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THE END [Feb. 24th, 2012|12:01 am]
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Badly-drawn Lee skips away from LiveJournal

This blog is continuing here:

Lee O'Connor's Blog

Snappy title, eh? The lights are still staying on here though. Why, I'm not sure, because the archives are up at the new blog too. LiveJournal was out of date even when I started on here back in 2006, but I liked it because there seemed to be a fairly vibrant community of comic sorts holding out with it. Over the years it was clear that Blogger, Wordpress and then Tumblr were the viable alternatives, but I still had a soft-spot for LiveJournal. Erm, that and staying on here didn't require any extra effort whatsoever. I think LJ was the first actual 'blogging' site I ever saw - evarr - while I was casting about in an aimless anime fan post-teenager experience in years gone by. I got a decent, pixel-based, plain HTML text layout too, there's something comforting about that. What was even more comforting was that you couldn't really break it, no matter what size of image you gave to it. Huzzah!

So there's still a few... People left on LJ, and I flippin' love them for that, but having to pay for the privilege of being on an outmoded service is a bit much, I reckon.

I would have jumped trend-ship for Tumblr, but you can't really import an existing blog on there - although I've seen it done, it requires code-fu which I don't have - so that put me off a bit. I hope sparkly, user-friendly Wordpress can weather the storm and stay around until Tumblr drops out of fashion and we all end up blogging on Twitter with the same TV show hashtag, flooding the world with inanity inbewteen flinging our own poo around, and pausing occasionally to eat each other.

That said, I'm in no position to pass judgement on anything, let alone The New Thing, when LJ was the original inane-content provider thanks to disaffected adolescents and the mind-blowing new technology of online journals back in the space year 2000.

So thanks LJ, it's been fun.

Here's The New Thing.

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Ex-Con Sketch-On [Feb. 20th, 2012|09:58 pm]
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Got back from the Exeter Comic Expo yesterday, the happiest little comic convention you ever did see. Not only was the day a resounding social success, thanks to Henry Flint we even found what seems to be Exeter's best curry house..! But back to the matter at hand, I actually remembered to take photos of all the sketches I did...

FLCL / Furi Kuri

Haruko, Mamimi and Naota from Gainax' incredible animation series Furi Kuri / FLCL, whatever you want to call it. I don't think I ever got around to shouting about how great it is in this blog, but I'll remedy that now: It's truly fantastic. Watch it. It will improve your life and the lives of the people around you.


Everyday Spiderman

Everyday Spiderman

A thread seemed to develop here, it started off with me drawing Spiderman for somebody and deciding the pencils weren't glossy enough to render him as shiny-plastic-heroic-Spidering-man, so I inked him as someone in a bad Spiderman costume, a bit like those old films. Then it become lack-lustre Spiders-Man on his lunchbreak in the park. That Spiders-Man!

Jonah Hex

A wobbly Jonah Hex, because I was far too busy reeling from being told all about the fact that a Jonah Hex film exists now, and shouting about how people should read French cowboy Blueberry comics.

A pencil portrait of a particular punter. I've had to fiddle with the levels in this a bit to get the H pencil marks to show up. It's nice to get in a bit of observational drawing amongst the super-duper flights of fancy. Note the bit of kitchen to wipe the barrel of my over-zealous Rotring Artpen, which is so keen to work well it just seeps out ink out all the time...


Goblins! In the future! Because I drew some historical goblins for someone last year!

Space Babe 113

John Maybury, creator of UK small press title Space Babe 113 was about, so I had a good look at his Space Babe T-Shirt and drew this for him, almost in the fluid Space Babe style.

