let's see if this catches on

"Have you guys played Fez yet? It’s incredible. One guy- our pal Phil- had the ambition and balls to sit down and said ‘sure, I’m going to make a game that’s as good as the classic Zeldas or Marios, what’s stopping me’ - and then just went and did it. I couldn’t be more impressed!

Phil sure seems to rankle people on the internet, though, as you can see above. Complete the picture and add it to the comments of this post!"

You can also respond at my tumblr or twitter!/harveyjamestm


James-teacher trailer

Holy~~! Look at this trailer that Blank Slate made for my book!

I have some announcements to make soon regarding Zygote, folks, but I promise not to leave you in the dark for too long. Meantime I've been uploading a lot of images new and old to my Tumblr, so you should keep an eye on that-

I talked a little about this, Zygote and Walk Don't Run on the Blank Slate podcast, I hope you will listen to that when it comes out :-3

My Nelson pages!

I went down to London for the launch of NELSON, last friday. I might post pictures of the event soon. Thanks to everyone who came out! I was blown away to have met cool, not-insane people who not only know who I am but are really looking forward to Zygote. This chick I'm seeing says: 'get used to it, you are going to be famous'

I thought I'd show you some of the art from my section of the book. I was far outside of my comfort zone with this, and I feel like I've learned a lot about making comics in the 6 months since then- but all the same, I'm pleased with how parts of it came out.

Here's the first page. My chapter is set in 1989, and I wanted to show that this was a time when people held onto their old things more than they do now- the ancient transistor radio, the Gnasher badge. I remember my sister's 20-something friends still had all their old Beano annuals.

Nel also has a badge that says 'A Good Mate Of Ted' - this is a badge that Ted Chippington, a local comedian my eldest sister dated, would give out. Ted is sort of a cult figure. You can see a short BBC documentary on him here.

I wanted my chapter to be a breather from the previous few, so I took Nel out into the countryside and had her meet a whole bunch of new people. I tried to give every new character I added to the book a backstory. Force, Kerry and Robbie all have a history and a reason to be hanging out. I imagined them to be friends who grew up next to each other, and that Robbie, the youngest, never quite caught up to everyone else mentally or emotionally. They take him along on their adventures right now, but there's the sense that they'll inevitably drift apart.

I have no idea how much of that bled onto the page. I'm gonna suspect that like the farmer's white power t-shirt and missing finger, which I think are covered by a speech balloon on the final page, these will be nuances that got lost in the mix.

I truly wonder how much of what I tried in this thing I managed to pull off. The character dynamics were so clear to me- Kerry's motherly instinct to Nel and Robbie, her platonic relationship to Force, Force's tentative sexual attraction to Nel, Robbie's asexual relationship to everyone- but I guess I just wasn't confident enough of my abilities as a writer for it to truly shine through. I think that day by day, I'm getting better at this stuff.

Finally, here's the cover of the 'zine that Nel hands to The Force at the campfire on the last page. It's based on the 'zine I made when I was 19, the age Nel is in the strip. I didn't want to fall into the trap of turning Nel into an autobiographical stand-in, but since a lot had been made about her liking and making comics in the previous chapters I decided it'd be silly not to run with that.

Yeah, the book is making a lot of waves! I can't deny it feels good to be a part of the thing everyone seems to be talking about right now. We were graphic novel of the month in The Observer, and a few other places. I'm hoping it'll help put Blank Slate on the map, and I'm very proud that the logo I designed is on the spine. If you want to buy it, go here. All proceeds go to Shelter.

Zygote's coming on good, by the way. As far as I know, Walk Don't Run is good to go for January. I'm gonna be starting a web-only series on here shortly, too. I'm liking what I've got for it so far. Stay tuned- I'm @harveyjamestm on twitter, as always.

Before and After I Saw Them: NPR's Morning Edition

All right, the producer of NPR's Morning Edition got in touch with me on twitter and asked me to draw their hosts in the vein of my previous drawings. Cue my standard introduction:

As a comic book artist, I listen to a lot of podcasts while I draw. I can’t help but build a mental picture of the radio personalities I listen to, so I’m going to illustrate and examine this process- what did they look like in my head, and how did my perception of them change once I knew what they looked like?

I listened to the show once, and drew five of the hosts. I'd never heard of the show or any of the hosts before, so I sketched them as I was listening. Then, I looked up their photographs on the internet and sketched quick portraits of the real people, as a point of comparison. So: very fast work, based on snap judgements! Let's see what happened.

I'm trying to place the actress the imagined woman on the left looks like. A very distorted Joan Cusack, maybe? Whoever she is, she's far more severe and unapproachable-looking than the real Linda Wertheimer. Linda's voice exudes a professionalism and confidence. I wonder why I made her look like such a bad person?

