Monday, 23 September 2013

The Day a Comet Came to Tea. (Science Fiction for little ones!)

This image features text designed for a paper book, the iPad app replaced the hand
written text, see iTunes for examples.

This week in 'conjunction' with the approach of comet Ison we'll be launching 'The Day a Comet Came to Tea.' at The Royal Institute in London.

The story is about a rather ravenous comet that, well, comes to tea. Although anyone can enjoy this story the app is designed for ages 5 and under and was written by Guy Lachlan. I illustrated the story with many illustrations in as colourful and fun a way as I could imagine and I'm really delighted it is now available for iPad. A very different style than I've shown before.

The transition from paper to digital media has been managed perfectly and it's all thanks to Guy.

The app has music and some mild animation and is narrated by Graham Roos who does an excellent job that is somewhat reminiscent of the narration of the popular 1970's children's TV show Mr. Benn.

I'm absolutely delighted by how rich my illustrations appear and the way the images and text have been assembled.

The app is available on iTunes here.

Follow us on Facebook here..

Our Twitterfeed is @CometCameToTea

And visit our website here  ...spread the word and we'll make a sequel!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Game Illustration

4 Details of New Game Illustrations

I am illustrating a new game for the iPad and Android (among other devices) and the subject is the British comic character Judge Dredd. It's going to take a while because I have so many pictures to do.

I'm lavishing time on this project for one reason. I've found art to be a key in to everything. My interest in art has educated me and it has brought to me many things I would never have seen had my interest in art not been stirred at some point in the past. 

Although I've been drawing all my life it was reading this comic as a boy that made me take drawing seriously. So it's a special thing for me to be able work on this particular game, these characters and situations and a world I can recall far too well.

I have permission to post these four details, just the corners of 4 of 10 paintings I've now made.
I'll post more images and info on the game later in the year. 

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Partying Like it's 1980 (Drawing a Retro Dredd) (as best I could)


Jurassic Farce Page 1 (click to view in detail)

This is the first page of a 6 page story I illustrated - written by the excellent Lee Robson, and a fan-fiction piece for the British 2000AD-centric comics zine 'Zarjaz'.

The story will be published in the very next issue of Zarjaz due later this month - buy it here.

I decided when I sat down to the script that I would go for a best I could.  So the style of drawing and the 'credit card' and titles are all modelled closely on the 2000AD of 1980...again, as best I could.

With special thanks to Cy Dethan for that sound effect!

And yes, it's packed with detail. And yes, that's very unprofessional...but I was not watching the clock on this artwork (as most professionals would) and it wasn't 'work' - it was play...and much of that detail will be lost on the page, true, true.

BUT, today, comics are mass-migrating to digital media (like the iPad) and you can zoom in to images on an perhaps I'm ahead of the curve on the detail thing.

So although this was drawn to look old-school (as best I could, obviously) you'll get more out of it on digital media.

The one regret I have is that I didn't include any real link to Pat Mills, original editor of 2000AD and (as far as I can tell) the writer that conceived of Dinosaur Safari parks  YEARS before Michael Crichton wrote 'Jurassic Park'.


I did put a reference in to Pat, but at the last minute I pulled it out as I felt by using it I was, er, 'Jumping the Megalodon'.

Tomorrow (or Saturday) I'll post details from the first 4 paintings I've created for the new Dredd Gamebook from Tin Man Games. A 2013 version of Dredd this time.

Dredd...after a bit of a bad hair day.

Buy the first Dredd Gamebook 'Countdown Sector 106' by Nick Robinson here...

Buy BABBLE by Lee Robson and Bryan Coyle here... an original graphic novel.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Trying to make it through winter...

Again, it's been ages since I posted anything here.  I'm working on a new post now and will hopefully put that up in the next day or so.

I'm trying to redesign my Opipop site, It's been a blank for a long time, the original files getting increasingly outdated as time marched on.

I'm working on my Graphic Novel and we may begin a Kickstarter campaign soon.

My children's book may, finally, see the light of day.

All this and more (with lots of pretty pictures) will be in my next post....but I'm too sick with a cold or hay fever or both to do anything about this today.

Sniff sniff.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Still Painting with Wine...

Still Painting with Wine...
The texture applied to this picture, most obvious in the lenses, can be seen in the detail below. 

Wine Painting
I started this blog to host the sketches and paintings I made with wine. I'm still doing it. For example the texture in the eye-glasses in my previous post was made with red wine.

This detail of a portrait of a my grandfather shows the source texture for the graphic novel image above.

Why Call it Wine Ink Blog?
Because 6 or 7 years back I started to use wine as a drawing and painting medium, I had the idea as I stained a paper pad while drinking at, what was then, my local vinarna. The picture below( titled 'Oenophile' ) was my first sketch with wine.

