Sunday, 23 January 2011

23, 1000 hits, And The Whole World Goes Topsy Turvy


According to how counting actually works, this is my 23rd post! So how better to celebrate than by featuring the specially spruced up colour version of Doctor 23? There is no better way, is the answer you are looking for. 

The colouring was done by Owen, who has begun lining up his promotional images here. I mention above that the world has gone topsy turvy. The first example of this is that Owen has thrown aside his previous orders, as is the right of every good editor, and decided that I only really need to do one promo picture. So, no longer needing the element of surprise, here is the sketch of the four different images that I had assumed Owen would pick one of:

Owen liked the idea of doing each of these with their commentary, so the 'Boring "Doctor-Pokes-Head-Out-Of-TARDIS" Promo Image' would have been labelled as such. The title to the fourth image was going to be 'The Nonsensical "A-Time-Lord-is-the-sum-of-his-parts-and-some-of-those-parts-are-CONAN!" Promo Image'. I would have enjoyed that, but ultimately I think the best image won its way to being completed.

Owen has even gone as far as to promise an imminent Dr WTF?! website, so there is much excitement on the horizon.

Which tenuous nauticality brings us to the second way that the world has gone topsy turvy, for I have written a script! 

Over on the 2000ad forum, Christov recently proposed that the world needs more pulp comics, and set out to make one himself. He expressed particular interest in getting some swashbuckling adventure in there, and while at work the other day I pondered how I would approach such a thing. By the next morning, a script had been written and sent, and before lunch it had been accepted. Huzzar, exciting times!

Particular thanks must here go to my friend Jo Clegg, whose recent historical and geographical observations inspired the story. Thanks Jo!

I don't want to say much about this story, lest I spoil any surprises. What I will say is that it involves pirates. As I am not going to be drawing this one, I don't even have any doodles to show off, but here is a suitably themed picture pulled from the archive:

This is an old picture of a character called Henry Shanks, who features is a series of stories I have been writing for the past several years. One day I hope to get them published, but I fear that day is still far off yet. 

This picture has recently returned to me, as an old house-mate found a load of my stuff on his computer. I suspect I will enjoy going through the files, and will post anything of interest that I find up here.

In other news, since my last post, this blog has reached the point of having had 1000 hits. I realise that this is a microscopic fish in a multidimensional ocean, but it means a lot to me. A blog a created entirely to talk to my brother with has  started taking me in all sorts of interesting places, and I hope this will continue. Thanks to all the people from all around the world who have dropped by. Why yes, I am obsessed with the stats page, why do you ask? 

And finally, just to reassure Van Dom that I haven't forsaken him, here are some of the more presentable sketches I have been doing for his secret project.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Post 22

At the time of writing, this is what the post count on my dashboard currently looks like:

I'm just mentioning this, so that anyone reading my last post doesn't think I've gone mad. Because nothing says sanity like being obsessed with one particular number, obviously.

Talking of the number 23, it's time to see what has been happening with the Doctor WTF?! project.

The other night, Owen sent out a call to all artists involved to create a promotional image for their strip. I jotted down a few ideas, waited until the morning so that the noise of the scanner would not wake my wonderful lady friend, then sent off all four doodles to suffer the wrath of Owen's judgement.

Why did I draw four images, you ask? Well, I expected most of them to receive appraisals such as "Louis, these ones are rubbish," and "Louis, these ones have nothing to do with your story," and "Louis, seriously, what have I told you about copyright infringement?!?!"

What was his actual answer?

"Louis, these are awesome, can you do all four?"

Those quote marks are misleading, these were not his exact words. I'm summarising for effect here. The thing to get out of this is that I am now drawing up four promo images for the comic. My initial hesitation over this extra workload was quickly replaced by the realisation that four new images will result in four new blog posts. That's the next month or so sorted then!

So, here is the first of the set:

Thursday, 13 January 2011

23! Post 23!

This is my twenty third post! As you may already be aware, I am a bit of a fan of the Illuminatus! trilogy, so this is a special post for me. As such, I wanted to write about something a bit good. Fortunately I have an exciting few months ahead of me, so at the risk of sounding self-centred, I might as well talk about that.

I am currently linked to a few comic projects! The one that I can talk about most is Mekkos, which Matthew Mclaughlin is getting published in Paragon, a rather fine comic put together by one Davey Candlish. This is going to be an ongoing serial, and I have been pencilled in for episode three!

When Matt told me about this, he mentioned the story would include G127. The text of the email was practically waggling its eyebrows at me, but I could not think where I had heard that name before. I even did a google search, in case it was a film reference or something similar. Then finally it clicked. G127 was from Lugal! (You will remember Lugal from that time a few weeks back when you looked to the list at the right and downloaded issue 8 of Temple APA).

