Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What is "Flatting"?

If you've been following this blog you've probably read in a post or two that I've been flatting this comic or that comic, and thought to yourself "What the hell is flatting?"

Flatting is a step in the process of coloring line art which is widely used for comic books.  The line art is separated into flat, solid blocks of color which a colourist then uses to render the page. It is a time-consuming process that most professional colourists farm out to peons like me.

The above example from Strange & Darke 1 show (from left to right), the line art, the flats, the layered flats and line art, and finally the rendered page.

Words: John Smith. Pictures: Colin MacNeil. Final colours: Len O'Grady. © 2012 Rebellion A/S.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Keep Calm and Exterminate!

I love the Keep Calm and Carry On poster and Doctor Who – so here's a mash-up of the two. Each poster features a quote from each of the 11 Doctors plus a bonus Dalek one.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt #5

I popped down to Forbidden Planet today to pick up the last issue of D&D: The Legend of Drizzt mini-series, which I flatted for Len O'Grady. It never ceases to amaze me what Len can do with pixels. I'm a little sad to be leaving Drizzt and Co. behind – but hopefully I'll be journeying in the Forgotten Realms again sometime soon!

Have a look here to view my flats for this series.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Avengers Trailer: Extended Edition

Feeling a little short-changed by the measly minute-long Avengers trailer? Here’s an unofficial fan-made version, edited by Nick Montgomery with help from Thomas Gofton.
Screen Rant and Synn Studios put together the ultimate fan-made trailer for The Avengers using the extended Super Bowl trailer, the first trailer for The Avengers, and footage from previous Marvel Studios films including Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The best Star Wars Comic ever

This is an genuine work of love – Star Wars – adapted by the nine-year-old John White, from Dublin, between 1977 and 1983. The comic book is a genuine re-imagining as John had only his recall of cinema screenings of the recently released movie and comic to work off.
Around Christmas time 1977 a nine year old budding artist started to draw his own comic adaptation of his favourite film; just seen in the cinema, with no DVDs, books or comics to guide him . The early results were peculiar, but it was fun and some consolation for only seeing it once. Less obsessed friends would claim "We saw it 6 times!": he yearned to see it again.
Some time later, he got his hands on the British printing of the Marvel comic and treasured it. his drawing improved and with the comics, bubble-gum cards and the full-colour photos in the novel he began the process of drawing, re-evaluating and redrawing - casting the older pages in the bin.

So now reader, here's the very odd fruit of that 4 or 5 year effort. Rediscovered only last year. The shabby 1977 home-made comic becomes 2010 web-comic.
Star Wars Age 9 (John White)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lego Minecraft FTW!

This summer, Lego will ship an official Minecraft "Micro World" set, with blocks designed to look like the primitives used for construction in the popular game/virtual playset.
Help Steve survive his first night in a strange new world. Avoid the creeper and start mining for resources that will help you survive and thrive. Configure your four micro-scale LEGO Minecraft modules any way you like. Build your own mines and hills, and expand your world with multiple sets. Includes four LEGO Minecraft modules, hidden resources, extra pieces for wood, dirt, and stone, two "Micro Mobs;" Steve and a creeper.
You can preorder for $34.99 now on J!NX

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Red Skull Is Red, Smurfette Is Blue has a wonderful colour wheel showcasing the entire cartoon character spectrum. In the interactive graphic you'll find the complete rainbow of cartoon characters, from Pink Panthers to Grape Apes to red, well, whatever Zoidberg is. You'll notice a few fleshy humanoids, too. Of course not every iconic character could be included—the cartooniverse is too vast to completely chronicle – but they've handpicked beloved creatures of every hue.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Valentine's message

This is Neil Gaiman's Conjunctions as it appeared in StarShipSofa Stories: Volume 2 with a beautiful illustration by Cliff Chiang. I would have posted this last year when it was more timely – but I didn't have a blog then!

