Archives for the month of: January, 2014

I’m 25 days into Dryathlon, no booze and in my case, no Energy drinks because I’ve been wanting to shake that particular monkey off my back for some time. I thought hey, in for a penny, in for a pound, so there I am.

PLEASE DONATE, just £2.50 is the cost of a pint, £1.80 if you were in the Bar I walked past last night proudly telling the world they had the Cheapest fosters in Leeds. So, buy us a drink, in the worlds most metaphorical sense, by clicking Here.

Last night I went to see Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip at the Leeds University Stylus bar.

This was an absolutely fantastic performance,  utterly fantastic with great support from Itch and his weird DJ friend, the child prodigy Screwface, with a big crying baby head that gave the woman wired on Ecstasy next to me the WEIRDEST FUCKING TRIP OF HER LIFE. I like to imagine it was her first time, and now she’s a straight edge nun after seeing this fucker on stage whilst no one payed him any attention.

But yes, This was probably my first gig in a decade (Maybe) where I didn’t have one drink. Its such a weird experience because, well I was, really overly aware of myself. When I was rocking out, which took some time getting into because I was afraid of looking like a fool in front of everyone (unaware that everyone else didn’t give a shit because they’d come to see the band not to look at me) I became really aware of my FACE!

What is a good facial expression to hold when rocking out? I dunno, eventually, I just went with what seemed natural, but until then I was obsessed with not making some goddamn horrid face. Then again, the above THING (sic: abomination) was on stage for a bit as well, so I think I could have done what I liked.

The other one was that I stunk. Everyone stunk. After about a half hour of solid rowdy behavior even the most satin perfect pop-prince smelt like a pro-athlete fresh from the field. I had to get over my self-consciousness about being a mammal who sweats, and has arm pits and that everyone in that room was a mammal who had arm pits.

In the end though, I realised I shouldn’t give a fuck and just danced and pulled whatever face I felt like and gave up all sense of self in a big crowd of dancing people. Because thats what you’ve got to do isn’t it, just surrender yourself to the situation. Sayu “When in Rome” and rip off your T-shirt… If you want. I mean, there was one girl who bared her bra, but no one wants to see my Saggy tits?

EVEN THOUGH, there are less tits (is less tits? Are less tittage?) than there was before I started this. I’m shedding about five pounds a week, not including the weight I put back on eating a pizza every now and then, but quitting beer has meant quitting the belly. Which is a bonus, I’m sure we can all agree on.

Anyway, this is just a quick on, hopefully showing the sort of terrible position I’ve put myself in this month being a man so self concious he can barely talk to people in a social situation without a beer. Thats right, I’ve been forced to behave LIKE ordinary people, not an over-than-average introverted pleb who compensates with alcohol and shouting.

So please Give, if not for me, than for Charity. Cancer is a bitch, FUCK CANCER YO!

 

Thanks

Nick

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I have wanted to do a blog post at least once a week this year, but I’m right in the middle of colouring right now, and its painstaking. I really am not a fan of Colouring, not because its not rewarding, seriously an image can be massively improved by the addition of colour. If I’m inking an image that I know will be in Black and White, I add as much depth as possible, but when I’m doing something that’ll be in colour, I keep it simple, try not to over complicate my shading, don’t want the image to clash.

Also, right, when I’m drawing something, I kind of know how long something will take. But colouring is deceptive, it depends on layers and detail and all sorts of thing. So sometimes a splash page can be quite quick to do due to it being just one big image, and loads of small panels can be quite time consuming, but… oh I dunno, this isn’t always the case. But, I’m about half way through, and you can expect Funk Soul Samurai soon.

