Archive for the ‘ general ’ Category

Tamsin and the Deep – and updates!

So, the first half of 2013 was probably the best time I’ve had so far during my 7 years freelance. I had a really great few months and did a lot of new things, and learned a lot of new things. I remember sitting in a Hi Sushi with mates just before my birthday last year when things were going well for all of us and we all held hands and were like “LET’S REMEMBER THIS BECAUSE IT CAN BE THIS GOOD”… which I’m going to remember as hard as I can. The second half of 2013 was the worst freelance time I’ve had since 2008. 2013 was truly a beautiful pie with a base of shit.

I’m working full-time again now thanks to lots of supportive people and a very excellent physio, and I am so grateful for this. Work is everything to me. I live to work! Not being able to do so really drove me into a not-so-great place; I got pretty ill on top of the shoulder problems. Combining not-being-able-to-work with “freelance” is pretty scary – obviously you don’t get sick-pay, it’s a risk you have to take when becoming self-employed – and I’m honestly lucky that the first half of 2013 was so great project-and-money-wise, or my shoulder popping off would have ruined me financially, too :( But it’s okay now… I’m through intensive physio, and I’ve got fine-tuning until June/July, by which time it’s going to be as good as it could possibly be. The bones have more-or-less receded back to where they should be (no more surprise humerus!!), and I can do pretty much everything that’s non-intensive! I’m so happy! ^_^/

Enough about my personal life ^^; I’m working on a project with one of my fave creators!!!!!! Me and Neill Cameron have teamed up to make TAMSIN & THE DEEP – a multi-part series for The Phoenix, written by Neill and arted by me! It’s an urban-fantasy/action tale set in CORNWALL (ONE OF MY FAVOURITE PLACES OMG OMG) and our lead is 10-year-old Tamsin “I won’t take no *&%! from this” Thomas. It’s awesome and I can’t wait for people to read it! Here’s our teaser poster…

It starts April 4th. I’m so excited! I’m still learning to work with scripts, so I hope I can really step up my game by learning new things!!!!!! So far, I’ve been focussing a lot on my naturalistic backgrounds, which I’ve always found quite hard to render in line-and-celshade. I hope they’re improving!

I’m also providing colours for Emma Vieceli and Antony Johnston’s ALEX RIDER:SCORPIA adaptation! We’ve set up a development Tumblr for it, here: http://alexridercomic.tumblr.com/ Check in to see how we’re going with it!

And finally, for those who are aware of the new book I am working on, I’m afraid of course this has had to go on the back-burner even more so than it was. I’m *ALMOST* finished with the thumbnail draft, and it’s looking to be just over 300 pages. Obviously, this is not a paid project, and with the mess my shoulder left me in, I absolutely have to prioritise income right now. The fallout from my shoulder is going to roll over most of everything I do for at least another year, I think. All the money I’d saved to work on my book went into rehabilitation ^^; I’m glad I was able to, you know, of course, but it’s been so, so frustrating to lose that time for so many reasons… I did not comprehend the phrase “time is money” until I went freelance. It’s scary.

I can’t remember now how much I’ve written/spoken about it? It’s called “FAITH SAYS YOU”. Here’s a cheery page from it that sets the tone!

Best wishes to all xxx

Bones and things

I managed to finish off the majority of my pre-order sketches for Thought Bubble! Relief! I’ve been doing little bits of sketching every day, just like 30-60 minutes or so. It’s been going pretty well… though I zoned out yesterday and drew for much longer accidentally, and my shoulder suffered a lot for it, so that was a bit scary ;_; But it’s okay today, and I’ve only got one more sketch to go, so it should be fine!!

The bone is receding back into the shoulder as the muscles slowly build around it and the ligaments relax, which is really good. I’m working now with little weights, which I’m super pleased about given several weeks ago I could not even lift a cup of tea!!!

Hopefully, I should be back to working full-time towards the end of the year or early next year. I’ve still got to be pretty careful, though.

Princes in the Tower – animation for the Tower of London

(This was written ages ago before my shoulder went pop! Also! Sorry to be unprofessional for a brief moment, but… TL;DR version: if you even vaguely know me, you’ll know that when we got the email for this project, I literally shit all my bones and wondered if I had, in fact, died and gone to heaven.)

