Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Man in Pencil and Tan

Drawn on the train the other day.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

"It's a trap!" No, it's just the return of 'Rob's Random 5'!

That's right Darth Vader! After a long absence it's the return of the blog post that force-chokes the life out of common sense, but promises no disintegration. This week we've emerged from Hyperspace early for the following: Mantras! Proud parents! Proud presents! Logos! Geordies! And pictures!

1) The words I live by:

You're a wise man Mr. Wells...

2) Photo-no-no: (I warn you in advance, the vitriol flies in this rant)
Is there anything as annoying as a proud new parent? Well, alright, maybe, but as I get older people around me are starting to do 'grown-up responsible things' like getting mortgages and starting families, and that's fine, but oh-my-goodness if you ever have a child and try to show me more than one photo of your brand new pride and joy then I will likely effect violence upon you. Oh great, you and your wife/husband did what billions of others throughout the course of time have done and made a mewling little poop factory – hoovering up food and attention and turning it into vile nappy mess that you'll tell anecdotes about at the next dinner party. So? It's not like it's the first one ever or it can shit gold or shoot lasers from its eyes. There's nothing worse than having to look at shot after shot after shot of some person's freshly-birthed Mini-Me as they give running commentary on each picture, usually with diabetically-sweet 'awws' and 'ohs' that make them seem like they've forgotten what their child looks like after two seconds, only to be reminded by the next identical photo. And even if their baby looks like the end result of a drunken night between Quasimodo and a badly weathered Notre Dame gargoyle you have to – have to – say how bonny it looks, not just once, but shot after shot after arrrrrrgh! Why do you have to carry more than one picture around with you?! Isn't one good enough? The whole tedious process is a form of highly-refined brain torture. I imagine that it could be used to extract information...
Sorry, rant over. Of course, I'm not a father, so I can't fully grasp the obvious natural pride that new parents have. But let me make this promise: when the day comes that I am a proud parent I will not bore my friends with endless snaps of Robert Augustus Plainview Smedley Jnr. There will be only one. And he'll most likely be dressed as a Jedi.

3) Logo-a-go-go:
If you head over to C. A. Marshall's blog, you'll not only find a wealth of information about the World o' Publishing, but also a rather handsome blog logo.
Nice, isn't it? It speaks literary and fun. I'm happy with it and glad Cassie is, not least because it took a lot of coffee and paper to come up with something that I thought was just right. What can I say, I'm a perfectionist. It features Jane Austen, Mr. Darcy, a sheep and Mollie the dog, all enjoying a good book. And here's a little fact for you: the writing on all the paper is mostly unreadable - and that's on purpose - but if you look closely here and there you can pick out the odd word, including the opening line of 'Pride & Prejudice' and also the phrase 'drawn by Robert'. Crafty! And Chris, for whom I also designed a logo, doesn't know this, but if you play his logo backwards it syncs up perfectly with 'The Wizard of Oz'...
Anyway, I'm always willing and happy to design free logos for people. It keeps my drawing hand and eye in, keeps the creative juices from freezing, and above all it's fun. Drop me a line if you fancy one.

4) Goggles!:
The heat given off by the number of candles on my birthday cake (I feel so ooooold!) was so ferocious I had to have eye protection to blow them out...

5) Wor Bat-villain...:
Why aren't there more Geordies in TV and Film and Books? It's a crime is what it is (I say that as a Northerner, even though I sound like I was born and lived in a hot air balloon for my whole life), and so I was delighted to see the World's First Geordie Super-Villain in the latest issue of Grant Morrison's 'Batman and Robin'. That's right – a villain from tha Toon, complete with broad accent (I love that he actually says 'Divvent ye knaa') and colloquialisms that will no doubt confound the some of the American readership and maybe even a few Brits. You can see some of him, named Old King Coal, here. It's fantastic, sinister, and at the same time also a touch hilarious. But you'd expect nothing less from the Glaswegian comics maestro Morrison. To have a Broon Ale swigging villain battling Batman may just be my comics highlight of the year... well, until the next 'Parker' comes out in October.

Well, that's all for this week. Until next time, take care. Now, as it's Pancake Day, go an enjoy some circular cooked batter. I know I will.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Miller's Tale...