Anyway, here are some sketches I’m did.

dredd sketches

I find it really hard to Draw Judge Dredd. I’ve been reading Dredd comics for years, for two decades at least, and I find it almost impossible to nail down exactly what he looks like. And I know what you’re thinking; “hey surely the point of Dredd is that he looks like very other Judge but with a big chin and he’s been interpreted by so many artists surely what he looks like it truly debatable”, and yeah, you have a point perceptive human, but I want to nail down what he looks like to ME. Its a big difference between being able to draw sort of Pin up portraits of the guy and being able to do him off the wrist in my own style. I always imagine Dredd as a sort of burly thuggish guy, really towering, tall, strong and gnarled with constantly getting shot and stabbed. I need more practice I think.

Anyway, here are some Space Marine type folks:

Space Marine 1

I was looking at the Art of Elysium book online and even though Gregg Broadmore wasn’t attached to the movie, you get a real sense that his style lingers in Neill Blomkamp’s brain. The robots are very him, and the power armour/ exo-skeleton support frames are his sort of idea, only far more gritty and nasty, because Broadmore’s stuff always has a nice stylised sheen to it. If you haven’t seen his Dr Grordbrot Vintage space weapon work, check it out immediately. Anyway, so I started doodling a few of these rugged space fighting dudes in the sketch book whilst watching films with my family today, the first of which looks like an angry Zach Galifianakis in Power Armour. For the sake of full disclosure, I haven’t seen Elysium, but it looks like fun.

space marine 2

That dude looks a bit like David Duch… Doo… Duke…. He looks like Fox Mulder.

space marine 3

I imagine it takes a lot of hardware to run one of these things, lots of computer bobs and that, so the machine has to compensate for carrying a hunk of computer around with you. These sorts of sketches remind me of the ones I used to do way way back in college, where I just piled on the detail because I couldn’t really draw. Only, i feel like these have more depth and are… well far better. Lots of detail is my thing, and I cannot escape that. But I want to be more choosy about where I pump in my detail.

Anyway, just for the sake of imagination, I’ve been thinking about the role and useage of these computerised powered frames, and I imagine that they increase speed, accuracy and strength of the user, allowing for a higher degree of maneuverability due to the onboard computer’s real-time calculations of battle probability. It can help you predict where your opponents will strike and allow you to move out of the way faster. Maybe some models have an amount of kinetic shielding allowing for absorption of projectile and concussive damage. Maybe a magnetic field around them to divert bullets like the one Fortune has in Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty. That, was always a neat idea not really expanded upon, probably because you could never know if it was real with that game. Especially the fucking ending in the infinite digital battlefield.

Moving swiftly on, I also imagine that the Frames couple into larger mech-suits. I saw about 3 seconds of Titanfall watching Loading Ready Run’s gaming news show Check Point and hand in hand with Pacific Rim it made me want to do a Mech-suit sort of comic. I’ve got something brewing that takes place in the same universe as Funk Soul Samurai, but I’ll see how the myriad things I’m working on right now go.

I think I’ve babbled enough for now,

I hope to write something about my Dryathlon, because I’m more than half way through and haven’t had a drink this year. Its been a struggle for me and I want to torture you with details about it. I’ll leave you with a quote from Charles Bukowski quote that I think applies to blog posts and sketch books as well as conversation:

I get very tired of the precious intellectuals who must speak diamonds every time they open their mouths. ~ Charles Bukowski

Bye

Nick

About a year ago I was working on a series of illustrations for a series of novels. This experience would come to be one of the most foul of my career, but also serve as a turning point for me as I realised the worth of my craft. See, out there in the world there are tonnes of people who want you, as a writer, artist, typesetter, editor, musician, whatever, to work for nothing.

Sometimes, with the right agreement, things can be worked out: My friend Carl is a framer, and he has been known to frame art for Artists in return for a piece of their art. A trade of services. But, more often than not, working for free is a terrible idea. Working for “exposure” doesn’t mean you’ll get exposed. Working for the love doesn’t put food in the cupboard, and believe it or not, making art takes time, effort, sleepless nights, planning, stress: because after all, it is work.

