Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Day I Commissioned An Artist

Roughly two months to go until All Hallows Eve and the release of a horrorific new Hallowscream. The ghosts and ghouls are busy finishing off their comics strips and we'll expect an influx of artwork in the next the weeks. One of these incoming stories is written by yours truly as I always like to have some sort of presence within a Hallowscream (we're no making these for just shits and giggle).

I've also been toying with a concept for a while called Apocalypse: The Board Game. This is a hybrid comic strip type illustration that suits the Hallowscream style we try to copy from Scream!

This 'board game' is a simple snakes and ladders type game where players must roll a dice and advance along a path until they reach the end. Along the 'evolutionary path' there are various apocalyptic dangers which slow down a player's progress. It's a cute little idea and all done in the name of fun.

I twice attempted to draw this myself but in the end I've decided to commission an artist to draw it instead. It would take me a considerable amount of time and I know I'd never be happy with it. To keep the costs down I'll be colouring it myself on the Wacom Bamboo.

I've never paid for an artist before so it was quite an educating experience. Initially I placed an advert on the Deviant Art forum which scored a high number of responses (30) of which only (4) were any good. Most just didn't suit the style I was after.

In the end I contacted an artist direct, after seeing their posts on ConceptArt.org. The artist is Mike Legan http://michaellegan.blogspot.co.uk/ and I'm vert much looking forward to what he does with the idea.


Friday, 23 August 2013

It Wasn't Me

It's Friday so let's enjoy an old comic strip what I did write back in 2010. This story was ably drawn by the talented Carol Kay and appeared in the second edition of everyone's favourite horror anthology, Hallowscream!





Friday, 16 August 2013

Mr Fatty

Next up from the back catalogue is Mr Fatty first published in Hallowscream 2010. This strip was actually drawn by my own fair hand, although technically I did in fact cheat (see below).



I claim to have drawn this myself but the vast majority of the imagery was indeed borrowed. The backgrounds are all genuine images that have been distorted, and the characters within the strip are traced from other comics such as Eagle and Scream! That's the magic of Photoshop.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Hallowscream 5 Cover - Sneak Preview

Unable to contain my excitement any longer, I've decided to post a special sneak preview especially for the few thousand* viewers of this blog.

* Figure may or may not be accurate**
** It's bollocks!

Specially created for the 5th edition of everyone's favourite indie horror anthology, this piece of original artwork was produced by the most excellent of horror artists, The Gurch. This is nasty!



The Gurch is a stalwart of the horror comics scene, most famous for his disturbing imagery in the 80's horror comic Gore Shriek. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long relationship bewteen 'The G' and Back from the Depths.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Mostly Haunted

There's only so many short 1-2 page stories you can write before needing to branch out to larger tales of terror. 'Mostly Haunted' is a 5 page parody of the UK TV show 'Most Haunted'. It appeared in the 2009 issue of Hallowscream.

Again, I sketched the layout for this strip, I even drew a different version with pencils and inked the lines! It was, however, not really up to standard so this version was kindly drawn by artist Carol Kay.
Drawing layouts myself allowed me to control exactly what I wanted from the artist. It's not really something I do anymore, having learned to trust artists to deliver my scripts in their own special way.






Friday, 9 August 2013

Research and Facts make for a Better Story

I have an idea for a new story that's been simmering in the lab for the last few months. I've written a very rough draft of the main plot points but have yet to dive in to writing the script. It's going to be between 2 and 4 standard comic book issues long. That's roughly anywhere between 40-90 pages.

The story will be set at an American funeral home with many of the action scenes taking place in a nearby graveyard. An ideal place for a gruesome tale of murder, mutilation, and malintent!

Now, it's easy to just whip out the pen and get busy with the wizzy but, as I've never been to an American funeral home, it makes sense to do a bit of research on the matter first. There are plenty of writing websites that tell you to, "write what you know." Eager writers will charge head first in to brain-story-spewing on a subject they no little about. I is not one of those.

Research and knowledge of a subject will help you to write a better story.


EXAMPLE

I've written a 6 page war story, which is soon to appear in that most marvellous of small press anthologies, Massacre For Boys. Without proper research on WWI theatres of war, weaponry and locations, the story would have been factually incorrect.

"So What", I hear you cry. Who cares if I had included tanks in the story when factually there were very few German tanks in production, let alone operating in the Middle East during the time the story was set? For some this doesn't matter. For others, the glory is in the details, so why no tickle the pedant's balls and satisfy his needs in your story.

Knowing my facts and figures also helped to drive the plot. Using the details I had discovered opened new options for sub-plots, twists, and plot-devices, that were unknown prior to the research. Without my improved knowledge I'd have been writing a story based on war scenes I'd watched in Carry On films and Hollywood movies. AKA, Bullshit!

Your artist will have to do research in order to get visual reference for authentic imagery of weapons, uniforms, stuff and tings. Why not make it easier for them by helping with that research. In this case, I was able to supply the artist with a visual reference of the location of the story, including a Google Maps reference point, showing a fort that was ideal for the story.



Returning to my new story, I wanted to make it more authentic so began researching American funeral homes. I'm not saying go to the library and borrow 15 encyclopedias. No one wants a story that's all fact and no fiction! Just do a bit of Googling.

