Thursday, 26 April 2012

Creators are People as well

Just so you know the intended blog entry and drawing (the 2nd page of Milk and Cheese) for this week have been put to one side until next week – what I need to discuss I feel is more important at this moment

What I want to discuss this week are the issues of what are normally described as “creator’s rights”

But before you all start rolling your eyes – for clarification this is what I mean:-

The right for the creator to receive an on-going sum for his creation and to be treated by the company he did the creation for with a modicum of respect and dignity

 Which on the surface does not sound that unreasonable – Let’s look at the music industry as an example as the process should be similar to a comic book artist / writer in many respects

The recording artist makes recordings under contract to a music company

Now imagine that all that ever happened was the recording artist got paid for just making that recording

And never got paid any money for anything else

So for example they never got a % of any actual record sales, or T-shirts – books, calendar, posters, videos, movies (should any be made), replays of their material on radio etc.

And let’s take it a bit further and imagine their recording contract was just enough to make ends meet.

That unless they work very very hard or have alternate sources of income they are unlikely to be able to afford such things as healthcare or a proper pension, to send their children to university and so on

And why not put the cherry on top of the cake as well, on top of this the recording artist is completely unimportant, their name is seldom mentioned, if anyone records a song they do not mention the originating artists name or worse still are forbidden from doing so by the recording company, the originating artist also has no say or control about how their original material is used or abused and of course they don’t see a single cent from any of it either

That is more or less (obviously exaggerated a bit) the situation in the comics industry today in terms of work for hire for either Marvel or DC and possibly other publishers as well

Now I don’t think it’s unfair to say that this is wrong and it needs to change

But for the best of all possible reasons, as it’s actually in Marvel and Dc’s interests to do so

How so?

Simple – I don’t think anyone will deny that as a industry overall comics are in trouble, Dc acknowledge as much by going for their radical New 52 approach – although this was interesting its failing to tackle the actual problem

I have a strong and firm belief that the material and therefore the sales of it is only ever going to be as good as the treatment and conditions given to the people who make it, that Marvel and Dc not only have an ethical responsibility to treat creators differently, that actually if they did so the material itself would be become richer and more popular as a result

That cutting corners by treating creators the way they do is actually a false economy it is short sighted and it is fuelling the demise of the medium and as much as I hate to say it is just greedy

It narrows down the amount of people and the diversity in the comics creative field tremendously as anyone is better off in practically any other vocation - even more so if they have a family to support

To coin a phrase its like constantly abusing the goose that lays the golden eggs and then wondering why the eggs no longer arrive

For the record I don’t think much actually has to change – just some basic principles

But of course it is these principles that both Marvel and Dc seem to be all too happy to go to court to prevent a creator making any claim on

These principles are simple:-

That the creator should always get a % of any reuse of their creation regardless of how it used where and who by – I don’t think this has to be a large percentage by any means - it can be small 1% even– all it needs to be is large enough so a creator doesn’t have to keep working into their 80s with half their eyesight gone (yes I am referring to Gene Colon)

That the creator should always be credited, acknowledged positively and consulted with respect in regards to any reuse of their creation – at least to the level of basic human courtesy is all that is really required here – There is a rather obvious exmaple regarding a rather high selling Dc trade paperback which of course does not need to be named

Of course an alternate option is to make the page rate on offer higher so that the issue of constantly having to work to make ends meet is not such an issue and offer such things as healthcare and pensions etc. even to freelancers

(Note that creators usually have little choice about going freelance as they page rate is so low they normally need to work for several companies at once simultaneously)

But both Marvel and Dc make millions – it’s not unreasonable to say to them please share just a bit of that back to the people who actually made it possible, support and foster creativity as that way the creative act always comes with respect dignity and the security that you’re not toiling life away with little recompense and worse treatment

This should really be against human rights and it definitely sounds like a labour rights issue – both Marvel and Dc should be ashamed at themselves for treating anyone this way, regardless of what they do

But to treat a person who has made it possible for them to make so much money in the first place in such a way is completely unforgivable

This has to change if the medium is to survive

I doubt anything positive will happen as a result of this blog entry which is shameful

I doubt anything will change either - apparently Gordon Gecko must be right and greed must be "good"

And making money is more important than anything else

By all means feel free to tear me down or nit-pick with my statements – but I seriously do not know of many other vocations that treat their employees so badly

That alone is definitely something that does need to change for the sake of the future of the industry

It’s simple - fair pay and fair treatment – that’s the basic rights of any employee – right?