I took 'wine ink' because I discovered wine was such a good stain-maker that the Vatican made ink from it back in the day (for signing important documents it seems).

What Goes Around Comes Around
About a month or so ago someone pointed to an article in The Daily Mail about a revolutionary artist who paints with wine! Eureka!

Funny, I thought I was the first to do that several years back. But I may have been wrong too, an artist in California may have been at it for a few months when I got started. I discovered this after I had the blog up and running and googled the process. Beat to it by a nose.

Today painting with wine is very common it seems, so I have no idea why The Daily Mail would...oh...slow news day. Right.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Next Big Thing Blog Series

Last week I was invited to take part in the 'The Next Big Thing' blog series by my friend Victoria Dougherty. Victoria is a writer and the one face that always springs to mind when I hear the word 'Chocolatier'. I'm not even sure why that happens, but Victoria must have said something about being a Chocolatier, and probably in a smoke filled Czech pub, long ago, and it stuck.

Jump over to Victoria's pages and read about her book here: Victoria Dougherty

Now...time to answer the NBT questions about my graphic novel.

The Next Big Thing 


What is your working title of your book?
Hmm. Well, as we are not ready to reveal the details of the book I'm going to have to hold off answering this one, the subject of our book is all in the title. But it's a damned fine title...and a great story that we have to keep under wraps just a wee bit longer. 
Where did the idea come from for the book?
"The idea came from hearing a radio interview with Jerry Garcia where... "

See that quote above? Ok, those are the words of Brandon Beckner who gave a great answer to that question. Brandon and Scott Sampila wrote the story together and first told me about it ten years ago. As I read the story the characters came to life in my mind and I saw it had the potential to be a terrific graphic novel. I suggested it to the guys and started blocking the story. I created a 262 page 'sketchbook' version, in essence a storyboard of every page and I coloured and lettered it. 

I could see it read well and Brandon and Scott were delighted. I then started illustrating the finished art pages at the beginning of summer 2012.

Thumbnail pages from my completed 'sketchbook' version of our story. In doing this I can now see the entire book at a glance. I can draw any page or panel because I know what where very thing is going.

What genre does your book fall under?
I am developing the story as a graphic novel. It's a somewhat fictionalised history of actual events. I keep thinking it ironic that the outrageous, crazy, unrealistic stuff in this GN did actually happen and it's mostly the down-to-earth stuff that is fictionalised. You'll see.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
As I was drawing I did notice one character looked a bit like the actor Andrew Garfield. That was purely coincidental.
Only once did an actor come to mind before I started drawing the characters, that was Peggy Lipton who I thought of as an inspiration for the character of 'Bree'.

See what I mean?...Maybe I'm imagining it.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
"-------- is a zany ------------- ride through the ------ of ----------- told through the eyes of a young, hungry ---------- whose life is turned upside down when -------------------------------- most ------------------secret -----------------."

Again, Brandon gave a terrific answer to this question. But, alas, we just can't give anything away yet. Come back to these pages, bookmark this blog, I'll reveal all at some point soon...I promise you won't be disappointed!
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I have no doubt our book will find a publisher. A bold claim, I know.

My only concern is my pages, speeding up the process without losing quality, that's all I think about. Even now, typing this, I know I should be drawing. I draw everyday and for the most part all day long.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
"First draft of the manuscript took about 4 months - not including several months of research." - Brandon.

....and for me to storyboard our book took 2 months in winter of 2011.

2 panels from my thumbnail book.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I can't think of any graphic novel like ours. It's not a superhero story (I don't really like those at all).
If our book could sit near a shelf with 'A Contract with God' or 'Persepolis' or other great graphic novels that document actual events to some degree...I'd be happy. 
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Jim Baikie inspired me to do what I Jim is responsible ultimately!
Here's a short film about comics featuring Jim and a few other now famous names.

 Jim is an Orcadian artist and he and his wife Wendy were very kind to me as a student. I flew to Orkney and worked in his studio for two weeks in which I got my first comic art experience on the very first issue of the Marvel comic book series 'Nightbreed' adapted from the Clive Barker  film. I did very little but it was cool to work on a real comic.
You can find more about Jim here.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
How about this?

Now it's time to pass the baton.
I'm told I can nominate 5 writers who I like. I'm an artist who occasionally you'll get 2 writers and one film-maker (although that last fella's something of a polymath, so he's a writer too, but it just so happens he's currently blogging about his new film).

Writer 1.
My good mate Brendan McNally author of GERMANIA and Friend of the Devil.
Enter his high-octane cerebellum of Brendan McNally.

