Thursday 29 September 2011

Beneath this Gruff Exterior There Beats a Heart

Which is what this next completed page of Daredevil is intending to suggest:-

Part of Frank Millers continued efforts to give as much real definition to all the characters within Daredevil, with this particular page to suggest there is a lot more to the Kingpin than him just being the boss of a large corrupt illegal criminal organisation.

This of course following more definition into the Kingpin from his much earlier appearances in Spiderman.

This redefinition I think it can be clearly said set a precedent, witness John Byrne’s and Marv Wolfman’s reimagining of Lex Luthor in the “man of steel” mini series and the Superman comics that followed it with Lex now being primarily a very wealthy businessman with no ethics about delving into criminal territory to get what he wants.

And it went on from there with similar characters appearing more and more often.

The thing with this latest defining element of the Kingpin, that of him having a personal tragedy of his wife Vanessa in a coma which rules his life to a degree, is that I don’t think it was carried through very well, not even in subsequent issues of Daredevil itself as Franks last issue was 191 and we see him try and pick up this story thread again later (most notably in the with Daredevil: Love and War graphic novel he did in 1986 with Bill Sienkiewicz)

Which indicates to me that Frank was not quite done with this story line during his initial run

And subsequent Daredevil stories loose or play down this element altogether and just focus on using Kingpin as a direct allegory of what was happening in America both in politics “Watergate” and in business “Enron” but without giving as much (it should be an equal amount) of definition in other areas of his character, both this and the lack of equal and opposite definition (as no man thinks he is evil, he may have questionable motivations for doing what he does but at heart he believes he is doing the right thing and is normally in a position where events or or pain have twisted his ethics beyond normal) weakened the character

Or a lot more possibly it was just a focus of a ongoing use of the elements that was perceived as being cool / successful from Frank Miller’s run which would be editorially lead by Marvel

Whichever it was - it was both this and the overuse of the Kingpin character have lead to him not appearing in the newly re launched Daredevil by Mark Waid, IMHO

Having said that I thought Jason Aaron didn’t do a too bad a job of re launching the Kingpin in his run in Punisher max with Steve Dillion

But why has it taken until now to realise this?

One thing I have seen in quite a number of places is in reference to the large shadow Frank Miller’s run cast over Daredevil and how that it was or is in someway responsible for most of the issues that followed i.t

How much truth is there to this?

It’s an interesting question as it suggests that Frank’s story elements themselves are copied and reused and degraded themselves as well as the art styles.

This more than  bit insulting to the creative teams that followed, but if I was to point a finger, well I already have done at Marvel editorial and I just state this is what work for hire is.

I wonder for example what would have Ann Noncenti done on her good run in Daredevil if she was given totally free reign as that would essentially answer this question without a doubt.

One thing that can’t be in any doubt is the direct lifting of several of Frank’s storylines right into Ben Affleck’s Daredevil movie, sure there was a couple of twists but by and large the dialogue was almost copied and pasted.

Is all this a good thing, a bad thing you decide?

I am hardly in any position to judge myself as I am after all just doing copies of copies.

But to my mind the interesting point is that a strong influence can clearly be both a good thing (when its new and fresh and redefining the medium) and a bad thing (for anything that follows it).

Which begs the question how do you follow it?

That leads me back to Mark Waid who has clearly said he wants to do it his way (and has been allowed to)

That’s all it would have taken – what a shame.

IDFW 2 - follows below - a few days early - in fact even before the print edition - but here you go I hope you like this, feedback is very much welcomed on this or anything else I am doing

Sunday 25 September 2011

Rebekah Isaacs / The Launch of IDF Weekly

I don't know about you, but whenever I get the chance to meet a real artist in person I go for it!

Case in point, the wonderful Rebekah Issacs was down my way only yesterday.

