Drawing and spinning

Quick update!

The Canny Comic Con Comic Creation Challenge was great. Pretty low-key, but good vibes all round, hopefully it might happen again.

Also: New Year's Eve.

The Creature From The Funk Lagoon will be opening DJ for the Funky Butt Club New Year's Eve Shindig. It is certain to be THE best place to have an awesome time (awesome tunes, awesome crowd), and youse should all get yo'selves along. Tickets are a tenner (plus a quid booking fee) from here.


Funky but what?

Do you like dancing? I mean reaaaaaally dancing? To funk, soul, rhythm & blues, jazz, ska, etc? You do?

Are you in the environs of Newcastle upon Tyne? You are?

Then you should know about the Funky Butt Club. Upstairs at the Cumberland Arms in Ouseburn usually on the last Sunday of the month, 5-10pm, £3 in. Best dancing music and best dancing vibe in toon - and no taxis required!

Although it's generally on on the last Sunday of the month, it has been on its summer holidays and is now returning to bring funk to the dancing public of Newcastle on Sunday 13th October.

The resident DJs Lady Koo and Lord Leigh are amazing, plus they regularly bring in guest DJs to provide new funk directions. The atmosphere is great - a really mixed super-friendly crowd who are all into great music and dancing like fools.

You really should come.

Incredibly, the organisers have permitted THE CREATURE FROM THE FUNK LAGOON (ahem, you know how some people just love weird pseudonyms eh?) to do a guest spot at the 13th October event. He is very excited about this, as he loves funky music, and dancing like a fool, and the Funky Butt Club; but he is a little bit terrified, having not DJed for many a year, so he will be trying his hardest to make a good first impression...


Asteroid Belt, er

So: it's the British Science Festival coming up and it's happening in Newcastle. A bunch of excellent Novocastrian comic-makers have organised an AMAZING comic to teach science to, well, everyone, but it's mainly aimed at 8 to 13 year-olds. The comic is called Asteroid Belter - The Newcastle Science Comic. It's got the work of all kinds of top-drawer comic creators paired up with university scientists within it.

Knowing the good folk behind this endeavour, I was keen to see how it turned out, but felt that I couldn't provide art at the necessary professional level for a publication that was going to get a 10000 copy print-run, so did not initially put myself forward as an artist for the project. HOWEVER: late in the day, due to a few drop outs, I think they were kinda desperate I guess, and I was probably drunk and I agreed to try and do something that made sense and didn't look terrible. I did a one page called 'Astoundishing Science' that is about avoiding the clichés of how science is portrayed in popular culture. Also: it's full of silliness and the clichés of how science is portrayed in popular culture.

Fortunately, I had Paul Thompson on my side to digitally compose my scrawlings, before then colouring and lettering them to make it into something that actually looks pretty dang good.

I also worked with Paul to make some puzzles to fill in a few gaps in the comic. The main one I worked on (and provided artwork for) was a topological puzzle based around finding the best route for a courier around a complex road system. That was fun too and I'm interested to see if people find it easy or tricky.

Anyway, "where is this comic available?" and "how much will it cost?" - it will be available at various events around the Science Festival and will be FREE. If you're interested, you should come to the launch event at Newcastle City Library on Saturday 7th September. There's workshops on the day and an exhibition of art (yes, including mine I'm afraid) that runs until the 21st. Oh, and did I mention the free comic that does the incredible job of making complex science easily digestible and interesting to kids? Yes, yes, I just did.

Here's a bit with me making up silly answers for a contributor profile thing for the comic's blog.


Sugar Glider Issue 3

Time for more fan art! This time: Sugar Glider.

Actually, I've done fan art for Sugar Glider previously, but the challenge of a design-a-cover competition (in celebration of the upcoming third and final issue of the series) enticed me back to this fine comic.

Susie 'Sugar Glider' Sullivan is a Geordie teenage vigilante in a world with superheroes. Writer Daniel Clifford's touch for contrasting the everyday with the extraordinary, combined with artist Gary Bainbridge's distinctive black and white art style and astute eye for Novocastrian architectural detail, creates a story that impresses with earnest enthusiasm for superheroics while still remaining rooted in a recognisable unsensationalist reality.

The main issues have been supplemented by two anthologies and a mini comic - allowing the world to stretch out and breathe.

And now you can read it all online (free) at sugarglidercomics.co.uk

You should go and have a look. And enter the contest!

Here's my idea:


As you can see, I decided to focus on the rather iconic costume. I think it warrants it. In fact, I think it was the character design, idly doodled one evening by Gary, that prompted Daniel to pitch him a story idea, and the whole project expanded from there. It's a strong visual that chimes with classic superhero archetypes while still feeling fresh, and I thought it would be geet cool to see how far I could take it towards minimalist abstraction.

Plus of course, I'm lazy and thought I could get away with mucking around with design instead of doing a proper drawing. Always thinking!

UPDATE: Sugar Glider #3, the senses-shattering conclusion, is out now! My design is featured in a little gallery at the back! But don't let that put you off! Grab a copy now!



Saw this interesting piece from Paul Gravett. There has been a lot of talk about Pop Art and 'recontextualisation' recently - discussing the lines between 'low' comic art and 'high' gallery art and so on, so thought I'd post this piece from a little while back:


TAG manga

Time for some more fan art! I first came across excellent free webcomic TAG when its creator, Nathan Ashworth, was announced as having joined the Halcyon & Tenderfoot creative team and I investigated their previous work.

