I've not had any involvement in this year's project, but my talented wife, Elyssa Campbell-Barr has. She was involved with Arni when she was commissioned later on to add rhyming couplets to the pages for a very limited edition book after it had completed its screen run. With Monkey Mischief she has co-created the story and written the words, with the art this time being the beautiful work of illustrator Alison Edgson.
If you're out and about over the next few weeks you should be able to spot Monkey Mischief on JCDecaux's screens across the country at train stations, shopping malls, bus stops, road sides and airports, etc. Follow Beframus on Twitter or Facebook to see the story unfold online.
On the subject of Arni, there was a little bit of chatter about how this year's Waitrose Christmas TV advert somewhat mirrors our tale of the little Norwegian Pine Grosbeak. After watching it, I can certainly see it has a few points of remarkable similarity - a little bird making the long trip from Scandinavia to the UK, getting hunted by a hawk, crossing the sea and ending up on a ship after being battered and almost drowned (and rescued) in a storm, and we could even say meeting a little girl at the end who provides it with food after the long journey.
I wouldn't go any further than just noting the similarities though - there are many differences as well, of course. Waitrose commissioned a book of the story written by world-class author Michael Morpurgo and wonderfully illustrated by Kerry Hyndman (and published by our friend, David Fickling) - plus 50p of every book sold goes to Crisis, the national charity for homeless people.
I didn't create the game, that was done by people far cleverer than I - but I did illustrate the map and all 100 locations - rather a mammoth task (especially all those cathedrals!), but enormously interesting, fun, and educational too.
As well as an online game, the map is appearing on JCDecaux digital screens across the nation over the next four weeks - so let me know if you spot one at a train station, airport, shopping mall or bus stop, etc.
It was very nice to be working with JCDecaux again - you'll remember that I did the Arni comic for them last November (see if you can spot Arni on the map). Both these jobs have been a challenge, but really rewarding, and both have given me the opportunity to up my game and increase my skills - so thank you to Russell Gower and Janet Guest and their team for that!
In the meantime, here's some process images, from thumbnail roughs, to pencils, inks and the finished design.
Edited by Jared Shurin, and with an introduction by John J. Johnston, Vice Chair of the Egypt Exploration Society (a portion of the proceeds of the book will be donated to the Society), it contains twenty short stories by a host of top-talent authors, including Paul Cornell, Gail Carriger, David Thomas Moore, Molly Tanzer, Roger Luckhurst and Jesse Bullington, to name only a few.
I was there because I was lucky enough to be asked by Jared to provide illustrations for some of the stories - eight in all. The drawings are in black and white, and I wanted a kind of clean Egypto-Art-Deco style, with something of the 1920s-era Vogue magazine in mind. I've also done colour versions of some with the idea of making prints available (I'll confirm this soon). I also created the book's title typography.
The Book of the Dead is available in two physical versions (as well as e-editions) - the regular paperback, and a limited edition hardback of 100 copies, complete with gold-embossed title on a dark blue buckram cover, wrapped in cloth and sealed with wax! The hardback also includes one of my favourite illustrations of the bunch, for Arthur Conan Doyle's Lot No. 249 - not available in any of the other editions.
Lot No. 249 - a story which features the first appearance of a reanimated mummy in fiction - also appears (without my secret illustration) in Unearthed, a companion volume of eleven classic mummy tales by the likes of Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe and Louisa May Alcott.
1) Script. I tend to plot out the story in a notebook and then type it up. I use Scrivener to type up and revise my notes and final scripts.
2) Thumbnails. These are usually sketched out as I script and are used to rough out the page layout and general composition of panels. Very rough!
3) Master artboard. I use A3 Goldline Bristol Board. Here you can see all the panels ruled out for this page. All I have to do now is simply fill in each box with a complete drawing ... easy!
4) Lettering guide. I scan in the empty-panelled artboard (3), put on the lettering in Photoshop, and print it out so I know how much room each speech balloon will take up. If I have more time I sometimes draw a second set of roughs on this sheet as well, but often the thumbnails (2) are enough.
5) Ballon guide. Each of those cut out square corresponds to the space a different size speech balloon will take up - 2 lines, 3 lines, 4 lines etc., as dictated by (4). I use it to mark out the space on the master artboard (3) so I know how much room they will take up in the panel.
6) Sketchbook. This is where I will work out difficult poses and compositions etc.
7) Tools. This is where I keep in-use pencils, pens, erasers and rulers. I use a clutch pencil with an H or HB lead for drawing the first stage of the finished art. I use an Edding 8404 Aerospace marker for most straight (ruled) lines, including panel borders (this is also the pen I use for sketching at conventions). As well as block erasers (usually a Pentel Hi-Polymer) I also have an ultra-fine eraser 'pen' (currently a Tombo).