With that in mind, when I was approached by an old friend to do a series of Illustrations for her dads potential book, I agreed to under the condition of payment.
At this time in my life, I was making money from art, much like now I was doing jobs for established brands and companies to earn cash, as well as selling my own prints to get dollar dollar bills. I had a nine to five job to support me, but I’d done work for people like NSFWcorp and done a few comissions and everything was good.

My rate was $20 an hour, and people paid. That’s like £16 an hour, and I think, for the work and the quality of my service, it was reasonable. Working for the friends dad, who will now go by the name of The Rabbit for reasons that will never be explained, I agreed to work for £8 an hour. Mates rates and only £2 more than minimum wage. I work harder at art than I did at my minimum wage jobs.
Initially, the rabbit gave me the manuscript for his novel and wanted around 16 illustrations, full colour for his book, plus a cover. I told him that without even planning, if I started off doing 16 illustrations I’d be doing about five hours work on each watercolour painting, and it’d cost him about £40 a picture, meaning he’d be paying £640 for 16 pictures.

I’m going to break down what he’s buying with that money. He’s not only buying the picture, which £40 for an original piece of full colour painted art is smashing (I’ve seen comic artists charge £40 at conventions for sketches) But he’s getting right of ownership and right to distribute. He owns the pictures and the right to make money off them. Fair cop, right.

So, obviously for one guy hopefully selling a novel to a publisher, £640 is a tonne of money, so I told him that what would be a better idea is if we worked on four or five images as an example of the work that’d be included in the book. At this stage of the game I was still unsure as to how a publisher would react to a book pitch for an adult novel with full colour illustrations. I mean the writing costs would be severe and for an unknown author as well…
I didn’t want him to whittle away his money on a concept.
I agreed to start working on the pictures in December. He wanted me remember, and I was in the middle of an art gallery show with relief work and all sorts, so was busy up until the beginning of December. He’d seen my work. Liked my style. He’d reviewed my portfolio, come to my show, looked through sketchbooks that had my art in them. He knew what to expect and was excited about the project. So was I, his book wasn’t to my taste but I thought it was the sort of thing in vogue, and people might be into it. With a severe edit it’d be an all round good bit of fun, and some vintage style illustrations would be neat. I did some planning on the pictures, did concept drawings, proposed layouts, put then into sheets, did some detailed works, sent them over with a bill for £50 initially. We met two days before Christmas, during which time I had the norri (i think that’s how you say it) virus and had been out of action for a week. We were a week behind, and he was very eager to get things going, and as such he gave me my money and a £50 deposit to get the ball rolling. Great stuff.

Now, I made a few mistakes here. Firstly whilst I sent a paypal bill, the dude paid me cash in hand, didn’t want a receipt or any for of proof of transaction. He didn’t want a paper trail because he said he was a bit of a socialist and didn’t want to tax man to know about this. I was uneasy, and I should have been. There was no evidence of anything. No work agreement. No pay agreement. The majority of what we’d talked about had been over the phone, the rabbit and I were the only two humans on earth who knew the ins and outs of our agreement. This is bad practice, very bad practice, and as a creative you should never put yourself in that position. It could have happened that I gave him the work and he said “what money” and disappeared into the night and it’d be my word against his that he ever agreed to pay me. Put as much as you can in writing.
Get the work required. Get the agreed fees. Get time scales, get all this and more in writing, even if its just an email to their address that they reply to with a yes, and always, always make a reciept that you have a copy of. Know where the money is going and coming from.

Anyway, back to the story. I got a phone call from the Rabbit soon after saying that he wanted to step things up a notch and that he wanted me to push ahead with the final pictures. He said he trusted my with the designs from what he’d seen and he’d agreed which pages needed to be illustrated and which layouts should be used. So, giving me a week, he wanted 4 mock ups of the pictures that would go in the book, as well as layouts and concepts for 4 future illustrations like I’d done before. I agreed, took time off work and got them done. I emailed them to him on the Tuesday evening, a day late on the time scale. I apologised about it in the email, but the work load had been bigger than expected and I hoped all this was to his liking.