This base research helped me to focus on possible plot issues within the story. Whilst surfing, I came across information on Mormon funerals, which sounded interesting. Delving further I found some Mormon religious principles fitted perfectly in to the main plot line. Boom! I'm doing it Mormon style.

This choice has been vastly beneficial to the whole story. Rather than just some boring, average American funeral home, I now have a theme that effects every aspect of the story. The setting. The character's clothing, their attitude to their jobs, to each other, to outsiders. The unique processes of a Mormon funeral service.

This is the meat upon the bones of a story.

Realism will help to draw the audience in. It will flesh out the characters, giving them personality, hopes and desires. Realism will generate interest. It will give your scenarios and situations more depth. Realism will make the reader think you're a better writer, having actually bothered to do some research rather than just making stuff up.



If you've ever worked in sales, you'll know that product knowledge is a key factor to completing a sale. Sure, there are some who can just chat shit and walk away with a huge order. For most, having a good understanding of what you are selling will help you to close the sale. It's the same as doing a presentation. If you know what you're talking about, you'll sound more professional and confident. This can be applied to writing - If you know the subject you are writing about you'll be a better writer. Being a confident and well researched writer means you'll try more literary tricks, or use different dialect or spoken language for certain characters.

Being confident in your understanding of the subject matter will reflect in your writing.



Being generally clueless about Mormon funerals I've recently purchased a PDF article from the University of Mormons (not its real name) titled 'Last Rites and the Dynamics of Mormon Liturgy'. It's a thrilling ride, 33 pages of tightly packed intrigue and explosions...no, no it's not, but it will give me the insight to craft a superior narrative.


When purchasing this formidable study from the University of Mormons (still not its real name) website, it continually asked me to check my address was correct. Nothing unusual when buying online, but I have a nagging feeling I'm in for a lifetime of Mormon literature being posted through my door.

Buzz

This was my second story, which again, was drawn by the talented Andrew Milne, and appeared in Hallowscream 2009. At this time, myself and some comic loving buddies were planning our first Hallowscream.



As you can see from below I had sketched an initial first page, which I believed made use of a very clever optical illusion. Unfortunately this idea was pooh-poohed by the artist as unworkable. Rather that waste the excellent creepy imagery of the reveal page I sketched a another page with an alternative story.




The artist took both these pages and reworked them in to a single page, and a great job he did. However, as the artist re-scripted the story, I no longer feel 100% comfortable claiming this is a story that I’d written. Based on my idea, sure, but some anal writing nuance means I can never truly claim it as my own.

This isn’t really a problem. The script was done in the spirit of collaboration and I’m cool with that. These were my early frontier days of script writing and I was still finding my feet.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

FutureQuake Strip Assigned an Artist

Good news, everyone. A two page script titled 'The Travelling Salesman' which had been approved by the legends over at FutureQuake Press has been assigned an artist.

Matthew Harrower, whose blog can be found here, is an illustrator and graphic designer. This is Matt's first crack at a FutureQuake script and, I believe, his first attempt at drawing someone else's script!



The guys at FQP have chosen well.  Matt's distinct, scratchy and raw style is a perfect match for the script. Exciting times, ahoy!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Stone The Crows


This was my first comic strip since I was a wee child. I'm a huge fan of one page shockers and this fits the bill perfectly. It appeared in the 2009 issue of Hallowscream.

The idea for this strip came while driving past signs advertising the Belbroughton Scarecrow Weekend. The signs had lifeless scarecrows hanging off them and of course my finely tuned horror brain kicked in to gear.

Originally titled 'Scarecrow Scare', I actually sketched this bad-boy out myself but was fortunate to have the skilled Andrew Milne on hand to draw it proper like.

A pleasant surprise in my Inbox

I had this lovely image sent to me today from artist Pete https://twitter.com/thepxd that shows his pencils for the first page of a 5 page script I've written called Home Is Where The Heart Is, set to appear in this year's Hallowscream.

Pete's drawn some lovely tight lines and I have high hopes for a top notch strip when it's finished. Hopefully he'll have all 5 pages drawn and inked sometime in September. It's then over to me for lettering duties.

This story is kinda based on the little old lady I purchased my house from, just with an evil twist.


What's the point?

The purpose of this blog is to keep a record of comic related activities I am involved in. I'll be updating this page with strips, scripts, artwork and info relating to any and all comic mischief I get up to.

If I had to categorize myself in the comics world then I would be under the banner of Editor/Writer. However, I'm dabbling in the fine art of comic colouring and getting better and better and lettering. You could call me a jack(ass) of all trades - except for art.

I'm not really an artist, yet I'm not terrible at art - just not very good. I can clearly see the images I am after in my head but when it comes to translating them onto paper something goes horribly wrong. I do plan to get better but I know I'll never be good enough to comfortably draw a comic strip I would be proud of.

I'll be starting by uploading some old strips, in chronological order. Hopefully this will help show the progression I've made as a writer.


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

New Blogger Site

After a considerable amount of mincing I stumbled upon a section of Blogger that informed me I can set up a new blog at the click of one singular button as I already have an account.

As this saves me a bit of time setting up another website I'm just going to use this instead.

Welcome to the Danger Geek blog. Buckle up, we're going on an adventure.