Pedro from Evil Star Graphic Novel

And finally, Pedro from Evil Star. I drew this on out slowly in the brief lulls between other sketches, conversation and whatnot, dripping with concentration, trying to get the hang on his Poncho right. He's looking a bit miffed. About what, I wonder? Possibly that I didn't have room to draw his feet, or possibly because his entire world's about to be shattered by ten-thousand year old revelations. We shall see.
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Jeff Noon's Microspores [Feb. 13th, 2012|10:48 pm]
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Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I got in touch with one of my heroes, the man like Jeff Noon. I'll blog about what we got talking about first later on, but in the short term Jeff invited me to contribute to what ended up becoming his 'Microspores' project. As the fellow who'd probably been helping out Noonism on the web for a good few years by having his old Vurt Comic Remix hanging about online, I thought it was only right I got involved.

Jeff's been writing 'micro-fictions' on his Twitter - little blips of writing that only last for one hundred and forty characters at the most. A collection of them is going to be published as an ebook at some point, and meanwhile a group of them are being used as the basis of a communal multi-discpline art project: 'Microspores'.

So here are the handful out of the fifty plus that I thought I'd add something to...

Imagined Pixelation Syndrome: believing that your face is fragmenting into tiny squares, and that people can no longer recognise you.

Jeff Noon Microspores

I was drawn to this one because there's a story in Jeff's Pixel Juice collection along a similar line, about people's faces being disguised for broadcast on television.

The building grows itself over time from biomorphic materials. It has one secret: a room without doors or windows where a woman sleeps, dreaming of a house that grows around her.

Jeff Noon - Microspores

Michael Jackson wakes to find his lonely soul trapped inside Celebrity Ghost War 4. Marilyn Monroe strides towards him, screaming, machete in hand. She spits blood.

Jeff Noon - Microspores

My god, looking at Michael Jackson to reference this drawing was a terrifying experience.


And while I'm on, I'll be at the Exeter Comic Expo on Sunday the 19th of February. The con's part of the annual city-wide animation festival, Animated Exeter.

Exeter Comic Expo

Also in attendance will be cheeky South-Western chappies Dom Reardon, Jock, Henry Flint, Lee Garbett, John Spelling, Rob Williams and Ron Tiner to name but a few!
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Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #6: Keep Moving [Jan. 27th, 2012|12:09 am]
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Travel becomes a theme in Evil Star, Gwenda's got a ticket to ride in a flipping huge petrol tanker (I had a bit of a nightmare referencing that, but it came good in the end.) Matt seems somewhat shocked by something...

Evil Star

There's a killer scene I'm skipping over here that I don't really want to show here because I'll spoil it. Afterwards...

Evil Star

Richard and Matt have a chat on the train on the way to somewhere. I'd just been looking at a lot of Sergio Toppi's work before I drew these, so I was buzzing with layout ideas. When they arrive, the get out and stretch their legs a bit.
The nice thing about this series is that it gives me chance to draw very British things that I and most of the readers over here are familiar with, like the train thundering along the top of the page. The lobby is referenced from the lobby of a hotel in Bristol I've stayed at a few times, when I've been attending the comic convention there.
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DEATHSCAAAAPE [Jan. 20th, 2012|11:48 am]

I was on a mini road trip with my pal Morgoth recently, and we ended up inventing an entirely new franchise. DEATHSCAPE is the name of the post-apocalypse wasteland in the back of Morgoth's van where the rag-tag survivors of car accidents pull together to survive in the cybernetically-enhanced ruined future!

So I made Morgoth this little rear-view mirror ornament to remind him of the promised future as he goes around collecting victims from the burning wreckage littering the highway of destruction.

And as I saw when I was a'zoomed-in with Photoshop, all the imperfections and cut-marks in the bit of mount board this is made from look interesting up close.

Keep checking your rear-view mirror, road-users...
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Evil Star Graphic Novel Workings #5: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner [Dec. 30th, 2011|05:57 pm]
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...A woman who claims she can talk to ghosts, and a Peruvian academic! Yes, once Matt gets back from school it's a big night in at big-brother figure Richard Cole's flat in 'The Shambles' in York. (Exactly the kind of street-level detail that makes this series of books sing.)

Evil Star Graphic Novel workings 5

Here, unexpected guests drop in and offer information on potential forthcoming adventure!

