Thursday, June 29, 2006

WYRDWOOD: Next chapter up...

For those of you who are following BADABLINGTHING's sister site, WYRDWOOD, the next chapter of The Skinny Twig Man has been posted on there. If you've missed the first chapter, don't worry, it's early days, and even the most numptified of readers should be able to follow the rather sinister gothic tale. In this chapter we're introduced to the leads in the book, Emily and Casper, two well-meaning kids who can't help but attract trouble (like all the best leads should). Thanks to all of you who've already posted your thoughts on the WYRDWOOD site and even mailed me your comments- it's hugely appreciated.

The version of the story that I'm publishing on the blog is very close to the finished edit, with the odd typo alas I notice, but nothing that should detract from the story. Anyway, am going to shut up now. Hope you all like!

Bada Bling!

Dead Red Ted & Ruby Red

Rather remiss of me but I noticed that there were two pieces from the BITENECK BEATNIKS that never made it to the pages of the blog, so for completism here's DEAD RED TED and RUBY RED. Like the other characters, they're a pair, and a more swingin' hepcat duo you'll struggle to find on this here blog. I'm not a cross-dresser by any means (cue a barrage of friendly catcalls) but if I had to wear a dress it'd be Ruby's chess patterned one. Swingin'!

With regards to the paintings from the art show, if anyone is interested in picking up one of the originals do feel free to contact me and we can have the talk about filthy cash. There are quite a few still available, but I can answer any queries if anyone has any.

Dug out one of my old sketchbooks from a few years back today that has all kinds of good stuff in, including my very first drawing of FRANKENSTEIN'S CAT. I'll try and get some pages scanned and whacked up onto Badablingthing asap.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Rabbit Rabbit Yap Yap Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit....

A rabbit walks into a pub and says to the barman "Can I have a pint of beer and a Ham and Cheese Toastie?". The barman is amazed but gives the rabbit a pint of beer and a ham and cheese toastie. The rabbit drinks the beer, eats the toastie and leaves.

The following night the rabbit returns and again asks for a Pint of beer and a Ham and Cheese Toastie. The barman, now intrigued by the rabbit and excited by the extra drinkers in the pub (because word gets round) gives the rabbit the pint and the toastie. The rabbit consumes them and leaves.

The next night, the pub is packed, in walks the rabbit and says "A pint of beer and a Ham and Cheese Toastie, please barman". The crowd is hushed as the barman gives the rabbit his pint and toastie and then burst into applause as the rabbit wolfs them down.

The next night there is standing room only in the pub, coaches have been laid on for the crowds attending and the barman is making more money in one week than he did all last year. In walks the rabbit and says "A Pint of Beer and a Ham and Cheese Toastie, please barman" whilst smiling and acknowledging the tributes of the masses.

The barman says, "I'm sorry rabbit, me old mate, old mucker but we are right out of them Ham and Cheese Toasties".

The rabbit looks aghast, the crowd goes silent as the the barman clears his throat nervously and says, "We do have a very nice Cheese and Onion Toastie".

The rabbit looks him in the eye and says "Are you sure I will like it?"

The masses await in stunned silence. The barman, with a roguish smile says "Do you think that I would let down one of my best friends, I know you'll love it".

"Ok" says the rabbit," I'll have a Pint of Beer and a Cheese and Onion Toastie".

The pub erupts with cheers as the rabbit quaffs the beer and guzzles the toastie, waves to the crowd and leaves....


One year later in the now impoverished public house, the barman (who had only served 4 drinks that night, 3 of which were his) calls time. As he is cleaning down the empty pub, he sees a small white form floating above the bar "Who are you" he queries

"I am the ghost of the rabbit that used to frequent your public house" comes the reply.

The barman says, "I remember you, you made me famous, you would come in every night and have a Pint of Beer and a Ham and Cheese Toastie. Crowds came to see you and this place was famous"

The rabbit says, "Yes I know".

The barman says "On your last night we didn't have any Ham and Cheese Toasties, you had a Cheese and Onion one instead"

The rabbit said "Yes, you promised me that I would love it".

The barman said "You never returned - what happened?"

"I DIED", said the Rabbit.

"OH NO!" said the barman,"what from?"

After a short pause. The rabbit said...




















