Tuesday 12 July 2011

Oubli-art for Issue 6

(Previewed here The Skeleton Lord from Monster Club and a single frame from Mouse Watch both to be found in Oubliette Issue 6-out soon).

Infected with plague, and bellowing "unclean" periodically, I've had my head down getting the art together for our next issue.

With each magazine, I have attempted something a little different. I've mucked around with greyscale, attempted a higher degree of realism, experimented with block colouring, looked at all your blogs and the sorts of pictures you admire and attempted to incorporate elements of modelling and shading as used by the artists show-cased.

My style has been to reel off whatever is my head without too much forethought. Images appear suddenly and very vividly, and I get them on to paper as quickly as I can, and clean them up in photoshop. This sort of technique, produces pictures with immediacy and drive, but they don't necessarily tickle the connoisseur palette. But does a magazine require masterpieces on every page (my head is shouting, "Yes Marg-sort yourself out"). I recall a critic talking about Orson Welles in a stage production of Moby Dick saying for the first ten minutes he was the most magnificent thing he'd ever seen in terms of voice and presence, but after that, even that magnificence managed to be come mundane, because it was all the same-there was nothing which surprised, because it was all masterly.

Now such a comment is not meant to inspire people to be mediocre with occasional flashes of brilliance. Laurence Olivier struggled with recreating masterpieces: he exited the stage after an electrifying performance, to be greeted with "You were brilliant!", to which he replied "Yes! But I don't know why!"

These anecdotes and many others chase each other around my head whenever I draw or write, and whilst I'm not into suffering, pain and angst(okay, I occasionally indulge but I do know it's a complete waste of time), I do believe that life can be directed towards a process of continual self-improvement. I'd like to improve my drawing, and whilst I fight the good fight, I can enjoy spectacular failures and be modestly and most Britishly pleased by any accomplishments. If what I do is interesting and varied that's a bonus. Chief in my head is blanket accessibility. I'm into being inclusive-anyone should be able to enjoy this stuff-ah which leads to some of my naughty stuff. Yes, I did draw pole-dancing mice, and implied various unsavory happenings, but when I do things like that, I try and keep it all in the grand tradition of British Panto. Hopefully it's multi-layered enough that it can mean separate things to different ages and levels of experience. Maybe I won't be showing the raven eating the eyeball of the decomposing head on a spike to my five year old, but there's always next year?


  1. I really like the skeleton lord above -- and I am still a major fan of your full-page vampire pic in the previous issue.

    Do you ever do commission work, or does your work on Oubliette keep you too busy for that?

  2. I looked at it some more and realized that the coolest part of the skeleton pic is the cape. Terrific!

  3. Hey Carter,

    Many thanks for the lovely feedback. The tattered cape was an afterthought. I drew the picture with cape intact and in full swirl, but adjusted it to be more moth-eaten and ragged as it texturally fit the bill better.

    I really enjoyed doing the full-page vamp pic. I now can't look at the transformation pic without referencing your comment about Eddie Munster-it always makes me smile.

    Last time I did commissioned work was about twenty years ago, when I used to cartoon insane gnomes for a multi-cultural magazine, and illustrate a couple of the contributors' columns.

    The mag is currently in the final phase of editing, proof-reading and ironing out as many creases as is humanly possible. At this moment I'm blocking in a new Tales from Hell Cartoon. Those Kobolds really need a lesson in sanitation. Eurgh!

  4. This art is incredible.

    I'd like to pester you with questions.

    1. How long have you been drawing?

    2. Did you study cartoon methods such as inking over pencils?

    3. Did you get academic training in how to draw? Did you undertake any kind of apprenticeship?

    My motivation for this is that I am surrounded by manga-style artists, but I don't want to imitate manga very much - I want to draw stuff that looks like the work of Trampier, Sutherland, and other D&D artists.


  5. Thank you for your compliment. I hope I'm hiding the insane look of glee on my face with a pleasantly modest facial set as I type.

    In answer to your questions:

    1) I started drawing as a toddler and never stopped. I drew insulting cartoons of the goings on of my family throughout my teenage years, charting the quite normal ups and downs of our life in obscene ink.

    2)My study of cartooning was largely confined to my love of comics-namely The Phantom, Wonderwoman, Spiderman, Tintin, Asterisk, Tales of the Unexpected, Jabato, and El Capitán Trueno. One of my first cartooning loves was a bumper album of Little Annie Fanny that my parents received as a gift (in the early 70s). Gratuitous mammaries aside the cartooning was brilliant and anarchic and actually boasted some early D&D artists (I'll have to double check the names before I disclose).

    3) No academic training in how to draw. Have a BA(hons) in Literature and Art History, so I have decent references to draw upon. Aubrey Beardsley is one of my big inspirations.

    As far as the mag is concerned, I surround myself with all of Pete's old D&D books, modules and miniatures, draw the necessaries using a uniball pen on light graphic marker paper, and then modulate it on screen using a computer pen and pad. I'll work on the computer in black and white and then greyscale the final draft for the mag.

    Concerning Manga: I enjoy looking at manga. The ink blocking is really excellent, and I like the dynamism of the postures which draws directly from the Mannerist movement of the late Renaissance. But I also like the line and cross-hatch shading of the original D&D artists, which creates something caught between a wood-carving and a marvel or dc comic. (Which reminds me, check out Rembrandt's etchings for a masterclass in chiaroscuro, and superb craftsmanship).

    Stylistically, I consider myself to be still evolving. I like what's happening, but, and perhaps this is a gender thing, I want more and I want better. Always.

    Hope that explains my mindset.

    Thanks again.

  6. Just had to chime in and say that when I tried #6, the Skeleton Lord really popped. The art and writeup had me scrolling through the rest of the issue, and then buying others, in short order.

    Really, stuff like this and the venerable editions of White Dwarf, Dragon and certain JG supplements are what strikes to the heart of my rpg experience. And, a Skeleton Lord is in my players' near future, without a doubt.

  7. @ Imago1

    Many thanks for your kind feedback. It is much appreciated.