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Preview: Rod McKie Illustrations and Cartoons

Rod McKie Illustrations and Cartoons

Cartoons and illustrations for Playboy, The Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Readers Digest(USA), Prospect (UK), Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, National Lampoon, The Phoenix (Ire), Marian Heath Greeting Cards, and various publications w

Updated: 2018-03-06T14:40:58.430+00:00


Still With Us :)


Older, but no wiser.

I'm drawing some cartoons again.  The really odd thing is, I've been developing a style as if I was new to the game, rather than an old fart.  I think it may be because I had to relearn the cartooney style after drawing comics - kind of makes sense. The style has actually changed since I drew this cartoon.  I've drawn a good few more, and will likely make a new version of this one, because I still like the gag. To be honest, I look more like one of the guys in the cartoon, than the one above, on account of being hairier now.

Some of the recent ones are pretty funny, to me at least.  And they do 'look' funnier now, which is always half the battle.  I think the one above is a sort of hybrid on the way to the funnier looking characters.  We'll see.

Creating the Writer.


I did intend to make a post about a particular manga, and I will post that soon, it's coming along nicely, but this post is about music and textual analysis. Let's do this in chronological order. Cast your mind back 2 years (which is easy at the moment because my severe lack of posting over recent months probably means my Before the Dawn concert piece is still on this page ) to the series of Kate Bush concerts at London's Hammersmith Odeon in 2014 (details below).  I was there, as you know, thanks to the supremely talented Kenris McLeod, as you know, and it was spectacular, a feast for the eyes and the ears.  Distance from the event has only solidified my belief that it was, perhaps, the greatest pop concert of all time.  It certainly was, by any measure, extraordinary. forward to November 25th this year, and we have the release of a live album/CD of those concerts, and it gives those who were not there, and those who were, a chance to 'hear' for the first time, or once again, how spectacular the band backing Kate Bush were.  The KT Fellowship, under whose name the album is released, were simply stunning (again, details of all those taking part are below), and this album, 4 albums to be precise, gives us a chance, minus the visual wonders of the show, to listen more intently to the music itself. And to focus on Kate Bush's spectacular voice.  A little lower now, but all the more powerful for that.  Gorgeous, isn't it?  The LP set is just lovely and the booklet, which is a larger version of the one that comes with the CD, is excellent.  There's one additional song on Before the Dawn, Never Be Mine, which just sounds incredible.  It was chopped off the concert set list, but makes a welcome return here.  So, you're probably wondering where the 'textual analysis' comes in? Well, it's less to do with the album, than with Kate Bush herself, and it allows us once again to discuss the role of the author, with reference to Umberto Eco's Tanner lectures (Cambridge University 1990) on 'Interpretation and Overinterpretation: World, History, Texts' and in particular to the identity of the 'ideal reader' and the 'ideal author'. In 'Interpretation and Overinterpretation' Eco talks about the 'ideal reader'. This 'ideal reader' is not the empirical reader, but a reader imagined by the author. The ideal reader is a reader who will 'get' everything the author has carefully layered into the text; every symbol, every metaphor, every metatextual reference, every nuance, of the text. In a sense, the ideal reader is the author imagining herself or himself as the reader (who better?). But, just as the author imagines an ideal reader, the reader imagines an ideal author, who is not the empirical author, but a fantasy figure constructed, in at least part, by the text itself. In a way, it is the reader imagining themselves as the writer, or at the very least, the writer as someone who 'totally gets them'. Someone who is on their wavelength.This brings us to Kate Bush's recent interview with the Canadian magazine, Maclean's, where Bush was asked about Hillary Clinton, and spoke instead about how much she likes Britain's female Prime Minister Theresa May: Q: A track called “Waking the Witch”—which was released in 1985—was performed for Before The Dawn. You once said that the song was about “the fear of women’s power.” With regards to Hillary Clinton’s recent defeat, do you think that this fear is stronger than ever?A: We have a female prime minister here in the UK. I actually really like her and think she’s wonderful. I think it’s the best thing that’s happened to us in a long time. She’s a very intelligent woman but I don’t see much to fear. I will say it is great to have a woman in charge of the country. She’s very sensible and I think that’s a good thing at this point in time.Now, a superficial glance at the text has led many to believe this is Bush telling the wider world that she is a Tory voter, wh[...]

Well, you took your time...