Writer 2.
Lee Robson with whom I first partnered with last year to create a 6 page SCI-FI story... getting there Lee...getting there.

Lee is the author of the graphic novel BABBLE and you can read more about that book here. ...and more importantly BUY IT here.

My old Prague pal, Tony Mullen (now resident in Tokyo...I think) has written several books on computer animation technique and is currently making Electric Town, a film that combines live action and animation. Read about Electric Town here.

Thanks for reading...I hope you'll remember and come back to see our progress at some point and even consider supporting one, or all, of the projects linked here.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Time Spent Since my Last Post....

Since my last post I've been drawing up the first pages of 'our graphic novel', post-prologue that is, 17 or so pages completed at the end of summer.

'Our graphic novel' ...I keep calling it that because I, we, are waiting until I reach a certain number of completed pages before announcing the project and publishing a synopsis of the story.  It's the best way because drawing and painting and lettering the pages is a very slow process and it's just wiser to be as far down the art-road as possible before talking about the story.

The Process.
I traded up from Manga Studio Debut to MS4 Pro. I'm happy I did so and have found new time saving tools in the process. I particularly like the way it allows you to draw panel borders. That alone makes it worth it. I admire comic artists I read of who still use pen and ink or amalgamate digital only to output better pencils for traditional inking. Hats off to you people, one day I'll draw comics the pen and paper way again...but not for a long time. Working on my tablet allows me so much freedom of time and space. Time and Space?...yes...TIME = I can start & stop drawing as and when, no drying time issues, no materials (running out of Bristol Board!) issues (Dead Brush AAAAAGH!). SPACE = No storage issues. No damaged art piles of paper from old issues.

I'm tempted to add 'no dead trees' but I'm unsure exactly how the electricity that powers my iMac is generated. Probably coal. dead trees but plenty sick fish.

Grew Big Beardy.
A big bushy about a month, just grimacing can force the hair out at 'Thriller' speeds, see. I wasn't asked to this time but I thought it would suit the scene we are filming. I was cast in a new film by Kazuaka Kiriya starring Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman. Can't say more than that but you can read about the film here.

Dresdener Automaton.
I'd post some new artwork examples, but I'm in a hurry. I've been doing so much lately and had no time to break. I've been drawing for ludicrous hours day and night and... so...took a weekend break to Dresden. I love it there. Sunday morning we realised we'd forgotten something at the hotel, so I shot back. I like walking, I find it creative. While en route I saw an android outside the Frauenkirche. Well I saw a man dressed as a crash-test dummy wandering the square. People were laughing, I'm sure he was too, perhaps at us. I always think of Kurt Vonnegut when I walk there and the insanity and balls it would take to write a book like SlaughterHouse 5. That has to be the strangest WW2 novel. Well, the strangest of the best.

And wandering among so much evidence of war damage, thinking about that, and the newly restored Frauenkirche and it's guardian android...well  it made me wonder if I'd come unstuck in time just like Billy Pilgrim.

Sunday, 21 October 2012


Our prologue is complete. Better still I uploaded and sent the first pages of our graphic novel to Brandon and Scott, the writers, and the guys are delighted.

It took most of the summer...perhaps longer...I forget when I started, but we have begun the story. Now I am trying to get down to a page-a-day rate of production. This is tricky because I don't want the quality to slip, so if I see that happen I will slow up and re-draw.

Having said that sometimes the quickly drawn picture works better than the slower and more methodical one. I tend to think this happens clearest in action sequences, but it's not a hard and fast rule, there are plenty of exceptions out there.

Today I am laying out the next 6 pages and will draw the panels I feel most excited about across all 6. I am lettering and colouring the it's all me and will take up most of my time over the next two years.

My main hope with this project is that I will uncover a methodology that is succinct and magnetic, a graphic language all my own, something I think you can only do by constant work.

But anyway, the good news is that the big book is on and a knock-out, so far, by all accounts.

Full project details will be online when we have an official launch of the book....maybe by the time I hit 100 pages. 

BTW - Any comic-book stores, owners or collectors who would like to be first to hear about collectibles from this series, please drop me a line here -

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Backing Up

I was going to add a picture here, a panel...but I changed my mind.

As those who've been reading this blog will know (and anyone who follows my work via Twitter) I've been working on an ambitious project...nothing knew there. This one however is a graphic novel. There are no super-heroes in this story...none that are 'real' anyway. No, this, our story, is set firmly in the reality of the cold war.

I can't yet go in to details...but that will come soon, until then it's our secret to keep.

My partners on this project wrote the story and first told me about it a decade ago. So it goes. About two years ago they sent me the script and I was blown away. It was crying out to be a picture book, a comic book...a graphic novel.

