Friday, 16 March 2012

Coming very soon: LEEROY AND POPO

I must admit I hadn't heard of Nobrow Press until Stace reviewed HildaFolk and Hilda and the Midnight Giant in the last few SPBMs but since then their name keeps popping onto my radar and always accompanied by a raft of compliments riding the crest of positive waves. (am I mixing my metaphors there? You can see waves on a radar, right? Yeah... Leslie Nielson totally saw a wave on a radar in The Poseidon Adventure... mind you that was a big wave... and it was too late... I'm drifting...) So anyhoo, the nice folk at Nobrow dropped us an email about The Adventures Of Leeroy and Popo a gorgeous-looking book that's coming out on Monday. Fondle your eye-nozzles all over this 'ere press release here...


Louis Roskosch

978-1-907704-32-1 • 170 x 230 mm • 52 pages 
£8.50 • Audience: 16 & up 
Coming out on March 19, 2012

"The painfully realistic story of a jobless, girlfriendless twenty-something bear who likes nothing more than to play Nintendo Wii, hang out with his slacker chums and hopelessly try and win over the girl he fancies." 
Design Week

Meet Leeroy, a twenty-something bear, unsure about where he’s heading in life. He doesn’t have a job, he doesn’t go to university and he definitely doesn’t have any kind of plan outside of hanging out with his dinosaur buddy Popo. Wasting away their days together, they laze about, smoke weed, play way too many video games and generally avoid anything that might be construed as work.

In Leeroy and Popo, we join the dilatory duo as they overcome obstacles as serious as sustaining injuries from excessive Nintendo Wii Sports use and strive for goals as triumphant as trying to win Leeroy the affections of Cecilia, the cute girl who works in the local coffee shop.

Comprised of several self-contained episodes of stoned musing, awkward dates, Facebook surfing and more, Leeroy and Popo’s adventures — or lack thereof — layer together to create a brilliantly-observed, affectionately sardonic portrait of slacker subculture in the 21st Century. Readers are sure to see a familiar face or two within the book’s cast of legendary loafers, if not their own.


"Loose but confident linework, subtle colour palettes, and a brilliant sense of humour are what make me love the illustrations of Louis Roskosch." 
John Martz, Drawn!

"Knights, dragons, robots, damsels in distress and damsels causing distress. His work is provocative, simple, attractive, and inspirational." 
Fred McCoy, Creative Fluff Magazine


Louis Roskosch graduated from Bournemouth Arts Institute in 2007 with a degree in Animation. After spending some time working in Shanghai as an animator, he returned to Dorset where he lives now, working as a comic book artist and freelance illustrator.


Looks good dunnit?

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Creating Comics: A Recommended Reading List

Like the 61 Awesome Online Comics blog I posted the other day this post springs out of a few conversations I've had recently where I was asked to recommend some good books on how to write comics, how to draw comics and how to create better comics. Now I'm no expert at making comics or breaking into the industry obviously (Duh! Where's my publishing empire?) and there are a squillion-and-twelve books (I counted) on drawing, writing and creating comics, but for those who care here's the short list of the books I've read that I think are especially good.

Caveat: The best way to learn about making comics is to make your own comics. The best way to get published is to make your own comics. The best way to make great comics is to keep making comics. But I reckon some instruction along the way helps, right? And some very wise people wrote their advice down into books what you can read. So....


Entry Level 

How to Draw and Sell Comic Strips - Alan McKenzie
This is where you start. This book. This book is your one-stop shop for all the essential information on every step in a comic's production from the bare basics on up. How to write a script, how to translate that script into drawings, how to tell a story, what tools to use, how to letter, how to colour, how to pitch and get published, how to self-publish. If you want a solid foundation in comics history and creation this it. 

