(no subject)


This is quite simply the worst thing I've ever done.

It's an attempt at doing something in the style of Winsor McKay, and it took literally months to get this done, and it's still appaling.

This page is the thing that's kept me blocked for months - I just couldn't get the thing finished, and it's held everything else up. And the end result isn't even a millionth as good as it should have been.

I am never going to do anything in the style of anyone other than myself again - this is just appalingly bad.

The Return Of Dumb Angel


Did ya miss me?!

Well, that was the longest week ever, wasn't it? My sincere apologies for the ridiculously long time since the last proper update, but for 7 months I was either without a computer, without net access, or both. Then when I got it back I had to relearn all my old techniques (I became amazingly rusty).

The bad news is, I still won't be able to update on a definite schedule - I'm now working full time, and one of these takes me (depending on complexity) 12 to 70 hours to do (for those who don't know, I draw everything with a mouse - I have no tablet or scanner. Those who've tried drawing this way will know just how ridiculously difficult it is). The good news is it will still be updated fairly regularly - I already have 3/4 of the next page (Little Brian In Slumberland) done.

In other news, Dumb Angel is going to be featured in an anthology comic I'm putting together with Andy O'Brien (of Roll Plymouth Rock magazine), in installments, before its eventual full graphic novel release. This comic will have a very interesting feature, about which more later.

Lastly, for now, I'd like to thank Andrew Bonias for (so far) the only fan-mail I've had on the comic from a fellow webcomic creator. His Chaos Chronicles (at http://chaoschronicles.keenspace.com is very different from Dumb Angel, but well worth a look...

See you in a lot less than eight months!

(We'll sell a million units - in January!)

(no subject)


Well, I'm not going to pretend I don't expect any stick for this
one... all I will say is that I asked a *lot* of people about the idea
to do this, and whether it was worth it. All of them (mostly
Americans) said I should. It is not my intention to trivialise
anyone's death, and nor do I intend to turn this comic into a soapbox
for my own political views. Other than that, I shall let this page
speak for itself.
  • Current Music
    Tom Lehrer - In Old Mexico

(no subject)


Just a piece of filler art here. I'm working on quite an ambitious page, but panel 1 of it is the first piece of art I've actually been proud of (although I like the line-art Venus De Milo from a couple of pages ago), so I'm posting it as a separate page in its full size (as opposed to the 1/3 size it'll be in the final page). Update probably on Saturday.

The picture's meant to represent the song Caroline, No, BTW.
  • Current Music
    Frank Zappa - Dickie's Such An Asshole

(no subject)


The quotes in this page are Dennis Wilson from a 1967 interview (I can't find the reference now, but it was for something like Teen Scene magazine; Al Jardine as reported in Wouldn't It Be Nice: My True Story by Brian Wilson and Todd Gold (a highly inaccurate book in many respects, so the quote may be far from word-for-word. The sentiments, however, seem to be accurate); and Mike Love as reported in Byron Preiss' 1980 biography of the band (the quote is slightly edited to fit the speech bubble, but otherwise accurate. Love has expressed these feelings many times over a 37 year period).

This comic is, of course, late (what a surprise. I can see your shocked faces already). This is because I've been busy preparing for my debut as a solo artist at the Cavern in Liverpool last night, as part of International Pop Overthrow. This went exactly as well as anyone who has heard my 'singing' and 'guitar playing' would expect.

I'm thinking more and more that when I do this as a dead tree, I'm going to have to reorder the pages - what works in a serial form doesn't necessarily make for smooth reading in one go, and there's going to be another big jump with the next comic, where I'm going to go into my theories about how the themes of Smile essentially boil down to an expansion of the themes of Pet Sounds, especially Caroline, No, and especially the line "where did your long hair go?". I'll try to smooth the transition though...

I'm trying for a more impressionistic look this time, rather than the Aubrey Beardsley via Sim and Gerhard look I attempted earlier on. I'm still trying to find my style, and any comments would, as always, be appreciated.

And RIP John Peel. Always sad when one of the good ones dies, and the only time I ever saw him in person was at a Brian Wilson concert...

(no subject)


Well, this took long enough, didn't it?

My life has just been stupidly hectic the last couple of weeks - I've spent most of the time at my family's home, and I've had the 'flu - so I've not been able to keep to anything like a regular update schedule. I'm going to try to get a couple more of these put up within the next week.

My phone will be cut off (and with it my net access) on Thursday, but I hope to have paid off the bill within a week or two of that, so there shouldn't be *too* much disruption to the comic (I'll try and get a backlog done - yeah right...). When I come back from that, I hope to start doing a second webcomic, a more conventional superhero thing.

(I suppose I could do what every single other webcomic artist is doing now and steal Randy Milholland's idea of asking for a large donation. But unlike him I don't have three years' worth of consistently good stuff up, so I doubt I'd get 50p ;) ).

Anyway, on to the comic itself. This is an area I don't really want to tackle much, but you can't do something about the Beach Boys' Smile album without tackling the issue of Brian Wilson's mental illness. I don't want to dwell on it, but it does need mentioning.

I've had some qualms about doing this page this way, because I don't want to make Brian look like Earl from Red Meat or something. Hopefully, it doesn't make him look too much like that. Anyone who knows me will know the tremendous amount of respect I have for Brian Wilson. Those who don't... well, you'll just have to trust that I'm not trying to make the man look bad.