Well, our book is coming along but it is still early days. Tonight I heard a fine whirring sound coming from my iMac and I remembered I should back up. I've been doing that, of course, but it doesn't hurt to find a 2nd secure location (or a third) to burn important files and there's nothing like an unusual machine sound to sharpen the mind on that matter.

I upgraded from Manga Studio Debut 4 to EX 4 this week. I'm very pleased with the software and Debut is a very good deal for comic artists who are just getting started. The only downer for me is the long time it takes to open. I keep MS running in the background at all times because at its quickest it takes 20 minutes to open on my iMac. It also crashes too, three times this week. But that doesn't bother me too much, I save very often, I've lost very little....and sometimes it can be an improvement to go over a thing twice.

A word to the wise...IF you happen to want to upgrade to EX 4 - the cheapest way to do it is by buying Debut and upgrading from that app to full EX 4. I saved a hundred dollars by this route...and had several months of test-drive as Debut has many of the same bells and whistles. Why did I upgrade? It wasn't for perspective rulers, I don't mind working by eye or setting up actual rulers for 3. etc. No, I bought MS EX4 for the vector pen...and I've already ditched it for the regular raster pens.

But...I've fallen for those perspective rulers after all...they're great.

Ok...just a shorty post tonight. But I hope whatever you are working on is coming along, whoever or wherever you are. Just remember...

Stay on target.

Night Night!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Okay, it's been forever. Once again I have to begin a post by pointing out that I'm not a frequent blogger. I should be, I could be sharing a lot more. But, well, sorry about that. Damn I wish I had a personal blogger!

In fact I only signed in today to add Pat Mills to my blog roll. You see I went to Pat's page the other day and found he had linked my illustration of Georg Ratzinger. I was, to say the least, blown away that Pat liked this picture enough to link it. More about the picture in a minute.

You see Pat Mills was one of a small group of people who changed how this little kid saw the world.
So imagine that, as a kid you are significantly influenced by someone and as a man you find that same person responds to something you have done....there's a time-warp in there somewhere.

'Ratz in the Chapel' or 'Ratz in the Belfry'
Now...the day has begun and I have pages to draw in my book, a set page rate for my graphic novel and I better get my head down. So I'll explain more about Pat's work later.

Oh and that Ratzinger picture. I occasionally create political style cartoons and illustrations, but I post them (even less frequently) to 'The Woeful Office'. The picture of George Ratzinger takes an anamorphic look at the kind of person who could be in a position to help abused children but, instead, opt to protect the abusers. This happened while George Ratzinger was a cardinal, it was in his power to help and he helped the wrong people and his signature is proof. That is unforgivable and that is why I drew the picture. You can read the New York Times article that brought to light this crime here.

If only you-know-who were here to see the crimes committed in his name, I mean Jesus Christ!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

'Gi'e Me A Spark O' Nature's Fire' - Scotland House Exhibition

'Tick'  - Click to view the larger image and read the story.
Some months ago I was invited to take part in an exhibition of Scottish comic book art in Scotland House in Brussels, organised by professor Christopher Murray of Dundee University. Artists were invited to create something new on one of several themes. I chose an ecological oceanic theme and the title of the work is 'Tick'.

Long ago, in 1990, I had an idea pop into my head, it was about the sea and the formation of an organic clock, it seemed so fully formed that I wondered if I'd been told it by someone. In the interests of being fare to anyone who may have come up with this story and passed it to me while drunk in the pub ( a possibility back then, not today as I no longer drink alcohol*) I chose to tell the story in this artwork as though it were being told to me...confused yet?...prepare to be further baffled.

I then discarded punctuation altogether because when you're in the pub, you never see or hear any punctuation. Try and find it sometime, I never can.

I then removed all the spaces between words, yes, that's right - there are no spaces to be found between words spoken in the pub, ever! To differentiate between the words I used colour, why?...Because the pub is the best place to hear colourful language...etc etc.

It was supposed to be comic panels, drawings...but you don't hear drawings, you hear the pub. Right, you're getting the hang of it!...Anyway...

If you can follow the story, let me know, it should be relatively easy. It reads in blocks from left to right.

This picture is an A1 print and quite a thing of beauty. Dundee Contemporary Arts did a wonderful job... (DCA - printed in Dundee, Scotland)...and I believe this print will soon be available in some galleries at 100 pounds per print. When I get details, I'll post them here.

MSP, Ian Hudghton and Shona Robison, the host of the exhibition, my picture is to the right of Mr Hudghton. The show was also posted on the site...

A few more links to other artists involved in this show.
Metaphrog Blog

Vicky Stonebridge

Cam Kennedy

* That thing about alcohol was a bare-faced lie.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Clearing the Way to Begin Illustrating a 262 page Graphic Novel.

