Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I did that thing this morning of desperately running alongside a bus as it indicates to pull away. Pounding on the side and then pleading mutely with the driver to let me on, whilst two decks of bored eyes fixed on me trying to mime "I was just here... I've already got my ticket... It's mighty cold out here... Please sir, let me on..." etc. etc.
The road was busy and so the bus was sat there by the stop, jostling outwards, for over a minute. The driver granted me only the slightest shake of his head. It was long enough for me to get embarassed and start pretending that actually I didn't want that bus after all.

I drew this whilst I waited out the forty minutes until the next one.

(photographed and coloured on the next bus)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tubeway Army

Clapham Common tube station (opened 1900) is one of only two remaining tube stations with a narrow (3.6m) island platform. It serves both northbound and southbound lines, which is useful if you change your mind about which direction you wish to travel in mid-journey or if you're playing the accordion up and down the northern line looking for tips (for example: "the central line carries richer passengers").

Before I moved to London I was really anti London-centric stuff, but now I won't go anywhere without an underground rail system and a teenage stabbing a week.

I like this kind of faux-silk-screened look. The colours look like they only took five minutes, but don't be mistaken (they took two).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nota bene

I had three pieces in the recently launched 'literary free-sheet ' that is Notes from the Underground (or NftUG, as it's parents like to refer to it). The team behind it managed to build up quite a fanfare for their first issue, with coverage from The Bookseller, Radio 4 and nolessthan thelondonpaper.
It's short stories and poetry and a few cartoons: perfect fodder for tube journeys (or taking to the loo), with each entry thoughtfully labeled with it's duration in tube stops (not bowel movements, unfortunately). Lovely.
Look for it on the underground and also in bookshops around London (I've seen it in Foyles and Waterstones). NftUGaaiBSaL, you could say.

A digital-painterly bit to illustrate this story, about a young chap who sells his grandmother as a work of art.

Here's my first crack. It's more of a sketch really.

And one to accompany this tale of a man struggling to deal with the death of his psychiatrist. This one was all a bit last-minute so I didn't let myself think about the concept before I started the drawing, I just assumed I'd think of something funny to write on the tag at the end (I didn't). The tag isn't enough of a focus anyway- they actually ended up cropping the image close round it.

And a strip. I've done one for the second issue aswell. I'm enjoying the self-imposed challenge of comics without speech- very Perry Bible Fellowship inspired.

It's also been on BBC news, I just found out. Look.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Vice trap

An unused-commission from Vice magazine to accompany an article about the current wave of electro-whatever chancers jumping on the Justice-bandwagon with far more laptops and silly headwear than any sort of talent. The brief dropped into my inbox at 3am, with a deadline of the very same evening. Trust a magazine called Vice to have such tight deadlines. (Geddit?)

On the day I was working in Oxford, making it extra tight, but I was keen. I sketched a few ideas at lunch and sent them over.

The top left sketch was chosen, and I was pointed towards this kind of thing as a reference:

I got home at 8, and got straight to it. As there was no time for fannying about drafting I cheated and took reference photos of myself. Which isn't really cheating at all, I've decided.

First lines:

Then flats:

Then press the "lighting effects" button on photoshop:

And then a little detail. If you look closely, you can see they're really just playing Justice's album through iTunes.

As I said, they're not going to use it which is a shame. But never mind.

Monday, January 07, 2008


I took my big sketchbook round with me all of Saturday. I'd like to do a sketch diary like this all the time, but it's not very practical. I've tried a couple of times before but if you're not careful you only draw when you sit and end up with a book filled with nothing but drawings tvs and the insides of buses and toilets.

(click it to see)

All the most interesting bits of the day, of course, are the ones that don't get drawn. Even on this Saturday. For as well as the documented episode of me-watching-Char-eat-soup there was the much more exciting event of me being accosted by a dishevelled chap threatening to "get mad" if I didn't give him some money ("for my shopping" he helpfully explained). Fortunately I managed to shake him with the old mumble-something-apologetic-and-then-suddenly-stop-and-pace-off-in-the-other-direction trick, but unfortunately all without taking time to prop up my easel and draft his likeness.