8) Ink. Just above the number (8) you can see my inkwell - an antique brass holder with a hinged lid containing a ceramic well-pot (ceramic is easy to clean). I refill it regularly from a large 250ml bottle of Winsor & Newton black India Ink. On the far right of the number you can just see a tin pen-tray where I keep my dip pens. I have recently changed from using a Hunt 107 nib to a Hunt 102. There are also two or three water receptacles, for black ink and for coloured inks and an old jam jar with an assortment of pens and brushes - I use the brushes for solid black areas on the art (mostly a Royal Soft Grip SG 250 no.2).
9) Nibs. Above the number (9) is a little tin box for new nibs (Hunt 107 and 102), a scalpel, and another tin tray of various pens, spare pencils, pencil leads (H and HB), sharpeners and extra erasers.
Not numbered, along the top, are additional items such as coloured inks, reserves of India ink, compass, dividers, stapler, glue, and various shape guides (flexi-curve, circle stencil, etc.). I have a small low table next to my art desk where I stack in-use reference books (often piling up on the floor as well).
And here's an illustration and title design I did earlier this month for Josef Weinberger. I've had Doris Day singing away in my head ever since, which hasn't been at all unpleasant.
The British comics scene has two representatives in the set: Return to the Forbidden Planet is based on my 2005 design for Josef Weinberger Ltd., and 2000AD artist Leigh Gallagher has his 2006 Rocky Horror Show poster for SWD included.
I was contacted by Webb & Webb, the stamps' designers, back in June 2009. Since the previous November they'd apparently been looking through over 150 years worth of musical posters and had somehow decided that my Return to the Forbidden Planet artwork merited inclusion. I believe it was originally going to be just part of a collectors' pack - not an actual postage stamp.
I didn't hear anything for months and presumed it was one of the many jobs that starts full of enthusiasm and then fades away quietly to nothing - there are a lot of those! Until one day a nice lady from the Royal Mail phoned up - it was all on, they'd finally contacted Bob Carlton, the author, Her Majesty the Queen was looking over the stamps personally to approve them, mine was going to be an actual postage stamp, and they were coming out in November 2010. Somewhere along the line this got put back to February 2011, and here we are - I'm now nationally available to lick for those wanting to send something that costs 97p (eg. a large letter weighing 101g to 250g in the UK or the price of a worldwide airmail letter from 11 to 20g).
You can see my initial sketches for the original job in this blog post and there's another post about the design here. You can buy special sets of the stamps and postcards at the Royal Mail website and in all good Post Offices across the land (the ones that are still open). So go and send some mail! Especially airmail letters to countries outside of Europe! Or slightly heavier large letters to your fellow citizens of the British Isles! And buy a Return to the Forbidden Planet stamp with which to send it!
Cosmic Hobo produce the excellent and highly entertaining Scarifyers audio adventures (which you may have heard on BBC Radio), featuring occult investigators ghost-story writer Professor Dunning (Terry Molloy) and his colleague from the Metropolitan Police, Inspector Lionheart (Nicholas Courtney). The five tales (so far) have included a variety of brilliant actors, including Brian Blessed, Leslie Phillips, Nigel Havers, David Benson... and many more. The stories started out brilliant and have just got better with each new release. (If you're wondering what my involvement is, I designed and illustrated the CD inserts for the series).
They also have two other fantastic releases in the form of Peter Cushing's own reading of his autobiography (Past Forgetting) and the never-before released audio version of The Return of Sherlock Holmes, also read by the wonderful Peter Cushing. All marvellous for listening to while spending long hours at the drawing board!
Of course the script comes first (and that comes after the research and plot workings-out), but while I'm writing the script, I'll rough out the page simultaneously. As Nazaleod is in 4-page episodes, I do these roughs on A4, folded in half to give me four A5 pages.
Then I pencil the page using a Rotring mechanical pencil with a 0.5mm H lead and working on Goldline A3 220gsm bristol board. The page is inked with a dip pen (Hunt 107 nib) and india ink - as you can see from the accompanying image, I scanned this stage for some reason, with pencils still underneath, which I don't usually do. After the pencils have been erased away, the inks are scanned in to Photoshop as a 600dpi bitmap, and it's here I'll do any little corrections and add any 'white ink' (eg. the rain). Finally, the bmp is converted to colour, the black line is lifted to its own layer and colour is applied underneath, before being transferred to an A4 (actual size) master and lettered (not shown).
Ken sent me his brief and I drew it up (see below). Sadly, the 6th edition never happened, in fact, a 6th edition was skipped, though it did eventually go to a 7th edition. The cover, this time, has been painted by T&T's rightful artist - Liz Danforth (who I was delighted to meet in 1986 at Origins, even if I was a bit too shy to say a lot to her). You can see the cover to the first edition, by Rob Carver, here.