 I forgot my password. I'm forgetting a few things, which I hope is temporary. If not, Well, what can you do? This is a taster of some of the posts I'll be putting up. I had planned to do these some time back, so I'll be playing catch-up, but I'll intersperse some older material with some new stuff.  It'll be the usual eclectic mixture and now and again we'll add other media when it crosses over into comicbook land, as it so often does these days. As usual, when there are illos (always), right click and open in a new window so you get the proper look.

Appropriately; the best laid plans of mice and men...


I had many plans to update the blog this past year, 2015, but things conspired to get in the way. This month, it has been my cancer, which now makes me very tired I'm afraid. With luck, I shall make my return to posting in January 2016, and if the splendid NHS team looking after me is right, I'll be making new posts for a long time to come (On No!). Allow me to thank you for your support, and your incredible patience, over the last few years, it has given me extra purpose.

Be excellent to each other.

Kate Bush: Somewhere in Between...


There's a place, somewhere in between being fully awake, and being asleep and dreaming, where the creative mind roams in search of ideas. It's an inner-space, like a vast landscape in some computer game, which seems to be timeless, or at least seems to exist outside time. Sometimes, when you are in that lonely inner space, if you're lucky, ideas come, and problems that seemed insoluble in the harsh light of day, are solved. There are areas of this creative landscape though, that are inaccessible to all but the very brave and/or the very dedicated. These are the dark corners of the creative landscape. They are nooks and crannies over there in the dark woods, up there high on the mountain tops or buried deep, deep, down in the undergrowth. They lie behind the many signs along the forking-paths of the creative landscape that say 'This Way Madness Lies'. Most of us avoid looking for ideas in those areas, because the risks may be too great. But some brave souls go into those places on our behalf, and they bring back the stories they find there. To my mind, Kate Bush is one of those very daring adventurers, who go into those dark corners to shine a light on what they discover there.So, I doubt it will come as a huge surprise to you to discover that I made my way down to London, last month, to catch Kate Bush's show, Before the Dawn (I was so tempted to leave the typo 'Down' as a tribute to the dodgy poster being sold outside the Apollo :) Thanks, Zee and Caleb).  A feat only made possible by the Herculean perseverance, and the Hachidan keyboard skills of the fabulously talented artist, Kenris McLeod, who never gave up, and eventually tapped the Eventim ticket-ordering page into submission.I haven't attempted to write anything about the event before now, for two reasons, firstly, because if I had written something immediately after the show, it would have reflected all I could really think and say at the time, and that really didn't go far beyond "bloody hell" and "wow". I might have scrawled it all over the page though, so it was a bloody big "Wow", even a huge "Wow", but the response would still have been limited to that monosyllabic utterance. And secondly, because many of my friends in the Fish People Kate Bush Fan Group had not yet been to see the show, and I didn't want to spoil the surprises that lay ahead of them.Of course, I’m now in a similar position with those of you who weren't lucky enough to score tickets for the show, and are eagerly awaiting the Kate Bush, Live: Before the Dawn DVD, so I've tried to balance telling you something about the show, without ruining the very big surprises. It’s a difficult balance, so please excuse me if I get a little over-excited and overstep those self-imposed boundaries. I'll do my best to be careful, and hopefully, I will succeed a little in whetting your appetite, without completely spoiling the incredible treat that lies in store for you. But first a quick word about the incredible Before the Dawn Programme Look carefully at my Before the Dawn programme. That's it in front of Dekkie the Dalek. You see how buckled it looks - like a book that has been fished from the water and left to dry? Isn't that fantastic? I bet you've been keeping your copy as flat as a pancake. The programme is designed to look as if it has been soaked, becoming part of the detritus of the wrecked ship, the ‘Celtic Deep’, making it not just 'about' the show, but part of the show itself. The cover’s colours look like they have run together, and it even has a trace of inky-black oil on it - the look further enhanced with the embossed matte laminate lettering being oily-black, and darker than the rest of the cover. If you stand the book upright, and let it breathe a little, the inner-pages, some of which are made to look like they have wet stains and running colours on them, slightly buckle and puff out. They do this because about 40 of the 60 pages are French-fold, and they [...]