A second incident, also occuring in the brief two-block stint between the tube and home, followed soon after. I turned the corner, somewhat elated by my near escape, to be confronted by what the media (and my subconscious) would call a street gang. Being the liberal minded Guardian reader that I am though, I reminded myself that they are but children. I walked through the four boys, head down, and emerged unscathed. As I continued I tutted inwardly for even considering crossing the road. Crossing the road? From four children? If I was Jamie Oliver I'd probably have just started chatting to them all about growing your own organic veg, there and then. Not cower in fear. I would offer them jobs in my restaurant and turn their lives around. Cowering wouldn't have come into it. They would be an inspiration to their community. Drug profits would go way down, beetroot profits way up. They would put a picture of us all hugging in an allotment in the Guardian Weekend...
And then crack.The car window next to me exploded. The gang already knew about communicating through food: they'd just thrown an egg at me, and only narrowly missed.
It was only an egg though. I could do something. Chastise them there and then and show them the authority they want to see in society. I could work a joke into telling-off them off, thus setting a delicate tone of harshness and humour: "that deserves a beating", say. Chastise them and nip it in the bud. They're probably only ten years old. If noone stops them now, a perverse evolution will take place: eggs will become stones, stones will become bricks, bricks will become knives and so on. But knives that you throw. Sais maybe, like Raphael had in the Turtles.
But I didn't stop them. I didn't even turn round. What if they already had Sais? Or a sword? Or nunchucks or a staff? I didn't want to be another slayed footsoldier on London's streets. So I just carried on walking, without even looking back.
And I didn't draw that either
In the evening I went to a lumberjack-themed party without realising that was what it was and spent the duration sitting in a corner tutting at everyone slavishly following the lumberjack fashion. With their trendy little checked shirts. And deerstalkers. And big axes.
I didn't draw that either.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Brighton Am Legend

What do you know, nothing for weeks and now two things in a day. Both animations too.
Here's what I thought might be a good way of getting some quick animation practice. Actually, it's probably taken hours in all. I didn't really give too much thought to the story or any planning really. It's just an idea I had when I watched the I Am Legend trailer last week back when I was actually considering going to watch it.
As it was we went to see the Kite Runner. I found the film really affecting, in a good way, and I wasn't the only one- there was a sobbing teenage girl in the cinema with us who had to be dragged out by her mum because she was so incapacitated by distress (in a good way). Charlotte however, cold emotionless robot that she is, thought it was shit. But then she's read the book, and so she's probably just saying it's inferior so she can sound literary and intelligent.

Here it is. I don't know how to embed it, or even upload it to YouTube so I can get comments on it from American kids. If you do let me know. So you'll have to click

You see, it's all about globalisation and that. I'm like Naomi Klein with a pink and black colour scheme.

Here's the real one:

If you're looking at this via facebook, by the way, bits will be missing. You may have to here to see the original post.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Flash git

Right. I'm back from my Christmas holiday.
Now for a round up of 2007, and a look forward to what we can expect in 2008. Remember Amy Winehouse? Heard of Duffy yet?
That's enough of that.
I went to the Stephen Friedman gallery a while ago to see the David Shrigley exhibition which I think is still going. I'm not a huge fan of his but then he does do weekly Guardian cartoons and has animated a blur video so maybe I am just jealous. The show isn't great, just dozens of marker drawings stapled to the wall like an art room in an orphanage. There was an animation though (On/Off, which can be seen here) which reminded me that I've been meaning to learn to animate: partly inspired by Ratatouille, and partly by the Brazilian Ratatoing (which came first, I wonder?).
I've got Flash, but it's hugely unintuitive and it's taken me ages to get anywhere. Just weeks of circles moving slowly across a screen, and that's it really.
I thought for my first animation I'd try and overtly ape Shirgley's style, rather than pretend in any way I was being original. His formula is basically take no story, make it dark: about death, illness, rejection etc., in text scribble out some letters and use a ruler for straight lines.

Here it is... (refresh if it's finished)

Not too bad, I think. And here's my first walk-cycle, which doesn't really work.