I’ve been reading Scott Snyder and Gregg Capullo’s Batman which is ridiculously good. I loved the Death of the Family story line, bringing the Joker to a level of menace and cruelty I thought he was deserving of is a mean feat in a world where he is a much maligned and overused character. I thought for a few seconds about how in the name of God they’d follow that story line. Zero Year was incredible. An explosive rush of fun, actually making me care about the Batman origin again because we’ve seen it so many times before it is a struggle to give a flip. Gun shots in an alley way. String of broken pearls. Man in an opera mask punching criminals.

We know it.

My favorite part, after it covers the Red Hood and the Birth of Batman, it makes the Riddler cool. I’ve been a big fan of the Riddler, but I am all too aware that on occasion he is presented as a Joker knock off who tries to kill people with Rube Goldberg machines and robs banks leaving calling cards, but they make him calculating, arrogant and a grand foil to a young Batman.


I’ve also started watching Daredevil season 2, which is such a good follow-up to the first series, and the fight scene in the stairwell in the third episode is some Raid style choreography. I love choreography. One of the things most entertaining about drawing Funk Soul Samurai is working out how to do the backflips and the movements between punches and kicks that could lead to the next. If I ever make a movie, aside from having the sort of meticulous direction that would drive Stanley Kubrick insane, I’d have so much fun talking to the Choreographer and getting everything write to mke the craziest fight scene in the History of british Cinema. How do you do Choreography in comics? Heres a few really good examples of how to do fight scenes in comics:


I love this page, specifically this page, which is why I used this below quality scan to prove my point. This is from Karnak issue 2 by Warren Ellis and Gerardo Zaffino and that first panel sums up the rule of don’t show the punch hit, show the aftermath of the punch. Its simple, its brutal, it proves a point that Karnak is about breaking things not bending things.

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Which is the exact opposite of the fluid movement that Shang-Chi is embodied with in this issue of the Secret Avengers, again written by Warren Ellis but this has the unmistakable touch of David Aja. This episode sums up why Shang-Chi is such a cool character, both in his mastery of Martial arts, understanding of life force and chi, and also the fact he is self aware that the Avengers basically use him as a cudgel to break peoples limbs. The creative team understand how the character works and mirror his liquid fighting style in the fluidity of the panels.


Here we have Jamie McKelvie drawing Kieron Gillen’s script for Young Avengers. Noh-Varr here being a slick, style obsessedhero type, it shows the Choregraphy IN his choreography if you will. Shows the planning, the precision, and the thought gone into looking like a bad ass hero type. All these examples don’t just present a fighting style in a set way, it reflects the character in the way they fight and shows that.

Guns are boring. Punching is where its at.


first order 2.pngI’ve been experimenting a bit more in Manga Studio 5. I am going to be honest with you, when I first got it, I got it because it was on sale and cheap as chips. For the first… year I was totally afraid of it. I used it initially as a programme for coloring, all the tones in 50Signal 2 were added in Manga Studio 5 and even though I can see that its totally different to 50Signal 1 I’m not sure that the reader can. Its comfortable, easy to use (Especially with the touch sensitivity on the Surface Pro 2) but I found its brushes to be limited, but when you start getting in to more complicated stuff, it gets fiddly very quickly.

I started my first comic book project entirely in Manda Studio Late last year, the now as of untitled comic book formerly known as Flintlock, which I’ve been doing with up and coming writer Sam Head (Whose Twitter I am linking to here) first two panels here:page

I had fun with that cow. I also had a lot of fun drawing as many different types of English flower as I could into this rural landscape. When I started I just used the ink pen function and didn’t venture much beyong that and using the watercolour pen for the grey tones. The more I drew though, the more I got to grips with the differences between working with the computer and working in physical mediums like inks and fine liners. The biggest difference is that you can make so many more mistakes with the computer and you can get away with it, because you can just keep deleting and chipping away. I do a blue pencil line, then an orange rough over the top, then a purple shading layer somewhere between blue and orange, and then I ink it. I didn’t know this when I started the comic formerly known as Flintlock, so as I am doing the book, I actually become more confident, and the art changes. Flintlock is weird then, looking back on what I’ve done so far because the art grows with the book and actually gets better. Visibly better.

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It will be available some point in the future when I put the whole thing to bed. Probably before the end of this month. Bolstered by my work on this though, I went looking for some cool new brushes which were provided by Zombie Yeti, creator of the Go-To-Inker and the Rough Inker. I started to use these, and after reading P J Holden’s blog on Manga Studio, because that guy is a WIZARD and has started to share his Dark arts with the rest of us Mortals. He’s got great tips on how to improve your panel layouts, how to alter their size which is something pretty basic that I actually didn’t know how to do until he told me, and also how to use tone Layers. Its a wonderful resource and if you’re going to be playing with Manga Studio 5 his input is indispensable. Check it out here. Using these new tools, and my new knowledge I experimented on some punisher art, an the above First Order Stormtrooper.

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This marks the first time I’ve drawn something and immediately after looking at it thought it was acceptable for a mainstream comic series. I want to experiment more with this style, these brushes and THESE BRUSHES.

Something I did learn was how to paint with the Tone layer. I made a small selection area and stuck the tone in. I used the biggest Dot size on the tone because I wanted it to have that old school materiality to it like when you look at Ashley Wood’s art. When I’d done this, if I selected that layer and painted with the brush outside of the selection area it’d paint with the tone dots. Thats how I did all the above tone areas.

I honestly bet if you haven’t thought about using Manga Studio before this wasn’t that much fun for you. Well, heres one of my favourite Miss America Chavez moments for you from Young Avengers:

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