Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gash!: Redacted

It was fun last time, referencing the news in the Gash! flyer.

For the latest one, I was thinking bigger: the Iranian elections, no less. Perhaps a flyer for a small clubnight in Hoxton would be the straw that would break Ahmadinejad's back and revolution would come. I had an amazing idea for a skeletal jack-in-the-ballot-box that could just do it. It was such a good idea in fact, it could never be mine. When I realised I was just bastardising something from the very-talented Morland, I scrapped it. And I had no other ideas... what do I know about politics anyway? Who do you think I am, Jarvis Cocker?

I was reluctant to go back to the MPs expenses thing, but it has rumbled on a bit and the more recent developments - the distinct graphic black boxes of the redacted expenses forms - apply themselves very easily (and are quick to draw). I based the composition on the House of Commons logo, drew a flyer and then drew black squares over it. I'm not sure how subtle it is - to me it seems bloody obvious what I'm referencing but the two people I've shown it to so far had no idea, so who knows.

Here it is:

There's a round-up of the many more sensible and wittier interpretations of the black boxes in cartoons at The Bloghorn. So this one's not so original either then... still, if I was to do it again now, I'd inevitably do a Michael Jackson skeleton. So it's probably for the best I missed that one.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Don't Even Think About It

Keen followers may remember that last year I did the cover and twenty-odd interior illustrations for Can't Be Arsed by industry-funny man Richard Wilson (not the I-don't-believe-it one, another one). Some of you may even have been given it for Christmas- lots of people were. It was a best-seller, in fact.
Everyone is keen to follow up the success for Christmas 2009 by reuniting the humour-book dream team that is me and Mr Wilson, and so I've just finished a big load of illustrations for the follow up, Don't Even Think About It. It's a spoofulous take-off of the nostalgic guides to having an old-fashioned childhood you get, by spying on your neighbours, say, or whittling your own bow and arrow out of someone else's bigger bow and arrow. It's as funny as Can't Be Arsed (which is funny) and I'm really pleased to be involved again.

I'll put up more including the cover nearer the "pub date", which is some time in September (this is a teaser, as they say), but here's a sample of the score of black and white interior illustrations.

The Can't Be Arsed illustrations that were least successful were the ones that didn't take into account the page layout, and ignored the fact that they wouldn't bleed off the page. This time I really I tried to bear in mind the layout and the way the type would flow with the illustrations. This one is probably the best one for that: a split illustration of the perils of outdoor swimming with space between for the text to fill. Now I just have to have faith that the designers don't decide to put the swimmer on page 8 and the octopus on page 124, upside down. (The first person to spot the subtle reference to Can't Be Arsed wins 8 blog points.)

And here's a process breakdown for a fight over a Monopoly game. The whole thing is done on my fancy magic tablet these days, you know.

Click on this one for an animation:

Or just look at this and imagine it moving:

In the end it came out like this:

In more book based news, I'm pleased to report my own title, Love Letters, is doing fairly well and is even up for another print run very soon. Hey, why not buy your pop a copy for Fathers Day this Sunday? Maybe it'll prompt that birds-and-the-bees chat you never had, but this time with rabbits and dogging.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Serious post about politics (and Gash)

Another flyer/poster for Gash! at the Macbeth in Hoxton. As is befitting the ad-hoc-anarcho-trendiness of the night, all the information for the event on the coming Friday didn't come through till Tuesday evening, and then Wednesday saw a volley of emails changing the carefully hand-drawn line up change beyond all recognition.

I tried to make a strength out of the quick turnaround and turn the horrible skeletal Gash lens on to something that's current, like a raisin. So I've got fleshless versions of ducks and their duck island, symbolic of the MPs expenses debacle apparently making the whole country ABSOLUTELY FURIOUS (and more racist). As harbingers of a political, and potentially societal, apocalypse they fit quite neatly with the Gash aesthetic (the gashthetic, if you will).

Here's a fascinating insight into how I build up scribbles into drawings using computer magic.

To pre-empt the torrent of requests for free downloadable Gash-based iPhone wallpaper, here is some. (click on the picture to download it...)

It's black so your battery will last that extra ten minutes, which makes a difference.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Dead Kids

If creating a poster is like gourmet cookery, then this is the equivalent of running out of the door pushing Flora over a slice of bread with your index finger. That is to say, it was a rushed job.
I scribbled down the elements in less than a minute with my right hand whilst I ate Weetabix with my left, and did the colour and text on the bus the same morning.

It's for one of Charlotte's sisters, Lily. She's at Exeter University and she's producing this play. It's all obscure and mysterious, hence no mention of a time or place on the poster. Kids, eh? (tone: jocular patronising)

Then, on Lily's facebook profile, I saw this:

Kids, eh? (tone: slightly less amused)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Pony tale

Notes from the Underground, the literary freepaper, is relaunching- and this time they're backed up by The Man, in the friendly form of the Arts Council.

They kindly asked me to help with a cover illustration and sent me a couple of pieces for me to choose between to illustrate. I opted for one called A Shorter Story about a Trade Union Dispute (For Kids). It goes like this: racing horses go on strike, hilarity ensues.

The obvious image is anthropomorphised equine characters waving placards, and so I very quickly made this visual. I just wanted to see if the tone was appropriate really, so I sent it over. And they seemed to like it. In fact, they really liked it. Too much, for a sketch. It was almost unnatural. Like horses waving placards.

They said they like the sketchy feel, which is really the least you'd hope for from a sketch. If you make someone a sandwich and they compliment you on the sandwichy feel of it, you haven't exactly done well.

I got cracking on the final, and this is what came out:

When I finished I was really proud. Looking at it now, I'm not sure why, but I made it my iPhone wallpaper and everything. I sent it off and then kept refreshing my inbox as I waited for the accolades to pour down the internet tubes.

But they never came. It's obvious now why: the illustration is not that great. In fact, it's a bit unsettling. What is that thing on the right? A sock puppet? a worm?

They said they actually preferred the sketch, which is fair enough. And so I did this, a sketchy loose thing which I actually think more or less works.

But no, they said. More like the original sketch, they said. Instantly nostalgic. And so I changed the filename and resent the sketch... and here's the cover:

It is better than the "proper" illustration I did, I must say.

They put all the alternatives up on the official facebook page, which is nice.