This is one of my sketches from when I was drawing Lugal, little realising the future (or past, I guess) that this robot would have. My wonderful lady friend described him as 'hot', and she knows her sexy robots.


The next project is a little more secret. It is a strip written by one Dirk Van Dom, who I have in the past mistakenly referred as Von Doom, due to having a bizarre blind spot when it comes to reading names. Apologies Dirk, I do that a lot!

Can't talk much about it, so just look at some of the pictures I have been drawing.


The third project is sooooo secret, I dare not speak its name lest I put the whole world in danger! More on that later, I hope!

So, to take the number of projects I have talked about up to a nice round three, I will finally add that Owen Watts has started setting deadlines for all the Dr WTF?! stuff, so there is even more excitement coming soon!

That's three 'so's in the past two paragraphs. You can make a twenty three out of that.

Not even out of January yet, and already 2011 is shaping up pretty well!

EDIT: Haha! Having just looked at the archive list to the side, it would seem this is only post 21, whereas my Dashboard was telling me otherwise. Seems there are some duplicate posts in the dashboard list, for reasons I cannot fathom. That I have mistaken post 21 for post 23 is in itself fantastic, but to explain why would require too much of your time. Trust me, you are better off not knowing.  

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Tattered Remains Of The Holiday Season

Way back at the beginning of December, I made this post about the 2000ad Christmas Calendar.

Well, Christmas has come to an end, and the calendar has been completed. Now, there is a lot of good stuff over there, and everyone involved put a lot of love into the project, but my incredibly biased opinion leads me to pick Party Crash! as my personal favourite piece.

Yes, Party Crash is a Choose Your Own Adventure surrounding a 2000ad office party attended by all your favourite characters. I say "surrounding" the party because, if you are anything like me, it may take you a few goes to actually get in there. It was written by one Van Doom, and illustrated by a whole host of talent

For this gargantuan feat of collaboration, I managed to call shotgun on drawing a picture of Slaine having a bit of a warp spasm. I first encountered Slaine in secondary school, and if they still existed, my English rough books would be full of doodles of twisted Irishmen spurting oil out of their head all over the place. It was this rough sketch quality that I wanted to revisit in this picture; a bit of seasonal nostalgia that only I would feel nostalgic for.

So, that's it for the Christmas posts until next December. All that remains is for me to put up this picture which I made to finish last year's calendar.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Where To Find My Stuff

You know how just before Christmas I posted a link to Lugal, claiming I would make the post look all pretty once I had returned to York? Well, this is that post.

That name in the credits? The one next to the word 'Art'? That's my name! I am more than a little pleased to see such a thing. It was only around Easter 2010 that I decided to get back into drawing, and now, as we leave that year behind, I have both a blog to show off my work, and a published credit to my name.

How can you see this fine story? Simply cast your eyes to the margin on the right, where you will find a list of Places My Work Has Found Print. It is but a paltry list at present, but I have high hopes for its growth over the coming year. 

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Shadow Out Of (Christmas) Time

In the lead up to the holiday season, many years ago, my wonderful lady friend expressed an interest in obtaining a Hnefatafl set. In response, I decided to make her one. Rather than spend a long time constructing an army of minuscule Viking golems, I decided instead to mould the pieces after something a little more shapeless, and, well, you can probably guess which author I turned to for inspiration.

In this post, I'm going to show off some pictures of the result, a game I entitled...

"The Flight Of The Great Race."

This game is based on Lovecraft's story The Shadow Out Of Time, which follows the plight of the Great Race of Yith as they are mercilessly persued through time and space. The chase brought these aliens to a land that would one day be called Australia, long before the present day.
Australia was at this time inhabited by a race of Adorable Giant Cone People, who lived in buildings resembling helter-skelters and who wore fittingly colossal satchels. The adorable Cone People had their adorable lives destroyed when the Great Race used their interstellar body-swap techniques to take control of the conical bodies, presumably trapping the Cone People's minds amid whatever catastrophe was forcing the Great Race to flee Yith in the first place.

Once on Earth, the only things the Great Race had to fear were the natural predators of the Cone People; ancient black and bubbling horrors that rode the winds that flowed through subterranean tunnels beneath their feet (their monopodic, slug-like feet, obviously). These creatures were easily contained by the cone people's electricity firing black boxes, but in time the monsters came to overwhelm the Great Race and their boxes, and the poor aliens were forced to run once more into the twisting spiral that is eternity...

So, with this brief and slightly inaccurate summary in mind, I created a game around that epic retreat from their helter-skelter city.

The game was created to look "In Character", by which I mean that I wanted to create a game that could have been played in the setting of the story itself. To this end, I wrote up some correspondence between some fictional yet familiar academics working in Australia, allowing me to sweep erroneous information beneath the carpet of unreliable narration.