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way - Stan Lee & John Buscema
Now if you're an artist who wants to know how to draw comics then here's your perfect Beginner's Guide. Now this book is somewhat sneered at ("Fmeh! Who wants to draw comics the Marvel way?") but imagine the book was called "How To Draw Comics The John Buscema Way" and you'd be a fool to turn your nose up at a masterclass by a class master of comic art. Yes, its basically written for kids and yes written to encompass those who can't draw (yet) and those are its strengths as it takes you from the bare basics of shape and form all the way up to dynamic storytelling and composition through anatomy and perspective and all points inbetween.

Writing for Comics & Graphic Novels - Peter David
And here's one for aspiring writers. David's writing - both in prose and comics fiction - is gripping, entertaining and funny and so it is equally here in the realm of non-fiction. in this superb book he covers generating ideas, creating characters, conflict and themes, plot and structure and scripting interspersed with anecdotes, tips, exercises and illustrated examples and all presented in a very entertaining and readable way.


Intermediate Level

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art - Scott McCloud
Reinventing Comics - Scott McCloud
Making Comics - Scott McCloud
McCloud's three books here really are as good as you've heard. With Understanding Comics he dissects the art, form and psychology of comics; with Reinventing Comics he plots their evolution, revolutions and future and with Making Comics he details the principals, process and techniques of creating comics - and its all done in the form of comics not as text books. Brilliant, fascinating and essential to anyone who reads, creates or studies comics. To be honest if you're reading this and you've not read these yet then you really are failing at being you. You're dead to me. *Fredo kiss*  


Advanced Level

Comics and Sequential Art - Will Eisner
Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative - Will Eisner
Expressive Anatomy for Comics and Narrative - Will Eisner
Eisner should need no introduction and these books are universally heralded as essential demonstrations of the  principals, methods and techniques of comics narrative, art and storytelling. Eisner is a legend and was an innovator, a master and a teacher of the medium, so when when he talks you listen and pay attention. Also, make notes and no chewing! These are definitive texts and there's not much more to add other than to reiterate that I wouldn't recommend these to beginners. While lavishly illustrated with numerous examples of Eisners brilliant work, they are quite formal in presentation and are very much educational texts - not that that's a criticism, on the contrary, but I'd say they aren't best for beginners. 


Further Reading

Alan Moore's Writing For Comics - Alan Moore
This ones more inspirational than instructional and is formed of two essays - one lengthy fanzine piece written by Moore in 1985 (circa Watchmen and The Killing Joke) and a second follow-up piece twenty years later written for this book. fascinating reading - especially as Moore debunks himself in the second essay and its fun to contrast and compare the advice of the hairy demi-god as much as it is his work. Moore is arguably the greatest writing talent in the history of the medium so when he talks about the craft of writing you should pay attention. Also worth mentioning is that this is a very slim book - its just a bound essay rather than an actual book - but its also the most affordable on this list.

Writers on Comics Scriptwriting - Mark Salisbury
Writers on Comics Scriptwriting 2 - Tom Root & Andrew Kardon 
Artists on Comics Art - Mark Salisbury
These books are some of the most moorish books I've ever read. Basically what you get here is a wealth of interviews as top writers and artists discuss their history and process in creating comics. Bucket-loads of tips, advice and anecdotes and invaluable examples of scripts and art in various stages.

The Art Of Comic Book Inking - Gary Martin with Steve Rude
This is the book that puts the "inkers are just tracers" joke and buries in the ground. Deep. Whether you're an artist looking for tips and advice or whether you're just a fan who loves looking at comics art this is a brilliant and gorgeous book. Essentially a whole host of artists ink the same few pages of pencils and discuss their process. The idea is simple and the results are fantastic as you contrast and compare the styles of the numerous artists and differences between them - and this is what chokes the 'tracers' gag as each artists inked page is clearly unique to them. Inkers are not tracers; they're snowflakes. (awwwwww!) Originally published in two volumes this is now available as a both-in-one book which includes eight full-sized art boards of blue-line pencils by Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Gil Kane, Steve Rude, Terry Dodson, Brent Anderson, Adam Warren and Randy Green to ink yourself.


