Sunday, September 28, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
They’re probably my biggest weakness, y’see. Oh, sure, I’ve enjoyed two scones and a bar or two of Wispa in the interim, but the muffin represents my Achilles heel. Or, as it will become known, Artist’s Arse.
I’m fast developing one. I’m not chunky, but long periods at the drawing board, and very little else in my life, is leading to a bit of a spread. Aside from my laptop, my drawing gear and reference material, the one object that remains in my peripheral vision for most of the day is my cheekily expanding gut. So I’m doing my bit to shame myself into getting off the Muffin horse. I may only visit here sporadically, but I see it as a public, if necrotically quiet, place. As such, if I have a ‘Days Sans Muffins’ counter to greet me, I know that I must keep strong. For you, loyal readers. So I expect you to offer the same support to me as you would your favourite recovering junkie rock star. For are we not the one and the same, when it comes down to it?
Of course, I’m already planning my first relapse. Scheduled for roughly a month from now, there’s yet another dreaded wedding to attend. How come all my friends are clear-minded, right-thinking men-children, who show little-to-laughable sign of getting hitched, when all Whittle’s hangers-on (And I don’t mean you, Colette and Keith, I bloody love you two.) are spitefully conceding defeat, and arranging weddings (in fucking CORK, of all God’s wretched places) primarily to spite and inconvenience me? Yeesh. So, it’ll be muffins, or crystal meth. Meff or Muff. And as moreish as the meth is, I do like the sodden hug of a succulent muffin.
I’m trying to fit in spurts in the park as well, and not in a George Michael way. I’m getting better at making time for a power…well, walk is pushing it. Meander? Lumber? Mosey? A power-meander, we’ll settle on, through the beautiful Bushy Park in Terenure. And, I’ve got meself a tote-bag to accommodate my shoes as I go rollerblading, a feat I’m aiming to achieve next week. Leafy parks in autumn probably aren’t the best circumstances to introduce yourself to, what I’m sure you will agree, is an extreme sport. But I can cut a swathe through the clumps of vegetation as they strew the paths. I can be the leaf-cleaver; the foliage-slicer; shredding my way through acorn and squirrel alike. It’s going to be fucking rad.
Better remember to draw a comic…
Today’s sketch: A gift commissioned by Titan editor Steve White, for assistant editor Ned Hartley’s birthday. He’s a Hulk fanatic, and Steve asked all the artists he know to contribute a Hulk sketch for Ned, who I had the pleasure of drinking with in O’Neill’s of London last August. I gamely assisted, and submitted the Hulk you see below you, feeling chuffed that I’d contributed to someone’s very happy birthday. And then Steve White told me who else contributed Hulks: Paul Grist, D’Israeli, Liam Sharp, Gary Frank, Tim Sale…
Fuck’s sake. Why’d I bother?
Anyway, there it is, done between panels of Max Dinos #2. Shoulder’s a bit off, but I’m sure all the above have anatomy issues too. Namely, Artist’s Arse.
You’ve been Nicked
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Well, so much for guilting myself into completing an entry every day or so. The last week has been one of extremes, with the earlier portion devoted to bringing #1 of Maximum Dinobots to a satisfying conclusion, and the other catching up on rest and, gasp! Having a day off! Yes, last Thusday was the day in question. I wasn’t allowed a lie-in; Whittle was wittering in my ear like a Ritalin-deprived ADD parakeet, so I faced my workless day with a grumpy head. We visited Herbert Park though, a Victorian swathe of green located somewhere within Dublin; I can’t divulge the exact location, as Whittle insisted on taking a haphazard route there, and an equally bewildering one back. But it was the day for it; the sun was brazen in his sky, as my Vitamin-D resistant skin cracked and crumbled under its gaze. In to town then, to pick up over a hundred quid’s worth of comics; I really hadn’t been in the city for over two months during business hours. Luckily, the chaps in Forbidden Planet hung onto my haul for me, and only spat on my shoes once. Picked up stuff I’d never normally touch, such as Final Crisis, but I wanted to feel part of the greater comics universe for once; I’m sick of only knowing about what’s-a-going on in Transformers comics. There was a Simon Bisley sketchbook in there too, as well as my first ever purchase of a Captain Marvel book, which doubled up as my first foray into the world of Mike Kunkel. He’s an ex-Disney animator, I believe, and it was his art and not the character that tipped my hand in the end.
