Thursday, 4 September 2014

Dreaming Blog #1

I haven't updated in months now. I've meant to but I have genuinely been too busy.

However, I had some spare time this evening and the other night, I had a pretty weird dream! So i've decided that whenever I get a particularly bizarre dream and I remember it, I'll blog it too.

This one is odd but I have recently started rereading "The Sandman" by Neil Gaiman and the NATO summit is currently on in Cardiff, so maybe that explains it?

PLEASE NOTE!: IF the text is too small to read on your screen, you can save the image and magnify it later on! :)


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Some new stuff for 2014!

I won't waffle on and bore you with my current goings on, but here are some samples of some things I've been working on this year :)
Contact me through twitter, at Loki_dan@Hotmail.com or Baresark.artist@gmail.com 






Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Some preview posts of Scannon Vol 2 redesigns

Getting back in to it!

Here's a pic I sketched up last night that Kris Carter splashed some colour on to:


Here it is pre-colour:

and here it is at a much earlier stage:


goes to show what a good team Kris and I make.

and here are some more roughs from my sketchbook of some character redesigns in advance of volume 2:

Crysta Volume 2

Lou Volume 2

Vic Volume 2
Hope you guys like!
Laters.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

2014... Ever closer to the year of the Hoverboard

So we've reached the latter part of January and I'm finally getting around to doing my first blog post of the year.
Slow I know. But hey, going by past years, I've averaged more than one blog post a month! (Just...)

Things have been pretty fun for the start of the year on the art side. I have a couple of illustration gigs on at the moment. Tattooing is... on hold, frustratingly, while the shop is going through a refurb. My room looks somewhat like a bomb site. It's getting there though!

I was recently asked by comic letterer extraordinaire HdE if I would help him out on a project. Basically, he has a story idea that he wanted to get done in time to see print in a graphic novel that will be out at some point over the next few months. Unfortunately, his artist had bailed on him last minute. Which led to him asking me to help him out, last minute too. After all the work he's done for Lou Scannon on the last two issues, I was more than happy to help! It did mean getting ten pages of pencils and inks done by the end of January though. Photo finish, right?
A LOT of fun though. It's a style of story I can really sink my teeth in to - Fantasy.
Not just fantasy but classic, sterotypical fantasy. Barbarians, Dwarves, Babes and guys who look suspiciously like Gandalf!
As it stands right now, I have eight of the ten pages pencilled and inked. I have four of the pages gray shaded on the computer. HdE was happy to just have the pages inked but I thought they looked too bare. Unfortunately, the tight deadline doesn't allow for me to do a full colour job on it BUT I just about have time to get some grey shading done. I think it has enhanced the pages overall.

Pencils and Inks. No cleanup or computer shading
Post cleanup & pencil removal. Digitally shaded with greys.
I have to get everything done and shipped over to HdE in time for him to edit and letter the pages. I'm hopeful AND pretty confident that we can make the deadline. I seem to work well under pressure.
I'll update you all if it makes it into print. It's a funny short and definitely worth a looksee!
I wont say anything else about the graphic novel anthology it will be in yet as I don't know if I'm allowed to...

In other news, after the success of the Pencil Pirates prints we have had at the last few comic conventions, I decided to set up an etsy site for them. It's slow to start but the fact that we're getting sales at all, as well as favourited by folk and a fair few views, is really encouraging!
If you would like to check out our store, then head over to the Pencil Pirates on Etsy! You won't regret it and may even get a great idea for a gift!

I'm also opening myself up for commissions if you're interested! Been getting a lot more requests lately!
Obviously, I don't work for free though. If you're interested, tweet me or email me and we'll see what we can arrange! :)

I'll try get more regualar updates to follow but just in case you guys didn't know, there's a Cardiff Film and Comic Convention at the start of March. Team Scannon will obviously be there, so come say hi!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

