Saturday, 23 April 2011

Comics: Quit being bland, please

This superb blog post over at Comic Book Resources tackles the issue of mainstream comics taking few chances in terms of artwork, layout and colouring right now.

It’s something that I have noticed whilst browsing the racks at my local comics emporiums (Hello there Forbidden Planet Nottingham, Page 45 and Mondo Comico!) and also during the nine years I spent selling comics at Starstore and The Last Picture Show (both stores now sadly gone). The comics from larger publishers, well, ok, from the big two, marvel and DC, have become increasingly safe with their look (even as the stories themselves continue to improve and develop), and it’s quite sad to see.

I must agree wholeheartedly with the above mentioned post’s sentiments- it couldn’t hurt to let some very different artists go berserk on mainstream titles could it? The post uses the original run of the New Mutants as an example, but I would add to it the work of David Mack, Simon Bisley, Dermot Power and suchlike in the ranks of artists that have made it with very distinctive styles.

What I suggest is that mainstream publishers start looking towards titles such as the UK’s long-running 2000AD, or indeed the adult themed anthology title Heavy Metal. Look at those art styles- all equally striking and perfectly understandable, but without the unspoken constraints that the industry seems to have applied to itself. Where is the new Alex Ross? The new Humberto Ramos? Hell, where’s the new Rob Liefield? Come on comics, sort yourselves out. Give Ben Templesmith and Paul J Holden as much work as possible. Take some chances.

My own suggestion would be that every publisher out there employs a certain Mr Richard Woollatt immediately. Below is the cover of my new book, which Mr. Woollatt painted. There’s your new star.

Friday, 22 April 2011

THOR: I don’t care he’s from Summer Bay

My girlfriend, the wit-machine that she is (no really, she gets paid for being witty in the press), just can’t resist telling me at every opportunity that Chris Hemsworth, aka the lead in the new Marvel movie adaptation of THOR, was in Home and Away.

As I typed that, my lady was looking over my shoulder and started singing the Home and away theme tune. Now, while my patience is being tried on a regular basis with her nails-on-a-blackboard singing voice, I thought I should pop on here and tell you dear Thor, Asgardian, God of Thunder and all that, that I don’t mind you came from Summer Bay.

No, seriously. I just find it incredibly surreal that one of the most legendary comics characters is being played by a former ‘star’ of daytime soap opera hell. I am going to have to see the film on my own, otherwise my girl will spend the whole running time of the flick leaning over and saying things like ‘You flamin’ great galah’ whenever Hemsworth is on screen.

Mind you, now I have a mental image of the Home and away opening titles, completely redone on Asgard, with Anthony Hopkins as Odin, wandering along a beach while Thor heads out on a surfboard before heading to the diner for a milkshake with Alf. Blimey, this heat is getting to me.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Robin Hood: Rise of a Rebel Exhibition Now Open!

(Photo taken by Chris Dowson)

The new Robin Hood exhibition at the Galleries of Justice Museum here in nottingham is now open to the public! Featuring illustrations drawn by me and coloured digitally by Dowson Creative, the exhibition was creative in conjunction wwith Nottingham Trent University and the museum themselves, and takes up two fantastic rooms. It's free to check out, so please do pop along!

The opening night for the exhibition was a wonderful experience. Myself, my lady, Chris of Dowson Creative and colleagues from my dayjob went along and met local dignitaries, museum staff and some of the students responsible for putting the project together. As well as speeches, food and networking, we were given a tour of the new exhibition too, which was lovely. Seeing my work in the context of the museum, and knowing it will be seen by thousands of people, blew my mind.

Featuring a fascinating timeline around the rooms, full-size stocks, a dress-up section, a height chart, a huge real bow and arrows, an animal themed section and more, it provides an interesting experience for families to check out. Even if I hadn't drawn the images for the exhibition, I'd be excited about seeing it.

So thanks to everyone involved with the project and everyone we met at the launch night- good luck with it!

Full details and directions are available at the Galleries of Justice Museum website!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

OPENING THIS MONTH! ROBIN HOOD: RISE OF A REBEL

ROBIN HOOD: RISE OF A REBEL is the title of the new exhibition at the Galleries of Justice Museum here in Nottingham, for which I was commisioned to create a series of character portraits (and more) of the legendary Robin Hood, his merry men (and lady), and the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham.

Featuring artwork drawn by myself and coloured by Dowson Creative, the pieces help to tell the story of this most famous of outlaws on his home turf. Created in conjunction with Nottingham Trent University and the famous Galleries of Justice Museum itself, this is a major new exhibition for the museum and both myself and Mr. Dowson are honoured to have been
asked to create materials for it.

It was a blast drawing those iconic characters and I'm really looking forward to opening night! The exhibition launches on April 14th! Huge thanks to the museum for their help during this project and my partner in crime Chris Dowson for such amazing colour work. It's the launch party next week, and I'll keep you posted with what goes on!

Click here for the museum's page about the new exhibition!

(teaser images taken from the actual exhibition- reproduced with the kind permission of the Galleries of Justice Museum. You'll be able to see the full versions soon!)

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Coming Up On The Big 4-0. Issues, that is...

In a few short months, I'll be hitting 40 issues as part of the Powerplay Rock and Metal Magazine gang, and I'm still enjoying it just as much as when I was first offered the gig. It's a huge amount of fun, even when deadlines loom, to be able to talk about new music for our readers to check out.

I still find it a little daunting when interviewing rock stars old and new, but the knowledge that I get to be a part of a truly all-encompassing rock mag always sets me at ease.

Attending shows for the magazine is always a good experience, as being in the same place as like-minded people never fails to inspire me.

One of my favourite moments as a writer for Powerplay Rock and Metal Magazine thus far was during FireFest at Nottingham Rock City last October, when I was lucky enough to meet a number of our readers face to face, including people from as far away as Australia.

That really brought it home just how far the words we write go. Similarly it is always flattering when a review is quoted on a band's website, be it positive or negative. It's been a wonderful experience working for the magazine thus far, and I intend to continue doing so for a long time to come. I just wanted to say thanks to our readers and to the editorial staff for the brilliant opportunity to write for a magazine that I would be an avid reader of for life anyway.