Evil Star Graphic Novel workings 5

The squashed-up grid page of reference-heavy work is supposed to be a news item on television. For the grey-line frame of the flamboyant fellow in the hat, I'm going to create an engraving style frame based on old paintings of Francisco Pizarro. At the top of that block, there's a bit of straight-up photo-ref, it's a photograph of my ol' PS2 console's disc tray and my non-drawin' mitt, standing in for Mr. Fabian putting a DVD on for the rest of the characters in the scene to watch.
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Happy Holidays 2011 [Dec. 13th, 2011|11:24 am]

Highly Questionable Santa 2011

Hope you had a good 2011, and that 2012 will be even better.

Happy holidays, everyone!

And could this be the end for Highly Questionable Santa..?

(As if you need reminding, once again the reference folder for this bit of art is a truly horrible place.)

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High Fantasy [Dec. 3rd, 2011|02:18 pm]
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Bill Eaton, the Gamesmaster (no not that kind silly), of our role-playing game group - referred to as 'Geek Club' by all and sundry - has been slaving away over a hot Obsidian Portal 'campaign wiki' (will webby wonders never cease? I remember attempting to affect a similar thing a few years ago by trying to get the Wikipedia engine running on my web domain, to track all of the characters, locations and evidence in the Call of Cthulhu RPG 'Masks of Nyarlathotep' campaign.) In the face of such community-spirited narrative-bolstering, I just had to do my thing and add a bit of art to the general flurry of activity.

Talak the male Tiefling Bard from Dungeons and Dragons

So this is me at Geek Club. I'm a member of a race called the Tieflings, and get your spare change out, because I'm a Bard. You've got to love a bard.

I came to paper-and-pencil, 'table-top' role-playing games as an adult. I'd spent much of my teenage years doing all kinds of reprehensible nerdy things, but never role-playing proper. Which is a shame, because it might have actually given me some much-needed social skills. But back to the present, Geek Club has played 'WHFRP', Dark Heresy, Cyberpunk 2020, Savage Worlds: Pirates of the Spanish Main and (probably my favourite) Call of Cthulhu. It's now that we're finally truly living up to our name and having a go at most Geeks' proto-game of choice, one 'Dungeons and Dragons'.
Now, 'D&D' is big thing. It introduced roleplaying games to the world, and it was what most people cut their teeth on at an impressionable age.

Not me though, I never had anything to do with it.

So the more I look into it, the more I'm stunned at how much of a... Lifestyle choice it seems to be. It's a true multi-media global franchise. With games, board-games, card games, miniature games, novels, merchandise, video games, apps, and even a feature film. And as I put up this coloured sketch, I realise everybody else on the interweb knows the same badly-kept-secret nerd handshake and has been drawing their and their friends' characters too. Which is an interesting kind of collective - and yet personal - fantasy, now I come to think of it...

So here's a link to Bill's wiki, any embarrassment I might suffer in people reading the earnest character fluff I put up on there is over-ridden by just how very good Bill's adventure log of our half-arsed fantasy doings is.
If you're after another good Obsidian Portal site, have a look at the lovely Kieron Gillen and Quins from Shut Up and Sit Down's wiki for their WHFRP campaign, the magnificently-titled 'Brash Young Fools'.
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Evil Star Workings #4: Matt Freeman's Schooldays [Nov. 23rd, 2011|07:32 pm]
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After the supernatural hullabaloo of Raven's Gate, main character Matt's shadowy group of new benefactors - 'The Nexus' - arrange for him to attend a new, exclusive, private school. This being the world of Power of Five though, things are never plain sailing.

Evil Star Graphic Novel

After saving the world from ancient demons, Matt has to deal with trying to fit in and lippy kids wanting to bully him. Ahh, the joys the secondary school.