REVIEW: Freelancer by Martin Kirby


At this past weekends Thought Bubble Convention (See my previous blog) I was able to pick up a couple of small press titles. Not as many as I would have liked, but that's what happens in the real world when you have no money, unfortunately!
"Freelancer" was one of the ones I was lucky enough to pick up. I say lucky because, I had gotten through most of the convention, it was after 16:00 on the Sunday and I thought I was done with buying things for the weekend. Prior to the con, I had made a list of all the small press titles I wanted to check out while I was at the con. Then, mere days before the con, I lost it. This comic was on that list simply because, utterly by chance, I had stumbled across Martins tumblr. I instantly fell in love with his style and adored his "Last of Us" drawing.
So it's late on the Sunday and I had completely forgotten about checking out Martins stall. Simply put, there was just too much going on at the con for anyone to successfully get everything they wanted without a prewritten list.
BUT
with about half hour of the con left to go for the year, my printer Stu of UKcomics fame, came up to my table and I asked to see his haul. Amidst the haul was "Freelancer" and I instantly knew it was one title I needed to pick up. Particularly after Stu let me have a flick through it. He told me exactly where to find Martin's table. I was at the Lou Scannon table on my own though so had to wait for Jim or Kris to come relieve me of my duties.
Jim and his sister soon arrived at the table so I double timed it over to the Royal Armouries hall, where Stu had told me I could get the comic.
Suffice to say, I got the comic and had a pleasant, short chat with Martin and it was pretty much literally before the con finished. I picked up a copy of his "Last of Us" print too. How could I not? It's epic. Just need a frame now...
Anyway, TO THE REVIEW!

I didn't get to read the comic until Tuesday, on a sick day from work (post-con lurgy strikes again).
I started reading it and really dug the art style. I did think it started a bit... Insanely? Sort of full on and over the top crazy but that's part of the genius of it- it's a dream sequence of sorts. Then when it gets to the stories "real world" it's grittier and somewhat more akin to the sort of thing folk expect from Whedons "Firefly".
It's a light and fun read. The comedy elements work well and the action scenes are nice.

A lot of the "aliens" in the comic are anthropomorphic versions of rather familiar animals  (I'm assuming they're aliens at the moment as opposed to being the next stage of Earths animal evolution but that could all be opened up more in later issues.). This works pretty well for me as I'm a big fan of the game "Beyond Good and Evil" and this reminded me a lot of that. Never a bad thing in my opinion. The character designs are nice and there's a good healthy mix of all the sci-fi things we've come to love and expect from the genre.
Sorry... My photography skills seem to have failed me here...
The main character is a girl called Elena. She sorta reminds me of a healthy mix of Tank Girl and Luke Skywalker. Tough, fun loving but wants more from life. She's a crewmember, not the Captain, on a ship of barely-getting-by folk who seem to participate in some... Not exactly legal activities. In this issue in particular, it's about the crew picking up an artifact from some less than savoury gangster types. As is the way in the world of comic books and cinema, things don't exactly go to plan. Elena has, what i'm assuming is the set up for her own personal sidekick, a robot buddy called Veetu and the pair end up in the middle of something they were specifically told to stay out of.

I'm not much of a reviewer, I know. I find it hard to not go in to detail because in doing so, I would be giving away major plot points. I thoroughly enjoyed this comic though. All the way through. One major difference between this comic and my own, is this comic is considerably more family friendly. It has violent bits, sure, but I would liken them to the violence in the animated film "Titan A.E" (Which despite a panning from the critics, I thoroughly enjoyed) and so therefore, is more accessible to all ages.
Great story, great art and I'm intrigued to see where Elena, Veetu and the crew go from here on. A nice first issue to break you in to the universe. You pick up bits of how the universe works but I'm looking forward to when that's explored in detail.
It's great to see more Sci-fi titles making their way out there now too and this comic is reminiscient of classic sci-fi in all the right ways.
I'd give this a big 8/10 as first issues go!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Thought Bubble 2013



The weekend just past saw this years annual Thought Bubble Sequential Art Festival (Posh way of saying "Comic Con") and for the third year running, Team Scannon was in attendance.
Jim and I headed up to Leeds early afternoon on the Friday (Kris followed in his own car later that day after he finished work) to make sure we had time to chill in our hotels before the start of the convention on the Saturday. Unfortunately, things didn't exactly go to plan, as there were severe roadworks on the M6 and we got stuck in traffic for so long, that we ended up hitting the rush hour traffic too. Eugh.
By the time we reached Leeds and checked in to our hotels, the last thing we wanted to do was just sit around more... (I was originally supposed to be sharing a bed with Jimbo, but thanks to my very generous friend @Sweena not being able to make the con, I was able to have her room. She's a star.).
We met up with Jim's sister, Katie, who just so happens to live in Leeds. She showed us car parking facilities and took us to the most amazing place to eat- Trinity Kitchen. Seriously, this place was awesome. They seemed to do every kind of food and I had some of the best pulled pork I have ever eaten.
I'd received a phonecall just before we got to Trinity Kitchen off Steve "Moon" Penfold who told us about a pre-con party going on in a nearby bar. So after food, we hooked up with him there for a bit. Jim and Katie took off earlier to get to sleep. Jim had driven for near on 6 hours and was wiped out. Penners and I stayed longer, debating the pros and cons of the superhero comic. Chatting about the best stories of recent years AND some of the worst until we both left to go to our own hotels.