Rebekah for those who did not know, has an impressive portfolio, having provided art on all of the following -

The Iron Age: Alpha/Omega; Marvel (June 2011)

-Captain America & Falcon #1; Marvel

-Magus #1-5; 12 Gauge Comics (#3 in stores now)

- DV8: Gods & Monsters #1-8; DC/WIldstorm

- DMZ #50; DC/Vertigo

- Ms. Marvel #38; Marvel

- Sheena: Dark Rising #2-3; Devil's Due

- Drafted #7-10; Devil's Due

- Hack/Slash #7-9; Devil's Due

- The Twilight Zone: The After Hours GN; Walker Books

And to top that off, she has just scored a place as artist on the hot new Dark Horse Angel and Faith series!

Well I thought to myself, would it be possible for me to try to make an attempt at some Rebekah Isaacs art?

So I got hold of the cover of issue 2 of Angel and Faith and had a go, this is the end result.  I finished this just in time for Rebekah's signing!

Regular readers will note for the first time some pencils have been left behind, this was because the ghosts and St Paul's Cathedral was grey on the original cover.

Anyway Rebekah herself was very sweet and asked me a rather unusual question "are those your inks?" to which I explained my method of making the drawing (pencil traced using light box and then lined, blacked in and in this case charcoaled by my hand) as she drew me this cool Faith Head-sketch

As well as passing on observations I had made about the cover, particularly how it was a dynamic and multi layered effort I also asked Rebekah how she did eyes as I had some trouble with both Faith and Angel when redrawing her art

She was rightly stoked at getting her new assignment and I have to say that her art brings something great to the Faith and Angel comics, Rachel was actually over here to get reference as Faith and Angel is set in the UK, The drawing of St Pauls Cathedral on the cover of 2 for example is architecturally perfect, something you don't get much in US comics depicting the UK very often!

And of course she let me take the Photo above - Thanks Rebekah!

Your can check out her web site at

Now before my regular readers get worried, I will leave the decision as to if I am yet actually a inker (as such) to yourself, post a comment or send a email by all means.  Using my own judgement I think still have a way to go yet
Next - I have decided to dip a tiny little toe into the realm of self-publishing with Images Degrading Forever Weekly,  which is a double sided single sheet one page of text from this blog along with a page devoted just to the drawing I did alongside it.

I have actually gone and printed 20 physical copies, which have been dropped off at a good comic book shop as a free giveaway item

If you have only recently started reading this blog, IDFW (as I will call it from now on) is a good place to jump on, as it starts from the beginning of the in-progress Daredevil project and will cover it in its entirety

Now as most of you are pretty unlikely to be able to get a printed copy (but email me if you really want one) below is a slightly different variant which I have made for ebook use:-

and every Sunday I will put a completed issue up here.

For my regular and loyal readers, Please make your own judgement (and add comments or send me a email) as to what you think of this enterprise, but I felt I had got enough inventory to make this possible and I thought it would be a good way of starting off an attempt at actually making a newspaper type / illustrated fanzine but a whole lot more frequently than I think I have ever seen.

Who knows where this could go, so its another avenue - but as ever the goal is to try and attract some people to to hopefully get them thinking about comics and trying to learn to draw as well, as I don't want this to be all about me, by any means

I hope that is okay!

Thursday 22 September 2011

You're Fired ! / Thorsten Sideb0ard

That’s what Donald Trump (if your American) or Sir Alan Sugar (if your british) would probably say (in an unnecessarily over dramatic fashion)

When faced with the situation below, in the next completed page of Daredevil:-

When it’s more of a question of “I would not hire you if my life depended on it”

To start the ball rolling on Turks Icarus like story, he decided the first thing to do on stealing stilt man’s armour is offer his services (as an assassin) to the Kingpin

The kingpin being instantly decisive and rebutting Turk with a nice “I am not in the business of employing idiots”

This issue of Daredevil is dealing for the most part – comedy moments aside - with the fallout from the death of Elektra, how this has affected Matt Murdock and even here how this has affected the Kingpin, as not only is Elektra dead but Bullseye is now locked away in jail

But even from the position of having no assassin and needing one, Kingpin still instantly dismisses Turk – which tells you all you need to know about what would follow for Turk himself

And also tells you a lot about the Kingpin, a man obviously far away from the pantomime excesses of the “The Apprentice” TV Show

But the reason I decided to reference The Apprentice was I thought this was a good indication of a reason why The Kingpin is not in the current just launched series of Daredevil by Mark Waid and it also taps into a deeper thread of conversation regarding Frank Millers run on Daredevil overall or more properly any fresh ideas or concepts when applied to a long running continuity based comic book

The question to focus on this time is has society moved on from the 70’s / 80’s of being shocked that a Boss could be corrupt and that was wrong – to a point where overexposure or familiarity with any number of people in any kind of power being equally corrupt that not only has it become more acceptable, but has gone all the way to being a (almost pantomime) cliché of Donald Trump or almost Dr Evil proportions?