A particular problem was to be found in the writing of the rules, as at the time I had yet to meet two people who played by the same set. One particularly frustrating source had a tendency to change rules every time I played against him. As such, these are not the rules that I currently understand are the most standardised, but there you go, such is the way of things.

Professor William Goodman,
32, Jenkins St., Marble Bar
Pilbarra, W. Australia,
March 28, 1935
Professor T. M. Freeborn,
Anthropology Department,
Miskatonic University,
Arkam, Massachusetts

Dear Tyler,

      I recently witnessed two young Pananangu playing a board-game by the light of the fire. A conversation between myself, Mandawy, our guide, and Arthur, my research assistant, brought the interesting story of the game to light, and I thought I might share the details with you. I have enclosed a game set with this package, that you may explore this cultural insight for yourself. 

      The game is essentially that of a siege. The central force must aid the escape of their leader as they are beset by surrounding enemies.
The central force are referred to as the Ny-Pananangu, which I translated, concisely, as the “Old People”, or “Old Ones.” Arthur noted, however, that the “Pan” in “Pananangu” donates greatness above the mere Anangu, the other tribes and people of this land. Taking into account Wilson’s subtle interpretation of the pre-fix ‘Ny’, Arthur offered the longer term “Great Race Who Were Here Before Us”.
      The attacking force are known by several names, and combining the common themes of all these gives the translation “Older Horrors That Ride The Winds, That Were Once, And Shall Be Again, As Well The Ones Who Were Great Before Us Knew.” This long winded approach is again the fault of Arthur. My translation was simply “Different Old Ones”, amended to “Elder Things” to abbreviate, distinguish the two sides, and to satiate Mandawy’s insistence that while the defenders can be seen as men like us, the attackers are certainly not, hence ‘things’ instead of ‘people’.  All horribly egocentric, but is refreshing to note that we of the west are not alone in such prejudices.
      The game is based on a local myth that, at the beginning of the Dreamtime, the Great Race travelled without their bodies to the end of the Dreamtime, where they became the Beatle. This great flight through time was performed to escape these Elder Things, who they could not prevail against.
The Great Race certainly do not seem to look like people, but they do appear to have stylistic arms and a head, presumably lacking only legs due to the problems of balance this would present the figures. It should be noted that among many tribal people it is considered taboo to present the human form in what we would consider a realistic manner.

The Elder Things, on the other hand, take on a bizarre representation. They are described as beings that can fly, despite being represented as almost slug like creatures, and are said to lack the sense of sight, which I found surprising as I had presumed the bulbous tops of the figures to be eyes. What those spheres are exactly, none could tell me, indeed, details of these Elder Things were incredibly difficult to tease out of those I spoke to.

So, to the rules!

      The Leader of the Great People is placed on the centre square. This, and the four corner squares marked in the same way, are the Leader Squares, and can only be occupied by the Leader, though any piece may pass over the central square if the Leader is not occupying it.
      The Great People are deployed in the surrounding marked squares, and the Elder Things are placed on the marked squares upon the edges of the board. One person plays as the Great People, the other as the Elder Things. The Elder Things move first.

      The Great People win by moving the leader onto any one of the corner Leader Squares. The Elder Things win by trapping the Leader between four Elder Thing pieces, one to each side of the Leader.
      Each turn, a player may move any one of their own pieces along a row of squares, either horizontally or vertically. This piece may move through as many available squares as desired, but may not jump over an already occupied square.
     If a player traps an enemy piece between two of their own pieces, the enemy piece may be taken off the board. The enemy must be trapped on two opposite sides to be taken, and pieces diagonally next to their enemy are not relevant when trapping.
     A piece may be placed between two enemy pieces without being trapped.
     The corner Leader Squares may be counted as Trapping Pieces by either side.

So, there you have it, The Flight Of The Great Race. Doctor Francis Morgan of the Archaeology department, who as you know is studying ancient megaliths in this area, talks of a similar game played by a tribe of Eskimos, which is most apparent in the current archaeological record due to a set having somehow fallen into the hands of Norse traders about one thousand years ago. How this happened I am unsure, but I certainly see no possibility of any connection between The Great Race Game and that of the north. For one thing, the pieces of the Eskimo set seemed to depict octopi and starfish, which is completely at odds with what I am seeing. Unfortunately, the tribe was wiped out by a strange localised tsunami, and all of Morgan’s papers and artefacts were destroyed in a freak fire, so I see no way of continuing that branch of research.
      I hope you find all that informative. I will write to you again before the end of the season. Send Eve my love, I hope to return to America for Christmas, so perhaps I shall see you both then.

Your loving friend,