Saturday morning came (As it does) and Jim and I got to the Allied London Hall by Royal Armouries shortly before Kris did and we set everything up. I thought the hall had promise but I was sceptical as it was around the corner from the other two halls that made up the rest of the convention AND it wasnt particularly well signposted. The hall was very cold, looked unfinished and in the early morning, looked foggy due to plaster dust falling from the ceiling and just... hovering about. It's ok kids- it's nontoxic. Apparently.
Now we had had to book in this hall as, for the first time ever, tables for the original two halls at TB sold out within two hours. Insanity... But it seemed to me that a lot of folk didn't really seem to know that the hall was there. As you can imagine, this made for very slow sales. VERY slow sales.
I kinda expected it to be honest. Leeds is always our worst convention for sales, but we love going and have a real laugh there, so we like going. Though Kris wasn't feeling it. Already ill with the flu, poor sales just contributed to him being a (self confessed) grouch for the whole weekend.
Jim and I on the other hand, had a helluva time! We thought it was a lot of fun.
Luckily though, Jim and I had done a series of prints under the Pencil Pirates banner that we put out on sale and these seemed to sell REALLY well. It's something I have noticed with Thought Bubble in previous years- there are a lot of stalls that almost seem to revolve around craft as opposed to comics. Prints fit in to this really well and seem to sell pretty damn well too.
Pencil Pirates prints by Bampfield and Harris
These prints aren't only limited to the convention though. We have some stock left, so if you're interested, contact me! £5 each, 2 for £8 or any 3 for £10.
One woman actually commented on how she loved the idea of the Pencil Pirates. She loved everything about it. The name, the logo. She thought it was a really clever idea. This was quite nice to hear.
Prior to the convention, I had been asked by G-man of the Comics Anonymous lot, to draw up a Lou Scannon Commission. I was more than happy to do so. He's enjoyed the comic and given us incredibly positive reviews. I ended up drawing what I think is one of the best pics of Lou I have ever done! I gave it to him on the Saturday at the convention. It was good to see him! I'm looking forward to seeing the photo his wife took of us all together! Should be funny!
Anyway, here's the pic I drew up for him!:

The Sunday was even slower than the Saturday. Which came as no surprise. Kris slumped further into his pit of despair. Which came as no surprise. Jim and I remained jovial. Which came as no... Wait... ok, It was a little surprising. Aren't I normally hungover at Thought Bubble? Ah, the joys of having given up drinking!
To pass the time, Jim and I did some sketching. Jim did a wonderful little drawing of BatFleck that is available for purchase if anyone is interested:

and while Jim was drawing up that bad boy, I started a piece in the style of some of my other prints. It's Daryl from Walking Dead. This is still available for purchase right now (Though I have had a few interested parties so it might not be available for long...) and can be yours for just £10 (plus £1.50 P&P)