What's black, white and red all over? A Frank Miller film.
I have to admit I'm not a Frank Miller fan, and while his earlier, 80s works had merit (he did help set Batman on the 'dark' path after all) his later projects have shown a self-indulgence that leaves many cold. I had the misfortune of bumping into his version of 'The Spirit' the other night. I say without any hyperbole that it's an awful film (I think it's worse than 'Batman and Robin', but I realise that's a hotly contested title), because it takes everything that makes 'The Spirit' a fun and exciting read and forces it through Miller's grim, noirish 'Sin City colour scheme sieve'. And while that works for gritty source material like his 'Sin City', it doesn't for the more light-hearted Spirit. It's weirdly dark when it shouldn't be, in terms of tone and visuals and most of the time makes no sense (why does Samuel L. Jackson's character The Octopus dress up as a Nazi at one point?). Above all, it made me wonder if that's how Frank Miller sees everything - harsh, noir-ish and gritty monochrome with dashes of blood red here and there. If so, the world must be a terrifying place when seen through his eyes...
As an aside, if anyone should have had a hand in the making of a Spirit movie it should have been (my perennial favourite, as Chris will certainly attest to) Darwyn Cooke, whose 12 issue run on 'The Spirit' really is a must read. Not only are each of the self-contained stories well-crafted, fun and often satirical, but the artwork is superb (see here, here, here, here and here to feast your eyes on it). No black and white weirdness there.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

One for the Wildlife Documentary fans...

Friday, 5 February 2010

In which Rob is about as in touch with Internet-speak as these Cavemen...

I'll be perfectly honest, I don't really know for sure what 'RT' means in front of a tweet. I've come to the logical conclusion that it means 're-tweet', but it wouldn't surprise me if I was wrong. I'm on shaky ground with Twitter. As I've said before I tried it last year and was on it for all of a week before leaving. It just wasn't for me. It is for others, and I can see it's purpose if you are a celeb or promoting a product, or helping to get news out of a disaster zone/tyrannic dictatorship/core of an event, but I maintain that for the most part Twitter is a vapid and boring medium standing in the way of a good conversation (Captain Patrick Claudius Jean-Luc Xavier Picard agrees). A glance at the live feed last night was proof, when one Tweeter (Tweeter? Twitterer? Twit? Definitely twit in her case) proudly claimed to have eaten an apple. It might have been more interesting if she had informed others of the colour or variety or how juicy it was/was not, but no, she just said she'd eaten an apple, as though somewhere a Doctor was also on Twitter and thinking 'well I'll stay away from her for another day'.
Of course, now I'm engaged in this writing Duel with Chris I do use it (even got an app for it on my iPod and everything) I have to use it. Well I don't have to, but it would be rather pointless to have it if it was just one person tweeting. I use it frequently, but like I said before, Twitter excels at promotion and news headline transference, and that's essentially what we're doing when we tweet about our novels. In it's capacity as an information service, like for our Duel, it's great. For people blabbering on about consuming fruit, it's an annoyance. So on balance, it's still not FTW for me...

By the way what does FTW mean anyway...?

Love & Brain Training...

Don't know who Dr. Kawashima is? Or maybe you've not been doing his brain training exercises? Either way, this will help. A bit.

Obviously I'm not going to tell you what to think about this cartoon, but I don't expect you to find this funny (although it's fanastic if you do). I think you mind find it amusing in a 'bitter-sweet Indie film' sort of way, but really it's meant to give you something to think about. Although do feel free to enjoy the variety of coffees displayed on the board. Cabbageino, anyone? Novacash Coffee is my creative constant; my version of the Slusho. Whenever I draw or write and require a coffee chain, I use Novacash, a thinly-veiled caffeine corporation I invented and first used in my 'read by three people and that's the way I'll keep it' novel 'The How To Take Over The World Club'. I like having something that keeps cropping up in everything I do. It makes it feel like the insanity I churn out shares one little, crazy world.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Existential Ink...

So Hourly Comic Book Day – in which people make a 'comic' for every hour they're awake - came and went. Cassie took part in it. I did not, although you might expect me, a cartoonist, to. But there we go. I didn't draw my life, partly because I do nothing of interest (3pm: watching Star Trek: Voyager. Really, you want to know that? Really? How boring must someone else's life be to be interested in that?) and also because I make fun of life, I don't document it. It's called 'Too Close For Comfort' for a reason. I keep Life at arms distance and point and laugh while it's trousers fall down. But mostly I didn't participate because, in documenting my little life, I see a fundamental problem with Hourly Comic Book Day...

And while my life may be boring and filled with nothing more than ink and vitriol, I'm not ready to stop existing just yet.

Add Image

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Death Carries a Tin Opener!

'The Alphabetti Spaghetti Murders'