Saturday 30 January 2010

Sonic the Comic and Streets of Rage

This is going to be a bit like lying on a bed of nails but in an earlier posting I did mention that I had worked on I.P.C.'s fortnightly Sonic the Comic in the early 1990's, along with such comic book luminaries as Richard Elson, Jon Haward and Nigel Kitching. I also mentioned that I endeavored to produce one five page installment within a week's turnaround time, there were two reasons for this, firstly my overheads at the time were considerable and the page rate would only make sense if I could actually turn the artwork around pretty niftily. Secondly I still had other avenues of work to maintain and if I got completely bogged down in the comic work (which I did find very rewarding) I would louse up on the rest of my illustration practice.

Anyway as Dave Morris (the man behind the scripting of the epic adventure Mirabilis) expressed interest in seeing some of these pages, I've (ulp) finally dug out some samples which are moderately less embarrassing than the majority of the pages that I churned out. It was working on this strip that made me realize just how crap my figure work was and I have made sterling efforts ever since to try and redress this lamentable state of affairs.

Most comic strip artists it has to be said need to achieve a complete mastery of figure work before they can hope to express themselves fully, if you don't you are destined to spend copious amounts of time which you don't have struggling to make your figures work. This needs to be avoided like the plague, so attend life drawing classes, study anatomy (there are some first rate books out there and George Bridgman is as good a place to start as any.

In fact drawing from life is to be recommended all the time, you need to do this to avoid the pitfall which awaits all artists - no matter how brilliant they are of adopting aristic mannerisms when drawing figures. If something succeeds, you start to get comfortable with it and before you know it you're repeating yourself with faces and hand gestures being prime examples of this trend. Look at people in the way that a Martian would and see them free from your own preconceptions - if you want to experience the sensation of what can be achieved by this then you need look no further than the work of Lucien Freud.

Anyway here's a sample of a cover for the second Streets of Rage story which was scripted by Mark Millar and the first installment of the third and final Streets of Rage story written by Nigel Kitching. This one definitely took longer than a week, in fact ten days, the final page being a monster of a page in terms of drawing and inking. In some ways I preferred the pages in black and white, so on this occasion I photocopied the whole sequence before colouring it up with magic markers and body paint for the highlights. The paper I was using at the time was Fabbriano Watercolour Paper which was the best paper for attempting this slightly bastardised technique. Reference for a lot of this was relatively minimal as time was as ever pressing - nowadays courtesy of Google the scene setting shot would have been executed with a lot more conviction.

Now talking of Dave Morris he did put a really timely posting titled "Comics on the IPad"on the ever rewarding Mirabilis Blog. The more I read this piece the more I thought yes, this is really exciting, in fact the day that Dave posted this I was also receiving emails from a couple of other friends who were similarly enthused by what could be one of the most exciting developments for creatives this century. Check it out and let's start exploring the potential that this offers all of us.


  1. you know there are some nice touches here and there, the top panel of the last page for instance. Spookily I have just been drawing someone tied between two posts for someone else's strip this morning.

  2. Thanks for the feedback James and BTW I love your new profile pic - really cool and retro.

    Be great to see the new work in progress - I'll be checking out your blog for it.

  3. There's a lot to be said for knocking them out - good things can happen. These pages are great - fast, dramatic, and the colour scheme works a treat (oddly enough, I actually prefer the colour versions, and that doesn't happen very often).

  4. Nelson - you've really made my day!!!

    Thank you - you're really too kind.

  5. Wow, I'll bet that last page took some time. Like James, I really like the top panel there - another of your great widescreen ones, Peter.

    I prefer the black and white version myself. It has a kind of raw British look to it and you can really appreciate the vigour and movement in the drawing. That said, you did a great job with the colours which convey a sense of the sweaty heat of an inner city summer night.

    I'm unfamiliar with the strip but it reminds me of the best days of 2000 AD - comics today could do with an injection of that sort of robust Punk energy.

  6. Yes that last panel did take a bit of time to do, and really like you and James, Dave I prefer the top panel on that page - it's the lighting and the girl with the whip that does it - just that nice sense of anticipation.

    Time for another plug here but there's a live music venue in Brighton called StaySick run by a very enterprising young promoter named Greg and the audiences at these events, look just like they've stepped out of this page.

  7. Btw just on that iPad point, there's quite an interesting discussion going on on the back of that post, so I'd urge everyone to come and have a say:
    The more I think of it, the more I see e-readers as the greatest liberating opportunity for creatives since the Peasants' Revolt. Mind you, as a revolting peasant born and bred, I'm going to say that, aren't I :)

  8. Hi Dave, really interesting debate going on and thanks for the link -which I've added to today's Wulf posting to get some more people hopefully sharing their thoughts.