Recently I was invited to Wistanstow Primary School (in Shropshire, UK) to talk to a class of budding new comic enthusiasts about making comics. The class had been playing with computer programs such as Comic Life and using grids to create their own comics, and the teacher and my Mum (who works there as a Teachers Assistant) thought it would be good if I could come in and talk to them as I’ve just completed my degree in Illustration for Graphic Novels (well, last year :P).
I love comics, but I’ve struggled to actually make any of my own so far (although I have a few in the pipeline – watch this space) so I just wanted to get across the idea that it doesn’t necessarily matter how good you are at drawing, or how strong your character is (although both are important of course) but it’s how good your STORY is that is most important – after all, if the story isn’t interesting, who’s going to want to read it?
I had a lot of information in my head about Sequencial Art and the ‘story-peak’ that my tutor Dan Berry taught us (that might not have been what he actually called it… basically it was a graph of sorts showing how a story starts off slow -with Introductions to characters and such- rises to a peak at the height of the story -a character makes a startling discovery for example- and then lowers again as the issues are resolved) but when I realised I was pitching to a class of 9 year olds I had to ditch that, and after I’d shown them some of my own work, moved on to a nice activity instead – basically I shut up and let them draw 🙂
The Afternoon’s Activity
The idea was to get any distractions out of the way and get them thinking about the story itself. I had each child write their name, an animal (it could be anything) and a place (again, anywhere, although with this one I offered a few suggestions myself) on three scraps of paper, and put them in three tubs. I then drew a basic grid on the whiteboard, and picked one piece of paper out of each tub – we ended up with **** the Pig, and her destination was the School (I’m not allowed to use the children’s names…
I then asked the class, how does **** get to school? What happens to her on the way?
It was fairly quickly decided that she would fly there (naturally) but on the way she crashes into a bird (oh no!) and then the two of them crash into a tree! Having only one panel left even I was starting to wonder about how they’d get from the tree into the school, until I heard the genius suggestion of having the tree catapult the two of them into school! Amazing 🙂
Artists Note: Children are harsh critics! You’d be amazed at the speed in which they can point out that you’ve forgotten to draw the curly tail/ponytail/feet 😛
The Children’s Comics
What follows now is some of the comics the children drew -WARNING- some of them are cute, some of them are scary, and some of them are just leaps of inventive genius! (click on the comics to enlarge)
I think this could be my favourite animal design – an Afro and side-burn sporting Dragon at the swimming pool being attacked by a knight – he get’s his own back in the end *FWOOOSHH!*
I can’t remember what’s happening at the end of this one, but a low-flying Dragon accidentally hit’s a cactus and get’s stuck in the Desert – to pass the time he jumps into a spontaneous ‘Gangnam Style’ dance with the locals! Brilliant!
Things take a darker turn in this comic, as a young Piglet is attacked and strangled by a masked assailant! But everything turns out ok in the end, as Mummy pig turns up, stabs the attacker (see the blood!) and takes the Piglet to hospital (well, maybe not so well for the attacker…)
In this comic a Piggy Princess is having a ride in her carriage when oh no, she realises she’s forgotten her hat! Then to make things worse she’s thrown from the carriage – but luckily she end’s up next to a shed that just happens to contain her missing headpiece 🙂
In this cautionary comic a Dog is really excited to be in Space – and look, someone’s laid out a moon picnic! But by the end he has suffocated, because dogs can’t breathe in space silly! Remember kids: Always bring a space helmet.
I think this is my favourite comic as far as creative problem solving goes – a Bull is drowning, and is on the verge of death, but luckily a CPR savvy Penguin turns up and saves his life (check out the ‘come on, stay with me’ bubble! Someone’s been watching Casualty with mummy!) – the Bull is then so grateful he asks the Penguin to marry him, which of course Penguin agrees to, and they finally end up at his location: The Church! Genius!
In this comic a cat agrees to get her Grandma a Coke from the supermarket, and on the way accidentally falls into a tube that seems to take her straight there! (via a paddling pool) – unfortunately when she finally makes it home she’s brought back Diet Coke instead! Oh No!
Unfortunately some of the pencil work has been lost in the photocopy here, but this comic is told from the view of a guest star of this story, the Hairdresser – and what a cool looking dude he is! The horse is so enamoured by his stylish ways he wants the look for himself, and by gum, does he get it!
A baby pig is too hot in his cot, so he goes out for an Ice Lolly to cool down – he then decides to take a nap in the sunshine but wakes up with the most horrific sunburn! (does anyone else smell bacon…?) To sooth his skin he goes for a nice cool swim – just look at that tan! Great use of colour here!
