Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Wuthering Delights…

News reaches me here, chained to my computer in the basement beneath Campbell Towers, that Classical Comics fine adaptation of Wuthering Heights by Sean M Wilson, with gorgeous painted artwork by British comics legend John Burns has been nominated for a Stan Lee Excelsior Award!


Obviously, I'd like to think that my lovingly crafted lettering played some part in this, but, let's be honest, it's an excellent adaptation of great book and my job was really just to get the words on the page and leave as much of John's artwork to shine as possible. Congratulations to all the books on the shortlist -- may the best book win!



Wednesday, 2 November 2011

STRIP! It's here at last!

After a long gestation, beset by administration problems, the vagaries of the international banking system, unreliable couriers, and every conceivable logistic issue short of a plague of locusts, publisher Ivo Milicevic and editor John Freeman have finally got #1 of Strip Magazine into good comic shops everywhere…


I've lettered Black Ops Extreme, written by John F and drawn by the ever-wonderful PJ Holden, with colours by Gary Caldwell, and I've also collaborated with Gary on the 'restoration' of 70s classic strip Hookjaw. Originally printed in Action, created and written by Pat Mills and Ken Armstrong with art by Ramon Sola, I've been removing the old Letterpress lettering, digitally re-inking the holes this has left in the artwork and then re-lettering the pages. Gary has added splendid new colours and the result is so fresh and vibrant that it looks like a new strip!


I've also lettered the prequel/lead-in story to PrintMedia's splendid Iron Moon graphic novel by Stephen Walsh and Keith Page.


Other stories include Phil Hester and John McCrea's Warpaint, and James Hudnall and John Ridgway's Age of Heroes…


The magazine is brave and worthwhile attempt to capture the spirit of what were once called "boys' adventure comics" for a new generation, and deserves all the support you can give it.


Don't take my word for it -- check out a preview by clicking here.


Strip is only available through specialist comic stores at present, but a full high-street launch is planned if the initial response is positive. Make Strip Magazine a success -- buy a copy today. Buy two!


If you can't make it to a comic shop (or live outside the UK) then you can buy the iPad edition from the iTunes store.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Bloody Marvellous!

Apologies to one and all for the complete lack of bloggery of late. The main culprit recently has been Classical Comics' latest adaptation; a gorgeous and faithful graphic novel version of Dracula, with the text adapted by Jason Cobley and illustrations by the horribly talented Staz Johnson (colours courtesy of James Offredi).


Here's a sneak peek!


Dracula — Script James Cobley; Art Staz Johnson; Colours James Offredi
(c) Classical Comics
But, as of today, we've wrapped this one up. I don't have a definite publication date yet, but I think we're hoping to have it available in time for Halloween. :-)


In the meantime, I'll see if I can't get some proper blogging in!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

And now, some good news…

From Bleeding Cool:


"1. Marvel will be publishing the Superior charity comic created at the Kapow Comic Convention as the Kapow Guinness World Record Special #1."


…Which will be my first Marvel lettering credit.


I feel like I kind of sneaked in by the back door to get it, but, hey, it's a Marvel credit.


I'm up for #2, by the way, Mark… :-)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Saying Goodbye…

I can't believe it was only October last year when I started this blog… it's been quite a not-quite-year, what with over 30,000 page views and more than 100 followers for the blog, plus an Eagle Award nomination out in the real world, and some very generous feedback from industry figures I have respected and admired for years.


Sadly, this retrospective mood comes on me today because, in my first real post back in October, I introduced you to my faithful assistant, Joanna (Jojo) Campbell:




It's my sad duty report that Jojo was seemed very out of sorts last night and, on being taken to the vets today, was discovered to be far more gravely unwell than we had any way of knowing. With much sadness, my wife and I decided that we had to let her go, and said goodbye to her this morning after sixteen years of her company.


Cantankerous and contrary, Jojo was a cat with a great deal to say for herself, but who was also delicate, pretty and affectionate. We both miss her terribly and I never fail to be surprised by depth of loss one can feel at the death of a pet.


(I know this is a lot of sentimental old nonsense but to hell with it, this is my blog and it makes me feel a bit better!)