Thumbnail sketches for pages 99 and 100. A complete book of 262 pages exists now in thumbnail form.

Today is a beautiful day. I'm sure most people imagine this region as a dark and cold one, but we get a lot of beautiful weather in Prague. On both my recent visits to Los Angeles I was surprised by how cool (even cold) it could get. That must be down to global warming. While in LA I had a meeting with Brandon and we discussed the book. I also wandered the streets and alleyways of San Francisco and collected as much reference material as possible.

I'm not out in the sun - I'm in the studio and cleaning up. I just finished something that I can't post anything about yet (but will later) and want the studio tidy for Monday. On Monday I'm beginning my graphic novel. Hmm...that's quite a thing to say, really, considering we have no publisher or backers of any kind. Heh. 

This shows 2 panels of blocking, or thumbnails. Just the plan and a long way from finished art!

It's also a bit of a dirty word these days, but I use it in the sense it was intended, I think, when Will Eisner coined it for 'A Contract With God' or 'New York, The Big City'*...and not as a collected series of comics that have previously been published. This will be a book with a beginning, a middle and an end - we have no intention of serialising it. The story is set in San Francisco and was written about 12 years ago by Brandon Beckner and Scott Sampila. Here is some info on Scott and Brandon's film 'Remarkable Power'.

Below, and above, you'll see some sketches (of 2000 or so) that I made a few months back. These are not finished art, just 'thumbnails', and text is included so that I know how I will place it.

'Thumbnails' are sketches artists make before making a finished picture, in the case of comic-books they allow the artist to quickly understand the simplest and most efficient way to tell a story.

That's all I can say today, but once we have a designated website and some art to show, I'll post links here and explain our story in more detail. I'll be doing no other artwork from now on and putting 100% of my time into these pages (Monday to Friday...who knows, I may draw something else on weekends). 

It may take 2 years and we have no publisher yet**. So I will be offering all sorts of collectors items such as original sketches, sketchbooks and perhaps prints to keep me in ink...and wine. 

If you collect comic-book art and would like a heads up for available originals, drop me a line here - opipop ( at )

And if you like a good mystery with powerful art, well believe me, we do too and we're working on it!
Follow @opipop on Twitter to see the work emerge daily.

* Which sits above my desk like some holy icon.
** If I can do even half as well as I hope, this will be a wonderful thing, a beautiful series of pages. So I have no concerns about a publisher, this book will finds its audience - one way or another.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Mysteries of Cycling After Dark and Film Props.

Oil on Canvas

Some things just take time...more than I'm willing to admit to myself. Or perhaps I just fail to see how difficult things will be. I dislike missing these beautiful days and I've spent too many lately at my desk or easel working day and night. But I've made some breakthroughs lately too and so I took the day off on Sunday and rode to Melnik with my friend David.

Mělník  (...I took this shot in winter, it's much prettier today in full bloom)

It's a fairly long ride, mostly trails and forest (we must have done about 120km by the end of day). There is a fare amount of carrying the bike too. As my other friend Grant says in frustration 'We're not biking - we are b-hiking'. I mention this only because I've been climbing the walls in the studio and could not wait to hit the road. After a great day cycling David and I got completely lost, we even lost each other.

David Fixing a Chain

I found myself riding in the pitch through forests and at one point skirting an abandoned highway. Czech roads are poorly lit in the country, they have no 'cats-eyes' as in the UK. I always marvel that no matter where you seem to go in Scotland there are cats eyes in the road helping you through the night. Not here.

So, oddly enough, I found myself in the middle of the darkness just wishing I could be home, at my desk and drawing a picture. I did the following picture a long time ago but it sums things up.

Mysteries of Cycling After Dark.

I rode for hours toward the ghostly red glow of the factories at Kralupy. working all day with my eyes, wanting out in the sun. Here I was in pure darkness, unable to see a thing, just wanting home. How's that for poetic irony?

Film Props

Last year I took part in a short film, I played one of the two leads. It was fun and interesting to take part, not least because I've never done anything comedic (in film anyway) before. It was a student picture and upon learning I was a painter, two of the students asked if I could make some props for a film they were making.

They had specific designs in mind because the paintings had to reflect the psychological state of the protagonist. As they were merely film props I didn't have to worry about the finish of the pictures, in fact, a rough tooth can be much more appealing in a painting that appears in film. A good example of  this is the final frame of the first Indiana Jones film.

That great hall of crates the ark is stored in was a matte painting. The story goes that the actual painting was quite rough but the artist had realised that smoother effects would appear off when filmed, perhaps because they were too fine for the grain of the film used. At least that's what I heard, it made sense at the time...