*Lucy’s Pick* This is an adorable little comic, where a cat is sad because there are no flowers in her vase! She goes out to pick some but get’s lost… luckily there’s a friendly tiger around to show her the way home, and the last panel show’s how happy she is now there’s flowers in her vase – great little story 🙂
An Eagle’s late for School, but not so late that he doesn’t have time to stop and tell a passing doughnut about his poor time-keeping skills! Love the simplicity of this one!
An Octopus is on his way to the Supermarket to buy cookies, but he piles so many in his trolly it falls over and scatters the cookies everywhere! The manager is so mad he throws him out and into a tree! Luckily it’s not far from the ocean though, and the Octopus jumps back into the sea! 🙂
After lots of putting it off, and struggling with themes, my new website is finally finished! It contains lots of University work that never got posted up on here, so I heartily encourage you to check it out! If you hover over the ‘Portfolio’ tab a series of sub-menus will appear that will take you to whatever artwork you wish to view, whether it be comics, children’s illustrations, or fan art – many of which I’ve yet to post on here – be sure when scrolling down through the pages you give the theme time to load up all the images
There are links to the facebook page and twitter page (to which I’ve relinquished control over to the site’s mascot; Cosmo Cat – be sure to follow him for arty updates from myself, and other artists I follow) as well as links to my deviantART, Instagram and of course, right here at Q.U.A.R.C.S! I’d like to thank all of you who have ‘followed’ me from when I started this blog back in 2009, your support and encouragement has been a great motivator so far, and any love for these new site’s would be gratefully received!
First Up is a picture Lucy asked me to draw as a birthday card for the wonderful Miss Samantha Gumbley AKA Gumbo.
I tried a few new things with this one – not the hair, although it’s not often I go to such detail with a barnet, I have done it before (it’s remarkably soothing to draw/ink all those swirls…) – instead I mean the level of detail on the face. Usually i work under the lines I’ve inked and scanned in, but this time I thought it would be interesting to work on top, to both soften the features and increase the 3D effect, so as to seperate from the hair and the cartoon representations of Lucy, David (her boyfriend – the one in the cap) and Myself. It both worked… and didn’t work – I’m pleased with the result, but perhaps the contrast between her face and her hair is too high… maybe the two don’t look as though they belong together? And the eyes are still kind of cartoonish… oh well, I still like it, and Gumbo did too, whic is the important thing 🙂
The other new thing I tried was the ‘kawaii’ style cartoon doodles of the rest of us – and I think they turned out quite well! ^_^
This one’s a Mother Day card for my Mum – it refers back to an incident waaaay back in Saunders Lore, when a young Chris innocently threw a rubber Edd the Duck toy (remember him? No? Ask your parents…) and it just happened to strike an unsuspecting Mummy Saunders on the foot… the tirade of swear words that followed has gone down in history, and despite not being very amused at the time, we all laugh about it now 😀 (sorry mum!)
This one was a Mother’s Day card for my Grandma (Grand-mother – see? …yeah i know, it’s a bit of a stretch, and i forget almost every year that we do it, but she loves them, so how can I not?) and to follow with previous cards, i did a more traditional, animal portrait. This time I went straight in with my new best friend, the Brushpen, and tried to stick to just the shadows to maximise the effect – and I think it turned out really well!
I first tweeted this image via Instagram (theponderingchin) and I enjoyed the filter-effect i gave it so much, i tried to replicate it on photoshop for this post (…too hipster?)
And finally, it was my Dad’s birthday last week, so I drew him this – if the armour or name looks familiar, you might be remembering the Game Of Thrones style family portrait I drew for my Mum for her birthday – well, as well as that went down with everyone, Dad did mention that he wished he looked a little less ‘old and fat’ (his words, not mine) and more heroic – so I remedied this in this new one. Just look at that moustache! Behold those permed curls peeking out from behind that helmet! Not a grey in sight… I’ve taken at least 30 years off him, no Just For Men, just Photoshop.
Dad works as an Ambulance Technician if you were wondering about the horses armour, and any other little things you may have noticed are in reference to his huge Geekiness (probably where i get mine from), but what I’m most pleased about with this one is the lighting – ‘Exposure’ is the key (not IRL though kids)
The ‘Ser Malcolm’ font was pinched off Dafont, but no need to panic, this is only a gift, no profits were made 🙂
This weeks Lines Of Work theme, chosen by me, was ‘Cancelled TV Shows’ and was pretty much just an excuse for me to finally draw Charlotte ‘Chuck’ Charles from the cancelled American TV Show; Pushing Daisies.