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Ack!

Moving house! Much work! Further blog posts drafted but not finished! No time! No time!


Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.


Cheers!


Jim

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Why Digital Publishing Won't Save Comics (Yet)

I was pondering the state of digital comics the other day. As much as I love traditional dead tree publishing, there are kids today growing up with iPads in their hands for whom paper holds no such charm, and it is there, if anywhere, that comics might recapture something resembling the mass market it (foolishly, IMO) ceded when it withdrew from the high street and supermarket to the specialist comic shop.


Before we get to the nitty gritty, I think it's important to define some basics, especially since we're going to be talking about a business model.


Firstly: how much is a comic worth?


Here are some numbers -- these are for illustration purposes only and are chosen as much for easy maths as for accuracy, but aren't a million miles from what you might expect from a low-to-mid-level indie publisher in the US:


Script: $50 per page
Pencils: $80 per page
Inks: $60 per page
Colours: $50 per page
Letters: $10 per page


That's based on each contributor making about $10 an hour for working on the book. That probably stiffs the writer a bit, but I imagine they'll be used to that by now.


That makes $250 to produce a page, meaning that a 24-page comic contains $6000 of work. If the book makes less than that for its contributors, then the creators would have made more money flipping burgers at McDonalds. Now, as an individual, you might be fine with that. Your book might be a labour of love, you might be happy just to have it in front of an audience. As an individual, that's no problem. As a model for a business, never mind an industry, I think we need to be paying our creators more than McDonalds.


Second: we need to define a couple of terms, most importantly, what I mean by publisher in this post. By publisher, I mean the person, group or organization with the legal right to publish a work. In a self-published work, this will mean one or more of the creators; in other circumstances it may refer to a publishing company in the more traditional sense.


I'm going to talk about how money from digital sales flows to the publisher. If that's a different legal entity to the creators, then there's a different mechanism by which money passes to the creators, but that's a discussion for a different day.


So… you want to get your comics onto a digital platform. Phones are, let's be honest, a rubbish medium for reading comics, so we're mainly talking about tablets. Right now, we're talking about iPads.


Unless you have access to a friendly iOS developer to do write you a dedicated app to serve up your content, you're going to need to go through one of the comic apps that already exists. I believe the deals on offer are broadly similar, so I don't want anyone to think I'm singling out a specific app; let's refer instead to GenericComicApp. You know the sort of thing: the publisher submits their comic to GenericComicApp and people can buy the comic through their phone or iPad using the App.


As for the specifics, let's take Mark Millar's word on this since, if there's anyone in the industry today who knows how to make money from comics, it's probably Millar, who wrote:


  1. Apple take 30% right off the bat.
  2. In the case of Wanted, Comixology then splits 50/50 with the publisher.
  3. Then the publisher pays the agent and creative team out of the remaining cash depending on their deal.

(Note: I remember Mark making a post about this on the Millarworld forums, but I can't find that post for a direct cite, so I have lifted this text from Andy Yen's My Day Will Come blog.)


Mark refers to Comixology, but I don't believe their deal differs in any significant way from GenericComicApp.


So… crunching a few numbers:


Let's say that, as a publisher, you're really invested in the future of digital comics; you've got no print overhead and no returns so why not price the product aggressively and try to pick up casual sales. Let's say that you price your book at $0.99.


Apple take 30% right off the bat, leaving $0.70 (rounded up for easier maths).


Publisher and GenericComicApp split that 50/50 and get $0.35 each.


Remember that there is $6000 worth of work in this book, so simply ensuring that the creators make their money, before we've even thought about profit for the publisher, you need to have sold 17,143 digital copies.


That's a lot. You're not going to shift those sort of numbers without some promotional activity, which is going to cost money in itself and drive up the number of copies needed to turn a profit.


Of course, you can drive the number of copies needed down by raising the price, but I'll say right now that I believe $2.99 is too much for a 22 or 24 page digital comic unless you're adding value over and above the normal comic page (I always like Infurious' rather ingenious approach). $3.99 for a single issue is, in my opinion, impossible to justify.


So, let's stick with that $0.99 number for now.


