The Guardian got in touch to ask me to illustrate a regular, small column in The Guide.
Every week a different person pitches a new TV show and I illustrate it.
I’m about two months into it so far so here are the first eight illustrations without any context:
I was honoured to be asked to provide the artwork for the cover and here’s a look at the front:
Find out more about Chrissy and the book here.
I love the show and the piece was a joy to work on thanks to a great AD and a fascinating article. It’s a wonderful read for anyone with a passing interest in how TV shows are made, even if you’re not aware of The Americans (you’re in for a treat if you decide to give it a watch).
Read the full thing here.
Hot Rum Cow magazine were running a piece on how to use a sabre to open a bottle of champagne and commissioned me to illustrate it.
Happy with how these came out and was a pleasure to work with AD Eric Campbell.
And here’s a small pic of the page:
Another poem comic that Chrissy Williams and I collaborated on recently.
It’s called When I Write I Use Every Part Of Myself.
If you liked this, Chrissy and I co-edited a book about poetry comics called Over The Line: An Introduction to Poetry Comics – available here.
You can see the rest of our collaborative poetry comics by clicking on the Poem Comics category in the sidebar.
Chrissy also runs the Poetry & Comics Tumblr which is worth a follow.
Here’s a new poem comic that Chrissy Williams and I have been working on recently.
It’s called Wake.
Click to enlarge.
Last year, Chrissy and I co-edited a book about poetry comics (Over The Line: An Introduction to Poetry Comics – available here!) but had, before that, collaborated on a few of our own. It was nice to return to creating poetry comics together and hopefully we’ll be doing lots more in the future!
You can see the rest of our work by clicking on the Poem Comics category in the sidebar.
Chrissy also runs the Poetry & Comics Tumblr which is worth a follow!
I was extremely honoured to be asked to illustrate one of the b-sides to the new volume of Phonogram. It’s a six pager and will technically be the very last Phonogram comic seeing as it’s in the final issue of The Immaterial Girl.
I drove myself a little crazy drawing this as I was nervous about letting the team down and making sure I stepped up to the challenge. Hopefully it goes down well and people enjoy it.
Oddly, the comic is called ‘Modern Love’ and is partly about the (brilliant) Bowie song. This was a comic I drew last summer. I received comp copies of the comic last Monday – the day Bowie died. I feel if I tried to articulate my feelings about Bowie here I could end up doing so for the rest of the day (and still not manage to say anything much that hasn’t already been said better elsewhere), but suffice it to say – I felt more emotional about it than I was prepared for.
Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Clowes, and Chrissy Williams (plus all the other excellent b-side contributors) have been doing exceptional work on Phonogram and I’m sad to see it go – make sure you get the whole 6 issues of The Immaterial Girl.
You should be able to pick up a copy in your local comic store tomorrow (Wednesday 20th Jan). I’m excited about being in a comic which is on the This Week’s Comics shelves.
You can now order a print of any of the 32 illustrations I did during Horror Month for £20.
They will be high quality A3 archival giclee prints on thick, matte, Hahnemühle German etching paper stock. And signed by me.
Expect a week or two before the prints arrive.
As a handy reminder, here’s a list of all the films/illustrations with links:
The Serpent and the Rainbow
Village of the Damned
Theatre of Blood
Blood on Satan’s Claw
Carnival of Souls
We Are What We Are
House of the Devil
Berberian Sound Studio
The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue
“We just want to play.”
Quick summary: A french couple living in a remote mansion in the Romanian countryside face a home invasion from unknown intruders who like to obnoxiously announce their arrival via the use of metal music.
I was unsure how to finish this month with a strong, Halloween-friendly film – most of my decisions on what to watch this month has been made after twitter/facebook recommendations and just taking the plunge without reading much about the films beforehand. Ils/Them was, it turned out, a perfect way to finish off – a taut, incredibly tense, mercifully short (77 mins), stripped-down home invasion movie. Definitely the best of this sub-genre (which I’m not much of a fan of) I’ve seen since You’re Next.
The film reminded me of Haute Tension – another great French horror movie – in the way it maintains a sustained, mounting tension throughout. Both films have genuinely had me on the edge of my seat and desperate for the relief of a final act. There’s even a very effective scene involving dangling plastic sheeting that calls to mind a similar scene in Haute Tension.
It smartly keeps us and the protagonists from ever glimpsing much more of the intruders than some feet or a hood – and there’s something in the way they move and the way that sound is used that made me think of mime and Philippe Gaulier style clown school techniques.