Evil Star Graphic Novel

I even had fun designing what the story picks out to be a tawdry, modern chandelier in the school's canteen. Can you guess what generally happens to fragile-looking things made out of glass in comics..? Yep. That.
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The Strange Talent of Luther Strode [Nov. 5th, 2011|06:49 pm]
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Toply-talented art pal Felipe Sobreiro got in touch last month, he was casting about his little black book of artists and asking them if they wanted to do a pin-up for the Image Comics series he's colouring. I did! The Strange Talent of Luther Strode is a body horror mini-series written by Justin Jordan and pencilled and inked by Tradd Moore.

The Strange Talent of Luther Strode

No it's not a blonde version of me. It felt like it had been ages since I'd done some colour work so I wanted to colour the piece myself. I've been noodling about in the monochrome world of the Evil Star pencils for a long old time, so it was time to crowbar open the boarded-up doorway to Colour Theory in my brains again. I set about throwing down some incredibly over-saturated, positively lurid colours without further ado. Jaundiced yellow! Overbearing forest green! Putrid electric pink! This is living! Thank criminy that an alarm doesn't sound in Photoshop when it doesn't like the colour choices you're making...

Here's the inks as they hit the unforgiving flatbed of the scanner.

And finally some of the roughs and sketches I jotted down before embarking on the board for the pencils and inks.

Here's a photo that Felipe sent through of the piece in print! It's in Issue #2 of the series. If it's not in your friendly local comic shop, you can buy it online from Image Comics here.
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Evil Star Workings #3: At Home with Richard and Matt [Oct. 22nd, 2011|08:47 pm]
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After having the most strange of vivid, portentous dreams, it's time to have some good hearty breakfast. Matt - the main character of The Power of Five - lives with his big brother figure / guardian Richard, one of my favourite characters in the series. Anthony Horowitz (who's writing The New Sherlock Holmes books, chappy) wastes no adjectives in describing him as a lackadaisical, unkempt, crumpled, untidy twenty-something. His flat is a mess and there's nothing anything in the cupboards to eat. Even if you've just experienced a coded visual flash-forward of the events that are going to happen in the book.

Evil Star Graphic Novel pencils

I did some pretty heavy photo-reffing of myself in relevant bits of clothing for the figures in this scene. I was trying my best to measure up to Dom's work on Raven's Gate, and probably slightly self-conscious at drawing the book's main characters for the first time...

Evil Star Graphic Novel pencils

Next: Why Matt looks like a mini-businessman in this scene...
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Stripping for Friends [Oct. 13th, 2011|01:28 pm]
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Here's some pages from the birthday comic I gave to my pal and "heterosexual life friend" Rupert Morrison recently, since landmark birthdays deserve decent presents... Caution: In-jokes years in the making, personal histories and the fact I was half making this up as I went along conspire to make this mostly impenetrable to anybody but its original recepient.



Of course this is just a cheeky glimpse for everybody else, there's a colour cover, an extra page and the dedication in the actual art object itself, but unfortunately you're not the dude in question, so ya nae privileged enough tae see it, man!
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Evil Star Workings #2: At Home with Gwenda and Brian [Sep. 29th, 2011|06:22 pm]
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In Evil Star, a character who was more-or-less a cameo in Raven's Gate reappears - Gwenda - the main character Matt's aunt and foster-mum. Things aren't going too well for her and her husband Brian though, and she ends up becoming somewhat twisted supporting character.

Evil Star Workings

Gwenda's domestic situation's gone downhill a bit...

Evil Star Workings

But she's made a new friend... He might be 'a bad-un' though. Never mind how he comes around to visit. As always, I'm trying to sidestep the SPOILARZ in all the little reveals that you get to see when you read the book...
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Sketch-Face-Book [Sep. 15th, 2011|06:55 pm]
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As I've alluded to before, whenever I'm out and about, I usually have a messenger bag slung across my back with a hardback, A4, usually Daler Rowney sketchbook in it. Depending on who I'm talking to, it's either called 'The Travelling Sketchbook' or 'The Pub Sketchbook', since if I ever find myself out and about at a lose end without a comic script to thumbnail up, I'll open it up and draw whoever's around me - and if there's no people about - then whatever's around me.