The Saga Continues


Ha. Well it has been a long time in the making.  As my regular reader will know, I began my side project, 'Johnny Morte', as a mini-comic some time back, and it kept developing as I added new themes and ideas and colour.  I like to think it has continued to improve, as I became more familiar with my subjects, and I've actually loved the way it has evolved from something good enough for me to experiment with, to something good enough to present to the paying public.  As I've mentioned in the past, I tend to grow the story back the way to a period before the action I thought was the beginning, began, and I think that really does help create a story that has more meat, and makes more sense, because rather than relying on flashbacks, the tale runs in a chronological order of events and is therefore easier to follow.  So, this new post will be a beginning before the beginnings that have been seen on the blog in the past, if you see what I mean.  This is not, however, the beginning of the story, it is about 6 pages in, but I was playing around with my colour schemes so I thought I'd post them.

The first pic' here is what I'm using as a background and an overlay, so that I can achieve a look of decayed and decaying opulence. I won't add it until everything is put together, but then I'm not really colouring the pages at the moment, I just got a little excited and raced you do.

Yay! Progress.


The fact that I've finally made the cover to issue #1 of Johnny Morte means that I've finished the first comic book.  I may make some changes, but it's largely done and those changes won't be huge.  I don't know if I'll colour it - I might.  It's very freeing because now that everything in Johnny's world is established and most of the main characters are introduced, I can work on other projects at the same time.  This may well include drawing some cartoons again for the first time in years.  An odd thing happens every so often; I think of a cartoon, so I write the punch line with some notes and file it away.  As a result I have some ideas in the vault.  Yippee. 

Last Teeny Update Before Resuming Proper Posting


I'm going with black gutters in parts of Johnny Morte.  Issue #1 of the comic begins with a dream sequence, then a night sequence and then a flashback sequence, so I'm going with black gutters up to the flashback sequence.  There will be other pages with black gutters further on in the story, and again there will there will be a point to them.

Johnny Morte cover #1


Well, I'm not sure about this one.  I'll know better tomorrow, when I look at it in a more detached way.  It will do for now, I suppose.  It is kind of comic bookish, which I like:

Page 1 of Johnny Morte


Anyone who has read the posts on Johnny Morte, from his beginnings as a mini-comic, will hardly find the inclusion of the Charon/Grim Reaper character a surprise, but I didn't want anyone unfamiliar with it to see all at once where the story might eventually go.  Which is daft really because all the details are on this blog, but I thought it was interesting to see how people reacted to the story without knowing it goes all supernatural.  Anyway, I've finished page 1, which obviously comes before the 6 pages in the post below this one, so let's imagine it there rather than have me deleting the previous post and posting again..  I'll put the cover up this week,  and maybe another few pages:

Hello Future Rod, it's Me Again.


Still waiting to update, but I'm going to post this and delete the previous post, because the drawings are more up-to-date and there are more of them.  Again, I'm holding page 1 back for the time being, as it gives so much away, so these are actually pages 2-7 of Johnny Morte #1. 

I did a nifty thing here on one of the pages (bear with me if it's so bleedin' obvious I should shut up). I had been redrawing an ear and an eye over and over again, erasing the things and trying to get them right.  Then I remembered I was drawing on layers on the computer (I'm not kidding), on Manga Studio, so I took the rectangle tool and isolated the area on my "linedrawing" layer that I wanted to change, and increased the brightness on that area turning the black line grey, like pencils.  Then I created a new layer called "eareyeam" (injecting a little humour, you see) and drew the ear and the eye on the new layer, using the previous ear and eye as a guide for what not to do.  Then I highlighted the "linedrawing" layer and leaving the rectangle tool in place I erased the old ear and eye.  After that I right-clicked the "eareyeam" layer and merged it with the "linedrawing" layer.  I know it's a pretty obvious way to make corrections but I felt dead-chuffed about it. #EasilyPleased.

Coming Soon


I'll be posting a long-winded blog on the fabulously gory and utterly fantastic manga 'Shingeki No Kyojin' (Attack on Titan), by 27 year-old mangaka Hajime Isayama.  Attack on Titan has been growing in popularity steadily since the original manga's launch in Kodansha's Bessatu Shonen Magazine in 2009.  Nominated for the 16th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2012, the manga features the battles between humans and the man-eating giants who now rule the world.

An anime adaptation of the manga is scheduled to premiere in Japan this spring (2013), to be directed by Tetsuro Araki (Death Note, High school of the Dead).  A live-action film version is also on the way, but film journalist Hiroo Otaka reported recently that Tetsuya Nakashima (Kamikaze Girls, Confessions) had left his position as director.  Although a new director for the film isn't in place, the movie is still expected to be released in 2014 or perhaps later.