Another mistake on my behalf. If you say a date, produce SOMETHING on that date, even if its just half the work and an apology. If you feel the work load is too heavy don’t agree on it, and if you’re feeling the pressure send an email to who you’re working for. Make sure that they know you’re struggling or having doubts. Most people will be ok with that. Remember that my deal with the Rabbit was super casual, and I thought a day would be alright.

I awaited my reply from the Rabbit, and a day later I got a phone call whilst I was back at the day job from him, asking me where the art was. It was in his email folder, I assured him I’d sent it a day late, he was very angry with me, told me he checks his email every evening and he hadn’t got it yet. I had sent the email to the address he’d replied to me several times on, and all I could do was insist. We ended the conversation with him disbelieving I’d done any work.

So, when a reply to my email came I was happy, until I opened it. I kind of saw the contents coming, seeing he’d got his daughter to ask for his manuscript back from me because he needed to show it to a publisher. Of course this was a lie, he wanted it back because he wanted to terminate contract with me. I made up some excuse, and when the email came I saw that binder of paper as my only bargaining chip.

The rabbit was displeased. He didn’t like the drawings. Said they weren’t what he was looking for. Said he never wanted me to act without consulting him on the designs first. Confused the characters in the pictures so that they didn’t represent them, which was more annoying than anything. He said the illustration of the elegant police chief made her look like a tramp, and they did, because they were illustrations of the tramp character. This was annoying. But, not only did he want his manuscript back, but he wanted his money back.
Now, what had I done wrong here chaps? Well, I’d not agreed upon an end of contract deal. If someone wants to terminate half way through, make sure they have agreed to pay you for all work done. I’d spent about three hours each on those illustrations, four on one hugely tricky action scene, so at my reduced rate he owed me £104 taking into account the £50 he’d given me as a down payment for future work having gone on the concept boards I’d sent him as well. So instead of the £104 he should have given me he wanted half of his down payment back, leaving me getting paid -£25. This was an arrangement I would not be prepared to go into.

So, all that came from him to my protests was silence, I sent him a carefully prepared email to which I got no reply and after consulting my friend who happened to be a legal beagle solicitor realised I didn’t have a leg to stand on. I decided to call the rabbit one evening after work. We’d had many conversations about this time, usually about eight o’clock nine-ish, so I thought this was his reasonable office hours. I got the answer phone where I left him a message, basically stating in official terms I wanted my money.

What did I do wrong? When shit got real, I should have gotten real. When a client turns sour, never expect them to have a squishy human side. Never treat them like the person they were, this worm has turned sister, lawyer up, seek legal advice, get a rational third party to deal with it, but never expect the avenues you once walked down to be still open to you. Calling him was a horrific mistake. I should have gotten ANYONE else in the world to phone him, midday on a Wednesday or something. On a Friday evening gave him ammunition which he used.

I had done something stupid. Is called him during HIS time and bothered him in HIS HOME. This gave him the legal standing that I was harassing him. Whilst he owed me money, and we had talked many times before in his home phone at similar times before, we weren’t friends now, and if he says I was harassing him, I was in the eyes of the police, which he told me that he was more than happy to go to.
I know that one phone message wasn’t harassment and if I had more balls, I should have stood up to him. I like to imagine different versions of me across time and space and dimensions are standing up to him right now, putting their foot down and saying “Not today!” but I didn’t. In the furious phone call he aimed at me the next day, he threatened me with all sorts of legal things that I had no defence against because I had no paper trail, no agreements, no contracts, nothing. It looked to the casual observer that I’d agreed to do work for free and then sent him a bill, or done work he’d never wanted doing and demanded he pay me for it, he held all the cards and I had to play by his rules. By the end of the angry call, we’d come to the arrangement that I’d give back the manuscript, drew a line under monies owed, and he didn’t go to the police, removing the answer phone message from the machine.