Reading TAG, it struck me were that it was not the kind of thing I'd usually seek out but that I was really enjoying it. It's a fun tale of action/adventure, a mix of fighting and friendship, all rendered in energetic manga style with dazzling colour. The plot follows Micki, castaway on a tropical island and drawn into a sort of long-running Street Fighter/DOA-style fighting tournament that the island hosts.

The charm of the story is that with its vibrant colour and layouts, as it slips between drama and downtime, it invites you to explore the mysterious tropical island setting and meet its varied (and distinctively designed) inhabitants with Micki.

Early on, Micki meets Whickes, who becomes her companion and guide. He's kinda funny and with a mysterious tattoo and sword he clearly has hidden backstory depths, but at least to begin with, he invokes a great deal of pity. This teenage dude has no family or friends, lives in a grotty alleyway, and fights and loses every day.

Now, one of the great things about TAG is that it retains a light tone throughout and moves briskly through the darker moments of the story without being dragged down by them. Plus, once Whickes meets Micki, things do start to improve for him. However I wanted to do some fan art focusing on the pathos of poor Whickes' pitiable situation.

Subsequently, after I'd started planning the piece, a TAG fan art competition was announced - with an ice-cream theme. Since that fit neatly with my original idea, I incorporated it (not with any hope of winning the competition - it just seemed like a nice idea) Anyway, here's the doodle I came up with:


As mentioned, that interpretation is not exactly representative of the real TAG. You should go and have a look at it. There's well over a hundred pages! Read it online! Or get a print copy!



I enjoy a lot of small press comics and think many deserve more overt appreciation. I also like doodling. Thus, I'm intending to do a few little bits of fan art with short reviews for stuff I like (and feel like drawing).

I'm going to start with Yggdrasil by Tom 'Panda Funk Team' Boyle.

Here's a picture I did of the Valkyrie in it:

Yggdrasil, as you may have gathered, is based on Norse myths. It's clear Tom has knowledge and enthusiasm for this setting and this comes across in the details of both plot and art. However, this authenticity contrasts, in a very positive way, with his distinctive art style (with hints of manga and street art) that gives the traditionally-rooted story a fresh kinetic feel.

The story rattles around up and down Yggdrasil (the 'life tree') at a fair pace - and a couple of readings and a careful look at the Yggdrasil map are recommended to properly appreciate it; however, if anything, this jumpy pace helps it feel more authentically mythological (deities of old were always up to some kerrazy shiz).

The energy of the artwork pops off the page and it's a pleasure to read. The ultimate story, for all the complexity of the plot, is fairly straightforward protagonists fighting antagonists, but it works - and there's a nice metaphorical twist in there to give it a bit more contemporary context, heightened by a very moving afterword.

This is a great book - AND all proceeds of the first printing went to charity. You should investigate getting it by contacting Tom via his Panda Funk Team blog (it might be out of print but he has other fine comics for sale, including new work 'Zpace' available from his etsy shop)


Best mashups of 2012

Apropos of nothing other than people doing those 'best of the year' things and me liking this stuff, here are some of my favourite mashups from 2012. Massive props to all the mashup producers involved, and of course to all the original artists whose music has been used.

[I had problems with the official.fm and soundcloud embeded players so I've included videos instead where possible (although I'm not a huge fan of mashup videos - I usually prefer to solely appreciate the musical inventiveness) - so I hope everything will play from this page, but have linked out to all the tracks anyway, in case you want to download them].

Not a complete list and in no particular order:

Lobsterdust - It's Fun to Be Young at the YMCA (Fun vs The Village People) . A bit of disco cheese fun, adding in a contemporary vocal with a hint of poignancy - brilliantly executed. Lovely.

Chocomang - Chocomangnam Style (The Hives vs PSY). Gangnam Style was ubiquitous this year and among many mashup variations that appeared, I think I like this one the best. It feels just slightly rough in places which really just adds to the energy of the Hives instrumental complementing the bonkers vocal nicely.

ToToM - Hell of a Feeling (Avril Lavigne vs Boston). Avril Lavigne, of all people, provides a quirky perky organ/handclapping vibe that gives the much-used Boston vocal a new lease of life.

Dan Mei - White Rasputin Wedding (Turisas vs Billy Idol vs Zedd). Much of the appeal of this one is down to the brilliant Turisas cover version of 'Ra Ra Rasputin' that forms the core of this - but I really like the fun vocal additions, the contrast between the soaring pop vocal and the mental folk-metal violins almost forces you to leap up and dance.

DJ Rozroz - I Feel Roads (James Brown vs Portishead). With any mashup that uses genuinely beloved music, there's a danger of sacrilege, and the idea of James Brown mashed up with Portishead's beautiful 'Roads' seemed likely to have overstepped the bounds of playfulness. Except - it works, really really well. Great downbeat mashup.

Mighty Mike - City Down Under (M83 vs Men At Work). Another fairly downbeat one, this time using perhaps less precious material, but giving Men At Work a space-y synthy makeover creates a wistfully atmospheric new track.

DJ Schmolli - Crush it (Michael Jackson vs Nero vs Knife Party). Jacko is pretty overused in mashups but combining 'Beat It' with bone-crunching dubstep/drum&bass/whatever-it's-called-that-kids-are-listening-to-these-days fits well, creating a floor-filler that's satisfyingly hard and frenetic whilst still amusingly recognisable. Also, great Lego video.

Have a good 2013.