Sunday, April 30, 2006

Caught short!

George Lucas' luscious goiter would throbble in horror at this reinterpretation of the Universe's most evil villain...

Friday was spent up at the back end of Wensleydale doing workshops at Askrigg school. Really small school with only something like 60 kids there, but very pleasant. Apparently I'll be doing all the schools in the dale over the coming weeks. Looked in the mapbook and it was only fifty miles away- thought that wouldn't take long but an hour and twenty minutes later I finally got there!

Nice bank holiday weekend being enjoyed by me and la famille Bling. Weather is it's usual grim self for a bank holiday. Have tomorrow, bank holiday proper, to put a few hours aside to get some writing done on a couple of projects. Then I have the pleasure of a bit of Warrington versus Leeds rugby league action on Sky in the afternoon. Going to be out and about with schools this coming week so the posts may be intermittent, but I'll try and have a yaffle before bed each night. Hope to start putting in an hour a day on writing now, as having returned from the Red Stick festival it's more obvious than ever that if I want to get books out there I have to put the hours in. Thank the Lord for my patient wiffer.

Bada Bling!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I'm looking over my shoulder...

Somebody's after my job! This is a drawing Andrew did while we were over in Baton Rouge, of an alligator no less (but then, you could tell that, couldn't ya?) Note the striking blue colouration, ferocious teeth and yellow spikes on back. The large green things in the background are trees in the swamp, the ones on the far left and right actually having insects on them. We were out for dinner one night and he decided to do a drawing for each of the speakers who were at the table. Dougy Pincott successfully wound my boy up by thanking him for the drawing of the shrimp, a mistake which naturally Andrew tried to rectify. Dougy finally settled on a name for his alligator, "Shrimpy", which I suspect was a continuation of the ruse...

Bada Bling!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Back from Baton Rouge - Normal service resumes...

OK, here's a few pictures of the Swamp Tour. That's the Tour Guide standing on a grilled ledge off the boat and feeding a gator. That's your ginger sideburned blogger then following him onto the ledge to feed said same gators. Notice my crayoning hand is still miraculously in one piece!

The family and I got back from Louisiana yesterday afternoon and I'm still in recovery from the journey. Had a whale of a time, fully of many highlights and just the one lowlight. Andrew had spent the Tuesday and Wednesday paddling in a long fountain paddling pool outside the venue, a feature that had been installed for precisely that purpose- to attract children. Kids from all over Baton Rouge would turn up in their swimming cozzies and towels to play in it. Anyway, Thursday it seems was a paddle too far. Some *insert expletive here* idiot had smashed a beer bottle in the fountain and poor AJ ended up putting his foot onto a piece. Bam. Through the sole of his foot. Cue a frantic trip to the ER and the hardest time I've had as a parent, trying to comfort/support/prepare my son for the inevitable anaesthetic injection as the kindly Dr Prejean stitched his foot up. Truly awful experience but my boy was an absolute star, God love him. His reward for such bravery that evening was a double big bowl of ice cream at the preview screening of an almost complete Over The Hedge. Was the best Dreamworks animated film I've seen, personally, even thought in places it was still unrendered. That said, AJ's favourite animation he saw at the festival (and he saw plenty) was Howl's Moving Castle. Good lad!

There were some super class people at Red Stick this year, along with usual suspects from the Animex Festival such as the ever groovy paleantologists Prof Stuart Sumida and Beth Rega, bespectacled Animex Festival Director Chris Williams, Pixar groovster Mark Walsh, naughty foul mouth Lorna Partington, jug-eared poet Dougy Pincott, easy-on-the-eye Ed Hooks, and Mayor-snaffling Rachelle Lewis (she'll get me for that). New additions "to the fold" included the toptastic tippermost Robin Linn from Sony Pictures Imageworks, who my daughter Evie took a seriously big shine to (and I suspect the feeling was mutual!). Robin is director of animation production on Spiderman 3 and Superman at present, with a plethora of great production credits to his name.

Also met up with two fab chaps from Rhythm & Hues, Hans Rijpkema and Dan Smiczek. These chaps pulled in some amazing effects on The Chronicles of Narnia, and showcased some of the tricks of using Massive too. Karen DeJong gave workshops on matte painting, as she has the most awesome CV from working on Disney features. It was also good to catch up with ace screenwriter Barbara Slade and Ken Wong, whose site I must add a link to. Great artist and character designer.

Austin Haeberle and Clifford Cohen were there to talk about their work with Hurricane Katrina survivors, and I met some great festival attendees who I do hope stay in touch! Also met the lovely Linda LeBlanc from Celtic Studios and hope we can get some co-pro work underway. Would be great for all involved and especially the wonderful State of Louisiana.