I've often wondered about taking my iPhone sketches to canvas, how would they transfer if re-painted on a big scale?...well here was an opportunity. The image below is an iPhone sketch I made called 'Green Hound'. The one beneath that was my iPhone rough sketch for the surreal bridge the students needed painted.

Green Hound (iPhone sketch)

Bridge (film Prop iPhone sketch)

It was remarkably satisfying to be able to produce a quick sketch on my iPhone, then go on and paint the same image on a large canvas only minutes later after an email or two.

Finished Film prop - Acrylic on Canvas
Having worked it out on the iPhone screen I painted the prop image above in one hour, I know, I timed it. A very different picture from the one at the top of this post, not least because that took 4 years, all told.

I've been working most weekends recently to move my little projects along and finally a few projects are now done that seemed to take for ever. This includes the painting (at the top of this post). In my next post I'll discuss this painting in the traditional media of oil paint and another painting that was entirely digital.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Comics: PROJECTIONS by Paul Penna with art by S K Moore (free PDF download, for iPad etc)

PROJECTIONS by Paul Penna with art by S K Moore (free PDF download, for iPad etc)

I've always loved art but it was comics that got me drawing. The following post is about a short comic story I drew last year.You can read this short by downloading the PDF here and opening it in your e-reader of choice, I use Comic Zeal but any e-reader will do. For desktop reading view the artwork full screen on your desktop via this Issuu link.

I tried Graphicly and wasn't content with the final outcome. Perhaps I did something wrong, but the options above are the best I can do for now.

1. COMICS: Early last year I realised I wanted to attempt some comic art again. I use the word 'attempt' because it's like the difference between saying you are going to jump the grand canyon and actually jumping the grand canyon. Although as a child I'd been exposed to classical art, it was British and French comics that inspired me to draw. I probably did this because it seemed accessible and looked easy.

From a technical standpoint one of the truly wonderful things about great comic-art is how easy it looks and flows. Yet I can't think of a more difficult task for an artist. The comic artist has to have an entire world in her head ready to spill out over the page and depict any and all possible situations. These sequences have to make 'logical' sense of often highly illogical situations. The artist has to be on top of material and stylistic continuity, colour, forms of all kinds have to be stored in that artists mind...and it has to be interesting work. The artist has to be a designer and a director. It's actually sickening how little respect comic artists received until recently. 

That seems to have changed today, COMIC-CONS have been a big help to artists and writers I think. They helped make rock-stars of some by putting them in touch with fans. Now everyone seems to talk about these events. They're cool now. Believe me, where I grew up, comics were anything but 'cool' except to people like me and I knew two people in my school who were anything like me. 

So, anyway, I drew an episode of JUDGE DREDD from an existing script last year. I did this because it was really the 'gateway' comic that grabbed as a kid, it caught my imagination. It introduced me to a vicious and viscously funny view of the future, not something I'd seen before. The comics of Crumb and MOEBIUS*and Tanino Liberatore and everything else besides came through this door on a rainy morning when I was 13, sick with flu, and my mum brought me something to read. That door was issue 284 of 2000AD in 1982* and the story 'Destiny's Angels'. At this point I became obsessed with drawing.

Cover by Carlos Ezquerra

I read the issue, it made no damn sense. I read it again, it still made no sense and I couldn't get enough of it. It wasn't cute and it wasn't 'good', it was brilliant and cleverly funny and uncompromising. Take, for example, the cyborg on the cover of issue 284, he has a dial on his head and the numbers represent levels of rage. Anger is a loss of control, but not for this guy, this guy is in control of how out-of-control he gets, he decides how angry he needs to be.

So, going back to my point. I drew the story to test myself in my spare time. I was busy with an oil painting, but when I had time I illustrated this script. I later made some changes that I think improved things a bit. But over-all I failed. Just a warm up maybe. You can see version one below.

In doing this test strip I became aware of a UK comic called FUTUREQUAKE and got in touch with them. I'd communicated with Paul Penna on a forum around about this time and found he'd submitted a story to them and they needed an artist. It's quite a spooky tale and I really liked the script. You can read the whole three page at the top of the page or buy issue 20 here.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

I have to face it, I'm not much of a blogger. I'm busy and quite easily distracted...or maybe I'm just a lousy corespondent, I don't know. 

Over the last year I've been busy with a few things that I've not found the time to post here and so I'll begin posting more frequently over the next month to catch up with myself and this blog. The posts to come will be on the following themes, things I've been involved with.