Let's back up for a minute, though, because I think there's something distinctly iffy about that illustration. Let's think about traditional distribution for a moment -- I worked in the newspaper and magazine industry for years, so I know a bit about this…


Traditionally, the publisher approaches a wholesaler/distributor (pretty much always Diamond for US comics but there is more plurality in the wider publishing industry). In return for a discount on the cover price, the wholesaler agrees to distribute the publication to as many retail outlets as the agreement covers. The wholesaler will usually want a discount on the cover price ranging between 45% and 65%, call it 50% for easy maths.


I sell my publication to the wholesaler for 50% of the cover price, let's say $0.49 on my hypothetical $0.99 cover price. The wholesaler sells the publication to the retailers for 75% of the cover price, say $0.75 netting themselves 26 cents profit on each copy. The retailer sells the publication at cover price, $0.99 which is $0.24 over what they paid for it.


Now, let's go back and think about that digital model again.


In that model, Apple is the retailer: they provide the merchant services, the servers, the bandwidth and, most importantly, access to their shopfront which is arguably the most trusted channel in the world for online purchasing of content.


GenericComicApp is the distributor. So why are they loading the cost of the retail mark-up onto the publisher?


What should be happening is this: publisher approaches GenericComicApp and sells their comic to them for 50% of the cover price, netting the publisher $0.49 per sale. GenericComicApp then distributes to the retail channel at $0.99. The retailer, Apple in this case, takes 30% of the cover price, $0.30, leaving $0.20 per issue for GenericComicApp.


Using this model, you need to sell 12,245 copies, nearly 5,000 less to cover the work done by the contributors.


Obviously, you can see why GenericComicApp would rather run their business in the way it currently works, but this is essentially screwing the publisher by loading both the wholesale and retail mark-ups on the publisher when, in fact, each 'link' in the chain from production to sale should only be concerned with the sell-on price to the next link in the chain.


Even Diamond, of whom I am no fan, follow this model and they, at least, have to warehouse stock and move physical product around. GenericComicApp doesn't even have those overheads: a couple of iOS developers retained on a freelance basis to keep the app maintained is hardly going to break the bank.


Let me phrase that as simply as I can: at least some online comic distributors have fashioned a business model that is even less favourable to publishers than the one Diamond uses, despite having lower overheads.


If even Mark Millar can't make money from digital comics, then we're doing it wrong.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Forgotten Wisdom: Part One (continued)

After I'd made yesterday's post which was -- essentially -- about the importance of remembering that a comic page reads from left to right, I remembered one more example that arises from not remembering this. So, before we move on to another topic, here's an addendum to yesterday's post…


Two Wides And A Tall: Don't Do It!


I think it's uncontroversial to say that any layout which requires little arrows between the frames is a layout that the artist should have re-thought. I don't care if you can find me examples by Kirby, or Byrne, or Miller… the fact is that a page layout should be immediately readable and the eye should flow effortlessly through that layout.* 


There is one particular arrangement of panels that is used with tiresome regularity, and it simply does not work. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…




Two wide panels and a tall one.


Nine times out of ten, the artist has interpreted the script so that the panels read like this:




Which is simply not the way that the reader will want to read this layout. The reader's natural instinct will be to read left to right until they hit the right-hand edge of the page, and then move down to the next row, as they would with lines of text.


In some circumstances, the letter can rescue this layout by bridging the panels in such a way as to pull the reader's eye in the required direction:




However, if there is no dialogue, or if there is a scene change from panel 1 to panel 2, then this is not always an option.


Additionally, the solution is still less than ideal, since it then expects the reader's eye to travel from bottom to top when it jumps from panel 2 to panel 3:




Remember that Left-to-Right and Top-to-Bottom are reading conventions that have been imprinted on the reader's brain since they first learned to read. As a storyteller, you mess with this at your peril.


OK, so you've decide to use this layout in one-in-ten arrangement instead, like this:




Now panels 1 and 2 follow the Left-to-Right rule, so surely all is well, then?