And there you go. That's my recommended reading list to you, now what do you recommend to me? I've just bought Comic Book Design by Gary Spencer Millidge and flicking through it looks brilliant - what else is out there? Tweet me up right nice and let me know.

Monday, 12 March 2012

61 Awesome Online Comics!

So a few times recently I (Lee) have been asked to recommend some quality webcomics and online graphic novels for people. The combined list got pretty lengthy so I figured I'd blog them up here for future reference. This is by no means an attempt at a complete or definitive list - or even a definitive list of favourites (though many of them are). Some of them we've reviewed on the 'cast or recommended on the blog, but many we haven't (yet) - if anyone fancies writing or recording reviews for us please do. 

I should also mention that this list probably errs somewhat towards complete stories and towards adventure/drama rather than humour/gag strips. This is mostly because that's what I was initially asked to recommend and because that's probably more where my taste lies.

Anyhoo, in no particular order...


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Out now: ELDRITCH!

We love it when comics creators contact us to let us know about their indy & small press books so it was great to hear from Drew Rausch about his comic Eldrich! Its available through comiXology, Graphicly and their own webstore

Feast your left eye on some supernaturally gorgeous cover and preview art while simultaneously (cos we know you SPBMers are talented like that) reading the infoblurb with your right - do not confuse your eyes as this may cause injury for which SPBM will not be help responsible. Commence feastage...

ELDRITCH! Shocked Back to Life!

ANYA SOBCZEK is a snarling science major with an arm full of Darwin tattoos. Her brother OWEN is a sensitive young thing in a coven of teenage occultists. The Sobczek sibs have always been brutally competitive, but now that Owen’s blood has started BUBBLING with ancient tentacled abominations, their rivalry’s about to enter a vast new dimension of cosmic terror…

2010: Artists Drew Rausch and Aaron Alexovich hurled their infectious horror/comedy hybrid ELDRITCH! into blazing combat in DC Comics’ final Zuda webcomic competition. After several centuries it emerged, dazed and confused, with the word WINNER indelibly etched on its forehead.

It was promptly buried in an unmarked grave.

June 2011, ELDRITCH! was shocked back to life.

Written by: Aaron Alexovich
Art by: Drew Rausch 

Duration: 6 issue mini-series.
Page Count: 24 Pages
Price: $0.99 per issue

Artist Credits:
Artist Co- Creator for Sullengrey (published by Ape Entertainment)
Artist for The Dark Goodbye (published by Tokyopop)
Artist for The Haunted Mansion and the Secrets of Sarah Winchester (published by Slave Labor Graphics)
Artist for Cthulhu Tales and Zombie Tales (published by Boom! Studios)

Writer Credits:
Artist/ Writer for Serenity Rose (published by Slave Labor Graphics)
Artist for Confessions of a Blabbermouth, Writer/ Artist for Kimmie63 (Published by DC Minx)
Character designer for Invader Zim, Avatar the Last Airbender (Nickolodeon)


We reviewed - and loved - Halcyon & Tenderfoot #0 in our Live Edition the other week so we're very pleased to announce the launch of issue #1 proper. Check out the full press release below for all the Disco Daniel Details...


Comic book publishing and workshop facilitation company, Art Heroes, will launch their superhero comic, Halcyon & Tenderfoot, at Newcastle City Library on Saturday 31st March.

The event will take place in City Library’s Bewick Hall and feature an Art Heroes Quick Comics workshop, a ‘How to Make Comics the Art Heroes Way’ presentation, as well as sketching and signing sessions where readers can be the first to buy a copy of the comic.

10:30am - 12:30pm: Quick Comics workshop
A fun workshop for young people who like comics, drawing, writing or just want something to do on a Saturday morning. No previous experience is needed. The workshop is aimed at 8 to 16 year olds and free to attend, but with places limited to just 30 young people, booking early is advised. 

