Monday, February 23, 2009

Notes from the TARDIS - the Stockbridge Child

Of course, I'm not just working on high-profile Image books. Oh dear me, no. If you've been following the blog for any length of time, you'll also know I'm writing the comic strip for the UK's DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE. And it's going pretty well, I think. It's hard to tell really - the DWM strip seems to exist in its own little bubble, away from the scrutiny of yer Rich Johnstons and yer Heidi McDonalds. So the only feedback I get is from my editor(s) and a single, solitary thread over on the doctorwhoforum. People seem to like what I'm doing well enough: some people don't like Majenta that much, some people positively adore her. Ha. She's a tough character to write at times - motivated by self interest, and with absolutely no interest in the Doctor's adventures or being "good", the trick is to come up with mechanisms to pull her into the plot without seeming contrived. Sometimes, I've pulled this off - other times, less well.

Which brings me to The Stockbridge Child. This was published over the last three months, and is the second story in the arc. And I can't lie - it was a bit of a nightmare to write. The script itself - no problem. But hacking out something that looked like a workable plot, that was the tricky bit. I think my main problem was the setting - if you look back through previous Stockbridge stories, they tend to start in Stockbridge, then head out elsewhere. The Tides of Time takes us across the Universe, Stars Fell... takes us into the bowels of a haunted spaceship, Endgame into the Toymaker's surreal lair and so on. When it came to creating something fast-moving and comic-booky, Stockbridge just didn't fire my neurons - it's too flat, too small, too ordinary (This is nonsense of course: a really great writer could have done something great with the same setting, I'm sure).

And then there's the Majenta problem. She has a mission (sorting out her brain), so has no interest in "local disputes". That's fine, and very funny, but she's still the Doctor's companion, so she has to get pulled into the story somehow. The trick, I guess, is to bring her self-interest to the fore - in Part Two she saves her own life by offering the villain the TARDIS. This tactic, inevitably, blows up in her face, and she ends up tied to a monument in the town square as bait for the Doctor.

Not the most satisfying solution, but it worked well enough. And to get around the Stockbridge problem, I cheated a bit in part two and took the Doctor and Max away from the village and into the wilds of another universe. Bad Dan!

Anyway - How about some pics?

This is young Max. In an earlier version of this story, the setting was the late fifties, and Max was around twelve years old. He would help the Doctor stop a Mosley-style fascist conquering the UK with some sort of evil power gem... thing. This version of the plot had some merits - I loved the sunny, nostalgic, Boys' Own setting - but I couldn't make it hang together at all.

Mr Farrier, the villain from that earlier Stockbridge story. He was, of course, a racist, and the power gem thing made him go all black and evil and...ah. As you can see, I was on pretty shaky ground here.

Mr Guest. This is from another version of the Stockbridge story (I think I did about six different Stockbridge stories before settling on TSC. This one involved numerous Max Edisons and a hundred parallel universes and some daft device called the dimension key or something. Sigh). He was the leader of a group of shape shifters called Verisimuloids. I still like the design quite a lot and will probably end up using him somewhere.

Mr Maguffin - the baddy in this second version of the story. I'm determined to get him in somewhere!

And that's it for The Stockbridge Child! Well, sort of. Hey, I have to save something back for the trade, don't I?


Thursday, February 19, 2009


What's this? Why, it's...


Right, so, this thing was two weeks ago, and in the intervening time I have seen several films, been drunk twice, and done a bit of work - so my memory of the event is now not as fresh as it was. There is a possibility that some of what I'm saying is misguided, broadly inaccurate, or entirely made up. Apologies.

I think this is day two. That there is Frank Cho. And this:

Is Dawn. Are they real? The missus and I could not decide. I'm going with yes, cos that verdict makes me happy.

Alright, that can't be from Day Two, cos this:

is the beginning of Day Two. Our view from Cecille Brunswick's window. I think this building, for all its utilitarian ugliness, is kind of grand in a way.

Setting up. Pictured: Me and my stomach (drawing a Savage Dragon and probably getting the fin wrong), Glen Brunswick, Rollickin' Richard Starkings. A real gent, who fixed me up with a ton of Elephantmen goodies and a badge!

The finished article and it's owner. If you're out there, remind me of your name - I want to say hi and thanks for stopping by!

An immaculately coiffed Chewbacca. Ain't he cute?

One of my favourite sketches of the weekend. I really want to do more of Zoe in a Wally Wood-style spacesuit. Glen?

"Startroopers" as Debs insisted on calling them. Don't worry - she's dead now.

Sean Witzke - what a cool guy! Sorry the flash obliterated most of your features...

I love this picture. It looks like Rob is examining ol' Deadpool's costume to make sure he's got it *just* right.

I messed up Zoe's forehead here, but this is otherwise pretty nice. I haven't had much of a chance to show Zoe and Barock being really cutesy, so this was fun.

Three cool Jersey guys, getting a sneak peek at either issue 2 or 3. They were so excited about this book - we got a lot of this kind of attention over the weekend, but these guys were among the friendliest.

Niko, me and my stomach. Hey, Niko!