So Andrew for to eat Alligator, as well as hold and feed wild ones in the Swamp), Evie charmed her way through the male populace of the festival, Emma managed to laugh uncontrollably at anything Ferret related, and my own talks seemed to go down pretty well, helped by the presence of my good mates Chris and Dougy in the audience as targets for my inane gags. BIGGEST thanks go to our wonderful hosts (as ever) who pushed the hospitality boat out to the limit and then shoved it a touch more. Stacey Simmons and her fantastic husband Ched, Steve Beck, Jesse Hoggard, Charlotte Fruge (or "Swampy" to those in the know), Karen Jones and many more. THANK Y'ALL!!!

Busy few days lined up now as we pursue leads and hopefully chase down our swampy friends.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Bordering" on the ridiculous...

... arf arf... nurse, the screens...

Had a nice time @ Teesside Park Borders today, signing from 11 through til about 2. Had copies of CHEEKY MONKEY as the main book, plus they'd cunningly got in copies of FRANKENSTEIN'S CAT and MY DADDY. Must have shifted about 20 copies of MONKEY at least, as well as at least about 15 each of the others. They even got me to sign ten more of each so they could put them on display. Interestingly a couple of people asked if I sold artwork from my books... dagnabbit, I knew I should have had some business cards with me.

The picture today is the one image from FRANKENSTEIN'S CAT that i would get done as a limited edition lithograph or giclee print, if I had to choose one. For me it's always perfectly captured what the book and the character are all about: a spring in his stride and an intoxicating smell!

Packing to do tonight and tomorrow for Red Stick- going to be taking a bunch of books as well as possibly some MONSTER MOB prints over with me. I'm not as well prepared as I have been in the past- I wish I'd got some promo cards printed and ordered in a bunch of copies of CHEEKY MONKEY and MY DADDY. Heck, if I behave myself and they invite me back I shall have to do that next year. Do check out the link to the right on the nav-bar for the festival, it's a splendid affair.

Bada Bling!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bank Holiday busy business...

Well it's hardly been a holiday today although I got what would resemble a lie-in as we didn't get up until 8am. Spent the majority of the day preparing for Red Stick Festival next week, working on my talk and powerpoint presentation. Lots of pictures to show there that, prior to now, I've never had digital images of.

Picture here is the colour version of the pencil rough I posted a few days ago for the Mackinnon & Saunders Xmas card. They ended up using a flash rendition in the end, but I still have a soft spot for the hand painted original (as is often the case).

Am appearing at Borders Teesside Park tomorrow doing Easter signings of a variety of my picture books. If you're in the area, with kids or without, do come along, if only to share a mug of coffee with me. I'm there from 11am to 1pm.

Bada Bling!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Shadey Ray and Stone Cold Rosie

Two more of the BB RED series, SHADEY RAY and STONE COLD ROSIE come as a pair. Ray owes more than a little to any self-respecting blind jazz pianoman, and as such is one of my favourite BB character paintings. I was really finding a rhythm with these smaller pieces by the time I'd got to the REDS, and I've been able to do some more interesting compositions. The BLACK BBs are at sketchbook stage at the minute.

Nice trip to London yesterday, had some cracking meetings with cracking people and have returned "oop north" re-energised re: projects. Lots to do on all fronts and, as ever, i don't want to go into too much detail on here because

(a) counting chickens before they've hatched is a foolish thing
(b) long way to go yet- Frankenstein's Cat has been in development for a few years to get to where it's currently at
(c) it's boring, especially if I'm secretive about what those things are!

In Other News...

Dropped paintings off at Darlington Arts Centre today- the BB show should kick off there the week after next. Interestingly I see Rentaghost the Stage Play is starting there too, which keeps the Joe Pasquale connection bubbling along nicely.

Cough is feeling much better- I can actually rattle out a sentence of conversation now without regurgitating a lung in the process. Ashcroft was wrong- the drugs DO work, you just need to be taking the right ones. This post is dedicated to Amoxycillin: I love you, man!

Bada bling!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Preparing for gallery show

Gotta get all my BITENECK BEATNIKS paintings packed up ready to ship to the Darlington Arts Centre for a show that kicks off there shortly. I've had a number pieces framed with these gothic gold finishes and I feel it really compliments the artwork. Very happy with them. These are the first two characters from the BB RED series of smaller pieces, SMOKIN' JOE and SCARLET HARLOT. The other four characters I'll get posted up in the coming days...

Cough still rotten and 'orrible, I guess I'm going to be spreading my foul germs on the train to London tomorrow. MWAH HA HA HA HA!!!!!!