After reading around the film in an attempt to find out how much the “based on a true story” is genuine or just another horror cliché – I discovered a piece which criticises the film for it’s xenophobia. The piece is here – if you’re planning on seeing the film, it contains spoilers. Without revealing too much, the protagonists are French, living in Romania, and the intruders are Romanian locals. The piece suggests the film (which came out just before Romania joined the EU) was either consciously or unconsciously a racist attack on Romanians and served to increase and play into French fears of Romanian immigrants. I think the piece is unfair on the film in terms of how successful it was on a purely technical level, but I think it raises very interesting points. I can’t think of a reason (other than potential budgetary ones?) that this couldn’t work in the French countryside. Don’t get me wrong though – it is nowhere near the sexist, racist and homophobic levels of the Eli Roth trips to Europe.
And I’m done. That’s 31 days. 32 illustrations. 38 films.
Films I found the scariest: The Borderlands, The Innocents, Dark Water, Unfriended, Ils.
Suggesting the things that scare me the most are: Under-explained paganism, creepy children, and greyed out boxes on facebook.
Films that left me with a lingering sense of unease for a few days: Threads, Bug, Possession, Repulsion, Berberian Sound Studio.
Directors I plan on delving into more: Val Lewton, Larry Fessenden, Ti West, Mario Baba, Dario Argento.
I really enjoyed this and while the addition of the daily illustration had me cursing myself for promising to do it on days when I had a lot of other work on, I’m going to miss having this routine. I would love to do this again sometime. The daily illustration gave me a chance to try out new inking and colouring techniques, and I can see an improvement from the first to the last piece which is gratifying. I wish I’d managed to fit more double-bills in and push that number of films watched to 40 but life, and principally a heavy workload, took priority.
Thanks to everyone on twitter/facebook who suggested horror films for me to watch throughout the month. Every film had something interesting in there, I don’t think anything was a complete disappointment, and I’ve probably come away with at least five new favourite films. The list of recommendations can be found here – where I still have over 90 films to eventually get around to – I just may not be illustrating those! Please do get in touch if you think of any films that need to be on that list.
Also, thanks if you’ve been following along every day, and for everyone who shared the blog on social media. It’s been really nice to see compliments on the drawings, or find out when people have a watched a film based on the blog – and it helped to hear that on the days when I was overwhelmed with work and finding it hard to fit this in.
I’ve had a little bit of interest in prints of some of the illustrations I did throughout this. I’ve started looking into a place where I can get really nice quality, A3 giclee prints on textured, thick, Hahnemuhle paper for a reasonable price. It’s looking like I probably wouldn’t be able to charge less than £20 per print but I’ve still got a few more printers to call.
If you’re interested in getting a print, and £20 sounds like a fair price – let me know on my twitter or on facebook (and tell me which illustration you’d like) as that will give me some idea of how much interest there is.
I could also sell the original ink drawings if people wanted those.
Anyway. Icky capitalism aside. Thank you so much for reading and Happy Halloween!
You can read the full archive of the Horror Month here.
Dellamorte Dellamore/Cemetery Man/Mi Nova es un Zombie (1994)
“I should have known it. The rest of the world doesn’t exist.”
Quick summary: Rupert Everett is the guardian of a cemetery where the dead sometimes come back to life. He spends his evenings shooting them through the head before they cause trouble. Then the film gets weird.
That was an eccentric, silly, and absurd movie – and pretty enjoyable. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, having not heard much about it before, but while it was tonally all over the place I was never bored by it. At times it reminded me of Braindead and the early work of Peter Jackson – particularly the zombie boy scouts and zombie nun set-piece, or the flying zombie head that hangs out inside a broken TV – but that’s just the (relatively) standard genre stuff you expect from this sort of film. It’s in the weirder, more surreal tangents the movie takes that it really gets going.
The twin themes of love and death frequently recur as does the film’s fascination with birth and rebirth (even the rebirth of castrated penises). It throws some very arresting images at the screen in a way that calls to mind a lot of the indie directors who made their name in the nineties (Robert Rodriguez comes to mind).
The movie was based on a novel by Tiziano Sclavi who wrote the Dylan Dog comic series (the protagonist’s features were apparently based on Rupert Everett in this film). Scorsese called the film one of the best Italian films of the nineties. I’m not sure I’ve seen enough Italian cinema to really chip in on that.
There’s a biker zombie who bursts out of the ground on a working motorbike.
There’s a Citizen Kane snowglobe ending. Or St. Elsewhere, depending on your reference point.
Tonight: It’s actual Halloween tonight so while I plan to watch Ils/Them (2006), I’m also going to probably re-watch some old favourites…
Happy Halloween! Thanks for following along if you’ve been reading. See you tomorrow for my final illustration.
Check out the archive of the horror month so far here.