Wrong - perhaps we should call them Creators wrongs as there does not seem to be much that is right around...

There is of course more a lot more about this elsewhere Just some recent examples :- 

Chris Robertson felt so strongly about these issues he decided to no longer work or either DC or Marvel

Bergen Street Comics shop have decided to NOT order “before watchmen” and there’s a group to boycott it altogether
There is also a groundswell of people boycotting the opening weekend of Marvels multi billon dollar making  Avengers movie over Marvels treatment of Jack Kirby whose family of course won’t see one single dime
What will you do?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Lactaphobes unanimous!

Okay it is time for a change of complete pace - it is getting kinda stuffy in here!

This blog is not safe for anywhere - but especially not work - read on at your own risk!

We start of with the usual dose of crass commercialism...

April is rainy season
If the non-stop rain combined with a logic defying hose pipe ban is not bad enough, April also has to put up with issue 3 of Doubt land - whatever that is!  The guy who made this comic is only charging £1 for an issue - well that's because it sucks - I mean it won't even keep you dry in all this rain

Trust me, don't click the link below or buy an issue - that way no more will be published!

Comica Comkiet
Due to reasons beyond our control, Images Degrading Forever will be making an unfortunate appearance at the Comica Comiket this Saturday 21st April

But its not all bad news, theres plenty of other things to see and do and many creators of much greater calibre, so just walk on past the IDF table and pretend you didn't see the guy waving a fanzine in your face!

The department of common sense has unfortunately checked out meaning that the table to avoid will be laden with all of the following unwanted items:-

Images Degrading Monthly - 3 issues will all be on offer including an exclusive show preview of the May issue These all will be FREE - well lets face it no-one would be interested if it cost anything, right?

Doubt land - all 4 issues will be available, including an exclusive show preview of the 4th and final issue - mostly because hardly anyones brought an issue yet - They will be on sale for the unfeasibley high cost of £1 per issue or a show special of £3 for all 4 issues - that's daylight robbery!

And to complete the bad news in this area some twit will probably be twittering the whole day with photos and pun inducing captions from the comiket, unless I can claw the smartphone out of his cold dead hands…

Its two to midnight!
What's this?! Oh apparently the one who keeps doing these drawings would like to know if anyone reading this blog would be interested in seeing an issue of Watchmen reproduced here?

Apparently Watchmen is a big deal or something - I prefer "Harlem Heroes" or "Rouge Trooper" (by the same artist) personally - Well if you give a hoot, send a email or post a comment - or better yet don't do either - that way this will not happen

I mean just look at this page! What a mess - who would want to see more of that?! Mr Dave Gibbons, please protest most furiously before this gets out of hand

I have been told you have two weeks, this week and next week to let us know if you would like to see Watchmen or maybe the one who does the drawings will do something else instead…

Speaking of which

Lactaphobes unanimous!
This weeks drawn subject is none other than Evan Dorkin and features his best known creations Milk and Cheese…

I had to take the computer away to stop that guy from endlessly going on about the artistic merits of this work as he is prone to do and thought it much better to just reproduce the drawing below, but very very small ("Hah! Thats what you think" says The one who draws), that way it won't melt your eyeballs as much and also a big massive super parental advisory and not safe for work etc applies to this - if you find anything remotely offensive - it's best not to read this

Apologies of course to Mr Dorkin, who was actually kind enough to grant permission for reproduction - Bet he wished he stayed in bed now

As for Milk and Cheese, they can speak for themselves - they certainly won't let anyone else get a word in edgeways

Next week - the final page of Milk and Cheese and more of the same in the text - maybe

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Lost Worlds Of 2001: Part 2 - From Scanned pages

Before I start - as usual - a few words

April is DoubtLand 3 Month
Issue 3 of “Doubt-land” is on sale now for just £1 a copy via eBay to anyone in the world

Just click the link below

In case you was the one person in the world who didn't know yet - Doubt land is my re-envisaged version of Jim Steranko’s lost / overlooked Outland movie adaptation, which has never been reprinted in English and is very hard to get hold of and is on sale at a bargain price

The Lost Worlds Of 2001: Part 2 - From Scanned pages
Carrying on from last week - I share my 2nd attempt to start work on redrawing Jack Kirby's 2001 movie adpatation

As I mentioned last week, one reason that pushed the decision to not attempt to work from Kirbys pencils was the fact that they are not all available!

