Wednesday, 30 March 2011

More of the Wonders of Illustrator

Still under the deadline cosh and just getting to that dangerous moment when I'm half kidding myself that I'm doing almost OK on the impossible deadline. Do here's another posting but partly in response to a suggestion from fellow blogger and illustrator Graeme Neil Reid, I'm going to be slightly, well OK VERY self indulgent and share with you one of the gazillions of artworks I am doing for a series of ELT books.

In common with a lot of illustrators, I work entirely digitally save for a little A6 drawing book, which I am currently devoting to filling up with a lot of anatomy exercises courtesy of the late, great George Bridgman. If you are keen to pursue a career in illustration and envisage yourself being required to draw figures from imagination then you absolutely need these books! I am not great when it comes to figure drawing and fall into the category of illustrators that need to constantly work hard at keeping on top of anatomy - hence the exercises.

Anyway, to get back to digital illustration, I spent years and years working in Photoshop and avoided using vector based drawing software of which Illustrator is pre-eminent, as to me it just seemed too anal,  klunky and labor intensive. But in the end I got so bored with Photoshop and so dispirited with how dated my work seemed to be getting, that I junked Photoshop and embraced Illustrator. My introduction to it's wonders was actually a tutorial on a free CD on Computer Arts magazine and the half hour it took me to construct a Manga character, showed me just enough of the basics to have me up and running with the software.

The beautiful thing for me about Illustrator, is that from practically nothing in terms of a guide for your drawing, you can create razor sharp images, with beautiful vector dynamics (no nasty pixels here mate!) and the images can be magnified a hundredfold with no break down in sharpness. With gradation tools, transparency effects and a host of other simple but powerful tools you can create artwork which is always easy to tweak, twiddle and adjust, which makes it ideal for today's demanding clients who always have little comments and alterations which was rarely the case when everything was hand drawn back in the days of yore.

So here's a sample piece of artwork and here's the thing under magnification. Just look at those lines - no jaggedy bits and it all came from this under drawing, which itself was created in Manga Studio.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

More From Eric R Parker

I'll admit it, I'm under ferocious deadline pressure at the moment so postings are going to be visual with minimum verbiage. I have to produce seven spreads (or is it eight?) for a book to be delivered on Monday.

So leaning heavily on yet more generously supplied scans from Malcolm Norton here are some truly lovely Sexton Blake covers by Eric Parker.

And now for some really exciting news for all of you who have ordered or are about to order the Wulf the Briton book.

The legendary Mr Fixit, creative Svengali and publisher extraordinaire Geoff West, has just phoned me to say that the books will be arriving on Thursday, so horrible deadline notwithstanding I will be up at the Book Palace on Thursday helping to number each copy and get them ready for dispatch to all all our customers.

At last!!!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Slumming It???

Just had these remarkable scans from David Slinn, who as you may recall was working in the UK comics industry during much of it's post war renaissance.

These two pages by the legendary Ron Embleton are quite surprising as by 1964, he had long ceased to do work for what were regarded as cheap and cheerful comics which Fleetway's  Lion epitomized. However here he is, the doyen of full color rotogravure printing, apparently slumming it creating a two page strip where the crude color separations are done in house. A huge departure from the sort of color comic strips followers of Wrath of the Gods, Stingray or Wulf the Briton were used to.

I can only presume it was one of those last minute phone calls from his agent Pat (or could have been father Don) along the lines of, " so and so is unable to do this two page strip - could you possibly fit this one in Ron?"

Whatever - it's yet another example of this great artist's sheer professionalism and versatility.

Images © IPC Media 2011

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Lady Penelope and That Mysterious Ron Embleton Portrait in Oils

This blog seems to have a life all it's own. It's a living, breathing creation powered by the people who so graciously leave comments and send me scans of rare material germane to the topics discussed and analyzed on its pages.

With yours truly as the old blogmeister, fussing around the guests with a tray of cybernetic tea and cakes to help sustain the proceedings, secure in the knowledge that the event has a life all it's own and all I need to do is refill the odd tea cup and generally make sure everybody has has everything they need to sustain the discourse.

Take Phil Rushton's recent remark hinting at a reader's contest where a Ron Embleton original oil painting was offered as a prize. Phil couldn't remember the details and neither could I for that matter, but David Slinn, who was actually working as an artist in the comics industry at the time and is one of the contributors to the Wulf the Briton book came through with more information and some scans.

So here's the painting and it's none other than UK thespy David McCullum as heart throb Illya Kuryakin, from the Man From Uncle. And here's a photo of Ron Embleton painting the picture where you can see how he is building up the form. Notice also that Ron has given Illya a Luger rather than the ridiculous hand gun come cocktail dispenser that some TV exec thought was the cutting edge of cool in 1966.

The competition would have (I guess) ran in TV21's sister comic Lady Penelope, which is where the Man from Uncle strip appeared. Lovely artwork again by Ron Embleton although the action on the girl administering the karate chop to the baddie is a bit preposterous - but then so was The Man From Uncle.

