|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…?
|Diary comic page about meeting Kevin O’Neill. © Roger Mason 2012|
|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.
|A runaway flying alien forklift nearly takes out a worker in the forthcoming third Mice book. Page detail 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.
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.
|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.
|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.
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:
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.|
|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|
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.’
|Royal wedding illustration by Roger Mason|
Whoops, left it a bit too long since my last post, what with the Christmas period and taking time off. I also wanted to leave the advert for The Mice book at the top of the pile as well.
Moving on into 2012, appropriately enough here’s an image I produced last summer. From time to time I work for Big Smoke Media, who are a London-based promotional company who create and stock the postcards that you find in a rack in restaurants, bars and cinemas in the South East, often while on the way to the loo.
It’s been great to know them and they have been kind enough to pay me with my own distributed postcard when I do an illustration for them. This is one for them, a take on the royal wedding. The postcard I had made subsequently featured the grinning soldier you will have seen at the top of this blog and I hope that if you have been in the city you may have seen either of them and taken one.
|Cover art for The Mice in The Factory Menace, by Roger Mason|
The Mice: The Factory Menace is now available to buy from Scar Comics online shop, here . £7.99, 80 pages, black and white, it is a complete story and also the first book in a proposed series of four, with the second book almost completed.
It tells the story of the giant alien factory Order Nine, and the humans who live there, who are treated like vermin and trying to fight off the aliens who, it must be said, don’t much care and hate their jobs. Humorous, action-packed, romantic and deadly, here are some reviews:
“Small press comics at its absolute best… 9 out of 10.”
“This is a gem and worth seeking out.”
“Roger Mason’s fully-formed future scenario pits tiny terrorists in the Land of the Giants against occupying alien forces. A rollicking SF epic brought to life with splendidly fluid chiaroscuro brushwork by one of the UK’s most exciting young talents.”
Gary Spencer Millidge, creator of Strangehaven
Page from The Mice in The Factory Menace, graphic novel by Roger Mason
Page from The Mice in The Factory Menace, graphic novel by Roger Mason
|Concept artwork for BBC Three re-branding, commissioned by Red bee Media. Art by Roger Mason|
From 2007, when I was working with Red Bee Media at White City on the branding work for the TV channel BBC Three. The idea was to create a planet that the idents would feature different parts of and I was asked to help visualise this world.
Here are colour visuals of various parts of this imaginary world, including a rough layout, useful to let the team know I was on the same wavelength as them before investing more time in the image.
|Catwoman, victim and Harley Quinn. Art by Roger Mason|
Recently I drew this commission for the boyfriend of a dancer who had won a part in the Batman Live Arena Tour, a significant career step and something to be marked. I came up with the concept, which was to feature Harley Quinn — I added Catwoman — and placed Michelle, the dancer, in between the two hellcats. After that, it seemed to create itself with these strong characters demanding me to go their way. Indian ink on A2 bristol board and a lot of fun to do.
|Miss Oatlash from the pages of DC Vertigo’s Preacher comic. Art by Roger Mason|
I’ll be taking some time off from tomorrow, to re-charge my batteries after a particularly hectic bout of storyboarding, so I thought I would go out with a bang. To anyone who this image comes to as a complete shock I recommend you look at the DC Vertigo comic Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.
A chap called Ryan Ballard is putting together a compendium of sketches based on the afore-mentioned comic, and I jumped at the chance to produce my take on Miss Oatlash and her sexual preferences. Ryan’s blog: http://thepreacherproject.blogspot.com/
Preacher is, in my opinion, one of the best entry points into modern comics and a highly entertaining, stomach-churning thrill ride with humour and a body count to match. Great story-telling from Dillon and a pin-sharp script from Irish writer Ennis, both of whom used to work for 2000AD. Apparently Ennis thinks his run on Judge Dredd wasn’t much cop (no pun intended), I thought it was great.
BICS went very well, sold 12 copies of The Mice and put one in the hands of Dave Gibbons.
|The Mice graphic novel banner. © Roger Mason 2013|
|Storyboards for Set The Destroyer music. Dir. Craig Murray, art by Roger Mason|
Recently I produced seven key frame illustrations for film-maker Craig Murray who is making a music video for the band Set the Destroyer. I had fun with this, depicting a wasted young girl staggering up Kingsland Road, being sucked into a floor in a bunker and then being re-born up on a rooftop as a blond.
I think I need to see the video to work out what’s going on here and if you want to find out more about Craig’s work then go to www.youcameinhereastranger.com. Craig sits next to me in my studio in Dalston, in the Bootstrap Building, home also to the Dalston Roof Park. He doesn’t drink tea but isn’t averse to instant coffee in a plastic beaker, trivia fans.