12:30pm - 1:00pm: Signing and sketching
A short opportunity for the Quick Comics workshop participants to purchase a signed copy of Halcyon & Tenderfoot or a unique sketch by Lee Robinson.

1:30pm - 3:00pm: Signing and sketching
The main opportunity of the day to pick up a signed copy of Halcyon & Tenderfoot, meet the creators and buy a unique sketch by the artist of the comic book.

3:00pm - 4:00pm: How to Make Comics the Art Heroes Way
The Art Heroes team behind Halcyon & Tenderfoot reveal their process for creating the comic book - from initial idea to drawing techniques to printing and promotion - and everything in between! Perfect for people wanting to make their own comics, or anyone with an interest in comic books or artistic processes.

4:00pm - 4:30pm: Signing and sketching
The last chance to get your hands on a signed copy of Halcyon & Tenderfoot or a unique sketch.

For more information email or contact Newcastle City Library to book workshop places on 0191 277 4100.

Halcyon & Tenderfoot

The first Art Heroes comic book, Halcyon & Tenderfoot, is an all-ages title written by Daniel Clifford with art by Lee Robinson. The comic is intended as an ideal entry point for new comics readers, and a refreshing change for existing comic book fans. 

Halcyon & Tenderfoot focusses on a father and son superhero team, with a definitive long-form story to tell - but individual story arcs will experiment with genre, storytelling form and length.

In the British tradition, Halcyon & Tenderfoot is an A4 comic with colour covers and black & white interiors.

A preview issue can be read for free at


Art Heroes workshops were created to help tackle the biggest educational problem facing the UK - engaging young people in reading. Without an interest in reading, young people are less likely to gain the literacy skills they need in later life.

Traditionally comics acted as a bridge between storybooks and prose fiction, but the disappearance of newsstand distribution for comic books and more adult storylines mean that less children are reading comics than ever.

Art Heroes believes that these two things are linked and that by introducing more children to comic books through our workshops, we can capture their imaginations and improve their reading and writing skills along the way.

But our workshops aren’t only intended to encourage reading, they also focus on different creative activites, including storytelling and drawing skills.


Halcyon & Tenderfoot will be released quarterly in 2012 (March, June, September and December). This regular schedule allows Art Heroes to offer a subscription service - to the physical comics or to digital files.

Physical subscriptions are £12 (each of the issues is £3), which includes postage and packaging and a gift with each issue. The first free gift is a unique A4 sketch by Halcyon & Tenderfoot artist, Lee Robinson.

Digital subscriptions don’t include free gifts but are priced just £7 - a huge saving on the physical issues. Digital subscribers can choose between PDFs, or CBZ files that work with digital comic reading apps.

Subscriptions can be purchased at the launch event, or right now from Current subscribers can pick up the first issue at the launch event, or have it delivered to their home as usual. 


Art Heroes will be appearing at Bristol Comic Expo in May, and hope to launch issue 2 of Halcyon & Tenderfoot at Glasgow Comic Con in June.


Visit for more information, to buy comics or sign up for a subscription, to read the preview issue of Halcyon & Tenderfoot for free, and to book comic workshops for your school or organisation.


“Newcastle City Library is the perfect place for us to launch Halcyon & Tenderfoot. The library is a space where young and old readers are welcome to come along and enjoy books for lots of reasons - and our comic is exactly the same. Young readers will enjoy the fun characters and adventures, but more mature readers will be able to enjoy the depths in the characters and the references in the storylines.

That thought process translates to this event too - we’re running a workshop for young people, but also holding a presentation about making the comic for people of all ages to attend. As well as those things, we’ll be signing copies of the comic, and I’ll be sketching for anyone who is interested.” - Lee Robinson

“This launch event is a great way of combining the different parts of Art Heroes - comic book publishing and creative workshops. Making comic books is a dream for us, and a huge part of our lives - but introducing young people to comics is a passion too. A lot of young people aren’t interested in reading prose, so they completely give up on reading. That’s what I was like. But we aim to introduce people like this to comics and get them inspired about reading, through creating their own stories and artwork.” - Daniel Clifford

The Team

Daniel Clifford was born in South Shields, 1986. Having been taught to read by comic books in the 1990s, he now aims to create new comics that can inspire others to read. His published works (including the Sugar Glider comics) have been focussed towards an all-ages audience. He organised comic workshops around North East England for over two years before starting Art Heroes with Lee Robinson.

