on Aces Weekly visit this site:

Friday, 21 March 2014

When Titans Clash!

American comics have often made a big deal of their characters interacting with each other but it's something that's been going on in British comics for a long, long time, right back to the 1930s at least. Back in 1987 I had my two Oink! characters meet for the first time. Tom Thug encountering Pete and his Pimple! 

They met again a few times after that, but this is their very first encounter from Oink! No.34. These photos are from the original artwork which I have for sale on eBay at present if you're interested. (Click on the photos to see them larger.) Bidding ends on Sunday:

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

See you at the Lakes!

I'm very pleased to say that I've been invited as a guest at this year's Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, Cumbria, over the weekend of October 17th to 19th. I've heard some very good things about the event from people who were there in 2013 so I'm looking forward to it. I hope to see some of you there! 

All the details are at the official website:

Here's the press release with the latest info:

Kendal, UK, 19th March 2014: Britain has a long tradition of humour comics such as The Beano, Dandy and VIZ – so it should come as no surprise that the cheeky gang at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival have lined up a number of comic creators well known for delivering a chuckle or two thanks to their work (as well as, on occasion, a more sober tale).

The latest guests announced to join a stellar line up of comics talent in Kendal in October are Guardian cartoonist
Stephen Collins, Nick Abadzis (creator of the critically-acclaimed Hugo Tate and the incredible Cora's Breakfast, pictured above), Beano and VIZ artist Lew Stringer, Cornwall’s Donya Todd (creator of Death & The Girls), Lizz Lunney (creator of many a surrealist animal!) and Flemish cartoonist Peter van Heirseele, the brains behind the absurdist comic Cowboy Henk.

Lakes International Comic Art Festival (17th – 19th October 2014) is a new kind of comic art event in the UK. Modelled on a European-style festival it aims to take over the market town of Kendal, on the edge of the Lake District, with comic art presenting the widest range of genres. Events include a 24 Hour Comic Marathon, children’s comic workshops, talks, signings, Great War in Comics art exhibition and a Comics Fair.

Previously announced guests for the Festival include
The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard; Fables artist Mark Buckingham; acclaimed independent comics creator Oliver East; Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons; top designer and comics creator Rian Hughes; 2000AD artist Jock; self-taught Japanese artist Junko; Dutch underground comics artist Joost Swarte; writer Robbie Morrison; artist Sean Phillips; digital comics frontiersman Scott McCloud; leading US comics writer Gail Simone; Jeff Smith; COSTA Award winner Bryan Talbot; Vampire Academy artist Emma Vieceli; and Jonathan Edwards, who has designed the event’s “Mascot Family”.

"I'm excited to be asked to attend The Lakes Comic Art Festival - it's an honour,” enthuses Nick Abadzis. “I've heard lovely things about the 'Angouleme of the North' and in anticipation of seeing old friends and meeting many new ones to celebrate the art and language of comics, I'm greatly looking forward to my visit to Kendal."

"'I'm really excited to be coming to the Festival," says Donya Todd, "joining in all the fun and drawing with a bunch of cool people.'
• Tickets for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival go on sale from 25th April 2014. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sheffield sketching

Just a quick post to announce that I've been invited as a guest at the Sheffield Film and Comic Con this summer. It's a two day event at the Motorpoint Arena on the 30th and 31st August, but I'll be there for the Saturday only (Aug.30th).

I'll be selling sketches on request at my table, and I'll probably bring along some of my old original art pages too. I'll also be happy to sign a few of my comics if you bring them along. Drop by for a chat if you're attending. It'll be good to meet up with old friends and put faces to the names of people I haven't met before. 

The convention website with full details is here: 

I'll be attending a couple of other comic shows as well during the year. More news soon!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Sub-MarEEEner!

Several years ago, Ade Brown used to compile an annual publication called Just 1 Page which featured contributions from loads of comic folk in aid of charity. Here's my contribution for one of them. I thought I'd have a crack at a couple of Marvel characters. Hope you like it. (Yep, I know Sub-Mariner isn't pronounced like that, but a lot of people thought it was, including me when I was a kid, so that's part of the gag.) 

As for the fonts used on this image, they're part of the great range available from Comicraft

Who ate all the pies?

One of the enjoyable things about doing a Beano strip is that all the characters live in Beanotown so they can wander into each other's stories. This week, Fatty from Bash Street and Dennis' pal Pie Face guest star in my Rasher mini-strip. 

See what happens in The Beano, on sale today! 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Referencing yesterday for tomorrow

It's often useful for artists to have some reference, and Googling on the Internet is a great boon in quickly finding out what a certain prop looks like. However, sometimes it's good to reference things the old fashioned way in print. And what better way to research classic Beano characters than to dig out my old Beano comics? Good job I kept them, eh? There's mixed emotions of having the Beanos I had as a child beside me as I draw a strip for a Beano of the future, but I hope the young readers of today are as happy as I was back then. Who am I drawing? Well it's no one you can see in this photograph, but they do appear inside some of these issues. 

Anyway, enough blogging. Time I got back to work... 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Unseen Horrors

Here's a page of rough sketches I've found that I did a couple of years ago. Just experimenting a bit with some comic horror characters for my own amusement. I didn't develop it any further but perhaps I will one day. It's been a long time since I did some humour-horror stuff so it'd make a change of pace. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

A comic for a quid? Yes indeed!

If you're one of the people who hasn't subscribed to Aces Weekly yet, this image of Combat Colin flashing his pins might not be a great incentive BUT you'll be missing out on a great digital anthology comic featuring some of the world's top creators. I'm talking about people such as David Lloyd, Herb Trimpe, David Hitchcock, John McCrea.... ok, enough waffle from me, zoom over to the Aces Weekly website where you can see for yourselves. At just £6.99 per seven-issue volume it's only a pound an issue! All-new comic strips every week exclusive to Aces Weekly!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Rasher rushes in

Here's a quick preview of a panel from this week's Rasher mini-strip in The Beano. I've been commissioned for a few more of these strips so it'll be running for another couple of months yet. They have several to use in stock, and I'm currently doing seven more. Plus the other mini-strip that's still a secret. More news soon!

Ro-Butts on the rampage!

There's a new issue of Toxic out today and amongst the features and posters you'll find a brand new Team Toxic 2-pager by me. Butt Face is back, and he's created Ro-Butts to menace Spud City! Can Team Toxic deafeat this cheeky new threat and put it all behind them? Find out in Toxic No.234, out now from newsagents and supermarkets for £2.99.