No, it really isn't, for two reasons, Firstly, you're expecting the reader to read Right-to-Left between panels 2 and 3, but, more subtly but just as importantly, you're messing with the Page Out…


Page Out is what I call (perhaps incorrectly, I don't know!) the bottom right corner of each page. On a left-hand page, the reader knows to jump to the top of the right-hand page, and on a right-hander, they know it's time to turn the page.


In the last panel of any page, if it's humanly possible to put a caption, sound effect or speech balloon in the bottom right hand corner without disrupting the flow of the panel, then I will do, because I think it helps the flow of the book to lead the reader out of a page.


In this example, the Page Out is bottom left and the reader's eye has to travel across a bunch of stuff they've already read to get the position it should have been in to start with.




So, basically, there are things you can do to salvage this layout to an extent, but it's a bad layout, it forces counter-intuitive reading and you should not do it.


It's worth noting in closing, however, that the mirror of this layout -- One Tall and Two Wides -- is just fine. The reader's eye will travel quite naturally through the layout and end up exactly where it needs to be!




Two wides and a tall. Don't do it. I don't think I can be any clearer than that!


*As with all rules, I can think of specific circumstances where one might wish to disorientate the reader as a narrative effect but, let's be honest, this isn't something any artist should be looking to do on a regular basis…

Monday, 4 July 2011

Forgotten Wisdom (or: What Are They Teaching You Kids These Days?)… Part One

I don't think it's controversial to observe that the comic industry -- certainly in the English speaking world -- is a shadow of its former self. This isn't the place to talk about why that should be, but it's undeniable that there is just less money in the business than there was.


One upshot of this has been to squeeze the editorial side of the industry particularly hard. If it's not on the page, the bean-counters often argue, then it's not bringing value to the product, and the sometimes intangible value of the editorial department gets criminally overlooked.


Of course, this feeds back into the industry in ways that might not be instantly obvious, but which are unsurprising if one thinks about it for a moment.


One of the key areas where this becomes apparent is in the coaching of new talent. Once upon a time, editors would have assistants and art editors and the lead time on books was sufficient that great swathes of a book could be sent back to the artist for re-drawing; and artists learned their craft.


These days, not so much. Although it's true that almost no-one was ever employed out of the slush pile, the fact that larger publishers prefer to see published work from hopefuls, either via web-comics, small press or self-publishing, means that many artists will have substantial portfolios under their belts before ever receiving the first shred of editorial guidance.


And, as noted, with editors expected to turn round more books in less time with fewer staff than ever before, many editors simply don't have the time to sit down and produce detailed critiques of areas where artists (and writers, for that matter) could strengthen their work.


And in the process, some basic, fundamental truths of comic book storytelling get lost.


I thought it was worth a couple of posts to highlight some of these. If you recognize something I describe in your own work, I'm not criticizing you: comics are a collaborative medium and someone should have pointed this stuff out to you long, long ago. That no-one has, speaks only to the financial state of the industry at present.


(Please don't think I'm setting myself up as the arbiter of all wisdom here! This stuff used to be writ large in publishers' submission guidelines, back when they had submission guidelines…)


So, let's start with something that was once on Page One of the metaphorical comic pencillers' handbook:


1: First Speaker On The Left


In any panel with multiple speakers, the first character to speak should be standing left of panel.


(Note: if your comic is not in a Western language that reads left-to-right and top-to-bottom then this rule, obviously, applies relative to the reading direction of the particular language!)


This issue is often highlighted by the letterer and it is sometimes assumed that the letterer is complaining because it makes their job more difficult. It does make the letterer's job more difficult, but they are complaining because it makes the reader's job more difficult.


For all that comics try to appropriate storytelling techniques from visual media like television and film, the fact remains that the pages are still read, like any other written form, from left to right, and from top to bottom. This is the direction that the reader's eye will expect to travel and anything else will be counter-intuitive and disruptive to the reading experience.


In panels without much left-to-right travel, a letterer can get away with stacking the balloons vertically and the reader will follow without too much difficulty:



As soon as the panel becomes wide, then the reader's eye is primarily travelling left to right…


If the first speaker is on the left, all is well. The reader's eye will hit their dialogue first, then the character on the right second:




With the characters the other way round, we have a problem:




Of course, the artist's instinct is often to put something in all that dead space, which complicates matters still further!