I apologise, it's an old joke but I'm a sucker for "Blah walks into a Bar" jokes, I have a whole raft of them that I promise not to bore you with (I'm sure you all have your favourites!). This particular wabbit is from a project Ian Culbard and I developed together, and proved to be a springboard for BOTH of our animation careers as creators/directors. We collaborated on it after leaving college and it's still very much our baby. It's still potentially an animated series, although it's transmogrified a little from it's earliest conception. A strong concept like (hopefully) the rest of our work. Still, hope you like these sketches of Rocky, our lead. I'd put more stuff up on here if I felt it was safe to do so.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Estate Agent Schmagent.....

So, here's our home in rural North Yorkshire, right on the village green. See the tree in the foreground? My son thinks that's his, complete with swing that lazily hangs from a bough. It's an unusual property insomuch as it's a converted church reading rooms (which, being a childrens author and all was an immediate draw when Emma and I first saw the property). We've lived here very happily for about four years but all good things have to come to an end - we're going to move to the North West for a couple of reasons, namely to be nearer to AJ, my son, and also closer to production of FRANKENSTEIN'S CAT, which will take place at Mackinnon & Saunders studio in Altrincham. Optimistic soul as I am I doubt even I could remain chipper if I knew I had to commute over the M62 from North Yorks.

I mention the house and the potential sale as we had two estate agents visit us today. I've heard of quotes differing slightly but £50,000???!!!?!?! That's the difference between the two and to say we were flabbergasted is an understatement. Have another visiting on Wednesday to give us some better indication but I think we've made out minds up already on who to go with, and no, not just because their quote was £50k higher! :-D

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Tales from the Wyrdwood

Can I just direct anyone who is interested to my "twin" site that concentrates on my novel, The Skinny Twig Man, the first of the Tales from the Wyrdwood. It's a gothic children's fantasy that hopefully has resonance with the old Grimm tales but for a newer audience. Depending upon how it's received I'll see about putting the other chapters up.

Bada Bling!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Biteneck Beatniks sketchbook 2

And here's some more of the same, featuring more of the early pencilwork including some rough thumbs for a comic that I still want to get off the ground in collaboration with Dark Horse newbie and all round talented egg Ian Culbard.

The characters up top are the Wererat Pack, a gaggle of lounge singing hoods who have yet to make it to the art show. Sammy, Frank and Peter are there - there's only Deano missing. He's probably in the bar...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Biteneck Beatniks sketchbook 1

Some of the early concepts for the BB series of paintings and characters, complete with some that never made it (or haven't thus far) to the canvas, including MAGNO, THE GIANT PANTS ROBOT. Yeah, some should just stay consigned to the backburner... ;-)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Biteneck Beatinks article in DPI magazine

OK, so my french is conversational idiotic at best so whatever you do please don't ask for me to translate this article. I DO have my English interview that I supplied the lovely folk at Taiwan's DPI magazine, but even with no knowledge of Taiwanese whatsoever I still suspect that this is better reading than my English waffle!

DPI is a mag that specialises in illustrators, graphic designers, vinyl toy creators and the like. I got a couple of copies through in the post over the weekend and I have to say it blows most UK and US mags out of the water. A real hefty tome, something that you could brain and hospitalise an intruder with, no worries.

If anyone CAN read what this article says, do let me know. I especially dig the fact that certain words/phrases aren't even attempted as translations :-)

Thanks to Jasmin @ DPI for all her help

Spike n Mike's Wall of Shame

Was rather honoured while in Annecy to be asked by Craig "Spike" Decker to stick a doodle on his enormous mural, as seen here. My poxy scribbles appeared alongside such notaries and luminaries as Pete Doctor, Mike Judge, John Lasseter, Nick Park, Bill Plympton etc. Indeed it's a bit of a "Who's Who" of the animation industry - enormous sheet of paper. Apparently I'm the last person to put a dedication on it as he needs to start a new sheet now - this one has taken over 10 years to fill! I made sure I got in two, mind you - an established character in BOB THE BUILDER and hopefully one for the future in FRANKENSTEIN'S CAT.

Thanks to Martin Bell (NOT the war correspondent) for sending these pictures through- cheers, man!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Oh, Warry Warry Woe.......

Rather gutted as was supposed to be appearing at Borders Warrington to do book signings today. Set off in good time in my Polo only to have it break down every 2 minutes with the engine cutting out. End result was me cancelling the trip and now having to do it tomorrow from 12-2. Especially disappointing as it's Warrington, the town I grew up in, and I was looking forward to signing plenty of MY DADDY books ahead of Fathers Day tomorrow. Am sure it won't be as busy tomorrow but what can you do? Sod's law.