And So it Goes...


...tiddely pom.  To quote someone else with very little brain.  I've drawn 26 pages of my comic book, A3-size, and inked them, despite the fact that I don't need to do that because I'll be inking digitally - but I did anyway, it's my way of finalising the pencils and checking continuity (or I'd edit from now until doomsday).  So whilst they look like final pages, they aren't, they're really my final pencils, and there's still one stage to go, the digital inking.  Which is why I was at the printer's, you see I have to get the drawings onto the computer and at the moment I have no A-3 size scanner, so I was there getting the drawings reduced to A4-size so I scan them in easily and quickly on my A4 scanner, without folding the pages and joining the artwork together on the computer - which is tedious in the extreme.  So, after scanning the reduced A4-size pages in, I went to work on them using a combination of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Manga Studio.  I used Photoshop to increase the A4 drawings back up to A3, reduced the levels so that the drawings look like feint pencil, and established a new layer before I opened the drawings in Illustrator, where they were inked.  In Illustrator, I imported the drawings with layers converted to objects, and started to draw, using Sherm Cohen's cartooning brushes.  After finishing, I imported the drawings into Manga Studio, where I ruled the pages, placed word balloons  and laid-down a layer of text.  I then exported the finished drawings as PSD files, and then I discovered the mistake.   When I exported the drawings from Manga Studio I took my eye off the ball, and halved the size of the pages when I reduced the resolution from 600dpi to 300dpi. So what I now had were A4 size drawings, again.  Oh, it's possible that it wouldn't have mattered that much.  Certainly, if I'd kept them at 600dpi, I'd have no problem increasing them to A3 at 300dpi, but I just feel that increasing A4 to A3 at a resolution of 300dpi, is pushing your luck.  So I've started again, only this time I'm doing everything, drawing, balloons, lettering, in Manga Studio, because I think that will allow me to finish inking all the pages by the end of the weekend.  Said he hopefully.So this was the page all faded and I was building it a little at a time.  Having finished the panels and the balloons in MS, I was back in PS joining the balloons together in panel 2 and making the eye-hole for the door in panel 3 and I thought it was all coming along okay.  But the following day I discovered my sizes were all to pot.(As always, if you want a good look at the pics (checking pen settings etc) right-click and open in a new window.)So this time I need to speed things up and I've straight in with the inking in MS, using the Maru pen, and since I do the panels and balloons in there I might as well do the lot in that programme.Back to Photoshop for that spy-hole though because it's easier for me to do that there.  Just a case of using the shape tool and setting the transparency.  If anyone wants to tell me how to do it in MS, I'm willing to learn. So it's not so bad, if it's a page that's got few straight lines and hardly any balloons.  When that's the case it's a little like tracing and it's a pretty quick job, but only because the pencil work is fully finished.  Otherwise it would be driving me up the wall..[...]

The Moebius Loop


So I began working on Johnny Morte maybe two years ago?  It has taken this long to get it just the way I want it, and the story has evolved over the period and the look of it has changed.  Visually, it hasn't changed a great deal, but the story is a lot better, I think.  It is a comic, and I do view it as a 'pop project' to fund the other stuff, but it isn't a throwaway project, and I hope the length of time it has taken me to finalise the script and the artwork illustrates that.  I do take it seriously, and I won't let it go until I know it's the best I can do.

Letting it go is the problem really.  For decades now I have had a problem letting things go.  In fact, on several occasions I have supplied magazine publishers and card companies with "second drawings" along with the finished approved work.  This "second drawing" is a "really finished" drawing that I think is an improvement on the one requested.  At no stage, has any publisher used the "second drawing".  But quite recently, I took this obsession with getting things just right, to a whole new level.  I was looking at some old artwork I did in the 1980s, which was in a comic so it's a matter of record somewhere - it's an historical fact in some dusty collection somewhere, and I was going to put it online, and I actually found myself thinking about redrawing it.

Can you believe that?  I mean to say, in what way would that have been authentic?  I was going to post a thirty year old drawing that I drew yesterday. It wasn't as if I was going to re-imagine it, or contemporise it, or make it the way I always imagined it would be - all much more valid reasons for doing it.  No, what I wanted to do was remove the "mistakes" I made back then.  I knew right there and then that I had a problem, and knew what the problem was; I hate anything by me.  I was in danger of being caught up in a moebius loop where I would spend the rest of my life redrawing everything I've ever done every what?  Every 6 months, every year, every decade?  It suddenly became apparent to me that I have been doing this for some time.  Now, a version of this behaviour does have its place in the work I do. In cartooning one often looks back over the old rejects and even the accepted cartoons for new ideas, for a new spin, but that's different, that's re-interrupting the work, making it more contemporary.  What can't be healthy, surely, is being stuck in the frame of mind where one endlessly redraws the same exact idea over and over again, in a futile search for perfection - especially when that time would be better spent moving on and coming up with new ideas.