Lee Robinson was born in Hexham, Northumberland in 1986. He has worked on a number of projects as an illustrator and cartoonist, earning an Animation Foundation Degree in the process. His comic book work prior to establishing Art Heroess is published in Sugar Glider issue 2 and Sugar Glider Stories issue 2.

Coming soon: PEEPHOLES

We're always pleased to see what Blank Slate Books have in the pipeline so press your peepers against this pernicious press release for Peepholes which is premièring in April, pals....


PEEPHOLES - Laurie J. Proud
ISBN 978-1-906653-24-8 | 122 pages | 225 x 169mm hardcover, full colour | £16.99 / $22.99

“What colour is the moon?”, “Red, silly girl.”, “have you seen my blacken’ eyed dog?”, “I’ll be your do-og...”.

And with that, the wolf-man climbs atop the naked bottom of the kneeling woman—electric shaver in hand.

In Peepholes, Laurie J. Proud peers into the worlds that lie behind closed doors—where everyday stuck-on smiles are shaken off to reveal the darkness and inner-yearnings they obscure.

Ten beautifully-crafted stories of the bizarre take us through somnambulant cities where businessmen walk up the sides of buildings, werewolves go to midnight screenings, love-struck hitmen are hired to kill their favourite movie starlets and literal towers of self-pity threaten to collapse at any moment. Veering in between dreams and nightmares, Proud’s oblique visions of urban and emotional chaos range from the darkly comical to bitingly poignant.

Created over a ten-year period whilst Proud worked professionally as an animator and storyboardist, Blank Slate now binds these stories together in a special 122-page hardcover presentation. Fans of creators such as Al Columbia and Ho Che Anderson will find a lot to love in work that’s captivating and unsettling in equal measure. For everyone else, this is a chance to see a new UK comics talent emerge with a fully formed creative voice. Do you dare peek through to the other side?

Released April 2012

"tales of high graphic sophistication" - Paul Gravett, author of 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die

"Peepholes is standing out as one of the more visually fascinating-looking works that we should all be keeping an eye open for" - Joe Gordon, Forbidden Planet International Blog


LAURIE J. PROUD has worked professionally for over 20 years as an animator, storyboard artist and illustrator. Now fulfilling his long held desire to move into comics, he has emerged on the British scene as a fully-formed talent. Inspired by the dark and the surreal, he recalls his first time watching Eraserhead at age 17 as a ‘mind altering experience’ and agrees with Victor Hugo that the sublime is best defined as a combination of the grotesque and the beautiful. Born in Newcastle, he currently lives in Hove, East Sussex, in a flat 

Monday, 5 March 2012

Comic Review: Into The Woods

This lovely review of Into The Woods popped into my email last night. Did I worry that this review from Charlie's Angels fan and faithful SPBMer Jenni Newman would constitute some form of conflict of interest seeing as Into The Woods is Stace's project and I illustrated a strip in it? Did I f... no I didn't. Take it away, Russ...

Into the Woods – A Fairytale Anthology

It wasn’t until recently that I re-opened my Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales book, not just for the pure joy of reading and not to read to my children (I have none so that would be awkward). No, for me re-reading Hans Christian Andresen is research for my solo directing debut for the musical titled Honk! The Ugly Duckling Musical.

Others have been returning to fairy tales also and by doing so they have created an anthology of twists on originals, re-telling old tales or just plain new fairy tales for a modern audience. ‘Into the Woods’ is this anthology and I have been hearing about it for a little while now thanks to its editor Stacey Whittle, and looking forward to getting it. I am a lover of fairy tales and folk tales alike; whether they are by Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm or Disney’s spin on all of them. I have grown up with them and loved them all.