Right now I'm loading a short comic story to iTunes and Issuu and Graphicly so that you can download the story for free and read it on iPads, laptops, phones*...whatever. I like publishing comics digitally, I love to zoom the images. I'll post a link tomorrow (or Monday most likely...) or as soon as iTunes  gives me a yay or a nay. The story is only 3 pages long and written by Paul Penna and illustrated by yours truly. It was published a few months back in issue 20 of the British comicbook 'Futurequake' so if you really prefer paper, buy a copy here**. Zooming isn't quite the same with paper comics but at least you can lick the pages***.

See you tomorrow...or Monday and the subject is COMICS.

* Yes, showing my bias - I do think Apple make the best products. Just my opinion.
** Please don't buy a copy with me in mind, makes no difference to my bank balance, thanks.
*** I like these little stars, why haven't I used them before?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

"Infinity is Very Long, Especially Toward The End"

The title of this short post is a Woody Allen one-liner that just seems appropriate somehow. I recently completed a portrait that I have been working on for three or four years. It too seemed to take longer the closer I got to the finish line.

Oil Portrait in Progress (Winter 2011...Brrrr)
Not that I was grafting all that time, I was initially blocked and just couldn't push it forward, then I realised I didn't like what I was doing, I tried new directions, then it seemed impossible to make the new improved approach work. I think I've created the impression over the years that I like to work on several things at once, it's not really true. It's just that when I'm blocked and cannot move forward I move sideways. But even when I cannot paint or draw what I want, I'm always drawing, always making something. Most of it goes unseen.

I finished the portrait about four weeks ago but could not say anything until I was sure. Since then I've been travelling in the United States.

In a few days I hope to have time to explain, in a longer post, something of this new painting that has been on my easel far, far too long.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

It's been a while...

I've said this to friends who 'blog' and in previous posts here, I don't believe in feeling pressure to blog every other day or even every other week. I blog when I have something to share and I hope that anyone interested in my work will bookmark WINE INK or otherwise set things up so that they are alerted to my infrequent posts.

But still...somehow I still feel I've neglected this blog this last few months. Most of my thoughts and interests are shared on Twitter these days, every day in fact. So if you are interested in where I'm finding inspiration follow me on Twitter here: @Opipop. 

I have a lot to share, so over the next week or two there will likely be a flurry of new posts as I come up for air between projects.

Incidentally, some very sad news for creative artists everywhere. Jean Giraud, one of the greatest imaginative artists ever to walk this earth, passed away this week at 73 after a long illness. You may not have heard of him but you have seen his hand many times whether you know it or not. 

He worked under the pen names of 'Gir' and 'Moebius'. As with many innovators, his work is so influential that his ideas have been adopted by many and for a long time. So much so that it will be hard for anyone finding him now to truly understand just how innovative he was. 

It's nearly impossible to imagine how singular an artistic presence his was now that so much has been inspired by him. To me Moebius is like a colour and I see it everywhere. Great artists are like that, they influence everything to such an extent that we stop seeing them and take that contribution for granted. A quiet, diligent, humble genius, an artistic shaman, someone I respected in art.

Rest in peace master Moebius.

This short film covers his life well. I'll post again on Jean Giraud later in the year.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Humble Rohlik (A Standard Czech Roll)

A Slightly out-of-focus Rohlik.

I painted a roll today, no ordinary roll - a Rohlik!
I just thought I'd share that with you...there will be some glazing to do to this wee roll before it's ready...and better photography!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Drawing inspiration...

Wine on Paper

Seeing as I so rarely post wine sketches now it just occurred to me that some people may wonder if I still 'draw inspiration from wine' as stated above. Answer: Yes, every other night!

I'll be posting on new artwork later this week. Meantime, the image above is a wine sketch...a warm-up of sorts...not sure where it came from...other than a glass of red wine, both in the medium and inspiration.

...oh and a link to the soon to be published story - 'Projections'...that my previous post showed a detail from. More pictures and ramblings on art, acting and drinking ...very soon, promise.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

New Work

I was hoping to post on a new Scottish comic art exhibition taking place in Scotland House in Brussels right now. I was invited to take part and submitted a poster design, more on that later. I still have no info so I'll hold off saying anymore on that right now.

Early pastel sketch of two boys on cardboard.
This week I may finally complete a painting I've been working on for quite some time. Here's hoping. Most of the hold up now has nothing to do with painting and almost everything to do with staring. That is, me staring at it and wondering if it's done. There are some technical things to do, some actual painting. More on that as it is completed. You can see the painting that came of the sketch above at my previous post here.

I'm also returning to a 3 page comic strip I am illustrating that was written by Paul Penna. This work has to be done by January for publication. I also produced a cover design a few weeks ago, that too is due for publication in early 2012. I cannot post the work until it is on the shelves of comic book stores, so those images will also be for future posts. But the black and white 'Try Me' image above is one panel from Paul's story 'Projections'.

