May 6th, 2011

our new book!!

The SECRET IS OUT! It's a great moment when the finest talents in British comics come together and creative sparks fly! We have a new book, launching in November!

The book's called Nelson, about the life of a character we collaboratively invented named Nel Baker. Each of us took a year and created a few pages of her life, set in that year. (I got 1973!) So it's Nel's life from 1968 to the present in 260 pages of gorgeous full-colour comics. It's the first time I've made a published comic that isn't only about kids or animals, it's real-life, grown-up stuff. But no less fun, for that.

Click the pic to enlarge, then click again

It was funny working with my friends as editors, Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix. (Here's Rob's blog post about it.) And my studio mates Ellen Lindner and Gary Northfield took the years just before me, so there was a lot of passing things round the room and Nelson-related banter. Woodrow did WHAT in 1969?! But I thought that was against the rules! Right, then I'm gonna do this.... Actually, the editors were really helpful, they sent me some period reference stuff to help me because, um, I don't remember 1973 in England very well. But I had a lot of fun pestering Gary, saying, could such-and-such have happened in 1973? And I did very useful research, such as watching Made in Dagenham.

One of my panels in Nelson. Sparks! Where will it go?

A fab comics publisher called Blank Slate is publishing it, and all the profits from the first edition will go a homelessness charity called Shelter. You'll recognise a lot of names you've read on my blog in recent years, including DFC chums Jamie Smart (you wouldn't believe HOW FAST he turned out his full-colour pages! Gary, Ellen and I went, wha....?! because he finished before we even started and they looked so fabulous), Simone Lia, Kate Brown, Dave Shelton, Garen Ewing, Faz Choudhury and... well, I could go on and on with the amazing line-up, but you can go read all about Nelson on Blank Slate's blog! (And thanks to illustrator Christopher Sharrock for flagging the new post!)

willow tree

Today's return to landscape sketching. Wow, I feel so out of practice drawing trees! (Click here for some earlier work for my landscape drawing project.) I've never drawn a willow tree for more than a few minutes (this took an hour) and I really don't like this picture. I was trying to capture the feeling of the droopy leaves and the rough bark, but I haven't figured out the best way to make marks that give a sense of what's in front of me without either going into too much detail or skipping over the important things.

Note to self: must keep practicing. That's the thing with drawing, it's almost all totally down to trying it over and over again and taking time to stop and look, not due to any sort of innate skill. I'll try to keep posting sketches, even the ones I don't like, just so you can see that even professional illustrators don't constantly turn out stuff they're pleased with. (Or if they do, it means they're not pushing themselves.) I know some people would advise me only to show you the polished stuff and hide the rest, so let me know if you like me showing you the scrappy bits. (*blush*)