So… comics read from left to right, and so should the panel layout.


However, we've also touched on another basic element of panel layout that is often overlooked.


2: Dead Space is GOOD


I understand that an artist wants to feel like they're delivering value, and that fans can become quite vociferous if they feel that an artist is skimping on the backgrounds, but it is also true that right underneath "First Speaker On The Left" in that mythical handbook is "Allow 25-30% of each panel for lettering."


It's as simple as keeping this in mind when framing the image in a panel…





Feedback, thoughts and comment on any of the above is gratefully received.


Next time, I think we'll talk about those (apparently) mysterious markings on comic book art board, and the reason why they're in blue…



Monday, 20 June 2011

Blimey! Blambot Blog!

Just a quick note to point you all in the direction of Blambot's new blog


If you don't know who Nate Piekos is, and haven't checked out his excellent site for informative articles and a huge array of lettering fonts, many of them completely free, then I'm not sure why you're following this blog, because Nate's forgotten more about good lettering than I knew in the first place.


Bookmark it, and await further developments.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

(Auto)Saving Your Sanity…

Although I don't recommend lettering in Photoshop, I don't think there will be many people reading this who don't have a copy installed on their computer, whether they use it for colouring, art clean-up, photo-retouching… as a user since v1.0 (yes, I am that old) I've watched Photoshop grow into a powerhouse and -- for many -- a one-stop solution for digital art and design.


And yet, after twelve versions, you can still experience this scenario: you're working on a Photoshop document, and you go into the 'zone' -- you know the one, where each stylus stroke or keyboard shortcut or mouse click seems to naturally follow the last. 


And then… lock-up. On the Mac, this is usually accompanied by the Beachball of Doom and is the point at which you look up at the clock and think -- "Oh, crap, when did I last save this?"


Whatever the answer to this question, it is usually "Not recently enough" as you are presented with the bland, innocent-looking dialogue box that informs you "Photoshop has unexpectedly quit."


Twelve versions -- bearing in mind that Photoshop fills your hard drive with massive temporary files recording in meticulous detail the history of your document -- and yet when you re-open, it can't recall a single pixel that you laid down since you last hit save (which turns out to have been an hour ago). I'm sure I'm not the only person who's had to get up and walk away from their desk in order to avoid visiting harm on their monitor in sheer frustration at this point.


Well, say hello to PSD Autosaver! A functional little plug-in that allows you to specify location, frequency and number of automatic back-ups Photoshop will make while you work. Be aware that (unlike the auto-backup in, say, Quark) it doesn't work while the application is idle, so if you work for less than the back-up interval (say five minutes) and then switch to another application, your work will not get backed up until you go back and work for another full five minutes.


(Edited to add: It's worth mentioning that this plug-in saves one or more back-up copies of the document, but doesn't overwrite the original that you are working in.)


Although I can see that being a little annoying for some people's workflow, it's still immeasurably better than the current situation. The free trial download linked above only works for 30 days, but $19 for the full license looks like an absolute bargain to me.


(Note: no, I'm not on commission! I have, however, lost enough work to the sort of scenario I describe above to think an autosaver is a complete god-send!)



Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Eagle May Soar…

… but no weasel was ever sucked into the intake of a jet engine, as one of my favourite aphorisms has it.


So… no, I didn't win the Eagle Award for Favourite Letterer, a fact that should come as no surprise to anyone who noted the lofty company amongst which my name was nominated.


In the end, the gong went to the multi-talented Richard Starkings, pictured here alongside a TPB of his creation, Elephantmen (graced with what looks like another fine cover by Boo Cook, unless I'm mistaken).
(This photo shamelessly thieved from CBR, and specifically this article by Caitlin Holland.)


It's hard to overstate Rich's contribution to the field of modern comic-book lettering and this is in addition to his prodigious abilities as a writer and an editor. One has only to visit the Comicraft website to get a small taste of that contribution. Congrats, Mr Starkings -- a well-deserved win.


You can find a full list of the results here (pausing only briefly to gloss over Paul Cornell's win as Favourite Newcomer!) and I'd like to offer congratulations to all the winners, who can feel justifiably proud.