I'll post more very soon ...and thanks for reading!
If you have any questions, send me a message.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Something, Something, Liberty, Something (Pepper Spray Cop)

Something, Something, Liberty, Something

One of four versions I made of the 'Pepper Spray Cop'. Although I'm busy with a portrait (24/7) I took a little while off last night to make a few of these photoshop montages. It hadn't dawned on me that it was a meme, I'd seen one picture online that showed this twit in action in a different context, but by the time I'd finished the first picture (Counter Culture) several people had posted their versions online. It had dawned on me as I was working, but it was only after I saw the range of images in the 'meme' that I went and began the other three images. I could go on, I have another in mind, but I think I've contributed enough to this idea. You can see the other montages I have made at my 'once in a while, every so often' political cartoon blog here. 

When I saw the versions all collected online I was surprised to see that some ideas I'd considered had been done already, such as an image of 'Lassie' and one or two others I thought were too obscure to be considered by anyone else. Indeed more than one Michelangelo has been press-ganged for this cause, but I would think 'God and Adam' an obvious target for fun.

It was an abusive, stupid, heavy-handed, thing to do to the U.C. Davis students and deserves all the ridicule it gets. It's great to see so many people reacting with humour and technology to make a point. Many of the contributions remind me of the brilliant animation art of Terry Gilliam created for Monty Python.

In my version above Pepper Spray Cop has abseiled down the face of Libertas herself to spray straight into her eyes...she remains unmoved (of course) by what is, after all, just a silly, fat, little man.

Anyway...back to painting now.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Wine Sketches to Come...

 I often find it easier to get started on a big picture if I work on a little picture or doodling first. I'm also feeling a bit bad about not posting more sketches made with wine.

That's why I started this blog, so, I think I'll make a point of working with a bit of wine each morn and load them here in the next few days.

This skull is from a while back, one of the victims of the 'Bone Church' series and painted in red wine.

Then again...maybe I'm just thirsty.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

It Was 100 Years Ago Today...or Epic Fail.

The River Vltava with National Theatre and Charles Bridge.

This massive impressionist picture of Prague was painted over 100 years ago ...or at least it feels that way. The truth is it is only two inches across and just a detail within the picture I painted below.

Prague: Ballarina. Oil paint on canvas.

I's cracked, and I don't mean it has cracks - I mean its a mad painting really, I see that...but so what? I painted it and it's unfinished and it's quite mad in its own little way.

Czech Parliament with glazing.

I can't quite believe I worked on this on-and-off over 8 years but it must be about that now. I finished it (I thought) in about a month or so. The face was very life-like at the time and in terms of likeness I thought I'd done ok, better than usual. I'm never happy with my paintings, not really. I had painted her against a dark backdrop, a curtain and the more I looked at the darkness around her the more I felt like I should have painted her in a well lit room.

I had painted this picture as a gift to close friends, it is based on their granddaughter. Knowing how much our friends love Prague I suddenly had the epic compulsion to paint the whole of Prague in daylight as a background to this little girl. It wasn't easy to paint the city in the background now that the foreground was complete. But I felt up for the challenge. Normally you'd begin with background and work forward.

Oil painting detail.

It took a long time and in the process I damaged her face. It wasn't a fumble or anything like that, I tried to adjust something about the light on her face and I blew it. So I repainted her face again from scratch and it was I repainted it again. I then re-painted it again. I think I then re-painted it again. Then...I re-painted it again and then again. In fact I lost count. But the days in which I could sit down and work on a painting for 12 hours straight and repeat that the next day have long gone. I think this painting was started about the time that approached stopped.

Pastel on paper on wine coloured ground.

Pastel on paper.

Colour print from pencil doodle.

I had made other sketches of the girl in pastel meantime. But they were sketches and I wanted this painting to work and it didn't.

As things worsened for me with the child I found certain things happening in the background that I liked. A depth of colour emerged and the sky had a curve-linear appearance that I liked. By this I mean I felt it folded out (or unfolded out) in the way that real distance in space does.
Cloudscape and the roof of the national theatre of Prague.

I built this picture up in successive glazes. I also scraped back much that I'd painted. In the spire of the Czech parliament I tried in some ways to replicate a look you might see when you look through imperfect glass. You see it in some glass in Prague, you don't see this warping and shifting in modern glass, only through old windows. I also wanted it to look like it had rained and the sun had broke out over wet rooftops.

The couple didn't see anything wrong with it. All they saw was a little girl they love very much. So it goes.

The incomplete areas of this picture are the hair, face and neck...and everything else besides.