So here we go.  I'm on page 9 of JM Comic book #1 and very soon I'll have the entire 26 or so pages finished.and it'll wing its way away and it will be "the best I could do at the time" and that is what it will remain.  It's very freeing to set aside a compulsion, it's like stepping outside a moebius strip.

Right click to open in a new window. Clicking on through throws up tiny graphics.

A Very Happy Lovecraftian Halloween


American author, Howard Phillips Lovecraft's (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) stories and his literary philosophy of "cosmicism" , the belief that life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally hostile to the interests of humankind, exert a tremendous influence on modern fiction, and have had, and continue to have, a profound impact on the world of comicbooks.  It is an influence that began during the author's lifetime.  In his essay, "H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos", Robert M. Price identifies the "Cthulhu Mythos proper", a sharing of Lovecraftian-lore by Lovecraft's contemporaries, formulated during his lifetime, and subject to his guidance. The second stage identified by Price, is the stage guided by the person who coined the term the Cthulhu Mythos , August Derleth, who published Lovecraft's stories after his death, and attempted to catalouge and expand the Lovecraftian Mythos.  The second stage, the expansion of the Cthulu Mythos after Lovecraft's death, in stories, films, and comicbooks, has been so successful that librarians and booksellers still have to turn away would-be occultists who search in vain for the Necronomicon, Lovecraft's fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore.  The Necronomicon, as a shared element in fiction has surfaced in both the Cthulu Mythos Proper, and the later Cthulu Mythos.  In his short story, "The Children of the Night" (1931), Conan the Barbarian author, Robert E. Howard (a member of the "Lovecraft Circle" along with Clark Ashton Smith, the author of Psycho, Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long, Henry Kuttner, and Fritz Lieber), had his character Friedrich Von Junzt read Lovecraft's Necronomicon.  In his four-issue comicbook series Neonomicon, writer Alan Moore both expanded and subverted the Cthulu Mythos, by foregrounding, naming, and showing, graphically, the unameable terrors that lurk in the deep structure beneath the surface of Lovecraft's Mythos.  Lovecraft's Arkham Sanatorium found its way into the DC universe in the 1970s courtesy of Dennis O'Neil and during its time it has housed The Joker, the Riddler, Bane, and others and has featured in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and in a number of DC's mini-series. The magazine Metal Hurlant, was created by "Les Humanoïdes Associés" ( Jean Giraud (Mœbius), Philippe Druillet, Jean-Pierre Dionnet and Bernard Farkas) in 1974.  During its hugely influential run, which ended in 1987, it featured work by, amongst others, Jean-Claude Forest (Barbarella),  Richard Corben, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Enki Bilal (Immortal), Caza, Serge Clerc, Alain Voss, Berni Wrightson, Milo Manara, Frank Margerin, Angus McKie, and many others.  The Lovecraft edition in the US, where it was published as Heavy Metal, features a beautiful cover of Mister Lovecraft, by the fabulous J.K. Potter, which was markedly different to the equally beautiful H.R. Giger cover that graced the French edition.  All art is copyright the respective copyright holders.  Let me just warn you in advance that I've left some stuff out and avoided scanning entire stories in order to make sure we don't inadvertently put anyone's hard work into the public domain.  What is left, I hope, gives you a feel of the collection.  I haven't randomly omitted things, but I have chosen the stuff I think works very well, either as faithful adaptations of Lovecraft's work or in expanding the Cthulu Mythos.  One of my favourite's is the first story, Fi[...]