Bada Bling!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Hacky McHackensplat, the phlegmiest man in the world

.... that'd be me, then. My weekend consisted of coughing and hacking the contents of my lungs, chest and possible lower bowels up through my jabbering throat. Still don't know what it was but thursday evening I was shivering in bed. I actually thought I was delirious when Emma came through to tell me that Middlesbrough had come back from 3-0 down to beat Basel 4-3 in the Uefa Cup, but turns out it wasn't a fever dream after all- the Boro come good! After Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spent in various back-arched, rib-wracked, convulsing positions, there was no other option but to visit the Doctor's this morning and get loaded up with a nice box of Amoxycilin. Hope those babies take care of the cough as have a long flight to Louisiana to contend with next week- I don't want to be "that annoying coughy bloke on the plane that you just want to hit repeatedly with a heavy, preferably sharp, object".

So it was back to work today. Met up with Mo O'Toole, director of NESTA, for lunch and had prolonged and fascinating conversations about film making, innovation, regional development agencies and funding avenues. Hope we can direct some pennies into the projects via some of those leads. Also got my final tweaked scripts and "synopsicles" from Andrews Mitchell (a fine name) and Smith for the UGLY project. Have meetings in London on Wednesday to force development through on the that one so hope we can move into some animation tests shortly.

No pictures today??? Surely not!!! Well, I have been poorly. OK, I'll see what I can dig out... Right, this is the pencil rough for the Mackinnon & Saunders Xmas Card I did this year, featuring Nine, "Frankenstein's Cat", and Lottie, his bezzie mate. Still my favourite character to draw I have to say. Shall see if I can find the colour version of this to show you too for tomorrow or soonly...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Dream On Silly Dreamer

For anyone who hasn't taken a look at their site, can I direct you to the DREAM ON SILLY DREAMER official pages, as linked in the nav-bar. If you're a fan of illustration/animation/movie making and old school Disney it's a must.

Tony West and Dan Lund produced and directed this film that was given it's world premiere at the Animex International Festival of Animation last year. Since then it's gone on to all kinds of festivals around the world and even picked up an Annie recently, the animation industry's equivalent of an Oscar. It's a documentary that charts the demise of Disney's 2D studios and is told from the POV of animators from the US and Europe. It's not simply fascintating because it charts the downfall of what was once such a wonderful insititution, but is heartbreaking as you hear the animators talk of their dreams tumbling down around their drawing boards. These guys had the dream gigs, thought they were in jobs for life working for the studio who they had grown up idolising.

Met Tony and Dan at both Animex and Red Stick and am hoping to catch up with the more hirsute one, Mr West, at Red Stick in a couple of weeks. Both absolutely top chaps.

Aside from that, I've been Bobbing today, but have to say I'm feeling rougher than a dingo's backside, very rotten and fluey and in need of prolonged sleep. Goodness knows what's wrong with me. I knew I shouldn't have cuddled that swan, last week........

Bada Bling!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bob a job

Did anyone else have to endure the racketeering child labour criminality that was "Bob A Job Week" when they were kids??? There's a reason I mention this, which I'll get to in a bit, but it often comes back to me in a haze of bitter childhood memories. It was that week in the summer where, in order to raise much needed income for one's struggling cub/scouts/guide troop, we were sent out into the neighbourhood in pairs, armed only with a sponsors sheet and a winning smile.

The idea was that you visited as many houses in the neighbourhood as possible. Upon ringing the doorbell you got to wait for the excited occupant to come to the door, rubbing their hands with glee. "Bob A Job Week, mister. Is there anything we can do for you?"

In the benign cases, the most the stranger would ask of you was to maybe brush the leaves off the driveway, and then give you 50p or a quid for your efforts. In the worst cases, and there were some BAD ones, they'd have us weeding the front gardens, back gardens, and even the little bits of moss out of the cracks in the footpath paving stones (paving stones.... *shudder*.... not paving stones again!). The reward? 20 pence. Evil.

They wouldn't let kids do it these days I bet, with all the scaremongering you hear about in the news about bad men and women out there. Weird and quite sad how times change.

I mentioned Bob A Job as I got the call from HOT today to start work on a new series of designs for BOB THE BUILDER. We're onto Series 14 now and it still shows no signs of slowing down. Which is great news for me and Bada Bling!

In Other News...

Rustling together a bunch of animations for the Red Stick Animation Festival in Louisiana the week after next. Stacey Simmons, the festival director, is after "content" from me, so I'm looking under the rug for anything Jobling-esque that fits the bill. Hopefully going to be sending out there an episode of Bob, Curious Cow stop motion and CGI, Good Cat Bad Cat (pictured), and the teaser animation that's been done for Frankenstein's Cat. All in all it should be quite a diverse bunch of films that provide an insight into my portfolio.

Bada Bling!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Production Art - MY DADDY

Here's another image from MY DADDY, specifically the exterior of the film's treehouse. It doesn't have a great deal to do with the film until the closing frames, but it's our opening shot. Hopefully it captures that mood of long hot summer days from your childhood that are coming to a lazy conclusion. You know the sensations- hot gravel scars in your palms from falling off your bike, grass stains on your jeans from commando crawling across the field, scab on forehead from where your brother pushed you out of the tree, that kind of thing. I used to love those evenings of childhood summers and hopefully our finished film will capture a bit of that.