Another reason I did not mention last week is that pencils for some pages did not ever exist anyway, as there are quite a few pages of photo montages using pictures from the movie itself - in terms of hand drawn art there are pages showing the layout and panels for these pages but not much else!

Anyway having got myself a copy of the 2001 Treasury Edition, I instantly run into a problem - the printed pages was too big

Not only bigger than I could reproduce on a print out of a scan, but actually too big to scan as well

So I tried to scan roughly half a page and take the two scans and put them together and make sure the overlap was as perfect as i could make it and then print on A4 paper for pencil tracing…

Here is the scans of the splash page:-

Having done this I proceeded with my usual methods same as I have done for all projects to date - to try and pencil trace as tight as I can - then to fine line and black as good as i can manage

This is how the first page turned out:-

And at least it looked a bit better than the first attempt - but I was still doubtful

As well of course as trying to reproduce the art I also had to consider how to make the process into a blog and I was struggling with this - The number of pages for the 2001 movie adaptation made this kind of daunting - the only thing I knew I could talk about at length would be the concepts behind 2001 itself rather than the actual comic...

Anyway I moved onto the next page and again did 2 scans and this was easier as i did not have to make such a perfect match as i scanned in to the edge of a panel and started the next scan on the top of the next panel - like so

I figured to myself that if I focused on the panel (the last one at the bottom) with the biggest and clearest detail to start off with maybe it would not seem so bad, as even on this scan I still could barely make out anything for the first panel that clearly

So I drew as far as follows:-
And made a number of mistakes on inking "moon watcher" to the point that I felt I had ruined the fine line work for the face which I felt had come out fairly well

But it was this that finally made me decide I was on the wrong path - If i couldn't make a nice big panel like this look good then I wouldn't have much of a chance with the rest!

So I decided to ask you all what I should do next, which led to a vote and to me moving onto doing an entire issue of Frank Milers and Klaus Jansons Daredevil which was a great idea and gave me lots of good experience

This brings us full circle as I have now finished the 2001 Project and the question is, What is next?

I would like to hear any suggestions you may have - but yes - I did have an idea and have even drawn a number of pages - in fact I even went as far as to put a drawing of this next idea in the final panel of the 2001 project under the Next… caption only to decide later to black this out…

Why..? you may ask - well this was that panel…

If you would like to see more of that - please post a comment!

In the meantime I will start work on a short little project for the next few weeks…!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Lost Worlds Of 2001: Part 1 - From Kirby's Pencils

Before I start - as usual - a few words

April is DoubtLand 3 Month

Issue 3 of “Doubt-land” is on sale now for just £1 a copy via eBay to anyone in the world

Just click the link below

In case you have been holidaying on the moon (Hey, where's my postcard?!) Doubt land is my re-envisaged version of Jim Steranko’s lost / overlooked Outland movie adaptation, which has never been reprinted in English and is very hard to get hold of and is on sale at a bargain price

Images Degrading Monthly
Both the Print and digital editions of Images Degrading Monthly are now available FREE - The Print Edition can be found at Orbital Comics and the digital version is yours - just send me a email to and I will send you a FREE copy back!

And inside this months issue we have:-

WORDS ARE PICTURES featuring some fantastic art by Jacqueline Nicholls

A review of SF SF 2 by Ryan Cecil Smith and a interview with Ryan himself

and a lot more besides!

The Lost Worlds Of 2001: Part 1 - From Kirby Pencils
Whenever I make a project there is always a rather fine balance between making something that is complimentary to the original material and being entertaining enough to justify writing about each page.