Wonderful Copenhagen, Allan Haverholm's Sort-Mund


I was obsessed with comicbooks when I was a schoolboy, American comicbooks.  During some lessons I sat daydreaming, especially when the lesson involved the teacher talking about her time in Dar es Salaam - which she did a lot. I tried to imagine what comicbooks they had there, and then I was off, staring over at the globe in the corner of the room and imagining what comicboks were like in India, in Holland, in Italy, in Denmark. It's still a real treat for me to get my grubby little mitts on these treasures, and I love seeing them in their native language, rather than in English translation. That's why I was delighted when Allan Haverholm let me have a copy of his graphic novel, Sort-Mund, and had no problems with the fact that I cannot understand a word of Danish. I spoke with Allan about blogging on Sort-Mund, and making a stab at what is going on in it, using only the drawings to feel my way through the story, and he decided it would be an interesting experiment.  Besides, I figured that even if I was way off target with the story, I would still be able to share Allan's wonderful drawings with you.A good place to start when you're reading a book is the title.  A lot of thought goes into titles. Somewhere in the house here I have a copy of the sheet of paper Dickens used when he was struggling to name Hard Times; he went through a lot of ideas before settling on that title. But I wanted to avoid looking at Babelfish and decided that Sort-Mund was a place.  It's not, I now know, Sort-Mund means Black Mouth, but I've avoided trying to translate chunks of dialogue because whether I've understood the text or not, I've been able to fashion some sort of story, in my head,from Allan's drawings.I love the opening page, our entry into the story, i's a stark, noirish, Dr Caligari-type cityscape, with Triffid-like tentacles breaking through the surface and blocking the path of a loan figure. He turns and races back the way, through a park, and then it becomes clear that the protagonist has been dreaming.  The scene then switches to a domestic setting, but there are one or two visual clues that this sunny morning may retain something of the strangeness of last night's dream.  The shadow of the window frame on his face forms the shape of the cross, outside his charming cottage, there's a black crow watching him collect his mail, the whistling kettle, the first real sound we hear screams across the page.  We're pretty confident something is going to happen and there's a hint or two that it might involve religion of some sort, death, and maybe even something Lovecraftian.         The letter causing our protagonist, Manne Svarts, to go collect something from a counter or teller or collection point 665 (almost 666 and just one of the numerical and symbolic hints and clues laced through the text), and there may again be an interruption from a dream or from an imagined war-time scene. This worrying thread, that suggests a fracture of some sort in our hero's thinking or even in his mind, continues as we move from the protagonist's reality of modern-day Denmark, of coffee houses and bus trips, back into his violent dream scape where he dreams within the dream and morphs into the violent perpetrator.  It's becoming clear that reality and fantasy are becoming problematic for our hero.There are really nice shifts in POV as Allan introduces different characters, like the trendy young researchers, into the story, and the noir mood lights even the most cozy, domestic, scenes, warning us that there is a dark shadow hovering over the text.  That dark shadow belo[...]

Picking Over Eric Orchard's MarrowBones


I like Eric Orchard. I like Eric's work too, he has a lightness of touch, and can invoke a genuine sense of creepiness that is almost in the same league as the feeling of Unheimliche that Renee French captures with her drawings. But his talent doesn't end there, dammit, he can also write well, as his latest comicbook, MarrowBones, clearly shows. It's a difficult thing to do, introducing your imagined world to the reader for the first time; in any medium. But I think it is especially difficult in a graphic story, as it often requires a degree of verbosity that limits the area that can be used to illustrate exactly what is going on.  In a Gothic poem or story, the scene can be set quickly, and effectively, and economically, with very little need for the reader to do any work: "Once upon a midnight dreary..." immediately sets the scene for the reader, and the rhythm and cadence drives Drearily Down as the mood is hammered home. Within seconds we are partners in the bleakness.  In a comicbook the dreariness has to be illustrated, literally, and you can't cheat, you can't just draw a darkened sky and have one character blurt out "what a dreary place".  Well you can, I suppose, but the reader will see through that approach soon enough.  The reason Eric Orchard succeeds in quickly imparting information about the world the reader of MarrowBones will inhabit, quickly, is because all the visual clues are there from the very first moment the reader interacts with the book.  Everything, from the fetid, dripping, Marrowbones logo, with its cleverly incorporated skull, to the cover design, to the muted palette, and the choice of  lettering, all works toward one end, establishing the Gothic tone that is both uncomfortably strange and because of our experience of other Gothic tales, uncomfortably familiar.  It is, a fully imagines world and we have every reason to believe the author when he claims that the project has been gestating for some time.The cleverness of the tale is in using a crypt-keeper-type of character as a narrator. This is a nod to comicbook history, as it invokes memories of the old 1950s EC comic Tales from the Crypt, and many a horror comic and TV series and movie since, and it is also an extremely effective way of establishing the history of the imagined universe as economically as possible.MarrowBones also succeeds in bridging the gap between a cute vampire tale like Hipira, by Katsuhiro Otomo and Shinji Kimura, and the outright horror of Junji Ito's vision.  Somewhere between both these extremes, lies Marrowbones and it is a very welcome addition indeed.    MarrowBones Issue One can be downloaded for around $2 from Eric Orchard's blog at .[...]