At the end of 2012, me, Paul and Emma were contacted by the Tower of London to make an animated short based around Edward V and Richard of York, aka. The Princes in the Tower. It was to be screened in the Bloody Tower, where they have the current display focusing around these two: possibly the Tower’s most notorious prisoners guests prisoners short-stay holiday makers prisoners young people, as part of a drive to increase the modernity of the Tower itself. We needed little introduction to this particular piece of history (*COUGHCOUGHCOUGH*) and met up with Tower staff to discuss the outcome and what they hoped to achieve, and what we could realistically produce. I’d like to take a second here and speak about how freakin’ awesome the Tower staff are. (They are super rad and we feel really lucky to have worked with them!)

For those who are not aware of the figures, here’s some info:

Edward V of England
Richard of York
Richard of Gloucester/Richard III of England
Edward IV of England
Elizabeth Woodville (I went briefly to Elizabeth Woodville Primary School in Leicester!)

Our initial idea involving life-sized, animated shadow-play had proved to be impossible due to the physical restrictions of the Bloody Tower, but we took with us the idea of using strong contrast for the final look of the piece. We also hoped that the use of stark red, black and white would avoid the piece looking very dated/aging too quickly, and also allow the animation to be as clear as possible over the texture of the interior of the Tower’s walls (textured like… well, a medieval wall), and the lighting situation (also medieval). We were not really able to use chunks of text or lots of dialogue as so many visitors to the Tower would not have English as their first language, so, it was up to us to try and make something engaging and informative and atmospheric just through pictures, focusing on the more modern aspect that the Tower is working through, making it creepy, keeping it ambiguous due to historical black holes, and so on, and so forth. It was a challenge, for sure, to make this all under 2 minutes. With that in mind, I wanted to try and aim for a sooooort of music video type thing, and took a lot of inspiration from anime openings/endings. We were also really happy that Ewan Parry was able to work with us on the Sound Design for the piece — we’ve worked with Ewan a few times before for various projects, and we’re good friends, and it’s always nice to work with friends!!!

So, obviously, Paul’s done a fair amount of animation before and is really good at it, whereas I have completely not done any and tried to learn as we went under his watchful eye! ^^; I wrote the story out and bashed out a few rough storyboards, and once everyone was happy with the idea, we moved onto making further rough storyboards, and basically just diving straight into developing the thing. Paul handled the 3D and the compositing, and helped out on the 2D. He used 3D StudioMax and AfterEffects, and I did the 2D in Photoshop.

Here’s the initial design Paul made early on as a basis for our style, when we were compiling our pitch for the Tower:

And here are some more designs I made when I started storyboarding:

It was quite refreshing to literally not have the scope to labour over any aspect of the drawings. I had to learn quickly that in order to achieve anything at all, you gotta just GO GO GO DO NOT STOP DO NOT COLLECT £200 KEEP GOING WHAT ARE YOU DOING DRAWING FINGERNAILS STOP THAT KEEP DRAWING. Despite that, the designs for the boys’ hair was too complex really, and the line-thickness issue continued being a bit of an issue, lol. Well, I learned!

Here’s some storyboards-to-final-frames examples:

Here’s the animatic:

One of the important things we built into the piece was the space and potential to expand a few scenes. The animation itself was quite experimental in terms of its actual use for the Tower, and we want to wait for visitor feedback before thinking of expanding it. I’m really hoping we can! I would love to expand on the bit where the boys are playing, maybe add detail to Richard of Gloucester’s short scene, add dialogue perhaps, add bits to the ending… just add detail to make it feel even more lively, really. We’re hoping it gets good feedback! If you’re around in London during the summer, you should totally pop along to the Tower and check it out! Thanks so much everyone who’s asked about how we’re going with this, and giving encouragement, especially when we weren’t able to say what it actually was we were working on. It meant a lot to us… I really hope anyone who gets the chance to see it, really likes it *^_^*

…and as that’s a bit of a tall order for some people, very kindly, HRP have let us show it on YouTube! Please watch it and enjoy it (and pretend it’s massive and in a medieval Tower)!

Here’s where I need to mention we made a lot of artistic liberties, but we felt we had strong reasons for the majority of these! We are very aware that Richard of York didn’t join Edward until like a month(?) later, after he’d gone to the Tower, but chose to skip over this bit due to a worry of confusing and over-lengthening the plot, and we wanted to focus specifically on the two boys, so that to us, at the time, meant introducing them in the same scene. We skipped over Earl Rivers and Grey’s executions for the same reasons. Apologies for these points. To be frank, there’s such little information about the boys’ stay in the Tower, and it’s often hard to discern what was contemporary source material and what was propaganda.