Onwards and upwards!



Friday, 27 May 2011

Burns Victim!

Blimey… it's all go here at Campbell Towers at the moment, hence the relative lack of blogging.


The main culprit is Classical Comics' gorgeous-looking adaptation of Wuthering Heights, painted by veteran British comic artist, John M. Burns…


John's career dates back to the mid-60s, and he has been a regular contributor to 2000AD in recent years, doing some excellent Judge Dredd stories and, perhaps most notably, sharing the art duties on Nikolai Dante with series co-creator Simon Fraser.


I was fortunate enough to say hello to John at the Bristol Comic Expo earlier this month. Unfortunately, I didn't have the cash to make an offer on any of the stunning pages of fully painted artwork he had on show, but John was gracious and friendly in the face of my slightly awe-struck gibbering.


Amazingly, this isn't actually the first time John has worked on an adaptation of this very novel, as Lew Stringer's excellent blog details. Even more astonishing, for me at least, is that John also worked on an adaptation of Great Expectations, the Classical Comics version of which was my first professional lettering gig!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Bristol Comic Con 2011…

…I'm there. Lots of lovely comic people, pros and fans, and a splendid time is being had, if not by all, then by me, at least. Notwithstanding the prices in the Ramada bar, from where I am typing this very missive.


Blog post with actual content will resume next week, in the meantime, I'd direct your attention to this post on balloon placement from Jim Shooter's blog, brought to you via Nate Piekos (@blambot) on Twitter.


Must dash… this beer won't drink itself, you know!

Friday, 6 May 2011

You See Right Through Me… Illustrator CS5 Tip

During the course of my Illustrator tutorials, I briefly mention transparency effects and advise against relying on them, since I have found that they can output unreliably.


There is one exception to this, which is when you are outputting final lettered TIFF files of the pages yourself, since you will have the opportunity to review the finished bitmap image and will be able to judge for yourself if the effects are working correctly.


However, although I do this for a number of clients, I still rarely use transparency effects, mainly for the following reason…


Here's a panel from Matthew McLaughlin and Matt Soffe's story "A Pleasing Symmetry" for FQP's Something Wicked #6


I wanted the effect to be ghostly, but it really needed a stronger stroke to help the legibility:




To the best of my knowledge, the easiest way of doing this was to have one copy of the effect with a transparent fill but no stroke, and then another copy directly on top with no fill but a white stroke:


(I've separated the two elements here to show you what I mean…)
This is all well and good, but it can make selecting the bottom element a bit fiddly, and if you wanted to mask off part of the effect then you have to group it, create a mask, and the whole thing quickly becomes more trouble than it's really worth!


However, changing the opacity from the Transparency palette only allows you to apply a global value to the whole object, right?




Well, not quite. Create the SFX with both a stroke and a fill and leave the opacity at 100% in the Transparency palette.




Instead, now go to the Appearance palette…




…and click on Fill.


Now, if you go back to the Transparency palette:




When you change the opacity value, only the opacity of the fill changes, meaning that you can set the opacity values of the stroke and fill independently of each other.


Maybe I'm the last person on Earth to figure this out, but I genuinely didn't know you could do this, so perhaps this hint will be of use to somebody out there!





Thursday, 28 April 2011

Illustrator How-To: Offset Path video walkthrough

With, as ever, apologies for the length of time between posts recently, I'm hoping to bring the blog back up to speed with regular updates, at least weekly, from now on.


Firstly, a follow-up to a question about using Offset Path to create breakout balloons. It seemed easiest to just walk through the process on-screen, which is what I've done below:


--I've removed this video for now…
it'll be back as soon as I can get the
video and audio to sync properly!--


(If you click through to the full YouTube site, there's a 720p version that should be a lot clearer and easier to follow.)


If you have any questions arising from this, or if Illustrator doesn't do exactly what I show here, then please use the comments section below to let me know, but be sure to tell me what version of Illustrator you're using, and whether you're on Windows or OSX.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Dark Knight, Happy Day!

You may have noticed I don't talk much about specific comics on this blog. There's a reason for that… I always feel strangely like singling out a comic I enjoy seems like I'm somehow snubbing all the ones I don't mention.