With Sunday being even shitter on sales than the Saturday, it gave plenty of time to go wandering and taking in the other sights and delights that are small press. I'll write up a review blog for some of the titles I picked up over the weekend. I really lucked out and bought some incredible stuff.
There was only one thing that sullied my experience in small press that day. There's a small press title that I have followed from its first issue. I decided at the con to pick up the latest issue as I actually did really enjoy the earlier ones. As I picked up a copy and approached its creator, he was in the middle of dancing with an illustration partner of his. Fine, I have no problem with that! People are there to have fun, so I love seeing this sort of thing going on behind the tables. To a punter, this could make you seem more approachable than if you're sat there looking miserable with your arms folded. What I didn't like, was what happened next.
The comics creator turned and saw me, laughed and walked over to me. Again, this is all fine but then he said "Oh, sorry about that. It's a publisher thing. You wouldn't understand."
"You wouldn't understand"??
I'll spare you the expletives that ran through my head immediately after he said that. If I hadn't already bought the first comics in the series, I would have put down the latest issue and said "No thanks mate, you just lot yourself a sale there."
Now this creator has met me a couple of times. Chatted with me. Sat next to me at another con!! But I don't mind that he didn't recognise me. I've changed my beard a few times, it's been a while etc etc. So him not knowing who I am, I couldnt care less about.
I DO take exception to the "You wouldn't understand" though. If you don't know who I am, you certainly don't know if I'm a publisher or not. I could have worked for Image. Or I could have just had an extensive knowledge of how print works. The arrogance of it astounded me. He's a self publisher. He has a couple of titles out but not so many as to make people even think of him as any different a publisher as the rest of us self publishers. Get down off your high horse chuckles. This isn't some exclusive world to which you are privy that the rest of us are not. It just made him come across as a jumped up, self important, Hipster dick.
That said though, folk often say things without thinking. It just struck me as rude. Particularly at a festival where the small press is king.
So all in all, with that aside, I had a great time. Unfortunately, I got home only to realise I had caught Kris' dreaded con lurgy and I spent all day Tuesday in bed, feeling sorry for myself and playing GTA V.
As a final note, there's one thing I want to mention that I have noticed now from doing the con circuit. Autographs. Signatures. However you refer to them. Buying small press titles, I have noticed that a lot of the time, the comics creator will ask you if you want the comic signed. Now personally, I think this is wrong as it puts you, as the punter, in the position where you feel obligated to say "Yes". I think that it should be in the domain of the punter to ask for one rather than be asked if he wants one. Some people may genuinely want their comics unmarked but don't like to say "no" to signatures. Some might just think "It's small press. Enjoyable but no need to get it signed". Whatever the thinking, I think it should be up to the customer to ask for a signature if they want one rather than feeling pressured into having one. We on Team Scannon don't offer them to people. We get asked a lot to sign them though. This is cooler and feels less like you're putting it on the punter to have it signed. So please, please, please guys, wait to be asked for your signature. Don't offer! Just my own personal opinion. If you want to know more of my reasoning, or have an argument against my logic, please feel free to comment and let me know! Or message me on Twitter or something.

So despite poor sales, I will definitely want to attend Thought Bubble 2014. Hopefully we can get back into the New Dock hall then and better sales will follow. If not, maybe more folk will be aware of the third hall. Either way, at least Jim and I will be in attendance! Even if Kris hasn't got out of his funk and decides not to go...

Anyway, there will be a couple of review blogs to follow. For now, toodle pip!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Why I dont read Superhero comics anymore. And hate Superman.