I was whipped and beaten. I’d done the work, received none of the benefits and now had to take a holier than thou aggressive speech from a goblin with an attitude. He dressed me down after turning up to collect his manuscript from me AT MY PLACE OF WORK. (I told security the whole story and I still think they look for him daily with the hope to beat the sass out of him).
It’s a big manuscript and I did keep a large chunk of it encased he went back on his word, hoping to float it on the internet and ruin his claim to authorship as a self destruct button. He didn’t. I was being silly, it was over, I’d lost having been taken for a ride.

So what did I learn from this? Well I now have a procedure for everything. If I’m entering into a contract I get everything in writing. Even if its just a phone call with long term collaborator Stu Perrins I send him an email after detailing everything we agreed upon so we’re on the same page. It’s easier for everyone and speeds up the creative process.

For two, I make sure money and timeframes are agreeable and agreed upon. I don’t rush jobs, I don’t agree to work its impossible to achieve and I get it all agreed upon in writing.
I do all payments with receipts and declare all time usage in spreadsheets and official documents so there’s no arguing over time.

And I have learnt to say to myself “You are worth more than this”. Because I am. I can afford to pick and chose what I do, because I have things in place to support me. Never do a job that’s risky because you need the money. Risks are only worth it if they pay out and if they were certain to do so they wouldn’t be risks. Never do a job you are uncertain whether you can deliver on.

Artists, creators, we’re worth more than this. Realise the worth of your talent and whilst its a struggle if you value yourself, others will value you too. Be good to one another and keep your head above water. Be sensible and always look before you jump.

The rabbits book never got the publishing deal, according to the website it was set to be release on Amazon at the end of 2013, and I hope to god he edited it, I always think the sign of a classy Ebook is a good editor. All the team on it apparently waived their fees for working on it because the profits from the first three books will go to Charity, which is genuinely nice and Nobel. Working for charity is a wonderful thing, and I recommend it, it helps the world and makes you feel good in the process. I wish everyone involved in it the best of luck with true sincerity, I really do. You may not believe me after a few of my flippant comments this this very post, but I hold none of this against anyone because I feel this ordeal has helped me realise quite a few things, and ultimately, wasn’t too costly in time, money or my physical well being.

But the thing that sticks with me the most dear reader, and thanks so Much for reading this far, is the last thing he said to me before storming out of my place of work that day. He said “I pray to god you never do this to anyone again” and I can assure him, I will never, ever do it to anyone again.

I will never let anyone dupe me again.

Hello and Welcome aboard a new Blog post, please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle as we travel along today, our eventual destination to talk you through how I made my Solid Snake painting for the No Wave Magazine Video Games special edition.

If you are a creative like myself, you might enjoy this, I can say for a fact one of my favourite things on earth is to read through process guides from other artists and see how they do their thing. It opens the eyes up a little to new ideas and what have you. I’m aware that its not like leaning over the shoulder of some great work with me, but I dunno, I have my own unique way of working, as do we all, so this might be enlightening, or give you an oppertunity to laugh at me for doing everything backwards. Anyway, from the top.

1) To begin, as I do with most things, I did a pencil sketch in my book:

Image

This gives me an opportunity to work out stance, page layout, and generally the tone and scope of the work. It is most definitely a sketch and I rub stuff out as I go along, like I’m shaping a for from the amorphous blobs I scribble down. I looked at a lot of game art and whatchama call it online, as well as getting my own Snake Action figure down to play around with gripping of the rifle and what have you. You can never have too much reference. After I’ve done that I move onto step two which is:

2) Toning.

Image

Notice how I signed it all proud like in the corner, despite the fact its in my sketchbook and therefore is highly likely to be by me.

Anyway, Metal Gear Solid has a very distinct look in my mind. The concept art, comic books, even the cut scenes in Metal Gear Solid Portable Op’s have this sketchy, kinetic feel. Ashley Wood did a lot of the paintings and that for the modern works, so I have a definite feel of what I want to achieve. With that in mind I did a bit of inking with an 8mm fine liner, then went over the top adding heavy blacks with a chisel tip marker.