But, having said all that, the news that Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle will be returning to Batman under DC's Retroactive banner has made me unfeasibly happy. I loved the team's work on the character in the 90s and the news that their stint as personae non gratae at DC might have come to end, presumably opens up the possibility of some big fat TPBs.


I'd particularly like to see the Detective issues reprinted -- I think these were my favourites, since Grant was largely left alone and untroubled by wider company continuity, turning out great scripts month after month and getting some truly fantastic performances on art from Breyfogle in return. It was one of those great examples of a collaborative medium where the character brings out the best in the creators, who in turn bring out the best in each other, and deliver work that sets the standard for the character.


So… Grant and Breyfogle back on Batman. Fantastic news!



Saturday, 2 April 2011

KaPOW!

Unless you've had your head in a bucket for the last few weeks, UK comic fans are unlikely to have missed the upcoming KaPow! comic convention, organized by Mark Millar and featuring more industry heavyweights than you can shake a stick at… several sticks, for that matter! 
One event that's not listed amongst the headline panels and talks is an attempt by assorted writers and artists to create a new comic (featuring Mark's Superior character) that will break the Guinness records for fastest production of a comic book and most contributors to a comic book.

With all the proceeds going to Mark's local children's hospital, it's a good cause and sounds like a lot of fun, which is why I'm delighted to be pitching in with the lettering. The attempt will be going on between 11:30am and 6:30pm on the Saturday, during which time I will most likely be chained to my laptop, lettering like a lunatic.

If you spot me, please stop by and say hello!

Cheers!

Jim

Monday, 21 March 2011

Automator Follow-up: Video How-To!

I realize that if you're not familiar with the OSX Automator procedure I mentioned in an earlier post, it might be easier to see it in action. Below is a fairly amateurish walk-through of a batch-rename action in Automator which (I hope) should illustrate what I'm talking about… 





(You should find Automator in your Applications folder, by the way…)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A Bard In The Hand…

In all the excitement recently, I completely failed to note the launch (and attendant arrival of my comp copies) of Classical Comics' latest adaptation: A Midsummer Night's Dream.


(I'm afraid US readers will have to wait until July for the American edition… sorry!)


There's always an odd difference between working on a book and actually holding the finished product in your hand, and this one was no different.


Kat Nicholson and Jason Cardy's lovely artwork looks even more stunning on Classical's usual high quality paper stock couple with their impeccable production values.


I approve wholeheartedly of Classical Comics' aims with their range of accessible, education-friendly titles and with this, probably my favourite Shakespeare play into the bargain, they've definitely scored another hit.


This was the fourth book I've lettered for Classical (the previous having been Great Expectations, Romeo and Juliet and The Canterville Ghost and, as always, it was a pleasure to contribute, even in a small way, to widening appreciation of great literature. It's another fine-looking book that I'm inordinately proud to have my name on.


I look forward to starting work on my fifth book, Dracula, in the not-too-distant future.


Cheers!


Jim

Thursday, 17 March 2011

It's not the winning…

… it really isn't. I sat down at my computer on Monday morning to discover that I'd made the Eagle Award nominations for the 2010 awards.


So, I'd just like to say the most enormous, and heartfelt, "thank you" to everyone who took the time to visit the Eagle Awards website and put my name forward during the nominations process.


2010 was a fantastic year for me, professionally, particularly the second half of the year, where I received a lot of generous and encouraging praise from creators who are personal heroes of mine, so this is really the icing on what has been a very agreeable cake!


It's daunting to see my name listed in such august company, and alongside such a selection of great letterers. However, I remind myself that this award is for "Favourite Letterer" rather than "Best Letterer" … a distinction that lies very much in the eye of the beholder!


So… if you've read and enjoyed any of the books I've lettered, please consider casting your vote for me in the Letterer category. You'll find the voting form here and you start by simply clicking the "Next" button.


And, once again, many thanks to everyone who helped me to get this far.


PS: Apologies for the lack of blogging recently -- I'm in the process of trying to renovate a house, and then move into it, but I'm drafting some new posts now… stay tuned!