I will pick up on this some more next week where I deliberate on The Kingpin having a heart...

Now for a brief diversion - I recently met Thorsten Sideb0ard - who is currently working on a brilliant web based comic called "Physic Or Surgery" which you can check out on Thorsten's Blog

I really like the combination of thick lavish brush work, heavy black in combined with some great fine line work, there is a real sense of character, personality and life in the richness of Thorsten's work and the facial expressions he does are just spot on perfect

Check out this cool drawing - look at the halo he has put around the central character here contrasted with the fine line of shadow of the building which is completely real and totally architecturally correct (which you almost never see in comics):-
(Parental Advisory)

But don't just take my word for it , go check it out for yourself and say "Hi" when your over there, Thorsten will be glad to see you!

Sunday 18 September 2011

Night Raven returns

A bit of a diversion from the Daredevil in progress here

It's not very often anyone comments or mentions anything I am doing - even casually, so I tend to have a bit of a party when they do!

My Night Raven (Click Here to see it) has been featured on the Forbidden Planet blog:-

If that was not surprising enough Richard actually refers to the text piece  I put with it as "rather good little tale" and my drawing as "painstakingly redone"!

Yeah it occurred to me Richard actually meant painful! (especially for David lloyd)

And even goes as far to reproduce some of the text piece larger (Richard says "for those with older eyes")

Hey, Richard I bet you anything I am older than you (and then some!)

Seriously though - moments like this make all the effort a whole lot more than just worthwhile, I am personally very very happy just to know a few people read my blog at all, even if you all are a busy / quiet lot of people (but hey, feel free to comment below or email me at any point)

That anyone finds anything interesting about my drawings still staggers my mind, that anyone would find them this exciting or chose to mention them at all, let alone in a positive light is way beyond my wildest dreams

So a very big thank you to Richard for taking the time!

It shows you, hopefully that if you spend the time, make the effort and get what you have done out there and get enough eyes on what you are doing then bigger things start to happen - and that most specifically that if I being far from an artist or having that much ability to draw could make this kind of a impact - then just think what YOU could do, yeah you there - pick up a pencil and give it a go

If I, who started with the most horrific and base not-drawings that anyone can possibly manage (and then some) - look here if you don't believe me  - can get to the stage where I actually felt I could try a David lloyd, then I think that anyone with even the least bit of actual base ability in drawing (which i did not have when I started) could do so much better

So consider this a challenge - but have fun - as that is what it is supposed to be all about

Thursday 15 September 2011

Play, the pipes of peace

So would Paul McCartney have us believe is a good answer to most of the worlds problems

But in this next completed page of Daredevil:-

Turk would most definitely beg to differ, oh he uses a pipe all right, but in a very different context than Paul McCartney every intended, in fact it’s safe to say this is the complete opposite of peace!

As the degradation of Wilbur Day (the real name of Stilt-man) continues- it started with losing a glove while being too focused on counting his cash while at skyscraper height, then having being spied and declared as “leapfrog” by Turk while looking for a replacement glove

To Turk following him right to his home (or secret lair, it’s never said which) creeping up on Wilbur who is blissfully unaware and seemingly totally obsessed about being taller – literally standing on the shoulder of giants, with Turk then coshing him on the back of the head

Whichever way you cut it the message is clear – Wilbur doesn’t know what he is doing

Hopefully you will noticed I haven’t said that Stilt man’s degradation has not yet ended, but what can that mean?

Well obviously someone else will be wearing the suit the rest of this issue, rather obviously the same guy coshing poor Wilbur

But does this mean then that Turk is going to be much better Stilt man or is it much much more likely that having had far more sense (and luck) than he ever has had to date in any issue of Daredevil to date, everything goes completely pear shaped from here on in?