Above, by the way, are Warrington's Golden Gates, commissioned and subsequently turned down by Her Majesty Queen Victoria. The great (and dour) lady was a famously puritanical woman and it's clear that these gates were a bit too flash for her. Some smart-alec in Warry must have dived in. I can see it now: "Too klarty for her madge? GIVE 'EM 'ERE!"

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Biteneck Beatniks Circus Punks

A while back I produced four hand-painted Circus Punks for an art show in NYC and I've returned from Annecy to discover someone wants to buy at least two of them. Brucie bonus! The Circus Punks series is based upon the knockdown skittles one used to see in fairgrounds many moons ago, more prevalant in the United States than Blighty I suspect, although I do remember skittle knock-downs. I think this wee fella was called PURPLE PAULIE.

Hope y'all bin checkin' out the BB trailer, now, y'hear?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

BITENECK BEATNIKS teaser trailer online!

Click here to view the trailer.

Directed and animated by Ian Culbard so it's fair to say it's a bit smashing. Onwards and sideways with this one, baby, onwards and sideways....

Annecy Review

Back from overseas now and a very fruitful trip it was too. This was only my second trip to the Festival, having been before last year, and this time round I've been able to make more of the event, tying in lots of meetings. Got to meet JAKe at long last, who I seem to have been chatting with forever via my geeky email sewing circle. JAKe was one of the darlings of the festival as his Geekboy animations were in competition.

Met up with Spike & Mike from the Sick & Twisted Animation Festival once more, and they seem pretty determined to help some more with getting me speaking with the right people over in LA- I'd like to throw my hand into the fire and see what jobbing concept development work i can get Stateside so I just have to see what might come of that.

Jean Thoren from Animation magazine was a bonafide sweetheart and is looking to do a piece on BADA BLING for her mag. Also met Danny Antonucci, the creator of Ed, Edd & Eddy who was a tip top chap. Plus Heather Kenyon of Cartoon Network who I hope to be able to work with on future projects.

The BITENECK BEATNIKS teaser animation that Ian Culbard had put together went down a treat, and most all the people who saw it seemed keen to see more. On that front Ian and I are working further on the development of the project and seeing where we end up. We need story outlines to accompany quite a considerable catalogue of supporting artwork.

Pictures up top are some of the lovely sights of Annecy: great venue and a great festival.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Annecy Animation Festival

Yes, I know, the posts have been rather lacking this week but I have a valid excuse as I've been away on holiday with the family, to sunny scorchio Wales. Am now in Annecy, France, at the rather wonderful animation festival. Here wearing a number of hats, including my position as Entrepeneur in Residence at the University of Teesside, but also to promote BADA BLING and all that we're trying to do. There's also the joy of FRANKENSTEIN'S CAT business to attend to which is about as big a pleasure as you can (legally) get!

I'd post some pictures of the festival and Annecy if I wasn't such a muppet that I'd left my camera on the seashore in Wales to see it take a sorry dip in the Irish Sea... *sniff*

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mr Gardener

If you bend your ear you might just hear
The sound of something snipping
Who’s this here with a pair of shears
Cutting, chopping, clipping?

Pruning the bush in no great rush
Mr Gardener briefly paused
When summer nears you’ll find him here
Tending topiary dinosaurs


With deep rumbling growls from its thick privet bowels
A mighty bush started to flex
Then it stirred into life, hell-bent on strife
A terrible topiary T Rex


Mr Gardener ran out with a shriek and a shout
Bounding blindly into the blizzard
Wearing nowt but a frown and a tasteful nightgown
He faced up to the large leafy lizards


These are excerpts from my "MR GARDENER" manuscript - I'd love to be able to print the whole thing but sadly I'd be afraid that it might get ripped-off (something that's happened before). Fear not, though, as I hope this tickles your proverbials anyway. The top painting is a rendition of a thumbnail the talented Ian Culbard did (do check out his blog via my links). From these early ideas Ian and I developed a show/series of stories that revolved around a street of weird inhabitants. One of the twists the show had was that each episode was written in rhyme.

Dropped at the Gates...

As per INJun's request, this is THE first painting I did after work on MARS ATTACKS that got me onto the path of doing what I really wanted to do ie: design and create/paint my on characters. Up to that point I'd been relatively content as a cog in a bigger machine, working as a trimmer/seamer, prop painter, modeller and the like. To be honest on feature film pay I was quite happy. But there was always a part of me that wanted to be doing the creative side myself rather than following the lead from another.

It used to look great on my business card, this image. Very spooky and slightly chilling. Shall see if I can get snaps of the other paintings from the CROMBIES series. They're all framed and on the wall at home so I'll get jiggy with the camera.