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.
The poster on the left is my original design - it's available with or without lettering. The second version is a standard use of that poster (in this case for the Bottleneck Theatre Company), as seen up and down the country for various productions - note that not all productions use it, some use their own. And that leads to the version on the right - a curiosity, from the Coliseum in Oldham, in that it is quite clearly based on my (the Josef Weinberger) version, yet has been completely re-drawn! I'm intrigued by the reason certain things were changed - the heroine carried by the hero, who looks a bit more 'comic-book classic' (does it look as though he's offering the girl to the alien?), the rocket on the opposite side, taller mountains... I like it actually.. maybe a little luminous for my drab tastes (note how the middle one has whacked up the contrast too!)
You might remember that this has happened before, when my Oliver! logo was used by the Act Too Stage School, again without my permission or knowledge. Gateway did respond kindly to me making them aware of the transgression and have agreed to credit the piece. Worryingly, they seem to think the design may have come from an apparently public domain source book (or site), which, if true, bodes ill for future versions of my design turning up. I haven't been able to find anything.
top: my original Oliver! rough sketch and finished logo from 1998
below is the logo as used by Gatehouse and Act Too
Lest you think I'm as heartless as Bill Sikes for not being generous with my art, two other organisations did get in touch and kindly asked permission for use of the design; one, being for charity, I charged a minimal fee (also designing a new poster); the other being a high school production in New York state, for which I allowed free usage. Of course it is only right that I should have the chance to make money from my own creations - they are my sole form of income. That logo is the result of many hours sketching, going back and forth with the original client (the June Easther Theatre Company) to get it right.
There's a lot of it about. Last year there was the Todd Goldman 'Dear God' affair, where he stole Dave Kelley's Purple Pussy comic. More recently Jess Fink (language warning!) has had her 'soap' design ripped off by Hot Topic. And it's probably more prevalent (wildly rife, actually) in the world of text. Whole websites are daily copied and used without proper attribution (including my own), but it's not just the amateurs - The Scotsman newspaper printed an edited entry from the blog of Hydragenic without any permission or payment whatsoever. There seems to be an attitude, even among 'professionals' that, if it's on the internet, it's free for the taking.
Fink's soap design (top left) and the Hot Topic copy (top right)
and Kelley's original Purple Pussy (left) with Goldman's direct copy (right)
While drawing over the weekend I listened to an advance copy and it is really excellent, very entertaining. You can listen to a trailer from the website. If you like Rainbow Orchid, I'm sure you'll like The Scarifyers.