Self-realisation: I'm probably a secret misogynist.

Steve Inskeep, in reality, is far more... DYNAMIC-looking than the guy I imagined. I'm from Britain. It's a pretty different world! Over here we don't usually get dudes who look like Wall Street traders or car salesmen reading the news, so I guess it's natural that I imagined this guy who looks like a kindly uncle, as comfortable a presence as an old pair of slippers.

Self-realisation: I'm British.

It seems strange, too, that I imagined Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, this beautiful and professional-looking woman to look like a slightly batty community librarian. Where do these character types from? What caused me to socially debase this woman so thoroughly- why did my imagination take away the status and respect she's worked so hard for all her life?

Self-realisation: I'm also a secret racist.

Jeff Brady, then. Something in this man's voice made me imagine him to be a lot younger than he is. That... is perhaps flattering, to a gentleman of advanced years! My mental image of the guy is possibly not so flattering. I'd have to listen to the show again to figure out exactly what it was in Jeff's voice that made me imagine this albino ghoul of man, who one can only imagine holed up in his mother's attic, stalking around at odd hours eating slimy yoghurt from a brass receptacle.

Self-realisation: I need to move out of my mother's attic.

Finally, what happened here? On the right, there's venerable and golden-voiced broadcaster Corey Flintoff- but on the left, what a hunk. But no surprise, this time. Corey Flintoff's voice is masculine.

This man gets laid. This is fact. You could stick a tank of lab rats on top of the speaker and after Corey Flintoff had finished speaking, they'd all be pregnant.

Self-realisation: I wish I was Corey Flintoff.

Hey, if you liked this, I'm @harveyjamestm on twitter. If I drew you, please feel totally free to use my image for whatever you like. Later on!

This book doesn't sell itself

That was one of the take-away messages from my time spent helping out on the Blank Slate stall at Thought Bubble on Sunday. Annie Koyama's wonderful books, which we help to distribute, were irresistible to visitors to our table- their colorful and playful colours begged to be picked up and thumbed through. My own book, however, needed a bit more of a push.

As I told the people I sold to that day- I can see why that is! Its gloomy colours, its seemingly morose subject matter- it seems grim. It seems like no fun. The cover perfectly compliments the book's contents, and yet at the same time drives consumers away. It's a tough hard sell to the average reader.

See, the thing about that is- everyone who gives it a read seems to love it. Those who have have told me that it's funny, moving, memorable. They're noticing it has layers of meaning that they didn't unpack the first time around. It seems to be hitting all the right notes. Check out what people wrote about this thing:

Woodrow Pheonix told me lines from the book have become catchphrases in his household, even. That... is something I'm proud of! You can buy the book right ---> here. <----

I wish I could do what I did at the Thought Bubble con and just put an advert for my stuff above a rollerskating girl's butt, but that isn't possible on the internet. So, if you like the book and you want to join my legion of honorary rollerskating butts, you can:

- tweet this blog post!

-or, retumbl' it

- you can also follow me on twitter: @harveyjamestm .

-if you've read the book, it'd be way cool if you could write a review of it, and let me know.

More comics will be posted here soon!

Before & After I Saw Them: #3, Scott Aukerman

As a comic book artist, I listen to a lot of podcasts while I draw. I can’t help but build a mental picture of the radio personalities I listen to , so I’m going to illustrate and examine this process- what did they look like in my head, and how did my perception of them change once I knew what they looked like?

Comedy Bang Bang is one of the highlights of my week. At best, it's what I always wished radio was. It reminds me of the Chris Morris Music Shows from the early 90's- there's a blending of fact and fiction, improvisation mixed with scripted material that gives you a sense that anything can happen. I feel like the host, Scott Aukerman has created something both magical and hilarious with this show.

The first time I heard Scott was on Jordan Jesse Go!, a show I mentioned yesterday. On Bang Bang, Scott's job is to drive the show, which means that comedically he often hangs back on the "base line", giving the guests as much room as possible to be funny. On JJGo, however, he had the freedom to take the spotlight, and I so I heard a side of Scott that Bang Bang listeners don't often get to hear. You can read about how I arrived at the drawings above after the jump.

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Before & After I Saw Them: #2, Jesse Thorn & Jordan Morris

As a comic book artist, I listen to a lot of podcasts while I draw. I can't help but build a mental picture of the radio personalities I listen to , so I'm going to illustrate and examine this process- what did they look like in my head, and how did my perception of them change once I knew what they looked like?

The Sound Of Young America is maybe the first podcast I ever got into. TSOYA and its sister show Jordan Jesse Go! were the first time I heard the format that I've since heard repeated many times- in-depth interviews with creative people who might not get the attention they deserve, and informal chats with comedians and other funny people. There's a thousand shows doing the same thing, but man! It's a good gateway podcast. It introduced me to a lot of stuff I went on to check out and love to this day.