Pushing Daisies was a quirky little show that was sort of a cross between a whodunnit, a romantic comedy, and some sort of zombie sitcom – it was cute, hilarious, and slightly creepy all at the same time. Chuck, played by british actress Anna Friel, was brought back to life by the magical touch of (arguably) the star of the show, Ned the Pie-maker (he made pies) but because anything brought back from the dead by Ned’s touch would instantly return to being dead at a second touch, the two could never be together, leading to some very strained will-they-won’t-they-but-how-could-they moments, but it was all part of the fun.
Despite being adorable, I can’t say hand on heart that Chuck is the most entertaining of the characters featured on the show (that honour has to go to either Olive, or my personal fave, Emerson Cod: Private Detective) but drawing her enabled me to try out more of a pin-up style illustration, and besides, she’s very central to the plot, so by featuring all sorts of references to other characters around her on the floor (some are more subtle than others) it all sort of made sense.
I spent far too long on this one really, but it was fun to do – I tried a more sketchy style to my inking, and it seemed to work ok – and although i have some difficulty with celebrity likenesses, I think she came through ok. The text isn’t perfect, but I’m pleased with that too.
I can’t recommend the show itself enough, it was a lot of fun, and nice to see something so clear of all the grit and grime that seems to be so popular these days. The outstanding plot was (mostly) wrapped up in the last episode, but it was rushed, and it’s a shame it never got the third season it deserved.
Ok try not to get TOO excited, it’s just a cover – and a fake one at that (although I’ll make the comic some day) but when I found out about #CreatorOwnedDay on twitter, I just had to join in, so I knocked this up.
Creator Owned Day was a good way for everyone to show off their own original characters/comics, and as an aspiring comic book artist, it seemed like a waste to just let it pass by – there was some very interesting work about – try the hashtag yourself to see if anything you like pops up
We Saunders’ are a creative bunch, and whilst I took Illustration at University, my two younger brothers did Animation instead – now Jon’s put his final animation on Youtube, I thought I’d share both his, and James’ from a few years ago up for your viewing pleasure – enjoy!
[Links to websites/blogs to follow in an update]
This is somehow my first ever fan-art for AT – I’d just like to add that as a English fan, it was REALLY hard to not add an ‘S’ to the end of ‘Math’, but I hear it in Finn’s voice, and it just wouldn’t have sounded right… also my real Totoro hat is blue, but it would have clashed too much with the sky, so artistic licence y’all.
There’s a couple of in-jokes in the background you probably won’t get, but don’t worry about it, just enjoy
(click to enlarge)
As a romantic/creative type, I always like to go that little bit extra for those I care about, and this year it could be said that I went a little over-board. Lucy’s always been in love with Paris, and her recent trip has done nothing to quash that – unfortunately as a struggling artist, it will be some time before I can afford to take her. To make up for this, I decided to recreate a Parisian Cafe in our living room – the little table, white table cloth, candles wine and food were easy enough, and I found some music on Youtube (literally called French Cafe Music I think), but I wasn’t done there. Out flat has a little balcony, and I thought it would be fun if I created a silhouette of The Eiffel Tower, and hung it outside so it would look like a view onto the real tower… it seemed so simple in my head…
The first thing was to cut out the actual tower. I went begging at my local Tesco for a large sheet of cardboard, but apparently they don’t DO stuff in big boxes these days (hmm) and after a brief panic, I found a stash of A4 black card and got to work. The tower would need to be about 130cm tall to fit between the railing of our balcony, and the floor of the one above it, so I found a vector of the Eiffel Tower (thanks google) and set it out like this:
Each coloured block is the same dimensions as an A4 piece of paper, so this not only shows how many pieces you’ll need, but what you should be cutting out on each piece – simple right? Well… not exactly. The theory worked fine, and aside from the fact that I was working too quickly to bother with rulers and actual measurements, the tower ended up being pretty straight. The problem was that even though it’s got quite an iconic outline, it doesn’t really LOOK like the Eiffel Tower until you can see all the frame work, so I had to cut out MANY a little triangle…
Sometime later, I ended up with this:
See? Not bad eh? Of course, foreshortening does it no favours here (it was pretty long), and there’s a lot of tape on it – but that didn’t matter, because phase two involved using yet more tape to stick our Christmas Tree lights behind it to make it light up… and it worked pretty well too! Getting it to hang of the balcony by myself was a bit of a mission, but in the end it looked like this:
(photo taken by Lucy Benson via Instagram)
…and I was very pleased with the results – and more importantly, Lucy loved it 🙂 Now, a cynic might say “pffft, this guy’s just showing off” and frankly, you’d be right.