It's all down to a fellow called Ron Tiner, a veteran illustrator who I was lucky enough to be tutored by at the comic-drawing-college-for-cool-kids 'Sequential Illustration' course at Swindon College, at that point the only course of its time in the country. Apart from being One Of Us, Ron's also responsible for one of the best figure-drawing books around, 'Figure Drawing Without a Model', and also its follow-up, 'Drawing From Your Imagination'.
One thing you might not know is that when Dave McKean was working on the art for the famous Arkham Asylum Graphic Novel, he used Ron as the visual model for the character of Amadeus Arkham, the founder of a sanatarium who ends up going insane himself.

Anyway, I owe Ron a lot for shoving me as hard as possible down the pathway to becoming a 'professional', and if everything he taught could be rudely boiled down to just one sentence, it would be, "Draw from Life."
An artist uses - and trades on - their visual memory, and if there's nothing in it apart from a few stylistic ticks, then you're buggered. You won't be drawing anything worthwhile or telling any good stories with that. Drawing human figures and faces is one of the hardest things you can do, not only to comprehend what you need to do yourself as the artist, but your work must also to pass the test of being viewed by other people - human beings - whose human empathy towards other humans needs to be triggered by your scribbles.

So yes, there you are sitting in the pub, waiting for some of your friends to turn up, you're at a bit of a loose end, so it's time to top up the visual memory. So off you go.

Since Facebook's still with us, I thought I'd try and use it as a force for good(hah!), scan these sketchbook pages and put them up with the people in them 'tagged' (as the young people of today say) to serve as an alternative to all the cameraphone shots.

The Facebook album with all the scans in to look at is right here.
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Evil Star Workings #1 [Aug. 25th, 2011|07:39 pm]
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I said I'd lob up some workings from the Evil Star Graphic Novel, so here we go. The plan is to make a regular series out of these: all the interesting pencils, layouts, thumbnails and scribbles on the script that never see print.

Evil Star

Starting at the beginning, this is some detail from the pencils - well, I'm calling them pencils, most comicy people would probably call them 'breakdowns' - for lowly page two of the one hundred and seventy or so in the book. We open up the top of a tall mountain in the wilds of Peru, with an 'Amauta' wise man making predictions on the future for the story and the characters. I seemed to remember the scribbles being tighter than this, but don't worry, they'll get better as they go on.

Evil Star

You've got to love an old wise man. I had a look at some photos of elderly Peruvians and the place takes a toll on their skin - the ones who live in the mountains above the clouds (or so it looked) have nothing to keep the harsh sun or howling winds off them, so they end up with wrinkles on top of wrinkles on their faces. This old salt was drawn first by Dom Reardon in Raven's Gate, thankfully in a deliberately mysterious way, so I could come in later and construct him fully, going by the ideas that he was old, had a poncho, a stick, and a hat with ear flaps. I must find out the proper name for those, since the book's full of them...

More soon...
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The Shadow Knows [Aug. 8th, 2011|11:29 pm]
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A quick scan of a commission of the pulp hero The Shadow for the collector-alpha Alan Henderson, whose formidable monograph collection of convention sketches and commissions of the hook-nosed pulpster has an online mirror here.

The Shadow

As the click-happy will see, Alan has a raft of Shadows from true luminaries of the comic industry, and I was desperately trying to make a piece for him that would hopefully in some way stand out amidst all the others in concept, if not in steely pencilling/inking execution. Shapes are fun you know. They're what human vision and the best works of art are based on.

I first met Mistah Henderson at the Bristol con back in May. where I did this for him on the fly while I was signing and sketching:

And that led to me having a crack at The Shad' on a bigger field and with more time on my hands. Here's a scan of sketchbook page with shapes jostling about all-over, as I tried to wrestle the formula down:

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When I'm Drawin' (On) Winders [Aug. 3rd, 2011|03:12 pm]

My brushes with public art continue in a most pleasant fashion, it beats sitting at home at the desk anyway. There's sunlight and people and everything. Another window for The Drift Record Shop, this one is all about the Mercury Music Prize, an annual musical talking point and media circus over here in the UK. Twelve differing musical artistes' albums are nominated, then a month or two later a shadowy conclave of secret masters with unknowable motives decide that one of the offerings is - in actual fact - the Record of the Year.