(Remember kids; Permanent pens and markers, like Sharpies, are not archival mediums, meaning over time, they will degrade, bleed into the paper and actually EAT THE FUCKING DRAWINGS, so if you are working on something you want to keep, and don’t plan on working on digitally, Sharpies are a terrible choice.)

When I’m happy with this, I’ll move onto step three. usually, I’d do a few little sketches like this, but I was so dead chuffed with this one, I thought I’d move along. I’ve been a huge MGS fan for a large part of my life, so drawing Solid Snake seemed really natural.

3) Large Scale Pencils

Image

The previous Image was about A5, this instead is an A3 image on 300 GSM Watercolor paper. Watercolor paper is massively absorbent, and will play hell with inks, so if you want clear cut lines when using brush and ink, this isn’t really my choice. I’m just speaking form experience, feel free to tell me I’m wrong, but using the calligraphy nibs I like the lines bleed a little, which is great for things like this where I want to feel rough and ready, but when I’m inking comics, I use a harder paper. As you can see these pencils are very sparse, firstly because when you water color over them, they sort of stick around, so I keep it simple and add the detail with the inks, and secondly, because if you get jiggy with the inks, it can be more creative and far more spontaneous for a one off piece. If you’ve got continuity like in a comic, then pencils are of the utmost importance. When I’m fine with that I break out;

4) Paint Round 1

Image

For this bit I do a series of really tight, controlled and watery tones over the top. I love watercolor because you can be imprecise with the lines, but also, get a huge range of depth of color just by controlling how much water you have on your brush. I use a Winsor and Newton Lamp Black solid Water Color block for this, with a hair brush. I’m just highlighting areas of shading and tone for future reference, but also building a nice background for the line work. Its a good guide for where to tone when inking if you are drawing onto a solid object rather than just an empty space. So many times I’ve toned the gap between an arm and a side or something like that, so wrapped up in what I’m doing, not paying attention. So this gives depth and also helps me stay on target. For part 5.

5) Inks Round 1 + Collage bit

Image

I meant to take a photo between the inks and the collage stage, but I was all wrapped up in what I was doing. See what I mean?

What a mook!

These inks are done with a calligraphy nib on a dipping ink pen, using India Ink. Faber Castell ink, I believe. These ones are the detail, the nitty gritty, the actual bits that make up an image. Anything I add on top of this now is just showy flashy wazz. I’ve made up the way Solid Snake looks and nothings going to change that. But I like it, so there. I’ve kept tones and cross hatching and the like to a bare minimum so that when I do the next stage of paints, it won’t over egg the pudding so to speak. Its going to be a busy image, but I don’t want to hound the viewers eye.

I have a dislike too many visual styles going on, it can choke up a piece something chronic. If you’re familiar with my work, you’ll surely note that I use a TONNAGE of cross hatching and shader lines. I can’t get enough of them, I copied Bryan Talbot and Geoff Darrow when in high school, as well as Mike Mignola, and that relationship with white space and toned areas on an image is key to how I do comics, but if you put together the Mignola areas of Black with the Talbot hatching, it’d look confused, so its one or the other with me.

The Newspaper bit for the background texture is just ripped up bits of the Metro, which is a free daily newspaper we get in England, I keep a bunch of them around to be informed, and to layer surfaces I don’t want ruined by ART. I just ripped/cut them up and glued them in with a clear glue stick. I was going to digitally add some Zippatone for the hells of it, but I thought real mediums would be more tactile and interesting, and I get a serious enjoyment out of textures in art.