Getting ‘Into the Woods’ was on my to do list once it was available and this weekend (3rd March) it arrived, I ripped open the envelope relaxed, still in bed on a Saturday morning, cup of tea to the side of me and started reading. The opening tale Red Riding Hood has a nice twist to a classic, in the space of five pages (an amount of pages for all of the tales in the anthology) writer Rich McAuliffe and artist Sara Dunkerton tell a reduced spin on Little Red Riding Hood making it just that bit darker by the end of its fifth page. The art, especially the wolf, was as lovely as the tale was dark and disturbing by its end.

‘A Time For a Change’ the tale of a once worshipped giant now no longer revered as a God does not understand why he has been forgotten about by people, a question that many religions may ask today. ‘A Time for a Change’ is another well told and illustrated tale.

I could write about all of the tales in this anthology and this could become one long spoiler, and that’s not the point of me writing this ‘review’. No, I would rather finish by telling you my last two favourite tales in the anthology. The first being ‘The Madness from the Sea’ not only did I love the artwork throughout this five page tale, well done Lee Grice, but the story itself. A retelling of Pandora’s Box set in Victorian times the black and white artwork, which runs through the entire book, added more to this tale. Its darkness mixed with a dark time line that loved the macabre and horror stories really added to it. Pandora’s Box is a tale that never ceases to teach us the dangers of curiosity but also the strength of hope. As many evils as there may be released or within the world there is always that little glimmer of hope that we all hold onto that gives us strength, somehow.

Finally the last of the pieces that I favoured, not only that but for me this final piece stood out from the book. ‘Amber and the Egg’ I loved this, I am all ready a fan of Bevis Musson, the artist of this tale, in fact I have his artwork framed and ready to be hung on my wall at home. However it was not just Bevis’ clean lined art that I adored about this tale but the story itself. Nic Papaconstantinou has written a lovely script that really did warm me, weird I’m sure to some but it did. Am I an overly sentimental sort of gal? Yes, I am, I’ll cry at a Disney film, sometimes a TV advert can grab me, yes quite pathetic but I can live with that. This is not to say that ‘Amber and the Egg’ brought tears to my eyes but it made me smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside, it is the lightest all of the tales in the book which are far more macabre and on the Brothers Grimm end of the fairy tale spectrum where as this is more towards Hans Christensen Andersen. I love the macabre tales I do but ‘Amber and the Egg’ was the perfect way to end the anthology, things were pretty heavy throughout the book but ended happily and with hope by the end and also the tease of a sequel to hear more about Jack – the Jack I hope with a beanstalk and all. Praise must also go to Filip Roncone for the lettering of ‘Amber and the Egg’ clear and concise, complimenting the artwork. I also thought that Amber’s dad was just a bit of a stud, well done Bevis!

Overall ‘Into the Woods’ is a wonderful collection of writers and artists work that is a joy to read and absorb. A round of applause must go to its editor Stacey Whittle the clever lady who brought these talented people together to create this anthology. I would highly recommend any one to read this book whether you are a fan of comics or fairytales it doesn’t matter which of these you are so long as you get yourself a copy of this book. I will be passing my copy on to friends to borrow and try out, and then I’ll tell them where they can buy their own copy to cherish. My hope is that this is only volume one and that there will be a second volume to ‘Into the Woods’ as there are so many tales to tell whether they be old or new, there are always stories to be told and an audience waiting to hear them.

Congratulations to all involved with ‘Into the Woods’ a job very well done and a true labour of love.

One final it just me or does the character of Mr. Richards in ‘The Lang Pack’ look an awful lot like Nicholas Cage?

Jenni Newman.

Thanks for the review (and the kind words) Jenni! Comics reviews, recommendations, news and convention reports are always welcome - just drop us an email or give me or Stace a good tweeting at.