As a closing note, we had a total blast making this. The Princes in the Tower is one of my personal favourite history subjects/mysteries, and to get to do this was… well, what I wrote in the first paragraph, haha. I think when people get involved in historical fiction it’s easy to get really close to the figures, even if it’s just a tiny thing like making a single illustration, or doing a quick sketch… it brings them to life again suddenly, and brings them through the ages briefly, to exist along with everyone again. I do feel pretty close to these kids by now; it seems like every other year I get to work with them! ^_^ It does make me really sad that we’ll likely never know what happened to the two boys. The speculation about what occurred is fun and all, but at the same time, these were two young children who went missing, almost certainly for political reasons, and that’s really uncomfortable to think about. I do not believe the bones in the Westminster Urn belong to them. I wish we knew more. Every time I draw them or get into a project with them, I worry that I might be cheapening some aspect of their lives and role in history… I hope I’m not.

Quick where-I’ve-been post!

Hey! Well, I don’t talk much about my non-work life any longer, but I wanted to write a little bit about where I’ve been! I know my blog often goes untouched for a while, but that’s usually because I’ve just been too busy, or am unable to update on what I’m doing for whatever reason. This time, I’ve been off with my shoulder injury :(

I’ve had shoulder problems for a long time, since I was 19, and in uni studying comics. It got worse and worse, though levelled off for a while, until this year, when for the first very very very busy six months, I started to lose movement in it even more and then it just dropped into unbearable pain. Because there was no actual sudden injury involved, it was likely to be repetitive strain. I’ve been to various doctors on an off for years, but I got brushed off a lot and not taken seriously… and I’d just work through the pain and waited to see what would happen with it. Not good! But we’re supposed to trust doctors, so, I would just believe what some of them said – that it would just go away. Well, 9 years of it not going away later, I’m back at the physiotherapist again, to have a concerted push before trying anything more drastic with it!

The issue is… tissue! All my soft tissues in my shoulder are completely fucked! There is rotator cuff damage. And I’ve developed a kinda gross quirk where my humerus pops out of the top of my shoulder… because there’s literally nothing holding it in. I have holes and gaps where my ligaments and muscles are supposed to be. Luckily, there doesn’t seem to be any actual major tears, and no bone damage.

Anyhew, I really like this physio I’ve been assigned, so I really trust him this time. I hope we’re able to fix my shoulder together! He said expect results in a couple months, so, I should be back at work around end of November/beginning December (it’s been a bit of a work-related nightmare and I don’t wanna bore you with whining about that!)

Some people will have awful postures and terrible work habits and never suffer any consequences… but some people will really suffer. When mine got bad at uni, I’d been working on a flat surface, leaning over my work, sitting on a fairly shitty chair. I expect that, combined with the very long work hours, is what caused it in the first place. I would genuinely like to see posture education, safe work practise, exercises and so on introduced into any type of art/design course! I don’t think I know a full-time comic-book creator (with a few years of practise behind them) who doesn’t suffer from some type of chronic pain :( It’s very important to learn how to treat your body if you’re gonna crunch it into funny positions for hours on end — and that includes just holding a pencil! Prevention is better than cure, because, sometimes, there is no cure.

That’s a bit of a moody note to end on, I’m sorry! In other news, the animation Paul and I were handling is now live in its display area, and hopefully we can talk about it soon! (Contractually the people commissioning it are going to talk it up first, so, we gotta wait for them!)

That’s all! I can’t type for long at the moment ^^; (This is unedited and rushed, so probably sounds worse than usual! Sorry! Just still very tender in the tissues!!!)

Interviewbs.

Very nearly done with our animation project! We should be able to talk all about it soon, I’m so excited! ^_^ In other exciting news (well……. exciting for me), I finally got a new monitor, so, hopefully no more embarassing mistakes caused by a less-than-good monitor ;_; Ugh….

So, I did a couple of written interviews recently. These types are my favourite, as I can take it slowly over a couple of days and try and really think about any tricky questions. Or, just have lots of fun with the fun questions!! Here’s my interview with Razberry Juice Magazine, and here’s my interview with Steve of The Beat. These are both pretty comprehensive and were great to do, haha! Thanks so much, RJM and The Beat! ^_^

Okay, Young Avengers #6 is out soon! Omg!!