Of course the main difficulty lies in my lack of actual artistic ability, a point that has kind of been driven home fairly recently…

I did at one point fully intend to attempt (I only ever describe any of these projects as an attempt, how successful they are or not I leave to you readers to decide) to redraw Kirby's actual 2001 movie adaptation

It may be more of a surprise to confess that I actually made 2 attempts

So this is a look at those attempts and why they went wrong- in my own opinion of course!

After completing Outland one bit of advice I got from a artist was to try inking over pencils rather than just copying.  This sounded like a good idea….

But this didn't start off too well at all.

The first and most obvious problem being that the pencils for every single page did not appear to exist!

There is quite a lot of pages at the kirby museum web site but equally there was a number of pages missing - So I wouldn't be able to exclusively work from pencils

Putting that problem to one side I started work on the first set of pencils there was - the inside front cover

These are kirbys pencils:-

and this is my inked version for which I did not refer to the original inks at all

I thought this was not too bad considering that this was effectively my first attempt at anything vaguely resembling inking so I carried on

The next page I attempted was the first page - these are kirbys pencils

These pencils presented some problems once I had printed them out to ink, the size of the images was too small and of fairly low quality- thus the print out contained a lot of jagged lines where there should have been curves or straight lines and any small detail was more or less demolished - also the grey came out rather muddy and destroyed yet more detail...

But still I preserved and ended up with the following:-

Which I was not in any way that happy with and a black cloud was hovering over the whole project already

Still I attempted one more page to see if things would get any better - these are Kirby's pencils

Once again if you excuse the expression the image was too degraded for me to be able to pull much detail from it, especially considering my very limited skill set and the final product below again was something I was not happy with - to put it mildly!

I knew then that this was not working and decided I needed to change direction and try a different method of drawing - so I went off and purchased the original treasury edition of 2001with just scanning the pages, printing them off and pencil tracing from these in my mind

Find out what happened with that attempt - next week!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Awesome April

Another new month already - where does the time go?!

Could one of the below items be a "joke"…? hmm…. well let's see…

April is DoubtLand 3 Month

Issue 3 of “Doubt-land” is on sale now for just £1 a copy via eBay to anyone in the world

Just click the link below

In case you have been holidaying on the moon (Hey, where's my postcard?!) Doubt land is my re-envisaged version of Jim Steranko’s lost / overlooked Outland movie adaptation, which has never been reprinted in English and is very hard to get hold of and is on sale at a bargain price

Comica Comiket
Images Degrading Forever will be at this years Comica Comiket, Saturday 21st April 2012

There will be a lot of special advanced copies of Mays Images Degrading Monthly given away for FREE

And I will have all 4 issues of Doubtland on offer on the day with several advanced copies of the 4th and final issue on offer

There is of course more details to come - for a list of current exhibitors have a look below, its worth coming even if you'd rather not see me (that makes two of us)

Images Degrading Monthly
The Second issue of the very popular Images Degrading monthly will be going to print and will also be available digitally Saturday 7th April - if you want a digital copy just send me a email to and its yours

When I say popular I mean 240 copies of issue 1 just vanished like that !

It couldn't happen here
What will be my next project after 2001 is finished? Well could it be this…?

A comic book adaptation of the cinematic masterpiece called "It couldn't happen here" starring The Pet Shop Boys - Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe??

In which an brand new and never tried before method of depicting a narrative in comics is used called "TimeSize" in which the size of the panel is literally defined by how long that particular image stays on the screen - the longer the image is shows in the movie, the bigger the panel will be in the comic with one page roughly representing 30 seconds

I estimate this will consist eventually of around 172 pages (as the movie is 86 minutes long) and will take something over 3 years (at least) to actually complete

Of course It wouldn't be the same without text and I will of course have blog entries for each page in which dive into all the weighty philosophical discussions in the movie, like how the ventriloquists dummy is an existentialist and why Joss Ackland doesn't yell "Diplomatic immunity" in this movie (but another one entirely)

And of course I won't be able to resist spending quite some time examining the link between Captain Britain and Neil Tennant…


Okay you got me - the above is of course a April Fool… Of course it couldn't happen here and it isn't going to - so you won't have to ask "what have i done to deserve this"...