Grub in a mediocre dive in Temple Bar, called Bruno’s. The price was right, the staff chipper, but the food tasted of fetid arse. It sustained us for the next portion of the evening though, a trip to see The Mighty Boosh perform live. We’d been waiting for this for nigh on 10 months, the seven that ventured out to witness it. I was wary of the whole enterprise by the time the shows came around, as I’d slightly gone off the Boosh. Their third series seemed like a smirky-shout-out to the Camden Set, of which, logistically and geographically speaking, not that many of us can belong to. Their first series was a joy, and gave me that comedic frisson not felt since I stumbled across Month Python as a tot, and Reeves & Mortimer as a teen. I really felt that these boys were the next in that powerful, surreal lineage. So, I’ll always want to love them, even when they’re sub-par. Which I felt they were during their third series. They’re such wildly inventive and imaginative chaps, that to see them rely on smut, extra dollops of swearing, and a lazy, lazy use of drug-based humour, usually involving the equally worthless Naboo, really just reeked of a cop-out and too much time falling out of nightclubs instead of writing. (Naboo is played by Noel Fielding’s brother, Michael, and I’m convinced their mum strongarmed the more talented sibling into taking the useless Mike out with him to play. Anyone who’s seen Michael Fielding perform or in real life, and there’s a dustmite’s cock of a difference, will attest that he is very much the remedial child.) So, anyway, I don’t mind coarse humour, and am in fact, a seasoned purveyor of it, but there’s plenty of places to go for that kinda stuff, and you expect more from the Boosh.
(Jesus…I need to make smaller, regular entries…)
But Boosh live was mostly good. They seemed to realise that Naboo is dead weight, but for me, the show sang when Julian Barratt, aka Howard Moon, was given things to do. He’s easily the strongest performer they have, and though Noel as Vince Noir is very likeable in his goonish optimism, his materialistic schtick wears thin a little, as does the fact that he seems to wink a little too much to the audience, when he’s not fluffing his lines. The Boosh are at their best when Howard and Vince needle one another, and the consensus was that folk would have happily watch this mismatched pair harangue one another in front of the red curtain for the duration of the show. One of the highlights of the gig, however was in fact, its gig-like nature, once The Boosh Band were allowed to unleash hell. Just as Monty Python did, and latterly Vic and Bob, The Boosh have an ear for a catchy and nonsensical song, except these boys have the chops to rock out and hoik the audience along with ‘em. Julian Barratt’s a guitar virtuoso, and Noel Fielding’s wannabe rock frontman posings lend themselves well when they and their full backing band tear through their back catalogue, including Eels, Bouncy Bouncy, Charlie, and I Did A Shit On Your Mum.
Still, they clearly enjoyed themselves up there, and that’s infectious. And reminded me that while it’s great to be in the audience of an ultimately uplifting and energetic slice of theatre, it’s much more satisfying to be the one swaddled in the lamḗ cape, tarting around the stage, jollying the proles into a goggle-eyed frenzy.
Sweet vengeful Mavis, I need to get back on stage again.