Those with a special interest in squinting will be interested to know that the artistes represented are:

(Top Row, left to right) Tinie Tempah (who might be about to Pass Out, and is alright and all, but needs Labrinth producing him to make it sparkle, guv), Katy B (who had a single I really liked h'actually), James Blake, 'Fence' collective founder King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, Adele, and Gwylim Simcock the token classicist/instrumentalist.

(Bottom Row, left to right) A slightly harsh rendering of Elbow's Guy Garvey who hosts a show on BBC 6music, looking a bit like he's building a rocket, the fox from the front of the Everything Everything album (whose 'Photoshop Handsome' is essential listening for artworkers everywhere), 'local lad' Joe Mount from Metronomy (who was in the extended gang of kewl kids I hung out with at lunchtime at school), the bit-Earth-Mothery-recently PJ Harvey, Ghost Poet eating a Peanut Butter and Melancholy Jam sandwich, and the intensely smouldering Anna Calvi.

There are a couple more photos - including a handy tweaked one so you can see the drawing more easily - over here on the Drift Blog.

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The Third City of Abacus [Jul. 19th, 2011|04:56 pm]

Here are some of the twenty, digest-sized pages of The City of Abacus Volume 3 art I did while a while back, written by VV Brown and David Allain....

Volume 3 is going to be published in the 7-volume-encompassing City of Abacus collection at some point in the future, with the art on parts 4-7 by John Spelling. I got to draw the cave made out of liquid metal, and in return John got to be the guy who drew an army of monkeys. Lucky!
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Favoured Media [Jun. 22nd, 2011|12:54 am]
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Another Drift Record Shop window I drew on in Totnes High Street down here in Devon. I think this one's the best so far:

There's some more lovely photos in a smooth-as slideshow here, on the Drift Record Shop Blog.

And then I went and did some live drawing in the background of The Drift Record Shop Radio Hour on SoundArt Radio, broadcasting on FM and world-wide on the interwebs. In terms of audio I'm mostly the guy sniggering off-mic, making it all sound like student radio, but I did manage to shoe-horn in a bit Art History (well, sort-of) among some other nonsense...

The sketches (and there's quite a few of them) were all put up live as I drew them via Tumblr, and now the show itself is also up on the online archive, so you can view and listen all at once. The hour of drawing absolutely flew by. I got to hear some great records, and I've got to say that the Drift radio venture is fast becoming my go-to place for good new music over mainstream radio or online snark-blogs. I love radio, I love good music, and I love drawing. Yew do da math(s).

That's one of my sketchbooks that are with me at all times when I'm out and about, in a messenger bag at my side, in that photo. They're full of observational drawings like these. I've been meaning to put up scans of them, and I will at some point in the future.

There's also a page of pencils from the Evil Star Graphic Novel hiding in that photo up there...

Elsewhere on SoundArt and podcasts, my Call of Cthulhu RPG 'Keeper', Bill Eaton presents 'SoundArt Stories', a great programme on short fiction, with great stories to listen to and bits of writing shop-talk. The show has its own blog and online show archive, so have a listen.

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Gangsters and Songbirds [May. 29th, 2011|05:46 pm]
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Quick scan I took of a birthday card for the lovely Dom Reardon, before I ran out the door to go to the pub with him and hand over his present of some quality meat products. Dom's currently drawing the second series of the 'Ichabod Azrael' strip for 2000AD, set by writer Rob Williams in 1920's Gangster-ridden Chicago. Hence Pin-Stripiness!

Panel Borders

And once again, while I'm on, I'm on another Panel Borders podcast, recorded at the Bristol Comic Expo, talking about the Sioux Warrior musical comic. You can Listen to that here.
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