My old mate Jouni Koponen has another fantastic version of this for sale over at, if you're feeling romantic pick up a copy for the one you love.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

First Look: Avengers Toys from LEGO

Marvel's The Avengers soars into theaters on May 4, 2012, but thanks to LEGO, you'll be able to assemble the Avengers whenever you want.

Shared Worlds Critter Corral

Check out this collection of flash fiction from some huge names – Neil Gaiman, Lev Grossman, Scott Westerfeld, Michael Moorcock, Gene Wolfe, N.K Jemisin, my old mate Larry Santoro, and tons more – based around a fantastically monstrous illustration by Las Vegas artist Jeremy Zerfoss. It's fun, quick to browse through, combines big genre names, cool artwork, and... monsters! Here's Larry's contribution:
The Smiling Blue Balloonga

The Blue Balloonga (Baloonosaurus Caeruleus Rictus) appears to be grinning. He is not. He has no mouth. He just pretends. He is incapable of mirth. He is just made that way. The mouth you think you see, the nose holes on his cheeks, they are not mouth, teeth or nostrils. He is just pretending. Mostly, the Baloonosaurus lives in airless space where breathing is not only impossible, it would be dangerous! In further fact, the Balloonosaurus is generally unable to be joyous, or even pleasantly disposed, poor Balloonga. In addition to no mouth, nose, ears, teeth or hair, he also has no feet. You might not know that. He is shy and pretends to have mouths and (and feet) because he is just trying to please. He tends to hide behind large objects, mountains and such. Full-grown Balloongum (plural) frequently take refuge behind minor satellites and larger asteroids. Mars's moon, Deimos, is said to have a small colony of lesser (and redder) Balloongum in permanent residence. Poor things, they must continue to migrate around the moonlet to avoid being seen by telescopes and visiting NASA probes. This group is all but unique among the creatures; most of the larger, and bluer Balloonga are sad and lonely wanderers and sometimes visitors here and there.

The Blue Balloonga is a deep-space born critter with no animosity in his, her, or hus heart. Yes, there are three kinds, boy, girl and not-boy-or-girl. The fact is, they have no heart, just a little windbag at their centers that keep them inflated. Which is, of course, not difficult in the vacuum of space. How three-gendered beasties become born at all remains a mystery to science as they are shy and always alert—note the large and always open eyes (which are real)—and are always ready to duck behind whatever mountain, or satellite from behind which they peer.
Shared Worlds Critter Corral

Friday, February 10, 2012

Gary Friedrich needs help

As you may have heard Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider has been counter-sued by Marvel. Click here to read more about that. They are now saying Gary can no longer claim to be the creator, cutting off his livelihood, but have also slapped him with $17,000 bill for damages to the corporate giant.

Gary is going to appeal but in the meantime, he and his lovely wife are broke and in need of help. Steve Niles has set up a donate button on his page. Please donate whatever you can and help Gary pay his bills. Every little bit helps.

UPDATE: Stephen Bisette, Mike Grell, Erik Larsen and others weigh in on issue on poplitiko.

Murder Mysteries

Just dug out another gem from my collection – a limited edition block print of a wood engraving for Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries by the fantastic Gerorge Walker of Biting Dog Press. I've actually just received another extremely rare (so rare that there's only one in existence – and it's mine!) Neil Gaiman piece done by the BDP which I'll stick up at some stage soon.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dani's Drink

Here's a great illustration by my good friend Daniele Serra for Lawrence Santoro's Drink for the Thirst to Come, which appears in StarShipSofa Stories: Volume 3.

Check out his site for some truly amazing artwork – and a wonderful video of a work in progress. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to color Comics the Marvel way

I've had this wonderful PDF sitting on my hard-drive for years – I don't even remember where I got it. It's a tremendously quaint look at comic colouring. It originally appeared in Marvel Age #13, cover dated April 1984. It's a fantastic companion book to  Stan lee and John Buscema's How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way.

You can download the PDF from my Dropbox here. I hope I'm not flaunting too many copyright regulations here – but it's too great not to share.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My spidey senses are tingling...