6) Painting; ROUND 2

Image

These lot of paints are a thicker version of the stuff before, more paint, less water, but also a watered down cheap ink thorwn in there, to get the runny blacks. Snake coming out of the soggy newspaper bits, ooooh, tingles. In the picture though, the darkness around his shoulders makes him look hunched, and I don’t like that. Its just on the photo, not on the original picture, and the relationship with the scanner versus the human eye is a bugger for artists I think, or at least for me. Something can work on the page, but not once you’ve scanned it in and its been all flattened. But I’ll get to that later. I wanted to break apart the back ground and the foreground using strong color differences, and I think I achieved it, only one thing left in the real world aspect, and thats

7) Inking ROUND DEUX!

Image

That little bit of black made all the difference for me, sort of cemented the division between the background and the character and stopped Snake from blending in too much. AHAHAHA, Stealth game. I’m very happy with this, so all thats left is Step 8

8) SCAN THAT SHIT IN!

Image

As you can see, the black really hasn’t picked up well around the shoulders. I always imaging Solid Snake as an upright, solid kind of guy, and this hunched silhouette just… it ain’t the Snake I wanted to do. So, using the wonders of modern computerage, I cut the background from the image, and added some light to the darker bits. I just used the pen tool on GIMP, which is free and what I use for everything because, HEY, ITS CROWD SOURCED GOODNESS! When I’d lassoed the areas I wanted, I cut them, pasted them onto another layer and played around with the levels and the contrast and brightness until I had a depth I wanted. The final image is something I am very proud of. So that’s probably a STEP 9: TWIDDLE WITH SHIT, in there somewhere, but its not really worth noting. Here is the final image:

Image

I hope you enjoyed this little talk on how I do things, as well as enjoying the image itself. If you want to talk some more, please comment below, or email me at nshearon@googlemail.com. I am always interested to hear from other Artists as to how they’d have done it, or how they work and all that, so please, come on in and talk with me.

If you hated it, keep your opinions to yourself, or write to your local governmental official, because this is a house of creativity Yo, keep that negative shit outside.

Peace,

Nick Gonzo

Only God Forgives is set in hell. The Thailand in this movie is a thick bristling jungle of neon lights, dark streets; all steeped in an ethereal glow. The characters are their own tormentors, each one twisting apart in agony like worms pinned to cork, drowning in their own guilt. No one is good or bad, such concepts are far too throwaway for this film, instead they simply act out an increasingly doomed series of vignettes, drawn to hell like Moths to candles until they just burn away to nothing. It takes place in a land between time, much like the directors previous film Drive; Drive taking place in a faux 80’s neo-noir paradise, this instead takes place at the heart of a sweaty labyrinth of debauchery, at the alter of a fallen city.

The direction is perfect, exacting, precise; Nicholas Winding Refn creates each still as a photograph, as a painting, with the sort of poetic and romantic vision Peter Greenaway uses, but in a filthy, urban setting. Prostitutes sit in pink lounges made up like Dolls, amidst floral wall paper and arranged lillies, sitting silently whilst a drug dealer is crucified in his own lounge chair, and its beauty makes it all feel terrible. There is not a relenting second, even in moments of silence, which they are many; Refn understands the importance of dialogue and it manipulation, even in moments of inaction, the long breathy moments between scenes that let the images you’ve witnessed sink into your brain, coupled with the flawless score and juxtaposition of all this pound the tension harder, like a tent pen into your mind. It turns the screws and your stomach knots.

Ryan Gosling is a stoic figure throughout the movie. Whilst harsher critics could see his performance as wooden and unresponsive, the rippling rage within his character barely contained under a zen facade is just another part of the boiling pot of tension. He is resolute to his fate, holding steady against tides of poison that simply wash over him, but you can feel the bluffs and buffets underneath.  The moments where you get a glimpse of this anger are the points where it almost becomes too much to bare, and watched through caged fingers you wonder what will happen next. The film is unpredictable and dense, much like the neon city it takes place in. It takes you places, toys with the conventions of revenge and violence. The unnamed police chief, the one people simply know when seeing, is an avenging angel, cutting reminders of guilt with a sword pulled from between the shoulder blades; simultaneously there and not there, is gentle, calm, collected, a lover of art and music and without remorse; justice in the flutter of the watchers heart.