As before, I've written a bunch about the thought process behind today's image after the jump.

[UPDATE 17/11/11] I feel like it would be remiss not to add a disclaimer, here: a couple of people (not least the subjects of the caricature themselves) have expressed their distaste at these drawings. It's been pointed out to me that my caricatures are unfair and severly unflattering- having checked their photos again, I realise that there's a ring of truth to that. These drawings may be just too negatively slanted to be taken in the spirit with which they were intended. Jordan and Jesse are two normal-looking guys! It's entirely possible that my radar was totally off. The write-up below reflects my initial impressions of the two hosts- it seems, though, that my impressions of the 'real' Jordan and Jesse suffer from just as much funhouse mirror distortion as my imagined versions.

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Tomorrow, the final installment for the time being- my drawings of Scott Aukerman from Comedy Bang Bang!

Before & After I Saw Them: #1, Marc Maron

As a comic book artist, I get to listen to a lot of podcasts while I work. I can't help but build a mental picture of the radio personalities I listen to, so I'm going to illustrate and examine this process- what did they look like in my head, and how did my perception of them change once I knew what they looked like?

Today: WTF Podcast's Marc Maron

I find it hard to read a book without imagining what the author looks like. I've never seen a picture of Charles Dickens, but just the syllables of his name conjures up this rotund, ruddy, pleasant faced-man, dressed in gentleman's finery with his remaining hair neatly kempt and lacquered. Where that image comes from, I'm not sure- but I think we all do a form of this, whether we're conscious of it or not.

I remember being 10 and being a huge Terry Pratchett fan- I had a distinct vision of him as this wiry 30-year-old man with a thin moustache, like a cockney spiv. When he got famous enough to be on TV in the mid-90s, I was disappointed- it turned out he was fat and bald, with a white beard and a lisp- he would hit on his young female fans, and his sense of humour that played so well on the page fell flat in the real world…

And of course, finding out what he looked and sounded like changed my perception of his books, as much as I didn't want that. It just happened. If I'd been tuned-in enough to analyse why my view on his books changed, I might have said it was because while before I could see him as a friend or a father figure, I now saw him as a creepy old eccentric, a deluded Bill Oddie-like figure of indeterminate sexuality and motive. I was yet to grow out of his books entirely- I just found it harder to identify with Pratchett's world, and belong to his club. My view of the artist affected the way I viewed the art.

I want to examine how this process plays out now I'm an adult, so I've turned my eye to something I have a lot of familiarity with, as someone who works from home- the world of podcasting. Read about the thought process behind today's image after the jump.

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James-Teacher and Nelson are available now!

My book 'A Long Day Of Mr. James-Teacher', and an anthology book I worked on for Blank Slate are now available from the Blank Slate store. You can also get these things on Amazon too, I believe!

I made these wee posters to promote 'em. Click through to order the books. There's also a preview of the James-Teacher book down at the bottom, after the jump.

Alright! So- after the jump, you can read a 7-page preview of the James-teacher comic. Hit it!
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Welp, this is my first proper book- I'm pretty pleased with how it came out, so please pick up a copy when you can! Click here to order.

Back from the dead.

So the graphic novel I worked on, Walk Don't Run, is out of my hands, slated for a January release date, and I'm now finally working on the kind of comics I've been putting off doing since about 2007. I'm extremely trepidatious about what people might think, but it's best to get it out there. Nervous! I'll concede that this preview doesn't actually give much away, but I'll be releasing drips and drabs as I go.

I dialed down my web presence to a minimum for the past year or so while I finished off Walk Don't Run and James-Teacher (both out soon) and got into the swing of my next big job. At this point, I feel like I've got enough of a solid foundation beneath me to start putting things out on the net again. I really miss the fun and camaraderie of being a guy who puts cool drawings on the internet! I'm going to do that a lot more from now on. I'll do maybe 3-4 cool things on here a month, and generally be around!

I'm also going to be at the Thought Bubble con in Leeds this November. Aaaand I gave my website a temporary overhaul, so it's got links to all the comics I did while I was building myself up to starting Zygote. You know, between the ages of 16 and 25, I made maybe 30 pages of comics. Mostly, I was training as an animator, and then working in animation. In the past couple of years, I've made around 400. So- I've been training myself, and trying to build some confidence. I still don't feel like I know what I'm doing! But, gee, here goes nothing. I've finished a whole graphic novel and I have two books coming out in the next three months- plus I am getting actual dough to do this one right now- so I guess I can CALL myself a comic book artist, at least.

Like I said, I've missed you guys! I ammmmm also going to be crossposting this stuff across all the social networks I belong to. So! No-one gets left behind. I'm looking forward to reaching out to people again.