I really miss that from my childhood- the late night playing out with all the other kids in the street. We were fortunate enough to grow up living in a cul-de-sac so there was very little traffic bar the neighbours. Occasionally my Dad would ask us if we wanted to get the Scalextric down in the garage, a racetrack that covered the floor in there that he'd built on a giant sheet of ply. True to form we wouldn't get a look-in as all the other kids' dads came round and comandeered the thing!

Most nights were spent with all the street's kids playing off-ground tick and hide-and-seek until someone's parent started the chorus of "BED TIME" from the front door. One after the other the kids disappeared indoors. It only occurs to me now as a parent that my Mum and Dad (when he wasnt nicking the Scalextric) must have equally enjoyed that quiet time to themselves as well!

And in tomorrow's reminisces, I'll talk about the time my sister dropped a paving stone on my ankle, crushing it like a twig...

Monday, April 03, 2006

FLYING CAT TOYS! New site now up and running!

I know it's a tiny image of "the flying cat" but it's the only one Google could find for me! Flying Cat have launched their new website, so do please follow the link in the nav bar and take a look-see. Alan Chow, the owner, has been in talks with me for some time about bringing out a range of toys, and it looks as if BITENECK BEATNIKS may be the range that we develop.

My original intention was to try and get them out there as vinyl toys, but apparently the vinyl toy market is suffering at the minute. So if we DO get them off the ground it'll initially be as plushies. Hopefully, further along the road, we'll be able to launch them as vinyls too. We'll wait and see though, it's early days yet and we haven't agreed to anything in writing. I do, however, think Flying Cat's output is superb, and am guilty of buying more than one toy from Nathan Jurevicius' Scarygirl range.

If it's anything like the animation and publishing industry I'd expect the toys to be on the shelf sometime in 2020!

Sunday, April 02, 2006


So we've only got one more character from MY DADDY to look at, although the Dad's will also appear in the film but in Flash rather than 3D CGI.

And Hugo?

Sweet little Hugo. He's our hero and he only has a few lines at the end of the script. He's the voice of innocence, couldn't lie if his life depended on it. Design-wise I wanted him to have a bit of a bloaty head, which I think looks pretty cute. It's a departure from my usual round or oval heads which I'm guilty of reverting to occasionally.

In Other News

Been a busy day for a Sunday, having spent the afternoon following my rugby team's fortune's on the internet while working on some storylines for the UGLY project. Coming along nicely and feeling very positive. It has legs, as they say!

I have a strong idea of who we might approach as voice talent to get on board, but that's gonna be too early in the day for the purposes of a teaser trailer. If things proceed as they are doing though I'm still hopeful we'll have some visuals animated by summer. The writers are busting their hungry guts to pull out all the stops with their scripts and that's coming across.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

BADA BLING THINGS SHOP!!! Buy your Biteneck Beatniks goodies here!!!

Via the wonder that is I've just opened a Bada Bling Things shop, which should eventually sell all manner of goodies related to my work. First up is a series of Biteneck Beatniks merchandise- be it mugs, badges, ringer T's, baseball shirts, truckers caps or ladies thongs, the Bada Bling Things shop is the place to be!

Do follow the link at the top of the nav bar to the right, or indeed follow the one below:

With the help of nice folk parting with pennies it'll hopefully see the BB's appear on the screen sooner rather than later! It's the only place you can get this stuff so your support is appreciated.

Bada Bling!


We're having some teething problems with the character models for MY DADDY at the moment, which have prevented them doing any animation tests yet. Will be next week now I believe.

So what's the thing with Helga, then?

Helga is a more benign "villain" than Hambel, basically being a bit of a buffoon. She is a roly-poly pseudo-German, with a ridiculous accent that suggests she's a fan of sausages. She only really "loses it" at the end of the story, being seemingly oblivious to the fact that she's in a contest up until then.

In other news...

Had a meeting with the writers of my new project (lets just call it the UGLY SHOW as a working title) on Friday in Newcastle. Much laughter ensued as we went over their pilot script and kicked around new storyline ideas. I harbour a (possibly futile) hope that we can get something actually animated that I can take with me when I go to the Annecy Festival in France in June. It's a longshot, admittedly, but it'd be great to have something I can put into a broadcaster's hand.

Have approached Ian Culbard to direct the teaser animation, and he seems to be fond of the project to such a degree that he'd like to run at the whole design of the show too. If that's the case then it means he snaffles the Production Design credit for the show, if we get positive interest off the back of what we present. Ian and I have worked closely for years so it's a natural progression. I feel myself moving further into a Producer role on this one, which feels weird with it being my project, but I like to think we're bringing on board people like the two Andy's and Ian who have real strengths.

Bada Bling!