Out of the blue, we were interviewed by NY1 for New Jersey. I was on TV! In America! Here's me helping erstwhile NY1 reporter Tamani Wooly by holding up a copy of issue one. Wahey!

An iconic shot. Deborah McCumiskey - Artist.

Now who's this handsome bastard? Kevin Goddamn Church, is who! He made me laugh A LOT.

Greg Anderson! Such a nice guy - he furnished me with a bitchin' sketch of Helius in return for a Two-Face doodle. Thanks Greg!

Nathan Edmondson is one handsome buck. And he is *really* wearing that Jersey Gods t-shirt. CAT NOISE

Another nice Barock and Zoe. I love their expressions - he really is kind of a tight-ass, isn't he? And wow, who knew fingers could get so sweaty. *gorge rises*

Rob Liefeld. Right at the end of Day Two (my last day at the con - day three was spent sleeping and wandering around Central Park with sandwiches), Mr Liefeld came bounding over to see the Jersey Gods for himself. So baffled and starstruck was I, I kind of mumbled something stupid at him - though luckily he wasn't really listening. He doesn't stop moving! Check it out:

Anyway, he's probably gonna do a variant cover for us. Wait, what?

The Team Supreme! The only one missing from this scene is...

THE MISSUS! Ain't she darling? Look at those dimples! MWAH!

Anyway, this is just a fraction of the shots we took - there'll be a flickr set up soon enough, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

I hope I've managed to convey even a little bit of the excitement I felt being at NYCC - it really was one of the most amazing times of my life. I met a load of great, talented, funny people, bagged some incredible swag, and was generally made to feel like a prince. For all the downsides of being a freelancer - being stuck indoors a lot, hardly seeing anyone and having skin that's the exact colour of a murky wintry sky - this sort of thing is an enormous upside. Eric Wight is trying to convince me to go to San Diego - what do YOU think?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Hello, we're back. NYCC was just fantastic, New York is beautiful and bountiful, and it turns out I might be some kind of genius. No, really.

Alright, hyperbole aside - the whole damn this was amazing. I didn't get to see much of the con other than our table (a fairly common situation, as I discovered. It was *staggeringly* busy. Also, our table did so well, it was hard to get away). But I did get to meet some fantastically cool people. I met:

Rachelle Rosenberg (adorable), Eric Wight (hero), Richard Starkings (I'm not worthy), Dean Haspiel (swoon), Joe Infurnari (genius), Adam McGovern (the Kirby King), Kevin Church (?), Benjamin Birdie (tired but happy) ,Josh Williamson (borrowed my sharpie) and Vinnie Navarette (gave me Dear Dracula), Nathan Edmondson (awesome), Jonah Weiland (boundless source of energy), PJ Holden (wired), the Image boys (including a phenomenally unwell Eric Stephenson) and a ton of talented, enthusiastic artists and writers. And, of course, Mr Rob Liefeld. Liefeld came bounding over to us at the end of the second day to tell us he loves the book and is gonna do a variant cover for us. I was so astonished by this development I MIGHT have said the following "buh... wuh... nuh?" Or words to that effect.

The Missus took a ton of photos, and we'll be putting those up on that Flickr soon enough. But in the meantime...


Glen Brunswick and I, preparing to set off for day one of the con. Americans always know how to look good in a photo. Pasty, overweight Brits - not so much.

Rachelle and I hit it off pretty much straight away - in that we immediately starting teasing the fuck out of each other. This is me drawing her a pic of the Human Torch - my first con sketch!

A couple of Jersey guys getting a sneak peek at issue two. We had a LOT of New Jersey interest, way more than I had imagined. And a lot of media attention too - including coverage in three Jersey papers and on two TV channels. Glen has the relevant links HERE and HERE.

Adam McGovern and me. Due to tiredness/head cold I was entirely unable to raise a genuine smile the whole weekend. Bah. But Adam was great fun, and we had a good long chat about Fred Van Lente, Hercules and any damn thing. Cool.

Rob Liefeld. He was sitting not three feet away from our table. My girlfriend became strangely fascinated by him. He has that effect on people.

A sketch of Helius. He looks pretty cool! I like doing sketches and giving them away - it gives them a nice, transient quality which appeals to me.

Barock. I drew variations on this pose quite a lot over the weekend.

This is Yves. He was seriously, and with no bullshit, the best artist I saw all weekend. I think he was trying to shop a few things around and wasn't having the easiest time of it. Any sensible publisher would snap him up for an exclusive contract tout suite. Such a nice guy as well.

Some of his work. Kind of a nifty Eisner/Robbins vibe. Beautiful.

Jon Benfield here came up with a neat idea for a sketch. I'm not sure I understood it *exactly*, but as far as I can tell, they have this place in NJ where if you eat four of their ludicrously enormous/calorific sandwiches, they name the sandwich after you. So here, Mr Benfield is holding up "THE FAT BAROCK". I also have a great pic of Glen staring at this sketch with unalloyed envy in his eyes. Tee hee!

Also shown - Eric Wight!

Tomorrow - day two!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dan McDaid sequentials

Hellboy/Ghost Rider (pencils, inks and colours):

Jersey Gods (pencils and inks):

Doctor Who (pencils and inks):

Captain Marvel - SHAZAM!