Imagine a Noise like Blerp.


Hi.  I hope this means I'll shortly be back at the, ahem, grind.  I still have to be scanned in a giant cigar-tube and have more blood tests, but I'm hoping it will be the last round of that stuff and I can put it behind me.  Thanks for asking after me; I'll be in touch very soon.

All of a sudden, earlier today, I got a little interested in things again.  It came out of the blue, and I think it had a sort of "blerp" sound to it.  Suddenly, I started picking things up and looking at them.  I even turned the Wacom on and I could draw with it; which was a little shocking because I thought I might have fogotten how to. 

I also became interested in looking at comics again. This time round I haven't been, but I have been reading, Mapp and Lucia, and Berlin Stories and Tales of the City and The Woman in White, and others, but no comics.  And I've been looking at manga again; which has been great.  It has been fun catching up with Kurosagi Shitai Takuhaibin and with the Tenpai series and I'm looking forward to blogging about them; soonish. Meanwhile, here's a little look ahead at KCDS #15:

By the way; Blogger is a nightmare to type with just now.  Is it all java now?  Not very user friendly at all. Hopefully that will change.

Sorry, been ill


May be a repeat of the 2009 stuff. Yucky, but back soon.

Of Death and Music


So I'll be posting some drawings soon. I'm writing a story about a DJ in Edinburgh, in the 1970s, which has some actual people in it and some fictional ones, and lots of real places- and its skeleton is the legend of Orpheus.

The legend of Orpheus is well-known. In Greek mythology, Orpheus was a troubadour from Thrace. He charmed even the animals. His songs diverted his attention from his wife Eurydice. Death took her away from him. He descended to the netherworld, and used his charm to win permission to return with Eurydice to the world of the living on the condition that he never look at her. But he looked at her-

- Do you know who I am?
- I do. - Say it.
- My death.
From now on you will serve me.
I will serve you.

Up to Speed - stoopid Rod


Lummy; it never occurred to me (until now) to post something. Here's what's happening; I've drawn some of a story set in the 1970s disco scene in Edinburgh. I've drawn Flash Harry and Roxy Callaghan, and the beginning of the story, which features some pubs and many of the clubs; but I can't post any drawings because I've packed them away for safe-keeping...I know; dumb!

I'll fix this as son as I can, because I'm away for anther 5 weeks and I can't go that long without doing the work. I've kind of decided to start work on another section of the story, and I'd really like to post the work in progress; not least because it lets me see if it's working out; but I have no tools with me at all. Not even the wacom. I honestly deserve a good slap.

The only thing that is making it all worthwhile is watching my minging wife slob around complaining about me leaving her clothes behind. If I didn't have her to look at, with birds in her hair and her baggy tramp clothing I wouldn't be having any fun at all.

Be Very Careful What you Publish Online


That's a given; right? I mean we all looked over the twitpic copyright announcement where they seemed to be claiming the rights to the "photos" (including artwork), posted onto their site.

And we are all aware that despite insisting that their own online material is copyright protected, newspapers and magazines have published drawings they "found" online claiming they thought the work was "in the public domain".

But there is another area you have to be wary off, that's the area of creative license. Be sure about what rights you are giving away, and be clear in your own mind what rights you are keeping. The reason I bring this up is because publications like the "United Kingdom Comics Creator Introduction..." exist, without you knowing anything about them:

The "Publisher's" Synopsis

Editorial Reviews - United Kingdom Comics Creator Introduction From the Publisher
Purchase includes free access to book updates online and a free trial membership in the publisher's book club where you can select from more than a million books without charge. Chapters: Colin Macneil, Leah Moore, Arthur Wyatt, Eric Bradbury, Emma Vieceli, Dave Follows, Chris Bunting, Steven Appleby, Charles Peattie, Robin Smith, Mick Anglo, Joe Berger, Robert Nixon, David Law, Lee O'connor, Michael Molcher, Larry, Davy Francis, Scott Goodall, Richard Piers Rayner, Graham Higgins, Rod Mckie, Pete Loveday, Tom Kerr, Tom Frame, Gina Hart, Scott Gray, Hunt Emerson, Daniel Vallely, Tom Gauld, Mike Pearse, Reg Parlett, Simone Lia, Bob Lynch, Phil Hall, Ken H. Harrison, Reg Bunn, Timothy Birdsall, Russell Taylor, Henry Matthew Talintyre, Lawrence Goldsmith, Pete Nash, David Austin, John Dallas, Eric Stephens, Henry Seabright, Kenneth Norman Lilly. Excerpt: Colin MacNeil is a British comics artist, best known for his work on 2000 AD and in particular on Judge Dredd and other stories within his world like Shimura and Devlin Waugh. ... More:

This print-on-demand publication, by US company Books LLC, gathers information from the internet, from sources like Wikipedia, and makes that information available to subscribers:

The Metro actually did a piece on this practise earlier in the year, but it kind of slipped under the wire:

Now there will be some people who think this is okay because it's "exposure". It's not okay. If you didn't intend your information to be harvested in a list, or a book, it shouldn't be. Also, if you post illustrations and these people publish them, particularly in the US, you will technically be in breach of contract if you subsequently sell the "First North American Rights" after that happens.

Contradictory Advice


When the advice seems to be contradictory, such as "finish what you start" and "don't get married to an idea", you have every right to wonder if there isn't some other rule-of-thumb that needs to be applied to tiebreak the situation. What I think these seemingly conflicting pieces of advice, both of which you'll find on this blog, mean is "finish working on whatever you are working on at the moment". In other words if you feel you are running out of steam after half a page of a comic idea, try to stretch it to one full page, that's finishing what you started, and it can always go in your portfolio. It is never a waste of time, at the very least the simple exercise of drawing always improves your drawing skills. And if you have sketched up a character and written a little note beside it, try to work it up to a synopsis; I mean who knows, it may be that after that exercise it develops legs again.

As for "not getting married the an idea", that really is just a warning about the nature of the business. You are, after all, in the ideas business, and you need to keep churning out new ideas. Unless the project you are working on is a real labour of love that you will continue to produce for yourself even after picking up a paying gig; put it away in a drawer. Again, you just never know, it might be that 6 months down the line you'll open the drawer, look at that project and it'll look good to you all over again.

So, what about putting these ideas into practise? Well, hat's a wee bit more difficult, especially when you can easily imagine yourself completing everything easily and on time. Well, you have to take stock, I'm afraid, you just have to, there is no avoiding it, even if it means admitting that you are only human. It is also a very valuable exercise because, in case you haven't noticed it is happening, you will soon find out if you have become an obsessive, slightly manic, gibbering wreck; which is, by the way, what you will become if you continue to try to work on everything all at the same time.

One project I have in the drawer at the moment is Mandrake Falls, which I hope that one day Dwight McPherson and I might finish together, along with a colourist (I hope). The plot, Dwight's, is still strong, the title is great, and the thing looks good, think (see below); but it is an idea, I think, that will profit from being in the drawer for maybe 3 months - which, coincidentally, is exactly the size of my backlog; although that may even be an underestimate.


Extracted from Mandrake Falls, copyright Dwight McPherson and Rod McKie, 2011.

Sam Klempke, Cartoonist and Time Traveller


I'm drawing a little something after watching Sam Klempke's time lapse movie of his life. The film is a 7 minute digest going right back to the 1970s, and it intrigued me because I don't have any film of me back then; not many of us do, but I can revisit those days through the filter of imperfect memory by drawing a comic strip. Interestingly, Sam never drew caricatures of himself as he saw himself at the end of every year, which might have been nice, but it's a captivating look at the passage of time. Anyway, I've posted Sam's movie here and I'll post the comic in the next blog post.



In the Meantime, Here is the Spite.


I think spite is often overlooked as a reason for doing things. I've decided to learn Gaelic for spite, and I'll probably speak only Gaelic at times to annoy people.

Not really, I actually fancy learning it for a couple of good reasons, and since Easter is almost upon us, and it's Sunday, and I was listening to these things anyway, I thought I'd post a couple of Gaelic Psalms. The language, when lined-out like this, or call and repeated in song, sounds ancient and rooted, and I like that. It sounds, to me, like Native American song, which is always going to seem cool to we fans of old Saturday Matinee cowboy shows who supported the alleged bad guys.