Ok, maybe "hate" is a strong word. "Hate reading" should probably be the correct wording but it sounds less... punchy.
A twitter conversation I had yesterday with the Sidekicks, about Batman, got me to thinking about the comics I read these days. One of the guys involved in the conversation said he believes that everybody has one good Batman story in them. We gave hints of what our stories would be without giving too much away. But it made me think- I haven't really read a Batman story in years. I think the last one was the Neil Gaiman story which I read in graph form back in 2010. As much as I love Gaiman, I didn't love the story.
Thinking on this though, I realised that I didn't read ANY superhero comics anymore. I mean, I technically don't read ANY comics anymore (Except Small Press) as I don't have the space... but I still read graphic novels. Just not superhero ones.
From the big companies, the main things I have been reading in recent years are:
House of mystery
The Unwritten
The Goon
The Boys
Hellboy
Chew
The Underwater Welder
There are more of course but all along the same sort of lines- nonsuperhero.
All my life I have been a massive Green Lantern fan but I haven't even been a regular reader of that since just before the "Blackest Night" storyline. I couldn't get into that, though I do own them in comic form. The whole "Rainbow Corps" was just a bit much for me. It got somewhat ridiculous. Now i'm not saying they were poorly written or bad stories! Just that it was all a bit too "Oh c'mon, an orange corps? Gimme a break".
When I was working for Forbidden Planet International, in their Cardiff store (2001-2005), I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. It wasn't required, but it certainly did help. Plus, I liked discovering new things. Prior to working there, I had been reading a lot of Top Cow stuff. "Witchblade", "Fathom", "Darkness" and so on and so on. When I started working there though, the other staff members put me on to a lot of other things too. I got in to Jeff Smith's "Bone" and still think to this day that it is one of the best comic books of all time.
As I got to reading more and more, I read Superhero stuff less and less. I pretty much stopped reading all Top Cow but I think that Top Cows "Darkness" comics were at their best when they ditched the whole bio-armour thing and went with a grittier, more gangster theme. I think that was volume three...
The thing with Superhero comics though, that I have come to realise, is that I don't really enjoy so much, reading comics where I know the hero can never lose. Where there is no ending. The comics I have enjoyed reading most are the ones with a clear beginning, middle and end. Immediate ones that spring to mind are "Preacher" and "Sandman". Both are big flagship titles for DCs Vertigo imprint and are excellent reads.
With comics like Superman though, you know they're never going to end. There isn't a "Final" Superman issue and every time they run out of ideas for the character, they reboot it to issue one. Like Disney's "New 52" for example. Superman though, is a prime example of a character who just can't lose. This is what I find boring about him. In any Superman comic, no matter what is going on, you know he will always win and that nothing life changingly bad will happen. There are big rules with a character like Superman. Certain characters that can't be killed off or altered too much outside of an elseworlds title. Lois Lane can't die. Jimmy Olsen cant die. So on and so forth. So there is never any real sense that he has anything to lose.
The biggest shake up for me that DC did was "The Death of Superman" back in the early 90's. How long did he stay dead though? Eeeeexactly. With a character that big, he cant stay dead. He's too much of a money spinner.
Superman isn't really just a character anymore. He's an icon. A brand.
So they have to keep the status quo, to a point. Not too much can be changed. The big guy can never lose.
You can argue that it's the same with Batman, but with Bats, at least we know he is human with human flaws. He can be wounded. It takes a Kryptonite bullet or something along those lines, to hurt Supes... and how many times have we seen THAT sort of thing? It's tiresome.
Superman lost his parents, like Batman did... but he was a baby with no relationship with them. Bruce Wayne saw his parents gunned down in front of him and carried the scars with him to adulthood to the point he dressed like a ponce and jumped around buildings. He's suffered considerable loss too. His back was broken. Jason Todd was murdered. His entire city was destroyed by an earthquake. He's rich, but he's human. We can like him easier.
Hal Jordan has a similar parental background tragedy. He ended up losing his city, going mad, killing a bunch of his colleagues in the Green Lantern corps and became one of the DC universe biggest villains until he was killed. This was such a brilliant turn of events and the destruction of the GLC, leaving just one Green Lantern- Kyle Rayner, to police the galaxy, was a masterstroke and it actually made GL interesting again.
But of course, as is typical with the comic book world of Superheroes, both Marvel and DC (I know I have only referred to DC characters thus far but it applies to both companies.) they can't keep a dead character dead. Jason Todd, Hal Jordan, Aunt May, Jean Grey (times a million), Colossus, Thor, Captain America and a bloody shedload of others.
Why would we want to carry on reading these titles when we know that nothing TOO bad can ever really happen? At least not with any sense of permanancy. Grant Morrisson wrote my favourite take on the X-men ever with his New X-Men series. As soon as he finished his run though, Marvel pretty much undid all the good work he had done. He took the X-Men out of Superhero outfits and made them teachers and a search and rescue team. He made it gritty and more real than I think the X-Men has ever been before. It became more modern. As soon as he leaves though? Out comes the spandex again.
Dont get me wrong, Joss Whedon did a great job too... but he brought dead characters back and once again it was the same old story without end.
If you look at a lot of people who say they love Superheroes these days, they have taken a lot of what they know from the movies. They might not be able to tell you about the "Secret Wars" or the "Inferno" storyline. Which is fine- they don't need to know them to enjoy them. But at the same time, that's the problem. Overall, none of these stories really matter, except, occasionally, as a way to introduce new characters. With something like "The Sandman", you cant just jump in on Volume four. It wouldn't make sense. There's an overall story and it's important.
With Superhero titles?
Not so much.
I hope I have explained this well enough. I just think a comic title should have an end game... but I know that the Iconic characters, can't. There's just too much money in them. The trouble is though, that a lack of anything new or major happening, has probably been part of the contributing factor to the decline of comic sales that was happening in the 90's and early noughties.
I do still love these characters. They are close to my heart from childhood. I just can't read them so much anymore.
If you think I have missed anything out that youre curious about, or are wanting clarification on certain parts, please, feel free to ask me any questions!

P.S I've written this on the fly, so please forgive bad punctuation, grammar, spelling etc.