Remember what they say about the “the higher they climb”

And join me next week as the fun kicks up a notch with Turk in command

Thursday 8 September 2011

Lavender's Blue

So go the lyrics of Marillion’s song “Lavender”. This next completed page features the entrance of Maxine Lavender, Assistant District Attorney:-

And Daredevil providing her with the evidence (those copies of copies made earlier) that could “bring down Glenn Industries"

“A penny for your thoughts, my dear” continues the Marillion song and Lavender herself makes a rounded and most likely a multi layered statement, questioning Daredevils ethics in sharing / giving her this information with the profound:-

“Or am I supposed to accept the notion that you're just a tireless crusader for Truth, justice and the American way”

Even directly just between the two characters this obviously a little tongue in cheek reference to Daredevil’s standing as a hero – to indicate Lavender is not heavily questioning Daredevil – but then go to the last panel and look at her expression when she finds that just after making this statement that Daredevil has conveniently disappeared mid sentence in the classic "batman" style

Then things start to look a little more serious and links back to Foggy’s finger pointing at Matt Murdock for making those “copies of copies”

And it carries on from there as the story progresses...

Of course I can’t resist the notion that the direct quotation of the very well known Max Fleischer Superman cartoons slogan is Frank Miller tipping his hat to the reader and indicating (or underling) that part of his motivation in developing more realistic situations and characters as opposed to square jawed heroic clichés is to directly avoid the “biff, bam, pow” but is also at the same time trying to make it clear that the media accepted definition standard superhero is not what is happening here

It’s too obvious a statement to be much else, at least that’s what I think

As it turns out that the last thing Daredevil is actually doing is what Lavender has just outlined as we will eventually see

Next week the piper pays a call to Stilt-man...

Thursday 1 September 2011

Is something wrong, Matt?

So here we go with the half way celebration / party – there are 23 pages in the issue of Daredevil I am working on, but as that doesn’t divide into 2 I figured let’s make one more page to even it up to 24 and use that extra page to go experimental

But what to do and where to start?

If you was with me a few weeks ago, I decided to try and step out of the Daredevil project and do something a little different – taking something done from the project as a starting place and see where I could go with it

I figured the last panel from page 10 fitted the bill very well indeed, the massive huge big letters saying “Matt, Is something wrong?”

I had already made the connection in mind with this and Matt Seneca’s rather infamous smoking of the Punisher  1 over on his magnificent Death to the Universe blog as where I could take the statement “is something wrong”

So I figured the experiment would be to see if “art” (and I use that word rather loosely as its combination of styles and techniques (“Found art” with actual line drawing for example) which are not normally combined together ) could be made from a blog – specifically Matts blog entry – where indeed something was wrong!

So with permission from a very generous Matt, I took photos and text from the blog entry and combined them together into a comic book like layout.

The size and width of the “is something wrong” dictating that the piece had to be landscape.

The choice of replacing Matt Murdock’s face / head with Matt Seneca’s also being obvious

Next the space left dictated there could only be 3 photos (or panels) to tell Matts comic smoking experience to show what was wrong, so I chose the photos I thought suited best, made them grey scale and printed it out

I then put this on the light box; pencil traced this and inked it as finished as I could make it

I scanned this drawing in

Then I put in a paint explosion background, dropped the text from the blog on top of that, the finished drawing on top of that and then alpha out (made invisible) a lot of the white from the drawing so the background would come through

But, look for yourself – this short video shows you each step to the finished piece (click to play)

Which looks like this:-

Unusually for me I am quite happy with this, well at least the drawing of Matt next to the big letters but that was the clearest photo to work from, whereas some of the others was a bit tricky, particularly the last one which was very blurry (and didn’t have a tear)

So the questions are:-

What did you think of this?

What indeed even is it ? (baring in mind that the actual completely finished product only exists as a computer graphic)

But I think it’s safe to say the end result is fairly radical from what has been done to date

Next week, normal service resumes – join me as we find out why is Lavender blue?