This past Sunday I fulfilled another comics first for me which was to appear as a guest on a comics podcast. I've been listening to The Awesome Comics Podcast for about a year-and-a-half I'd say and it very quickly became one of the staples of my weekly podcast diet. Many a Monday evening drive home from work has been accompanied by the good humour and creative insights of the three hosts and the guests they interview.
For anyone that doesn't know, the Awesome Comics crew consists of Vince Hunt, creator of The Red Mask From Mars and I can safely say, one of the most positive people on the UK small press scene; Dan Butcher, creator of British superhero comic Vanguard and someone who really knows how to put out quality product at an eye-watering pace; and Down The Tubes contributor and my fellow Cockney Kung Fu collaborator, Tony Esmond, whose weekly capsule reviews on the podcast regularly impress with the depth of attention and breadth of knowledge he brings to the work of the indie creators he cheerfully champions. As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of the show, which is one of the very few podcasts out there that interviews UK comics creators and which in a period of fly-by-night pods and johnny-come-lately casters really stands out by having managed, at least to my knowledge, an unbroken schedule of weekly shows since its' inception.
So it was a real privilege and an absolute pleasure to be a guest on this week's show which you can listen to here and in your pod-catcher of choice. I had a great time and a proper giggle with Vince and Tony and we talked about process, collaboration and good comics and as you can hear in the out-takes, I laughed a lot, and not only at my own jokes! The gang also have a facebook group where you can take part in lively chat between episodes with fellow comics fans and creators, which I heartily recommend, in fact, I created a Facebook profile just so I could join in. Tony and I also mention our weekly Cockney Kung Fu newsletter which you can sign-up for and read past issues of here.
New Summer Duds
So I spent an inordinate amount of time hiding away from the scorching weather holed up in the sweltering confines of Prolix Towers this weekend re-designing this site. I finally bit the bullet and with the help of some CodeSchool tutorials managed to get my head around the Bootstrap framework and so what you should be looking at now is a website that looks equally swish on whatever size device is your weapon of choice. The other big change has been the removal of the webcomic pages where The Sheep And The Wolves started life now that these have all been collected in Slang Pictorial numbers 1 and 2.
I'm hoping that the new look site will also encourage me to blog a bit more regularly as well as providing a place to post links to some of the comics criticism I've started doing lately. More of that to come. For now, I hope you like the re-design and if you've got any comments let me know on the Twitters!
A study in non-repro blue
This page had been nagging at me for most of last week and on Friday I finally bit the bullet and decided to redraw parts of it that just weren't working. One of the benefits to abandoning the weekly update schedule has meant that whereas before I had to learn to live with unsatisfactory panels for the sake of getting pages out on time, I now have the time to correct mistakes and re-think creative missteps. With the page in question, my niggles were all with the three panels on the second tier:
In the first panel, the pose is awkward and unconvincing a problem I think of my not really being able to isolate a single moment to focus on and the second panel is similarly poorly staged and the figures awkwardly posed. Finally, the transition between the second and third panels isn't clear, time has passed but as it is, this doesn't feel suitably signposted. After trawling through old comics for inspiration and a bit of sketching this is the way I resolved the panels:
By bringing the camera in closer at the beginning the focus is now much more on Lenny's surprised response while I think the posing in the second panel is now a lot more fluid which adds to the comedy. Removing Jimmy's dialogue has allowed enough space to insert a caption panel that sets the final panel more clearly apart from the action that leads up to it. In going through the process of identifying a problem page and working through possible solutions I was reminded of Seth's idea that comics have maybe more to do with poetry and graphic design than they perhaps do with screenwriting and illustration, and that like graphic designers, cartoonists are first-and-foremost, problem solvers.