Places.

I need to update my list of places you can find me! I keep forgetting to put it into my website… let me put it here, hopefully it’ll make me remember.

Twitter / @autojoy (very active!)
Tumblr / schmautojoy (active)
Flickr / autojoy (very inactive…)
This is My Jam / autojoy (active-ish)
ScentBase / autojoy (active-ish)
Google+ / Kate Brown (very inactive…)
Instagram (or Webstagram) / autojoy (active)

In other news, I’ve just completed a set of illustrations for a Phoenix Tale Feather short. I used a different style, and really enjoyed the chance to exercise my illustration skills. I’d like to do more, but illustration gigs don’t come up for me that frequently (probably because…. I’ve not really pursued them, haha). I’ll post the pictures once they’ve been published — to my knowledge, they are going out in the Hallowe’en issue. The story itself was right up my alley (as well Editor Ben knew!!)… very interesting fairy-tale material. I read it several times ^_^

Last week, I was in Dundee, visiting the Comics module they have going on there at the DJCAD. I was very impressed. I met and spoke with Phil and Chris who are running the Comics Module and the Comics MLitt courses, respectively. They both have a deep love of comics, current and past, and seem to have their heads screwed on in terms of what would be useful to the students. A good deal of their budget is set aside to invite professionals currently working in the field to visit and speak with the students, which I think is so vital… we only had the one guest (Paul Grist! :D) come to our course for the Swindon HND SA, and I felt it was exceptionally beneficial, and a serious shame we were unable to have more guests visit. (Also certain tutors may have spoken over the top of said guest a fair bit…………….) The Dundee courses also work towards compiling an anthology of the students’ comics so they have something definite to work towards, are able to learn about print etc., are able to see their work in real print, and are able to take the book along to events and sell it. So! Yeah, I was very impressed, and I wish them the best… I hope it expands into a full-blown BA! I think that’d be excellent! With what’s achieved in the space of 10 weeks for the Module students, imagine what could be done in three years…! Many thanks to Phil and Chris for taking care of me for my visit, I felt very welcome.

ALSO DUNDEE HAS A VOLCANO OMG!!!!!!!!

Webstore… open!

Go webstore…! It’s open now. There is… so much stuff O_O; Because there is so much, I’ll give a quick listing here of what’s available right now… but once it’s gone, it’s gone! Here’s that list:

>>> ALL interiors plus the front cover from Fish + Chocolate: The Piper Man/The Cherry Tree/Matryoshka, including the title images
>>> The Golden Fables illustration series
>>> All Nelson interiors
>>> Both posters and both covers from The Lost Boy
>>> My cover for The Thrill Electric
>>> Various prints at A3 and A4

Most original pieces come with a same-sized, high-quality print of the finished image.

Coming soon are the interiors for The Lost Boy. I’ll wait a while until after the strip itself has finished its run before I put them up. There’s other stuff I’ll put up at a later date, when I can find it. I’m a but shopped-out at the moment, heh. If there’s something you want and it’s not around on the webstore, please give me an email and I’ll let you know if it’s available to buy! Thank you! :D

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There’s been a lot of gaming in our household (flathold?) recently! Lots of… OLD games, to be more specific! Me and Paul have been playing a lot of Heroes of Might & Magic III since last year, for starters… it was something he’d played a lot as a kid, and wanted to try it again. I got well into it, too. In return, and mostly thanks to gog.com/, we’ve been playing a lot of games from when I was a kid, too.

I was nuts about Zork when I was younger, specifically the 3D ones (I have to say I had little patience for the text games back then), so we’ve gone through Nemesis and Grand Inquisitor… and have started tackling Zork 1, but jeez it’s hard, man! Then we moved on to Riven. Then, on to The Journeyman Project 3. I was surprised at how well they’d held up! Most times when returning to old stuff you’d loved as a kid, it turns out to be a bit shitty. We also played one of Emma’s favourite games from her childhood, The Last Express, which was amazing, and, for us, not tainted by the blurry glasses of nostalgia, neither.

In terms of modern gaming, the thing on the plate has been Journey. It’s incredible, and everyone should play it. I had been so excited for it, as I’d loved Flower, and it did not disappoint. I cried buckets as it finished. Play it. PLAY IT NOW.