I wasn't all that bothered with the Raimi Spider-Man  trilogy, and initially thought that a reboot was a silly idea. But, this actually looks quite good.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

2000AD is 35 years young today!

My favourite thrill power mag is 35 years old today!

2000AD, along with Scream!, were my first steps in to the grown-up comic world after I graduated from Buster and Whizzer & Chips. At the time I didn't realise how much writers and artists like Alan Moore, Pat Mills, John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, Dave Gibbons, Grant Morrison, Bryan Talbot, Brian Bolland and Simon Bisley would have on me. In fact, I'd like to think my middle-aged mohican is an homage to Rogue Trooper!

I still have a pristine issue 3 (sadly missing the red alert wallet) stored away in mylar.

My first digital colour

Just found my first digital colour on photobucket. I must have done this in 1998 or so. I still like it.

Very exciting news...

The first few pages of Brendan McCarthy's return to comics – 2000AD's The Zaucer of Zilk – are arriving in my dropbox for flatting. The new strip, which follows the adventures of an interdimensional magician, will mark the artist's first original story in decades.

"The Zaucer of Zilk strip is a phantasmagorical psychedelic extravaganza that features fanciful fantasy rather than hardcore techno sci-fi," McCarthy told Comic Book Resources.

The Zaucer of Zilk will debut in 2000AD Prog #1775 on March 21. I'm very excited to work with Len on this strip. Brendan is one of my comic heroes.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Another Sandman for my collection

Here's a scan of that DC Commission I won by following TMC Illustration on Facebook the other day. It's a fantastic sketch of my all-time favourite comic book character, The Sandman, by the ever talented Thomas Crielly. I can't wait to stick this up on my ever expanding comic art wall.

For your chance to win a commission from TMC Illustration make sure to follow them on Facebook and/or twitter to be in with a chance of winning.

Our eyes think optical illusions are as bright as real light

Optical illusions like the one to the left may not actually be bright, but our brains — and now it seems our eyes — think they are. This radial sunburst illusion is known as the Asahi figure, and the researchers analyzed people's eyes while they stared at it, and a number of other similar optical illusions. And just as if they were staring at an actual light source, their pupils contracted.

By scrambling and tweaking the illusions, the researchers found that the amount the eye reacted was directly tied to how bright the viewer thought it was — a factor completely separate from its true luminosity. They also ruled out contrast changes and wandering pupils as factors.

So what's the takeaway from this? The physiological response of our eyes is at least partially based on subjective perception, not just a physical absolute. So how we perceive an illusion changes how our body reacts to it, even when it comes to automatic responses like pupil dilation.


Image copyright Akiyoshi Kitaoka, via

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Strange & Darke New Blood: Part 2

Judge Dredd Megazine #320 is out now - featuring Strange & Darke New Blood: Part 2.
Brit-Cit, 2134 AD. Detective Inspector Jericho Strange is the head of the Endangered Species Squad, a unit within Brit-Cit Justice Department that is responsible for investigating and cataloguing the strange life forms that exist in the world. His appearance the result of being exposed to the Black Mirror, Strange has got a face you won’t forget... 
It's a great story.

I won!

I just won a DC Commission from TMC Illustration. I will be getting an original A3 illustration of the Sandman (Morpheus) by the talented Thomas Crielly.

For your chance to win a commission from TMC Illustration make sure to follow them on Facebook and/or twitter to be in with a chance of winning.

Don't worry – I'll stick up the illustration when I get it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Alan Moore is gonna kill someone!

Here are the covers of the seven recently announced prequels to the best selling graphic novel of all time – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal 1987 Watchmen.

The new titles will be released in weekly miniseries form by DC Entertainment.

Watchmen diehards aren’t impressed. Alan Moore – who considers the original series/graphic novel to be complete and wanted nothing to do with Zack Snyder’s 2009 movie adaptation or any prequels or sequels – has described the project as ‘completely shameless’.

Gibbons, on the other hand – who advised Snyder on the movie – has given his blessing.