The following day, I claimed my lie-in and was rewarded with a migraine. But cracked on and sketched out the first few pages of Maximum Dinobots#2: Dino Harder. I also did a sketch of a character that will feature prominently in upcoming issues. Included below, it’s based on E.J. Su’s updated look for the character, and I wanna try and get it as faithful to his design, while Nicking it up, as I possibly can. E.J. is by far the best re-interpreter of classic TFs there’s been, and has done a lot of work on the engineering side of figuring out what bit goes where in a Transformer. I enjoy this process myself, but feel my strengths lie in designing the character itself, and bringing something of its, and my, personality to it. This usually just involves making the eyes, chin and hands bigger, and the pointy bits pointier. I feel that sums my aesthetic up pretty well. But yeah, as well as keeping consistency with what’s gone before in the TF books, I feel I owe it to E.J. to keep as much of his ideas as possible. I can’t even explain why, but it seems a tad disrespectful when artists ignore a predecessor’s hard work, just for the sake of putting their own stamp on something and making it uber-kewl. And not just with TFs, I hasten to add. I’m not picking a fight with any of the boys what draw for IDW. They’re all lovely chaps, by and large. But you see it in superhero comics too. And while everybody wants to be the one to redesign the Batmobile, surely it’s better to serve the story first, and scratch your own itches second?
Anyway, I digress. And that’s allowed. Because it’s my fucking blog, son.
The other reason I like to retain E.J.’s design elements, apart from the fact that they just plain and simple work, is that he goes the extra mile to incorporate the ideas of other artists, when a guy of his stature could probably come up with twenty-three better ways of drawing it in his sporadic bursts of sleep. That’s what sets him and Simon Furman, TF writer, out as true pros; they’re both team players, with no discernable ego, and a goal to tell the story as best they can. So, yeah. Anyway. Hot Rod. Check him. He’s the man.
Oh, Friday continued on, and was found to be excellent. I got to scratch a performing itch by attending a party at my good friend, Enniscorthy Dave’s going away do. Dave’s a musician and fiendish ham, just like myself, and the party was populated by equally vainglorious, and capable performers. So it had to be Sing Star. All night. From 9 till 3, when I left. Everyone there, bar me, are in bands, and I mauled every single one of them at it. If they’re the best Dublin has to offer, talent-wise, then readers, I am truly wasted churning out doodles and scads of unrelated words for the likes of you.
You’ve Been Nicked
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
It’s 6.50 am, and the wasps at the window are still here.
They arrive at my drawing room (so called as it’s the room I commit art in) window at 5 am on the button, half a dozen of the bestriped buggers. If there are any vespulaphiles reading this, perhaps they could enlighten me as to why I am visited by this microswarm every night/morning. Gasp! Maybe they're angels! That has to be it! They’re my comic book angels, dispatched by Jesus Himself via waspapult to my domicile to watch over me and my sequential storytelling ways. I shall rue the day the stripey seraphin cease visiting me, and my artwork plummets ever-further from acceptable.
Left the house today. Wasn’t going to, but my doting progenitors drifted up towards Dublin, where I’m currently stationed, on their way to swinger’s haven, Malta. (Dad had a new keychain made specially.) As a result, I went to meet them for a meal, and we retired back to my sister’s squat. She lives in an area o Dublin called Smithfield, and my sidekick, Whittle, had an experience there on Friday night, where she was mistaken by a kerb-crawler for a frisky biscuit. She was shocked and appalled, as those days are long behind her.
But this story sparked off another tale from my younger brother, the Egg-Child. Egg was returning home to his apartment complex from…I’m not sure where. I’m wont to say badger-baiting, or breezeblock-dropping. Either way, he was heading home with the spoils of war clutched in his clammy claws; two cans of Dutch Gold.
(Dutch Gold is the drink of those who have given up, or have been given up on. Egg lives on the shit.)
As he winded his way toward home, he was hailed by a chap in the courtyard of the complex, who urged Egg to part with one of his cans. Egg scoffed loudly in the gent’s face, and urged him to make him an offer. The stranger fisked himself for some cash, but only had a twenty on him. Egg decided that was a fair price for one can. The thirsty man explained that the twenty was all he had on him, as he’d just spent a bundle on a prostitute.