As to the page itself, there are things I like about it, and things I don't. I think the main image I've used in the first five panels is one of the better ones I've done, and if it doesn't sound too arrogant to say so it reminds me slightly of Dave Gibbons (I've been reading the wonderful Across The Universe: The DC Universe Stories Of Alan Moore recently, which includes some of Gibbons' work, so that's probably influenced me). The sixth panel I don't like at all. The lettering's sloppy as hell too.

The lettering will be fixed when I put this out in dead-tree form (my abilities are improving fast enough that I know I'll be able to do it by the time the story ends), and I may have to make some other changes too. I've been doing these pages as essentially single pages, and the narrative is a little disjointed. I'll probably change the page order round a bit before then, and maybe change the wording a little.

As always, any suggestions gratefully received.

(no subject)


I feel I should apologise for this one...

I've had about five goes at doing this page (hence the length of time since the last update) and so far every one of them came out wrong. I'm switching styles for this and the next few pages - going for a narrative style based on the songs themselves, before returning to the making of the album. This presented a problem, as everything I've done so far has been from photo reference, and I had no real references for the pictures I saw in my head. I eventually had to paste together composite images (a head from one photo, a body from another) to get something like the image I wanted, which I then copied. Badly.

The other reason this page took a lot longer than I was expecting is I was stymied by Jaka's Story. Those of you who've been following my journal, or who've talked to me about comics at all, know that I'm a major, major fan of Cerebus, by Dave Sim and Gerhard. While the comic had its ups and downs, as a whole it's the single greatest achievement in comics history. It was actually completed, like Smile, this year, and there are a few parallels in the questions the two works (both monumental acheivements) throw up - parallels with which I am planning to deal in the course of the comic. I've in fact already got those pages planned out in my head, although they don't come up for another 20 pages or so.

Even before I planned that though, I'd been planning to interpret the various songs from Smile in comic form, and Heroes & Villains had to be done in that form, being both the centrepiece of the album and the most coherent narrative. The problem, when I came to draw it, was Jaka's Story.

Jaka's Story, a story published in issues 114-136 of Cerebus, is the single greatest novel in the Cerebus series, which makes it one of the three or four best works of graphic fiction out there. It's also a black and white comic, and one that has hugely influenced me (the blobby blocks of black that run throughout the pages done so far are me ineptly doing Sim and Gerhard's take on Aubrey Beardsley in Melmoth). And I'd never noticed before, but it has some uncanny parallels to Heroes & Villains.

In Jaka's Story, part of the plot consists of Cerebus (who disappeared an indeterminate length of time back from a large city, and who some think dead), meeting up again with a woman who he had fallen in love with many years back, working as a tavern dancer. However, dancing is illegal - she is dancing in deliberate violation of the law, and in one of the climactic scenes most of her small audience is gunned down and she herself is arrested. There's a LOT more to it than that (it's a bit like describing Hamlet as 'a bloke mopes around a lot and has a fight and dies'), but that covers a large chunk of the plot.Now look at the lyrics to Heroes & Villains (again, just the relevant excerpts):

I've been in this town so long that back in the city I've been taken for lost and gone and unknown for a long long time
Fell in love years ago with an innocent girl...
Once at night cotillion squared the sight and she was right in the rain of the bullets that eventually brought her down
But she's still dancing in the night unafraid of what a dude'll do in the town of the heroes & villains...
In the cantina, margaritas keep the spirit high.
There I saw her, she spun around and while in the warmth her body fanned the flame of the dance
Dance Margarita, don't you know that I love you? Dance...
You're under arrest!

is it just coincidence that my two favourite artworks, in different media, both took several decades to go from conception to completion but finished within days of each other (Smile was premiered on Feb 20, 2004. Cerebus #300, the final issue, is cover-dated March 2004), and both have an extremely simillar story as an important moment? Probably, but still...

And this, of course, meant that every terrible drawing I did for this page was, in my mind, compared with Jaka's Story and found extremely wanting. So apologies for the ridiculously long wait for this page, and the next one will be done in days, not weeks...

In other news, there is now a Dumb Angel Yahoo Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dumbangel which will have updates posted to it, along with (maybe) some discussion. And finally - Smile debuted today at number 7 in the UK charts. The main comic page itself will be updated later today with links to a bibliography page, which will contain Amazon links to the music and comics cited in these notes, and to anything influential to this comic.

Please send me as much feedback as you can on this particular page, good or bad...
  • Current Music
    Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan's Blues

Comic now up


Today's comic is a few days late as I've been trying to make arrangements for use of the Smile cover in the first panel. I believe I've come to an arrangement with Frank Holmes, the artist, and so I can now upload it.

Everyone has been very, very helpful when it comes to permissions. Gerhard (the background artist on Cerebus) has given me permission to use a couple of panels of Cerebus free of charge, while Van Dyke Parks has helped me find the information about who to contact for lyric reproduction, and has told me he likes the idea. It's odd to open your inbox and find emails from your heroes...

The next comic will be up much, much sooner, and will be in a narrative style, as will the few pages after that. There may be a short break in a few days, as I may be losing internet access due to extreme poverty, but after that I plan to be on a more regular schedule (it's taking about 2 hours to do each panel now, as opposed to the six or seven the first few took, so I'm definitely speeding up...)

(BTW I've been ill all day and so haven't checked my friends page. Apologies if anyone's said anything important).