And while we're on the subject of Lady Penelope check this out:

EFF ... AAYYY  ...  BEEEEE!!!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Wulf The Briton's Galley Arrives Sunday!!!

Steve Holland has been mapping the progress of the container vessel carrying the three eagerly awaited books; Don Lawrence's Wells Fargo, Volume 2 of The Fleetway Index and ...

Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton The Complete Adventures. So allowing for a few days to clear customs and then a day for us to sit down and carefully number (or letter) each book, they will be going out to all the people that have been ever so patiently waiting for these books to arrive.

I think we are as excited at the thought of you guys finally getting your hands on these babies as you will be when the postman comes hauling what is a truly humungous package up to your front door.

So just to torment you for a few days more here are some more promo pics from Wulf.

To briefly remind you there are three editions.

The regular clocking in at 352 pages, the leather slipcased edition at 376 pages and including 24 reproductions of original Wulf artwork - most of it never seen before and a lettered edition which comes with a huge print of the famous siege of Cartamandua's. The size of the print is the same size as the Embleton original.

It has to be said that the quality of repro from the original editions of Express Weekly in this book is second to none. Each page is reproduced to the same dimensions as the large format (11"x14" / 270mm x 360mm) as the original comic and no effort has been spared to ensure that every last detail of Embleton's astonishing brushwork is preserved.

The book with the pages open showing the additional pages of reproductions from original Wulf artworks is the leather edition and the regular edition (which reprints all the strips but not the additional originals) can be seen in it's handsome red cover in pictures 1 and 6.

Pictures 9 and 12 show copies of the original comics alongside the equivalent pages in the book to give you a further feeling for the overall fidelity of the color and tonal balance we managed to achieve. Our aim and intention was to give the collector a book where the repro of Embleton's Wulf the Briton was every bit as good as the original Express Weekly. 

More details of this giant sized and exquisitely reproduced book can be read on earlier postings on this blog (use the blog search engine by typing in Wulf the Briton) and directly from the publisher BookPalaceBooks.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

I Say Chaps - Time For Chums!

Once again a profound thank you to my chum Malcolm Norton who has sent me the following scans of one of the predecessors of adventure comics, a weekly entitled Chums which was published by Cassells way back through the primordial mists of time to an age when the artists who created these amazing illustrations were called Reg or Wilf or Alf or even possibly Bertie.

 Such adventures were the stuff of dreams or even nightmares as some of these covers will attest.

What about that cover from August 15th 1906???

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

More Blakerama From E.R.P.

Having received a shed load of these lovely images from Malcolm Norton, it would be churlish of me in the extreme not to share more of these exquisite images from Eric Parker of A.P.'s Sherlock Holmes clone Mr Sexton Blake.

More on Blake can be discovered at Blakiana a website totally devoted to this publishing phenomenon.

All images © IPC Media 2011.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Eric Parker - The Early Years and More on That Weird S.A.S. Story

I am a spoiled blogger. Between the combined forces of Messrs David Slinn and Malcolm Norton, my email in-tray is deluged with an embarrassment of riches. From David's lovely scans of Ron Embleton's Children of the New Forest published in 1963 and Malcolm's cornucopia of treasures (I never quite know what to expect from Malcolm - but as with David's attachments, it's all superb).

 Anyway before getting on to more Eric Parkers (and these are I think you'll agree simply amazing) I thought I ought to add some historical context to the bizarre Gerry Embleton artworked S.A.S. strip. As David points out this was the last strip to appear in the broadsheet edition of TV Express Weekly, before it reduced size to a tabloid format. This move was doubtless precipitated by the falling revenues and the general air of insecurity that stalked the corridors of the UK's once thriving comics industry in the summer of 1961. A lot of stuff was ditched in the process - including the long running S.A.S. series. So as Phil Rushton correctly surmised the story had to be wound up in one page. Anyone having had experience as a creative knows what a bolt out of the blue this can be.

I am going to venture the following theory which David and other readers may agree or disagree with - it is a theory - nothing more, nothing less. But we can say with certainty that the script for this story had been signed off by the editorial team in advance of the artwork being undertaken. The person who most likely would have received the bolt from the blue phone call would have been the artist Gerry Embleton. This on the basis that there would probably not have been time to go through the process of getting the writer to whittle down his script and then send it on to the artist. Having heard several stories  from Gerry's then agent Pat Kelleher, about how the artist loved to sneak in various perverse little details in the backgrounds of otherwise innocuous strips he was working on (a copy of the Kama Sutra on Merlin the Magician's bookshelves for example), if Gerry was indeed tasked to edit the script down himself then all these little touches would be his way of having a bit of fun at the expense of the system.

Whatever ... just a theory.

OK - setting that aside here are some really early Eric Parker artworks which would have been created by him shortly after getting his foot through the door at the Amalgamated Press.

Aren't they amazing - just love his stuff - almost like a Brit Harvey Kurtzman, in terms of vivacity and a drawing style all his own with a very strong sense of design which suffuses his use of line, shape and tone.

S.A.S. © Express Newspapers 2011.

 Union Jack © IPC Media 2011.