Egg’s eyes widened. “A hoor? Where?!”
“In one of the apartments back there.” The chap gestured in the direction he’d come from. Egg’s apartment complex. There were hookers plying their trade right under The Ovoid’s brittle shell nose. Egg was astounded.
The man pressed on: “Yeah, I’m about to get into a serious relationship, with all the commitment and stuff. And I freaked out. Me head was all messed up. So I went out, got hammered, bought a big bottle of whisky and came down here to visit a prostitute.”
Egg raised his eyebrows, equal parts surprised and impressed.
“After all that though,” the man looked at the ground, “I couldn’t even get it up.”
Egg handed him one can of Dutch Gold.
And walked on.
You’ve Been Nicked.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Didn’t leave the house today. These Dinobots, in their Maximum capacity, have me under the kosh. For you, and for the good of myself, and the variety I crave, I squoze out a speedy sketch of comicdom’s finest freelance peacekeeping agent, Death’s Head. I’m not quite sure what he’s wearing, other than he resembles a mix of all his pre-kewl 90s, badasstastic transmogrified appearances. I love him anyway. The character that is; the doodle’s kind’ve an abortion. I guess that’s what this blog’s about though: doing something new and dangling it out there like a beacon of graphite mediocrity.
Busy with real work over the coming days. Hopefully I can eke out a scribbled sketch that isn’t a Transformer for every entry, though deadlines may require me to recycle some TF-specific discharge. We shall see, yes?
You’ve been Nicked.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Well, my second entry (ooer) and I’m already lagging behind. I’d like to say that as a world-weary artist, your earth days are amorphous to me; one of my prolonged periods of alertness could last up to twenty-four hours sans sleep, while others are to be praised if they amount to more that twenty minutes without the whinny of a satisfied snore piercing the air. As such, the concept of a daily blog is pretty loose round these parts. If you don’t like it, I invite you to don tracksuit and jog on.
Part of the reason for the sustained gap between collections of interminable sentences, meandering toward an unsatisfying and baffling conclusion, is the fact that I had the privilege of travelling to my girlfriend and carer’s (my girlfriend is my carer, or at least she should be recognised as such by the government, and a grant be made available immediately) hometown of Waterford, where Whittle’s (my missus) sister-in-law, Leona, made the glorious announcement that she is with sprog. I was furious. Already, this proto-Whittle is taking the sheen from my birthday weekend. O yet-to-be newborn, thou shalt pay a bittersweet price for this ignominy. Congrats to Leona and Moss, Whittle’s brother, and, we assume with no little uncertainty, the father. All this made up for the fact that their local stickball team were molested violently and without recourse in some game that is important to the likes of them. Baby > Parochial Grass-Hockey.
The Birthday haul went well; I obtained from me oul’ ma the lovely Omega Supreme re-release. I now have the complete 1985 Transformers range. I’m such an Autisbot. Got some TF Animated goodies from me Gran, and a phenomenal architecture/reference book from Whittle, along with some CDs; Neon Neon’s Stainless Style and a to-be-returned Dragonforce album. (An obsession with ‘Through The Fire And The Flames’ does not an interest in the band make.) She also provides endless patience, unpredictable shrieks, and much-needed morning fry-ups. Considering it wasn’t a milestone birthday, apart from it being the one-year anniversary of becoming greater than Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Jim Morrison, I was a very lucky boy, receiving three mini-parties across three counties. Mater outdid herself by hand-decorating a cream sponge with cocoa powder in the shape of the Autobot symbol, pictured. She’s clearly got a rattling case of the mentals, but we love her for it.
Sketch Blog time: A Spidey and a Batman. Both on the ‘meh’ side of utter shit. Still, it’s a change to the dayjob. Which is caressing the backs of pensioners’ knees with peacock feathers. The night job is drawing the robots. You’d be surprised which one I garner more internet acclaim for.
You've Been Nicked.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I am better than Kurt Cobain.