Only God Forgives creates a tension like a varnish. It covers everything in the movie. Every perfectly framed scene is coated in the knowledge it will all go horribly wrong. It wrenches the guts and pulls at your nerves. Its tightly wound and the final delivery just lets it go. It grows in you. Every cell is steeped in anticipation, expectation.

So is my house now.

I burned the carpets and the curtains, got new furniture, it wasn’t enough.

I buried my review copy of the film in my garden, all the flowers grow wrongly now.

Wrongly and dramatically.

IMAG1026

I AM A DRYATHLETE!

Which basically means I am giving up Alcohol for January, and putting all the money I would have spent on booze to good use, and donating it to Cancer Research UK. YOU CAN DONATE HERE.

Everyone who I’ve said this too as of now has sort of snorted and Gone; “Ha, you?” because I am a noted boozer. I love a drink, I get raucous and merry and on innumerate occasions had a few too many. I also like alcohol. I LIKE it, the taste, the feeling of a heady brew, the colour, the smell of a nice ale or wine. I like drinking. So this means that a lot of people do not believe that I can do it, and that said, it makes it all the more an adventure right?

If you owe me a drink, or if you want to support me, or the charity which is, lets be honest, the real reason I’m doing any of this, the donate HERE.

There of course there is the much smaller other camp of people who shrug and say “Well I could do that!” and therefore don’t see this as much of a sacrifice. I’m happy for you that you don’t need drink as a way to loosen up socially and actually embrace yourself for the loving human being that you are, but I’m English and its the only way my people can do it. Imagine a British male dancing without a drink in him. You can’t. Its impossible. Science has proven it to be an unachievable event. There are graphs. This is definitely a sacrifice and I’d like you to support it.

I’m also giving up Energy Drinks, and thus-far have earned a tonnage of cash just by not buying a Red Bull whenever I feel the slightest bit sleepy. I also, feel better and its only been two days. I will be committing money to this as well. Its not entirely reliant on your donations, but they are appreciated. For every drink I don’t… erm… drink I’ll be totting up the amount I WOULD have spent and donating. So there’s that.

I will have to think up some things to do to encourage people to give, but as of now, I am just going to beg you for your support. Thanks For reading.

Nick Gonzo

Professional (non)Drinker

I was hoping to share with you the last thing I drew last year and the first thing I drew this year, but then this happened;

Mo Money, Mo Spiderman snippet

So, below comes the gripping three page comic tale “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Spider-man”. Just to preface this tale, I want to just say a few words. The first is that I’ve started sketch booking more recently, ever since getting a copy of Brandon Graham’s Walrus. One day I will post a blog without fawning over that man, but its so hard, he’s so lovable. Anyway, started hashing out ideas, expanding my ability to draw faces and really work on things that I might not want anyone to ever see.

I think there’s something direly wrong with people who, upon inspection of their sketchbook, only seem to draw perfect pin-ups and wondrous pieces of art. I find the failed bits and simpler drawings equally as fascinating, and if not, more telling of how someone things. This three page comic was just something I drew to amuse me, and for all intents and purposes, bar the occasional flip through that someone does every now and then, no one would ever see it. But I enjoyed it so much, and I genuinely giggled a bit, I thought I’d put it on the BLOG.

I drew this whilst watching Mary Poppins (or to give it its title in its native tongue of whatever the fuck Dick Van Dyke was saying “MAWWREEE PAUUURRRPEEENS”) with a bit of colour added after the effect. Maybe three hours work. Its badly scanned because I didn’t want to cut it out of my sketchbook, and I couldn’t even be bothered to rub out all the pencil lines properly. That’s how much you mean to me. So before some troll tells me I’m shite at art, I know I’m not, so go to hell.

MO’ MONEY, MO’ SPIDERMAN!

CLICK TO READ!