Oh god, also! Dear Esther! It perhaps wasn’t quite what I was expecting, (I think I’d reckoned it was to be more of a point-and-click – whereas, I think, it’s more akin to a visual novel? Sorta?) but yeah, wow. Totally a game everyone should play. I am very much behind what it was doing as a game.

I like… unique games. Obviously that’s not all I play – I’m a big fan of the Harvest Moon/Rune Factory series, and Zelda, and to be quite frank if you’ve played one of those you’ve played them all – but I do love, love, love individual pockets of funky goo like Journey, like Dear Esther. Much love…

The Boss and The Bob

Here’s some pictures from the launch of The Boss – written by the amazing John Aggs, drawn by the fantastic Patrice Aggs and published by David Fickling Books as part of The DFC Library! The Boss is one of my favourites (if I’m allowed to play favourites, for a minute) so I really recommend this volume! :)

Here’s a button to press whilst you peruse these pics: instantboss.org

Cakes! :D~

Some guy who might have been a bit important at the launch party (that’s John Aggs, DON’T YOU KNOW) and a spectacular furry thing atop his shoulder… what IS that!?

There he is again!

Well… he likes the comic! Gentle readers: this is Bob. He used to belong to Sonia Leong, who passed him to Emma Vieceli, who passed him recently to me! His full name is Floppy Genghis-Bob (on account of having three mistresses and three different personas, haha) and he’s accompanied me to all recent comic events. He might also have his own Facebook page… (even I don’t have a Facebook page!)

Fetch… THE CUSHIONS.

(Quick round-up!)

Thought Bubble was great! It was my first time there, and the first time the comics festival covered the weekend as well. I had masses of fun and I really liked the attendees. I would say a huge number of them were A) younger than me and B) female. Very embarrasingly, I missed the first half of the first panel I was meant to be doing, which was about the then-newly released Nelson… though I did catch the last 20 mins of it and I’m not certain I would have been terribly useful anyway, everyone on the panel looked like they were doing a super job :)

On that note, Nelson is excellent! I’ve finally had a read-through and it is actually quite astonishing as a project. The thing that struck me overall was the vulnerability of Nel, and the emphasis on how quickly our lives rush past, the decisions we have to make in the blink of an eye, and the way memories can transform into stories – almost as if they’d happened to someone else – after a certain length of time. Have you read it yet…? Do you own it? You should! It’s a superb cross-section of the UK comics industry, and the book’s profits go to charity. Please consider supporting it – click here for the Blank Slate store page!

So a week after Thought Bubble (nearly typed ‘Bibble’, tee hee) it was off to Malta Comicon! This was my second overseas convention. We were all very well looked-after as guests, and were treated to some sight-seeing on the following week! We visited the War Museum and the Inquisitor’s Palace. I found the latter absolutely fascinating – I admit that the majority of what I knew about the Inquisition was down to hear-say and its representation in popular culture. So, to discover everything about the Maltese Inquisition was really eye-opening. ALSO! We visited Mdina on the final day, which, as was mentioned off-hand as we entered the city gates, was used as part of the set for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. I promptly shat myself in excitement… and then my camera battery ran out. Damncakes. I *did* get a fat bunch of photos from the Inquisitor’s Palace however, so I gotta process those and get ‘em up on my Flickr at some point!

But yeah. Was sad not to spot either Jaime Lannister or Corto Maltese. They must have seen my fangirl aura approaching like a swarm of bees and hidden themselves (I don’t blame them).

So, really I’ve been so busy recently I’ve forgotten what my office looks like -_-; I absolutely have to cut down on events next year – my work schedule has really taken it in the face. Gotta try and catch up as much as I can…!

Speaking of work! Did you manage to catch Issue Zero of The Phoenix? :D I had one waiting for me when I got home! It was such a good read, and I’m so excited about January! Please tell me you’ve subscribed? You’ll be getting an awesome product and you’ll also be supporting the UK comics industry!

That’s about it from me… sorry for a non-pictoral post. I know it’s a bit boring :( I’m so squeezed for time at the moment!

Take care! Oh, and if you’re in the Melksham area, me, Emma Vieceli and Paul Duffield are signing and sketching for you at KOMIX on Saturday 10th! See you there…!