I am better than Kurt Cobain by two whole years. Better than Kurt, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison. (Though I feel most of us are fundamentally ‘better’ than Jim Morrison.)
Today I turn twenty-nine, and have felt the urge to mark this milestone by starting to blog myself senseless. The idea occurred to me this time last year, as I was about to turn twenty-eight, thus outwitting The Rock and Roll Reaper, who claims the most creative, charismatic and cravenly beautiful among us in their twenty-seventh years. Well not me, Azrael! I escaped your Fender Scythe! Truly it means that I have outfoxed The Pale Rider himself! (In no way does it mean that I do not rank amongst the terminally hip, too cool to live, right?)
This would have been a well made and timely point a year ago, but it takes me roughly 365 days to act upon an idea, something my girlfriend and editors at IDW Publishing will attest to. But better late than never, as they say in comics and pregnancy scares. So let this be the point where I make known to you who I am, what I’m about, and how I go about it.
I am called Nick Roche, and I’m a comic-book artist and sometimes writer. The artist bit of me gets lots of exercise, busied as I am toiling away at my dream job on IDW’s Transformers (Various titles, but I’m currently cutting a swathe through Maximum Dinobots, an Eisner-botherer the kids will by hopped-up on over the coming months.) the writer side of me, less so, and the human being side of me gets the shortest of shrifts. Shrift so short that your father would not allow you out of the house with such skimpy shriftage. So this blog will hopefully be me narcissistically flexing my textual muscles whenever time allows. But apart from the words you’ve just read, and the ones after that, and the few that bring us to these ones, I’m writted Spotlight: Kup for IDW’s TF line, and scripted and co-scripted eight local pantomimes in my native Wexford town. By dangling my blog so scandalously in public, I will hopefully shame myself into a few minutes of writing everyday, so that when I’m approached out of the blue by the BBC for my sitcom idea, by Pixar for my Wall*E-thrashing high concept money-spinner, or by IDW for the Kup maxi-series (I intend to draw the maxi-series on a pad. I hear you can get ones that will absorb the dickens out of your art) I won’t be too rusty for the task.
I also intend for my bloggagery to serve as a lifeline to my friends, family, admirers, and potential victims. I’ve let myself down quite a lot recently, mainly in the personal hygiene stakes, and frequently in public, by voiding myself at children’s puppet shows. But also by not being as attentive to those who purport to love me and be my friends. To be honest, I suspect most of ‘em only stuck around because they thought they’d inherit something amazing following my sexy death aged twenty-seven, or be able to sell a sordid story to The Wexford People following my demise. To them I say, hi ya! Sorry I haven’t been out to play; been a bit busy. But I want all of you to pretend that these blogs are personal emails to you, carefully crafted with appeasing you in mind.
Apart from words, there will be art posts here and about this blog. I endeavour to do a few minutes worth of a doodle each day, separate from my paying, meaningful work, and post those. So sometimes there will be words from me, sometimes there will be drawings. Sometimes both. With that in mind, here’s a well-hasty pic I did on this very day one year ago, with this very blog in mind. Back then, I was ready to embark on a Doctor Who miniseries…but then the wheels fell off me ‘ol health, like. The fact that my health was sporting wheels should have been a giveaway that my physiology was entering a phase of abnormality. Alas, I was unable to complete a single whole issue of that career stepping-stone, and what art was turned was, what the French refer to as, a load of old arse-scrapings. So, I post this sketch of The Doctor as a reminder of my abject failure to complete an issue of that series, or to crack open a blog until now.
That’s me for now. I’m off to enjoy some Black Forest Gateaux, and possibly the number 31 from The Dragon Heen , aka: The Legend. I’ll discard the vegetables with you all in mind.
Better than Kurt. Let’s meet up in five years time when I shall have surpassed, in most ways that matter, Jesus Himself. (Let’s face it, it’s probably the next time I’ll post anything…)